When preparing for the unforeseeable, having the right survival tools and equipment can make all the difference.
A quality survival shovel is one of the most important items you can carry with you when venturing into the wilderness or unknown terrain. A good survival shovel can help for various purposes, from digging out a shelter to providing traction on slippery terrain.
You can consider standout options such as Gerber E-tool folding shovel with a serrated edge and the Cold Steel special forces survival shovel. To discover which model would be a great fit for you, read on to learn about their features, benefits, and drawbacks.
Our Best Survival Shovel Table
Best for Backpacking (Lightweight and Compact) SOG Folding Shovel With Entrenching Tool
Best for Camping (Versatile tool for various tasks) Fivejoy Folding Shovel and Multitool
Best for Military Personnel (Digging and Cutting Tasks) Gerber E-tool Folding Shovel With Serrated Edge
Best for Self-Defense (Sharp Edge and Sturdy Construction) Cold Steel Special Forces Survival Shovel (Spetsnaz Shovel)
Best for Survival Situations (Shelter Construction and Fire Starting) Schrade SCHSH1 Survival Shovel
Best for Tactical SItuations (Breaching and Self-Defense) United Cutlery Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel (M48)
Best for Backcountry Skiing (Avalanche Rescue and Snow Analysis) Birdrock Avalanche Shovel
Best for Emergency Preparedness (Versatile Tool for Various Emergencies) Iunio 11-In-1 Military Folding Shovel
Best for Ultralight Backpacking (Minimalist and Lightweight Gear) Tentlab Trowel
Finding the best survival shovel requires understanding the tools available and their features and benefits. It is also essential to consider factors such as durability, blade type, handle lenght, and weight.
For instance, if you are preparing for a long-distance journey, you may opt for a lightweight model rather than a heavy-duty one. The model can be easy to transport and can help you save energy.
Here is a comprehensive analysis of the nine best survival shovels to choose from:
Size When Closed: 10 inches
Size After Extension: 18.25 inches
Weight: 24.5 ounces
Material: High-Carbon Steel
The SOG Folding Shovel with the entrenching tool is a versatile and lightweight folding survival shovel that can be used for various survival tasks. It features a sleek and compact design, with a folding blade that can be easily tucked away in bags or pockets, making it easy to transport.
The blade is made of high-carbon steel and has a serrated edge for cutting through rigid materials. The handle is made from durable nylon and can provide a comfortable and secure grip.
The SOG also includes an entrenching tool that can dig holes and trenches and create other types of shelters. However, it does not include additional tools, so you’ll have to purchase whatever items you want separately. For instance, if you need tools such as an axe or a saw to cut wood, you may need to buy those separately.
The SOG Folding Shovel With Entrenching Tool is a leading model for several reasons:
- Durability - Material used to make the SOG is high-carbon steel, which can comfortably withstand the toughest of surfaces and avoid wear and tear.
- Lightweight - Weighs 24.5-ounces and is easy to carry anywhere
- Affordable - Relatively inexpensive and ideal for those with limited budgets.
- Compact design - Slim and compact design makes the SOG easy to store and transport.
The SOG has several potential cons:
- No additional tools - Does not come with any extra tools, such as an axe, saw, or hammer, which can be necessary for survival.
- Blunt tip - Serrated edge is less sharp than some other models, making it less effective for cutting through tough surfaces.
- The handle may be longer - Handle may be too long for some users, and it can be challenging to control and use.
Maintaining the shovel by oiling and cleaning it regularly is essential to ensure its longevity.
Using the SOG with an entrenching tool makes digging trenches and building shelters for outdoor adventures much less of a slog. However, ensure to carry additional tools for added convenience.
The SOG Folding Shovel with Entrenching Tool is an affordable, lightweight, and compact option that can be easily stored and carried out for outdoor tasks.
With its durable blades and comfortable handle, this model can help you tackle rugged terrains. However, its major limitation is that it does not include additional tools, so you may need to purchase them separately.
