Best Survival Shovels: Tactical, Military, and Folding Shovels [How to Choose]

Best survival shovel

While the best survival shovel might not be the first item that comes to mind in your prepping scenario, we believe you should start to rethink it. These tools are much more than a simple shovel. 

Including a high-quality tactical shovel in your bug-out arsenal can mean that you have 30+ survival accessories locked and loaded at all times. Trust us, by the end of this article, you’ll wonder how you ever went without one.

Top 5 Choices for the Best Survival Shovel

Overall Score 90%
Portability 70%
Durability 100%
Versatility 100%
Price 50%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like 

This is our top pick for the best survival shovel and when you take a look at it, it’s easy to understand why. It’s made from highly durable heat-treated carbon steel and it has a surprisingly durable joint which is a weak spot in a lot of survival shovels. 

One factor that you can’t look away from is the fact that they offer a lifetime warranty stating that the shovel is “unbreakable.” Of course, we realize that if the shit hits the fan, that lifetime warranty won’t matter much but it’s nice to see that they have this level of confidence in their products. 

You can pivot the shovel in six different angles ranging from 30 degrees to 180 degrees. This will give you options depending on where you’re digging and what you’re doing. The varying angles make it much easier to get the leverage you need to dig in different terrain. 

The best feature is the 23+ different military-grade accessories that come with the shovel. Some of these tools include: 

  • Camping knife
  • Bottle opener
  • Fire starting magnesium rod
  • Survival whistle
  • Wire saw

Truth be told, you really can’t beat it. This is the best emergency shovel that you’ll want to have with you in a survival scenario where you don’t want to carry a ton of gear but still need durability and strength out of what little you have. 

What Needs Improvement

Our first gripe is the price tag, this shovel is quite a bit more expensive than a lot of the other options but it’s the best for a reason. If you’re not afraid to pay a little more for a premium shovel, this is the option for you. 

One major issue we see is how heavy it is and how it lacks a compact design. If you’re trying to limit the amount of gear you have to carry and you’re not looking for something that is somewhat bulky, this shovel may disappoint you. It also doesn’t come with a carrying bag so you have to buy that separately if you’re assembling a bug-out kit. 

Bottom Line 

The bottom line is that this is a solid survival shovel with plenty to offer. You get almost all the tools you’ll need for a survival scenario but the fact that it doesn’t come with a carrying case makes it easy to lose some of the gear. 

If durability, strength, and longevity are your biggest concerns, you’ll still want to go with this shovel because it will hold up no matter what and in the event that it doesn’t, you still have a lifetime warranty. 

Overall Score 80%
Portability 70%
Durability 90%
Versatility 80%
Price 75%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

If you’re in need of a survival shovel that is a bit more compact, folds up, but still has the same level of durability at a fraction of the cost, give this one a look. It has a total length of 35 inches and is designed for outdoor use with camping, hiking, and survival. 

It comes with a variety of extension bars including a shovel board, hex wrench, bottle opener, saw, hoe, fish scaler, whistle, fire bar, and nail extractor. 

The folding survival shovel allows you to choose what length you want based on how many sections you put in it and it also has an anti-skid feature which allows you more stable control over the handle when you’re shoveling.

Most customers have stated that the length is something they like the most about this survival shovel. If you’re using it as an entrenching tool, most shovels require you to be down on a knee which can be taxing after a while. This one is long enough to break ground without requiring as much bending or kneeling. 

What Needs Improvement 

Any complaints or issues we see revolve around assembling, disassembling, and the fact that the sling they provide isn’t long enough for most adults. As for the assembly, we don’t see a situation in which you would need to assemble the shovel really quickly. It’s not really a tactical tool so that doesn’t seem to be a big issue for us, but some customers are unhappy about that. 

There are also some design flaws when it comes to the design of the carrying sling they include. You’re supposed to be able to throw this shovel over your shoulder and carry it like a bag but the sling is too short for larger people so many have to tweak it or buy a separate sling to use. Not a huge issue, but definitely something worth considering.

