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2 Types of Camping Shovels | Buyer’s Guide for Selecting the Best Camp Shovel for Your Needs

A photo of a folding camp shovel.

Different types of camp shovels serve different purposes in the woods. The right camp shovel makes life much easier when setting your tent up, building shelters, digging a firepit, trenching in a latrine, or busting through the ice for winter fishing.

This buyer’s guide will walk you through the types and features of modern camping shovels. It will teach you everything you need to understand to choose the perfect camp shovel for your unique needs and wants.

Ready?

Let’s start digging!

Types of Camping Shovels

Camping shoves simplify numerous tasks related to camping and being outdoors in general. If you’re new to camping, you should consider one of these versatile hand tools. 

They make digging, trenching, chipping, hammering, scraping, screwing, and various other related tasks much easier. And because camping shovels are so useful, they cut down on the gear you would otherwise need to carry in your backpack.

Although there are various camping shovel configurations and optional features, there are only two different types. Simple and Multipurpose.

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Simple camp shovelsA photo of a dirty single shovel in a white background.

Simple camp shovels feature a handle and a blade.

That’s it! You can use them to scrap, dig, pry, lift, and hammer things.

Multipurpose camp shovels

A photo of a multipurpose shovel.

You can find multi-purpose camping shovels in many different configurations, with many different available optional features. There are so many things you can use these camp shovels to do!

For instance, you can use them for fire-starting, sawing, emergency whistling, pickaxing, driving screws, and loads more. Multipurpose shovels are suitable for use as all-in-one tools and are especially useful for beginner campers.

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Most modern camp shovels fold up and stow away in your backpack without taking up very much space. They are very portable and lightweight.

There are a lot of camp shovels on the market today. It can be tough making the best choice. That’s why we’ve created this buyer’s guide for you. It explains, in detail, everything that you’ll need to know when you go shopping for a new camp shovel.

Let’s get to it!

Camping Shovel Buyer’s Guide

The best camping shovels feature various designs and very similar functionality. You’ll want to look for a durable, compact camp shovel that will last you through many trips in the wilderness. The goal is to find a mid-sized, mid-weight, durable, and versatile camp shovel at a fair price.

Let’s consider some of the most important aspects and features of camping shovels to look for when you are shopping.

Portability

A photo of a folded camp shovel.

Enjoying your time in the woods is about having what you need to accomplish necessary tasks without being weighed down. Choose a camp shovel that folds up compactly and fits into your backpack without taking up very much space. 

For instance, you don’t want a bulky shovel hanging, clanging, and banging off the side of your backpack. That gets annoying quickly – trust me! So look for a camp shovel that can do what you need it to, but can also fold up nicely and stay out of the way until needed again.

Versatility

Modern camping shovels accomplish multiple tasks to make your camping experience more enjoyable and productive with less gear hauled. Why carry more items to possibly lose and more weight in your backpack than you have to?

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A good rule of thumb for any wilderness situation is to remain practical and not burden yourself, mentally or physically, with carrying items that aren’t directly relevant to your current goals.

For instance, it makes no sense to carry a fishing pole in the desert. It also makes no sense to carry ten different pieces of gear instead of one camp shovel that can replace them all.

So take advantage of modern camp shovel designs and have fun exploring all of the cool things they can do, all wrapped up into one neat little tool. Your friends will think it’s awesome too!

Durability

Folding camp shovels perform various tough tasks – like chopping through tree roots, digging through rocky dirt, chipping away at rock faces, hammering in tent posts, trenching for latrines, and processing firewood.

You want a camping shovel built to last and endure years of abuse in the woods. Choose a camp shovel with a proven reputation for long-lasting durability. It should be constructed from high-quality materials to maximize its life expectancy.

Further, the best camping shovels will come with guarantees against manufacturing defects. Be sure to check about it before making your final purchase decision.

Material

Don’t fall for marketing tricks and buy a cheaply made camping shovel. Remember, these tools are just that: Tools made for brutal work in poor conditions.

Choose an affordable camp shovel made with strong, durable, and functional materials and components like high-carbon steel, aerospace-grade aluminum, and heavy-duty connectors.

Handle

Different materials are used to manufacture camping shovel handles, including wood, plastic, fiberglass, aluminum, and steel. 

