Shovels are one of the oldest tools known to man, originally used for excavation purposes. Now, they are known as a multifunctional tool, making them the ideal piece of survival gear to help you out of difficult situations.
Not only can you use them to dig holes, but also to set up your tent, or move further along if you are climbing uneven terrain. The uses are endless when it comes to survival shovels.
Survival shovels differ from regular garden shovels in various ways, and it is useful to know this before buying any old shovel online and thinking it will help you survive.
However, there are so many products out there, and the market can seem saturated with survival gear. All shovels are built differently and have unique features. So how do you choose the best survival shovel for your needs?
We’ve reviewed five of the best survival shovels to help you make your decision. Hopefully, this will make the task of looking for the ultimate survival shovel seem less daunting, and you can get prepping sooner!
JunHo Folding Shovel
You can expect durability with this survival shovel, as both the shovel head and handle are built from high-carbon steel, making it resistant against tough terrain. The handle grip is made from rubber and is described by JunHo as a ‘non-slip’ handle, which is ideal for safety and security.
Hidden in the handle is also a tactical knife. This knife is a great additional feature that is well-stored and doesn’t require you to use any extra space in your backpack. The tactical knife, along with a blade, also includes a bottle opener and hook line feature. This means you’d need to carry around fewer small items such as these, and can instead have the convenience of them all being inside your survival shovel.
In addition to its high-strength design, this shovel from JunHo comes with a carrying pouch and a belt loop, making it easy for you to transport during survival scenarios or on the run.
Its portability, however, is mainly enhanced due its folding mechanism, and even when fully extended it is only around 9 inches long. If you are looking for an especially compact and lightweight shovel, this might be the option for you.
It is worth considering whether the size would be an advantage, however. As the handle does not extend further than 9 inches, it may be difficult to shovel harder to reach areas. Its small size means it may not be the most multifunctional shovel.
- Built from high-carbon steel for durability
- Non-slip rubber handle
- Easy access tactical knife included for survival assistance
- Carrying pouch and belt loop for portability
- Small, non-adjustable size means it isn't ideal for hard to reach areas
FiveJoy Folding Shovel Multitool (C1)
If versatility is your main concern when choosing a survival shovel, then FiveJoy’s military folding shovel could be a great fit.
It is far more than just a shovel – it contains a wide variety of features that will save you a lot of space in your survival backpack. These include a fire starter, an emergency whistle, a hammer, and a bottle opener, to name a few. In addition to these small survival tools, the shovel also has a sharp ax blade with a serrated saw edge, made from heat-treated, high-carbon steel for enhanced durability.
This shovel does more than just dig. It can chop, peel, entrench, saw, and hook in a variety of tough terrains. Despite this, the shovel is lightweight, at only 1.2lbs, and it easily folds up, so you can take it with you in a backpack or car.
A unique feature of this survival shovel is the ability to adjust the shovel angle with its screw locking mechanism. This mechanism means it can work in a variety of positions, so that you can get the best possible dig regardless of the environment.
The handle is also durable and comfortable. Built from aluminum, it is water-resistant and has a slip-proof foam cushion, making it easy to get the strongest grip.
Although this is a high-quality survival shovel, depending on your intention you may find it to be too small in terms of practicality. As the handle is relatively short, there is less leverage to get an accurate and strong dig at times. Size could especially be an issue if you are stuck needing to survive, with some customers complaining that it is almost toy-like in size.
- Multifunctional survival shovel - able to dig, chop, peel and more
- Additional equipment for extra safety
- Slip-proof and water-resistant handle
- Adjustable shovel angle is useful for survival scenarios
- Short handle may be inconvenient at times
United Cutlery M48 Kommando Shovel
Incredibly sturdy and built with durability in mind, the Kommando Survival Shovel is an ideal choice if you want more than just a basic shovel.
Although it has a classic shovel design, this tool stands out for its longevity and ability to handle heavy-duty digging. The shovel head is made from stainless steel, with a black oxide coating to increase corrosion resistance. Along with a sharp edge, the shovel blade also has a serrated edge along half of one side, and a concave chopping edge on the other, making it multifunctional in purpose.
The handle is made from 30 percent nylon and fiberglass reinforcement, meaning it is unquestionably tough against the odds.
However, different from the other survival shovels on our list, United Cutlery’s tool does not fold. This does make it more difficult to transport and fit into a backpack, so you may need to allow for a bit of extra space if you decide on this shovel. As it weighs around 3lbs, it is not the most lightweight shovel either, so you will need to take this into account when packing your survival gear.
- Built with strong materials to survive tough conditions
- Sharp leading edge is ideal for hard, rocky terrain
- Serrated edge and concave chopping edge for additional uses
- Does not fold
- May be too heavy to be comfortable in a backpack
Rhino USA Folding Survival Shovel
Rhino’s folding survival shovel is described as ‘military-style,’ and this is due to its durable design. It is built from powder-coated carbon steel, so it can perform well during even the toughest of digs.
It also doubles as a heavy-duty pickax. Rhino’s survival shovel requires a straightforward mechanism to use the pickax, as you simply tighten the shovel head at a 90-degree angle to access this feature. The pick includes saw teeth, making it a multifunctional tool for survival. However, some customers claim that the saw teeth are too dull to be of any practical use.
At 23 inches long, this shovel condenses to only 9″ x 6″ when folded. Despite its solid build, the shovel’s compact folded size makes it easy to transport, which is essential if you need to leave at the last minute.
