The ultimate survival tool you can have in your possession is a folding shovel. It basically is a multi-tool that is small enough so you can carry in your bug-out bag, and sturdy enough to do the job. It won’t automatically make you a survivalist expert, but it can help you survive to spend at least one night in the wilderness, or even in your own backyard.
|Table of Contents|
|What Is a Survival Shovel?||Why Should I Buy a Survival Shovel?|
|Things To keep In Mind When Buying a Folding Shovel||8 BEST Folding Shovels 2017-2018 [LIST + REVIEWS]|
|Mike’s Top Choice|
A survival shovel does the job of a regular shovel but in compact size.
You might have heard it go by a few names, and they are all accurate.
Called an entrenching tool or an e-tool, this gadget also goes by the name tactical or military shovel because it was primarily used by servicemen for military purposes. Because it’s essentially a shovel that can be folded, it is also called a folding or a collapsible shovel.
|Iunio||✓✓✓✓||READ FULL REVIEW|
|MegaDeal||✓✓✓✓✓||READ FULL REVIEW|
|URmates||✓✓✓||READ FULL REVIEW|
|OYISIYI||✓✓✓✓||READ FULL REVIEW|
|Outdoor Anywhere||✓✓✓✓✓||READ FULL REVIEW|
|Fobachi||✓✓✓||READ FULL REVIEW|
|Fivejoy||✓✓✓✓✓||READ FULL REVIEW|
|Fivejoy||✓✓✓✓||READ FULL REVIEW|
All these names only mean one thing: a portable shovel that is often multi-functional. The regular-sized ones, which have long handles and big blades, are just called shovel, and they have different types as well, depending on their uses.
You might also hear shovels being called as spades. Their names are often used interchangeably because they look the same, but they have distinct differences. A spade is another type of digging tool that has a flat metal blade with a sharp edge. Its handle typically has a D shape at the top so it’s easier to grip while being used for cutting and breaking through ground.
A shovel, on the other hand, has a curvier and wider blade. It may also have a pointed tip, while a spade a fully flat one. It has a long handle as well but it doesn’t have the D shape on top. It is best for scooping earth and debris.
Whenever you go backpacking, hiking, trekking, camping or whatever activity you enjoy in the great outdoors, you need to pack a handy tactical shovel that can literally dig you out of any extreme situation. You need it to dig a fire pit and clear mud, sand or snow out of the pathway. You, of course, can do this with a regular shovel, but why would you want carry a 45” shovel around with you in the wilderness? You want to pack light but with substance. And an about a foot and a half folding shovel is exactly that.
And besides, digging and scooping aren’t the only functions of a survival shovel. It is often a multi-tool that also has a saw, knife, axe, pick, and even fire starter. All help that you could possibly need from an outdoor gadget can be provided by this nifty, handy tool.
You can even use it to cook food. Many survivalists prefer the blade of their tactical shovel can be used to fry eggs, bacon or whatever food that is easy to fry or heat. After all, that is one less cooking pot to bring on their trip.
But don’t just get a folding shovel that is basically useless. If your tool can’t handle stress and pressure from multiple uses, it’s not worth bringing with you. It would just be an extra weight you don’t need.
Your tool should be made of high quality materials and parts built exceptionally together. It should have multiple functions, must be easy to use and portable. If it’s not any of the mentioned, you might want to rethink your purchase.
Things To keep In Mind When Buying a Folding Shovel
Pay attention to the blade and handle make. If they are plastic, get rid of them. Their size, shape and length matter as well, especially for what purpose you intend to use them. Also, find out where your folding shovel was made.
If you saw a lightweight plastic folding shovel that appeared to be durable, don’t get it. It’s probably just a toy. And if not, it’s doubtful it would be good enough to use in the harsh outdoors. It’s ideal for clearing snow and very light digging and shoveling, but that’s about it. Go with steel or metal instead. The most common materials used for the blade are high-carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum.
Aluminum is lightweight and does not rust. It also does not break easily but is more likely to bend than steel. Nevertheless, it has better strength-to-weight ratio, which means you can use less strength to operate it than you would with a steel shovel. It is better suited to use for shoveling soft materials, like snow and dirt.
