Finding the best survival shovels is harder than it looks. On the surface, they all look the same!
But there can be a big difference in quality if you don’t know what to look for. Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you.
Having the right tools in your bag can make all the difference when you’re out in the wilderness. The best survival shovels are versatile, compact, and worth their weight in gold!
In this guide, we list all the best products on the market to make your search easy. You’ll also learn what to look for, and how to maintain them over time.
Table of Contents
Why You Should Have One
If you’re serious about being self-reliant in the outdoors, you need a survival shovel. It’s really as simple as that.
If you’re trying to sustain yourself in the wilderness for an extended period of time it’s incredibly important to be able to build a reliable shelter for yourself. It’s the difference between life or death.
Depending on the season you might need to dig a hole or move some snow. The need depends on the environment.
And trying to do this with some sticks, a multi-tool, or other gear won’t cut it.
Sure, you’ll get the job done eventually. But in that time you’ll also burn a lot of valuable energy and light that you didn’t have to. Those kinds of inefficiencies add up over time.
But the best survival shovels do a lot more than just dig.
Many of them can be used as an ax, hammer, knife, or combat weapon. And to make things even better, this functionality is housed in a very compact package (which is why the military relies on them so heavily).
This level of versatility makes them one of the most important pieces of gear you can have. It’s why they were one of the first items we included in our INCH bag checklist too!
Now that we’ve sold you on the importance of having a reliable survival shovel, let’s jump into the list.
Our List Of The Best Survival Shovels
With so many different survival shovels on the market, finding the best ones took a bit of time. Fortunately, we had already used a handful of them and had some great recommendations from other preppers and survivalists we trust.
But we still wanted to look at this with a fresh pair of eyes. That way we wouldn’t miss any high-quality shovels that weren’t on our radar yet.
And after a bit of research and testing, we ended up with the list below.
It has something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a bunch of features, something ultra-compact, or just an all-around shovel, you’ll be able to find what you need below.
We’re quite happy with how this list of the best survival shovels turned out, and wholeheartedly recommend them to any survivalist, camping enthusiast, or prepper.
1. Portable Military Folding Shovel with Tactical Waist Pack & Multi-Tools By BESROY
This survival shovel by BESROY is a great choice for just about anyone. It’s advertised as a compact option with military functionality, and that description is spot on.
- High strength manganese steel alloy
- Small folding size with storage bag, can be put in backpack
- Deep grain non-slip handle
BESROY has a great track record and has been making reliable shovels for quite a while. At first, it was hard for us to pick our favorite!
This shovel is extremely durable, versatile, and features a clean design. You can set it to three different lengths which allow you to create proper leverage depending on the task at hand. The shortest length is 15 inches, the medium is 20.9 inches, and the longest is 26.4 inches.
This not only gives you a fully functional survival shovel for digging, but it keeps things compact for travel and storage too.
But what really impressed us was the number of features it has tucked away inside the handle. Here’s the full list:
- Safety hammer
- Fire starter
- Emergency whistle
- Tactical knife
- Bottle opener (why not)
- Knife edge
These are all cleverly tucked away inside the handles in a way that doesn’t screw up the balance or clatter around while you’re using it. You have a lot of essential tools tucked away in one piece of gear!
The overall strength of the shovel is impressive as well. It’s made from manganese steel alloy which can handle pretty much any kind of punishment you throw its way. This is not a survival shovel you’ll worry about breaking.
- Very strong
- Multiple tools inside the handle
- Clean design
- The non-slip handle could be better
2. Annihilate Tactical Shovel For Survival & Camping By Zune Lotoo
If money isn’t an issue and you’re looking for the very best survival shovel on the market, this is the one for you. If you decide to get this shovel by Zune Lotoo you’ll pretty much never have to think about another shovel again.
- Made from heat-treated high-quality solid carbon steel
- Shovel head adjustable at 6 angles to help you save energy in different situations
- More than 23 survival tools included
- Unbreakable with lifetime warranty
Not only is it made from extremely durable carbon steel, but the joint is thick and significantly stronger than average (this is a weak point for many compact shovels). Then to top it all off, the company offers an “unbreakable lifetime warranty” which we love to see. It shows confidence in their product and the ability to back up their claims.
