Many of the tools that we used centuries ago are still some out most import companions when it comes not only to survival but to ordinary life, too. Yeah, the bow was replaced by the gun, wood and stone were replaced by metal and plastics, and so was the shovel in some way – by machines. But survival shovels, or camp ones, whatever you may call them, are a whole different story.
Unlike the spade you may use in your back yard, the best survival shovel is a more of a multi-functional entrenching tool than just a wooden handle and a head for digging. They are made with higher-end materials, like a nylon handle, a serrated edge, a high carbon steel blade, that can turn into a compact digger, or a swivel head locking mechanism that can be rotated 90 degrees sideways so you can use it for light chopping. They are easy to use for digging too, of course, but they are much much more than a normal backyard digging tool.
Survival Shovels, at least in my honest opinion, are the perfect bug out bag type of tool for anyone looking to get into survival. They are easy to use, and if you are looking for something compact, this is the way to go.
Down below, I’m going to help you define what makes the best survival shovel, and some of the best products on the market right now.
How To Choose Your Survival Shovel?
Before we look at what the ten survival shovels look like and have an overview of their features, here’s how you can decide which of those features you need and how to choose the best folding spade for your needs.
Types Of Use
But for some jobs, nothing can replace a good shovel, and they still play a significant role in:
- Military regimens
- Small projects in mining and construction
- Emergency rescue (i.e., firefighters, EMTs, and SWAT teams)
- Backyard gardening and landscaping
The basic design is simple. There’s nothing fancy about it. It’s made up of a thin, flat, sturdy spade-shaped hard material with a handle attached. It’s simple, but it’s effective.
But the shovel has come-a-long way over the course of human history. They are specifically designed for specific jobs. For example, there are tools made specifically for avalanche rescue. There are military ones for digging foxholes and trenches for battle. Some are ideal for digging deep narrow holes, while others are made for planting gardens. In recent years, the survival community began developing what we call survival shovels.
The bottom line is there’s a type for almost any type of circumstance. And while any is better than none, as you’ll soon see, not all shovels are created equal. Today, grabbing “any old digger” for survival is a terrible idea. The standard backyard one is too long, too heavy, too bulky to take with you, especially on foot. These run of the mill tools won’t fit inside your bug out bag and will slow you down. Yes, a regular shovel will fit in most cars or trucks, but it will take up valuable space. And as you’ll soon find out, they can’t hold a candle to modern-day tactical folding masterpieces.
When shopping for the best survival shovel for your needs, pay attention to the material the head is made of. You’re looking for something extra durable, like reinforced nylon or heat-treated stainless steel (such as the one used for the Soviet-style military tactical shovel). If the head is made of metal, it’s heavier and easier to be used for entrenching, but it will need sharpening from time to time, whereas the nylon-based ones won’t.
Also, the edges of the head can have different features. A serrated edge has all-round usefulness, so you should look for this regardless of your specific needs.
A sturdy wooden handle can carry the weight needs to help you operate the shovel more effectively. However, a folding handle means you get a portable tool which can come in handy when packing light. Usually, folding models make up for the extra weight they sometimes carry through increased sharpness.
Size And Portability
Usually, a standard backpacking shovel is around 16 inches long. They are all meant to be portable, so regardless of whether they are compact and folding or not, you can carry them on your belt with a pouch and a loop, protected by a sheath. All of the models featured on our list qualify for this kind of portability.
A reliable tactical tool shouldn’t be too heavy since the whole point of having a good portable shovel is to be able to carry it around easily. A standard weight to expect from such a tool is between 6 and 8 ounces.
As mentioned above, some survival shovels come with a variety of extra tools incorporated. If you’re looking for an all-round useful camping tool, then it would be worth looking into such a survival multi-tool. Bottle opener, fire starter… you name it. If you already carry these separate tools around (for instance, if you go adventuring with an off-road car), then maybe look for a tactical shovel which can be more useful for digging your wheels out when they’re stuck in the ground or which can be used as an ice pick and so on.
All of the best survival shovels are built to last, but some (the ones made of stainless steel) should also be sharpened from time to time. Depending on how often you will need it and for what kind of jobs, the sharpening will need to be performed more or less often. The nylon-based type of tactical shovel won’t need to be sharpened and may keep its edge better. All great brands guarantee a lifetime use of their products, so if you go for a model featured on the list above, durability won’t be an issue.