Stainless steel doesn’t rust but it’s heavy. High-carbon steel, on the other hand, is stronger than stainless steel but is prone to corrosion. Both can be used for heavy-duty digging, though. So if you need to dig into rocky grounds, this is your best bet.
It’s not uncommon for a collapsible shovel to have different materials used for the blade and handle. It could be made from aluminum from top to bottom, but it’s likely it has a different material for the shaft.
The shovel could have wood, fiberglass or steel as its handle. Woods are lightweight and can be a good balancer for heavy blades. But again, they are not weather-proof and can rot in time.
Steel handles are sturdy and thus best for heavy-duty usage. However, it is also heavy and may not be ideal to bring around in your backpack. Unlike wood, it does not absorb shock, so you would feel every impact it made in your hands.
Fiberglass is the strongest material of the three. It does not rust and is practically weather-proof. However, like steel, it does not absorb shock as well. It’s also the most expensive of the three.
Folding shovels usually are for emergencies, but they are still meant for specific uses. Flat blades are most suitable for digging and cutting through dirt. If you need to scoop a load off the group, then you need one that has upturned sides.
If you need the shovel to scoop light snowfall, loose and dry sand and grain, you’d probably want its blade to have a deeper scoop so it can contain the materials easily. For heavy and wet materials like gravel, you can do away with blades that have smaller scoop.
You are going to bring it around with you on your outdoor adventures so it’s just wise that your collapsible shovel is actually collapsible and portable.
As a survival shovel, it should be a tool for survival. If it could replace everything in your backpack, then that’s a great thing. It should function first and foremost as a shovel. And if you have one that does, then there’s no problem. However, most of the products out in the market offer a lot more than just an ordinary portable shovel. So it’s best to get one that does a lot more.
Easy to Use/Overall Feel
This boils down to how you, as the user, like to use your tactical shovel. Is the size right for you? Is the handle too short for your build? Maybe it’s too light that you can’t gather enough momentum to properly dig through dirt. What is too short for others may just be the right size for you. Obviously, get one that feels right in your hands.
Another thing to consider is what the shovel is designed for and what you are using it for. If it’s to dig deep earth, you would want something with a long handle. Otherwise, you would feel the strain of bending too far and often.
Where It’s Made
For many outdoor enthusiasts, it matters where their gadgets are made. Survival tools must be made by companies that specialize in making them. That is why they are wary of where their products are manufactured. Nevertheless, keep in mind that even the most popular outdoor gear companies may have their products produced in another country.
Case in point, most of the items on the following list are made in China.
Mike’s Gear Reviews has gathered the top 8 folding shovels that you can purchase online. All specifications and prices listed here are taken from Amazon.com unless otherwise stated.
8 BEST Folding Shovels 2017-2018
This compact military shovel is a great combination of being compact, versatile and durable. It is multifunctional, with the tools that you need in basic outdoor survival included. It has an axe, saw, hammer, knife, hoe, emergency whistle, fire starter and even bottle opener.
Its blade is made from both carbon steel, while its handle is from aerospace-grade aluminum for extra durability. The blade is rust-proof, while the handle is anti-slip. It is touted to be the best folding shovel today, though it is not as perfect as it appears to be.
Here are the pros and cons of the product, according to online reviews:
|Multi-tool||Heavier than others|
|Portable||Extension not included, sold separately|
|Durable||Price higher than others|
And here are the specs from Amazon:
- Compact size, Oversized power – You won’t find a tougher folding shovel tan the FiveJoy RS Military Shovel. Made from ultra durable, water and rust resistant heavy duty carbon steel, this multi-tool was built to last as long as you do. 21.1” long with a 5.7” wide and 7” high shovel head offers extra surface area for entrenching, digging sand/snow/mud/dirt/dropping ice/branches. At only 2.19lbs in weight, it’s perfect to fold up and include in your hiking and backpacking gear.
- All-in-one survival tool set – This is the one tool true survivalists, preppers, hunters, backpackers, hikers and campers must have in their arsenal for taking on the outdoors. Use the multifunctional tools for basic functions such as a shovel, hoe, axe, saw, emergency whistle, bottle opener and fire starter.