The shovel head can be pivoted into a number of different angles too. Unlike other products, you actually get six different angles (30°,45°,60°,115°,135°, and 180°). This gives you more options when working, without sacrificing strength.
There are also over 23 different military-grade tools included in this survival shovel as well. We won’t list them all here, but some of our favorites are the tactical knife, magnesium rod, wire cutter, and ax. Honestly, if you had some basic survival skills you could probably march out into the wilderness with only this shovel and be just fine.
Not only did we like it, but the feedback we received from other owners really blew us away. We heard probably more rave reviews than any other product we’ve looked at on this site!
- Extremely strong
- Comes with a lifetime warranty
- Six different shovel head angles
- 23 different tools included
- Expensive (but fairly priced)
3. Compact Survival Shovel with Pickax, Saw, Rod, and Knife By HARVET
This is a more traditional compact survival shovel that’s made to do the job. HARVET is a great company that really knocked it out of the park with this one!
- Made from stainless steel
- Three types of assembly methods
- Comes with easy to carry bag
- Comes with various other functions and tools
This shovel is extremely durable, and for the price it definitely over-delivers. The stainless steel shovel head won’t fall apart on you and is even resistant to rust as well.
It’s also one of the most compact shovels on our list. You can break it down and fit it in an extremely small carrying bag which makes transport and storage easy. The bag is barely bigger than the size of the shovel head.
You can also use this shovel as a knife, screwdriver, hammer, or saw. Switching between these functions is a bit clunkier than some of the other more robust options on our list, but it still gets the job done.
There are three lengths you can work with as well. You have 15.27 inches, 22 inches, and 28.5 inches. You also get three angles for the shovel head too (45°, 90°, and 180°). This covers the basics and should be more than enough for you out in the wilderness.
- Durable build
- Extremely compact
- Includes other essential tools
- Handle isn’t as strong as the shovel head
- Some wiggle during use
4. Compact Folding Shovel with Entrenching Tool By SOG
If you’re all about saving space in your bag, this is the shovel for you. SOG created this survival shovel with portability being the number one priority. This compact tool is extremely small and can fit pretty much anywhere!
- Barely bigger than your hand
- High-carbon steel construction
- 18.25 inch full length, 24.5 ounces
- Collapses into a portable outdoor shovel, emergency shovel and hiking shovel
The entire thing is only 18.25 inches long when unfolded and weighs just 25.5 ounces. When it’s folded it’s only 10 inches in length. That means you can pretty much always find room for it in your bag. It’s similar to many military shovels in that regard.
But don’t think that means you sacrifice on quality.
The shovel head is tempered steel and the rest of the handle is made from carbon steel. A benefit of the small size means there are very few moving parts. You simply unfold and lock it into place.
Obviously the downside of the compact design means there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles included, but that’s a tradeoff you expect to make. Between your own multi-tool and this shovel, you’ll still have all your bases covered.
- Compact and portable
- No sacrifice in shovel strength
- Can be some wiggle in the handle
5. 180 Degree 23 in 1 Folding Survival Shovel By Sahara Sailor
This was a survival shovel that surprised us. It wasn’t on our radar initially so when we heard all the great reviews from current owners, we knew we had to check it out.
- Constructed with military-grade solid carbon steel
- This ultimate survival shovel incorporates 12 other functions and tools
- Can be folded and expanded by twisting lock for secure storage and carrying
- Lifetime warranty with 100% satisfaction and zero hassle returns guaranteed
Right off the bat the strength and build quality really stand out. This entire shovel is made from metal and it’s hard to feel like there are any weak spots when you’re using it. The shovel itself is carbon steel and the handle tubs are aluminum. While weight is a downside of this design (it’s not too heavy though), you can’t argue that it makes this quite strong!