Size When Closed: 5 inches
Size After Extension: 19 inches
Material: Heavy-Duty Carbon Steel
Tools: Hoe, Saw, Bottle Opener and more
The FiveJoy Shovel (RS) Survival Shovel is an excellent choice for those looking for a versatile and compact tool with additional functions. Its heavy-duty carbon steel blade ensures durability and lightweight construction, making it easy to carry.
The shovel can be easily extended from 5 to 19 inches and collapses for convenient transportation. The FiveJoy (RS) also comes with various tools, such as a hoe, saw, bottle opener, and more, which can be securely stored in its handle for easy access.
The FiveJoy (RS) Shovel is perfect for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities and provides self-defense in emergencies. When the handle is folded, the sharp end of the shovel can be used as a weapon.
Here are some advantages of the FiveJoy Shovel (RS) Survival Shovel and Multitool:
- Lightweight - Weighing only 3 lbs, it offers excellent portability.
- Durable - Heavy-duty carbon steel construction ensures minimal wear and resistance to harsh conditions.
- Additional tools - The extra tools provide added convenience during emergencies or outdoor tasks.
There are some challenges associated with using the FiveJoy (RS) Shovel:
- Price - The cost of this shovel is higher than some other models.
- Storage - Storing all the additional tools in the small handle may be difficult, so a separate pouch or container might be necessary.
- Size after folding - The length may be too long for some users even after folding, making it difficult to carry.
The FiveJoy Shovel (RS) Survival Shovel and Multitool is an excellent choice for those seeking a versatile tool with additional functions. Its heavy-duty carbon steel construction ensures durability, and the extra tools are useful for various outdoor tasks, emergencies, or self-defense. However, it might be too large for some users, and its price is relatively high.
Size when closed: 25 inches
Size after extension: 75 inches
Weight: 3 lbs
Material: Forged steel blade, glass-filled nylon handle
The Gerber E-tool Folding Shovel is a top pick for anyone looking for something more heavy-duty. It features a forged steel blade and a glass-filled nylon handle that is durable and comfortable. However, it can only be folded to 25 inches, which makes it difficult to transport in a bag.
The Gerber is ideal for construction, digging holes, and other outdoor activities. It has a serrated edge on the back that you can use for cutting through roots, branches, and other materials. You can also use it in an emergency, such as when defending yourself from wild animals.
The Gerber E-tool Folding Shovel offers several advantages, such as:
- Serrated edge - Edge makes cutting through roots, branches, and other materials easier.
- Affordable - Budget-friendly option.
- Compact - Maintains its compact size when folded.
Here are some potential drawbacks of the Gerber:
- Size after folding - May be too long despite its compact dimensions, meaning it might be difficult to store in a bag or other small area.
- Material - Glass-filled nylon handle might not be as durable as other materials, such as steel.
- No additional tools - Gerber E-tool does not come with other tools, meaning you may need to carry separate tools or purchase an additional multitool.
The serrated edge is a particular standout, as it gives the Gerb additional flexibility in taking on various tasks.
The Gerber may require extra maintenance as frequent use can easily damage it.
The Gerber is a solid choice if your adventure, construction, or outdoor activities require a more heavy-duty shovel. Its serrated edge allows you to cut through roots and branches quickly. Unfortunately, it does not come with additional tools, and its large size, when folded, may make it harder to transport.
Size: 30 inches
Weight: 36.3 ounces
Material: Medium Carbon Steel
The Cold Steel Special Forces Survival Shovel is highly recommended for anyone looking for a compact, fixed product. It features a medium carbon steel construction and a black powder-coated, durable, and stylish finish.
Cold Steel’s model is ideal for outdoor activities such as gardening, camping, or hiking. The sheath (carrying case) can be attached to a belt or bag for convenient transport.
