Best Entrenching Tools For Backpacking And Survival

best entrenching tools for survival and backpacking

Best Entrenching Tools For Backpacking And Survival

Being a survivalist or just very prepared is a good thing.

Adding things to your emergency kit or keeping a bag of emergency supplies in your car or truck can get you out of trouble. Like a knife or a taser gun, an entrenching tool is something that should be in everyone’s emergency kit.

An entrenching tool is a multi-use tool that can help you dig fire pits, saw branches, or dig through the snow.

How you choose to use the tool can make it become need it to be whether you are in trouble or camping.

What is an Entrenching Tool?

folding army entreching toolAn entrenching shovel (or tool) is more than just a shovel.

Designed by the United States Army to be small and compact, the shovel can fit in backpacks, cars, or any out-of-the-way location you need it.

The shovel design is smaller than a child’s shovel, but it is made with solid metals that help it survive in all kinds of weather and situations.

What are the key features of a successful Entrenching Tool?

The U.S. military developed the entrenching tool to fit in service packs. They needed to be tough and be the universal tool for use in the field. There are multiple variations of that tool on the market that you can use and explore with a bit of research.

The below guide can get you started on your search:


Shaped like a regular shovel, most entrenching tools use the basic shovel design and modify it from there to make the tool versatile.

Different brands modify the original design to add more tools within the handle or carrying fire starter materials. The common designs include the below components.

Triangular shape

The tools start with the design of a shove. It has a triangular head with a sharp-pointed design.

While not all the shovels come with a very sharp edge, you can take a wet stone or file to bring the edge to a very fine point for digging into roots or breaking up certain types of ground. The shape of the head mimics that of a regular shovel, but the sharp edge makes it more able to do more than dig into the dirt.

entreching toolSerrated Edges

Many designs of the tools come with a serrated edge on at least one side of the shovelhead. The serrated shovel head lets you saw through tough roots or even wood depending on the durability of the tool and the thickness of the wood.


Built to fold up, a tri-fold design or one in which the handle and shovel twist apart are the most common. Most tools will fit easily into a backpack or the back of a car once broken down.

Locking bolts help hole the handle into a particular angle or angles depending on the shovel.


The handle is very short on most tools. If you want to dig a hole or quickly hollow out a fox hole, you will be on your knees to do this.

Most of the tools will have a handle that measures one to three feet in length, though the tri-fold design handle is only around a foot long.


While the shovel design is light and portable, it also needs to be tough and durable. Keep in mind you need something that can withstand hard digging through mud, rock, and ice without taking damage, so you will need something that has a bit more weight to it. Most entrenching tool shovels will weigh between one and four pounds with solid hinges and bolts to allow the shovel to fold up or stay open as you need.

The shovels that are lighter are a good choice if you backpack or traveling into the backcountry. The heavier shovels are a good idea for riding around the back of your truck. If you need to pack light, make sure you know what your current pack weight is and whether you can carry it and want to add an extra four pounds to your pack.


Stainless steel or high-carbon steel is the most common material you will find when looking at survival tools. Both types are heavy-duty and capable of withstanding all kinds of activities without rusting or chipping. Some types of shovels will include an aluminum handle to make the shovel lighter.


While not every type of survival tool comes with extras, many come with specially designed handles or carrying pouches that include extra items.

These extra items can be the difference between surviving a snowstorm or a broken-down truck on the highway.


Flint is one of the most likely accessories you will find with your survival shovel. The flint will either be in a side pouch attached to the main carrying bag or within the handle of your shovel. The handle of the shovel is most likely to twist open to reveal flint and other fire starter materials.

Carrying Bag

Canvas or plastic, the carrying bag can do more for you than carrying your entrenching tool.

Different types of tools will come with multiple pockets for carrying anything from flint and tinder to a compass or bottle order. The carrying bag should be as durable as the shovel because when you are in the backcountry, a bag that falls apart is of no use.

How Can you Use an Entrenching Tool?

The beauty of an entrenching tool is that you can use it for almost anything you can imagine. The design is of a shovel, but that is only one function. You can use the shovel as a pick or hammer home stakes for your tent. You can dig your jeep out of the snow or make yourself a nice deep fire pit.

entreching tool shovel in sand

Multiple Angles

Many of the tri-fold shovels lock into different positions to help you dig different types of holes or use the tool in different ways. Forty-five, ninety, and one hundred twenty degrees, as well as one hundred eight degrees, are the common angles you can lock the tri-fold shovel into. Designed by the military, the purpose of the multiple angles can help dig through different types of ground and rock.


