Best Survival Shovels Made For The Extreme Wilderness

By Will Brendza | Updated: 01/13/2023

Guide To Finding The Best Survival Shovel For You

Row of survival shovel blades on display

Have you ever dug a large hole or trench without a shovel?

I hope not because it royally sucks.

Trust me:

A stick is no substitute for a shovel!

It doesn’t matter what material you dig through – dirt, sand, mud, snow, or ice.

Plus, if you’re not wearing gloves, you destroy your hands with gashes, scrapes, cuts, blisters, and bruises.

Even worse, you end up wasting valuable hours and spending excess energy.

Digging without a shovel is a difficult, tiresome, and even dangerous chore.

And that’s why Man invented shovels long (long) ago.

So today, I’m going to rely on my decades of experience reviewing survival gear to uncover the following:


Best Survival Shovels For Sale

A Compact Shovel History

Top Shovel Uses For Survival

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Best Survival Shovels For Sale Today

They’re designed, top to bottom, for…survival.

They pack down tight; they’re light but sturdy and fit into a large bug-out bag or survival pack.

The best ones incorporate critical survival tools, such as hatchets, saws, fire starters, flashlights, and weapons.

The handle of them has become a storage location for all sorts of essential gear.

These new lightweight shovels are the pinnacle of shovel tech and would make our ancestors proud.

1 Our Top Pick
EVATAC Tactical Shovel | Ultra Compact Multi-tool

We start off with our favorite shovel on this list - it's called the EVATAC Tactical Shovel and it's so much more than just a compact shovel!

This shovel starts with a perfectly weighted 440 stainless steel shovelhead.

This helps make digging in the soft or hard ground a breeze.

The head of the shovel flips 90 degrees into a gardening hoe. This allows you to clear or level land and dig trenches.

It also multi-functions as a sharp, durable ax for chopping firewood or clearing fallen trees.

With its built-in, Ferro rod it can create sparks at 3000 degrees, allowing you to start a fire even in the worst weather conditions.

It includes a 120db emergency screamer whistle. This allows you to call for help or communicate with others at extreme distances.

With its razor-sharp stainless steel blade which is ideal for shaving wood for tinder or striking the Ferro rod.

It also includes a double edge saw blade for cutting timber, plastics, and other materials.

It comes with a flat head & Phillips head screwdriver for emergency repairs while you're on the move.

Plus, a built-in ruler for measuring; 2 Hex sockets to tighten/loosen stubborn nuts & bolts; a compass to keep you on track and heading in the right direction

Finally, it comes with a free durable padded carry case and a bottle opener.

All this is packed into a foldable shovel perfect for camping, hiking, and surviving.

It easily fits in your go-bag, under a car seat, or stashed in the bed of a pickup truck.

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↓ Konnex Shovel by EVATAC Review

FiveJoy Compact Shovel For The Outdoors

This shovel from FiveJoy is the Swiss Army Knife of shovels. This folding shovel breaks down into several unique survival tools.

Which is great when you’re trying to consolidate your gear.

If you choose this shovel for your bug-out bag, then you won’t have to pack as many separate tools.

This shovel’s got you covered and includes:

• Sharp Axe Blade

• Serrated Saw Edge

• Hammer

• Paracord

• Fire Starter

• Ruler

• Emergency Whistle

• Bottle Opener

These extra tools help make this well-designed shovel extremely versatile.

Obviously, it can dig holes and trenches, but it can also saw logs, chop wood, cut, pick, and pry to your heart's content.

You have two options to choose from with the FiveJoy Compact Military Folding Shovel. A lighter compact version (C1) or the larger heavy-duty version (RS).

If you’re planning to hike, backpack, or bug out with it then go with the lighter option. Otherwise, you’ll want to upgrade to the heavier-duty version.

Either way, this shovel is a tough son of a gun. It’s forged from heat-treated high-quality carbon steel (blade and knife) and aerospace-grade aluminum (knife).

These metals give the shovel maximum strength and lifetime durability.

It’s also rust, water, and fracture resistant.

