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12 Best Bushcraft & Survival Shovels

There are many reasons to dig a hole in bushcraft, and some of those reasons will be lifesaving. If you have ever attempted to dig even a small hole with a stick or your hands, you know the importance of a shovel. If you haven’t, you can consider yourself lucky or go out and try it to know how lucky you were. 

The number of bushcraft shovels on the market is high. The level of differences that they seem to have between them is insanely low. These all generally look pretty similar, with similar designs and similar uses. When you learn what to look for, you start to discover all of the differences that will drastically change your experience with a shovel.

The best bushcraft shovel has more to it than meets the eye, so we have to look past what you can see. Here, we’ll look into all the different shovels that we consider to be the best bushcraft shovels available to you today. We’ll also dive into those invisible attributes that make them the best. 

Best Bushcraft Shovels

Out of the hundreds of bushcraft shovels that we could find, we’ve dug up what we consider to be the top thirteen. This will give you a wide range of options, as well as getting a shovel that fits your exact needs.

EST Gear Survival Shovel

best bushcraft shovel

Survival scenarios demand tools that have multiple uses. The EST Gear Survival Shovel brings 18 different survival tools and builds it into a high-quality shovel that can do it all. Not only does the EST shovel have a huge number of tools, but it also folds down to a compact size that stashes easily in a ripstop nylon pouch to pack away. 

At only 3 pounds, this shovel is made from heat-treated solid carbon steel and aerospace-grade aluminum to combine strength and durability with lightweight construction. It goes from being 10 inches long, with a 6-inch shovelhead, to a fully assembled three feet. With a longer sized shovel, you can more comfortably dig without hurting your back. 

To dig trenches, you can lock the shovel at a 90-degree angle and turn it into a hoe. You can easily use the shovel as a spear, a fire starter, bottle opener, screwdriver, compass, rope cutter, and many more tools. The shovel even includes waterproof storage so you can have matches ready to go the moment you need fire. 

When you need a shovel quickly, the EST shovel is going to be waiting for you in its compact and lightweight size. This is the best shovel for bushcraft, hands down. It has more than you’ll ever truly need but doesn’t weigh a ton to get there. On top of it all, this shovel comes with a lifetime warranty, so you will be covered even after years of heavy use.

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Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel

best bushcraft shovel - gerber

Another folding shovel from Gerber proves just how reputable and trustworthy this brand is. They put out high-quality materials that are built to last, and this shovel is no exception. The Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel is a simplistic shovel that’s perfect for any minimalist into bushcraft. 

The Gorge measures in at 16.5 inches when open and 9.25 inches when folded down, making it perfect for travel. When you open it up, a push-button mechanism will lock the blade in place and is just as easy to undo. 

The handle is formed from glass-filled nylon and is covered with a rubber grip that helps add to its comfort and durability. The handle is easily used for a hammer to pound in your tent stakes without any fears of breaking. 

The shovel all together weighs 28 ounces. That weight is a lot to bring with you while backpacking but is perfect for keeping in your car for emergency use.

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Schrade Stainless Steel Shovel

The Schrade Stainless Steel Telescoping Shovel is sized for those that want options with the length. The shovel collapses down to 10 inches and opens to 16.6 inches. The arm of the shovel extends out to be 20 inches long in total. This helps to pack down the shovel into the smallest size possible for easy transport. 

To add to the easy transport, Schrade provides you with a polyester sheath that protects everything else in your pack from the sharpened blade. This lets you keep it where you can easily get to it rather than storing it away from everything else.

At the end of the aluminum, inner tube shaft is a polypropylene T-grip handle that gives you a secure grip on the shovel. No warranty comes along with this shovel, which can push you away. Fortunately, it’s not a huge purchase and is also built to last.

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Rhino USA Military Style Shovel

The best military shovel must be made from hardcore materials and have a tough design to it. The Rhino USA Military Style Shovel is exactly that. This shovel is made from carbon steel that’s powder-coated to stop the elements from creating rust. There’s a guaranteed refund for the moment you may decide this isn’t the shovel for you. 