An advantage of this design is you can easily use this as a combat shovel too. Any part of the product could really do some damage. Some of the other shovels on our list would make awkward weapons, but that’s not the case here!
In addition to the sturdy build, you also have a handful of other functions at your disposal (12 to be exact). Our favorites are the knife, saw, cleaver, hammer, screwdriver, and wrench.
This shovel is 29.9 inches in length when assembled and is barely bigger than the shovel head when stored in its bag.
- Strong build
- Good for combat and survival
- Comes with 12 functions
- Not as lightweight as some other options on our list
6. Military Carbon Steel Folding Shovel For Camping and Survival By REDCAMP
This military carbon steel folding shovel by REDCAMP is another fantastic choice if you’re looking for something compact and highly functional. Preppers, survivalists, and campers will all appreciate the small size and portability that this shovel offers.
- High-Carbon steel body
- Comes with multiple functions despite compact size
- Small portable design
- 100% money back guarantee
The entire shovel is only 2.5lbs and 22.8 inches long when extended. When it’s folded away in the carrying pouch the entire footprint is 10.2 inches long and 7.5 inches wide. That’s quite easy to store in a bag or car without taking up too much space.
The overall quality of this shovel is top-notch. It’s primarily made from high-carbon steel and aluminum to create a durable but relatively light tool.
Obviously, since it’s a more compact survival shovel there aren’t many functions. However, one side of the shovel head is a sawtooth edge which allows you to do a bit of cutting if needed.
The company also offers a full one-year money-back guarantee which we really like. While we don’t expect that you’ll need it, it’s good to know you can make the purchase with confidence.
- Compact and lightweight
- Sawtooth edge
- Tri-fold design
- Limited leverage for larger projects
7. Compact Folding Shovel with Lengthened Handle and Larger By BANORES
If you’re looking for a survival shovel that allows you to get good leverage without sacrificing portability, this is your best bet.
- Sturdy and durable with no distortion
- Handle made of high carbon steel
- Multi-angle shovel lock
- Includes shovel, stick, wrench, cutter, saw, hoe, screwdriver, bottle opener, whistle, fire starter, ice piton, scraping fish scales, and compass.
This shovel can fold down and only be 9.84 inches long in your bag. But it also has a max length of 37.6 inches long too! This is much longer than many other shovels, which offers a number of benefits.
You’ll immediately notice the difference when it comes to leverage. You’ll be able to dig faster and with less effort than the ultra-compact stubby ones. We also like the length because it makes this a good combat shovel too. The length allows you to generate a lot of force while still being easy to wield.
The build quality is impressive too. The handle is made from high carbon steel which can withstand punishment but also wear over time.
- Long handle makes digging easy
- Good for combat and self-defense
- Assembling it can take a little longer than other options
8. Military Folding Shovel Multitool For Hiking, Camping, And Survival By FiveJoy
We were a bit skeptical about this shovel at first because of the trendy design. As you’ve probably noticed, survival tools that are made to look really good usually end up being disappointing.
- High-quality solid carbon steel
- Heavy-duty shovel, sharp ax blade, serrated saw edge, hammer, and paracord included
- Only weighs 1.2lbs
- Thoughtfully engineered handle optimizes comfort and control
But we were wrong about this one!
FiveJoy has managed to make a nice looking survival shovel that’s also highly functional. This folding tool is versatile, strong, and a great choice for pretty much anyone.
It’s made from carbon steel and aluminum and has a very effective anti-slip handle that makes it easy to dig (even when the weather isn’t cooperating). The entire shovel is only 1.2lbs as well, making it easy to use and almost unnoticeable in your bag.
There are also a few handy functions that are included with this shovel as well. You get a knife, saw, food cutter, bottle opener, whistle, magnesium rod, and a rope at the end of the handle which can be used for a variety of things (it’s not just aesthetic).
- Multiple functions
- Made from strong materials
- Looks great
- Not much versatility with handle length
9. Foldable Survival Shovel for Backpacking, Hiking, Survival, Car Emergency By iunio
This foldable survival shovel by iunio is a great no-frills option that does the trick. It’s affordably priced, easy to pack up, and contains a surprising amount of functions!