It also comes with a nylon belt loop that you can use to attach to your belt or bag for easy transport. This model is also a solid option for military applications, such as digging trenches and foxholes in the field.
Consider the following pros of the Cold Steel Special Forces Survival Shovel before making a purchase:
- Very durable - Medium carbon steel construction is highly durable and can withstand harsh conditions.
- Hardwood handle - Features a hardwood handle for an overall comfortable experience.
- Includes MOLLE-compatible sheath - Cold Steel has a MOLLE-compatible sheath for easy carriage and storage.
Although there are clear benefits, particularly thanks to its sturdiness, the Cold Steel shovel does have a few cons:
- Not foldable - It is not foldable, making it difficult as you need to carry it when fixed
- Weight – The special shovel may be too heavy for some people, especially when carrying it by hand
While Cold Steel has delivered impressive toughness, ensuring the construction is dry before storing it so it does not rust is vital.
You may need to buy additional tools to handle more intensive tasks such as digging trenches or foxholes.
The Cold Steel Special Forces Survival Shovel is a dependable choice for a durable, reliable, low-maintenance option. It can withstand harsh conditions, and its hardwood handle makes it comfortable to use. However, the design lacks the foldability of many competitors, and it may be too heavy for some people to use or transport.
Size When Closed: 16 inches
Size After Extension: 26 inches
Material: 1055 High-Carbon Steel
The Schrade SCHSH1 Survival Shovel is an excellent choice for an extra-long handle, especially if you want to use it in a bottomless hole. It features a telescoping design, extending up to 26 inches. The 1055 high carbon steel construction is high quality and gives it extra strength and durability.
Schrade has a rubberized handle that is comfortable to hold. It also has a saw-toothed edge, making cutting through roots and branches easier.
This model is one of the most robust gardening, camping, or hiking options. Given its sturdy construction, it’s little surprise that it can also be used for military applications, such as digging foxholes in the field. However, if put against extra strain, this model is susceptible to developing some warping.
Here are some advantages of the Schrade SCHSH1:
- Telescoping design - Its design helps the Schrade get into tight space.
- Lightweight - Lightweight and portable.
- High-carbon steel construction - 1055 high-carbon steel construction provides extra strength and durability.
- Rubberized handle - Rubberized handle ensures it isn’t a pain to hold or use.
Before you commit to the SCHSH1, it’s important to remember that the Schrade has some limitations:
- Not suitable for extra strain - May suffer from warping when put under extra strain.
- Saw-toothed edge - Saw-toothed edge may be unsuitable for some terrain types.
- No additional tools included - Does not come with any extra tools, such as a pickaxe.
When using the shovel for digging snow, it is essential to lock the handle in place to ensure it does not collapse.
The Schrade boasts high-quality construction, but cleaning and storing it properly is essential to ensure it does not rust or corrode.
The Schrade SCHSH1 Survival Shovel is a top-notch option if you need an extra-long handle. Its telescoping design makes it easier to get into tight spaces, while the rubberized handle makes it a breeze to hold. However, the Schrade may not perform well with tasks that require extra strain, such as digging trenches.
Size: 16 inches
Weight: 3 lbs
Material: Nylon Gandle, Tempered Stainless Steel Blade With Black Oxide Coating
Tools: Concave Edge for Chopping, Serrated Edge, and a Pointed Blade for Self-Defense
The United Cutlery Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel (M48) is designed for military use. It has a nylon handle, and the blade is made from tempered stainless steel with a black oxide coating. In addition, it comes with a selection of handy tools, such as a concave edge for chopping, a serrated edge, and a pointed blade for self-defense.
The shovel has a durable construction that can withstand harsh conditions and is suitable for digging in hard, rocky terrain. In addition, it features an integrated compass and an emergency whistle on the handle, making it effective for survival situations.