Bottom Line 

As far as folding shovel reviews go, this is the best folding shovel for emergency situations. It’s compact, light enough, durable, and comes with a variety of accessories. It’s everything you need when the shit hits the fan and it comes at a price that is affordable for most budgets. Give it a further look!

Overall Score 80%
Portability 90%
Durability 60%
Versatility 90%
Price 90%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

Choosing the best military shovel is all about picking one that is compact, durable, and multi-functional. This shovel checks two of those boxes. 

My favorite thing about this option from REDCAMP is the multi-tool options. It features a pickaxe, saw, and shovel so you have plenty of options to choose from depending on what you’re doing.

It’s a highly compact shovel with a total length of 21.3-inches and a weight of 2.61 pounds so this one won’t take up too much space in your bag and it will help you get out of a bad situation if you find yourself in one. 

Not to mention that we also like the price tag. At the time of writing this, the shovel is available for less than $20 so you might want to stock up and grab a few of them.

What Needs Improvement 

The one thing this shovel is lacking is our confidence in its durability. The shovel head itself is very thin which means it will dent, bend, and crack easily. While a thin shovel head is great at breaking through the terrain, it’s not always the best option because rocks and hard dirt can cause irreversible damage to the head. 

Another double-edged issue is the length. It’s so short that you can’t do anything with this shovel without getting down on your knees. This does allow improved leverage of course but a lot of people would rather that they didn’t have to kneel down or crawl into the hole to shovel. 

Bottom Line 

While this shovel might have some flaws, we still see it as the best military shovel when you factor in how cheap it is. For around $20, you get a multi-functional tool that will help you in a survival scenario. The pick, hoe, shovel, and saw blade are all useful and its compact design will ensure that you barely even know you’re carrying it.

Overall Score 80%
Portability 80%
Durability 70%
Versatility 90%
Price 80%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

This is an amazing survival shovel multi tool that will come in handy for a variety of purposes. The shovel is made using high alloy steel for durability and the shovel head itself is borderline unbreakable, it breaks earth really well, and the blade is razor-sharp. 

It comes with 16 different functions including: 

  • Shovel
  • Walking stick
  • Magnesium fire starter
  • Wrench
  • Saw
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • Ice pick
  • Fish scaler
  • Compass

One feature that we really like and that separates it from the rest of the shovels is the surface oxidation coating that will prevent the shovel from rusting over time which increases its durability. 

Best of all, it comes in varying lengths based on how many handle pieces you put on it. The shovel fully extends to 31.5-inches if you don’t want to bend over when shoveling but keep in mind that there are some concerns over the handle durability and those concerns will increase the longer you make the shaft.

What Needs Improvement 

The shaft is lacking in durability and that’s a big concern because you need to be able to get the leverage you need without worrying about snapping it. That said, if you shorten the shaft some of those concerns should go away so the length is always going to be a double-edged sword in these survival shovel reviews. 

One other concern we have is with the knife. A survival knife is always an important piece of equipment but the one that comes with this shovel almost feels more like a novelty than anything. It’s not that strong and it’s really small so we don’t know what you’ll use it for unless you’re cutting up potatoes for a campfire dinner.

Bottom Line 

Overall, this is the best survival shovel multi tool for a few different reasons. We think the tool accessories that come with this one are the best in comparison to the other choices in this list. Plus, the shovel itself is durable, razor-sharp, and long enough to prevent you from having to roll around on the ground when you’re digging.

Overall Score 80%
Portability 70%
Durability 70%
Versatility 100%
Price 80%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

The best tactical shovel will check a lot of boxes. It’ll be durable, compact, multipurpose, functional, and long-lasting. This shovel is all of those things and more.

It’s constructed using military-grade carbon steel with aerospace anodized aluminum tubes to maximize durability and help with an array of survival situations. This shovel is strong, the handles are strong, and the shovel head has a razor-sharp blade on the side so be careful and use it wisely. 

The best feature here has to be the design of the multi-tool. We love the fact that everything is built right into the handles so you don’t have to carry anything extra with you, it’s really an amazing design that helps limit the chances of you losing or misplacing something. 

