The Best Survival Folding Shovel That Fit In Your Bag

 History Of Folding Shovel

In fact, shovels may rank as one of mankinds 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” 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.

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

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 survival shovels. Tactical shovels made specifically by and for wilderness survival.

The bottom line is there’s a shovel for almost any type of 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, too heavy, too 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.

5 Best Survival Folding Shovel Review

#5: SOG Entrenching Tool – Folding Shovel

Here you have the tool you need when you hit the trail hiking or camping. It is lightweight and adjusts to different configurations as needed. That means you can cut brush around a campsite.

You can switch to spade mode to break below that first layer of tough ground that often stop those trying to dig using their hand shovels or bush knives. It folds into a compact shape that takes up just a small amount of space in your backpack or fastens to the outside of a load bearing harness.

Since 1870 when the US Army began, issuing digging tools the evolution of the portable shovel or entrenching tool has been in flux. Often used not only as a digging implement the entrenching tool has been sharpened to double as a close combat weapon, the Russian Spetnatz and elite forces within the US military still train to use their portable shovels in CQC.

The F108 has a serrated that allows it to be used as a brush-clearing tool as most campers require this more than to be able to fight in the trenches. Weighing only 24 ounces, the SOG is lighter than many of the portable shovels you can buy at the Army-Navy stores and this is a blessing when you have to lug a 30-40 pound pack out in the wild.

Its ergonomically designed trifold allows it to make a compact bundle that fits in its own carrying case and can lock in the 90° position to act as a spade or mattock to help in the digging of latrines or drag dirt to cover a fire pit.


  • While it is not as sturdy as the military issue entrenching tool or may be used for any heavy-duty use, For the average camper it is ideal to clear a small campsite and do the routine chores needed to run a camp.
  • Great little tool for when I camp out over a weekend not prep for invasion.
  • If you want to dig three deep trenches, you need to look for a more heavy-duty portable shovel. However, if you need work around your campsite done you get what you pay for in a small an economical package.
  • Small enough to fit in a day back, you have the balance between economics, weight, and size.


  • Made of lightweight aluminum instead of either stainless steel or iron it is not as rugged as the Marine issue entrenching tool. However, for small tasks, it works pretty well.
  • Read the ad carefully, and you won’t be disappointed I expected a much larger tool than what I received; this is not your father’s entrenching tool.

Reviewer’s Comments

As this reviewer has a number of entrenching tools, this one rates as the minimum requirements for camp use, size, and wait. It is not designed for heavy-duty use for a Prepper who is expecting to dig foxholes entrenches with.

Its main advantage is the fact is it weighs so little and can clip on the back of the web belt pack inside a backpack with ease. While it can be used to cut weeds, grass, and underbrush, you should stay away from attempting to cut down saplings were small trees. For that, you might want a hand ax or a machete instead.

Where it works well is in keeping your hands from being messed up while you are trying to figure latrines, fire pit, and as we mentioned earlier removing brush from around the campsite. All in all, it is an okay lightweight camping tool but in no way is it in the big leagues.


#4: FSDUALWIN Military Portable Folding Shovel

Ergonomically designed to provide you with either a hand shovel for it almost 30 inch entrenching tool, the head is adjustable to 45 and 90° with a serrated chopping edge and measuring scale as well. It will fold four times for you and fit into its attached pouch.

So, the next time you’re setting up camp for you get stuck in the woods at night you can quite easily construct yourself a do-it-yourself campsite with a campfire as well as creating your own shelter with ease.

To go along with all that you get a lifetime replacement warranty as well for a replacement portable folding shovel or a refund of all your money.

The head is made from stainless steel with an Aluminum handle you have a Swiss Army knife of functionality, which allows you to survive in the wild, find your way with a compass, and make fire, along with the ability to cut away brush. Should you need to open a bottle or measure your catch, it can do all that and more.

It also has a cutting blade that attaches to the handle that allows you to take down saplings to make tent poles in an emergency.

The FSDUALWIN then provides you with a complete survival kit with its very own carry pouch and shoulder strap that lets you place it next to your Go Bag or BOB head out the door.