What is the best survival shovel on the market?
Now that we know what to look for and how to determine what makes a survival shovel the best let’s look at some of the best models you can get right now.
1. FiveJoy Muulti-Tool
1. Aerospace Aluminium
2. Only 1.2lbs
4. Extra Accessories
This FiveJoy is made using only the best materials, like a high-Quality SOLID Carbon Steel (Blade and handle) and Aerospace Grade Aluminum only for the handle. It has many features, like a Heavy Duty head, Sharp Axe Blade, Serrated Saw Edge, Hammer, and even a paracord. It has all the must-haves for surviving in the outdoors covered. You can not only dig trenches with this versatile multifunctional tool, but it also has some additions in the form of a hidden rescue knife and saw, emergency whistle, fire starter (magnesium rod), bottle opener, and more!
The FiveJoy is very lightweight, clocking in at only 1.2lb, and it is amazingly compact – this really is an essential gadget to add to your outdoor first aid survival kit/ gear. It folds amazingly easy, so you can chuck it in the back of your car or in your bug out bag and know you are ready to take on anything with this tool close at hand. It has been forged from heat-treated High-Quality SOLID Carbon Steel and Aerospace Grade Aluminum for maximum strength and lifetime durability, making it rust, water, and fracture resistant.
Unlike other shovels, you can adjust the FiveJoy military angle with its special screw locking device, making it simple to alternate functions and positions. Spade can be used 30°, 85° or 180° angle as hook, hoe or shovel. Thoughtfully engineered handle optimizes comfort and control for all glove types to minimize hand fatigue. Slip-proof foam cushion on the aluminum handle is water-resistant, quick to dry, and perfect for recreational gardening or on your backcountry hike or cross country trips. Suffice it to say, with this tool you will be always prepared.
2. Gerber E-Tool
1. Folding Spade
2. Perfect Size For Most
3. Durable Material
4. Proven Brand
Let’s imagine you want to keep things simple, but for your situation and you want something more compact shovel. Then look no further than the Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade. It’s a proven, rugged, and reliable design and can be used in various military, hunting, survival, tactical, industrial, and outdoor situations. Thel power-coated boron high carbon steel head also includes a serrated edge on one side to allow you to cut through any obstacle you may encounter, making it a powerful tool for much more than just digging.
The shape of the blade also allows for deep penetration into the ground with each strike. This compact but mighty trencher comes in at an easy-on-the-back 2 lbs and breaks down to only 9.37 inches when in its closed position. When fully open, its safety locking design will make sure the shovel will be as sturdy as a full-sized one. Lastly, the open handle design allows for maximum grip and power, helping blast through your trenching chores quickly.
Gerber is known for making good survival tools, and they don’t disappoint even a bit with this survival shovel. If you get it, you will definitely not regret it.
3. Wanlusha Folding Shovel
1. Lightweight Design
2. Compact Size
3. Durable Material
4. Good Price
Wanlusha is one very well known company when it comes to survival products, and this is for a reason. They use very high-quality materials that are combined in such a way to make the whole item very lightweight and compact. It is also very multifunctional, as it can be used as a Shovel, Axe, Hoe, Hammer, Rescue Knife, Fire Stick or even a Bottle Opener.
The Wanluha is Ideal for many activities like camping, hiking, snow, self-defense, backpacking, fishing, hunting, gardening outdoor activities but you can also use it in your garden or for home repairs too. It is the perfect way to get yourself or your car out of an emergency and when you aren’t using it it just folds down three times and can be put into a very high-quality leather case to protect the head.
To be frank, if you are interested in something lightweight and compact, which is a little bit on the expensive side, you should look into this shovel for sure.
4. United Cutlery M48
1. Tempered Stainless Steel
2. Serrated Edge
3. Chopping Edge
4. Nylon Belt Pouch
This United Cutlery M48 takes the simple idea of the wooden handle digger in its overall simplicity and then upgrades it in both build and style.
The United Cutlery Kommando features a dang near indestructible, injection-molded nylon handle with 30 percent nylon & fiberglass reinforcement.
The head is made of tempered 2Cr13 stainless steel coated with hard, black oxide.
