Best Shovels for Camping/Hiking – Reviews and Guide 2020

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Last Update: 17.Nov.2020

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Gerber E-Tool Folding Shovel

A military-grade digging tool, this powder-coated carbon steel shovel head is built for digging trenches and holes. With a serrated blade edge, anodize aluminum shaft, and glass-filled nylon handle this tool handles all types of difficult terrain. The head folds back to expose a handy and tough pick feature.
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Coleman Folding Shovel with Pick

Dig a fire pit, pick out roots and cut small branches to clear your next campsite with a Coleman® Folding Shovel with Pick. This compact tool is made of durable steel with a serrated edge for sawing. It measures 7 in. when it’s folded and fits inside its included carrying case. When you’re ready to use it, the shovel folds out to 16.25 in. and easily locks into place for safety. During the winter, keep the shovel/pick in your trunk to clear snow and ice in an emergency.

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Last Update: 17.Nov.2020

Camping shovels are great tools. They are small, handy, and can be used in a wide range of scenarios. For instance, when you want to dig up a latrine in the woods, or you need to scoop up dirt to set up a camp.

And if you can afford it, you can even get shovels that are double the saws and picks. This makes them extremely handy for cutting into solid ground and surviving avalanches. 

So which camping shovel should you use and for what proposes? We’re here to take a look at the best camping shovels in 2020.

Gerber E-Tool Folding Shovel

The Gerber E-Tool is an extremely compact folding spade. It is the ideal tool for a wide range of uses.
A military-grade digging tool, this powder-coated carbon steel shovel head is built for digging trenches and holes. With a serrated blade edge, anodize aluminum shaft, and glass-filled nylon handle this tool handles all types of difficult terrain. The head folds back to expose a handy and tough pick feature.
Go To Amazon Shop
Pros

Lightweight and tough

Anodized Shaft

The handle is strong and folds down nicely as well.

Many positions for work

Cons

When sand or salt gets in, it does not fold well.

No case for shovel

Coleman Folding Shovel with Pick

Made from durable steel, this multi-use tool offers a serrated edge for sawing as well as pick and shovel options.
Dig a fire pit, pick out roots and cut small branches to clear your next campsite with a Coleman® Folding Shovel with Pick. This compact tool is made of durable steel with a serrated edge for sawing. It measures 7 in. when it’s folded and fits inside its included carrying case. When you’re ready to use it, the shovel folds out to 16.25 in. and easily locks into place for safety. During the winter, keep the shovel/pick in your trunk to clear snow and ice in an emergency.
Go to Amazon Shop
Pros

Use as a pick, shovel, or saw

Positive locking collar

Included carry pouch

Highly portable

Cons

Not overly durable

The handle doesn't alway stay securely open when in use

Best Lightweight Camping Shovel

TheTentLab The Deuce #2 UL Backcountry Trowel

For everyday expeditions and wild adventures, The TentLab offers an ultralight backpacking shovel. Made of 100% recyclable material, it weighs 17 grams and fits right into your backpack.
The front edge of the trowel features 4 teeth that help dig into the sand and cut up roots for foraging. The blade itself is made from aerospace-quality aluminum that cuts right into your cat hole and makes digging quicker and easier. A few finger grip contours around the handle make for a securer grip while digging. This is an ultra-light trowel recommended for use as a sand stake and shoehorn. It also doubles as a beer-canister and bottle opener. Kids can use it for sculpting sandcastles for entertainment. It is 100% eco-friendly and recyclable which makes it one of the best lightweight shovels for backpacking. However, being a mere camping trowel, you may have trouble digging through harder ground. So try wetting the sand before using this product. Also, the metal on the handle is quite thin, which means it might dig into your palms. Try using a cloth to wrap around the trowel for a more comfortable grip.
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Pros

100% recyclable

Trims small roots well

Digs down and carves unusually well because of its thinness

Cons

Not suitable for hard soil

Best Folding Shovel For Camping

Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel

If you want an all-in-one folding hiking shovel that lets you dig, chop, scoop, and scrape, choose the Gerber Gorge. With a dual blade-hammer design, the Gerber Gorge is an extremely lightweight shovel that can be used for all kinds of tasks while camping.
The blade of the Gerber Gorge is made from carbon steel, which is highly durable, though it can weigh you down. To be more exact, this small camping shovel weighs about 28 ounces. For hammering purposes, the handle has been fashioned to execute this task. It’s made from glass-filled nylon, which will stand the test of time and stress. Use this to pound in camping stakes and leveling dirt. The blade locks in place via a simple push-button mechanism. And the blade can be folded to store in your backpack, or in its own nylon storage bag. When folded, the Gerber Gorge is only 9 inches long, allowing for more convenient storage. However, be careful when backpacking with this, as the weight is quite a lot for a folding shovel of this size. The steel is quite heavy and will drag you down in the long run.
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Pros

