11 Best Survival Shovels

Last Updated December 5, 2023
Top 3 Best Survival Shovels
SOG Folding Survival Shovel – Entrenching Tool
SOG Folding Survival Shovel
  • Compact Design: When extended, it measures 18.25 inches but folds down to a size just larger than a hand, making it highly portable for outdoor activities.
  • Multifunctionality: Features a standard stainless steel shovel, a sawtooth edge, and a small hoe, offering versatile utility.
  • Screw Locking System: Allows angling the shovel or hoe in various positions, securing with a twist of the locking ring.
  • Lightweight: Weighs only 24.5 oz, making it easy to carry on long-term camping or hiking trips.
  • Sturdy and Durable: Despite its size, it withstands regular outdoor use and maintains its finish even in tough conditions​.
SOG Elite E-Tool Folding Camping Shovel
SOG Elite E-Tool Folding Camping Shovel
  • Telescoping Handle: Extends from 10.2 inches closed to 26 inches fully extended, offering more working space.
  • Integrated Saw Blade: A 7-inch saw blade hidden inside the handle, useful for cutting through thick branches.
  • Multiple Shovel/Hoe Angles: Locking system permits three different angle settings for diverse tasks.
  • Larger Size for Extra Features: Though larger than a typical survival shovel, it provides many useful features, balancing size and functionality.
Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade
Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade
  • Extendable Length: Reaches 23.75 inches when extended, folds to under 10 inches for easy storage.
  • Lightweight and Durable: Weighs 2.3 lbs with a glass-filled nylon handle and powder coated shovel blade for durability.
  • Built-In Saw Blade: Incorporated into one edge of the shovel, suitable for cutting through various materials.
  • Locking Mechanism: Uses a screw design to lock the blade open or closed, providing safety and versatility.
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Shovels are one of those tools most people don’t think about till they need one, then they can’t stop thinking about them. Survival shovels are designed to give you a lightweight and packable tool for small scale excavation and digging. They’re great for preparing a campsite or unsticking your car in the mud. We searched high and low for the best survival shovels on the market today to help you find the tool that does everything you need it to do and more.

Best Survival Shovels Reviewed

What makes for the best survival shovel?

Depending on how you intend to use it and how you plan to get it there you’ll likely have wildly different needs. We decided to look at high quality ultralight and foldable shovels as well as larger models.

Many of these shovels provide you with a lot of extra tools and equipment for a survival situation. Others have a minimalist design that saves on weight yet gives you a very functional shovel.

Lets see how they compare.

SOG Folding Survival Shovel – Entrenching Tool

SOG Folding Survival Shovel
The SOG Folding survival shovel product picture

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I recently got my hands on the SOG Folding Survival Shovel and it has quickly become a staple in my outdoor adventures. Known for their durable and innovative designs, SOG didn’t disappoint with this entrenching tool. I was in awe at the compact design. When fully extended, it measures 18.25 inches but when folded, it’s just a tad larger than my hand, effortlessly finding its place in my camping gear.

What really caught my eye was the multifunctionality of this gadget. It’s not just a shovel, but a three-in-one marvel. Alongside the standard stainless steel shovel, there’s a sawtooth edge on one side and a small hoe on the other. And all of this comes at a featherweight of 24.5 oz.

The genius lies in the screw locking system. I could angle the shovel or hoe any way I wanted, and a simple twist of the locking ring secured it in place. This feature came in handy when I stumbled upon hard-to-reach angles while setting up my campsite. The hoe was a great asset to break up some tough grounds, and switching to the shovel to clear the area was a breeze. Although the saw blade didn’t strike me as razor-sharp, it held its own against small branches, making the task feel less of a chore.

Now, I’ve heard some folks mention the unfolding/folding being a bit stiff initially, but in my experience, a few uses loosened it up nicely. The screw lock held firm during use, especially when I utilized it as a pick to loosen some hard ground. I also appreciated the pick for its efficiency, although for anything harder, I’d reckon a more rugged tool would be necessary.

This tool accompanied me on a long-term camping spree, and its performance was solid. It’s compact, comes with its own pouch, and fits snuggly into my long-mid range camping bag. The shovel was ideal for its intended use, and the saw edge, while not the best for larger tasks, came through for minor sawing needs.

