Digging without a shovel is a tiresome, dangerous, and difficult chore. You need a shovel whether you are digging through sand, dirt, mud, ice, or snow. Sticks are no substitute for the best survival shovel. Shovel technology has advanced beyond agricultural use, thanks to the boom in camping, backpacking, and preparedness movements.
A terrific survival shovel can help you set up camp, climb rough surfaces, get rid of nails, open bottles and cans, fix your car, repair small appliances, do light chopping, make your way through the wilderness and handle fires. A shovel is one multi-purpose tool that is indispensable to your bug out bag or survival backpack.
How to Choose a Good Survival Shovel
Before you get started on selecting the best survival shovel, you need to know which factors to consider. Survival shovels are available in different types with a broad range of features. What works for your camping friend may not necessarily work in an emergency situation
Why are you looking for a new survival shovel? What do you hope to use it for? This will help you narrow down your options. For instance, if you want a shovel for your backpacking trip, you probably want something light since you will be carrying it for long distances. You should also make sure to consider a shovel that comes with a handy carrying case.
If you expect to dig large holes, such as shelters or trenches, you want a survival shovel that is sturdy with a strong steel blade and handle. Generally, a military-style survival shovel works ideally for this type of task. You should also consider something sharp that can easily cut through thick roots or perform light chopping. Trowels or smaller shovels are adequate for digging small holes for sanitation or tent pegs.
You should look for an all-terrain steel blade or an avalanche/snow tactical shovel if you are going to be using it to dig through frost or snow.
Avoiding plastic cannot be emphasized enough. You may find these options at a lower cost and they may be advertised as light weight, but they are utterly unreliable and can break easily. This leaves you with the following metal options to choose from for tactical shovels
- Aluminum is lightweight, but is not as strong as stainless steel.
- High-carbon Steel is one of the strongest materials you can find in shovels. But, it needs to be painted with oxide to prevent corrosion. The problem is that oxide paint often chips away.
- Stainless Steel is fairly heavy. It may not be as strong as high-carbon steel, but it won’t corrode.
You need to consider the material used in shovel handle as well. Make sure to avoid cheap survival shovels that come with easily breakable plastic handles.
Your shovel’s functioning relies heavily on its built. You need to pay attention to the handle length since the longer it is, easier it gets to dig and use for other purposes. However, length will also add to the overall weight of the shovel and if it is plastic, increase the chances of it snapping in two.
Bigger blades are considered to be the better option since they can make chores go faster. But, you will also need to use more energy to wield the steel blade. Big blades in a survival shovel make it tough to chop roots and dig around rocks. However, you don’t want to be stuck with a small trowel if you are trying to dig a trench around your tent.
4. Portability and Ease of Use
Weight really matters when considering a survival shovel. Anything that is above15-20% of your body weight can quickly become heavy and difficult to carry or use. Look for lightweight and portable best survival shovels that are easy to use and get the job done. Folding handle is a popular design and can make your life easier when in the wild or during an emergency.
You might find interesting to read our best survival multi-tools article.
Top 9 Survival Shovels
The FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel is made from high-quality materials. The shovel head is built from solid carbon steel, while the knife is made from both carbon steel and aerospace-grade aluminum. This solid multipurpose survival tool comes with a paracord, solid shovel, serrated saw edge, sharp axe blade, and hammer.
This is a versatile multifunctional tool and can be used to dig trenches, start fires, open bottles, cut roots, and much more. It comes with a hidden emergency whistle as well for. The shovel weighs only 1.2 lbs. and is amazingly compact. You can easily fit this in the trunk of your vehicle or your bug out bag.
The survival shovel comes with a carrying case which can be attached to your bug out bag or belt for easy carrying and convenient access. The FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel has guaranteed lifetime durability and is resistant to water, rust, and fracture.
Why Buy It?
All in one tool: There are several necessary survival tools that come with the FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel. You can use the additional tools to start fire, dig your car tires out of mud or snow, dig trenches, or use the shovel head to break glass in case of an emergency.