It comes with some of the following functions: 

  • Shovel
  • Shoe
  • Saw
  • Pick
  • Bottle opener
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • Scaler
  • Hammer
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Wrench

Best of all, they offer a lifetime warranty and zero questions asked returns so you can try it out, if you don’t like it, they’ll allow you to return it with no issue. 

The price tag isn’t bad either and is competitive with most of the other survival shovels on this list.

What Needs Improvement 

One huge complaint we see from a ton of customers of this tactical shovel is the fact that the threads on the handles wear down easily and the shovel starts to become wobbly at the unions. 

There are many unions on the handle of this shovel because that’s where all the multi-tools are. As they wear down, the shovel starts to lose some of its strength which makes it harder to get the leverage you need.

Bottom Line 

Realistically, any issue you encounter with this survival shovel is nothing compared to everything it brings to the table. It’s the best tactical shovel because it comes with a large number of useful tools, it’s durable, functional, and they offer a lifetime warranty that protects you against almost anything that could go wrong.

Seven Additional Best Survival Shovel Options

Here we have a great choice for the best survival shovel because it is compact, lightweight, and multi-functional. The shovel is made with high-strength manganese steel alloy with three different length options based on what you’re doing with it. You can shorten it down to 15-inches or extend it to 20.9-inches or 26.4-inches. 

This type of flexibility gives you the ability to use it for digging, sawing, and picking rocks. It’s also compact enough at its smaller length for travel and storage which is important if you’re putting it in a bug-out bag or throwing it in the back of your bug-out vehicle

Something else we love is the multi-tool functionality because it comes with a variety of different things built right into the handle. Some of these include: 

  • Hammer
  • Firestarter
  • Tactical knife
  • Bottle opener
  • Knife
  • Screwdriver 
  • Saw

It’s strong, durable, long-lasting, multi-functional, and compact enough to go with you everywhere you go.

Next up is another great multi tool shovel with portability, unique features, and long-lasting durability. It comes at an affordable price tag and it’s made from stainless steel. The design and material used to make this aren’t quite up to the level that we see some of the other options so we’re seeing this as more of a portable option than a durable one. 

It’s extremely compact, lightweight, and small enough to fit inside a small bug-out bag for safekeeping. We would recommend using this shovel as a backup and just keeping it in your bag for when you finally need to bug-out. 

As is the case with most of the best survival shovels, it’s a great multi tool. This one comes with a knife, screwdriver, saw, and hammer but switching between the functions is a bit more of a process because you have to install different heads each time. 

We do like the fact that it comes with different lengths though ranging from 15.27-inches to 28.5-inches. 

If space is your biggest concern then you need the best folding shovel, this one is a great option. It’s barely bigger than your hand and constructed with high-carbon steel for maximum durability. It collapses into a portable shovel and can be used for emergencies, bug-outs, or everyday outdoor survival use. 

The best feature is the fact that it only weighs 25.5-ounces so you’ll barely even know you’re carrying it. It’s only 10-inches in length when folded up but of course, it doesn’t come with a lot of the bells and whistles that the other shovels offer.

You’re not getting any multi-tool features with this one and overall it’s pretty plain but if you’re looking for something simple, light, and durable enough for shoveling, the SOG Folding Survival Shovel is a decent option.

If you have something more tactical in mind, check out this shovel axe. It’s a multi-purpose tool containing a heavy-duty shovel, sharp axe, serrated saw, hammer, paracord, and more. You can use this for a variety of different outdoor survival purposes and it’s compact and lightweight weighing barely more than one pound. 

When you first take a look at this one, it looks more like a novelty item than anything because of the design. Usually, when something looks this cool, it’s not as functional as it should be but they managed to marry appearance with purpose. 

It’s made with carbon steel and it has an anti-slip handle which comes in handy if you’re working in the rain and all the multi-tool options are well designed and fully functional. The only downside is that you’re limited to one handle length and it doesn’t fold up that much so it’s a bit bulky to carry around.

Shovel is a decent option.

Next up is an outdoor survival shovel made with high-tech aerospace anodized aluminum with a foldable compact design. Right off the bat, it looks like another “novelty” item and it doesn’t have as great of reviews as the FiveJoy but it’s still a solid option. It’s foldable, adjustable, and comes with three different lengths and three different degree variations. 

