The 5 Best Camping & Folding Shovels
Camping is tough, and that’s part of what makes it so rewarding for the roughly 40 million Americans who enjoy it. It’s not for everyone, it takes a special kind of person to leave behind the comfort, convenience, and safety of city life to test themselves against the unknown challenges that nature offers.
Let’s take a look at some of the best camping shovels for any situation you may find yourself in. On top of that, we’ll include options for any budget, because there’s really something for everyone. First, let’s take a look at some introductory thoughts about packing for camping in general, and then we’ll dive right into the different types of shovels and how to choose the perfect one for the job.
|Weight||3.2 oz||2.6 lbs||4.8 lbs||2.9 lbs||5.3 lbs|
|Material||Stainless steel||Powder coated steel||420 high carbon steel||High carbon steel and aviation aluminum alloy||12 gauge steel blade|
|Pros||Compact and lightweight||Strong brand, solid material, serrated edge.||Great multi-tool and build quality||Very versatile shovel, tons of features and great materials||Made in the USA, blunt and powerful|
|Cons||Watch out for Chinese knockoffs||A few users noted issues with the locking mechanism||Bit expensive||Bit expensive||None|
The 5 Best Compact Camping and Survival Shovels of 2017
1. U-Dig-IT Collapsible Trowel Tool
Our Rating: (5/5)
The U-Dig-It by Ultimate Survival Technologies is a well-reviewed, sturdy little trowel that folds in half and fits in your pocket. It’s useful for digging a trench around your tent to avoid having all of your belongings soaked in a storm, and it’s good enough to dig out small rocks and to help level the ground before you pitch your tent.
It’s very affordable, and while being sturdy enough, it’s not the most heavy-duty item you’ll come across. None the less, it serves its purpose well. Still, if you’re serious about this, you’ll want to look at our next option because it’s a lot heavier duty, and something you can really rely on when the going gets tough. Best case scenario, you won’t need it. But, what if you do?
The Gerber E-tool has a serrated edge so that you can use it to help clear out brush, while also digging up larger rocks. It’s a bit larger than the U Dig-It, but not by a lot. Folded up, this Gerber shovel is still less than 10 inches long, and feels a lot stronger and more durable. You can use it to saw through the undergrowth, grass, and plants. It will also help you get through tough dirt. It weighs a little bit more at two pounds, but if you’re doing any even remotely serious digging, you’ll be glad you took it along. You can find entrenching tools for as low as $10, and at roughly five times that price, this one isn’t the cheapest out there – but you get what you pay for. You don’t want to be out in the thick of it, wishing you’d spent the extra few bucks as you sit there with a shovel that can’t handle the job.
Medium-Size Multi-Function Camping Shovels
Now, let’s take a look at a couple of options that are a bit more versatile. There are pros and cons to camping with multi-tools.
- On the one hand, by combining certain things you can save space.
- On the other hand, having functions you don’t need can add extra weight and sometimes these extra features are just kind of forced in, while not actually being quality versions of whatever they’re meant to be.
For example: Having a compass built onto the handle of a shovel can be kind of handy to have, but if you actually need to navigate, you’d much rather have a higher quality and more reliable pocket compass. Instead of walking around carrying your shovel in-hand to use a compass worth pennies instead of high-end and better-calibrated one like you’d get from a stand-alone unit. You could possibly even opt for a survival watch instead, which is lightweight and some feature compass options.
The Gerber we just featured is somewhat versatile. It has a serrated saw edge, but other than that there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles. If you want some bells and whistles, here’s a cheaper light option and a heavier more expensive option.
3. FiveJoy Backcountry Survival Shovel
Our Rating: (4.7/5)
|Material||420 High carbon steel|
This folding shovel by Fivejoy has so many add-ons it’s crazy. It comes packed with a Shovel, Axe, Hoe, Saw, Hammer, Rescue Knife, Wire Cutter, Bottle Opener, Fire Starter, Whistle, Glass Breaker, and lastly a Paracord. Essentially everything you would need to survive a zombie apocalypse, or camping with your family.