Unlike other shovels, you can adjust the shovel angle with its unique screw-locking mechanism, allowing it to function in alternate positions. It can be set up at 40°, 90°, or 180° angles to operate as a shovel or a hoe.

Smart-engineered handle design optimizes comfort and control. The slip-proof foam cushion on the aluminum handle is water-resistant and quick to dry.

It’s the real deal survival shovel and worthy of an investment in your survival arsenal.

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↓ FiveJoy Shovel: How Does It Do For Survival?

Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel w/Sheath

Some survivalists prefer their shovel to function as a shovel, and that’s it. I totally get that.

Perhaps you have more fire starters, knives, and whistles than you’ll ever need, so why get a shovel that includes more of these items?

Or perhaps you’d prefer your shovel to be compact but not necessarily one that breaks down.

As we all know, the breakdown joints are where a shovel will fail first.

So how about just eliminating the joint together?

If these arguments sound like you, and you prefer a simple and sturdy over complex, then you should check out Cold Steel's 92SFS Special Forces Shovel.

It’s both lightweight and robust, with the shovelhead made from medium carbon steel. The handle is made out of durable hardwood.

No bells, no whistles, just pure survival goodness.

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↓ Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel Review

Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade with Pick and Serrated Blade

Let’s imagine you want to keep things simple, but for your situation, you also want it to fit inside a backpack. Then look no further than Gerber's E-Tool Folding Spade.

It’s a proven, rugged, and reliable design and can be used in various military, hunting, survival, tactical, industrial, and outdoor situations.

The shovel's power-coated boron carbon steel head also includes a serrated edge on one side to allow you to cut through those thick roots when trenching.

The shape of the blade also promotes deep penetration into the ground with each strike.

This compact but mighty trencher comes in at an easy-on-the-back 2 lbs and breaks down to only 9.37 inches when in its closed position.

When fully open, just use the safety locking design, and you won’t have to worry about it collapsing during use.

Lastly, the open handle design allows for maximum grip and power helping blast through your trenching chores quickly.

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↓ How To Make A Marine Corps Fighting Hole

M48 Kommando Compact Tactical Shovel

This shovel takes the simple idea of the wooden handle shovel in its overall simplicity and then upgrades it in both build and style.

M48's Kommando Shovel features a dang near indestructible, injection-molded nylon handle.

With 30 percent nylon & fiberglass reinforcement.

The shovel head is made of tempered 2Cr13 stainless steel and powder coated (black oxide).

The shovel's leading edge is sharp.

Plus, the shovel blade includes a partially serrated edge on one side and a concave chopping edge on the opposite.

The shovel also includes a reinforced nylon carry pouch for safe storage and portability.

The bottom line is this shovel has a few extra worthwhile features without trying to do it all. It’s a badass shovel that looks as good as it digs.

It's ideal for all camping and outdoor adventures and helps with digging light chopping, or even a defensive weapon in an emergency.

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↓ Kommando United Cutlery Shovel

iunio Camping / Folding Shovel

What’s the one thing that all the previous shovels were missing? Length.

If you use any of the shovels we already covered, you’re going to be digging from your knees.

They are too short to stand and use your feet to dig like you would a standard backyard shovel.

But that’s where Iunio's Miltary Portable Folding Shovel makes its mark.

This folding shovel not only has many additional survival tools built in (saw, bottle opener, nail extractor, emergency whistle, fire starter, hammer, etc.) but when fully assembled is 35 inches in length (get the 35-inch version, skip the 31-inch option).

Yes, you get to stand and dig.

However, if you ever find yourself in a situation where a shorter shovel would work better, just remove the extension sections. You get to choose your shovel length by adding or removing extensions.

It's a favorite shovel among outdoor adventurists including Off-roaders, 4-Wheelers, Backpackers, Campers, RVers, Cadets, Scouts, Military Personnel, Hikers, Hunters, Fisherman, etc.

The shovel blade and handle are made from high-carbon steel which is both high-strength and wear-resistant. The grip on the handle is rubber.