I did put it to a little test during a hunting trip, and it was perfect for burying small items in shallow holes. While it’s not the tool for digging large trenches, it’s a beast at what it’s designed for. The shovel held securely, and the finish remained intact even after putting out a campfire, which was a pleasant surprise. The only minor hiccup was the nylon carrying bag that got a small rip, but it’s a small trade-off considering the performance and utility of the shovel.

Overall, the SOG Folding Survival Shovel is a solid companion for any avid camper or hiker like myself. It’s well-built, versatile, and comes at an attractive price point. I’d give it a solid 4.5 out of 5 for living up to most of its promises and adding a touch of ease to my outdoor escapades.


  • Compact and Lightweight: At just 24.5 oz and folding down to a size slightly larger than your hand, it’s incredibly portable.
  • Multifunctional: Incorporates a shovel, a sawtooth edge, and a small hoe, providing diverse utility in outdoor settings.
  • Sturdy Locking Mechanism: The screw locking system holds the shovel or hoe securely at any angle, enhancing usability and safety.
  • Durability: Despite its size, the shovel holds up well against regular usage in the outdoors.
  • Pouch Included: Comes with its own carrying pouch which is great for keeping it protected and easy to carry.


  • Initial Stiffness: Unfolding and folding can be a bit stiff initially, though it eases up with use.
  • Saw Edge Limitation: The saw edge is useful but limited to cutting through small branches or roots.
  • Carrying Bag Quality: The nylon carrying bag is somewhat thin and prone to ripping.
  • Size: The shovel is on the smaller side, which may not suit all digging needs, especially larger trenching tasks.
  • Not Ideal for Very Hard Ground: The pick and hoe are effective for semi-hard to hard ground, but struggle with very hard ground.

SOG Elite E-Tool Folding Camping Shovel

SOG Elite E-Tool Folding Camping Shovel
The SOG Elite E-Tool survival shovel product picture

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If you’re looking for something with a little more working room the SOG Elite E-Tool is the shovel for you. It uses a combination telescoping handle and swivel shovel blade to go from just 10.2 inches closed to 26 inches fully extended. Despite this large size it weighs just 24.8 oz.

The handle is made from coated stainless steel and hides a 7 inch saw blade inside it. To use it all you have to do is unscrew the bottom of the handle and flip it over.

That gives you a very well sized hand saw for cutting through several inch thick branches. The locking system allows three different choices for shovel or hoe angle. This lets you adjust your shovel for the job at hand.

The Elite E-Tool is on the larger side for a true survival shovel but gives you a ton of useful features for that extra space. It’s a bit pricey but provides you with lots of value for your money.

Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade

Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade
The Gerber E-Tool survival shovel product picture

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The Gerber E-Tool is a folding survival shovel that extends out to 23.75 inches long when in use. It has a glass-filled nylon handle attached to a powder coated shovel blade. This makes it both lightweight and incredibly durable.

The whole thing weighs just 2.3 lbs and is under 10 inches long when folded up. One edge of the shovel has a built in saw blade to allow you to cut through branches, ice, and other materials.

Ther Gerber E-Tool uses a screw design that allows you to lock the blade either open or closed. It’s a quality tool but it does lack some of the features found on similarly priced folding spades.

Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel

Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel
The Gerber Gorge survival shovel product picture

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The Gerber Gorge is the smallest folding shovel Gerber makes. It’s just 9.25 inches when folded down but extends out to a full 16.25 inches. It uses a stainless steel shovel blade with a glass-filled nylon handle.

One thing we really liked about the Gorge was the rubber overlay put on the handle. It made it much more comfortable to use. It weighs just 28 ounces, making it one of the lighter folding shovels on our list. It comes with a small nylon carry pouch that can be attached to your bag or belt.

The shovel lacks any saw blade or serrations but does have the option to use it as a hammer when folded away. If you’re looking for a lightweight and very small folding survival shovel the Gerber Gorge is a definite contender.

FiveJoy Military Folding Trenching Shovel Multi-tool

FiveJoy Military Folding Trenching Shovel Multi-tool
The FiveJoy survival shovel product picture

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The Military Folding Shovel from FiveJoy is designed to be a true survival tool in the field. It’s 18.5 inches when fully extended but folds down significantly. It gives you 7 different tools, including:

The shovel is made from hardened carbon steel while the handle uses anodized aluminum. The handle doesn’t fold down as small as on other tools but it does contain all kinds of goodies inside.

There are technically two saw blades on this FiveJoy product. The shovel itself has a serrated section down one side and the knife blade within the handle also has a saw on the other side of it.