On the shovel blade, you have two different sawtooth blades that are sharp enough to cut through wood, roots, or any other vegetation that gets in the way. On the shovel is a pickaxe that folds out to give you a durable option for breaking anything apart. 

One of the features that I like about this shovel is tri-fold storage. When fully extended, this shovel is 23 inches long but is only 9 inches when folded down. It weighs two pounds, but this is a lot of durable material that you’ll be carrying around and will be worth the weight. 

All in all, this is the best shovel that you can find for military use. It has an impressive build and will stay with you for years.

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KingCamp Military Portable Shovel

best bushcraft shovel

The KingCamp Military Portable Shovel is another great little military shovel that comes with a couple of key features that bring it to the list. It’s made out of alloy steel and easily folds up, as well as locking at a 90-degree angle. At 90 degrees, it has a pickaxe on the end of the shovel, so you can use this to break up dirt easily. 

This is another tri-fold shovel, and it will get down to an impressively small size. It slides right into the provided pouch so that you can travel anywhere with it. The carbon steel shovel blade features a saw blade that you can use to cut wood for your fire at night. 

One unique feature of this shovel is the 120 Lumin LED light that is built-in. This is a nice feature when you find yourself digging a cathole in the middle of the night, and you’ve forgotten your headlamp. 

For me, this is easily one of the best emergency shovels you can have.

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Zune Lotoo Survival Shovel

Now, this shovel pulls out all the stops, but the Zune Lotoo Survival Shovel is going to cost you. This expensive shovel has every feature you can imagine and is built incredibly well. Martensitic stainless steel is cast to perfection, so you don’t have any weak joints from any welding or joining. The joint itself can withstand up to 1060 pounds. 

The shovel is patented with fast lock adjustment that lets you lock it in place at any angle from 0-150 degrees. This will help you dig at any angle and use one of the 24 tools in tough, cramped spaces. 

The handle is made from aluminum with built-in anti-skid silicone to give you a better grip for challenging work. The five different parts that come together to form the whole shovel make that shovel a total length of 29.7 inches. 

This is the best shovel for survival, hands down. You’ll have everything you need, and you’ll be able to feel confident that the shovel won’t break. It was made to put up with a crazy amount of force, and you can test that out.

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Cold Steel Spetsnaz Tactical Shovel

best bushcraft shovel

The Cold Steel Spetsnaz Tactical Shovel enhances the original trench digging shovel used by the Soviets. It’s a simple design with a hardwood handle and a sturdy carbon steel blade. The three sharpened edges on the shovel blade help to hack through branches and dig bunkers quickly. 

The shovel itself doesn’t become very compact and will be difficult to transport if you are in a survival situation. The total length is 30 inches, and it weighs 36.3 ounces. This shovel is made to be a part of base camp, not to go around with you. 

While a sheath is available separately, the chances are good that you won’t strap this one to your belt and move with it. As I said, this one should probably just stay put. 

The hickory handle will give you strong and firm support while digging, but the wood isn’t as durable as the aluminum or steel that other brands use.

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Antarctica Folding Survival Shovel

If the design of the Zune Lotoo excited you, but the price crushed your dreams, the Antarctica Folding Survival Shovel is a budget-friendly version that’s still a good quality shovel. There are sixteen different tools ranging from a fire starter and a hidden knife to a saw and survival whistle.

This one is the best survival shovel on a budget. 440 carbon steel makes up the shovelhead, which is adjustable from 25 to 180 degrees to get the best angle possible. When this shovel is fully assembled, it’s 36 inches long but breaks down into multiple pieces where the shovelhead is the largest piece (6.3 inches long)

With this shovel, you get a one-year manufacturer guarantee that the shovel stays true to its build and design. This is an excellent move when you may be a bit nervous about hacking away at thick branches with a small shovel. 