One thing we really like about this one is the fact that you get three different length options ranging between 13, 17, 21, and 25 so it can work whether you’re in a cramped space or you need to extend it to get that extra leverage. 

Plus, the Adventure Supply Co. shovel is small enough to break down and fit into a carrying case that you can pop into the glove compartment of your car so you’ll barely even know it’s there. It’s a great choice for lightweight bug-outs.

Here is another premium pick but it doesn’t exactly have a premium price tag. It comes with an enlarged shovel head which adds durability, ensures that you have an easier time breaking earth, but it does add weight to the shovel. 

It’s also compact and breaks down to 9.84-inches when completely folded. This factor makes it a great bug-out choice because it is still portable and compact enough to travel with. 

The handle is 7mm thick which is great when trying to get leverage and really dig up something that might be stuck and it’s made with high carbon steel. The strength, durability, and corrosion resistance of the handle is a nice feature. 

Best of all, it comes with multi-tool accessories like a walking stick, wrench, screwdriver, hoe, bottle opener, fish scaler, and more.

If you’re interested in getting back to the basics and you don’t care about all the fancy accessories and designs that a lot of these shovels offer, then this is the one for you. It’s one of the best tactical shovels because of its durability, strength, and compact design. 

It comes with a steel blade, aluminum handle, and black powder-coat finish. It also has a sharp axe edge with a serrated saw section so it does still offer some multipurpose functionality but they focused on making it durable and that’s why it’s considered a genuine military-issued shovel. This is the only true-blue military shovel on the list. 

Why You Need the Best Survival Shovel

So, we reach a point where we need to ask ourselves; is a survival shovel really a necessary survival item and why can’t I just go to the hardware store and get a regular shovel? 

There are two main reasons why you shouldn’t buy any old shovel for the job. 

First, this is a survival scenario and we’re always prepping for that day. We want to make sure that we have the best of the best tools for when the shit really does hit the fan. A $15 shovel from the hardware store isn’t going to cut it. They’re usually made with wooden handles and your basic iron or stainless steel blade. 

When it’s a life or death situation, you need something that is highly durable, multifunctional, and long-lasting. You won’t find that at Home Depot. 

Reason number two is that the best tactical shovels are multi-purpose, meaning they do a lot more than dig. 

You can use them to saw tree limbs for firewood, scale fish to cook, and even chop vegetables if you’re left with nothing more than what you have in your garden. The survival shovel is one of the most important pieces of equipment for your survival because it can do so much. 

Not to mention the fact that you can use it as a combat weapon in the event that you find yourself in unfriendly territory. They won’t expect you to take your walking stick (shovel) and turn it into a machete. Most of these shovels are sharp enough to cut pretty deep. 

We understand that a survival shovel might not be at the top of everyone’s list, but we highly recommend making some room for it. Multifunctional tools will be very important when all hell breaks loose and this is a great way to limit the amount of gear you have to carry.

Features to Look for

If we sold you on the shovel, now we need to talk about how you’ll decide on one. There are 12 amazing options available above but settling on one is a whole different factor. Here are some of the most important features you want to look for in the best survival shovel. 

Durability 

Durability is the most important factor. Don’t worry about lifetime warranties and all that crap because honestly, when the apocalypse is looming, the last thing you’re going to do is get on the phone to inquire about the warranty on your shovel. 

You want to look for a shovel that is made with the highest quality and strongest materials like steel and carbon fiber. 

Pay extra close attention to the materials used on the handle. A lack of durability on the handle will start to show early on because it will get wobbly and fragile and you won’t be able to put as much leverage behind it without fear of snapping something. 

A lot of manufacturers will preach how strong and durable the shovel head is but they’ll neglect to tell you that parts of the handle are plastic. Don’t get fooled by that. 

Compact Design 

Portability and lightweight design are much more important than you think. As you’re planning everything you want to have with you, where it’s going to go, how you’re bugging out, and how heavy everything is, you’ll realize that space comes at a premium. 

You don’t want to take anything that isn’t completely necessary because you never know what you’ll have to sacrifice to make room. The best survival shovels barely take up more space than a small plate when folded up. 

