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When it comes to survival shovels, there are two main types: military-issue and civilian. Each has its own set of pros and cons, and you’ll want to consider which works best for your unique situation.
Military-issue shovels are typically used in combat or tactical situations, while civilian shovels are perfect for outdoor activities like camping and hiking. If you’re buying a survival shovel, consider what kind of use case you have in mind when shopping around. I’ve used various shovels and have written this article to share my experience. I love using the US GI Military E-Tool entrenching shovel due to its strong build, ideal for different terrains. Read on to read my review for this shovel and a few others that caught my attention.
Also Read: Best SHTF Gear List & Plan
Here Are The Best Survival Shovels (Our Picks)
A shovel can clear away debris from a storm, help you create an evacuation path for you and your family, or dig out your propane tank from a mudslide. When you’re hiking in the wilderness or camping, that same shovel can be used to clear away debris so you can build a fire for warmth or protection. It can also be used to dig a trench around your camp to keep out wild animals such as bears and mountain lions. Here’s my pick of what I think could be the best survival shovels out there.
When you need an effective tool for digging foxholes and other small holes, you can rely on the U.S. Military E-Tool entrenching shovel. This versatile shovel allows you to dig in rocky, frozen, or hard-packed ground. It is made of steel with an aluminum handle, making it durable and easy to use.
This rugged and durable shovel is made for tough terrain. It is a military-issue model and is fully functional. Measuring 9,4″ when fully extended, it is ideal for people of all heights. While quite useful in its role as “the soldier’s friend,” this shovel also makes a great gift!
- Made of carbon steel
- The shovel head is a comfortable size, not too big or heavy
- Folds up small and is easy to pack in a backpack
- Good for digging fire pits and clearing trails and debris.
- Folding mechanism is flimsy and will break over time
The military recognizes this shovel as an essential piece of equipment for survival. This great tool allows you to dig a foxhole or even something bigger without carrying around a heavy shovel. Its compact size makes it easy to carry into the field, and its durable carbon steel construction will withstand even the toughest conditions. A must for every outdoors person, this military issue item comes with a carrying case with a strap so it won’t be left behind if you have to bug out.
This FiveJoy Military folding shovel is portable, versatile, and compact with a pickaxe and carrying pouch. It is ideal for outdoor survival or tactical needs, camping, hiking, and backpacking.
This foldable shovel is excellent for all types of terrain! It is great for digging out your car from the snow or ice and cutting through roots and branches to clear a pathway to safety in an emergency. This survival shovel includes a pickaxe for breaking up hard soil or penetrating ice and a serrated edge on one side of the blade for sawing through branches and roots.
The included carrying pouch has a loop, so you can clip it on your backpack or belt loop when on the go. The handle features a compass at the top and has a bottle opener and flint fire starter at the bottom, allowing you to start fires when camping.
- It’s made of military-grade materials
- Includes a serrated edge, so it can act as a saw and cut through roots, ice, or small branches
- The shovel head can be adjusted to four different angles for maximum versatility
- Lightweight at 1.2 lbs. and compact for easy carrying
- The blade is only partially sharpened, so you’ll need an additional tool if you want it completely sharpened
Ideal for digging, probing, and wading, the FiveJoy Military folding shovel comes with a brush, saw blade, and nail claw. It features a durable and lightweight die-cast construction and is easy to take apart and fold into a small carrying bag.
The M48 Kommando survival shovel is the ultimate tool for your next wilderness adventure. This shovel has a rugged serrated edge on one side and a sharpened edge on the other for maximum versatility in the field. It comes with its carrying case, so you can easily attach it to your pack and carry it wherever you go.
With this shovel, you’ll always be prepared to cut through tough materials like wood or ice, dig trenches for protection from enemy fire, or construct temporary structures in an emergency. The M48 Kommando Survival Shovel is lightweight and durable, so you don’t have to worry about its weight slowing you down or adding extra bulk when it’s time to move fast. This shovel comes with a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects in materials or quality.
- Compact – 16.25″ overall
- Full tang construction
- Heavy-duty nylon sheath with belt loop
- The shovel may be too small for some users
The M48 Kommando Survival Shovel is the ultimate multi-purpose tool for any outdoor enthusiast. This shovel has a serrated edge, a saw edge, and a hammerhead. It also comes with its carrying case, so you can easily take it when you head out into the wild.
The Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade is an innovative and versatile tool to have in your camping kit. The blade’s serrated edge provides a multi-use functionality that might come in handy during a camping expedition, while the pick end can be used to dig out objects or break apart rocks. The Folding Spade comes with a closed length of 9.5 inches and weighs 2.55 pounds.
The Folding Spade is made of stainless steel, allowing durability and longevity. This material was specifically chosen for its resistance to corrosion and rust, making it ideal for use outdoors. A powder-coated blade also helps prevent corrosion from occurring.
- Lightweight and compact
- Made of stainless steel for durability and strength
- Excellent for trenching, digging, and cutting
- Serrated edge can be used to saw through roots and branches
- Not suitable for heavy-duty tasks like moving large rocks or digging through clay soil
The Gerber E-Tool folding spade is lightweight and packs down to virtually nothing. This spade has got you covered when the time comes to dig in. With a compact design and a durable steel blade, it’s easy to transport and strong to take on tough jobs.
The SOG 18.25 inch folding shovel is versatile and can be used for various tasks, such as cutting, sawing, digging, hammering, and more. The shovel is made of carbon steel and is built to last. The shovel’s dimensions are 12″ x 9″ x 3,” and it weighs 24.5 ounces. This shovel is ideal for camping trips and other outdoor activities.
The SOG entrenching tool is a portable, compact folding shovel perfect for camping, backpacking, and other outdoor activities. It’s great for digging trenches around tents or building campfires.
This multi-purpose tool features a sharp edge, which can be used to cut and saw through roots and branches. The serrated blade is suitable for cutting through vines and foliage, while the pointed end is ideal for piercing into hard ground.
- It folds up to be very compact
- Sharp and durable shovel edge
- Easy to use and store
- The grip can hurt your hands at times.
The entrenching tool (E-Tool) is a folding, compact utility tool used in military applications. It is also known as a trenching tool or an entrenching device. It can be used for digging trenches, chopping through roots, self-defense, and other tasks.
This WF WU FANG camping shovel is the perfect companion for anyone who loves the outdoors. Use it to dig fire pits, bury waste, and clear trails. It’s also great for auto emergency kits and can be used to dig out your tires if you get stuck.
This shovel has a durable cast aluminum alloy construction with a stainless-steel handle that makes it lightweight and easy to use. The blade folds in on itself for easy storage and locks in place when you’re ready to use it.
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Multifunctional—can be used as a knife, scraper, saw, bottle opener, hammer, emergency whistle, and more!
- This shovel blade is made of strong carbon steel that won’t rust or bend easily.
- Ergonomic design is comfortable holding and using for long periods, even during strenuous activities like shoveling snow.
- It has a lot of small pieces that may get lost easily.
This camping shovel is a multi-function folding shovel that can be used straight or at a 90-degree angle. It is an ultra-lightweight, smart, compact, and heavy-duty tool. Its applications are almost limitless, making it ideal for camping, hiking, snow, self-defense, backpacking, fishing, hunting, and gardening outdoor activities.
The Zune Lotoo shovel is made of high-quality aluminum, with an ergonomic handle that folds down for easy storage and transportation. The blade is designed to break through ice and dirt easily, and the top of the blade can be used as a saw.
The handle has been built with comfort in mind to use it for long periods without fatigue. You’ll never have to worry about digging your way out of a sticky situation with this folding shovel.
- Made with good material
- Folding shovel
- Detachable parts
- Comes with a storage pouch to store the folding shovel in
- Ideal for camping, gardening, hiking, and more
- it is small compared to others on this list
This is an adjustable shovel with a serrated edge to cut through roots. It also has a pickaxe-like feature on the other side, so you can use it to break rocks and ice or saw through wood. It also has a compass and a whistle built into the handle.
The Iunio Camping Shovel is a practical tool you can use during your camping trips. It serves multiple functions. The shovel measures 35 inches when opened. The spade end of the shovel is sharp enough to cut through branches and wood, but it’s not sharp enough to cause injury.
The Iunio camping shovel also has several other functions beyond digging and cutting. There’s a bottle opener on one side and another sharp blade on the opposite side, so you can open bottles or cut through ropes or wires if necessary.