Ergonomic design: The handle on these best survival shovels is thoughtfully engineered to minimize any holding fatigue. It is coated with slip-proof foam, which is quick to dry, water-resistant and perfect for emergency situations, as well as cross country and camping trips.
- Extra tools are helpful
- Great attention to detail
- Screws get damaged easily
- Carrying case is of low quality
Check out our suggested small multi-tools article.
Tyger Shovel is a 16-in-1 shovel, which is designed to carry out most tasks related to RV camping, hiking, off-roading, backpacking, and disaster recovery with ease. The shovel is built for sturdiness and durability and is made from aerospace anodized aluminum and military-grade carbon steel. It is guaranteed for long-term use.
The foldable design makes the survival shovels convenient to carry and store. You can use the carry bag to store it safely in your gear without muddying your other things. The product also features a handy instant switch mechanism. All you need to do is pull out the slider and you can use whichever tool you want. The shovels come with a one-year hassle-free warranty.
Why Buy It?
Multifunctional tool: Tyger Shovel can be used to complete a myriad of tasks quickly. These best survival shovels are designed for cadets, scouts, military personnel, gardeners, survivalist, hikers, campers, off-roading, backpacking, fishing, disaster recovery, hunters, fishermen, truck drivers, and motorcyclists.
Easy storage and access: You can easily store the shovel in its carry bag. It is foldable so doesn’t take up much space. You can store it in your bug out bag or hang it from your belt for easy access. It has a convenient switch mechanism to access several tools without losing focus.
- Quality materials
- Solid construction
- Useful for self-defense
- Too Large
- Relatively bulky
The Gerber E-Tool is built for demanding circumstances. It is crafted with carbon steel and coated with powdered boron for enhanced durability. You can use this tool in a broad range of environment satisfactorily. The handle is virtually indestructible made from anodized 7075 aluminum shaft and coated with glass-filled nylon for a firmer grip.
However, this doesn’t mean that this foldable spade is not compact. It is lightweight and highly portable measuring just 9.37 inch when closed. It weighs 2 lbs. and can be easily carried anywhere in the trunk of your car or backpack. The small size comes in really handy when you need these survival shovels in compact spaces.
Why Buy It?
Serrated edge: The Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade has one side that has a fully serrated edge. This gives you the additional power you need to dig through hard surface. It can easily saw through plants, grass and undergrowth to cut through hard dirt or ice. The shape of the blade makes it easy to use the tool on ground.
Open Lock: The tool comes with an additional lock to keep it in an open position when in use for added stability. You don’t need to worry about the blade accidentally snapping shut when you may have your fingers around the handle. You can keep the lock open by turning it around the ridged knob.
- Chops through ice
- Lightweight and tough
- Anodized shaft
- Boron coating prone to chipping
- No sheath or carry case
The iunio Folding Shovel is portable and designed keeping an outdoor enthusiast or survivalist in mind. It is 38 inches in length and weighs about 2 lbs. It can be quite handy for campers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, gardeners, diggers, truck drivers, and disaster recovery.
This survival equipment is both sturdy and durable. It has extra thickness on the shovel board and can endure the toughest branches and plant roots. The shovel head is made from high-strength and wear-resistant high-carbon steel. The grip is made from rubber to maximize control. However, it is not anti-sweat and can become slippery if used in warm conditions.
It comes with a super compact tactical waist pack that can easily fit on your belt for immediate access when you require it. You also get hassle-free lifetime warranty with these best survival shovels.
Why Buy It?
Extension bars: This compact tool comes with extension bars to make it the size of a regular shovel. This way you can undertake regular as well as compact tasks without compromising on comfort or leverage. The extension bars come in handy even if you are tall and have a large reach.
