Best 7 Camping Shovels for Digging in the Wild

Home » Camping » Accessories » Best 7 Camping Shovels for Digging in the Wild


If you’re in a rush and want to know what the best camping shovel is, we recommend the MOSFiATA camping shovel.

For those of us who grew up going to camper cabins or well established campsites, outhouses were probably a common scene. When it was time to go to the bathroom, it was easy to take care of business like normal – albeit, without any way to flush afterwards.

But now you’re spending the night far away from any designated restroom, and you’re realizing you’ll need to squat behind a bush somewhere. What do you do? Is it okay to just go wherever you feel like it?

And the answer to that is no. You’ll need to dig a hole, which is where a good camping shovel will come in handy. Here’s a list of our favorites.

In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following best camping shovels:

Why Do You Need a Shovel?

When you’re putting together your camping checklist, a shovel might be the last thing you think to add. A tent a sleeping bag? Sure, those are important for shelter and warmth. A camp stove and utensils? Necessary for eating and staying alive. But a shovel?

Well, let’s put it this way. Once you’ve had your meal, and your body has had a chance to process it, what are you going to do when nature calls? While you might think it’s fine to locate a nearby bush and take care of business, this is a pretty unsanitary way to handle things. Especially if you’re near a lake or river, the bacteria in your feces can contaminate the water source of the local wildlife. Even if you aren’t near water, you still run the risk of spreading diseases like typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, and many others.

But aside from that, it’s likely that you’ll be camping in a place that’s well travelled by others like you. How would you like it if you made camp, scoped out your surroundings, and found a big pile of poop that was left behind by another camper? You’d probably find a different place to pitch your tent!

A camping shovel gives you the opportunity to bury your solid waste. Even though it’s an extra step, this is essential for preserving the environment, and maintaining a pleasant, sanitary atmosphere for both wildlife and other people.

Best Camping Shovel Features

person pushing a shovel into the ground with their foot

Unfortunately, you can’t just buy any old shovel and call it good. This is especially true for backpackers who need to be careful about how much weight is in their pack, in addition to making sure the shovel is small enough to carry. All that considered, we’ll be talking about weight, portability, multifunction, and comfortability as features to look out for in the best camping shovels.

Weight

When you think of a normal digging shovel, you probably imagine the style that’s used for garden work or making holes to plant trees. These are usually big and bulky, and far too inconvenient to bring on any sort of camping trip. The type of camping trowels that we want to look for are going to be smaller and lightweight, so that you can easily shove it in your pack and forget about it.

Most camping shovels that you can find are going to land between 1.5-2.5 pounds. Obviously, lighter is better when you’re backpacking, but that extra pound won’t bother you too much if you’re car camping. Weight and durability usually go hand in hand, so the heavier shovels may last longer – not to mention, they tend to have added features that contribute to the weight. For example, some can transform into a hoe or pick, which require more moving parts and more metal.

Portability

No matter where you plan on bringing your camping shovel, portability should be one of your top priorities. Long handles and bulky shovelheads are difficult to pack, which is why many trowels are collapsible. However, many of the simpler designs don’t have this functionality, so you’ll have to find a place to slide it into your pack. Again, if you’re car camping, this won’t be too much of an issue to worry about.

Multifunctional

black camping shovel pushed into the snow next to pine trees

As I mentioned before, some shovels have a variety of functions, like a pick or a hoe. These can be helpful in some survival instances, or for various winter camping tasks. Other shovels have a saw blade on one edge, perfect for cutting firewood down to size if you don’t have a good bushcraft knife on hand. For many of you, these will just be extras that won’t get used too frequently (though they can be nice to have, just in case).

What I really want you to look for is a sharp bladed shovel. If you need to dig a hole in tough dirt, you’ll want something that can slice through it easily. It’ll take more time and effort to dig with a dull shovel blade, which is not going to be a pleasant experience if you really have to use the bathroom!

Comfort

Shoveling will always require some amount of effort, but you don’t have to get blisters and achy joints in the process. A well designed trowel will be comfortable and easy to use, though there are some pain points that can’t be avoided.

Since camping shovels are smaller, for the sake of weight reduction and portability, it’s unavoidable that you’ll have to hunch over to use them. It’s also difficult to push down on it with your foot, to help it carve through the earth. These things aside, though, an ergonomic shovel should be easy and relatively painless to use.

Best Camping Shovel Reviews

SOG Folding Survival Shovel

  • Material: Carbon Steel
  • Weight: 1.5 Pounds
  • Full Length: 18.25 Inches
  • Foldable: Yes

The SOG folding survival shovel is what I personally use on all of my camping trips. It’s worth noting that I only use it on camping trips, not backpacking excursions, because any shovel of this size is going to be too heavy to carry in a pack. However, be that as it may, 1.5 pounds isn’t too bad for a multifunction shovel like this.