Carbon steel blade

Lightweight and strong blade

Push-button mechanism locks the blade in place

Cons

The lock is not quite strong

Best Folding Shovel For Backpacking

Rhino Folding Shovel

Want a shovel that doubles a pick for extreme digging circumstances? Try the Rhino Folding Survival Shovel. This is a two-in-one shovel plus pick that functions like a saw, fire starter, bottle opener, and even a whistle.
This is a highly versatile tool. The edge features teeth that can be used as a saw to cut through branches and roots. In order to lock the shovel and prevent it from folding back, simply twist the neck. What’s more, this is the first backpacking shovel to double as a pick. Rotate the shovelhead 90 degrees and tighten it to use it as a pick. This solves the issue where many shovels wouldn’t cut through solid ground. And that’s what makes it the best shovel for backpacking. The handle features a loop you can use to attach to carabineers and hooks. When fully folded, this shovel collapses to just 7 inches in length. Be watchful when sawing though. The teeth obviously won’t function as an alternative to a full-fledged hack saw. It’s only good for cutting through softer objects.
Go to Amazon Shop
Pros

Heavy-duty material for durability

Multi-functional

Good price

Cons

A little too short for heavy snowing

Benefits

Camping/backpacking shovels are general-purpose tools that can be used for a variety of tasks. Some of these include:

  • Digging dirt to drive stakes in and set up camp.
  • Dig up a temporary latrine with minimal effort.
  • Make a fire pit without the strain on your hands.
  • Pulling out your car and other objects that got stuck in the dirt.
  • Shoveling snow during avalanches and other emergency scenarios.
  • Building sandcastles.
  • Cutting up plants right from their roots, for various purposes.

Types of Camping Shovels

  • Standard Shovels. These are your ordinary foldable camping shovels that feature a wide blade with a long telescopic handle. They are great for quickly digging up cat holes and a variety of other purposes. They may cost you more than trowels and take up more space in your backpack.
  • Trowels. Trowels look more like scoops than shovels. They are smaller with a narrower blade and a small handle. These are great for light digging tasks, but can’t take up more complex tasks. They are ultra-light and fit in your backpack with ease.
  • Multi-Purpose Tools. These look just like your average shovel except for one major twist: They are highly modular. Many can be converted into picks and saws. And sometimes, the handle may be telescopic, allowing you to dig deeper holes.

What To Look For When Buying A Shovel For Camping/Hiking

Material

While you may be more concerned with the shape and style of the shovel, material choice is a major defining factor. Good material choice will not only make your shovel durable but also lightweight.

Carbon steel is a common material. Though expensive, it is quite versatile and stands the test of time. However, it’s heavy and weighs you down when backpacking with it. Aluminum is another material, mostly used in towels. The best part about aluminum trowels is, they’re not prone to rust, or to corrosion in general. So they make great outdoor adventure companions.

Avoid plastic shovels and even trowels at all costs. They are cheap, breakable, and take on softer digging tasks only.

Size

Next, consider the size of the shovel. Most foldable shovels will fold down to just 5 to 9 inches. When extended, however, they can be as long as 31 inches with a telescopic handle.

Trowels are smaller in size, at hardly 6 to 7 inches long. But they have narrower blades. Most shovels have a standard blade width, so you can’t do much about that.

Portability

You want your shovel to be portable to make backpacking easier to deal with. Look for a shovel that folds down to just 7 or 9 inches or even shorter. These will save you tons of space in your back. Many come with loops to attach to carabineers on your backpack.

If you feel the standard camping shovel is too bulky for you, try a trowel. While they’re just as long as folded shovels, their blade is narrower.

But size isn’t the only factor that affects portability. Weight also comes into play. Trowels can weigh as low as just 0.6 ounces or slightly more. Shovels on the other hand will weigh as much as 20 to 30 ounces. This also depends on what they’re made from. Carbon-steel may feel heavier than aluminum.

Versatility

You want a shovel that is versatile and can execute a number of tasks. Most shovel blades can be used for a lot of purposes, such as general-purpose digging and cutting. However, some have a serrated edge for cutting straight through roots and soft branches. You’ll need a proper saw or knife if you want to go through tougher branches.

Many camping shovels come with modules, such as a pickaxe module. These will increase the versatility of the product at the cost of weight and bulkiness. If you’re using the shovel as an avalanche safety tool, you can buy entire toolkits dedicated to this.

Protection

Most camping shovels aren’t as transparent as to what type of protection they have. We’re assuming many have a simple waterproof coating. We can also assume many are UV-safe and can be used in extreme outdoor weather conditions.

Be careful though, as steel and steel-based products won’t fare well against rain and water. Steel is highly susceptible to rusting when used outdoors for prolonged periods of time. In this case, aluminum or nylon are good choices.

Durability

Finally, consider how strong the material is. And this not only extends to the blade of the shovel but also to the handle.

Carbon steel, while heavier, is the more durable product when compared with aluminum. Keep in mind, the lighter the product is, the weaker it will be. Steel-based materials are quite prone to corrosion, even if they’ve been waterproofed.

As for the handle, nylon or aluminum are good choices.

Conclusion

Whether it’s digging up a latrine, cutting up roots, or setting up a camp; your trusty camping shovel will always stay by your side.

Out of all the shovels we reviewed, TheTentLab Trowel was the best of them all. This is mainly because of its versatility and lightweight. It is just a trowel but can perform a lot of what many shovels fail to do.

All in all, saving up for a camping shovel will prove to be helpful in the long run. So buy your shovel today and get started on your outdoor adventures!

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