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Camping Shovel Buyer's Guide

Whether you're preparing for a weekend camping with your family or assembling the ultimate outdoor survival bag, a camping shovel is a tool that should not be omitted from your gear. From loosening dirt for tent posts to trapping game to eat, a shovel is a versatile tool that may prove to be vital for your survival while outdoors. Depending on your needs, there are several shovel styles to consider, from simple hand spades to tactical multi-tool shovels designed with a wide range of uses for a variety of situations that you may encounter while in the wild.

What are the most important qualities of a camping shovel?

When you think of a shovel, undoubtedly you think of a tool used to dig a hole or a trench. Camping shovels need to do the same job as a traditional shovel but also be compact enough to fit comfortably within your pack. While the important qualities of a camping shovel will differ slightly from person to person, there are three elements that should be present in all quality camping shovels:

  • Durable - Your shovel should be able to hold up to the pressure of use and should be made of thick, durable metal.
  • Portable - Your shovel should stow easily in your pack or attach to your pack with a carabiner for easy access, making it a portable part of your pack.
  • Lightweight - Even with the assistance of camping pack frame, you ultimately have to carry all of your gear. Saving a few ounces here or there can eliminate pounds from the total weight of your pack.
Should you purchase a multi-function shovel?

The usefulness and utility of multifunction shovels are often in the eye of the beholder. On one hand, a multi-function shovel may eliminate the necessity to carry several different tools in your survival or camping bag, including a flashlight, saw, or machete. On the other hand, if the use of those additional tools is compromised by the function of being re-engineered to fit into your shovel, some argue that it would be better to have just packed the additional tools in the first place.

This is largely a personal choice and will come down to your own camping style. As a rule of thumb, if you plan on utilizing a tool frequently, such as a compass to navigate or a machete to clear brush, it would be wise to purchase this gear separately, relying on your multi-function shovel only in the event that you break or lose your original gear.

What do you use shovels for while camping?

Your shovel is a versatile tool and serves several uses during a camping trip including:

  • Loosening dirt for tent stakes and ties
  • Digging a hole for a campfire
  • Routing a trench to divert water from your campsite