The Best Camping Shovels in 2021

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Searching for the best camping shovel?

Perfect, because we have what you need.

Whether you’re looking to build a fire pit, clear snow from a campsite, or dig a cat hole to answer nature’s call, a camping shovel is of the utmost importance. With so many great shovels to choose from though, finding just one for your camping trip can be a challenge.

Thankfully, we know how hard it is to choose the right shovel and we’re here to help. There are three features that make a great camping shovel, including :

  • Aggressive blade. A sharp blade makes it easier to quickly clear away firm, rocky soil.
  • Comfortable handle. Ergonomic handles are essential for comfort while you dig.
  • Portability. The best camping shovels weigh less than 3lbs (1.4kg) so they’re easier to pack.

Read More : 3 Things To Look for in a Camping Shovel

To get you off on the right path to finding your next camping shovel, we’ve curated 10 of the top models on the market today. We’ve also created a buyer’s guide complete with all the information you need to make the best selection for your unique situation.

Our top picks

Here’s a quick summary of our best camping shovel picks. Read on for more recommendations and details.

For the Budget Minded : Rhino USA Folding Shovel
“Impressive 23.75” length, which makes for a more comfortable and efficient shoveling experience.”

Value for Money : Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel
“Has a burly forged steel head with a sharp point that’s designed for penetrating hard ground.”

Best Lightweight : FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel
“A highly versatile all-in-one survival tool.”

Best Multi-purpose : Antarctica Folding Shovel
“Also comes with a built-in compass, bottle opener, saw, and screwdriver.”

Best Military Style : Smittybilt Tri-Fold Shovel
“Made from durable black powder-coated carbon steel for durability and long-lasting sharpness.”

Best for Heavy Duty Use : Texsport Survival Shovel
“Made from thick steel with a black powder finish for extended use in rugged backcountry.”

Rhino USA Folding Shovel

Rhino USA Folding Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : Rhino
  • Length : 23.8”
  • Weight : 2.3lbs / 1.1kg

The Rhino USA Folding Shovel is a versatile work tool for outdoor enthusiasts. It has an impressive 23.8” length, which makes for a more comfortable and efficient shoveling experience.

However, it folds down to compact 9” size inside its small carry pouch for easier transport to and from campsites.

Additionally, the Rhino USA Folding Shovel can be used as a digging tool, hoe, or a pickaxe, or saw, thanks to its adjustable shaft design and serrated edges. It also offers a wide grip handle that’s designed to fit gloves for wintertime digging.

What We Like

  • Long length. 23.8” length makes digging more comfortable.
  • Versatile. Multiple-uses, including shovel, hoe, pickaxe, and saw.
  • Glove-compatible. Wide handle can be comfortably used with gloves.

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy for a shovel this size.

Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel

Gerber Gorge Folding Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : Gerber
  • Length : 16.5”
  • Weight : 1.8lbs / 0.8kg

The Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel is a budget-friendly tool for backcountry camping. It features a compact folding design with an extendable handle and an included carry case for easier transport between campsites.

This shovel has a burly forged steel head with a sharp point that’s designed for penetrating hard ground. It’s also strong enough to be used as a hammer for pounding in stakes.

Plus the Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel manages to cut down on weight by using a glass-filled nylon handle. This handle provides a solid grip for quick digging in harsh conditions without weighing down your pack.

What We Like

  • Lightweight. Just 1.75lbs to save weight in your pack.
  • Collapsible. Folding shovel with telescoping handle.
  • Portable. Includes a nylon carry case.

What We Don't Like

  • Non-adjustable. Can’t be used as a hoe or pick.

FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel

FiveJoy Military Folding Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : FiveJoy
  • Length : 19”
  • Weight : 1.2lbs / 0.5kg

The FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel is a highly versatile all-in-one survival tool. It comes with a burly shovel, knife, magnesium fire starter, saw, bottle opener, paracord, and whistle.

Meanwhile, the shovel blade is made from high carbon steel to help it retain an edge while the shaft and the knife are lightweight aerospace-grade aluminum. The shaft of the shovel can be adjusted to different angles for use as a hoe, hook, or shovel.

The FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel features a unique design with a hollow shaft that serves as a storage area for all of the device’s extra tools. Then, it all disconnects and fits into two included storage pouches for transport.

What We Like

  • Multi-tool. Comes with 7 different survival tools
  • Lightweight. The whole kit weighs less than 2lbs (0.9kg)

What We Don't Like

  • Bulky. Requires two separate storage pouches for transport.

Antarctica Folding Shovel

Antarctica Military Folding Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : Antarctica
  • Length : 15”
  • Weight : 1.5lbs / 0.7kg

Built with versatility in mind, the Antarctica Folding Shovel is a durable shovel made from high carbon steel and aerospace-grade aluminum for backcountry use.

