Are you thinking about backpacking but aren’t quite sure if you have the right tools to get the job done? Well, look no further because these six shovels have more than enough attachments and compartments to meet all your needs and more. All of the items below are travel-friendly and compact so that you can take them with you on the go and assist you with digging, cutting and whatever challenges you may face on your journey. These are some of the best shovels in the market and are sold on Amazon at a wide range of prices, so you can find the best tactical shovel to fit your budget.
Top 10 Best Tactical Shovels
1. Gerber E-Tool
Gerber is known by many as one of the biggest names for standard carry knives, so it only makes sense that they also happen to produce one of the sleekest everyday tactical shovels. The E-Tool shovel is a very basic yet versatile tool that doesn’t come with too many extra attachments to slow it down.
The main feature this folding shovel has to offer is a serrated edge on one of its sides that allows it to slice through tough materials like weeds and hard soil. Its build quality is very high and sturdy from using high carbon boron steel. One of the benefits of it not being filled with a bunch of accessories is felt through its weight.
The E-Tool weighs in at just 2.33 lbs, much less than the average for a shovel of this quality. Its main disadvantage is in its length, which extends to only about two feet in length. Unfortunately, you may find yourself bending over to do many forms of digging with this shovel, and it doesn’t give much leverage as well. Although Gerber could have added an attachment for handle extensions, it would have defeated the purpose of what the shovel was going for and the structural design of the product.
Adding longer handles would have compromised the strength of the E-Tool which is nearly unbreakable. This is a design tradeoff that has the potential to disappoint some, but please people that want an extremely durable tactical shovel.
Gerber also happens to be one of the few major companies that make their shovels in the United States. The E-Tool can be the right purchase for backpackers and survivalists that need a very strong and reliable way to dig holes. There intentionally aren’t really add-ons packaged with this shovel, its purpose is to be simple as possible while still being highly qualified to do the job.
Sample Customer Review…Tough and can handle any situation with ease! Packs nicely and we take it everywhere in our vehicles and into the outdoors. Alaska has some hard granite when digging can become almost impossible and this shovel is hardcore! Folds easily and easy to carry on a backpack. I thought it was overpriced but found it listed higher elsewhere. Came very clean and new. Had to tighten it a bit. The serrated edge is somewhat sharp. Another side, not at all. Overall very pleased.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
2. SOG Folding Shovel
The SOG folding shovel just happens to be one of the smallest tactical shovels you can buy. Its full extended length is eighteen inches long, meaning you will have to get down on your knees to use this shovel. If it is folded, it’s 10 inches long and is able to fit in a carrying case. The case is meant to be easily attachable to a backpack, belt, or somewhere you think you need a handy tool nearby.
The blade of the shovel is small at only 4 inches wide. Unfortunately, this is not ideal if you plan to move a lot of snow or dirt, however storing the shovel is easier compared to larger shovels like the previously mentioned Gerber or E-tool.
The blade of the SOG is made from high carbon steel for better durability and performance. One way that the SOG is better than the E-Tool is in the sawing department. The SOG comes with a very sharp serrated edge on the side of the shovel blade. It has about the same strength as a standard pocket saw able to make quick work logs and other sturdy material. The saw is meant for emergencies and unexpected situations as a last resort.
Unlike its other shovel competitors, the SOG is not made in the United States. Overall the SOG folding shovel is a great option for people who need the most compact and lightweight tactical tool. This shovel does the job it’s described to do and will help lighten the rest of your load in the process with its lightweight frame. It does all these things while being the cheapest shovel on this list.
Sample Customer Review…I purchased this, not for digging foxholes, but for an emergency tool when I’m out and about on unpaved forest access roads or for light-duty digging on the beach vacations. The all-metal construction, lifetime guarantee, and compact design when folded were all part of my purchasing decision. The excellent handle design makes for a sure, strong grip. I would personally avoid screw-together shovels as they tend to loosen, or shovels with plastic fitting since those will break down just sitting in a hot car interior in the summer months.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
3. Iunio Camping Shovel
This Iunio shovel is the best available tactical shovel for budget-minded consumers that threads between a qualified survivalism tool and a standard camp accessory. The shovel’s blade is made from the same carbon steel as the others that will help prevent rusting over time.
The blade also comes with a premium matte black coating that can protect it from wear and tear in the first few seasons before eventually wearing off from extended usage. The Iunio’s blade happens to be one of the larger ones at an even six inches across. This can prove to be a big advantage when digging up large amounts of dirt at a time. The biggest advantage this shovel has over the others is in its leverage.
