There’s many uses for survival shovels including camping, vehicles, backpacking, preppers and survivalists. Shovels are one of the most useful outdoor tools. But they’re also very bulky, as tools with long poles tend to be. In survival situations it’s expected that you can’t carry much, so being compact and portable are essential. Survival shovels tend to have a small spade, almost as small as a trowel. The long handle stem typically pulls apart to make them significantly more compact. Due to the “bare essentials” nature of survival situations, many survival shovels are packed with extra features like beer bottle openers.
Sona 9-in-1 Emergency Shovel Tool
An emergency survival shovel with nine different functions. It disassembles into a neat package about the size of a man’s head. The ax head is fixed onto the thin metal pole, where it might dangerously come off under use, as experienced according to some buyers. A number complained that the heads for theirs, didn’t all fit the pole. For the many that couldn’t remove the floppy knife and saw, from inside the actual shovel stem, you need to press the buttons to release them. If the buttons are broken be careful removing these very sharp blades, but only use pliers.
Regarding blunt axes and spades, they’re not hard to sharpen with a grinder. The spade is small, but it has a can opener on the side. It might dig better if the shovel had more angle. Some of the most negative commenters said that the shovel was the best function.
Bud K Folding Camping Survival Shovel
The tempered steel spade is too bendy for hard ground, but no worries because there’s a pick ax feature! Just as well they included a cover for the small trowel-like spade, with saw teeth down one side edge, but the cover is thin nylon. The approximate 4 inch spade is time consuming to dig with for emergency survival use, but that’s the price for the compact size.
The end of the handle stem has a compass, which at least one buyer said didn’t work on theirs, and their cover zipper was damaged. Some only have one rubber grip, which might be loose. Someone experienced damage to the plastic-screw-thread connection to the spade on the handle stem, and also hinge damage. Despite the downfalls, it’s a fair deal for what you pay for. There’s low quality shovels for the same price that aren’t compact, have no extras, not even the case.
United Cutlery UC2979 M48 Kommando Tactical Survival Shovel
This shovel is strong and sturdy, with a small spade made of tempered stainless steel plated with black oxide on the outside. The special type of stainless is ironically rust prone, so keep it dry after use. The short handle stem might harm your back if you dig for too long. It’s made of nylon and fiberglass. The storage case is made of reinforced nylon, and has two loops for hanging. It’s not the lightest, but it’s tough, durable and not heavy.
Surprisingly the description from United Cutlery includes the shovel as a defense weapon. One buyer mentioned potentially using it against an attacking bear. But without a closed handle, one of the biggest advantages of shovel weaponry is missing. Each side includes concave cutting edges and one of those is serrated like a saw, but they’re dull. There’s a pointy end for the spade, to dig deeper and harder.
What to Look For
You can’t afford a breakdown when you need it most. Unfortunately many “survival” shovels have prioritized lightweight portability above dependability. United Cutlery’s shovel is a fine example that’s portable, reasonably lightweight, yet strong, sturdy and reliable. It’s a shame the handle is so short. Maybe it might help to use it to chop a branch, then tie it as extension handle with survivalist paracord.
The top shovel with a rating well over three stars was much hated, with most comments being negative, albeit highly polarized. Generally a lot of people on both sides really loved it, or really hated it. None of the shovels had closed handles, possibly to make them more compact, but this means in emergencies you have an increased risk of losing grip. They all had small spades for compactness. Don’t compare these to the durability of regular shovels, they’re designed for emergency use not everyday use.