- Sturdy and durable high-carbon steel
- Multi-functional tool options
- Folds up and fits in a high quality tactical waist pack
- Can be extended to 31 inches
When fully deployed, this folding shovel is actually 31 inches long which allows for a solid amount of leverage (making digging easy). This is made possible by two extension bars.
In addition to the shovel, you also get a safety hammer, antiskid handle, emergency whistle, pickaxe, saw, and magnesium rod. This is a solid all-around option for preppers, survivalists, campers, or even military personnel.
The blade and handle are both made of high-carbon steel which will hold up under significant force and last for years. There’s really not much to dislike about this product!
- Solid handle length
- Durable build
- Setup takes a moment
10. Multifunctional Military Folding Shovel By wufang
This is an effective shovel that’s geared toward the military crowd. It has a variety of impressive functions and is quite well-made.
- High alloy steel material
- 16 functions included
- Small folding size with storage bag, can be put in backpack
- Surface oxidation rust prevention
The shovel itself is made from high alloy steel. The handle is an aluminum allow that allows the entire thing to weigh just a touch over 2.5 pounds. When folded and packed in the bag, the footprint is 10.6 x 7.1 x 2.6 inches (which can fit in most bags).
Not only can you extend this shovel to three different lengths, but you can also make use of 16 different functions. There’s a magnesium rod, pick, ax, hammer, fish knife (that’s pretty neat), a wrench, and more.
You can position this folding shovel in three different angles. 30°, 90°, and 180°. This gives you more than enough versatility when it comes to moving earth without making things overly complicated.
- Made from high alloy steel
- 16 useful survival functions
- Shallow ankle board
11. Folding Tactical Survival Shovel with Instant Switch Mechanism By Sharvol
This is one of the best survival shovels out there simply because it’s reliable, sturdy, and gets the job done. Sharvol markets this as an “all in one survival toolset” and we would have to say that description is pretty accurate.
- Functions as a saw, trenching tool, trowel, screwdriver & more
- Comes with unique instant switch feature
- Measures 97cm (38.189 inches) long from tip to handle when fully assembled
- Comes with effective anti-slip grip
This shovel gives you a saw, trenching tool, screwdriver, compass, saw, wrench, fire starter, and more. It’s also rather long when fully extended and unfolded (38.19 inches). This allows you to get a lot of leverage when digging, saving you valuable time and energy in a survival situation.
The shovel breaks down into a reasonably-sized case which is also well-made. You can pretty much throw this shovel anywhere and trust that it will be protected from the elements.
Overall, the build quality and general level of durability are very impressive. You’ll definitely be happy with this in your bag.
- Strong and durable build
- 20 different functions
- Carrying bag is a little larger than other options
12. Outdoor Survival And Emergency Shovel with Multitool By The Adventure Supply Co. Brands
This is a nice budget buy that deserves a place on our list. Perfect for campers, preppers, and survivalists, this shovel by Adventure Supply Co. Brands does the job without getting too fancy.
- High-tech aerospace anodized aluminum and high-Mn steel
- Foldable compact design
- Easy to adjust to 3 different lengths and 3 different degree
- Multiple function tool kit for varying applications
It does have a few of the common functions that you see other survival shovels boast, but it does this in a very affordable package. You’ll get a safety hammer, compass, self-defense dagger, knife, and saw in addition to the ability to shovel (obviously).
The shovel can reach up to 25 inches in length when fully extended. However, you can also use it at 21, 17, and 13 inches as well. These shorter lengths can be good for situations where you need to dig in a cramped space (something that happens quite often).
The build quality is another factor that makes this one of the best survival shovels for your money. Oftentimes cheaper products are made from weaker materials, but this shovel is made from steel and aluminum. It feels sturdy when you get your hands on it!
When it’s packed up in the carrying case you can pretty much bring it anywhere. It’s so compact that there’s really no excuse to leave it at home.