The shovel is ergnomic and only weighs, 1.4 lbs. Don’t worry, we thought the same thing, how is that possible. We put it to the test, and the heat treated carbon steel is very strong and can surely take a heavy beating. This is one of our favorite multi-tools and for good reason. It also has the become a staple in our bug out pack. We’ll be honest though, we rated the “multi-tools” below the other two true fold-able shovels because you can easily fit the above options separately and save space. Most survivalists and even hikers will pack a hunting knife which is likely better than the packaged rescue knife.
4. Pagreberya Camping Shovel
Our Rating: (4.6/5)
|Material||High carbon steel and aviation aluminum alloy|
The heavier-duty option is made by Pagreberya, has much better reviews, costs about 3/4 of the Fivejoy, and is worth every penny.
This tool includes a shovel (of course), which has a larger serrated edge, a ruler, a pivoting head so that it’s great for digging at different angles.
The handle unscrews to reveal a wide range of extra tools hidden inside such as a screwdriver, a multi-function saw knife, a bottle opener, an emergency whistle, and a magnesium rod to help start fires.
None of these extra features take up a ton of space since they’re all built in. The shovel would be the same size even if it didn’t have them. It can also be used as:
- A wire cutter,
- An axe,
- It has hex wrench cutours and a lot more.
- It’s a very versatile tool, but it may be overkill depending on what your needs are.
5. Bully Tools 12 Gauge Spade
Our Rating: (4.5/5)
|Country of Origin||USA|
|Material||12 Gauge Steel Blade|
|Limited Lifetime Warranty
Next up, let’s go over one more option. If you’re looking for a real work horse, and don’t care about weight or size or all the extra features, and need to do some serious digging at the campsite, you might as well just go with a full size garden shovel. It will work the best. It’ll make the job so much easier. Bully Tools 12 Gauge Shovel with Fiberglass Handle This shovel by Bully Tools is right up your alley if you’ve got a lot of digging to do, and aren’t low on space. It’s got a long fiberglass handle so you get great leverage while digging, but it’s not going to slow you down with unnecessary weight. This shovel includes a limited lifetime warranty. It’s not super practical if you’re backpacking, but if you’re loading up the car or truck or camper, and you’ve got some extra space for it, it’ll make life a lot easier.
Final Thoughts & Recap
At the start of this article, we really wanted to emphasize that choosing the best shovel for camping is really a matter of circumstances, and personal preference. Now, you’ve been presented with 5 different options to meet a variety of needs and budgets. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
- If you can afford a better tool, buy a better tool. Not only will it last longer, it will be easier to use and a better overall experience.
- If you’re on a budget, it’s better to have something instead of nothing. Also, if you’re not putting yourself in any really dangerous situations, and just doing some leisurely camping, you may not need something as durable or reliable. If you absolutely need something you can count of, however, make sure you invest accordingly.
- There’s a certain romance to really roughing it in the nature. But if you aren’t experienced, don’t bite off more than you can chew. There’s no shame in having the right tools at the right time, not everybody has to be Les Stroud from Survivor-man.
Recap of The Best Options
Let’s quickly go over each of the shovels that we recommended in this article. Which is the best survival shovel to pick? It depends…
- The U-Dig It Folding Shovel (Small) – Very small and affordable, good for light work.
- Gerber Entrenching Tool (Small) – Very high quality, folds up nicely, also great value.
- FiveJoy Folding Shovel (Medium) – Extremely versatile and lightweight. Quite possibly our favorite shovel reviewed.
- Multi-shovel by Pagreberya (Medium) – The more versatile shovel on the list, includes a lot of tools. Great if you need them, not so great if you don’t.
- The Bully (Large) – Just a classic shovel for serious digging, very reasonably prices, well-reviewed, and high-quality.