Multi-tool: The iunio Folding Shovel is multiple tools in one. It has a durable and sturdy shovel along with a nail extractor, hoe, pickax, fish scaler, hexagonal wrench, saw, bottle opener, emergency whistle, ice axe, flashlight, wire saw, compass, fire bar, safety hammer, and screwdriver.
- Carry bag for easy carry and store
- Extensions for long handle
- Lifetime warranty
- Not properly oiled
- Shovel head is small
The SOG Folding Shovel is the size of an average man’s hand when folded. This allows for easy portability and convenient storage. You can use the shovel for gardening, camping tasks, and removing snow from around your tires or digging on hard ground. It may be a small shovel but packs quite a punch and can be easily used for big jobs.
The shovels weigh 1.5 pounds and opens up to 18.25 inches. This foldable military shovel comes with a rotating spade shovel blade that can be used as a hoe or pick and wood saw edge. However, what really makes it versatile is the strong shovel handle.
This super durable mini shovel is made of high-carbon steel construction and comes with a convenient carry case. You can easily pack the shovel in the case and carry it on your belt or in your backpack.
Why Buy It?
Folding design: The SOG Folding Shovel has a 3-way folding design. It can collapse into a portable emergency shovel, outdoor shovel, and hiking shovel. It is not as bulky as other shovels for digging and is compact enough to be easily stored in your camping gear.
Durable: The SOG Folding Shovel is advertised as durable for life by the manufacturers. This survival equipment is built to last and SOG considers all requests for repair and replacement.
- Solid construction and feel
- Compact storage
- Smaller than other entrenching tools
- Requires gloves – hard on hands
Schrade SCHSH1 Shovel is a highly durable product consisting of reliable 3Cr13 S.S. blade with a black, PP, T shaped handle. It measures 10 inch when collapsed and 16.6 inch when open. The shovel comes with telescope design which allows for a longer handle when required. The full length of Schrade SCHSH1 Shovel is 20 inch and weighs 1 lb.
The shovel is highly dependable and can be accessed quickly. It comes with a convenient polyester sheath which allows for easy storage and carry. You don’t have to worry about the blade damaging your other gear. The PP, T shaped handle is strategically designed allowing for maximum grip.
You can work in the field or in an emergency situation with full confidence that the steel blade will not slip from your hands. Schrade SCHSH1 Shovel has extra sharpened edges to keep you prepared for almost every scenario. It collapses down easily when you don’t want to use it and is light enough to be carried anywhere.
Why Buy It?
Dependable: The Schrade SCHSH1 Shovel has a blade made from 3Cr13 S.S. This is a highly reliable material. The blade is extra sharpened to carry out all types of tasks with ease.
Telescoping handle: The shovel comes with extendable handle. You can dig in enclosed spaces as well as carry out regular shoveling tasks with ease.
- Extendable handle
- Sturdy material
- Very sharp
- Small shovel head
- Not for heavy-duty usage
The US GI Military Shovel is designed to carry out strenuous military tasks, like entrenching. It has a blade made from stainless steel which is coated with black powder finish. This prevents corrosion and rust from setting in. Shovels dimensions are 9.4 x 7.1 x 2.9 inches and it weighs 2 lbs.
The shovel head can be used at multiple angles from 45 t0 180 degrees. This makes it one of the most versatile tools. You can use the 45 degrees angle for grappling while the 90 degree is ideal to be used as pick. 180 degree is the perfect setting for carrying out demanding tasks.
The product also has a sharpened saw edge and axe to easily cut through roots and chop wood when necessary. However, few users report the blade was not as sharp as advertised and they had to sharpen it on arrival. The bolt for the angle locking mechanism is tight on arrival. You may need to lubricate it to loosen it a bit.
Why Buy It?
Folding: The shovel can easily fold into three parts. This makes for a highly compact shovel that can be carried in your backpack or camping gear.
Heavy-duty use: The US GI Military Shovel is designed for more extreme circumstances. It is an excellent survival shovel that can take care of most outdoors tasks with ease.
