One of the first modifications I made to our 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (try saying that 5 times fast) was the AEV Rear Bumper and Tire Carrier. The combination of a frame mounted tire carrier that integrated with the tailgate and also supported a 10 gallon fuel tank, shovel holder, and a slew of other accessories made it the perfect setup for a long range travel rig.
Fast forward more than 2 years later, I’ve only used the fuel tank once, and I just recently got a shovel that fits perfectly on the tire carrier. Why did it take so long? Mainly due to the fact that on the east coast, you’re never very far from a gas station and I don’t need a shovel because I haven’t
had to bury a body gotten stuck enough to need one.
The main reason I’m writing this article is because I find how comical the threads on the American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) forums are on the subject. The ridiculousness of the questions are almost as bad as the TAD Junkies Facebook page. The guys over there make it sound like finding a shovel is almost as hard as completing a HEMI swap.
The common consensus on the forums is that the perfect shovel is a True Temper Long Handle Wood Digging Shovel. This shovel has a 44″ handle and a rubber grip on the end. The other options posted on the forum include cutting down the handle of a shovel that is too long, wrapping duct tape around the handle of a shovel that is too thin, or having someone make you a custom handle for a shovel (I’m dead serious here?).
Some of the perils AEV owners are faced with when selecting a shovel is that anything longer than 48″ will either stick out too far on the driver side of the jeep, or make contact with the rear passenger side quarter panel when the tailgate is open. The other issue is that a shovel with a shaft that is too narrow (not just a problem with shovels) won’t fit snugly enough to remain tightly in the shovel carrier. The first problem shouldn’t be an issue for you though, because if you’re an AEV owner you should already have their corner guards and everything else from their catalog.
So what’s the perfect shovel? Any shovel with a with a 44″ to 48″ will fit in an AEV Tire Carrier that is equipped with a 35″ tire. You’re also going to make sure that whatever shovel you buy comes equipped with a rubber cover on the end. This will insure that it doesn’t rotate (it can potentially damage the rear hatch glass) or slide out of the carrier since it is only retained via contact with the shaft and tire arm.
The shovel I purchased was an AMES Long Wood Handle Round Point Shovel which can be purchased at Home Depot for $12.00 (it’s also apparently manufactured by True Temper). It fits perfectly in the tire carrier, the only thing you’ll want to be aware of is that since it is a 48″ handle, it does stick out slightly from the tailgate. That means you’ll want to make sure you pay attention when walking around your truck when the tailgate door is open, otherwise you might find yourself with a face full of shovel.
If my shovel recommendation is too plebeian for you, I’ll happily ship you a custom shovel Home Depot shovel with AEV written on the side for $200 including shipping. For the rest of you, hopefully this saved you the headache of reading through 200 plus posts of shovel discussion over on the forms.