The serrated edge of your entrenching tool is more than a tool for digging. The edge can help you saw through tree roots and smaller branches. It is not designed for sawing through trees though most can handle smaller ones if necessary. You may even use it for chopping certain types of wood

Why Should you Buy an Entrenching Tool?

You do not need to be out in the woods or working on a ranch to benefit from having a trenching tool in your truck or car. The design of the tool is compact so that you can have it for emergencies. It is not uncommon to find the shovel as part of your emergency supply box in case of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado.

The shovel is something you will want to carry in your car or truck in case of emergencies. You do not want to get stuck and realize you left it at home. The problems do not need to include you, but it is always good to have a shovel ready for when hikers get stuck on a snowy mountain, or your vehicle gets stuck in the deep mud, and you need to dig down to give your vehicle traction.

What is the Best Entrenching Tool?

The best entrenching tool is the one that will meet the needs you expect and the ones you do not. Entrenching tools are handy for everyone to use from the shovel to any added accessories.

Here are some of the best entrenching tools you can get today:

Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade

Stars: 4.8 out of 5

Main Features:

  • Two-pound weight
  • Folds out with locking mechanisms
  • Powder Coated Boron Carbon Steel
  • 7075 Aluminum Shaft


  • The tool is small enough to keep in your car.
  • You can lock the shovel at a ninety-degree angle.
  • The shovel is solid.


  • The shovel can have trouble locking.
  • The shovel can rust if the paint comes off.

US GI Military Original Issue E-Tool Entrenching Shovel

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

Main Features:

  • Steel blade
  • Aluminum handle
  • Tri-folding design
  • Serrated Saw Edge
  • Two locking positions


  • You can use the shovel in tight spaces.
  • The shovel has a good weight for multiple jobs.
  • You can use the shovel in two locking conditions.


  • The paint can chip.
  • The screws can come loose.

Glock Entrenching Tool

Stars: 4.6 out of 5

Main Features:

  • Lightweight
  • Four Locking Positions
  • Extendable Telescopic Handle
  • High-Impact Resistant Polymer


  • You can lock the blade into four different positions.
  • You can cut through deep roots.
  • The head of the shovel is hardened steel.


  • The shovel can collapse while digging.
  • The handle can bend during use.

SOG Folding Shovel Survival Shovel

Stars: 4.4 out of 5

Main Features:

  • High-Carbon Steel Construction
  • Carrying Case
  • Wood Saw Edge
  • Durable Locking Mechanism
  • Trifold design


  • The shovel folds up small for transport.
  • You can dig the shovel into ice.
  • You can use the shovel for backpacking.


  • The shovel can bend.
  • The latch can break.

iunio Folding Shovel

Stars: 4.5 stars out of 5

Main Features:

  • Extension Bar
  • Bottle Opener
  • Emergency Whistle
  • Fire Bar
  • High-Carbon Steel
  • Compass
  • Serrated Edge


  • The shovel is portable.
  • The serrated edge is perfect for digging roots.
  • The handle is comfortable to hold.


  • The head can pop off.
  • The bolts can rust quickly.

Yeacool Tactical Survival Folding Shovel

Stars: 4.3 out of 5

Main Features:

  • Folding Design
  • Adjustable Handle
  • Screw-Twist Lock
  • Waterproof storage tube
  • Forty-inches maximum length
  • Sixteen-inches minimum
  • Bottle Opener
  • Hex Wrench
  • Compass
  • Screw Driver
  • Emergency Whistle


  • The shovel has an extendable Handle.
  • You can cut wood with the shovel.
  • The carrying bag is as durable as the shovel.


  • The shovel may be too heavy for some users.
  • The shovel is not cheap.

REDCAMP Military Folding Camping Shovel

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

Main Features:

  • Maximum weight of two and a half pounds
  • Foldable
  • Ninety-degree angle digging capabilities
  • Carrying Pouch
  • High-Carbon Steel
  • 1.5-millimeter thick shovelhead
  • Serrated edge
  • Pickaxe


  • The shovel is very sturdy for digging in all kinds of soils.
  • The shovel comes with a pickaxe for breaking up dirt and rock.
  • The shovel folds up small for backpacking and camping.


  • The handle is not aluminum.
  • The locking mechanism can fail to lock.

Final Thoughts

Choosing tools for emergencies and being prepared can take time. It is not uncommon to have multiple tools in all your cars or your work truck. The best of them is the Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade.

The Gerber E-Tool Folding shovel is a heavy-duty multi-use tool. A serrated edge and a reinforced blade will let you saw through ice, snow, or wood. It is also lightweight at only two pounds with a wide-handled design that is easy to maneuver around the backcountry.

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