With a folding design, it packs away nice and small as well. You don’t really have to worry about the length of the shovel (particularly the handle) getting in the way of anything else inside your pack. When closed, it’s a mere 10 inches long, and comes with a convenient fabric carry case.

The case is nice to have, if for no other reason than to act as protection against the sharp shovelhead. Made out of carbon steel, I’ve haven’t been able to find anything that can stop it. And what’s even more impressive is that it looks the same as when I first bought it, despite putting it through the wringer on multiple camping trips in a variety of biomes.

There is a partial sawtooth edge on one side of the shovelhead, too. While I haven’t had an opportunity to make use of it yet, I can certainly tell you that it’s very sharp, and is nice to have for those “in case of emergency” situations.

Pros:

– Lightweight
– Made from carbon steel
– Foldable
– High quality carry case
– Multifunctional
– Partial sawtooth edge

Cons:

– May bend under extreme pressure

REDCAMP Military Camping Shovel

  • Material: Carbon Steel
  • Weight: 2.5 Pounds
  • Full Length: 23 Inches
  • Foldable: Yes

Very similar to the camping shovel by SOG, the REDCAMP military camping shovel mostly differs in how long it is. With a 23 inch full length, you’ll be able to get a decent amount of leverage while you’re digging. You also won’t need to hunch over as much, which will be easier on your back.

However, the downside about the extra length is the extra weight. At 2.5 pounds, it’s certainly one of the heavier options, making it something I would hesitate to bring with on a backpacking trip. But, for the price, the quality is exceptional.

Whether you’re on latrine duty or want to dig a fire pit for your campsite, this sharp bladed shovelhead will get the job done. It also has a partial sawtooth edge, and can be adjusted to form the shape of a pick or hoe. So if you want a camping shovel that can do it all, this might just be the product for you.

Pros:

– Foldable
– Durable
– Fairly long full length
– Partial sawtooth edge
– Can be converted into a pick or hoe

Cons:

– The locking screw likes to get stuck

Rhino USA Survival Shovel

  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 2.35 Pounds
  • Full Length: 31 Inches
  • Foldable: Yes

Though it’s the longest product that we’ve reviewed so far, the Rhino USA survival shovel is hardly difficult to carry. As you can see in the image, the various shovel components can be screwed together, allowing you to customize the length of the handle. While that means there are more, smaller pieces to keep track of, the versatility is worth it in my opinion.

One of my biggest complaints with camping shovels is their overall lack of durability. Rocks, roots, and other hard objects can make you wonder if your shovel is actually made from steel – which is to say, the metal bends far too easily when put under stress. However, much to my surprise, this tool by Rhino USA actually seems sturdy! The carbon steel is rigid and cuts through tough earth and rocks like they’re butter.

But don’t think a shovel is all you get. There are several secret compartments in the handle that store a whistle, a fish scaler, a knife, a fire starter, and a glass breaker. And that’s not even considering the shovelhead itself, which can also second as a saw and a bottle opener. Overall, I would say that this is one of the best multitool shovels that you’ll find on the market.

Pros:

– Durable
– Extendable handle
– Sharp spade
– Multifunctional
– Collapsible to 7 inches

Cons:

– Despite the company name, the product is not made in the USA
– Would be nice if the spade was a little wider

Auzona Camping Shovel

  • Material: Steel
  • Weight: 2.7 Pounds
  • Full Length: 28 Inches
  • Foldable: Yes

Like the shovel made by Rhino USA, the Auzona camping shovel has a lot of tricks up its sleeves – or rather, inside its handle. In fact, Auzona boasts that this camping shovel has 20 functions, covering everything from digging to cutting to fire starting and much more. If you’re a fan of multitools like I am, this product is sure to win your heart over.

The steel spade can withstand quite the beating, and the 28 inch full length gives you a lot of leverage to work with. I do wish the spade was a bit wider, but I suppose that can’t be helped when you’re trying to save on space. But I mostly say that because the shovelhead itself has quite a few holes in it that let dirt pass through. These holes are of varying sizes, designed to act as wrenches – one of the 20 functions that Auzona is so proud of. While I can see the value, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a wrench like this while you’re camping. At the very least, you won’t use them enough to justify putting holes in your shovel where the dirt is supposed to go.

That’s honestly my only gripe with this product, though. From a quality perspective, it’s very well made, and the versatility is second to none. Certainly too heavy to bring on a backpacking trip (unless you left some of the handle extensions at home), but it’s perfect for a car camping trip.