- Versatile – Amazingly lightweight and portable, this sturdy folding trench shovel is convenient to store in your car/vehicle for snow days and unexpected emergencies (dig out your ties or break glass). Attach the carrying case to your belt for easy access while on the trail. Add our extension tubes for increased length and leverage.
- Incomparable quality and design – Thoughtfully engineered slip and sweat-proof handle optimizes comfort, control, and leverages with all glove types to minimize hand fatigue. Comfortable and ergonomic to use as a recreational garden shovel, camping shovel, or on your backcountry and cross country trips. Unique lock structure makes it simple to alternate functions. The spade can be used at 90° (hoe) or 180° (shovel).
- Virtually indestructible – Made with heat-treated, high quality, solid carbon steel and aerospace grade aluminum for maximum strength and lifetime durability.
It’s touted to be lightweight, but according to some users, it’s actually a little heavier than other survival shovels. It is still portable but the weight is noticeable. The handle is too short as well, and the extension shaft that can lengthen it is sold separately.
At 480mm long and 670g heavy, this tactical shovel is the perfect size and weight for camping and hiking. It’s compact and multi-purpose, like the FiveJoy (RS) above. It can be used as an emergency shovel, knife pickaxe, saw and bottle opener. It has a high-carbon steel body and handle.
For an average-priced tool, this handy little gadget packs a lot of punch.
|Compact||Size is too small|
|Multi-purpose||Handle screws can come undone|
|Easy to store and carry||Paint easily strips from around the thread, making it vulnerable to corrosion|
Here are the specifications:
- Multi-function: digging, sawing, chopping, cutting, picking, prying, hammering, bottle opening, shoveling
- Material: high-carbon steel body and steel handle
- Total unfold length: approx. 630mm
- Folding length: 175mm
- Pickaxe length: 120mm
- Width: approx. 110mm
- Weight: approx. 670g
- Comfortable soft rubber grip handle, thickened cutting edge, ergonomic design
- Foldable with a carrying pouch with a loop so the shovel may attach to a belt or backpack.
- The military original issue e-tool entrenching shovel can be used either straight or at a 90 degree angle.
By all accounts, the Fobachi Military Survival Folding Shovel might be too small to be considered a military shovel. It does a good job of being a portable shovel and multi-tool gadget, but it’s a stretch to call it a military shovel because it is too small for standard size.
And as it is made from high-carbon steel, it is guaranteed to be a tough tool, but it also makes it susceptible to rusting. It is also not recommended for use as a frying pan because its rubber grip is just a few inches away from the blade. The blade itself also has protective paint, which chips easily.
That said, this made in China handy shovel is a great tool to pack in your adventure bag. It is compact and light and has multiple uses. And as it is substantially cheaper than the FiveJoy RS, it is a practical choice as well.
Unlike the first item on this list, the extension bar for Iunio Military Portable Folding Shovel is already included in the package. It can be extended up to 31 inches in total length, making it comfortable to use while you’re standing up.
It is multifunctional as well. This tactical shovel can be used as a pickaxe, bottle opener, fire starter, whistle, saw, hammer and knife. Both blade and handle are made of high-carbon steel, making it a tough little thing. It does really feel like a power-packed survival tool.
But with all the positives come the negatives. Some users don’t think that this is the best folding shovel there is. Here’s what they think about it:
|Compact||Shovel head is small|
|Handy||Too heavy for backpacking|
|Handle can be extended||Handle unscrews easily|
According to its specs, it’s the perfect folding shovel:
- Military Portable Folding Shovel (31-inch length) – It is designed and produced according to self-driving experiences of many experienced outdoor sports lovers and any kind of outdoor enthusiasts: off-roading, 4-wheeling, SUVing, backpacking, expeditionists, tent camping, pop-up camping, RV camping, cadets, scouts, military personnel, hikers, hunters, fishermen, gardeners, gold diggers, motorcyclists. This folding shovel is assembled practicability, functionality and security in it.
- Features a regular shovel doesn’t even have, all in this convenient folding shovel: shovel board, saw, bottle opener, nail extractor, hoe, fish scaler knife, emergency whistle, fire bar, hammer.
