In our lives we can sometimes be faced with a serious emergency survival situation. This could be a serious fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, you could be trapped in the wilderness, or there could be some sort of political upheaval. To ensure you survive through these crises, it’s prudent to have adequate food, water, medical supplies and other gear for you and your family. It’s also a good idea to have some survival tools on hand as well because you never know when you’ll need a tool to do a specific job. No one tool can do everything, but as most survivalist and preppers will tell you, having a back up tool is vitally important. The ultimate back up multitool is the survival shovel and they’re generally so small and compact that they can easily fit into your bug out bag. They’re also perfect for backpacking because backpacking can quickly become a wilderness survival situation.
What are Survival shovels?
One survival tool we often need is a good portable shovel. You’re probably now thinking of an entrenching tool that is used by the military:
A camping shovel is a critical tool because we often need one to dig a fire pit or a sanitation hole, for example. They’re quite small shovels, about a foot and a half that also have a bunch of other features included.
Survival shovel features
- Rescue Knife
- Wire Cutter
- Bottle Opener
- Fire Starter – firesteel
- Glass Breaker
If one tool had all of the above features you’d have to say that it’s a very handy tool. The survival shovel has all or most of these features, that’s why I love them. A word of caution. If you think that you can get all those features included and pay only $10-$20 for a tool like that, you can but the quality will be terrible. There’s no point putting your life in the hands of rubbish equipment. This is an item that you have to fork out a few extra bucks for.
Survival shovel uses
To see how effective these tools can be and all the different uses, check out this review of the Fivejoy Backcountry Shovel which I rate as my favorite survival shovel.
Other specialists uses include:
Or in really bad situations you might even have to dig for water:
Other features of survival shovels that you’ve probably never thought about:
- Opening a bottle
- As a paddle
- Funerals – it’s gruesome but in a shtf situation it might be your only choice
- An anchor
- As a hoe
- As a pick
- Sanitation – you don’t want the germs from waste to make you sick
- A hook to climb
- As a blade for clearing brush
- To dig cat holes
- Getting your vehicle out of trouble if you’re off road
- Bury trash – for hygiene purposes and also to cover your tracks
- Covering your tracks – if you don’t want to be found, you need to cover your tracks
- As a weapon
- Making fire pits
- Clearing brush
- To use as a stake when making a shelter
- Fire suppression – you can easily put out a fire
- Water purification
- Staving off infections from cuts – if you dig with sticks you’re much more likely to cut your hands or forearms
- Tactical knife
- Extracting nails
- Safer camp fires – you can dig a hole for your fire so it’s less likely to spread
- Scale fish
- Pry tool
It’s also a great option to keep in your vehicle for a “just in case” situation because it’s simply so versatile.
Best survival shovels for 2019
Not only are survival tools valuable in their own right, they’re also the ultimate back up tool. If your axe or your saw or folding saw break while you’re out in the woods, you’ve got a backup.
Here’s a few examples of top quality survival shovels that you might like. These shovels have more than one use which makes them ideal equipment for your survival backpack.
|Name||Weight (pounds)||Full Length (inches)||Additional Features and info||Rating||Price|
|FiveJoy Backcountry Shovel|
Check today's price
|2.15||18.8 - Full Length|
1.18 x 5 x 8 - Packed
|Shovel, Axe, Hoe, Saw, Hammer, Rescue Knife, Wire Cutter, Bottle Opener, Fire Starter, Whistle, Glass Breaker, Paracord.|
The handle is made of Aerospace Grade Aluminum and the Shovel Head is made of Hi-Carbon Stainless Steel. Made in China
|SOG F19-N Elite Entrenching Tool |
Check today's price
|1.55||26 - Full length|
1.5 x 5.5 x 10.2 - Packed
|Saw that is stored in the handle|
Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
|Tri-Fold Entrenching Tool (E-Tool), Genuine Military Issue|
Check today's price
|2.6||23 - Full length|
2.9 x 5.9 x 8.5 - Packed
|Sharpened Axe Edge, Serrated Saw Edge.|
Genuine US Military issure. If you're looking for a pure e-tool that doesn't have many additional features, then this is the best option. It's the most reliable digging tool you can buy and it's made in the USA.
|Fobachi Military Survival Folding Shovel and Pick with more additional features|
Check today's price
|1.9||24.8 - Full length|
0.8 x 5.3 x 8.3 - Packed
|Digging, sawing, chopping, cutting, picking, prying, hammering, bottle opening, shoveling, fire starter, whistle, life hammer, sawtooth knife, rubber grip handle and thickened spade.|
This is the best budget multi-functional e-tool you can buy.
|Fobachi Military Folding Shovel and Pick|
Check today's price
|1.43||19 - Full length|
1.18 x 4.5 x 8 - Packed
|Digging, sawing, chopping, cutting, picking, prying, hammering, bottle opening, shoveling.||4.4||Low
A closer look at the best options:
1) FiveJoy Backcountry Shovel
This shovel has a lot of other uses. It can be used as an axe, hammer, saw, wire cutter, bottle opener, whistle, wire cutter, fire starter, and more. It’s built with high carbon steel so it will last and it’s easy to use. The shovel folds up and stores in a handy carry pouch. It’s a bit more expensive than some other models but it is great quality and to get the best, you have to pay for it. Check the latest price at Amazon. See my review of the Fivejoy Backcountry Shovel.
- Multiple uses
- High quality steel
- Portable with carry bag
- Easy to use
- Shovel is a little small
- A lot of parts that could go missing
2) SOG F19-N Elite Entrenching Tool
SOG is a really well known brand and they haven’t let us down with this product. Be careful you don’t buy their F08-N model because it’s not up to scratch. Check the price of the F19-N.
3) Tri-Fold Entrenching Tool (E-Tool), Genuine Military Issue, with Shovel Cover
The Tri-Fold Entrenching tool is a top quality shovel. It folds up so it’s easy to store and has a saw edge and comes with a cover to protect other items in your pack from damage. This is a US military issue shovel so its made with quality materials. It’s not a budget model but it’s still well priced considering the quality. Check latest price. It’s the most solid and reliable model available. If you’re looking for an e-tool which will be mainly used for digging, sawing and chopping and you don’t want extra functionality like fire starters etc then this is the option you should choose. For more info check out my full review.
- High quality
- Saw edge
- It folds up
- Steel blade
- Can be used as an axe or saw
- No other tools with it
4) Military Survival Folding Shovel and Pick
This shovel has multiple uses such as chopping, sawing, picking, hammering, shoveling and opening a bottle. It’s made with high-carbon steel so it will last. It comes with accessories such as a fire starter whistle, and sawtooth knife. The shovel folds and there’s a carrying pouch for it so you can store it in your pack with ease. This is cheaper than the other two options above but it’s still really good quality. I’ve done a more in depth review here. Latest price.
- Shovel has a lot of uses
- Made with high quality materials
- Portable, folding and stores easily
- A little small for some jobs
- Might lose some of the smaller parts
5) Military Folding Shovel and Pick with Carrying Pouch
This shovel has a lot of uses but has less bells and whistles than the option above at number 3. Both are made by Fobachi and are good budget models. This model is a little cheaper than the option above at number 3 because it has less extras. Check price here. It can be used for hammering, opening a bottle, chopping, digging, sawing, and shoveling. It’s made with high carbon steel so it will last and it has a solid handle. The shovel is ergonomic so it’s easy on the hands and there’s a carry pouch to store in in your pack. It folds up so it takes up less space.
- This shovel has a lot of uses
- Solid steel design
- Folds up
- Carrying pouch
- Small shovel for digging larger holes