The United Cutlery Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel has several standout points, including:
- Durable construction - Durable and can withstand tough conditions
- Handle multiple tasks - Serrated and pointed blade handles multiple tasks
- Integrated compass and whistle - Integrated compass and whistle make it ideal for survival situations
The Kommando M48 has some disadvantages to consider before opting to use it for your shoveling needs:
- Heavy - Quite heavy and is difficult to carry for long distances
- Compass may not be accurate - A dedicated compass may provide more accuracy
Besides its more practical applications, the versatile design helps make it a readily available defensive weapon that can protect you if needed.
When using the shovel, you’ll want to ensure the blade is securely attached to the handle and wear proper protective gear.
The United Cutlery Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel is an excellent choice for military and survival use. It is made from durable materials and has additional tools, such as a serrated edge, a concave edge for chopping, and a pointed blade. The integrated compass and whistle make it ideal for survival situations.
Size When Closed: 5 inches
Size After Extension: 39 inches
Weight: 1lbs 14 ounces
The Birdrock Avalanche Shovel is a tactical tool designed for backcountry use and offers an ideal combination of weight and durability. Its telescopic design folds up to a size of 5 inches and extends to a length of 39 inches. The aluminum construction is lightweight and durable, giving the Birdrock plenty of flexibility as a multi-use tool.
The ergonomic handle is comfortable and provides a secure grip, while the blade is sharp enough to be effective for chopping and digging.
However, keep in mind this model isn’t well-suited for tasks that require a lot of physical effort, like digging trenches.
The Birdrock Avalanche Shovel is a reliable option with attractive features like:
- Lightweight and durable – Aluminum construction is lightweight and durable
- Ergonomic handle – Comfortable to hold and provides a secure grip
- Telescopic design – Telescopic design allows the shovel to be folded up for portability
Here are some potential drawbacks that come with using this model:
- No additional tools – Requires additional tools to perform certain tasks, such as chopping.
- Not suitable for hard ground – Birdrock is not intended for use in hard or rocky terrain.
With the Birdrock, you can easily reach deep crevices in the snow or dig trenches. But ensure the blade is securely attached to the handle before use to avoid injury.
The Birdrock Avalanche Shovel is an ideal option for backcountry adventures. In particular, the telescopic design allows for easy portability and makes it suitable for various applications. With a lightweight and durable construction, the shovel is comfortable and can handle whatever task you put it to use.
Size When Closed: 9 inches
Size After Extension: 38 inches
Material: High-Carbon Steel
Tools: Saw Edge, Pickax, Whistle, Flint-Magnesium Rod, Fish Knife, Ice Axe, Bottle Opener
As its name suggests, the Iunio 11-In-1 Military Folding Shovel is designed for military use. It offers a lightweight design coupled with additional tools. This option has a telescopic design that folds up to 9 inches and extends to 38 inches, making it easy to transport. It is made from high-carbon steel, making it durable and suitable for various tasks.
Iunio has several additional tools, including a saw edge, pickax, whistle, flint-magnesium rod, fish knife, ice axe, and bottle opener. The handle is ergonomically designed for comfort, and the blade can be safely locked in place.
The Iunio 11-In-1 Military Shovel benefits from its military-grade quality and the following features:
- Lightweight and durable - High-carbon steel construction is lightweight and durable.
- Additional tools - Shovel includes tools like a saw edge, pickax, and whistle.
- Ergonomic handle - Comfortable to handle and provides a secure grip.
While the Iunio is impressive, it does have some disadvantages:
- Heavy - On the weightier side, it can be challenging to carry long distances.
- Additional tools can be difficult to use - Additional tools may be difficult to operate, especially for beginners.
- Sharp edges - Has sharp edges that can cause injury if not appropriately handled without protective gear.
The Iunio is excellent for any camping trip and outdoor activities. Its versatility (and that of the attached tools) makes it a reliable go-to option for mountaineering, digging, and even opening bottles.
The Iunio 11-In-1 Military Folding Shovel is a great choice for military use. Its telescopic design allows it to be easily transported, while the high-carbon steel construction ensures durability and strength. The additional tools make this shovel suitable for various tasks and activities.