- Extension bar included – You can extend this military shovel to a comfortable size for standing up digging. You can choose the length of shovel by adding less or more extensions according to your height.
- Multifunctional – Ideal for camping, hiking, snow, self-defense, backpacking, fishing, hunting, gardening outdoor activities. Also great for anyone to use, gardeners, survivalists, hunters, hikers, campers. This folding shovel is also an ideal entrenchment tool for field survivalists, disaster recovery staff, truck driver.
- Sturdy & Compact: This shovel folds up and fits in a high quality tactical waist pack with a belt loop to carry at your side. It’s easy for you to hang it on your belt to carry after shovel folds up to small part.
For a tiny tool, the Iunio military portable folding shovel isn’t exactly what you can call lightweight. At 2.5lbs, it is considered a bit heavy to carry for backpacking. It’s no wonder, though, because it is made of steel all around, even the extra tools are made of steel. The only non-steel in the package is the rubber piece around the handle’s steel tube and the sheath itself. It is China-made but has dependable strength and quality.
The shovel head is also thought to be small, comparable to a beach toy shovel. Another complaint is that the shaft unscrews easily from the blade.
For those who bought it and thought it was a great product, their advice is to determine what you are going to use the shovel for before buying it. Because as great as it is that it’s a truly solid and durable product, it still cannot do some things. As the blade is considered smaller than average, this survival shovel isn’t ideal to use for scooping dirt and materials.
If this FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel Multi-tool C1 looks familiar, it’s because it is the earlier version of the FiveJoy RS above. It is more lightweight at only 1.2lbs, compared to RS’s 2.19lbs, but that’s because RS’s shovel head has a bigger surface, its handle is longer. The company listened to the user suggestions of C1 and produced an improved multi-tool shovel in RS.
Just like the RS, this made in China tool is touted as an all-around gadget that you can use to dig out a fire pit, start fire, split logs, cut vegetables, whistle for help, and crack ice among a lot of other things. And at just 19 inches long, 4.5 inches wide, it’s easy to carry around with you. It could be the ultimate survival shovel that you need.
But as with every other item on this list, it has both pros and cons. Let’s take a look at them:
|Weight and size perfect for backpacking||Spade too small|
|Multi-tool||No extension tubes|
|Versatile||Price higher than most|
The specs, according to its Amazon page, are as follows:
- All-in-one survival tool – Heavy duty shovel, sharp axe blade, serrated saw edge, hammer, paracord… Check! We’ve got all the must-haves for surviving in the outdoors covered. Conveniently dig trenches with this versatile multifunctional tool with a hidden rescue knife and saw, emergency whistle, fire starter (magnesium rod), bottle opener and more!
- Compact, portable multi-tool – Lightweight (only 1.2lbs) and amazingly compact, this is an essential gadget to add to your outdoor first air survival kit/gear. Easily fit this foldable entrenching tool in your backpack or the trunk of your vehicle. Dig your car tires out of snow, mud or ice, or use the shovel head as a glass breaker in an emergency. Attach the included carrying case to your belt for convenient access while on the trail or hunt.
- Virtually indestructible – Forged from heat-treated high quality solid carbon steel (blade and knife) and aerospace grade aluminum (knife) for maximum strength and lifetime durability. Rust, water and fracture-resistant.
- Unique lock adjustment – Unlike other shovels, you can adjust the shovel angle with its special screw-locking device, making it simple to alternate functions and positions. Spade can be used 40°, 90° or 180° angle as hook, hoe or shovel.
- Ergonomic design – Thoughtfully engineered handle optimizes comfort and control for all glove types to minimize hand fatigue. Slip-proof foam cushion on the aluminum handle is water-resistant, quick to dry, and perfect for recreational gardening or on your backcountry hike or cross country trips.
It does not only look like a handsome folding shovel, it also functions beautifully. The C1 is a clever little durable tool that can be the only thing you need in your outdoor adventure.
But it’s not fallible. Its blade is much too small and the handle too short for leverage. It is lightweight and great to carry in a bug-out bag or backpack but a little too light to do some real work as a hatchet, which is one of its functions.
That is why the RS was created. The RS is the improved and more expensive version. Not that the C1 costs cheap to begin with. It is pricier than most tactical shovels of its caliber. There’s no question that it is a good-looking and quality product, but the price is more than double than others’. That’s something to consider.