Once you get in the field, you can adjust the head to 90° and clear the brush away from your campsite. The serrated on the edge of the shovel makes this a simple operation. You can then use it to do a regulation campfire encircle its stones.

Should you require further insulation from the elements, you can create a step dugout and cover that with your tent. That way Mother Earth herself will insulate your sleeping bag.


  • Versatile and makes short work of brush in my garden and when I go camping.
  • Goes together in sections and I get a shovel sized to the work I am doing.
  • Sturdy and holds up to the uses I put it to.
  • With all that it does, it still only weighs 2-1/2 pounds.


  • I wish they would have replaced some of the more useless items with some things I could actually use.
  • You need to torque the sections together to keep it from loosening up when using it.

Reviewer’s Comments

Here is a portable shovel with a handle that expands to almost 30 inches. This gives you the advantage you need an E-tool when things get difficult. This is something that this reviewer would envision being part of a smokejumper’s go bag just before boarding a plane to hit the ground with, as a backup to his normal gear. For a Prepper it might be too bulky where a trifold entrenching tool might be a better option.

While the reviewer never likes multi-functional tools generally, this one does have a couple that is useful as in the case of the firestarter and the hammer. The compass is not something to write home about in the age of GPS or Lensatic compasses. But, in a pinch could serve you.

The workmanship is good. The only caveat is that you need to ensure you have tightened the sections together tightly to keep the shovel from loosening up on you. The overall take on this tool is positive and for a camper, would fit in well with their basic camping loadout.


#3: Multitool Folding Shovel for Outdoor Camping and Hiking

With the Multitool, we have winter car survival tool or one to use if you get your wheels caught in the mud. For a camper, it is also useful for chores around the camp. It has a number of additional features like and an extendable handle that grows itself to give you the extra length you need to use to dig a small trench, dugout, or snow shelter.

If your car is stuck or disabled, it will allow you the means to create a haven if you can’t use the vehicle to heat yourself with. It has a knife/saw, handle compass and a firestarter, all nice to have tools to have in your trunk or your backpack.


The entire shebang fits into its own carry bag that includes a carbon steel shovelhead along with the following survival goodies and functions. You have:

  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Cut Knife
  • Hook knife
  • Hex wrench
  • Knife
  • Bottle opener
  • Harpoon saw
  • A Phillips screwdriver
  • Magnesium bar ignition rod
  • Compass
  • Survival whistle
  • Window Breaker

You see you have a variety of tools that can help you while camping or hiking and in a case of breakdowns on the road.


  • Has everything I want in addition to my usual camp gear.
  • I would use most of this stuff, but it is nice to have just in case. I bought it for the shovel, which I keep with my Space Blanket and other cold weather emergency stuff in the car. And I don’t imagine having to build a campsite along I65. However, there are always blizzards in Indiana and rest stops are a long way apart heading down to Indy.


  • The Shovel is great. But the add-ons don’t really interest me.

Reviewer’s Comments

Here is another variant of the survival shovel that sells. It only offers the Shovelhead that is sturdy. The extras don’t impress this reviewer, which probably dates back to the days of the Rambo movies. Movies that made everyone want a knife with all the survival gear in the handle.

Ignoring the extras, you have a shovel that has an adjustable handle that can double as a brush cutter. That is all you really need from a portable shovel, and all the extra stuff is just sauce for the goose.

Most of us who go out in the field already have these items in one form or another. The idea of having a collapsible shovel in the trunk is the main thing you want anyway as you wouldn’t want to be camping out.

However, with the proper mindset, it can be useful if the fecal matter hits the impeller and you are away from your BOB or Go Bag.


#2: US GI Military Original Issue E-Tool Entrenching Shovel

When you want the best in a Folding Shovel, you need to turn to the one that Uncle Sam has issued for years. This one is a Trifolder, and unlike the current NATOissue, doesn’t use that screw tightening mechanism that fouls and becomes useless in the field, no cheap substitutes here.

You have an aluminum handle, and High Carbon Steel bladed head. Unlike many of the other brands that outsource to China the company is still making its products in Michigan.