- Pickax feature is great for survival scenarios
- Durable carbon steel design
- Compact folded size for portability
- Sawteeth may be too dull for practical use
USGI Military E-Tool Shovel
As a genuine issue of the US military, this survival shovel is built to withstand any condition you could think of. The heavy steel blades are designed to dig through everything from gravel to tough dirt and roots. The blades’ serrated edge also gives you peace of mind that you can cut through certain terrains if necessary.
When looking for a survival shovel, size and portability are crucial. This shovel comes with the added benefit of being adjustable, so you can lock it in at different lengths and positions. It can also double as a grappling hook or an ice pick, so you use this shovel whatever the weather.
For your convenience, this shovel also comes with a durable carrying case, made from 1000 denier nylon. It includes MOLLE straps so you can easily attach the case to your backpack or vest.
However, the reliability of this carrying case is questionable. Some customers have claimed that it is a bit too narrow to properly fit the shovel inside, and will require you to maneuverer the tool around to get it in correctly.
- Durable steel blades
- Adjustable shovel length
- 1000 denier nylon carrying case for portability
- Carrying case may be too narrow to comfortably fit the shovel inside
As you can’t always anticipate when your circumstances, it is important to have a survival shovel that can perform well no matter what.
Some survival shovels are described as ‘military-style,’ which means they’re designed to withstand a variety of harsh conditions. Their adaptability is due to their more advanced features, such as pickaxes, being included.
A good survival shovel will be able to dig through all kinds of terrain, including frozen ground. You’ll want to be sure that your shovel won’t let you down during the most crucial of times.
However, while your survival shovel should be versatile, some shovels work better in specific conditions. If you know you are going to be surrounded by deep trenches, then a shovel built for purpose might work better for you.
When it comes to choosing the best survival shovel, one of the most important factors to consider is the shovel head. The head is the part of the shovel that will be doing most of the work, so its design is not to be overlooked.
For the best chance of survival, and for your shovel to keep performing well for years, you will need a durable shovel head. Aim to find a shovel head built from a strong material, such as heat-treated stainless steel, or reinforced nylon. Metal shovel heads are heavier, and therefore easier to use for entrenching. It is worth noting, however, that metal shovel heads will need sharpening quite often, unlike nylon ones.
The head should be solid and thick, and if it bends against pressure, then it will likely be useless when it comes to survival.
Besides the material, the shape of the shovel head is significant as well. Some shovel heads feature serrated edges, which can be especially useful for intense digging in tough terrain. A survival shovel with this feature means it can also double as a weapon. In an emergency, you never know when you’ll need to fend off unwanted enemies or threats, so a shovel can be a surprising help if need be.
A Good Grip
Not only does the shovel head need to be durable, but it is also crucial that you look at the quality of the handle as well.
The length of the handle in particular is worth considering, as longer handles make the shovel easier to use. However, a long handle will be more difficult to carry, adding more weight to your survival kit.
Another aspect to bear in mind is how the handle can affect your ease of use. If you have a shorter handle, this will typically require you to bend more when digging. However, some survival shovels offer adjustable handles, so you can use your full weight to get the most out of your dig.
In terms of material, most handles are built from either metal or hard plastic. Although metal handles are sturdy and durable, plastic handles are typically much lighter, so this is worth thinking about when it comes to survival.
You should also bear in mind the hinge part of the handle. The hinge connects the shovel head to the handle, and can often get damaged or even fall apart. A high-quality shovel should come with a sturdy hinge, but this part of the handle will need cleaning fairly regularly. You can use a wire brush to help you with this process.
Convenience for Survival
Many survival shovels are foldable, which makes them ideal for carrying around in the wilderness. They should comfortably fit in your bug-out bag or backpack, as you can imagine how difficult it would be to carry around a large shovel for potentially days on end.
It should therefore be lightweight and small when folded, and there are different kinds of foldable shovels available for you to consider. There is a three-piece folding mechanism, where the blade and the top of the handle, known as a ‘D’ grip or ‘T’ grip, can be folded up. There is also a two-piece folding mechanism, which means the blade is folded.
As mentioned previously, a metal shovel will typically be a lot heavier than a plastic shovel, so bear in mind how much extra weight you can handle in your backpack.
Most survival shovels are smaller than regular shovels, making them easier to transport. However, some survival shovels are even able to fit on your belt using a pouch or belt loop, along with a protective sheath. This feature is especially beneficial for survival, and saves you rummaging in your backpack when you need to perform an important dig.
Extra Survival Gear
Some of the best survival shovels will come with additional standout features, which will make them an all-round impressive product. Nowadays, shovels can do far more than just dig, with some offering bottle openers and fire starters with them.
Having a shovel with these extra features might save you space if you already carry a lot of smaller items around, so in terms of portability this could be worth thinking about. However, if you don’t think these extra tools are necessary, then there are tactical shovels that can offer more uses. These military style shovels can double as ice picks, for example.
For an all-in-one, multipurpose survival shovel, my choice would be the FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel.
The number of uses this shovel has makes it the best survival shovel, in my opinion. It is one that is worth investing in if you want a shovel that can help you out of any situation.
As hard as it may seem to make the right choice when it comes to choosing a survival shovel, it is essential to consider all of the available options. A survival shovel is a valuable tool that you’ll regret not having in your survival kit when the time comes.
We hope our rundown of five of the best survival shovels has helped make your decision as straightforward as possible. If you have any questions, please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!
Good Luck and Happy Survival Prepping!
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