Survival Shovel Buyer’s Guide
Now that you have an idea of the best survival shovel models, it’s time to settle on a suitable shovel for your survivalist needs. However, we understand it’s challenging rounding up your candidates for a short-list.
You need a model that works for you, giving you utility around your campsite or a survivalist mission. There are plenty of different designs and functions of these tools. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about choosing the right shovel to suit your needs.
In this section, we’ll look at all the aspects and functions of a survival shovel, giving you the information you need to make an informed purchase decision.
Let’s start with a throwback for the First World War. WWI was the first war “fought in the trenches.” Soldiers would dig long, deep trenches, securing their positions on the battlefield, giving them a vantage point over their enemies.What Is the History of the Survival Shovel?
As a result, a shovel became standard-issue military equipment. Over the years, the trench shovel evolved in design to the collapsible, multi-functional models of today. The shovel is a vital piece of gear for any survivalist. In many cases, it’s more important than a knife.
Some multi-functional survival shovels contain up to ten built-in tools in the handle and the shovelhead. Having this type of versatility in a survival tool can come in handy. Many companies manufacture survival shovels and some of the leading brands in knife-making offer excellent models for your campsite or survivalist mission.
How Will I Use the Survival Shovel?
When selecting your ideal survival shovel, it’s important to understand how you want to use it around camp. What kind of tasks do you need to accomplish? Do you need multi-tool functionality? Some survivalists prefer multi-tool setups, while others prefer to rely on individual tools.
Do you need a shovel to help you get your car out of the sand when it sinks on the beach? Maybe you want a survival shovel to dig out a fire pit? Selecting the right model to suit your requirements is essential if you want to avoid wasting money.
When browsing for your ideal survival shovel, the first component you need to look at is the shovelhead. The shovelhead should feature a decent thickness of up to 2mm, with design and construction using carbon steel.What Kind of Shovel Head Do I Need?
Carbon steel provides a durable and long-lasting edge to the shovelhead. As a result, it remains sharp for years, and it’s easy to put an edge on it yourself using a grinding wheel. Carbon steel has a hardened finish, making it the ideal choice for digging and scraping.
Most survival shovelheads feature design with a sharpened point and serrated edges. Some offer a serrated edge on the one side of the shovelhead, and a straight blade on the other. These configurations give you built-in functionality for chopping and sawing with your survival shovel.
What Kind of Handle Do I Need on My Survival Shovel?
There are three types of handles available for your survival shovel.
- The steel handle – Steel handles are a great choice for strength and durability. However, shock may reverberate through the handle when digging, making the task hard on your hands.
- The wooden handle – The wooden handle is a fantastic choice for shock absorption, with flex in the handle. However, it can splinter and snap, even if it features a hardwood design.
- The polymer handle – The polymer handle is lightweight and strong, making it an ideal choice for a portable survival shovel.
If you’re a camper looking for a long-lasting piece of equipment, the wooden handle is a great choice. However, if you’re looking for a lightweight tactical design, rather go with a polymer or steel handle with a collapsible design.
Multi-Tool Vs. Dedicated Shovel – Which Is Better?
When selecting the best survival shovel, you need to think carefully about how you’ll use it around camp. There are two designs of survival shovels – the multi-tool and the classic.
The multi-tool survival shovel comes with a collapsible stock, which screws out in two or three sections. The inside of the tubing is hollow and contains different tool-tips to suit various campsite applications. Some of the common tool-tips included with your multi-tool survival shovel include the following.
- Fire-steel – A fire-steel and scraper can help you get a spark in any weather, bringing fire to your campsite.
- Knives – Knife heads are handy for gutting fish and other hunting tasks.
- Fishing spear – Catch your dinner in the stream with a fishing spear that’s accurate and sharp.
- Wrenches and other handy tools – From hex-spanners to screwdrivers, choose tools you need around camp.
- Emergency whistles – Inform your team members of your location or attract the attention of search parties.
- Compass – Find your way in the wilderness, and never get lost again.
- Ice axe – Pick your way up the slope in snowy conditions.
- Bottle openers – Crack a cold one to end the day after a long hike.
When choosing a multi-tool option, it’s important to note that these models take longer to set up compared to a tri-folding design. Typically, the tubing lengths in the multi-tool handle feature threads to help you screw it all together.
If you’re out in the wild and digging a campsite, you might get dirt in the threads when tightening the tube sections to the shovelhead. As a result, you might end up stripping the threads, requiring refurbishment.
A tri-folding design might not offer the same versatility as a multi-tool option. However, it provides a durable, reliable folding format that’s resistant to environmental conditions. Look for models that feature a threaded locking system for secure assembly of the shovel.
Choose the model that suits your needs. If you’re wondering what real soldiers and military personnel use – it’s the tri-folding compact design with a polymer handle. However, chances are you’re not military, and you might get more benefit from a multi-tool system.
Is the Shovel Compact and Lightweight?
A heavy shovel is not something you want to haul around on a hiking trail or through dense vegetation.
In a survival situation, calories mean everything, and if you have to waste them on dragging around heavy equipment, you’re going to get in trouble fast.
Since most shovelheads come with a carbon steel design, they all have around the same weight for this part of the tool. However, the handle is where manufacturers cut back on weight. Polymer handles offer the best lightweight reduction on the shovel.