- Extremely compact
- Made from high-quality materials
- Assembly can be a bit awkward
- Some wiggle during use
13. Tactical Survival Folding Shovel For Emergencies By Yeacool
This is another great survival shovel that just works. You get a lot of the basic additional functions like a magnesium rod, emergency whistle, safety hammer, compass, saw, and wrench in addition to the shovel itself.
- Adjustable handle can reach to 40” at its longest or 16” at its shortest
- Comes with shovel, saw, axe, fish scaler, spear, bottle opener, fire starter, wire-cutter, trowel, hexagon wrenches and more
- Reasonable weight and durable collapsible shovel made of premium materials
- The screw-twist locking design makes the shovel head adapt to any angle
The max length of this shovel is also great for anyone who wants to get a bit of extra leverage. You can use it in lengths from 39 inches all the way down to 15.9 inches. This kind of flexibility means you’ll always be able to find the right length for the job.
It follows the simple military folding principle of not having too many fancy or cute parts. Just fold it out and slide the lock into place!
The shovel head is made from stainless steel, and the handle is aluminum alloy. That makes it very strong without sacrificing too much in weight (it’s only 4.6lbs).
- Multiple useful functions
- Strong steel and aluminum materials
- Would like to see it be a bit more compact when packed away
What To Look For In A Shovel
There are a number of different things you should look for when choosing between shovels. As you can tell, all of the best survival shovels pass the test in these areas.
These are the factors we considered when coming up with this in the first place, and they’re useful for you to understand going forward. We firmly believe that all survivalists, preppers, and campers should know the ins and outs of their gear if they want to become truly proficient in the wilderness.
We included this first because it’s the most important thing to consider. When you buy a piece of survival gear you need it to work!
You’re going to be placing a great deal of trust in the gear you bring with you because many times you don’t have the luxury of a backup. You’ll have one shovel in your bag, so it can’t fall apart under a bit of pressure.
The main thing to look at when it comes to durability is the materials and build quality. Look for sturdy materials like steel, carbon fiber, and aluminum. When you combine this with a strong design there’s a good chance your survival shovel will last a while.
Weight & Portability
This is another important piece of the puzzle. This isn’t because it will affect your ability to use it, but instead because the extra weight and storage in your bag could be used for something else (or cut for the sake of saving energy).
The perfect survival shovel would be extremely strong and fit in your pocket. Obviously that’s not possible, so look for as small as you can get without sacrificing strength and quality.
Versatility is another element to think about when picking between the best survival shovels. Do you want a bare-bones military shovel that just folds and digs, or do you want some of the extra features?
As you can probably tell, many of the shovels we listed above do more than dig. They come with saws, axes, fire starters, and more. While you shouldn’t rely on your shovel for these pieces of gear, it’s never a bad thing to have some extras!
We mention cost last because it’s not nearly as important as the capability and functionality of your shovel. While we definitely understand that budget is something to be mindful of, you need to look for quality first.
Once you’ve found some high-quality shovels you like, THEN you can think about how they fit into your budget. This is how you avoid buying something subpar because you fell in love with the price tag.
The Importance Of Maintenance
While we won’t talk about this in great detail, it’s worth mentioning that you have a responsibility to take care of your shovel over the years. This ongoing maintenance will ensure that it lasts longer and continues to perform when you need it.
Clean it after use, oil and clean hinges, and take care of any individual components and functions that need some attention. Getting lazy with gear care will cost you more money in the long term, and potentially get you into a sticky situation out in the wilderness.
Putting together this list of the best survival shovels was a lot of fun for us. We’ve always considered shovels to be one of the most underrated pieces of gear in a survivalist’s arsenal, so being able to showcase these was very enjoyable.
All you need to do now is simply browse the list and pick the one that fits what you’re looking for. It doesn’t matter what kind of functionality you’re looking for, there’s something on this list for everyone!
If there are any shovels you think we should consider for this list feel free to send them our way. We’re going to be keeping this updated as more shovels come out, and we’ll always welcome some help staying current.