The Iunio has the longest handle of any folding shovel available at an alarming 38 inches long, along with one of the widest blades on a shovel at 6 inches. If you’re ever in a situation where you need to move a big rock or get your vehicle unstuck from the mud, the leverage from the shovel could be a necessity. However, the extra length has its disadvantages in the result of 3 extension tubes attaching to the handle. These tubes are proven to be the weak points in the shovel’s design.
It’s very important that the extension tubes are fully tightened to ease pressure on the handles as the loose sections are most likely going to get bent. The extra weight from the tubes combined with the Iunio comes in at a total of about 4 pounds. However, compared to most other tactical shovels it does not have nearly the same amount of accessories. Some of the accessories it does include are a whistle, a bottle opener, pickaxe, and of course a saw built into the shovel itself.
The shovel also has 4 handle sections that are in place to extend its length to 38 inches, making it the longest of any model on this list. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t need the extra length, you can just use the handle that comes with the shovel blade to have more space and less weight. The Iunio main reason Iunio stands out from its competitors is its length and reach advantage. It’s priced as a middle-tier shovel, costing slightly more than the cheapest tactical shovels on the list.
Sample Customer Review… Very well made; highly recommended. Works great for digging out fire pit debris left behind by previous campers, which was my main reason for purchasing this tool. Did not come with instructions, so I had to go online to figure out how to secure the blade in place, but it’s super easy. Was very impressed with the quality of the shovel. Locking nut works smoothly and folding it is very easy. Very good quality for the price. Would definitely recommend it.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
4. Schrade Stainless Steel Telescoping Shovel
Unlike the previous tactical shovels, this shovel blade is made from 3Cr13 stainless steel. This material makes it so that when combined with the outer coating, it becomes almost completely rustproof. If you find yourself regularly near saltwater this is one of the few shovels where you don’t have to worry about corrosion. The Schrade is also great for backpacking trips because of its featherlight weight very travel-friendly.
It weighs in at an extremely light 2 pounds. This is mainly because of its smaller stature and the new innovative usage of hard plastic for the upper part of the handle. To make it more portable it is packed with a handy carrying case that protects the shovel while allowing it to attach to different surfaces. The biggest problem with the Schade is its telescoping handle. Its collar can get loose over time and the telescoping action seems to fail occasionally. Over the course of its life, you’ll feel the lack of rigidity every time you dig into fresh soil or try to cut something with its edge.
Sample Customer Review...Just a great product. Built very well it has a solid frame and handles. The telescoping handle gives you that little something extra over the standard campsite shovel. The edges are very sharp and good for multiple tasks like shaving tree bark for the tinder. Adjustable shovel positioning makes this handy for digging holes or trenches. Incredibly well made, digs nicely, even in my rocky soil here in the desert. Pretty pleased with it and for the money, it’s a great buy if you need a compact shovel.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
5. Boyisen Okoolcamp Shovel
This shovel is simpler than many other tactical shovels but has plenty of upsides. Unlike shovels that include many tools and have long handles, this product works as a shovel, pick, and hoe. It’s really simply made for digging. If you are tight on space or want to bring a tactical shovel backpacking, this option is only around 16 inches long and just over 1 pound. If you’re not worried about needing extra tools and you are trying to conserve space and weight, this is a great choice.
Made of alloy steel, this shovel is made to withstand a lot of wear and tear without blunting the blade. It’s reliable in emergency situations because of the alloy steel and won’t let you down when you really need it. It’s foldable so it can fit into small spaces and is great for backpacking and camping. The size can be a negative for some people as it isn’t meant to be used for everyday activities. It’s also not the best choice for survivalists who want a lot of tools within their tactical shovel. But for those who want a simple and small shovel that can be easily stored, this might be the best option for you.
Sample Customer Review…Chose this over a similar model with an open handle. I liked the sleek look and comfort use of having just a straight tube handle. Yes, you always have to screw in the handle, but that’s why I chose this style cause it works for me. This tool was very handy. It’s small, lightweight, strong, and I used it to clear dirt, sand, rock from an area so I could pitch my tent, as well as use the pick to move small rocks and shovel to move dirt when I was prospecting for gold. Great investment at the price.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
6. US GI Military Shovel
If you are looking for a tactical shovel that is military-grade and won’t fail you, this is the one for you. Made in the U.S.A, this shovel works as a hoe, an ax, and a shovel. It’s just about 9 inches long when you fold it and can reach 24 inches when completely opened. It has a black powder-coating covering the high-carbon steel base. The powder coating isn’t always a perfect feature, though. Once the coating wears off, you have to oil the shovel before storing it away to avoid rust. This isn’t a problem for everyone but some people may find it an annoying extra step.
