7 Best Survival Shovel Reviews – The Most Versatile Shovels

Best Survival Shovel

The shovel is a simple and highly useful tool for digging holes and trenches quickly and easily.

Unfortunately, the traditional shovel is a big and bulky tool that is not very convenient to carry around. It needed a complete revamp to become a true survival tool that can fit a backpack.

But, manufacturers took note. Survival shovels are now just as effective as the traditional shovel but with way more functionalities. They are smaller and can be used to fell small trees, dig trenches or become defense weapons on the fly.

If you are planning to roam the wilderness soon and need a compact shovel to fit a small backpack, we have exactly what you need.

7 Best Survival Shovel Reviews

Without further ado, there is a detailed review of some of the best backpacking shovels on the market.

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Product Name

Material

Weight

Length

Rating

Current Price

Iunio Military Portable Folding Shovel

1. Iunio Military Portable Folding Shovel

High-carbon steel

2.5 lbs

17", 31", 35"

4.4

Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade

2. Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade

7075 aluminum alloy

2.55 lbs

9.37" (variable)

4.7

FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel Multitool

3. FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel Multitool

High-carbon steel

2.0 lbs

19.0"

4.5

Schrade SCHSH1 Telescoping Folding Shovel

4. Schrade SCHSH1 Telescoping Folding Shovel

1055 Carbon Steel

2.0 lbs

7.42" (variable)

4.2

United Cutlery UC2979 M48 Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel

5. United Cutlery UC2979 M48 Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel

Tempered 20r13 stainless steel

0.4 lb

16.2"

4.4

SOG Elite Entrenching Tool F19-N

6. SOG Elite Entrenching Tool F19-N

High-carbon steel

1.55 lbs

10.2" (variable)

4.3

Pagreberya Compact Outdoor Folding Shovel with Knife and Fire Starter

7. Pagreberya Compact Outdoor Folding Shovel with Knife and Fire Starter

High-carbon steel and aluminum

2.0 lbs

21.0"

4.4

1. Iunio Military Portable Folding Shovel

Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)

Iunio Military Portable Folding Shovel
  • Blade: 1 serrated edge + 3 sharp edges.
  • Material: High-carbon steel
  • Size: 17-inches, 31-inches or 35-inches (depends on model)
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs

The Iunio portable shovel is a quality and cost-effective solution for those who have never owned a compact shovel before. It comes with multiple handles, a carry bag and even manages to include an emergency whistle and a hunting knife in the pack.

It does not have the bells and whistles of more expensive models, but its bare minimum like a serrated blade, decent unfold size and high-quality construction is enough for most people looking for a simple and affordable survival tool.

However, despite being a budget model, this shovel will give the best military shovel out there a run for its money. We recommend it for beginners and those who are not planning to dig deep holes in the wilderness.

Pros:

  • Versatile with many functions other than shoveling
  • Serrated blade for sawing logs
  • High-carbon build construction for durability
  • Decent unfolding size (depending on model)

Cons:

  • Not the most versatile
  • A little bit on the heavy side

2. Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade

Editor's Rating: (4.7 / 5)

Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade
  • Blade: Serrated
  • Material: 7075 aluminum alloy with anodized shaft
  • Size: 9.37 inches closed and 23.75-inches open
  • Weight: 2.55 lbs

The Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade is an ultra-compact and ultra-lightweight folding spade that has an adjustable blade angle. It comes with the bare minimum, and this folding space does not have the advanced features of most shovels in this review.

It has a locking mechanism that locks the shaft and blade in position, for a safer shoveling experience. The anodized shaft is long-lasting and durable. Additionally, the blade in this unit is made from a lightweight 7075 aluminum alloy.

This material is very lightweight and strong, although we can't say that it rivals the solidity of high-carbon steel. Still, it does a good job not bending or chipping when hitting solid rocks in the ground.

Pros:

  • Very compact. Requires little space to carry
  • Anodized shaft and glass-filled nylon handle for durability
  • The angle of the blade can be adjusted and locked
  • Half-serrated edge for versatility

Cons:

  • Still a little bit heavy considering it's built from 7075 aluminum alloy
  • Very basic tool. No extra accessories.
  • Expensive for what it offers

3. FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel Multitool

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel Multitool
  • Blade: Serrated
  • Material: High-carbon steel
  • Size: 19-inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs

This kit from FiveJoy is in our opinion one of the best folding shovels for the price. It is a multi-functional shovel that can be used in a wide range of situations. From winter survival to trench digging, the FiveJoy does it all with great ease.