You can screw the various handle tools into place along the length of the shovel to get more use out of them. If you’re looking for a true multi tool survival shovel at a reasonable price the Military Folding Shovel from FiveJoy is a great option.

IUNIO Emergency Portable Folding Survival Shovel

IUNIO Emergency Portable Folding Survival Shovel
The IUNIO survival shovel product picture

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The IUNIO Survival Shovel is a 17 inch long stainless steel shovel that packs a ton of useful tools and features into its small size. It provides you with tons of functions in 7 different tools, including:

  • Shovel
  • Saw
  • Emergency Whistle
  • Bottle Opener
  • Hoe/Pickaxe
  • Compass
  • Nail Extractor

The shovel weighs under a pound and a half yet is remarkably durable. The compass is located in the butt of the handle and is easy to use with the shovel open or folded. The saw blade is located along one edge of the shovel and worked well for cutting brush and branches.

The whistle was located in a screw in compartment within the handle. The bottle opener was actually built right into the shovel blade itself. It looked funny at first but worked well enough at popping open beer or soda. It comes with a small nylon carry bag.

IUNIO offers their survival shovel in two larger sizes, each with a slightly different tool loadout. We found the compact 17 inch version to be the best combination of portability, usefulness, and included tools. Overall this is a great folding camping shovel at a very reasonable price.

Schrade Survival Shovel

Schrade Survival Shovel
The Schrade survival shovel product picture

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The Schrade Survival Shovel is a very focused product. It gives you a 20 inch long folding shovel, and nothing else. For that though you get a very well thought out shovel with a few features not found in some other survival shovels.

The shovel itself is made from sharpened stainless steel while the handle is polypropylene. It uses a t-shaped design for better control and more power transfer when using the shovel itself. The blade of the shovel fits down in an included nylon sheath while the handle hangs out.

The entire shovel weighs just under 2 pounds and folds down to 10 inches. It uses a screw lock system to hold the shovel blade in place and is honestly one of the most attractively designed shovels on this list.

If you just want a useful and well made folding shovel without the extras the Schrade Survival Shovel is definitely one you should consider.

BAALAND Military Folding Shovel

BAALAND Military Folding Shovel
The BAALAND survival shovel product picture

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The BAALAND Military Folding Shovel is one of the largest and most comprehensively tooled survival shovels on this list. It doesn’t fully fold down like many of the other shovels. Instead it’s 33 inches long at full extension with the ability to fold over the shovel head. For this decrease in portability you get a truly impressive amount of tools, including things like:

  • Shovel
  • Saw
  • Bottle Opener
  • Emergency Whistle
  • Fire Starter Rod
  • Bit Driver and Four Bits
  • Glass Breaker
  • Flashlight
  • Red Light Cap
  • Tactical Rope

It uses a screw off handle design to pack all these tools into the shovel. As you move down the handle you expose different tools and sections.

Some are loose within, like the flashlight, while others are designed to screw back into other portions of the handle. The flashlight itself qualifies as a multi tool. It comes with a small charging cable and can be used to charge your cell phone for an emergency call.

The shovel is made from stainless steel while the handle is aluminum. This makes the whole thing lightweight and very sturdy. If you’re looking for a true emergency kit within a survival shovel the BAALAND Military Folding Shovel is the one for you.

Lifeline Aluminum Survival Snow Shovel

Lifeline Aluminum Survival Snow Shovel
The Lifeline survival shovel product picture

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If you’re looking for a car or RV survival shovel the Lifeline Aluminum Snow Shovel has you covered. It uses a takedown design that breaks the shovel and handle into 3 easy to store pieces.

The whole thing is made from aluminum and is 32 inches long when fully extended. It has a broader and more upswept shovel blade than most other survival shovels but for its intended purpose this is perfect.

It’s great for digging out your car, campsite, or recreational vehicles like ATV’s or snowmobiles. It’s available in a variety of bright colors and is quite lightweight, weighing just over a pound.

The Lifeline Aluminum Snow Survival Shovel can’t be used for serious digging but is absolutely essential if you live in a winter prone environment. If you deal with frequent snow drifts you should definitely consider throwing one of these into your car or truck.

The Tent Lab Ultralight Shovel

The Tent Lab Ultralight Shovel
The Tent Lab survival shovel product picture

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If you’re looking for the lightest hiking shovel available you’ve come to the right place. The Tent Lab Ultralight Shovel is designed to be as light as the materials will allow and still function. It’s available in three different weight classes, #1, #2, and #3.