Size: 8 inches
Weight: 24.5 ounces
Material: 7075-T6 Aluminum
The Tentlab Trowel is a lightweight, compact trowel for backpacking and camping. It has an ergonomic design with a curved handle for an improved grip.
This model is made from 7075-T6 aluminum, making it lightweight and durable. It is also rust-resistant and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Here are some advantages of the Tentlab Trowel:
- Lightweight and compact - Lightweight nature makes it easy to transport.
- Ergonomic design - Curved handle provides an improved grip and makes the trowel comfortable.
- Durable construction - 7075-T6 aluminum construction is rust-resistant and highly durable.
The Tentlab isn’t without a few cons that you’ll want to keep in mind:
- No additional tools - Need to buy additional tools at an extra cost.
- Blade can be sharp - Blade can be sharp, so wearing protective gear when using the trowel is essential.
Tentlab is ideal for gardening, backpacking, and camping trips, as you can use it for various tasks such as digging and transferring soil.
The Tentlab Trowel is an ideal choice for backpacking and camping. Its lightweight design makes it easy to transport, while the durable construction ensures a long-lasting product. Moreover, the ergonomic design provides an improved grip for comfort and safety.
Factors To Consider When Choosing the Best Survival Shovel
When choosing the best survival shovel, there are a few factors to consider. They include size, weight, material, and additional tools. You can also think about the type of terrain you’ll be using it in and the tasks you will be performing with your awesome survival shovel.
Here is a detailed analysis of these factors:
The size of the shovel is important for storage and transport. Consider your available space and whether you need a collapsible or folding shovel. You can also consider the tasks you will perform with the shovel and ensure it suits the job.
For instance, if you need to shovel large amounts of snow, you might want a larger shovel. Whereas if you are shifting dirt, then a smaller shovel can suffice.
The weight of the shovel is significant for outdoor activities as you will likely be carrying it for long distances. Choose a lightweight shovel but ensure it is still durable enough to handle the tasks you intend to perform.
The material of a shovel should be strong and durable. You can find shovels made from stainless steel, carbon steel, or aluminum. Choose the material that suits your needs, ensuring it is rust-resistant and can handle the tasks you need it to do.
Some shovels include additional tools such as a pickaxe, saw, or bottle opener. Consider whether these additional tools are necessary for the tasks you need to complete.
For instance, a bottle opener might be helpful but unnecessary if you are camping. Whereas if you are gardening, a pickaxe or saw could be extremely helpful.
Conclusion – Get the Best Survival Shovel for Your Needs
You can find the ideal survival shovel depending on your individual needs and preferences. Whether you need a lightweight, compact tool or a more durable and powerful option, various options are available.
Read more about Survival Situations and How To Prepare!
For a tried and tested brand, you can consider SOG Folding shovel with the entrenching tool and Fivejoy folding shovel and multitool if you desire a multitool. Consider the Gerber E-tool folding shovel if you have a low budget and an Iunio 11-In-1 Military Folding Shovel for deep digging tasks.
Survival shovels come in a variety of sizes, materials, and designs. That’s why there are numerous questions about choosing the right one for your needs. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Why do you need a survival shovel?
A survival shovel is essential for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and backpacking. It can help in various tasks, such as clearing debris, digging trenches, and cutting wood.
What is the ideal material for a survival shovel?
The ideal material for a survival shovel depends on your needs. Stainless steel is more durable and rust-resistant, while aluminum is lightweight and easy to transport. Carbon steel is also a great option because it can offer strength and durability.
What safety features should I consider for a survival shovel?
When choosing a survival shovel, you should always look for ergonomic grips and handles to ensure safety. You can also look for a shovel with extendable handles, which can help increase your reach. It’s also important to ensure the shovel blade is sharp and secure enough to handle the tasks you need it for.