Pros:

– Durable
– Long handle
– Versatile
– 20 different functions
– Sharp spade

Cons:

– Holes in the shovel for use as wrenches

Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade

  • Material: Forged Steel
  • Weight: 2.4 Pounds
  • Full Length: 23.75 Inches
  • Foldable: Yes

Many of you might be familiar with Gerber because of their knives. Personally, I’ve owned a couple over the years because I’m a fan of their quality and edge. But did you know that they make shovels as well?

The Gerber E-Tool camping shovel has the same amount of quality that you would expect from their knives. Made from forged steel, the spade is practically indestructible, if not a bit heavy. While it’s not really light enough where I would feel comfortable backpacking with it, I do know of some people who like it so much that they carry it anyway.

And really, I can’t blame them for it. After all, the shovel folds down into a convenient “rectangle” inside its carry case, making it very easy to slide it inside your pack somewhere. For the benefits of having a strong shovel that can second as a hoe or saw, it might just be worth it. Otherwise, you really can’t go wrong if you just want to take it car camping.

Pros:

– Strong material
– Decent weight
– Packs down small
– Can act as a hoe or saw
– Good length

Cons:

– The nylon locking mechanism is a bit fragile

MOSFiATA Camping Shovel

  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 2.5 Pounds
  • Full Length: 30 Inches
  • Foldable: Yes

As one of the longest shovels in this review, the MOSFiATA camping shovel is great for giving you leverage. Or at the very least, it might help spare your back from unnecessary aches and pains.

With a sleek design, the spade is made from steel, while the handle is made from aluminum. Making use of these two metals is how they managed to create a shovel that’s both lightweight and durable, giving you the best of both worlds. It’s also how you can get such an impressive full length without adding on the pounds.

Speaking of length, I’m a fan of the longer shovels because it’s easier to make use of my feet. And on the occasion that I don’t need so much handle, it’s easy to unscrew what portions are unnecessary. Since most of the weight is in the spade, you won’t be cutting back on too many ounces, but it does reduce the overall amount of bulk.

As is par for the course, the spade comes with a sawtooth edge as well. But on top of that, you also get a tactical knife, axe, whistle, bottle opener, bolt driver, and safety hammer. It’s definitely one of my favorite products, simply because of how much stuff you get shoved into one package.

Pros:

– Sleek design
– Comes with a variety of other tools
– Extendable handle
– Reasonable weight
– Compact size when disassembled

Cons:

– Some of the components feel a bit cheap
– Carry case is a bit annoying

Extremus Camping Shovel

  • Material: Carbon Steel
  • Weight: 2.5 Pounds
  • Full Length: 18 Inches
  • Foldable: Yes

Simple but effective, the Extremus camping shovel is about as basic as it gets. However, it’s also about half the price of many of the other products listed in this review. While the extra bells and whistles can be nice to have, this shovel is perfect for those of you who are on a budget or only want the shovel function.

As you might expect, the quality control is only so-so on a tool this cheap. It’s certainly not something I’d want to use for any serious amount of digging in tough environments, but it’s still capable enough to create a hole for you to do your business in. There’s also a hoe and pick function, though as far as the hoe is concerned, I’d only use it in soft dirt.

One of my favorite things about this product is actually the carry case that comes with it. Made from durable fabric, it completely encloses the shovel after it’s been folded down. This makes it easy to travel with, and also prevents you from cutting yourself on any of the sharp edges found on the spade.

Pros:

– Cheap
– Nice carry case
– Multifunctional
– Good for a variety of tasks

Cons:

– Flimsy
– Small spade

Conclusion

Camping shovels are the unsung heroes among outdoorsmen all over the world. They’re what allow you to sculp the landscape in such a way that you can prevent various types of damage from scarring the environment – whether that be in the form of fire or disease.

The best camping shovels are durable enough to cut through just about any type of terrain, while remaining lightweight and easy to transport. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have some extra features built into it as well.

For these reasons, the MOSFiATA camping shovel is our favorite out of everything on the list. With a versatile design, it’s very lightweight considering everything that’s packed into it. The length is nice for getting some extra leverage, but you can also leave most of the handle at home if you want to make it more portable.


Spencer Yeomans

Spencer Yeomans

A lover of the outdoors, and especially the mountains, Spencer has always enjoyed pushing people to step outside their comfort zones. His mission is to help others get out of their homes to have fun and stay active in nature.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top

Get My guide for FREE!

New to rock climbing and don’t know where to start? It’s an intimidating sport, but contrary to what you might initially think, it’s not completely inaccessible for beginners. To help you on your way, I’ve put together a guide I wish I had when I first started climbing. Drop your email in the box below to get a free copy today!