If you feel the need to carry a digging tool in your 72 hour bug out bag (and why don’t you?), you’ll want to make sure you’re putting only the best survival gear in your pack. A proper shovel is no exception.
So we looked at a few of the most popular shovel/entrenching tools on the market to give you a range of options that best suits your style and your bug out bag. Each shovel has it’s own strengths and drawbacks, and because they all have plenty of positives – we couldn’t pick a clear best survival shovel winner. Tell us what YOU think the best survival shovel is on our Facebook page.
What To Look For
As with most bug out bag survival tools, you’re looking for something that is easy to carry, light weight, and preferably has multiple uses. You COULD carry any standard short handle shovel found at a big box home improvement retailer – but in the end, all you’re going to get is a shovel.
We looked at a number of factors including overall weight, length, form factor, and of course – secondary usability.
Best Survival Shovels
US Military Issue E-Tool
The E-Tool has been US Military issue standard equipment for decades and certainly stands the test of time. The most compact tool of all the survival shovels we tested, this 23″ (open) shovel folds down to 9″ when stored, making this item an easy one to store in just about any bug out bag. With a sharpened edge on one side, the E-Tool doubles as a small emergency camp hatchet in a true emergency, or as a bladed self defense weapon.
Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel
The Gerber Gorge folding shovel is the smallest of the shovels we chose. At just over 13″ unfolded, the Gorge lacks the overall length of most survival shovels and folds to over 9″, just bigger than the fully folded E-Tool. The shorter overall length provides less ability to provide leverage for any use other than basic digging in medium to soft dirt. For light duty such as digging a latrine hole or small fire pit – this tool provides reasonable duty with a compact and lightweight design at a reasonable price.
Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel
The Cold Steel Special Forces shovel combines a no-frills straight handled (does not fold) hard steel shovel with an extremely sharp blade suitable as a self defense weapon and light duty cutting and chopping tools. What it lacks in portability, it makes up for in overall strength and solid construction that Cold Steel tools are known for. The straight handled design makes this difficult to put in your bug out pack (21″ in overall length) without a handle sticking out to snag on. If you’re looking for simplicity plus strength, this is the perfect choice.
United Cutlery M48 Kommando
The M48 Kommando is most certainly the most bad-ass looking shovel on the market today. At closer in length (16.2″ overall) to the Gerber Gorge, the M48 combines the straight handled simplicity of the Cold Steel Special Forces all the awesomeness of a full on survival knife. The M48 Kommando features a sharpened edge for light chopping or self defense and a partially serrated opposing edge. A little short for heavy duty shovel use, but with less mechanical parts to break or rust – the M48 is a great overall use shovel that should last basically forever.
Overall, we couldn’t find a clear choice for the title of best survival shovel. Each shovel performs better than the rest in one feature, but clearly trails behind it’s competitors in other features. With no obvious choice in mind, my personal preference goes to the M48 Kommando mostly because it just looks like the baddest shovel one can carry in a survival situation. The big bonus points came from the awesome skull logo.
What’s your favorite survival shovel? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know!
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