Much of the northeastern United States spent today digging out from the aftermath of this week’s major pre-Christmas winter storm, which dumped over three feet of snow across a large swath of interior Pennsylvania and New York and slightly less spectacular amounts from the Virginia to southern Maine. About nine inches fell in my little corner of western Connecticut, to be exact.
But I didn’t mind. In fact, I was excited. Not because everything looks all festive now, but because it gave me an excuse to bust out one of my favorite tools: a trailer hitch snowplow that makes short work of my long driveway while I’m toasty warm in the driver’s seat of my Subaru Outback.
Having grown up in the region, I’m no stranger to snowy winters, or shoveling. When my wife and I finally bought our first home years ago, one of my first purchases was a snowblower, and it worked well enough. But these days we’re on house number two with a much longer driveway, and even with a bigger snowblower, it still takes up to two hours for cleanup after a dump. During one of those storms a couple of years ago, watching my neighbor clear his asphalt with his New York Giants-themed golf cart and a mini plow, I started fantasizing about a way to use one of our Subarus for the same task. If Tom could mount a plow to a golf cart, why couldn’t I put one on an Outback without chopping it up?
I hit the internet to search for a suitable car plow. Slogging through some questionable DIY plywood creations on YouTube, I ended up finding the perfect solution, one that works so well on your average suburban driveway that I’m not quite sure how it hasn’t blown up yet. Agri-Cover, a North Dakota company that manufacturers pickup tonneau covers, also makes a line of self-adjusting aluminum utility plows that don’t require in-cabin controls. And the aptly-named SnowSport 180 is designed to work on the back of just about any vehicle with a standard 2-inch receiver hitch.
Unlike old school hydraulic plows, which can easily weigh more than 400 pounds, the SnowSport 180 tips the scales at only 56 lbs. And with no electrical or hydraulic hook-up to mess with, installation is a snap. You simply install the 23-inch wide push frame into your receiver and then slide the plow blade guides over the uprights. That’s it. There’s a thick rubber cutting edge along the bottom and the entire blade assembly glides over the terrain, so you don’t have to worry about trashing your grass. It’s really pretty ingenious. Take a look at how it worked out in the video below:
Solid stuff, and far easier than snowblowing. It may be low-profile, but Agri-Cover claims the shape of the plow still allows it to stack snow “higher than a pickup’s hood.” Still, you can see there are parts where I’m backing through deeper stuff that snow also falls over the blade and ends up under my wheels. Speed is also a factor there—the slower you go, the better it works. It’s not designed to scrape down to bare pavement in one pass. This is the kind of tool you should use both during and after a storm for maximum effect.
But the incredible utility here is obvious. Picture the typical suburban setup, a two car garage with a long-ish, relatively flat and straight driveway leading up to it. You just reverse out of the bay, take care of business, and drive forward back into the shelter of your garage. Simple, and warm.
One note for 180 snowplow beginners: While you may be tempted to use your backup camera, the distorted view is not optimum for precise plow placement. Use your mirrors and rear window and you’ll get better, faster results. Got friends or family who could use your new snow clearing skills? The 180 plow can also be nested at the top of the push frame for transportation if you need to go handle mom’s driveway.
At $1,199, the 180 is not cheap. But it’s well constructed and should last a long time. Some assembly is required including drilling some holes, so plan accordingly. I’m still waiting on The Big One to really put it to the test, but its performance today shows how much potential a hitch plow has to save a lot of folks some time and potential frostbite. As long as you’ve got good winter tires. Those are a must for maximum traction—and also, safe winter driving in general.
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