The #1 is only for the strictest of ultralight hikers. It weighs less than half an ounce but will bend or break if used incorrectly. The #2 and #3 are each under an ounce in weight but give you a more substantial feel overall.

This shovel is designed with only a single task in mind, digging a cathole in the backcountry. It does this task very well. If you’re looking for an ultralight hiking shovel this is the one for you.

Zune Lotoo Annihilate Tactical Folding Survival Multi-Function Shovel

Tactical Folding Survival Multi Function Shovel
The Zune Lotoo survival shovel product picture

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The Zune Lotoo Annihilate is a 29.7 inch long folding survival shovel that uses a screw off handle design. It weighs just under 3 lbs and provides you with more than 10 different useful survival tools, including:

  • Shovel
  • Shovel Saw
  • Hand Saw
  • Knife Blade
  • Bottle Opener
  • Hammer
  • Wire Cutter
  • Fire Starter Rod
  • Camera Support
  • Emergency Whistle

The shovel is made from stainless steel while the handle is comprised of several anodized aluminum tubes. Within each tube are different tools such as the knife or saw blade.

The shovel itself is a pretty good size and can be locked into place using a screw lock system. If you flip the shovel blade back in the top part of it is designed to be used as a hammer. It’s great for pounding in tent stakes and other similar tasks.

The camera support was one we hadn’t seen on another survival shovel but was surprisingly effective. You just drive the shovel blade firmly into the ground then screw your camera on top. If you’re out in the boonies and want to take some nature shots or shoot a vid for your channel it’s a great multi purpose solution.

The Zune Lotoo is definitely on the pricey side for survival shovels but it does give you a good bit of value for your money.

Best Survival Shovel Buyers Guide

Picking out a survival shovel isn’t too difficult. You pretty much just need to figure out how you plan to use your shovel and what you’re willing to spend. If you’re looking for an ultralight but strong shovel you’ll have to pay more than for one that’s more basic and heavier.


Survival shovels aren’t particularly expensive. You can get a quality shovel for about $20 or spend up to around a $100 for a really premium one.

The biggest difference will be the size of the shovel and the number of features. Cheaper shovels will be just that, a shovel. They’ll most likely fold down in size and lock in place at about 25 to 30 inches or so long.

More expensive survival shovels will have extras like a saw blade, fire starter, and even things like whistles and hammer points. They aren’t necessarily better or worse quality than the cheaper ones, they just do more things.

How Will You Be Using the Shovel

One of the most important questions to ask yourself before making a purchase is how you want to use your survival shovel. They’re great little tools but they aren’t cut out for any heavy duty digging.

If you’re doing real yard work or clearing land you’re going to want a full size shovel without a doubt. Survival shovels are great to have in emergency kits or to take with you on a camping or hiking trip.

Camping you can use them to help hammer in tent stakes, dig out a fire pit, or dig for clams. You can also put out a fire with earth, cut through small limbs or use them to help you dig out stuck tires.

They’re also essential to take when practicing leave no trace principles in the backcountry. They’re perfect for digging a cathole when nature calls.


With survival shovels you have a lot of material options available. If you want to go for something old school there are a lot of surplus Soviet and Warsaw pact military entrenching tools available.

These are generally wood handled shovels that either fold over into themselves or are just small enough to carry easily. From there you have lots of other choices.

Many have a handle made from anodized aluminum or wood and a blade made from aluminum or stainless steel. You can also find quality camping and survival shovels using plastic in the handle.

For longevity your best bet is going to be a combination of the two. Stainless steel is heavy and only really needed for the actual shovel blade. Combining a lightweight aluminum tube handle with a stainless steel blade is a great compromise between strength and weight.

Is it a Multi Tool?

There’s a huge variety of feature sets among different survival shovels. Some actually break down into multiple tools while others are basically just small folding military style shovels.

We would argue that both varieties meet the criteria for multi tools. They’re a lot like axes in that their multi function appeal comes from how many ways you can use a shovel.

Even the most basic entrenching tools can be used to dig a hole, cut vegetation, clear ash, and help in building a wilderness shelter. That’s a lot of functionality out of a single tool.

Portability and Weight

Survival shovels need to be small and light enough for you to carry them easily. We know, we know, most survival shovels are probably going to be kept in a car or a box of emergency supplies.

It’s still very important that you be able to easily pack in and out your shovel. Folding shovels are the gold standard for this. They let you quickly extend your shovel to a useful length then fold it back down.