In addition to its shoveling abilities, this model also comes with a built-in compass, bottle opener, saw, and screwdriver. The blade on this shovel can also be adjusted to 40º, 90º or 180º for digging, hammering, sawing, or any other job that needs doing around camp.

The Antarctica Folding Shovel can collapse down into its small carrying pouch for transportation. It can also be combined with optional extension kits to lengthen the shaft of the shovel for added convenience while digging.

What We Like

  • Multi-purpose. Versatile design with 6 different uses.
  • Adjustable. Blade can be set to different angles for shoveling.
  • Lightweight. One of the lightest multi-functional shovels available.

What We Don't Like

  • No Handle. Reduced grip due to lack of handle.

Smittybilt Tri-Fold Shovel

Smittybilt Tri-Fold Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : Smittybilt
  • Length : 26”
  • Weight : 2.6lbs / 1.2kg

The Smittybilt Tri-Fold Shovel is a military-style E-tool for backcountry use. When fully extended, the shovel is 26” long, but it packs down to 9” in its included carry case, thanks to its tri-fold design.

This shovel is made from durable black powder-coated carbon steel for durability and long-lasting sharpness. It also has two serrated edges for use as an emergency cutting device or when digging through root-filled soil.

The Smittybilt Tri-Fold Shovel also has a fiber-reinforced nylon handle that allows for increased durability and vibration reduction while digging.

What We Like

  • Long length. 26” length is easier to dig with.
  • Double serration blades provide more cutting area.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited versatility. Can’t be used as a hoe or pickaxe.

Texsport Heavy Duty Survival Shovel

Texsport Heavy Duty Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : Texsport
  • Length : 24”
  • Weight : 2.4lbs / 1.1kg

Sturdy and functional, the Texsport Heavy Duty Survival Shovel is made from thick steel with a black powder finish for extended use in rugged backcountry situations.

The handle of this shovel can extend up to 24” long. It can also be unscrewed and removed to expose a 5.5” blade saw for small cutting projects when your hand saw is far away.

Moreover, the Texsport Heavy Duty Survival Shovel can be adjusted to be used as a hoe or a pick using the company’s proprietary snap-lock system.

What We Like

  • Heavy duty. Rugged steel for long-term durability.
  • Versatile. Shaft unscrews to expose a 5.5” saw.
  • Adjustable. Can be used as a shovel, hoe, or pick.

What We Don't Like

  • No Case. Doesn’t include a carry case.

SOG Folding Shovel

SOG Folding Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : SOG
  • Length : 18.3”
  • Weight : 1.5lbs / 0.7kg

The SOG Folding Shovel is a full-steel digging tool for rough environments. SOG made this shovel with a tempered steel blade and aggressive serrated teeth so you can use it to dig through firm ground or saw away small tree roots.

This shovel also has a large triangular handle and wide grip for added comfort as you dig. The handle can be flipped around in just a few seconds to quickly convert the shovel into a hoe for faster soil removal.

Plus, the SOG Folding Shovel all comes in a small nylon carry case that can be stored in your pack or attached to your belt for easy transport.

What We Like

  • Multi-purpose. Can be used as a shovel or hoe.
  • Rugged. Has serrated edges for sawing away branches.
  • Comfortable grip. Large handle adds comfort while digging

What We Don't Like

  • Small blade is less efficient.

Schrade Telescoping Shovel

Schrade Telescoping Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : Schrade
  • Length : 20”
  • Weight : 1.9lbs / 0.9kg

The Schrade Telescoping Shovel combines the compactness of a folding shovel with the convenience of a longer shovel shaft. Thanks to its telescoping shaft, this model is mode comfortable to dig with and allows you to get better leverage on rocky soil.

Additionally, the blade is made with 3Cr13 stainless steel, which provides ample durability, and is shaped specifically to help maximize the amount of soil you can move at once.

For added grip, the Schrade Telescoping Shovel also has a T-shaped handle, which provides better control, even while shoveling in wet conditions.

What We Like

  • Extendable. Shaft extends by 4” for added comfort while shoveling.
  • Grippy. T-shaped handle is non-slip and provides good leverage.
  • Durable. Stainless steel design can withstand frequent use.

What We Don't Like

  • Non-glove compatible. T-shaped handle isn’t great for gloves.
  • Non-serrated blade. Limits use as an emergency saw.

Kikunum Camping Shovel

Kikunum Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : Kikunum
  • Length : 26.4”
  • Weight : 1.5lbs / 0.6kg

The Kikunum Camping Shovel is a fully functional multi-tool and shoveling device. Its manganese steel alloy blade can be adjusted to multiple different angles for use as a shovel, hoe, or a saw.

Plus, the shovel comes with a hidden fire starter, knife, survival whistle, tactical stick, screwdriver, glass breaker, and bottle opener for emergency use. The blade is fully serrated on one side and has a built-in rope cutter, too.

