Top 13 Best Survival Shovels

Best Survival Shovels
Top Tactical Shovels

I tested 13 survival shovels and found the Sahara Sailor Survival Shovel to be the best one. 

A folding survival shovel can be the perfect addition to a camping or hiking trip. Survival shovels are also great items to store in your car in case of an emergency or include in a bug-out bag. 

If you’re new to the world of survival tools or just want to up your camping game, a survival shovel is a solid choice to add to your arsenal of outdoor tools. It’s the multitool to beat all multitools, boasting features that include a shovel, ax, saw, compass, and more, all packed into one compact shovel. 

I chose the Sahara Sailor Survival Shovel as the best overall for several reasons. Between the mid-range weight, variety of tools, and durable materials, the Sailor offers all of the options you could want in a shovel without compromising quality.

Of course, it’s not the only stellar survival shovel available. There are plenty of options that are ideal for heavy-duty work, the perfect size for your backpack, or full of unique features. 

Fortunately, I’ve done the hard work of testing out some of the best shovels for you. Keep reading to explore the various options and choose the perfect one for your travels and adventures.

The Best Survival Shovels Available

We took a hard look at the selection of survival shovels on the market today and came up with 13 that we felt stood out from the crowd. Here’s a quick breakdown of the shovels we tested out and what we feel they’re best for. 

ShovelBest for…
Sahara Sailor Survival Shovel Best Overall
Tyger Military Folding ShovelBest Afforadble Shovel
Fivejoy Survival Tactical Shovel MultitoolBest for Your Backpack
Iunio Folding ShovelBest Basic Multitool
Gerber E-ToolBest Basic Shovel
Linatral Folding Shovel and Survival AxeBest for Durability
M48 Kommando Survival ShovelBest Lightweight Shovel
RHINO Folding Survival ShovelMost Compact
Zune LotooBest Heavy Duty Work Tactical Shovel
The TentLab Backcountry TrowelBest Mini Option
Harvet Military Portable ShovelBest for the Car or Shed
Pathway North Survival ShovelBest for MOLLE Gear
EST Gear Survival ShovelBest for Unique Features

Sahara Sailor Survival Shovel – Best Overall Multi Tool

Material: Carbon steel and aluminum

Number of Tools: 23

Weight: 3.5 pounds

Dimensions: 10×8 inches (folded)

Foldable? Yes

If you need a multitool that truly does it all, the Sahara Sailor is a great choice. The flashy design conceals a whopping 23 essential survival tools, including four wrenches, a hammer, a screwdriver, and a cleaver, along with all the basic tools you’d expect in a survival shovel. 

The Sahara Sailor has a nice, sturdy handle that you can extend to 39.5 inches, which gives you a greater reach than many of the other options. So not only can you dig deeper, but you can also get better leverage if you need to use it as a pry-bar or saw branches that are higher up.

At 3.5 pounds, this one is perfect if you’re looking for something to keep in the car, take camping, or stick in your bug-out bag, although it might get a bit heavy for a backpacking trip. 

Tyger Military Folding Shovel – Best Mid-Range Folding Shovels

Material: Anodized aluminum

Number of Tools: 16

Weight: 3 pounds

Dimensions: 12.2 x 7.7 inches

Foldable? Yes

The first on the list is the Tyger Military Folding Shovel. The Tyger survival shovel has so much going for it. It’s made from durable anodized aluminum, giving it unparalleled durability. You can seamlessly switch between each of its 16 tools using the smooth switch mechanism, which makes it simple to use.

The Tyger offers a lot of tools, although not quite as many as other contenders. However, it managed to pack all of the survival shovel essentials, including a hacksaw, rescue whistle, fire starter, and knife, into one sleek package.

This option weighs only 3 pounds and folds down to 12.2×7.7 inches flat, which puts it right in the middle of the road in terms of weight. If a low base weight in your backpack isn’t a concern on a trip outdoors, this one will be great. Otherwise, it’s a good option to stow in your trunk for emergencies. 

Fivejoy Military Folding Shovel Multitool – Best for Your Backpack

Material: Carbon steel and aerospace-grade aluminum

Number of Tools: 16

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Dimensions: 13.3×4.5 inches

Foldable? Yes, folding shovels

Attention hikers, campers, and trailblazers: this just might be the perfect survival shovel for you.

The Fivejoy Military Folding Shovel boasts 16 functions, including a fish scale, ax, paracord, and hammer, giving it complete versatility in the wild. So whether you need to survive a night in the woods or just want to free up some space in your pack, the Fivejoy multitool is a great choice.

