After the excitement of the first snowfall of the season when everything is first coated with pure white, snow removal settles into being a chore, like mowing a lawn or housecleaning. If you are the type who’s left unimpressed by “name” brands and look at powered snow removal equipment in the same manner as you would a snow shovel  — simple, low-cost and necessary — then you should seriously consider stopping in at your local hardware store. There you’ll find a selection of understated snow throwers either made specifically for the hardware chain or as a store’s “off” brand budget model such as the MTD Gold Series.

In reality MTD may well be the largest producer of consumer snow removal equipment in North America. The company started out in Cleveland, Ohio, where it was founded in 1932 as a local tool and die supplier. Over the years MTD expanded into products as diverse as tricycles, wheelbarrows and, in 1958, its first lawnmower. Today MTD manufactures outdoor power equipment for a global marketplace under a variety of brands —  including Cub Cadet, Troy-bilt, Bolens, White Outdoor, Yard Machines and its own MTD Gold brand. These products range from lawn and garden to snow removal equipment and can be found at “big box” home improvement centers, local hardware stores, mass retailers and independent dealers.

We found our MTD Gold Series at an Ace Hardware store in central Minnesota, where we bought it for purely basic reasons. We needed a snow blower to clear the walk around our winter getaway cabin and the entry to our snowmobile shop so drifts wouldn’t pile up in front of the shop’s garage door. Since it was to be used at our “getaway” and not going to be our primary snow remover, we didn’t want to spend for a “name” brand. But it had to be reliable, feature an electric start option in case the engine got a little stubborn due to infrequent usage, and be able to handle both packed and loose snow.

When we visited our local small town hardware store, we saw a few samples of the MTD Gold Series. For about US$500 we were interested — especially since our selection was on sale for less than the full manufacturer’s suggested price.

Since many suburban guys have to get the occasional hardware store “fix” and roam the isles of nuts and bolts, hammers and saws, and power equipment, they might recognize the classic look of the basic MTD Gold series snow throwers as bearing a strong resemblance to such equipment sold under other brand names. The MTD Gold series snow thrower shares family engineering and detail features with other MTD snow removers.

The MTD Gold Series used to rely on the seemingly ubiquitous two-stroke motor that required a homeowner to mix oil and gas. Thanks to environmental concerns, the smelly and messy two-strokes have been replaced by four-stroke motors that are usually more fuel-efficient and don’t leave that two-stroke “perfume” that seemed to permeate your snow clothes. In addition today’s four-strokes generate more torque at lower RPM which is great for single-stage snow throwers like the MTD Gold series as they hunker down and dig in at lower engine speeds.

The MTD Gold series features a 21-inch clearing width with an intake that will handle 10-inch snow depths. The curved augers can clear to the pavement and help to propel the device. One word of caution. If you have a gravel or rocky area to clear, these types of snow throwers should not be used as rocks ad debris can get caught up in the auger and stall out the motor. Paved or concrete walks and drives are no problem.

The MTD Gold 21-inch snow thrower came with an optional electric start to spin the engine on really cold days. Once started, the engine restarts quickly and easily. You’ll like the fuel-sipping attributes of the air-cooled 208cc single cylinder motor. That means the MTD Gold snow thrower can be fitted with a two-quart fuel tank to help keep the unit light for easy maneuverability.

Since these snow throwers are both simple and readily available, you’ll find parts equally obtainable. We have to admit that we can’t imagine needing any replacement parts on a regular basis. The movable and directional snow chute is made of light but incredibly rugged poly material. The auger features a rubberized edge that scrapes as it cleans down to the base. And the handles fold away to make storage easy.

While you may prefer the appeal of a “name” brand, like us, you’ll find that MTD’s branded line of basic snow tossing equipment does everything that the more expensive snow throwers will do — but for less money.