As the snaking backup on the Atlanta highway system has proven, you're not always sitting at home with an arsenal of snow tools when the time comes to dig out your car. That's why you should have a shovel like the True Temper Penguin AutoBoss in your trunk.

Its tire-width scoop gives you just enough surface to make a path for your escape, and it has enough room to pick up a heap of powder. In wet snow, a single 10-pound heave proved no problem for the tool; when bending over to keep a grip on its dual handles, it's your back that will start to strain first. No snow in sight? The shovel folds into a flat, 16x10-inch plastic rectangle that stores nicely next to the spare. Not bad for a tool that costs less than 20 bucks. [amestruetemper.com; $18]

Field Notes
Area tested: Chicago
Days used: 24
Conditions encountered: Chicago winter
Nitpick: We wish it had an ice-cutting serrated edge.