Try to get a shovel that weighs under about 3-3.5 lbs. That’s enough to carry without too much strain in a properly arranged pack. If your shovel comes with a carry pouch that’s all to the good as well.

Top Survival Shovels Video

FAQ – Best Survival Shovel

When it comes to outdoor adventures, having the right tools can make a world of difference. One such tool that has gained immense popularity in camping, hiking, and survival circles is the survival shovel. Its compact design and multifunctionality make it an essential companion for those venturing into the great outdoors.

As you explore the world of survival shovels, you may have questions about their features, benefits, and suitability for various activities. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the best survival shovels. From understanding their purpose to choosing the right one for your needs, we’ve got you covered.

Read on to find answers to common queries and gain valuable insights into what makes a survival shovel an indispensable tool for outdoor enthusiasts.

What is a survival shovel?

A survival shovel is a versatile tool designed to help you tackle various outdoor tasks during camping, hiking, and survival situations. It typically features a folding or collapsible design for easy portability and combines multiple functions such as digging, chopping, sawing, hammering, and even acting as a self-defense weapon.

Why should I carry a survival shovel?

Carrying a survival shovel can be incredibly useful in outdoor scenarios. It allows you to dig fire pits, create emergency shelters, clear paths, chop wood, and even extract stuck objects. Additionally, a survival shovel is lightweight and compact, making it easy to include in your camping or hiking gear.

What should I look for when buying a survival shovel?

When purchasing a survival shovel, consider the following factors:

  • Durability: Opt for a shovel made from robust materials like high-quality steel or aluminum alloy to ensure it can withstand heavy use.
  • Portability: Look for a folding or collapsible design that allows the shovel to fit into a compact size for easy carrying.
  • Multi-functionality: Check if the shovel includes additional tools such as a saw, hammer, or bottle opener, offering versatility in various situations.
  • Comfort: Ensure the shovel has a comfortable and ergonomic handle for extended use without straining your hands.
  • Weight: Choose a lightweight shovel that won’t add excessive weight to your backpack.

What are some common features found in survival shovels?

Survival shovels often include features like:

  • Folding or telescopic design for compact storage and easy transportation.
  • Serrated edges or saw blades for cutting through wood or roots.
  • Built-in compass or other navigational aids.
  • Detachable handles that can be used as a pickaxe or hammer.
  • Firestarter or emergency whistle integrated into the handle.

Can a survival shovel be used as a self-defense tool?

Yes, a survival shovel can be used as a self-defense tool due to its sturdy construction and sharp edges. However, it’s important to note that its primary purpose is for outdoor survival tasks. If you’re considering a shovel primarily for self-defense, it’s advisable to explore other dedicated options.

Are survival shovels suitable for all outdoor activities?

Survival shovels are versatile tools that can be used in various outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, and emergency situations. However, they might not be the ideal tool for specialized tasks such as mountaineering or heavy-duty excavation. It’s essential to assess your specific needs before selecting a survival shovel.

How should I care for my survival shovel?

To ensure the longevity of your survival shovel, follow these care tips:

  • After use, clean off any dirt or debris to prevent corrosion.
  • Dry the shovel thoroughly before storing it to avoid rust formation.
  • Lubricate any moving parts, such as hinges, to maintain smooth operation.
  • Store the shovel in a dry place, away from moisture and extreme temperatures.
  • Regularly inspect the shovel for signs of wear and tear, and replace any damaged components promptly.

Remember, a survival shovel is a valuable tool, but it’s always wise to have backup options and a comprehensive knowledge of outdoor survival techniques.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this FAQ section is for informational purposes only. Always use your survival shovel responsibly and consult local guidelines and regulations when engaging in outdoor activities.

Best Survival Shovels Recap

Final Thoughts

As you can see above you’ve got a lot of great choices in the survival shovel market. Picking the best survival shovel really just depends on what you’re willing to spend, how you’re planning to use it, and how you’re carrying it.

You want it to be as functional as possible for your intended task while still easy to carry and store.

Make sure you always consider the materials and design features so you don’t end up with a lemon of a survival shovel.

3 thoughts on “11 Best Survival Shovels”

  1. I’ve used the FiveJoy shovel on multiple camping trips. The multifunctionality is a game-changer – it’s like having a mini toolkit. The saw and knife are particularly handy. However, it’s a bit on the heavier side for long hikes. Overall, a solid 4/5 for me.


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