Plus, its blade includes a partially serrated edge on one side and a concave chopping edge on the opposite.
The shovel also includes a reinforced nylon belt pouch for safe storage and portability.
The bottom line is the Kommando has a few extra worthwhile features without trying to do it all. It’s a badass survival shovel that looks as good as it digs.
It’s ideal for all camping and outdoor adventures and helps with digging, light chopping, or even a defensive weapon in an emergency.
1. High Carbon Steel
2. Versatile Camping Spade
3. Hidden Rescue Knife
4. Glass Breaker
Conveniently dig trenches with this versatile tool with a hidden rescue knife and saw, emergency whistle, fire starter (magnesium rod), bottle opener, and more!
Easily fit this folding camping tool in your backpack or the trunk of your vehicle. Dig your car tires out of snow, mud, or ice, or use the head as a glass breaker in an emergency.
Removable tool: Removable magnesium rod is replaceable after use. The detachable protective cone can break windows, screwdrivers, and whistles in case of emergency.
Thoughtfully engineered slip and sweatproof handle optimizes comfort, control, and leverages with all glove types to minimize hand fatigue. Comfortable and ergonomic to use as a recreational garden shovel, camping, or on your backcountry and cross country trips.
Built of quality material of high carbon steel and aviation aluminum alloy, durable, and lightweight.
6. FiveJoy Military
1. Sharp Axe Blade
2. Serrated Saw Edge
3. Fire Starter
4. Alternate Positions
The FiveJoy Military is the Swiss Army Knife of digging tools. This folding entrenching tool breaks down into several unique survival tools. Which is great when you’re trying to consolidate your gear. If you choose the FiveJoy Military for your bug out bag, then you won’t have to pack as many separate tools. It’s got you covered and includes:
- Sharp Axe Blade
- Serrated Saw Edge
- Fire Starter
- Emergency Whistle
- Bottle Opener
These extra tools help make this well-designed product extremely versatile. Obviously, it can dig holes and trenches, but it can also saw logs, chop wood, cut, pick, and pry to your heart’s content. You have two options to choose from with the FiveJoy Compact Military Folding Shovel. A lighter compact version (C1) or the larger heavy-duty version (RS).
If you’re planning to hike, backpack or bug out with it, then go with the lighter option. Otherwise, you’ll want to upgrade to the heavier duty version. Either way, this piece of gear is a tough son-of-a-gun. It’s forged from heat-treated high-quality carbon steel (blade and knife) and aerospace-grade aluminum (knife). These metals give the blade maximum strength and lifetime durability. It’s also rust, water, and fracture resistance.
Unlike others, you can adjust the shovel angle with its unique screw locking mechanism, allowing it to function in alternate positions. It can be set up at 40°, 90° or 180° angles to operate as a shovel or a hoe. Smart engineered handle design, optimizes comfort, and control. The slip-proof foam cushion on the aluminum handle is water-resistant, quick to dry. It’s the real deal survival tool and worthy of an investment in your survival arsenal.
7. Rhino USA
2. Easy to Use
3. Pick Function
4. High Alloy Steel
This model from Rhino USA is made of high alloy steel material reinforced to resist rust, which is how it can be used anywhere. While it folds into a neat compact piece that fits easily in its carrying bag, it can also be unfolded into three sizes: 24.8inch, 18.5inch, and 13.38inch. The board is 0.18cm thick to endure tough conditions, and the sides of the board are serrated to chop things on the side for a neat job.
This is a multi-functional tool that you can use for digging, prying, sawing, chopping, and cutting as well as picking. That makes it ideal for bringing with you on your fishing escapades, hiking, camping, and any other outdoor adventure. The fact that it can be taken apart into pieces that are easy to carry in the bag that the maker provides makes the Rhyno and even more worthy investment.
Speaking of multi-purpose natures, the head doubles up as a bottle opener. The board, being made of alloy, is tough enough to act as a hammer during an emergency. The head’s curved nature allows it to be used as a hoe while the pick does some lifting and digging.
Overall, though it can be a little flimsy at times, the Rhyno USA product is small, lightweight, multifunctional and easy to use, so if you want something at a budget, this is the one for you.