- Survives longer than most shovels
- Heavy duty
- Multi-purpose angular head
- Serrated edge not useful
- No carry case
The Glock Entrenching Tool is a highly versatile multi-functional tool. It is lightweight and compact and comes from a brand known for creating high-quality tools. You get a high level of endurance with the Glock E-tool since there are no welded parts or rivets that can give way or break.
This folding blade can be easily locked in four positions for greater maneuverability. There are no moving parts that can break or snap free. The handle is made from high-grade impact-resistant polymer. It also comes with a useful saw that can be extended. All you need to do is unscrew the cap and turn the saw around to make it extend from the handle.
These shovels have a fully extended length of 25.4 inches. They offer great value for money since you get two fully functional and highly useful tools at the price of one. Plus, you don’t need to worry about its weight, size, portability, or durability.
Why Buy It?
No welding or rivets: The entrenching tool does not come with welding or rivets. This allows for long-lasting durability and greater strength.
Value: The tool comes with everything you would need in a simple yet sophisticated foldable shovel. The entrenching tools can be used in four ways and are highly versatile.
- Sturdy build
- Handle could be made longer
- Not for casual users
Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel works well both indoors and outdoors. This folding shovel offers simplicity with a highly efficient and lightweight construction. It comes with a convenient push-button slide system making it easy to access and use.
Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel comes in a nylon drawstring carry bag to make storage and carry easy. You can keep it in your backpack or with other camping gear without worry. The handle has a telescoping joint that allows it to be folded down to a compact size easily.
There is a rubberized grip on the handle for better handling and usage. You can use these shovels for everything from hammering tent stakes, clearing snow around tires, to building trails for biking or hiking.
Why Buy It?
Hammer Feature: Most shovels don’t come with a hammer feature. The base of these shovels can be used to hammer tent stakes or nails. However, many users have complained that the hammer is not very effective and tends to slip and slide.
Versatile: The shovel can be used for multiple purposes, such as digging a small hygiene hole, clearing thicket, cutting roots, hammering nails, and clearing snow from around tires. It also comes with an easy-to-use push-button slide mechanism which makes access easy.
- Good design
- Quality materials
- Short grip
- Tiny shovel head
Why You Should Carry a Survival Shovel?
The best survival shovel can help you through tricky spots and may quite possibly make a huge difference in a life and death situation. The first step to emergency preparedness is to build a custom Bug Out Bag (BOB). No BOB is complete till it has a sturdy survival shovel in it.
There are several other tools you may consider for your BOB or EDC, but a shovel is something that ranks really high. You may lean towards lightening the load and skimping off some stuff. But, not having the right tools when you need them could lead to a disastrous situation, especially during an emergency.
There are many survival shovels that are multi-functional and include several other tools. If load or clutter is something you are worried about, you should try one of the multi-tool shovels where you can get a shovel, saw, knife, whistle, fire starter, bottle opener, and other things in one.
The major reason why you should consider investing in an emergency survival spade is because it can help you do the following things:
- Digging out a car stuck in mud or snow
- Digging a latrine
- Making a trench
- Digging a fire pit
- Making a survival shelter
- Leveling ground when pitching tent
Needless to say, shovels can be indispensable in emergency and survival situations. However, there is no way you can pack a regular-sized survival spade in your BOB or keep it in the trunk of your car. You need something that is durable, sturdy, lightweight, compact, and portable. This is why shopping at the gardening section of your nearest Home Depot is not going to work.
One of the best survival shovel is without question the Tyger Shovel – Best Multi-tool if money is not an issue. It has 16 survival tools all integrated seamlessly in one shovel. In addition, you get a handy waterproof storage to keep your compass, matches, rope cutter, and other essential supplies.
The next best option is the FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel. It is built of high-quality materials and can be used for multiple purposes. You can dig trenches, cut roots, start fires, and much more. The shovel is resistant to water, rust, and fracture and comes with a lifetime warranty.