If you've ever been camping in the wild and suddenly realised you need to turn over the embers of a hot campfire, bury your waste from wild animals (in the worst case scenario that might be bears), or dig a latrine...
...you'll realise how essential it is to have a good camping shovel with you!
Yet so many people forget to take them or don't realise they were important, usually when it's already too late!
So which camping shovel to purchase?
And below is my findings on what the top camping shovel on the market is...
Check Out The Best Picks Of Camping Shovels
OUR TOP PICK
Meet the Bond LH015 Mini D Handle Shovel - the answer to all of your camping shovel needs, and it comes in a 2 pack!
This shovel is perfect for digging little holes and trenches if you need to.
It’s pretty handy if you need a lightweight option that you can carry with you easily on all of your camping excursions and more.
The shovel features a handle with a comfortable grip that feels great when you are holding it.
It is also rust resistant so it lasts a pretty long time too!
All of the metal parts on the shovel have been treated for heat resistance too, which means that it’s much stronger than you may expect.
Thanks to this you also don’t need to worry about the tool breaking or bending very often.
While it doesn’t last forever it’s certainly pretty long lasting!
The tool is pretty good as far as price goes, with a fairly low price considering what’s on offer.
It won’t break the bank if you decide to buy this item, that’s for sure.
Of course, it should be noted that this isn’t the best shovel for use with hard soils, and it works a lot better with loose soils such as sand.
- Durable which means it won't break or snap on you mid dig.
- Comfortable grip to avoid hand blisters or pain.
- Rust resistant so even if you forget to put it away or leave it outside it should be fine for a short period.
- Lightweight so easy to carry camping.
- Not the best choice for harder soils.
If you are looking for a great, portable shovel that isn’t going to cost you a year’s salary, then you’re in luck.
The Coleman Folding Shovel with Pick is a great choice for any camping enthusiast and there are certainly a lot of things to love about this budget pick.
The shovel is made out of very durable steel, so you can be sure that it will stand up to the test of time.
It’s a pretty decent choice if you find yourself stuck in an emergency situation while out in the wild.
It also has a serrated edge that will allow you to saw things such as wood.
The shovel only measures around 7 inches when it’s folded, which is ideal if you are planning on carrying the shovel in your backpack, perhaps if you are on a hike.
When it’s folded out, it is 16.25 inches long.
It even comes with a pouch that you can carry it in when you aren’t using it.
It doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles that you may find with many of the other options on this list, but it’s a fine option nevertheless.
- Portable so if you have a long hike before camping it's a good choice.
- Affordable, it won't break the bank which is good if you won't use it often.
- Compact meaning you have lots of space for other more important gear.
- A basic tool - doesn’t have many additional features
This tool is actually issues to the U.S. Military, so you know right off the bat that it’s going to be a good option.
The Military Issue Tri Fold camping shovel can be used for a range of different tasks, from simple digging to cutting wood. It’s the essential survival item for outdoor living.
The tool is pretty versatile, but beyond that it’s also fairly compact.
If you aren’t using it, all you need to do is fold it up small, and then put it into the pouch that it comes with.
It comes with a vinyl cover that you can use to store the shovel in when you aren’t using it.
The cover is even water resistant so the chances of rust getting to the tool when it isn’t being used are pretty slim.
The tool features a powder coat finish that has been designed to make sure that no water is able to penetrate into the shovel, meaning that rust is less likely to develop.
It’s a fairly expensive tool, as you may expect from such a versatile offering, but it’s more than worth the price if you have the budget to play with.
- Tri fold design makes it compact for easier carry.
- Protective vinyl cover.
- Multi tool - can be used as a saw, ax and a shovel.
- It’s a little expensive
This is yet another fantastic option if you are looking for a shovel with a lot of versatility.
You no longer need to worry about having a camping shovel with an excessively short handle, as the Iunio Military Portable Shovel comes with a 35 inch handle that you can fold up when you aren’t using it.
So it’s perfect for carrying around on the go.
The shovel comes in varying handle lengths, including 17, 31 and 35 inch long handles.
If you are digging this is especially helpful as you will have a little more leverage.
It’s a versatile tool that can be used for a range of different tasks, including hoeing, digging and more.
If you are looking for a good tool to suit most survival situations, then you are certainly in luck with this option.
The tool is somewhat expensive as a result of the sheer amount of features it has, but it’s certainly worth the extra money. It’s very durable too.
The only issue is that some users have stated that the head of the shovel can snap after it’s been used for a short amount of time, so this is something that you should be mindful of.
- Versatile giving you endless options of how to use.
- Can be used with a range of handle lengths to make digging deeper holes easier.
- Some users have reported that the shovel head snaps after only a few uses.
Sometimes when you’re looking for a camping shovel you just want something lightweight that can get the job done.
The Gerber Gorge camping shovel is exactly what you are looking for.
This will allow you to dig holes wherever you are without any trouble.
With this shovel you can do a number of basic tasks, such as digging or using it to hammer in your tent poles.
The shovel lasts a pretty long time, and you can even use it as an ax if you with to do so.
To expand the tool, you simply need to press a button and slide the tool out to its complete length.
The shovel is also comfortable to use, with an ergonomic handle. It doesn’t cost a lot of money either so it’s ideal if you are on more of a budget.
Of course, if you don’t have the strength then it can be a little tricky to open the tool, but you will eventually get the hang of this.
- Multi purpose - use it for camping when you only need small holes or for larger tasks
- Durable - it isn't likely to break mid dig.
- Easy to use.
- Can be tricky to open it if you aren’t very strong
Best Camping Shovels: A Buyer’s Guide
So, you’ve seen our picks for the best camping shovels. The question is, what will be the best for you?