The cheapest folding shovel in this list, the MegaDeal Folding Camping Survival Shovel is a bargain find. Even so, it offers quite a lot for its price. It can be used as what it is primarily intended for–as a shovel–and as a saw and pick. It is light, compact and truly portable at just 16 inches long unfolded.
Made from solid tempered steel, this is best use for light work only.
Here are the pros and cons of buying this product:
|Portable||Only for light work|
Its specs list isn’t a long one but it’s succinctly detailed:
- Solid tempered steel
- Use as shovel or dibble pick
- Serrated saw edge
- 16” unfolded
- Carrying pouch is included
If you are a seasoned outdoor adventurer, you might want to skip this one. This is at best for novices. It doesn’t offer much, and according to user reviews, it is much too small to be considered a functional tool. Other users thought it looks and feels like a garden trowel, while others ruthlessly compared it to a toy.
But then again, it’s still a decent beginner’s tool. It’s also good for emergency. It wouldn’t hurt to have one in your vehicle just in case you need an extra device.
Priced at almost $60, this military shovel is one of the more expensive ones on this list, and with good reason. It claims to have it all: shovel, compass, hammer, saw, axe, fire starter, bottle opener and more.
Made with high quality 440c stainless steel, the blade can withstand heat and stress, making it a powerful tool for heavy duty work. With a handle made of high strength aluminum alloy, it is expected to offer a comfortable grip.
As a bonus, the product has a 30 days’ no reason, money back warranty and 2-year replacement and return guarantee.
With just a couple of reviews on its Amazon page, the Urmates Outdoor Survival Folding Shovel doesn’t have a lot of negatives yet. Here’s what they are saying:
|Portable||More expensive than most|
Let’s take a look at the specs:
- 180 degree rotation freely, can be used at 40° hook, 90° hoe, 180° shovel
- Perfect for outdoor activities, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, gardening, car emergency, outdoor adventure and survival
- Multi-functional tools: shovel, saw, bottle opener, knife, ruler, scrape knife, fire starter, safety hammer, screwdriver and carrying pouch
- Length: 74x13cm / 29.1×5.2 inch
- Package weight: 1.2kg
- URmates Warranty – 30 days no reason money back, 2-year replacement and return guarantee.
What sets this apart from the aforementioned shovels with multi-tool fears as well is that this has a manufacture warranty. That may not seem a lot, but for a product that is as expensive as this, it’s a big deal. You wouldn’t want to end up with a costly but useless gadget, would you?
It also has two extension handles. It seems that it’s a no-brainer that they should be included, but as we realized in the products we mentioned above, extension handles are not a common thing to include. So this is another plus in its favor.
There are only a couple of user reviews available, and both gave it five stars. It does seem like a great buy for the price, though one reviewer noted that sand and dirt easily gets in the too fine threads between each section of the handle. That and it’s also heavy. At 1.2kg heavy, it’s truly a substantial weight to carry around in your backpack. The place of manufacturing isn’t mentioned as well.
A folding shovel that really does fit into a barely 10-inch pouch, the OYISI Portable Folding Shovel is perhaps the best folding shovel in terms of portability. It is barely a kilo in weight, which is neither too heavy nor too light to carry in a backpack or use.
As a tactical shovel, it is multi-tool as well. It combines the functions of shovel, hoe, saw, axe, bottle opener, knife, glass striker and whistle. This allows you to dig trenches and fire pits, clear snow and mud off your pathway, saw thin tree branches, and open a beer bottle.
The shovel is at 29.1 inches unfolded but can be kept in a 9.8×5.9×1.6” pouch. It is made of high-carbon steel body, steel handle and stainless steel spade.
Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives that users have experienced in using this product:
|Size perfect for camping and backpacking||No extension kit included|
|With lifetime replacement warranty|
Here are the specifications:
- Material: High-carbon steel
- Surface treatment: Special oxidation treatment
- Shovel head: Length: 17cm / Width: 13cm / Thickness: 0.26cm (Can be fixed at 90°, 180°)
- Shovel Total Length: Unfold approx. 76cm / Folded approx. 22cm
- Net weight: 1050g
- Gross weight: 1200g
- Handle: 3 sections combined, freely adjust length and function
- Designed for: exploring, camping, traveling, hiking, garden use, driving emergent tools
- Lifetime replacement warranty – If anything at all goes wrong with your shovel, we will send you a replacement absolutely free. No return required!