Keep in mind that some of the best options do not fold up to that size so you may have to sacrifice a little in terms of durability if you need something that is highly portable. 

Our recommendation is that you have two options. We’d go with a small compact shovel that you can use for light work but take it with you everywhere you go. Then, you should also have a heavy-duty option that might be a little heavier but you only use it for the serious stuff. 

Affordability 

Price always matters, right? Thankfully a majority of the shovels on this list are less than $30 so you should have no problem justifying the cost. We should all have a prepping budget as we gather up all our necessary supplies and organize everything. 

If you can’t find any room in the budget for a survival shovel, we recommend moving some money around sacrificing on something, and finding a way to get this very important piece of survival equipment. 

Versatility

You’ll find that most of the survival shovels discussed in this article have multi-purpose features such as saws, bottle openers, fire starters, and pickaxes. These are important but as with everything, you usually sacrifice something in exchange for those added features. 

Sometimes the shovel will weigh a little more or it won’t have as compact of a design because of all the additional features. Sometimes the cost might go up a little more because of everything you’re getting. 

Either way, versatility is important because just think of all the tools you don’t have to buy or carry with you because they’re all built into the shovel. Just make sure you go with a well-recommended shovel because you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket and find out that the shovel sucks and now you’re lacking a lot of extra tools you would’ve bought separately. 

Choosing a Shovel Handle

We’ve stressed the importance of paying attention to the handle on your shovel so we want to dedicate a section to this. If you don’t go with a shovel with a durable handle you’ll quickly figure out that you paid $30 for an oversized bottle opener because the handle will snap in no-time. 

There are three types of handles to choose from: 

SteelSteel is a great material because it’s durable, strong, and long-lasting. We highly recommend choosing this material for your handle but just try to find one that has an anti-skid handle otherwise it may be hard to get leverage. 

Polymer – Some handles are made with a polymer hybrid material which is lightweight and durable. It’s a great combination of lightweight design paired with strength so it’s a nice option but usually much more expensive. 

Wood – In the event that you find a wood handle on any survival shovels, we would recommend passing on that. It’ll splinter and snap too easily and we don’t typically see this material used on any of the best survival shovels that we review.

Shovel Multi Tool vs. Regular Shovel: How to Choose?

Next, let’s talk about the choice between a multi tool and a regular shovel. You’ll see that the majority of shovels above fit into one of these categories and that’s important because you’ll have to make a choice as to whether you need the bells and whistles or you can pass in exchange for a better overall shovel. 

If we had to pick one of the two, we would go with the multi tool because you can bypass a lot of purchases by getting everything you need in one place. They’re still durable enough, the shovels themselves are still high-quality, and the price tags don’t go up that much; if at all. 

Some of the tools you’ll want to look for include: 

  • Firestarter
  • Knife
  • Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Whistle
  • Compass
  • Ice pick
  • Bottle opener
  • Saw

All of these are pretty common with the multipurpose shovels. Just keep in mind that these usually take longer to set up and they don’t have the same compact portability that a regular shovel would have.

There’s also the factor of “more to gain, more to lose.” We like to keep things simple with our prepping and believe that by overcomplicating something all you’re doing is creating more things that can go wrong. 

With the multipurpose shovel, you can get dirt in the threads which can make it harder to put together, you may strip the threads, there are more screws and areas where things can break or damage, so on and so forth. 

Our overall recommendation is that you get two different shovels. Get a standard tactical shovel that offers a serrated edge, durable blade, and compact design. Then also get a multipurpose tool with all the trimmings. 

Now you have everything you need and you can take the compact shovel for basic shoveling and the multipurpose shovel for all your other needs.

Final Thoughts

By this point, you should have a solid understanding of what a survival shovel is, why you need one, and how to choose the right one for your needs. The best survival shovel will marry portability with functionality and it’ll come with plenty of added features to ensure that you have everything you need when you need it. 

As you’re putting together the ultimate survival kit, we highly recommend adding a high-quality tactical shovel to that list if you haven’t already. When it comes down to life or death, this tool could potentially save your life.

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