One of the nice things about this option is the adjustable blade. The handle has a lock adjustment feature that lets you lock the blade at 30, 85, or 180 degrees to give you more flexibility when working. These adjustments make it easy to reach high places or quickly dig trenches.

The best part? This shovel is only 1.2 pounds, so if you want to keep that backpack base weight down, this shovel will be the perfect option. Also, if you run out of room in your pack or have your hands full with firewood, you can attach it to your belt for easy transport. 

Iunio Military Portable Folding Shovel – Best Basic Multi tool

Material: Carbon steel

Number of Tools: 9

Weight: 1.39 pounds

Dimensions: 6.5×5.1 inches folded

Folding Shovel? Yes

The Iunio Military Portable Folding Shovel is the perfect option if you want a multitool but don’t need all of the features you might find in a shovel, such as the Tyger. Its also an affordable shovel.

The Iunio shovel is made of sturdy carbon steel that has passed through rigorous testing, proving it can hold up to a lot of abuse. Although it folds up nicely, it comes with two extension bars that let you extend the handle up to 31 inches.

The Iunio offers the basic features you’d find in any survival shovel with a few added extras, featuring tools including a pickaxe, compass, and saw. So if you want something lightweight and sturdy but doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, this is a great option.

The main downside to this shovel is that the included icepick doesn’t attach to the handle, which can make it a bit cumbersome to use. However, as far as survival shovels go, this one definitely warrants a place on our list.

Gerber E-Tool – Best Basic Shovel

Material: Carbon steel

Number of Tools: 2

Weight: 2 pounds

Dimensions: 9×5 inches

Folding Shovel? Yes

Sometimes, simplicity is key. So if you’re looking for a simple shovel that you can store under your seat in case of an emergency, the Gerber E-Tool is all you need. This shovel is made of high-quality carbon steel and is the perfect mix of simplicity and functionality.

The Gerber shovel has a nice, sharp, serrated edge on the head that easily saws through roots, brush, and frozen ground. Its ergonomic locking handle also makes this tool more comfortable to hold. 

If you’d like to try out the level of quality Gerber offers with a bit of extra functionality, you can also check the upgraded E-Tool option that includes an attachable pick.

The main downside to this option is that it doesn’t come with a sheath. It’s also a bit on the pricier side, but considering its composition, it will likely last a long time. 

Liantral Folding Shovel and Survival Axe – Best for Durability

Material: Carbon steel and aerospace-grade aluminum

Number of Tools: 11

Weight: 4.5 pounds

Dimensions: 15×8 (folded)

Foldable? Yes

The Liantral survival shovel ax packs 11 tools into one lightweight shovel. Its carbon steel and aluminum construction makes this option both lightweight and durable, and the extension bars let you extend the handle up to 30 inches.

The shovel head is outfitted with three hex wrenches, a bottle opener, and a saw. Also included are an ax, spear, firestarter, and knife, and it comes with a waist pouch for easy carrying. Since it’s a bit on the heavier side, we’d recommend this one for use while camping, as an emergency vehicle tool, or in the backyard.

The main downside to this one is that the ax is best for cutting up thinner branches instead of splitting logs. However, if you’re out camping and need to split smaller pieces of wood or scrape bark, it should be more than sufficient.

M48 Kommando Survival Shovel – Best Lightweight Shovel

Material: Stainless steel and fiberglass/nylon

Number of Tools: 3

Weight: 7 ounces

Dimensions: 15×10 inches

Foldable? No

If you want something compact, lightweight, and non-nonsense, then you should check out the M48 Survival Shovel. This little giant can chop, saw, dig, and even defend just like the entrenching tools it was designed after.

Although this shovel doesn’t fold up like some of the other survival shovels, it’s small and lightweight enough that you can strap it to your pack or throw it in the trunk without worrying about being weighed down. In addition, the head can be sharpened quite well, so be sure to use the included sheath to avoid accidental cuts or scrapes.  

The main downside we found is that the M48 Kommando doesn’t have an all-metal construction. Although the nylon-fiberglass handle is strong, it’s hard to say how it’ll stand up to the test of time. 

RHINO Folding Survival Shovel – Most Compact

Material: Carbon steel

Number of Tools: 3

Weight: 2 pounds

Dimensions: 7×5 inches folded

Foldable? Yes

The RHINO survival shovel is excellent due to its compactness. It extends to 31 inches in length but breaks down to only 7 inches long, making it one of the smallest options on our list. This product is the most basic survival shovel we chose, offering only two saw options on the shovel blade, a pickaxe, and a locking handle.