However, if you’re looking for the most compact shovel you can find, you’ll need a tri-folding design for best results. A compact design allows you to stow it away in your daypack, stash it in the trunk of your car, or tie it to your pack for quick access in emergencies.
Most shovels come with average weights of between 8-oz to 30-oz, depending on the tool’s design and functionality.
If you’re frequently going on survivalist-style missions, we recommend going with a lightweight design as possible. However, if you’re looking for a shovel for general camping use, a heavier model won’t be that much of an issue.
When you put your life in the hands of your shovel, you want to know you have the right piece of equipment. While the uses of a survival shovel can vary, if you’re in a tight spot, you need a tool that delivers on its performance claims.Is the Durability of My Survival Shovel Important?
When selecting your ideal model, make sure it features a carbon steel shovelhead. This material is durable and long-lasting, providing you with a blade that holds an edge.
The last thing you need is for the chopping or sawing edge to dull after a few uses. That kind of let-down could cost you severely in a survival situation.
Some models feature a nylon blade that doesn’t require sharpening, but you might end up snapping or damaging it easier than a carbon steel shovelhead.
Look for models that offer a lifetime guarantee on the blade and craftsmanship. Those manufacturers who are willing to stick their necks out for their reputation will produce high-quality tools.
When selecting your ideal survival shovel, it’s important to go for a model with a treated shovelhead. The blade undergoes plenty of stress with chopping, digging, sawing, and other campsite and survivalist activities.
If you don’t have a coated finish on the shovelhead, it will start to corrode, rusting at the edges where the blades receive the most impact. Eventually, the entire shovel will discolor, and you’ll have to replace it.
A powder-coated or clear-coated finish on the shovelhead protects it from the impact of all environmental conditions. Powder-coated shovelheads provide a rugged, corrosion-resistant surface with friction-free chopping and sawing.
Will My Survival Shovel Come with a Sheath?
Your survival shovel is a handy piece of equipment to have on your survivalist mission or camping trip. Most of these models feature sharpened edges that substitute for chopping and sawing tools around camp. Therefore, they present a cutting hazard, even when folded.
You need a sheath or a protective carry bag to ensure your shovelhead doesn’t cut anything when not in use. Some models feature sheaths that cover the shovelhead only, while other models come with complete carry bags to stash away your shovel.
A sheath is a good choice if you want to stash the shovel in your bag and don’t want a bulky carry bag taking up space in your daypack. A carry bag is a good alternative to a sheath if you’re stowing the shovel in your car’s trunk. Choose the model that suits your carry needs.
Does the Brand of My Survival Shovel Matter?
Not really. There are plenty of high-quality survival shovels available from unknown outdoor gear brands. The key when selecting your model is to focus on the materials and design. As long as you have a functional design with high-quality materials, you should receive a tool that will last you a lifetime.
However, there are plenty of knife-making brands like Gerber and Cold Steel offering survival shovels. If you rely on the craftsmanship and quality of a specific brand, choose the model that makes sense to you.
Can I use a survival shovel as a weapon?Survival Shovel FAQs
Yes. While it’s a somewhat bulky tool, the shovel’s sharp point and edges make for a persuasive weapon in a self-defense situation. Some models come with multi-tools specifically designed for self-defense.
Where’s the best place to keep my survival shovel?
We recommend keeping multiple shovels in your kit for everyday use. Store one in your car’s trunk to dig out a wheel, keep one in your bug out bag for emergencies, and store one in your regular camping or survivalist gear.
Is a spade a shovel?
No, most people use these terms interchangeably, but they are two different items. A spade has a flat shovelhead, while the shovel comes to a point at the blade’s tip. Shovels are suitable for minor digging tasks, while spades are suited to moving debris like soils around your flowerbeds.
Where’s the best place to get my survival shovel?
We recommend getting your survival shovel from Amazon. Amazon has free, fast shipping for Prime members, and you get the benefit of Amazon buyer protection on your transaction. If the shovel isn’t the model you had in mind, Amazon has an easy returns process.
Survival Shovels – The Verdict
By now, you should have a good idea of the right survival shovel to suit your needs. However, we realize its challenging to settle on the right model when you have so much choice, even if it’s in this condensed review. If you’re still on the fence with your purchase decision, why not rely on our top picks?
The iunio Folding Shovel wins our top spot for the best overall survival shovel in this review. You get a multi-tool shovelhead that’s useful for all kinds of tasks around the campsite or in a survival emergency. The compact design makes it easy to carry with you, and the lightweight materials won’t add too much weight to your pack.
The Banores Folding Shovel wins our top spot for the best premium model in this review. One look at this shovel, and you know it’s a premium tool. This model’s collapsible design contains survival tools in the handle, giving you access to a bevy of useful items for the campsite. The thick handle gives you plenty of strength and reliability, regardless of your task.
If you’re looking for the best budget model in this review, you can’t beat the US GI Military Original Issue E-Tool value. This compact, lightweight tool was an original issue for the US army.
If it’s good enough to satisfy soldiers’ needs, it’s going to give you everything you need around the campsite. You get serrated and sharpened edges on the shovel’s sides, making it ideal for use as a multi-tool around camp.