It’s not shortest shovel on this list, but at less than 29 inches, it’s not that long either. It doesn’t come with an extension kit and manufacturer OYISIYI doesn’t sell one either. So for tall people, this can be a deal-breaker.
Apart from that, it is a near-perfect survival multi-tool. It has almost everything that you need for a night out in the forest, mountains, lakeshores and camping grounds. It is said to be a solid, durable gadget that performs well as promised.
Average priced at $34, this OYISIYI tactical shovel is a good, practical buy. But again, watch your back if you are a tall person who needs to dig out a fire pit or something for a few minutes. If you can handle that without hurting your spine, you would love this tool.
A multipurpose tool, the Outdoor Anywhere Military Folding Shovel claims to be the ultimate survival tool that you would ever need when camping, hiking and even gardening.
It is a portable, China-made device that can fit into the provided storage pouch, weighing only 1.4 pounds. This makes it a perfect companion for hiking and trekking. Its multi-tool features can dig, chop, saw, cut, pick and hammer, all actions needed for survival in the great outdoors.
Not all users are happy about the product, though. Here’s what they are saying:
|Light||Handle keeps coming loose/unscrewed|
|Sturdy||Smaller than a standard military issue shovel|
|With money back satisfaction guarantee|
Here are the specifications:
- One Multi-functional tool for all your needs: This handy folding shovel combines a great number of uses in one space saving and super practical tool, including digging, chopping, sawing, cutting, picking, hammering, shoveling and even bottle opening. No need to spend money on dozens of different tools anymore!
- Top Notch Quality: Unlike similar cheaply made products that bent or break even after the first use, this folding pick/shovel is crafted from the highest quality materials for extra durability. Made of high-carbon steel body, steel handle and stainless steel spade, the quality of this multifunctional tool won’t let you down!
- Portable, convenient size: This multipurpose tool is 480mm/19” when unfolded and even smaller when folded allowing you to keep it always at your arm’s reach. Its ergonomic design along with the handy carrying pouch with Velcro opening make this folding army shovel a great choice for camping, traveling, hiking, gardening or even as emergency tool at your car or garage.
- Smart Design: This innovating multi-tool features a non-slip soft rubber grip handle for comfortable grip while performing your gardening, shoveling or digging tasks. Note also that this compact foldable shovel can be used either straight or at a 90 degree angle, to cover all your different needs.
- Get it wit Confidence: Being so sure about the great quality and performance of this amazing folding utility shovel Outdoor Anywhere offers you a 100% Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee. With nothing to worry about, order for you or your friends today!
It’s a substantial little tool that does a good job of being a shovel. The quality is commendable, with some users reporting that it is sturdy enough to crack ice and saw branches.
It is small enough to carry in a backpack so it’s a great emergency survival tool. However, the size is also a problem. As it is advertised as a military tool, users noted that it’s much smaller to be considered that. At 19 inches, it’s about 1/3 size of a military issue shovel, so to call it a military folding shovel is generous.
There are also issues about the handle keeps coming loose, but that’s just about it. The main user concern is really the size, with some even Mike’s Top Choicemistaking it for a toy.
Mike’s Top Choice
Out of the nine survival shovels reviewed above, Mike’s Gear Reviews thinks that the best folding shovel is the OYISI Portable Folding Shovel Pick with Carrying Pouch. It is just a perfect handy survival shovel for any outdoor activity. It’s multi-functional and in a compact size and weight ideal for trekking, hiking, camping and backpacking.
The only downside is it cannot be expanded longer than 29 inches. But as a survival shovel, it is okay not to be as long as a regular shovel anyway. The price and the lifetime replacement warranty should seal the deal for every outdoor enthusiasts looking for the ultimate survival folding shovel.
The FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel Multi-tool (RS) comes in at close second. It almost has it all; it has been a great improvement from the C1.