Finally, the Kikunum Camping Shovel features an adjustable length shaft with a non-slip handle that can be set to either 15”, 20.9”, or 26.4” to suit your needs.

What We Like

  • Adjustable. Three different lengths for digging comfort.
  • Multi-purpose. Comes with integrated survival tools.

What We Don't Like

  • Bulky. Extension rod takes up a lot of space.

TheTentLab The Deuce Trowel

TheTentLab The Deuce Trowel Camping Shovels
Photo Credit : TheTentLab
  • Length : 6.8”
  • Weight : 0.6oz / 17g

For ultralight backpackers, TheTentLab’s The Deuce Trowel is a solid bet. This lightweight camping shovel is made from aerospace-grade aluminum that’s thin enough to weigh only 0.6oz but strong enough to cut through small roots.

It has four teeth for cutting through debris, though they’re small enough that they won’t affect your digging ability. Plus, the trowel has a contoured molded grip at the top of the shaft for added comfort.

Oh, and TheTentLab’s The Deuce Trowel is 100% recyclable. So, if you ever decide that it’s time for a new shovel, you can simply deposit it in an aluminum recycling bin.

What We Like

  • Lightweight. Just 0.6oz (17g)
  • Compact. One of the smallest shovels available at 6.8”.
  • Grippy. Molded grip provides comfort while digging.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited Use. Too small for some digging jobs.

Camping Shovels Buying Guide

With so many great camping shovels to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. In this section, we’ll discuss some key things to look out for when deciding between different shovels for your adventures.

Here are 3 of the most important things to keep in mind as you shop.

Overall size and portability

When you’re camping, you need to have a shovel that’s portable enough to fit in your pack. Lightweight shovels, like TheTentLab The Deuce Trowel and the FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel are great options for longer backpacking trips.

In general, any shovel that’s less than 1.5lbs (0.7kg) would be considered lightweight and anything over 3lbs (1.4kg) would be a bit heavy for camping purposes.

However, smaller shovels can be trickier to dig with because they don’t have long shafts for leverage, like what you’d find with the Smittybilt Tri-Fold Shovel.

So, portability in a camp shovel is always a trade-off between compactness for transport and convenience while digging. 

For the most part, a shovel needs to be at least 12” (30.5cm) long to be functional for bigger digging projects.

The other thing to consider when it comes to portability is the shovel’s folding system. While some models, like the Texsport Heavy Duty Survival Shovel and the Kikunum Camping Shovel, have tri-fold designs, others, like the Schrade Telescoping Shovel have longer shafts that can telescopically close for storage.

Blade design

Modern camping shovel blades are made with three main materials :

  • Stainless steel compounds are durable and affordable, which is why they’re a popular choice for camping shovels. While they don’t hold an edge as well as high carbon steel alternatives, stainless blades are generally found in budget-friendly models.
  • High carbon steel is popular amongst tactical gear makers because it stays sharp for an extended period of time. For shovels, this edge retention is useful because it allows you to quickly slice through tree roots and other debris while digging.
  • Aluminum is less commonly used as a blade material for shovels because it tends to bend easily. But, it is lightweight and relatively affordable, so it’s sometimes used for smaller camping trowels.

Additionally, most shovels have a similarly designed blade, though some camping-specific models will have a serrated blade, such as the Rhino USA Folding Shovel and the SOG Folding Shovel

Serrated blades are very useful for use as an emergency saw or for quickly cutting through roots in the soil as you dig.

Handle design

While a shovel’s blade provides your digging surface, the handle is what allows you to get leverage and efficiently move soil and rocks. Many tri-folding shovels have handles made from durable steel, which allow you to put a lot of weight on the shovel in rugged conditions.

These tri-folding shovels will usually have either a triangular handle that is spacious and comfortable with or without gloves. 

Or, they might have a T-shaped handle that offers a great gripping surface for digging.

On the other hand, one of the drawbacks to some shovels, like the Antarctica Military Folding Shovel, is that they don’t have a designated handle and can be more difficult to grip, especially in wet conditions. 

However, these handle-less shafts are lighter and easier to transport in your pack to and from camp.

FAQ

E-tool vs military shovel - What’s the difference?

Technically, there isn’t a difference. E-tool, or entrenching tool is another name for a military shovel, which is small, foldable, and durable enough to withstand frequent use in harsh conditions.

How much weight can a camping shovel generally handle?

A camping shovel can handle upwards of 75lbs of force while digging if made completely from durable materials, such as steel.

Should I get a camping shovel with serrated edges?

Serrated edges on shovels are helpful as emergency saws in survival situations. Getting a shovel with serrated edges is also useful because they are particularly good at cutting tree roots while digging.

Gaby Pilson

Gaby is a professional mountain guide with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She works primarily in the polar regions as an expedition guide, though she can be found hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, or paddling in some of the world’s most amazing places when not at work.