This shovel’s quality may not be that of a true military shovel provided by the government, but it is still rather impressive. If you’re more of a weekend warrior that wants a shovel to bring out with you, this is a great option. 

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SOG Folding Survival Shovel

While SOG is well-known for its knives, this folding survival shovel is as well made as any of their other products. This shovel folds down to an incredibly small size of 10 inches and is very lightweight. When you have this one fully unfolded, it measures 18.25 inches and weighs 24.5 ounces. 

The three-way folding helps to make this shovel portable and easy to stash away. It fits nicely in the supplied carrying case that is made to protect both the shovel and everything around it. The serrated saw blade edge is excellent for slicing through roots as well as making firewood more sizable. 

You can easily pop off the handle and attach it straight to the shovelhead for a small hand shovel. The carbon steel construction is highly durable with a black-powder finish to protect the metal from the elements. 

If you’re looking for another shovel that’s simple but durable, the SOG folding survival shovel should be on your list. SOG can be trusted to be good to their customers and build a product that will last.

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DoHiker Military Folding Shovel

Another compact shovel on our list is the DoHiker Military Folding Shovel. This one breaks down into several different pieces to make the handle length highly adjustable from 13 inches to 24.6. 

The shovelhead is made from alloy steel that uses high-temperature nitriding to boost its hardness index. The shovelhead is also sharpened to help break through any soil or ice. A serrated side is used to cut through wood or plastic when necessary, making this tool highly versatile. 

There are 16 different functions that you can get out of this shovel, from a bottle opener to a steel whistle. They even include a magnesium rod for starting fires. This tool is great to have on hand in survival situations because you will most likely need a wide array of tools that you get in one here. 

The shovel comes with a one-year warranty and a two-month money-back guarantee. This way, you can take it out and put it to the test without worrying that you’ll lose your money quickly.

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Red Camp Folding Shovel

best bushcraft shovel

Our final shovel on the list is the RedCamp Military Folding Shovel. This is another simple shovel designed to be lightweight yet durable for you to dig trenches while out in the field. It uses a tri-fold design and triangular handle to get strength and a portable and compact size. 

The body is made from high carbon steel with aluminum accessories to help cut down on weight. It ends up weighing almost 2.5 pounds, which isn’t the heaviest or the lightest that we have seen. 

Where this shovel does win is the price. It is a cheap shovel that has been known to do well with basic uses. The sharpened edge helps to get through tough soil and snow or even roots with the serrated edge. 

All in all, this is a good option if you want a cheap shovel that will be there when you need it. It may not be the best option to trust with your life, but it is great to have ready to go.

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Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade

best bushcraft shovel

Our final shovel on the list is the RedCamp Military Folding Shovel. This is another simple shovel designed to be lightweight yet durable for you to dig trenches while out in the field. It uses a tri-fold design and triangular handle to get strength and a portable and compact size. 

The body is made from high carbon steel with aluminum accessories to help cut down on weight. It ends up weighing almost 2.5 pounds, which isn’t the heaviest or the lightest that we have seen. 

Where this shovel does win is the price. It is a cheap shovel that has been known to do well with basic uses. The sharpened edge helps to get through tough soil and snow or even roots with the serrated edge. 

All in all, this is a good option if you want a cheap shovel that will be there when you need it. It may not be the best option to trust with your life, but it is great to have ready to go.

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best bushcraft shovel

How to Choose the Best Shovel for Bushcraft

No matter how long you are going out, a shovel is going to come in handy. The important thing here is bringing along a shovel that isn’t going to just act as extra weight. You need something that can serve you well and help you out when in the bush. 

To find that shovel, there’s a few different aspects that you need to look into to get the best outcome for your personal use. 

Material & Durability

A shovel that bends and loses its shape the first time you break ground with it is going to be a huge disappointment. When you head out on a survival expedition, a quality shovel that lasts will be essential. 