The blade is made from high-carbon steel for strength and it is serrated. This blade will easily cut small vegetation, including small branches with great ease.

Furthermore, it is screwed on and the blade has a tactical measurement that shows you the depth. Very practical!

Additionally, the shovel blade can be adjusted and lock in position. It offers 0-degree, 90-degrees or 180-degrees locking angles.

The only caveat with have with this model is the straight handle. It still offers comfortable and anti-slip handling but the shape can become uncomfortable when digging through solid ground.

Pros:

  • Versatile. Lots of attachments
  • Can be used as a hook, hoe or shovel
  • Tactical markings on the blade
  • Blade angle can be adjusted and locked
  • Serrated and strong blade

Cons:

  • Straight handle
  • Relatively short handle can cause back pain over long periods of digging

4. Schrade SCHSH1 Telescoping Folding Shovel

Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)

Schrade SCHSH1 Telescoping Folding Shovel
  • Blade: Flat. Non-serrated
  • Material: 1055 carbon steel
  • Size: 7.42-inches folded and 19-inches unfolded
  • Weight: 2 lbs

The Schrade SCHSH1 Is one of the most basic folding shovels out there. This model comes with a 1055 carbon steel blade and a telescopic handle that can be extended up to 19 inches in length.

The inside of the handle is made from aluminum tubing that is both lightweight and strong. This will ensure that the handle does not break when extended.

One of the best things about this folding shovel is its price. Indeed, it is definitely the best folding shovel in terms of price. For anyone looking for a basic but functional folding shovel, the Schrade SCHSH1 is a good model to consider.

Pros:

  • The price. It is one of the most affordable models
  • 1055 carbon steel construction for strength and durability
  • Small form factor when folded with telescopic handle
  • Fairly lightweight

Cons:

  • No serrated blade for cutting small branches
  • Very basic folding shovel

5. United Cutlery UC2979 M48 Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel

Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)

United Cutlery UC2979 M48 Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel
  • Blade: Serrated and concave shapened
  • Material: Tempered 20r13 stainless steel
  • Size: 16.2-inches
  • Weight: 0.4 lbs

The United Cutlery UC2979 is one of the most badass tactical survival shovels we know. It looks absolutely amazing and functions equally as well. The whole shovel is constructed using a high-quality material for durability.

The blade is made of tempered 2Cr13 stainless steel and coated with a black oxide to protect it from the environment.

This will guarantee that you have a shovel that will last a long time, but best of all, it will still look brand-new every time it is cleaned.

The blade is shopping at the tip giving it a lot of penetrating force and the side is serrated for cutting through vegetation. The other sides of the blade are sharp and concave for cutting ease.

The only disappointment we have with this model is the handle is short and not the best for digging for long periods. However, it is made from a 30% fiberglass and nylon reinforcement making it very durable and heavy duty.

This thing is literally unbreakable and will make an excellent survival defense tool in the wilderness!

Pros:

  • Very solidly built. Extremely durable and long-lasting.
  • Serrated and concave sharpened blade for versatility
  • Extremely lightweight

Cons:

  • Short handle. Not the best for digging for long hours

6. SOG Elite Entrenching Tool F19-N

Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)

SOG Elite Entrenching Tool F19-N
  • Blade: Non-serrated. Flat.
  • Material: High-carbon steel
  • Size: 10.2-inches closed and 26-inches open
  • Weight: 1.55 lbs

The SOG Elite is by far one of the best folding shovels when it comes to trench digging. It is a simple tool but has an excellent high-carbon steel build construction. It is durable and very long-lasting.

Furthermore, the blade in this unit can be adjusted and locked in position to function as a hoe. But one of the most brilliant feature if the included saw that converts this shovel into a handy little saw.

All in all, the SOG Elite is a versatile survival shovel that not only digs well but all cuts branches like a professional saw.

