The 4 Best Entrenching Tools – Reviews 2021

best entrenching tool

Photo by Naval History & Heritage Command / CC BY

An entrenching tool can be one of the most valuable tools that you have in a survival situation.  Not only are they lightweight and compact enough to be easily carried around in your pack when out in the wilderness, but they also make things a whole lot easier when it comes to building shelters and sanitation trenches, for digging holes, and if necessary, in a self-defense situation.  Keep in mind that many survival entrenching tools come equipped with a serrated blade for cutting and for defensive use.

In this article, we’re going to go over 4 of the best entrenching tools on the market, and then we’ll discuss the qualities that you should look for in the top entrenching tools.

Fobachi Military Folding Shovel

This is a light and compact shovel that serves a multitude of functions that make it a more than viable option as a survival entrenching tool.  This shovel is extraordinarily easy to pack because the handle folds not once, but twice.  Furthermore, the shovel ships with a carrying pouch that can latch directly on to a belt.

But don’t mistake the overall small size of this shovel (see full specs) as a dip in quality.  The blade is constructed out of a strong forged steel with a serrated blade on one side that can easily saw through branches.  The pointed tip on the edge of the blade allows it to dig deeply and sharply into the earth for digging holes and trenches.

Multi-functional Mini Military Folding Shovel - BLACK

Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade

Gerber is a large name in the survival world, and they are particularly well known for their high quality knives, saws, and hatchets. However, they also produce entrenching tools and their E-Tool Folding Spade is the best they have to offer in this department. The blade of the shovel is constructed out of carbon steel while the handle is made from a glass filled nylon that will give you plenty of traction in your grip. Both materials are more than capable of withstanding even the harshest of environments.

Meanwhile, the entire shovel (see full specs) weighs just two pounds with a length of just over nine inches when fully closed. This makes it very handy to pack around on camping trips and hiking expeditions. As with the other entrenching tools that we have covered, one side of the blade is serrated for sawing and slashing purposes. When the handle is extended, it utilizes a locking mechanism to ensure it remains firmly in place while you apply heavy pressure when digging through hard ground or hacking through ice. This should be on anyone’s list of the best entrenching tools.


SOG FO8-N Entrenching Tool

SOG is another well known brand in the survival world and their FO8-N entrenching tool effortlessly meets the high bar that they have set.  The entire tool is constructed out of a durable, forged steel with a black, corrosion resistant coating.  One side of the blade is serrated for slashing or sawing purposes.

You’ll also notice how the handle is shaped in the form of a triangle to give you a more secure grip over the shovel.  Overall weight of the shovel is just over twenty four ounces, so you can forget about it when it’s in your pack, and the handle folds twice directly over the blade so that it takes up minimal space.

SOG Entrenching Tool F08 Demo

USGI Issue E-Tool

Let’s face it, the military knows all about digging holes. The USGI E tool is the exact same model that’s currently issued to armed forces. It’s folds at three different points and collapses into a very small and compact package. The USGI E-Tool is mostly metal with some polymer in certain points. The shovel head itself has two serrated edges and an axe edge for smashing through roots as you dig. The black powder coat finish is nice and tough, and keeps rust at bay. If you want simple and effective and affordable, the USGI E-Tool is it. Bar none, this is one of the best entrenching tools for the money.

U.S. Military Issue Tri-Fold Shovel

What Do You Need to Look For in an Entrenching Tool?

There are few tools in a survival situation that will allow you to construct shelters, saw through branches, dig trenches and holes, hack through ice, or use in self-defensive situations as an entrenching tool.  These tools are equally at home in a garden, on a camping trip, or even in war.

When looking for an entrenching tool, the first thing to look is the overall size and weight.  Is the shovel capable of folding, and if so, how compact will it be when fully folded?  If the shovel can’t fold or if it’s too bulky when folded, you should forget about it in favor of something else.  The overall weight of the tool is important as well.  Keep in mind that a folding shovel can be very durable even when it is lightweight; each of the shovels that we listed out are constructed out of very durable steels while managing to weigh only two pounds or less.

Another quality to look for is how rigid the shovel will be when extended.  Sure, it may fold in and out, but does it have a locking mechanism that will allow the handle to lock in place when extended?  If not, you should reject the shovel because it will naturally be weaker when you apply pressure on it while digging.  You want your entrenching tool to be rigid, not loose.

Finally, ask yourself how versatile or multi-functional the shovel will be as a whole.  A serrated blade is a must have on the shovel so it can also act as a saw for constructing shelters.  A bottle opener is a nice luxury to have, but not a necessity.  A pointed tip on the blade, however, is a must have so that the shovel can dig sharply into the ground when digging.

The best entrenching tool will serve you well in a survival situation and make your experience significantly easier.  All you have to know is what to look for, and any one of the four products that we have recommended meet the criteria that you need in an entrenching tool.  Good luck!

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2 responses

  1. The Gerber E-tool IS the military issue E-tool. I was given one in the Marines and if you order the Gerbr it comes in plain cardboard with an NSN number.

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