Although it doesn’t have as many features as some of the other shovels, the RHINO makes up for that in sturdiness. You can use this shovel to dig your car out of the snow, build a latrine at your campsite, or dig up treasure when you go out metal detecting.

The main thing we weren’t crazy about was the shovel’s tip. Many of the other options we tested out tapered to a sharp point at the end. However, the RHINO has a rounded point. It’s still a great tool, but if we could change anything, it would be that. This RHINO model might be an ideal survival shovel for beginner campers and hikers to accompany them on their first adventures.

Zune Lotoo Annihilate Tactical Shovel – Best Tactical Shovel

Material: Carbon steel and aluminum

Tools: 23

Weight: 3.97 pounds

Dimensions: 11.8×8.7 (disassembled)

Foldable? No

The Zune Lotoo Annihilate might be the most fearsome-looking best tactical shovels on this list, living right up to its name. The aviation-grade aluminum makes the head of this shovel nice and lightweight without compromising strength. 

The Annihilate features a 7Key angle lock, which lets you adjust the shovel’s head from 0-150 degrees with one hand. It’s a great tool to take camping, hunting, or stick in your vehicle for emergencies. 

The main downside to this shovel is its size. At just about 4 pounds and measuring approximately 12×9 inches when disassembled, it’s certainly one of the largest on the list. However, considering its durability and versatility, it’ll be a great addition to your outdoor gear. 

The other thing we didn’t like is that the basic model doesn’t come with a pouch like many of the others. Since these shovels tend to be pretty sharp, we’d definitely recommend purchasing the upgraded model that comes with a carrying bag.

Yeacool Camping Shovel – Best Mini Option

Material: Carbon steel

Number of Tools: 4

Weight: 1.19 pounds

Dimensions: 5.12×4 inches folded

Foldable? Yes

If you’re low on space in your pack or trunk but still want the perks of a survival shovel, you can check out the Yeacool Camping Shovel. This option works great as a trowel, pickaxe, hoe, or nail-puller and won’t take up nearly as much space as the full-size shovels listed here.

The Yeacool shovel opens up to just over 16 inches and folds to a compact 5×4 inches that you can easily store in the included pouch. In addition, the carrying pouch can be attached to your belt loops, freeing up your hands if you’re lugging firewood or giving you a bit of extra room in your pack. 

Harvet Military Portable Shovel – Best for the Car or Shed

Material: Stainless steel

Number of Tools: 11

Weight: 3.19 pounds

Dimensions: 8×6 inches

Foldable? No

Made of heavy-duty stainless steel, the Harvet Military Portable Shovel offers durability and usefulness, all in one compact package. It includes the survival shovel basics, including a saw, ax, and hammer. 

The shovel’s handle adjusts to 15, 22, or 35 inches. The head can be locked in at 45, 90, or 180 degrees, giving you maximum hooking, digging, and hoeing reach. The Harvet is a bit heavy despite its size, weighing in at just under 4 pounds.

Due to its weight, we’d recommend this shovel as a great option to keep in your truck, RV, or shed. It will be great for heavy-duty work, like gardening or digging your car out of the snow or mud.

Pathway North Survival Shovel

Material: Stainless Steel (shovel and handle), chromium, and carbon (ax head)

Number of Tools: 12

Weight: 4 pounds

Dimensions: 11×9 inches

Foldable? No

The Pathway North Survival Shovel offers digging, chopping, and survival capabilities that are tough to beat. This tool is tough enough to shatter a window if you’re trapped in a vehicle, split firewood while in the forest, or clear ground if you need to make camp.

The Pathway North includes a fire starter, whistle, hex wrenches, screwdrivers, and a window breaker, in addition to all the basics you’d expect from a survival shovel. Its weight makes it sturdy enough to put up with everyday use, and its stainless steel construction will keep it rust-free if you don’t use it often.

The included storage bag is fully MOLLE-compatible. So whether you’re a survivalist or a stranded motorist, this shovel has you covered.

The biggest issue we noticed is that you need to grease up the threads a bit before assembling the shovel. You’ll also need to put a bit of extra force behind your twists to make sure it’s all locked in tight.

EST Gear Survival Shovel – Best for Unique Features

Material: Carbon steel and aluminum

Number of Tools: 19

Weight: 3 pounds

Dimensions: 10×6 inches

Foldable? Yes

The EST Gear Survival Shovel has sturdy carbon steel and aluminum, making it both lightweight and versatile. The handle extends to nearly three feet in length, and the head is made of reinforced hardened steel, making it perfect for performing strenuous tasks. 

