There are few tools in the outdoorsman’s arsenal that are as important as having the best survival shovel. You see, few tools are as versatile, strong, and life saving. Even fewer tools can provide you with more than one of the basic survival necessities, such as shelter and food. Even less stand up to the pragmatic uses of the best entrenching tool; not even the greatest knives , hatchets, or multitools come close.
Entrenching shovels have developed dramatically over the years to accommodate more unique features and upgraded technologies; however, they are all bred from the original spade tool. It was talked about by ancient writers during the time of Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire. It was used by the roman legion as a means to build camps and dig tunnels.
As long as warfare has been waged with steel, the spade has been an essential tool for militaries across the globe. They were used back in the day for trenches of course, but more importantly to dig tunnels and collapse walls to sack cities. They were used for defense, just as they can be today, and they were used to build camps where none existed before. Today those uses still exist, except maybe sacking cities. No need to dig a tunnel and collapse a wall when you can bomb the whole thing. Every other use is still applicable, and are in fact so necessary that military personnel still carry entrenching tools as part of their gear.
The best survival shovels are made of highest grade materials and come with the most reliable and useful features. In fact, so many are now being made with tons of extras that basically turn your entrenching spade into a survival shovel multi tool, capable of sawing branches, starting fires, and giving you directions.
Entrenching tools have become widely popular items carried as part of the essential gear for any type of outdoorsman. Hunters, campers, hikers, adventurers, and any other type of person who enjoys spending more time out with nature, either have or should have, a great survival shovel. They are lightweight, and most fold up to make for even easier transportation. That, and they are just so darn useful.
Some other entrenching tool uses include:
- Digging an outdoor toilet
- Holding the toilet paper for your newly dug fecal pit
- Digging trenches – Not to hide from bullets, but to reroute excess rain flow around your camp, or any other trench requiring scenario
- Digging holes for traps/security
- Defend you from angry, hungry, and/or menstruating bears
- Protect you from your drunk friend Billy
- Defend you against any other human or animal threat
- Saw through roots in the ground
- Saw down branches
- Start fires (with the flint accessory)
- Flattening an area to set up camp
- Creating a small trap for catching fish by building up walls to create a small “cove” in a slow moving river. Fish swim in then you block off the entrace
- Guide you in and out of the woods (with compass feature)
- And ah so much more
So, considering the importance of this tool you may be asking yourself, “who makes the best e-tool?” Well, that really comes down to preference, because it depends on all that you want to get out of it. There are a ton of companies that make incredible e-tools, and what it really comes down to is price. You pay for what you get. If you spend under about 30 dollars, you’ll get a product that won’t give you a very long life. In a case like mine, you’ll go to step down on the shovel to dig into hard earth and bend/crack the spade itself. Cheaper is not better with these.
Likewise, if you spend more on a survival shovel it will last you longer, be made with higher quality materials, and overall it will be a tremendously better buy.
Some features to consider when purchasing the best e-tool shovel.
- What is it made from?
- Does it fold?
- What is the joint made from?
- What is the joint design? Is it strong?
- What attachments does it have?
- What is the shape and material of the handle? Will that support your force on it after a while?
Most importantly, think about what you will be using it for.
In no particular order here are the top 5 survival shovels.
Glock Entrenching Tool
The glock entrenching tool is a simplistic, very well built, and extremely functional piece of equipment. It features a high grade polymer handle, and shaft that extends to give you additional 2 handed leverage. In fact, it’s made of the same polymere that the Glock sidearms are made of. The Glock entrenching tool folds up neatly into a carrying pouch and has the added saw blade in the handle that makes cutting limbs and branches a hundred times easier. The blade also gives an added sense of protection, if the shovel were to be used as a defense weapon.
This e-tool is very lightweight in comparison to other entrenching tools on the market, and the shovel can be locked in 4 different positions which add numerous capabilities.
Check out this Glock entrenching tool review video for a detailed look:
All in all this is a great entrenching tool. It will not only exceed any and all physical demands, it will give you a very long life as well.
Gerber Entrenching Tool
The entrenching tool by Gerber is another simple yet great folding survival shovel. This features a boron carbon steel spade that has been powder coated to add additional strength and durability. The shaft is high grade anodized aluminum, and the sturdy handle is made from glass infused nylon. In regards to the practically indestructible handle, it features a more comfortable grip design like that of a large shovel. This gives extra stability when using this awesome product. Furthermore, this e-tool comes with a serrated blade for cutting through branches or sawing through roots in the ground (although they come fairly dull).
There is a bit of a consumer rivalry between glock and gerber in regards to their survival shovels. The Gerber vs Glock e tool debate can go either way because both are fantastic. At the end of the day it really comes down to personal preference.
SOG Elite Entrenching Tool
The SOG Elite entrenching tool is a another great lightweight and compact e-tool choice. This features a high grade carbon steel spade and handle for lightweight durability and is coated for a longer lasting life. The handle telescopes to give you added length, and hidden inside the straight handle is a gnarly two directional saw blade which is perfect for cutting through just about anything.
The SOG Elite has been designed with an easy twist to lock mechanism to minimize unnecessary parts that would otherwise weaken the shovel. Best of all SOG guarantees their products, so this one comes with a lifetime warranty. That’s always a hidden gem to find among tools that will be beat on regularly, and when I say beat on, I mean SOG tools are used extensively by the military.
This is a superb entrenching tool that is arguably the best e-tool shovel around.
Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel
The Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel is undoubtedly the most simplistic of our top five, but it is also the most reliable. It is short, and therefore tactical, but it does not fold or have any joints whatsoever. This makes it the most reliable. There really is no potential weak points, or areas that will wear faster than others. The special forces shovel by Cold Steel is a superior entrenching tool that is just as versatile as any other.
The spade on this comes sharpened and is more of a blade than anything else. It is superb when digging or cutting through branches, and being like a hatchet it can not only split wood but be thrown as a weapon. It comes with a protective sheath to cover the multi sided sharpened spade, and is made from the highest grade steel and wood. Another thoughtful feature this has is the fact that the spade is screwed into the handle and not riveted. This makes changing the handle, especially in the field, so much easier.
Check out this video review for more details:
On a personal note, this is by far my favorite. It is simple, strong, sharp, easy to fix, and comes with a five year warranty.
Pagreberya Compact Entrenching Tool
The compact entrenching tool from Pagreberya is probably the most pragmatic and useful of the five, because it comes with extra life saving features. Those features include a compass on the end of the handle, an inner saw blade/bottle opener attachment, an inner magnesium rod to start fires, and a whistle to ward off predators or call for aid.
The Pagreberya compact entrenching tool is made from the highest grade carbon steel and aviation aluminum alloy. This creates a very sturdy and very dependable survival shovel multi tool. The spade has a sharpened edge, a side with saw teeth, and two hex nut cutouts. The shaft unscrews in two spots and features all the attachments mentioned above.
A couple more unique features include the wrist rope which is especially great for any self defense or when chopping wood to any degree. It also has a blunt point tip which is great for breaking tempered glass.
Overall this is the best survival shovel , and quite arguably the best entrenching tool . It is perfect for keeping in your car or bug-out bag. Of course it is fantastic for the hunter or outdoorsman that is looking for something with a lot to offer in a shovel.