The 4 Best Survival Shovels – Reviews 2021

best survival shovel

Photo by The US Army / CC BY

A survival shovel can be a true lifesaver when you are stranded out in the wilderness. At the very least, they will make braving the elements out there significantly easier. Survival shovels are lightweight and small, so they can be easily carried around without weighing you down. They can help you construct shelters, dig a ditch for sanitation, and can even be used as a defensive weapon if needed. Digging is always easier with a shovel than with a knife or your bare hands.

In this article, we will cover the 4 best survival shovels on the market, and then dive into how you can select the right survival shovel for you:

United Cutlery M48 Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel with Sheath


The first stand out of the M48 Kommando Tactical Shovel from United Cutlery is its sharp tip and sharp edges that makes it equally valuable as a defensive weapon as it is as a tool for digging deep into the ground. In addition, one of the sides of the blade is also serrated, which means this shovel can even be used as a saw if needed. Despite being lightweight (making it great for packing around on long treks), the M48 Kommando is constructed out of stainless steel that has been coated in black, meaning it will stack up against rust and corrosion over years. The nylon and injection molded fiberglass handle gives you plenty of comfort and a firm grip as well.

Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel with Hardwood Handle

The Special Forces Shovel from Cold Steel is based off of the same shovel that the Spetsnaz forces originally used. You’ll notice that this is a more traditional shovel from its hardwood handle (meaning it can’t be folded), but that doesn’t mean that this shovel is any less versatile or useful for survival purposes in comparison to more modern designs. The head and socket for this shovel are not only made out of carbon steel, but they have been heat treated so that their strength is built up to the maximum that it can be. This is a shovel that you can serve you just as well in twenty years or more as it could now. Total length of the shovel is just under twenty inches with a weight of just over one and a half pounds. Without a doubt, this is one of the best survival shovels on the market.

Fobachi Military Folding Shovel and Pick with Carrying Pouch

The Fobachi Military Folding Shovel packs much and little. If you desire a shovel that is super lightweight and compact but that can do everything you need a survival shovel to do, then Fobachi’s model is worth your serious consideration. The reason why this shovel is so compact is because the handle does not fold once, like most shovel in its class, but twice. It can fit very easily in your pack and its light enough for you to forget about. When unfolded, the total length is nineteen inches. The blade is forged out of a tempered steel, and one side is serrated so that it can be used as a saw.

SOG Entrenching Tool

The SOG Entrenching tool, or E-Tool, is a simple, affordable, and excellent piece of gear for camping or survival. This folding model collapses into a compact and lightweight system for comfortable carry or mounting on a belt or backpack. The SOG entrenching tool comes with a nylon carrying case that allows it to be safely toted to and from. The blade of the spade is sharpened and easily honed for a quick and easy means to break through dirt, thin roots, and hard clay. The SOG also rocks a small saw blade built into the spade that allows you to chew through thicker roots. The SOG is remarkably affordable, and it’s almost an all metal design. You can utterly destroy the ground with the SOG Entrenching tool.

What Kind of a Survival Shovel Do You Need?

Survival shovels, also known as camping shovels or trench shovels, are differentiated from other kinds of shovels due to a sharp and pointed blade that are specially designed for digging trenches around campsites or digging holes for stakes, and folding capabilities that allow the shovel to be carried in a pack, attached to the belt, or hidden underneath a car seat.

Many people skip past survival shovels when putting their camping or survival gear together, but this is a big mistake. You will find that a compact, folding shovel is one of the most valuable items you can have on a camping trip or a survival situation. The reason for this is because there is simply no other tool that is as efficient for digging rain trenches or tent stake holes around your tent, for giving you plenty of reach and force in a self-defense situation, or for cutting through things all at the same time!

A decent survival shovel should never cost you too much money. But before you purchase a survival shovel, you have to decide how you think you will use it and then how long you plan on being out in the wilds.

If you will be purchasing a shovel for hiking purposes, then your best bet is a folding, light shovel that comes with a carrying case (such as our Fobachi [see full specs] example). If your focus is going to be on digging holes and trenches, then a stronger survival will be far better (like the Cold Steel Special Forces shovel [see full specs] we discussed). If you’re going to be using your shovel in winter or in cold conditions where the ground is hardened if not frozen, then a shovel that comes with a pick will be your best bet (in this case, you’d again want the Fobachi shovel we just talked about).

Any one of the survival shovels that we have listed out will serve you well, but as we have just described to you, each one fulfills a different niche. It’s up to you to determine what niche applies to you, but what the best survival shovel means for you individually. Then all you have to do is buy the shovel and you’re set!

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