Compared to the other shovels on our list, the EST shovel is near the top in terms of features. Not only does it offer the standard survival shovel tools, including an ax, fire starter, and saw, but it also includes a few features we didn’t see in the other products, including a ruler, waterproof compartment, and spearhead. 

The EST shovel is one of our favorites because the designers seemed to think of all the little things you may need but might not realize until you’re out in the wild. 

The main thing we would’ve liked to see is more flexibility in terms of angling the head. Many of the other options we reviewed featured various locking angles, so you could easily use the shovel as a hoe or hook. Unfortunately, the EST shovel only offers a 90-degree option.

What Makes a Great Survival Shovel?

A survival shovel will make cutting branches, navigating the forest, and digging yourself out of the mud a cinch. Or, if you’re not the camping type, you can use one in your backyard garden to replace a few standard gardening tools. 

The best part? Survival shovels often fold up nice and flat, so they’re easy to store in your shed, pack, or car.

With all of the survival shovel options available, it’s important to know how to narrow down what makes one shovel stand out from the others. 


One of the key things we looked at in our shovel tests was durability. A survival tool should be able to stand up to the harshest of circumstances. That means you should only choose shovels made with materials and features that can take a beating. 


In a survival or emergency situation, the last thing you want is to have to fuss with assembling a tool. The best survival shovels either unfold in a snap or offer quick assembly. And, whenever possible, you should be able to make adjustments one-handed.

Sharp Blades

Survival shovels typically come with a sharpened blade, along with a sawing edge. In some cases, a knife also comes as part of the multitool. If your shovel comes with any blades, each one should maintain its sharpness. Unfortunately, if you need to sharpen your blade after each use, you probably purchased a poor-quality product. 


Some shovels are more portable than others. Those that claim to be portable will fold or break down so that they can be stored easily. But physical size isn’t the only factor. You also want to keep weight in mind, too, if you plan to carry your shovel with you on the trail. 

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Shovel

No two shovel needs are alike, so it’s important not to automatically purchase the first highly-rated shovel you see. You certainly want to buy a top-rated product, but why spend money on features you don’t need? 

So, before you click the checkout button, ask yourself these questions first. 

What Do I Need the Shovel For?

A true survivalist will need to pack as many tools into one space as possible. So whether you’re planning a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail or want to be fully prepped to live off the land, a shovel with more features is best.

However, if you simply want something to keep in the trunk of your car in case of emergencies, a more basic shovel will be your best bet. Not only will it be lighter, but it will also be easier to use.

How Often Do I Plan to Use It?

Frequency of use should be a factor when deciding what type of shovel you want to buy. If you know your shovel will see weekly or daily use, go for something durable and long-lasting. The more heavy-duty options tend to cost more, but they will be worth it in the long run.

On the other hand, if you don’t plan to put your shovel through a lot of rigorous use, a lower-priced option that’s also highly rated will be more than sufficient.

What Size Do I Need?

Most survival shovels resemble a standard garden shovel in size. However, if you’re low on space, smaller options that are the size of a spade or trowel are available, too.

Remember, the bigger the blade, the quicker the job gets done. So if you’re in the woods building a trench or digging your car out of a snowbank, bigger will be better. 

How Much Do I Want to Spend?

As with most survival gear, you get what you pay for when it comes to shovels. Although some might be overpriced, you should generally be prepared to pay for good quality.

High-quality materials such as carbon steel are more expensive. Still, the tradeoff is that the product will last much longer than cheaper materials. So even if you only need your shovel for a weekend trip, you don’t want to buy something that will break and leave you high and dry.

Survival Shovel FAQ

If you still have some questions, the answers below might help you out!

What types of survival shovels are there?

There are three basic types of survival shovels to choose from.

  • Rigid shovels have a solid construction, meaning you don’t have to unfold or assemble them in order to use them. The main downside to this is that they aren’t as portable as other versions.
  • Foldable shovels do as the name implies. They fold open, locking in place to ensure maximum efficiency. Then, when not in use, you simply fold the shovel flat and store it. 
  • Assembly-required shovels may require you to attach the head to the handle. However, putting these shovels together is usually straightforward, and this feature often leads to more versatility in terms of handle length and uses. 

What are some examples of a survival shovel’s uses?

We covered what types of environments a survival shovel works great in, but here are some specific examples of what you can use a survival shovel for.