That will largely depend on your needs and wants. Here are just a few of the things that you should think about when buying the best camping shovels for you.
If you're simply looking for a good all rounder then our "Editors Choice" Camping Shovel pick is a perfect option.
One of the main things that you should think about before you buy a camping shovel is what you are planning on using it for.
This will help you to make a choice based on your needs, allowing you to get the best shovel for you.
For instance, will you be using it for hiking or some other activity? Are you planning on using it in inclement weather, is it for emergency use?
This is going to allow you to figure out exactly what you need.
You can find camping shovels in all different shapes and sizes.
What you get is going to depend on the use, so for instance if you have a tiny shovel then it isn’t going to be particularly useful for getting your car out of a mud bath.
Similarly, a bigger shovel may not be useful for other tasks. Consider the main uses of the shovel before you buy and consider the size.
At 7 x 4 x 3 inches then our "Editors Choice" option is small enough to be compact and big enough to be useful.
You can find shovels in a range of different styles.
For instance, if you are planning on using the shovel to help you to pitch your tent, then a small, trowel style shovel will be more than sufficient for this purpose.
If you need a shovel with a bunch of extra add ons, then you should think about getting a survival shovel kit.
You may even be able to get some sort of middle ground between both - it ultimately depends on what you need.
The material a shovel is made from can have a big effect on its longevity and effectiveness.
You should try to stay away from plastic shovels, as they’re pretty useless. Instead, looking for camping shovels made out of stainless steel, carbon steel and aluminum.
There are pros and cons to each one of these materials, for instance stainless steel can be pretty heavy but it’s also durable and can withstand a lot of damage.
On the other hand, aluminum weighs a lot less but it isn’t quite as durable. Carbon steel is like a middle ground between the two.
The material that you choose is also going to influence the overall price of the shovel though, so this is something worth keeping in mind.
This kind of goes without saying, but you need something that’s portable if you’re looking for a shovel for camping.
Of course, there are a lot of options out there that aren’t so portable, depending on what you are doing and how you plan on carrying the kit around.
For instance, if you are using a backpack to carry the shovel and you are doing a little bit of hiking then it’s important that you opt for something that’s fairly lightweight.
The degrees of portability are going to differ from model to model, so this is something that you need to keep in mind.
There are a lot of options on the market that can be folded down and you can put them in a small carrying case for easier transportation.
This Coleman option, that we featured above, is very transportable.
Ideally, you should think about how the shovel is constructed. For instance, it’s handy if the shovel comes with the ability to adjust the length for the height that you require.
You should also think about one that has a handle with a solid grip, and it should also be anti slip to make sure that you don’t end up dropping it with your butter fingers!
It’s not going to be easy to use a camping shovel that just falls out of your hands every five minutes.
You should also look for a shovel that has serrated edges on the blade because it has more functionality.
It’s also worth thinking about having a folding handle because this can mean that it’s easier to carry.
Versatility is always helpful when it comes to camping shovels, and some are even multifunctional!
It’s never a good idea to buy a product that you’re fairly confident will fall apart after one or two uses.
There are obviously going to be some shovels that are made much better than others are, so it’s better to opt for ones that are known for being more durable so you can avoid any mishaps when you’re camping and you least expect it.
It’s important to ensure that the blade of the shovel doesn’t bend or crack when you are diffing.
In order to assess whether a camping shovel is durable enough, you should first look at the thickness of the blade and the material that it’s made out of.
As we’ve already mentioned, a shovel made out of carbon steel is significantly more durable than something like aluminum.
You will also need to think about the handle’s durability, as they are sometimes made out of fragile materials to make them weigh less.
This unfortunately does mean that it isn’t as durable as you need to it to be. Making sure that the materials are rust resistant is also very helpful.
When you buy your shovel you should certainly think about what it comes with to make sure that it’s protected when you are and are not using it.
A carrying case is especially important as it can help you to carry the shovel and it can protect it when you aren’t using it.
You should make sure that the case is also water resistant If the tool gets exposed to water then it’s most likely to rust, and this can make it weaker and dull.
You should also make sure that your carrying case has loops on it so that you can use it to attach to the rest of your gear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a portable shovel able to handle a lot of weight?
The amount of weight that a camping shovel is able to handle depends on the brand and the material it is made out of.
There are some shovels that can deal with a lot of weight, so they can lift up large items.
Some others aren’t able to do that though. It’s important that you check the specifications of the shovel before you purchase it to double check whether it’s the right choice for what you need.
Of course, a lot of them are much smaller than your average shovel so you can’t expect it to shovel as much as your backyard shovel would.
How do I need to take care of my camping shovel?
The main thing you need to do is make sure that you thoroughly wipe the shovel clean after you have used it, as moisture can be a death sentence to many tools.
If you keep the shovel clean then it’s likely to last a lot longer than it would if you didn’t take care of it.
Is it possible to sharpen the shovel’s blade?
There are many people that like to sharpen their shovel blades, and it’s especially useful if you have a multitool that you can also use as an ax.
Many of the multi purpose tools out there don’t have blades sharp enough to use the ax effectively.
If you are using the shovel for that purpose then chopping wood will be that much easier should you need to do so.
Should I opt for a multi tool shovel?
This is largely going to depend on your individual requirements.
If you don’t need the extra add ons that come with a multi tool then it may be a waste of money for you.
Alternatively, you can also carry a lot less tools in your rucksack if you have a multi tool. You should take some time to thoroughly assess your needs before you buy.
What's the best camping shovel for your needs?
I am an independent safety and survival expert and consultant. I have over 15+ years of experience working with corporations and individuals to help identify, remediate and prepare for threats and and disasters. I help clients understand risks and blog about my thoughts and techniques at DisasterShelters.net