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Steel handles are strong, durable, and can withstand years of direct hardship and heavy use. However, they do not absorb shock well and can cause hand and arm fatigue with extended use.

Wood handles on camp shovels absorb shock better and are more comfortable for extended use, but they are not waterproof and can be damaged when steel wouldn’t be.

Fiberglas handles are strong, waterproof, and last for years even with heavy use. However, they are also more costly to purchase, and they don’t absorb shock like wood or withstand repetitive abuse like steel.

So you see, you have to consider your primary needs for the shovel and then think about which handle material will best suit your needs and wants.

Size and Weight

A portable black military shovel.

The best camping shovel will perform every task you need it to, and then store away compactly and easily until it is needed again. Of course, it would be better to have the perfect shovel only weigh an ounce or two, but that is not currently possible.

So, you have to balance out what the size and weight of a shovel you’re considering mean to you. 

Are you willing to lug an extra pound of weight around if it enables you to live easier and better at camp? Are you willing to lose an extra few inches of space inside of your backpack to accommodate a more feature-loaded camp shovel?

Most modern camping shovels are of similar size and weight, at least within a few cubic inches of space or a few ounces of weight. 

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So focus more on what a camp shovel can do for you, and not so much its size or weight. They’re all close to the same, at least for purposes of common camping scenarios.

Blade shape

Camping shovels with larger blades are better suited for digging holes, moving sand or snow, and other similar tasks. A survival shovel may have a smaller blade with a sharp edge designed more for hacking and chopping than digging. 

Look at the size and shape of the blade of a camp shovel you’re thinking about buying, and then compare it with your intended uses at camp to determine if it’s a good fit or not.

Ease of use

Some camping shovels are geared for certain main purposes, like digging through tough terrain, for instance. Consider the ergonomic design of a shovel you’re considering.

Although a camp shovel may be feature-loaded and help you achieve many campsite goals, you should consider what your main uses for a shovel will be, and then match those needs with the shovel. 

Overall, you want a camp shovel that fits your style while serving your unique needs. Take your time. There’s no reason to rush your decision. Enjoy continuing your research!

5 Best-Selling Camping Shovels

We reviewed 5 of the best-selling camping shovels on the market today. There are certainly others out there that warrant consideration as well. However, these five represent what you will find when shopping for a new camp shovel.

So enjoy learning a little more about these useful, practical multitools!

Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel

A photo of a Gerber George folding shovel.

Source: Gerber

Gerber is a huge name in camping equipment, including camp shovels. The Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel features a serrated blade which is excellent for chopping through tough roots or even cutting firewood into more manageable chunks.

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Its nylon-coated handle adds comfort to the steel shovel blade, and the entire tool is well-made from quality materials and connectors. It’s lightweight, portable, and easy to operate.

Bond Mini Shovel

This lightweight, portable camp shovel is best for trenching and digging pits. It features an ergonomic non-slip handle with a comfortable grip and is coated to prevent rust and corrosion.

Its metal parts have been heat-treated to increase their strength, resilience, and durability. This camping shovel is not foldable, but it does come with a 5-year warranty. Nice!

SOG Folding Shovel

A photo of an SOG folding shovel.

Source: SOG

The serrated blade on this heavy-duty foldable camping shovel is crafted from heat-tempered high-carbon steel. It cuts through branches for clearing a camp spot and making some firewood.

It securely locks when closed to prevent accidental openings. It comes with a durable carry bag with a belt hoop, so you can wear it outside of your pack if desired.

Rhino USA Folding Shovel

This foldable military-style camping shovel is a solid multitool that can even convert into a small ax for chopping and cutting. It is 23 inches long when opened but stores away nicely and weighs less than 2 pounds.

It is a durable, heavy-constructed camp shovel with extreme functionality!

Redcamp Camping Shovel

REDCAMP Military Folding Camping Shovel,High Carbon Steel Entrenching Tool Tri-fold Handle Shovel with Cover,Black 2.61lbs

This shovel is a good choice for everyday camping, hunting, and fishing scenarios. It may not be the best camping shovel for long-term survival situations or extended camping.

It simplifies cutting roots, digging dirt, moving rocks, and other moderately challenging tasks. It also features a 1-year warranty.