  • Break the Ice: If your shovel came with an ice pick, you could use it to chip away ice on a frozen lake to get drinking water. Although, you should only do this if you know the water is potable or if you have a portable filtration device.
  • Dig a Latrine: Camping doesn’t come with a restroom, but you still need to be courteous to those who might come through your site once you leave. So, you can use your survival shovel to dig a latrine hole that you’ll simply fill back in once you leave. 
  • Build a Shelter: If you need to build a shelter while out in the wild, a survival shovel equipped with a strong blade and paracord can help make it easier. You can trim down some branches to make a dry base, then use the paracord and a tarp to create a covering to keep you dry.
  • Cook up Breakfast: Although you might not want to make it your daily routine, if you’re in a pinch, you can actually use the blade of your shovel for cooking a meal. Just remember that direct contact with a flame could eventually compromise your shovel, so it’s best to save this trick for emergencies only. 

Can I use a survival shovel for self-defense?

While theoretically, you can use any shovel for self-defense, the survival shovel is specially equipped to handle many of the dangers you might encounter in the wild. From snakes to intruders, the specialized shovel head can help get you out of many sticky situations. 

How do I care for my survival shovel?

Just like any tool, your survival shovel should always be properly cared for. You should clean it thoroughly after each use, especially if it got wet or dirty, as those things can lead to rust or damage. 

If your shovel has a blade on the shovel head or knife, make sure they’re always sharpened. The last thing you want is to get stuck in the wild with a dull blade. Be careful, though. A sharp edge is often safer than a dull one, but it’s also easier to accidentally hurt yourself. So always keep the blades covered when not in use. 

What does “MOLLE-compatible” mean?

MOLLE stands for “Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment” and is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists for load-bearing equipment. 

MOLLE backpacks and rucksacks are made of heavy-duty nylon and have various attachments for knives, tools, magazines, and other equipment. 

The goal of the MOLLE system is to keep as much of your gear contained within your pack as possible so your hands remain free. It’s perfect for camping, hunting, backpacking, and other outdoor activities that require a lot of equipment.

A tool such as a survival shovel that claims to be “MOLLE-compatible” should have straps that allow you to easily clip it to your backpack or rucksack. 

Is it better to get a shovel that bends or one that’s rigid?

Several of the shovels on this list have a feature that allows you to lock the head into various positions. This type of adjustment will enable you to use your shovel as a hoe or hook. Whether or not you need this feature depends entirely on your purposes.

If you think you’ll need the most versatile survival shovel option, one that bends is a must. However, if your main goal is to have a tool for digging or sawing, a rigid one such as the Kommando will be just fine.

What are the must-have tools on a survival shovel?

The purpose of a survival shovel multitool is to help you out of emergencies or to give you an all-in-one tool for the wild. 

Regardless of your own intended use, a good survival shovel will have a saw (usually found on the side of the shovel head), an emergency whistle, and a firestarter. These options will help you keep warm if you’re stuck overnight, call out for help, and dig yourself out of muddy or snowy situations.

What’s the difference between carbon steel and stainless steel?

Not all metals are created equal. Carbon steel and stainless steel are no exception. However, they both make a strong, long-lasting material for survival tools. 

Stainless steel is a blend of steel and chromium. Since chromium won’t suffer oxidation like standard steel, it helps you enjoy the benefits of steel’s strength without the hindrance of rust.

On the other hand, carbon steel is steel with a high carbon content. High-carbon steel is incredibly strong, which is why so many manufacturers use it to create blades and tools. 

Despite its increased strength, carbon steel can still fall victim to oxidation. If you purchase a survival shovel made of carbon steel, you can be confident in its durability, but you also have to commit to properly caring for it.

Are there alternatives to the survival shovel?

A survival shovel is the premier multitool, so there isn’t a true single substitute for one. If you’re looking for alternative options, you’ll have to put your survival kit together piecemeal. 

That means purchasing a shovel, firestarter, saw, compass, and other tools individually and finding space for them in your pack. If your goal is a low base weight or to free up space in your vehicle or bag, your best bet is to go for an all-in-one.

Final Thoughts

All in all, a survival shovel is a great tool to add to your collection. Survival shovels make great gifts for new drivers, add value to your hiking pack, and can be lifesavers in some situations. 

Our top pick is the Sahara Sailor Survival Shovel, thanks to the impressive 23 tools included and reasonable weight. If you’re looking for something super lightweight, you might want to pick the M48 Kommando Survival Shovel, while the Zune Lotoo Tactical Shovel saves you the most space in your backpack.

Whichever option you choose, make sure it suits your needs, gives the best bang for your buck, and will do exactly as the name suggests–help you survive.