8. Iunio Portable
1. High-Carbon Steel
2. Shovel Board
3. Compact Waist Pack
4. Lifetime Warranty
The Iunio Portable is so much more than just a regular too, though! It features tools that you couldn’t even imagine being put on a shovel: Board, Hexagonal Wrench, Saw, Bottle Opener, Nail Extractor, Hoe, Pickax, Fish Scaler Tool, Emergency Whistle, Fire Bar, Ice Ax, Flashlight, Wire Saw, Compass, Safety Hammer, Screwdriver.
This Iunio is reinforced with extra thickness on the board and is strong enough to endure the toughest conditions. Its head and extension bars are made of high-carbon steel, which is high-strength and wear-resistant. The grip on the handle is made of rubber, ideal for maximizing control. It has passed the durability and destruction test.
The Iunio folds up into a high quality and super compact tactical waist pack that fits your belt. This folding model is assembled practicability, functionality, and security in it. The Iunio Portable is a must-have emergency tool for every car, truck, snowmobile, ATV, UTV! It is backed with a Lifetime Warranty!
9. TREKOO Backpacking Shovel
1. Unfolded Into Three Sizes
2. Reinforced Gloves Included
3. Multiple Features
4. Slick Design
This Trekoo is made of high alloy steel material reinforced to resist rust, which is how it can be used anywhere. While it folds into a neat compact piece that fits easily in its carrying bag, it can also be unfolded into three sizes: 24.8inch, 18.5inch, and 13.38inch. The board is 0.18cm thick to endure tough conditions, and the sides of the board are serrated to chop things on the side for a neat job.
The Trekoo is multi-functional in that you can make use out of it for digging, prying, shoveling, sawing, chopping, and cutting as well as picking. That makes it ideal for bringing with you on your fishing escapades, hiking, camping, and any other outdoor adventure. The fact that it can be taken apart into pieces that are easy to carry in the bag that the maker provides makes this shovel and even more worthy investment.
Speaking of this Trekoo’s multi-purpose natures, the head doubles up as a bottle opener. The board, being made of alloy, is tough enough to act as a hammer during an emergency. The head’s curved nature allows it to be used as a hoe while the pick does some lifting and digging.
Suffice it to say, with a sturdy design that can even fold three times, at this reasonable price with all those features, you can’t get any better.
10. Otplore Camping
1. Sharp Edge
2. Emergency Flashlight
3. Multiple Sizes
4. Ergonomic Handle
The Otplore Camping takes some military and tactical ques to make a sturdy design that looks pretty good in camo too. But this piece of gear isn’t the case of style over substance, because it has some excellent features too, like a very sharp blade at the front, or an antislip handle to help you use it better.
But that isn’t even the gist of things, because when it comes to survival, you are prepared very well too. For Fire, you have a fire starter rod built into the handle and if you need to contact someone, you have a whistle too. Repairs won’t be much of a problem too with the screwdriver built into the handle.
In the end, its features and price make it stand out a bit over the competition, making it an excellent gift for someone who is interested into survival but doesn’t need something professional.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Survival Shovel?
A survival shovel is a tactical tool originating in military history, with a design that has proven its usefulness in a variety of outdoor situations. It’s great for camping, hiking, gardening, and other survival-related situations, and it can even come in handy for industrial purposes. Its edges are perfect for chopping roots while digging and trenching, for setting up camp, for helping your car get out of a tight spot during off-road adventures, and so on.
Why Do I Need a Survival Shovel?
If you like adventuring in the great outdoors, a reliable camping shovel is about the best survival tool you can have on hand. It’s relatively small and easy to carry around (compared to a regular one), but really sturdy and helpful in a variety of situations you will encounter while hiking, camping, climbing, etc.
It will help you set up camp, dig a fire hole or a sanitation hole, help move your car or tent, chop through cumbersome vegetation, do minor repairs on your equipment, fight wild animals, and so on. Few other tools areas needed during outdoor adventures, to take a look at your top of the best survival shovels above and pick the best one for your needs. You’ll thank us later.
The best survival Shovel can’t be easily determined, let me tell you. Each product here is good enough to be put into your bug out bag and be used as a proper multi-functional tool, but each survival shovel here is very different too. They have different material, some use high carbon steel, while others use stainless one and so on. But at the end of the day, no matter which one you like and finally decide to get, they will be excellent companions, no matter in what situation you may fall.