Pros:

  • High-carbon steel build construction.
  • Angular adjustment of the blade
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Included saw for slashing and cutting
  • Comes with a nylon sheath

Cons:

  • A little bit pricey
  • Blade is not serrated

7. Pagreberya Compact Outdoor Folding Shovel with Knife and Fire Starter

Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)

Pagreberya Compact Outdoor Folding Shovel with Knife and Fire Starter
  • Blade: Serrated
  • Material: High-carbon steel and aviation aluminum
  • Size: 21-inches
  • Weight: Around 2.0 lbs

If there is one thing we have to give the Pagreberya folding shovel, it is its excellent build construction. It is flawless and made from aviation grade aluminum for lightweight and high-carbon for durability! The best of both worlds. It is also an excellent multi-tool that does way more than shoveling.

For starters, the Pagreberya can be customized and the user gets to pick accessories and attachments that appeal more. Up to 7 different combinations are offered. Furthermore, the blade is serrated and can be used to cut small branches with ease.

The handle is well-balanced and ergonomic, offering a good comfortable grip. To top it off, you can adjust the blade angle for it to work as a hoe instead of a shovel.

All in all, there are over 30 functions in this model making it one of the best military shovels we can recommend.

Pros:

  • Over 30 functions. Truly multi-functional
  • Option to buy extensions and attachments
  • Serrated blade
  • Excellent build construction. High-carbon steel and aviation aluminum
  • Blade angle adjustable and lockable in position

Cons:

  • Can become expensive with additional purchase options

How to Buy a Survival Shovel

​How to Buy a Survival Shovel

Here are some handy advice and guidelines to follow before purchasing a survival shovel online.

#1. Versatility

Most compact shovels are more than simple tools for digging holes. Many models can fulfill as many as 20 uses at a time. They can be used as a flashlight, defense weapons, pickaxe or saw for cutting logs.

Common features that a good-quality shovel should have are:

  • Telescopic handle
  • Hunting Knife
  • Flashlight and the back of the handle
  • Retractable pickaxe
  • Saw blades at the edge of the shovel

The more functions your shovel has, the merrier as you get more bang for your buck.

#2. Durability

Check the build construction, especially the material the shovel is constructed from. You should favor models that employ metal alloys into their construction as they are more durable, light-weight and long-lasting.

Moreover, the blade of a shovel is the most crucial part of the tool. Ensure that it is black in color, which in fact is a coating of an oxide paint that protects the blade from corrosion. As for the blade itself, a carbon steel material is preferred. It will be stronger than regular steel.

If you need the strongest and most compact shovel, we recommend you get a military shovel as they generally have a better-built construction and more robust than other types of shovels.

#3. Ease of Use

Most reputable shovels these days come with a T or D hand grip for optimal handling. Choose models that come with grips, especially those that use a rubberized material to coat the handles. Those are a pleasure to use.

Additionally, the handle length is also important. The shorter the handle in a shovel, the more you have to bend to dig. If you need to dig for a long time, it will surely give you a terrible back pain.

Ensure that the shovel handle is telescopic and sufficiently long for a better ease of use.

#4. Blade Angle

Some models allow you to adjust and lock the blade at a specific angle. This is handy because it can turn a regular shovel into a hoe on the fly.

#5. Compactness

The shovel should be small enough to fit into a small backpack when dismantled. Additionally, these tools are built to be ultra-portable and lightweight. They should not be intrusive when tucked inside your backpack.

#6. Brand Reputation

A cheap shovel might seem like a good deal, but down the road, you end up losing money as you will have to buy a new one. Avoid shovels not made by a quality and reputable brand.

Moreover, keep an eye out for brands that use the term military grade shovel. This means they are made from more durable and stronger materials.

Conclusion

As we've seen, those survival tools are very dependable and can save lives. It is not just another tool for digging holes. They have versatile uses in many situations, from felling trees to becoming full-on defense weapons.

The survival shovel is the kind of tool you think you won't need at all but later realize that your life depends on it. If you are planning a trip in the wilderness soon, I cannot emphasize how important this tool is. Get one! It can save your life, literally!

There are many good quality shovels at reasonable prices. If you have still not found a good compact shovel from our list yet, I recommend you go through it one more time.