One of the first things you’ll want to look for is a quality metal being used for the shovel’s body. Most shovels are made from steel, which can take on various forms. There are cheap versions of steel and much more expensive alloys that will put up with anything. This will also affect the price, but it often will be worth it. 

If the shovel is made entirely out of steel, you’re looking at a heavy piece of gear. A lot of brands use aluminum in the handle to cut down on weight. Some aluminum can be the same as the soda can you drink out of, but some can be the aluminum that makes up the plane that takes you across oceans. 

There’s a vast range of different versions of metal that will be found in these shovels. More expensive shovels tend to be made out of thicker high-carbon steel, with aerospace-grade aluminum. These aren’t going to break. You don’t have the strength to bend these. Others will bend with just your bodyweight. 

Every shovel that folds up will have different weak points—each spot where the shovel folds is a weak point. The joint between the handle and the shovelhead also is a weak point prone to breaking with excessive use. The less vulnerable points, the less likely you are to break the shovel. 

Weight

Another aspect of a perfect survival shovel you will love yourself for considering is the weight. This one can be tricky because you walk a fine line between heavyweight, durable products and flimsy materials that snap quickly. 

The weight is truly up to you. If you feel confident in carrying a couple of extra ounces and consider it worth the heavier-duty shovel, then a heavier shovel may be your best choice.

Building a crazy lightweight shovel that won’t break when you strike it against a rock is nearly impossible. There is a payoff for getting durability, and you may need to carry more weight.

Design

There are a few simple designs that most survival shovels follow. Each one serves to get the shovel into a compact size that is easily portable. The most common is the folding style, either on one point or two. The tri-fold is great to reduce the folded size but adds more weak points. A single joint means your shovel may be a bit larger when packed.

One of the more advanced designs uses different segments that come apart and are put together one piece at a time to form the full shovel. These tend to have stronger connection points but take a lot longer to put together. One benefit is that the shovel length is adjustable to have different sizes for different uses. 

There is one shovel on this list with a fixed handle. This is an excellent design for eliminating weak connections and building a durable shovel, but it is much harder to move around with you. In my mind, bushcraft is often about getting tools that I can carry with me from place to place. I don’t want to carry around a full shovel without stashing it in my pack. 

Additional Features

With survival shovels, a shovel is no longer just a shovel. It’s a pickaxe, a bottle opener, a saw, a knife, a fire starter, and so much more. 

Depending on what you want to do with this shovel, you may get a lot of use out of the 16 or 18 different tools one has to offer. There’s also a high likelihood that you will never put certain functions of the shovel to use. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it may just take up space in the design you don’t need. 

This is a jack of all trades, master of none situation. The tools that I have carried throughout my life have always been of higher quality when the manufacturer focuses on one thing. It’s great to have one piece of gear that acts as several, but don’t expect high quality from every tool in that lineup. 

This is going to be another matter of personal opinion. You can choose a simplistic design that puts most of the production efforts into durability and quality of the shovel or something with a load of tools. The more you play, the more likely those tools will be better, but don’t trust budget gear that is a million different tools in one. 

Price

Price is always a factor. No matter what you are buying, you need to consider the cost and a shovel isn’t the exception. One of the first things you may want to do is decide on a budget. You could spend under $20 on a shovel or go for a model that costs almost $300. This is up to you, but remember that quality can often be reflected in the price.

Fortunately, some budget shovels still have admirable quality. It’s about doing your research. After all, spending $20 and then buying a different shovel after that one breaks is a waste of money. 

Final Thoughts

Survival shovels are incredible tools to give you an edge over the wild when you’re on an expedition. 

While you can technically do without one, you will continue to thank yourself for bringing one along. Building firepits and digging catholes turn from hours to seconds. When you’re in the bush, time is valuable and not worth wasting.

There’s hundreds of different shovels out there, but our list of the best bushcraft shovels is a great place to start. 

The right shovel for your situation is here. You just need to dig around a bit.

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