Some of the longer tactical shovels on the market can bend when being used, but this one has very little chance of bending or breaking. The slightly smaller size makes it possible to put as much pressure on it as you want without worrying about snapping it. This shovel weighs in at about 3 pounds which can seem a little heavy for its small size. As mentioned before, it’s necessary to take into consideration what you are willing to compromise on when it comes to this type of product. If you don’t mind exchanging weight for strength, this is an excellent option. Unlike some other items like this, this shovel doesn’t come with a lot of extra attachments. It is made to be used as a shovel, hoe, or ax and that’s about it. This is not an all-in-one product.
Sample Customer Review… Great tool, bought it to keep in my car for the wintertime, but have taken it out camping as well. Fold up nicely and lock open firm. Dug a fire pit, and chopped down a small (4-6: dia.) dead tree for firewood all with the same tool. Easy enough to strip branched for kindling as well. The one side of the shovel may be a little sharp for digging out a car stuck in the snow, but being able to lock in the shovelhead at 90 degrees makes it work a lot better for pulling out snow.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
7. Sahara Sailor Unbreakable Shovel
This one would be a great choice to consider if you are looking for a multifunctional, long-lasting shovel. Its features are really of great use for any purpose and the quality is one of the best. It is made of military-grade carbon steel and the handle tubes are also made from aluminum. These two features make the shovel very strong and make it user-friendly for all the purposes the shovel is utilized for.
Added to these high-quality features is the shovel’s multifunctionality. The shovel could be used for various purposes and comes with 12 different tools. The most useful are definitely knife, emergency hammer, leaver, hoe. Is it only useful for camping? No! The shovel set is perfect for emergencies, outdoor survival, hiking, and even gardening!
This set is easily detachable and can be easily carried anywhere with the bag provided with the set without much hassle.
Sample Customer Review… I purchased the Sahara Sailor Survival Shovel to carry in my RZR when out and about in the great outdoors of Wyoming. I wanted something that would fit in a bag I keep essential items in and this survival shovel fit the bill. I like that it stores in its own self-contained pouch. The material of the shovel feels very solid, although I have not had to test its abilities yet. It is an added bonus that there is the knife, screwdriver bit, fire starter, etc all contained in this pouch of goodies! The material feels good in the hands, with no slippery grip. Without having put it to a true test, I’m very happy with everything that is included and the solidness of the components.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
8. Redcamp Military Camping Shovel
The Redcamp shovel is an excellent choice for camping, hiking, and outdoor activities. This shovel set is definitely a champ for those campers who are looking for a small-sized shovel that can be folded to a smaller size and carried easily to any place.
The shovel is made of high-carbon steel. The handle is designed in a triangular shape for better grip and simpler use. These features make the shovel strong and prepared for its various uses such as digging, cutting, sawing, etc. This 1.15kg shovel also comes with a carrying pouch for storing the single-piece foldable shovel. One of the features of this shovel is that it is quite simple and doesn’t come with any extra tools to carry along with it. Hence it does not require removing or screwing other parts.
It is also worth noting that the company Redcamp offers a full refund in case you complain about malfunctioning or faulty product for one whole year!
Sample Customer Review… Just what I needed for an outside project. Arrived on time and I was able to set it up in less than a minute. It’s a simple pull and press set up with just one twisting connector to brace the spine of the shovel and make it stiff.
With this, I was able to get right into dried dirt without excess force. The serrated edge allows me to get into the base of weeds in my yard and pull them right out of the ground. Overall, this is great, feels great, and closes up to a very compact size. The included bag is great and feels well made, too.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
9. Tyger Shovel
If you are looking for something more than a simple shovel for heavy-duty purposes, this shovel of Tyger’s could be a great choice. It is in fact identified as Amazon’s choice because of it being a highly rated customer’s choice. It comes as a fine product made of military-grade solid carbon steel, with its handle tubes being made of anodized aluminum.