There are not too many things to talk about when it comes to the original entrenching tool. 3 lbs., 26 inches long, and folds down to fit in a Molle Bag or one of a number of other bags made for them over the years. It pops open in a snap and screws to lock and unlike the Gerber doesn’t foul if sand and mud are around.

So, if you want a real E-Tool to dig a trench to keep water from running into your tent at night or you want to dig a real foxhole to sleep in. You can do that and more with the original Folding Shovel that was inspired off the tool the Romans used to build their Empire with. The GI E-Tool has been used all over the world and is still the best.


  • Tough, and I have 3, One in each of my vehicles.
  • You can dig a trench, lay a waterline in your crawlspace and dig a moat around your daughter’s sand castle on the beach.
  • I used mine at the beach, and it goes through sand, old coral, and seashells with ease. Rinse it off and oil it and it is ready to do it all over the next weekend.
  • It’s heavier than other models, and that just means it’ll handle the load better.
  • Rugged and adjustable to the different angles you want to do the various roles you need to be done when you are in the field from sheltering, brush clearing, and putting a drainage trench around camp to keep your sleeping bags dry.


  • The original, while sturdy is weighty and that is one reason Ames lost out to Gerber. Otherwise, it is still able to handle more abuse before being destroyed in the field.

Reviewer’s Comments

This reviewer has discovered that when people try to improve on a proven design, they often muck it up. The E-Tool or Folding Shovel evolved in Combat into the most efficient tools for getting a GI ready for what can happen, whether it was on the islands in the Pacific Campaign, in Europe, and even in the deserts of the Middle East.

Many of the portable shovels imitate the original and finally after decades of work it took a company like Gerber to come close to the job of beating the simple design that this reviewer has used for over 20 years.

New materials and outsourcing are the watchwords of today’s manufacturing. However, when your survival is on the line, you want to stick with what works best.


#1: Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade

Here is what the person who needs a best folding shovel wants a sturdy little tool that is Johnny-On-The-Spot when you need to dig your way out of trouble. It fits in with most Camping/Hiking load-out and wouldn’t weigh you down. The Gerber name says it all and ensures you have a product that will do the job and holds up out in the field.

With this folding shovel, you have the last piece of Hiking, Camping and Survival gear you will ever need. You can dig your camp’s basic needs like a fire pit, shelter construction, and dig yourself a Hawaiian-style Luau Pig Pit.


When you hit the field, and you need to get your camp shipshape the shovel unfurls with a quick sliding mechanism that locks everything in place fast and simply. The head is made from High Carbon Steel, and the handle is a synthetic Resin composite that is tough and wouldn’t slip and let you down when you need it most. On top of that, it is tough, has nails handle lets you use it like a hammer to pound in tent stakes.


  • You’ll now be digging all your foxholes with this Gerber if you work for the USMC. However, it will also handle light camp work and latrine duties as well.
  • Small, lightweight, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t made for heavy digging. It is a small camping shovel that helps you keep your campsite cleared and squared away.
  • If you need to remove brush, you need to ready your campfire this is your tool of choice. It is about as long as your arm from elbow to fingertip and will do the camp chores you want to be done.


  • The Gerber’s Achilles heel is the hinge. While it can only handle 750 whacks going head to head with Aims at 900 + for the original. The Gerber only required a new bolt before it was back in service. It is strong enough to handle being used as a pick in hard soil. For sand and loose soil, it is ok. However, don’t expect to be moving the rock of Gibraltar. But you can dig a ditch with it.

Reviewer’s Comments

This is an excellent lightweight camp tool. We stress the word lightly. That is one of its main advantages. For some reason, the quality of Gerber products has not been the same in recent years when the Mark II was the knife of choice.

Cruising the local Walmart and seeing an entire aisle devoted to Gerber Gear was when concern began degrading the regard once held for one of the best knives out there.

The Gerber can do the heavy digging. It is a great camp shovel and if treated with a little TLC will give you many years of service. However, don’t expect it to work miracles or use it like John Wayne on Iwo Jima.


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