This military shovel passed all the manufacturer's durability tests and field trials with flying colors.

The shovel also folds up and fits nicely in a provided high-quality tactical waist pack. The package comes with a belt loop to carry at your side and will work with MOLLE.

So it's easy for you to hang it on your belt or bag for transportation.

But the Iunio Military Portable Folding Shovel is not the only option with the extending length function.

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↓ The Best Shovel For Survival? Iunio Folding Shovel

Schrade Telescoping Folding Shovel

What I like most about Schrade's SCHSH1 has the telescoping feature and the T-grip.

These take your basic trenching shovel and add a couple of key features that help you get the digging job done.

It's made out of 055 Carbon Steel and the head is slightly sharpened.

The overall blade length is 7.41 inches.

The handle can telescope to different lengths as desired up to 19" in length max.

The entire shovel only weighs 2 lbs.

This is one tough shovel too, it won't come apart under real use like some other shovels we've seen.

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↓ Schrade Folding Shovel Testing

Brief Shovel History

In fact, shovels may rank as one of mankind’s oldest tools.

Throughout most of the history of mankind, shovels were the only tool for serious excavation.

They made it possible to build foundations, irrigation systems, sewage troughs, etc.

They allowed “ancient man” to go from mud-hut villages to planned cities.

Right up to the second industrial revolution, shovels were the standard for excavation.

At one time, manual shoveling became so important that scientists began studying the “science of shoveling.”

This field of study was to help make shoveling as efficient as possible.

However, that was just before the invention of the steam engine.

↓ How It’s Made – Shovels and Spades

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Top Shovel Uses

But for some jobs, nothing can replace a good shovel, and they still play a significant role in:

  • Military regimens
  • Small projects in mining and construction
  • Emergency rescue (i.e., firefighters, EMTs, and SWAT teams)
  • Backyard gardening and landscaping
  • Camping Trip
  • Digging fire pits

The basic design of a shovel is simple.

There’s nothing fancy about it. It’s made up of a thin, flat, sturdy spade-shaped hard material with a handle attached.

It’s simple, but it’s effective.

But the shovel has come a long way over the course of human history.

Today, shovels are not just shovels. They are specifically designed for specific jobs.

For example, there are shovels made specifically for avalanche rescue.

There are military shovels for digging foxholes for war.

Some shovels are ideal for digging deep narrow holes, while others are made for planting gardens.

In recent years, the survival community began developing what we call folding survival shovels.

Tactical shovels made specifically by and for wilderness survival.

The bottom line is that there’s a shovel for almost any circumstance.

And while any shovel is better than no shovel, as you’ll soon see, not all shovels are created equal.

Today, grabbing “any old shovel” for survival is a terrible idea.

The standard backyard shovel is too long, heavy, and bulky to take with you, especially on foot.

These run-of-the-mill shovels won’t fit inside your bug-out bag and will slow you down.

Yes, a regular shovel will fit in most cars or trucks, but it will take up valuable space.

And as you’ll soon find out, they can’t hold a candle to a modern-day tactical folding shovel.

↓ Foldable Shovel, Total Breakdown, and Uses

The Final Word

No matter what you’re digging, where you’re digging it, or why, there is a shovel out there for the job.

That is why it is important to ensure that you have one packed and ready with the rest of your bug-out gear.

You will thank yourself later – because a camp shovel is the kind of instrument you don’t need until you really freaking need it.

I can’t stress enough how bad it sucks to dig a hole with your bare hands or with a stick.

In fact, it is downright dangerous.

Those scrapes and cuts are prone to infection.

Having a compact shovel is a means of self-preservation – don’t waste any time.

Make sure you’re prepared on this front by finding the perfect survival shovel.

One that will best meet your needs and fit your survival plan.

Will Brendza

Will Brendza

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Member of The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association
  • Certifications: Avalanche 1, WFR (expired), CPR (expired)
  • 8+ Years Researching, Writing, About Survival and Preparedness
  • Awards from Society of Professional Journalists
  • Winner of Camp Cold’s “Happy Camper” award in 2020
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