The shovel can be used for sixteen different functions like camping, expeditions, military purposes, gardening, hiking, etc. It also comes with different types of tools such as a screwdriver, knife, hammer, and even a firestarter! The shovel could really be useful in many situations. It is also not a tough task to change the parts. It comes with a unique switch mechanism that allows you to change the detachable tools very quickly. All of this comes with a handy carrying bag.
But the shovel set definitely requires a bit of attention. Leaving it without the instructed care could definitely lead to damage and may lower the life of the shovel. The company also gives a year’s warranty for manufacturing defects.
Sample Customer Review… Very well made. Large shovelhead. I definitely like the snap mechanism to change the shovelhead position. That’s a whole lot better and sturdier than the screw-down models. This shovel will stand up to a lot of use. I had bought others and returned them because they felt and were cheaply made. For the money, I don’t think you will be disappointed. I liked it so much I bought a total of three of them and gave them to family members.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
10. Sharvol Tactical Survival Shovel
This multipurpose shovel is also a great option for all your exhausting tasks. It uses a simple insta-switch mechanism which makes it very easy and quick for you to change the tools. This reduces the work of screwing and tightening of tools and the probable wiggle that might occur.
The shovel comes with enhanced joints, making the arrangement strong. It is made from high-carbon stainless steel. Corrosion is definitely not a huge problem considering the quality of the material it’s made of. It can absolutely be used in mud or water. Its long handle length gives a great advantage to its users saving lots of time and energy. It comes with various tools and can be suitably used for any kind of task from minimal to tough.
Sample Customer Review… Great product. Sturdy, useful, well-engineered, and designed. So much so that I’ve thrown out all the other redundant junk that’s built up in my car & pack over the years. The compass is spot-on accurate. The flint puts out huge sparks with the knife provided. Shovel and trencher get the most useful and have used the shovel to make kindling. It works better than most hatchets I’ve used. Customer service is great. Yes, I’d buy it again!Read more reviews at Amazon.com
Buyer’s Guide – Things to Consider Before Buying a Tactical Shovel
There could be a number of types of shovels available which can make it hard for you to choose one, but there are some factors that can help you choose the one that best suits your needs.
Shovels come in different materials and their costs vary depending on these materials. Steel and aluminum are the most popular ones sold. Stainless steel could be a great option as it won’t corrode even while using wet mud. But stainless steel could be heavy and may not be as strong as carbon steel.
Carbon steel is stronger than the former but needs extra measures to prevent it from getting corroded. It can be done by paint or matte finish, or a protective powder coating. Hence though it is stronger, it requires high maintenance.
Aluminum is lightweight but isn’t very strong. If compared to all three, carbon steel is considered to be more long-lasting. Avoid using plastic ones as they may seem inexpensive and lightweight, they are very delicate and could break very easily. You should also avoid having a plastic handle as it may also be vulnerable to breakage.
Length, weight and mobility
Longer shovels could be more useful than shorter ones unless storage of long shovels is a problem. Longer shovels give more support to the user and also don’t let the user bend too much to dig. It is best to choose a shovel that would be strong but also manageable. If it is too heavy to carry or work with, it may be a little tough to handle. A comfortably usable shovel could be one that is not too delicate (usually with plastic parts) or not too heavy.
Blade Size and shape
It would be helpful to choose your shovel if you know its usability and storage capacity. A bigger blade would definitely remove huge amounts of mud, but it also takes up more energy in digging. While the smaller one is easier to handle, it may take time to dig bigger pits.
A narrow blade would be helpful in digging small holes, for example, to pitch a tent. A wide blade would be great for leveling the earth. A pointed one would be a great fit to dig on the hard earth.
Though buying on a budget is good, it is important to not compromise on the quality of the shovel. Since a shovel would serve as a tool for years, it is also important to maintain it well. Always remember to clean the hinges and oil the required parts so that it doesn’t cost you more money in the long run.
In conclusion, the Zune Lotoo is the best tactical shovel overall, but the price may steer many consumers in a different direction. It is the most durable and highest quality of the bunch, but may not have the value to someone with lesser needs. You could argue that the safest bet would be to go for the Five Joy Folding Shovel because of its versatility and multitude of attachments. But are you really ever going to use over twenty attachments on a shovel on a regular basis?
These are the type of questions you should ask yourself when considering purchasing one of these tactical shovels. Finding the right balance between price and value will help you determine which is the best tactical shovel for you.
By Michael Stewart and Rishika Juloori
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