- Good for camping, hiking, and backpacking
- Multifunctional to be used as a shovel, saw, pick, or hoe
- Lightweight: only 3.86 pounds!
- Some consider it to be too small
The Iunio camping shovel is a must-have for camping trips and outdoor adventures. Made of heavy-duty carbon steel, this shovel has many features that make it an essential tool for all your outdoor excursions.
This shovel has a serrated edge on one side, allowing you to dig with ease and giving you the versatility to cut through roots or tough terrain when necessary. The shovel’s edge is also curved to make it easy to use in rocky areas.
The Schrade telescoping shovel is the perfect accessory to have around in an emergency. This shovel can be used as a normal shovel, or you can use its pickaxe-like end to break through tougher obstacles. The shovel features a 16.6-inch stainless steel blade and a T handle for ease of use and better grip.
The Schrade telescoping shovel is a must-have, whether you’re digging up roots, filling in a ditch, or moving snow from your driveway. The shovel’s head is made of stainless steel and has a sharpened point for cutting through tough materials.
This shovel is great for camping and other outdoor activities, but I wouldn’t recommend using it as a weapon. It may be made of metal, but it’s not meant to be swung at animals!
- Stainless steel construction
- Telescoping feature for easy storage and use
- Comfortable T handle grips
- Despite the telescoping feature, the shovel is still quite long when fully extended, making it difficult to use in small spaces.
The Schrade SCHSH1 is a versatile, compact telescoping shovel that makes digging, chopping, and sawing easy. It’s made of stainless steel and is great for hiking, camping, or your next outdoor adventure.
Buying Guide: How To Pick The Survival Shovel That Fits Your Needs?
The right survival shovel can help you dig yourself out of trouble if you find yourself stranded off-road. It is ideal for wading through debris or building a shelter when no other options are available. A good shovel can even be used as a weapon against would-be assailants. No matter what your needs, here’s how to pick the right survival shovel for you:
1. Size: Smaller shovels are easier to pack, but larger shovels can move more snow and material in one swipe.
2. Weight: Heavier shovels can be sturdier and more durable but may seem too cumbersome for longer or more strenuous jobs.
3. Blade Width: Wide blades can clear a wider path in fewer swipes, but they may not fit into tighter spaces.
4. Versatility: Some shovels are better at slicing into the ground, while others slide through the snow.
Also Read: 21 Best Backpacking Knives
Frequently Asked Questions
The shovel used by the U.S. Military is called a trenching tool. It is designed to be a lightweight and simple digging tool for soldiers on the go, made from durable material that can withstand harsh weather and heavy use. The trenching tool folds up into a compact package that can fit in a soldier’s backpack or cargo pocket.
Sometimes you need to dig a hole. Sometimes you need to get out of your car when there is a blizzard. Sometimes you need to smash through your windshield. For all those times, there’s nothing better than having a survival shovel tucked away in the trunk of your car or stuffed in your hiking bag.
These heavy-duty tools are built to be durable and dependable in situations that are often life-or-death, and they have many different uses:
1. Clearing the road after a snowstorm
2. Digging up the roots of a tree before chopping it down
3. Chipping away at rocks while mountain climbing
4. Breaking through an ice sheet on a frozen lake
5. They can also be used to cut through dense vegetation when exploring the wilderness.
Although a survival shovel can be used as a weapon, it is not designed to be used that way. These shovels are designed to help you survive in the wilderness. Although it might be useful to have a weapon while out there, it is best to carry weapons meant for attacks.
Survival shovels are some of the most versatile tools a person can carry. As the name suggests, they’re designed to be useful if you ever find yourself in an emergency that requires outdoor survival skills. Depending on the model you choose, these tools can be used to dig a fire pit, cut through ice and snow, chop wood, or even break your way out of a car after an accident.
Although there are many products today that claim to be “survival shovels,” I recommend a US GI Military E-Tool entrenching shovel suitable for use in an emergency. The serrated edge on this and its compact nature make it ideal for outdoor use. I have been using survival shovels for over a decade now, and this entrenching shovel is among the best I’ve seen.
Corporal Dalton is a former Infantry Rifleman who served with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines. After leaving the Marine Corps, he started an online business where he focuses on teaching self-defense tactics. His two major passions are hiking and shooting guns. He has been a member of the NRA since he was 6 years old and is a strong supporter of the second amendment.