When it comes to the great outdoors, preparation is everything. But just as important to outdoor exploration is the ability to travel light. That’s why every devoted outdoorsman understands the value of multifunctional gear. If a tool is an ounce overweight and performs one function too few, it’s staying at home. A handy and utilitarian tool worth its weight is a tactical shovel.
In addition to digging, the best tactical shovels are packed with handy survival features, whether that’s a fire starter that fits in the shaft or a saw on the blade. Of course, these shovel multitools are going to take up substantially more space and weight than your average Leatherman. They’re lightweight, but these shovels do add a non-negligible amount of weight to your pack — anywhere between two and five pounds. That said, the functions these shovels perform allow you to leave other single-use tools behind, which helps justify their size and weight.
Our favorite tactical shovels have collapsible handles, and within these handles are handy survival tools like knives, whistles, screwdrivers and yes, even bottle openers. In addition to the cutting edge of the shovel blade, most tactical shovels have features like an axe and a serrated edge on the sides of the blade. These are the best tactical shovels to get right now.
1. Rhino USA Folding Survival Shovel w/Pick
This survival shovel has a folding handle and blade, and that, coupled with the handy carrying pouch, makes this a highly portable option for camping or for use in a bug-out bag. The large handle also makes this tool easy to grip and use. The folding blade allows it to be used as a hoe or as a pick. The shovel is made from powder-coated steel, making it abrasion-resistant.
Pros: Includes pickaxe on the end. Ergonomic handle design. Easily folds into itself and comes with a storage bag.
Cons: No built-in extras like whistles and fire starters.
2. TAC9ER Tactical Multitool Shovel
If you’re looking for a tool that can perform a lot of functions, then this multitool shovel from TAC9ER is the one to get. Besides the obvious digging functions, this shovel has a magnesium fire starter, a compass, a flathead and Phillips head bit, a rescue knife, a saw, two hex drivers a safety hammer and, of course, a bottle opener. The entire tool is 29 inches long but folds down to a compact size that fits into a carrying pouch. The entire tool weighs a light 2.2 pounds.
Pros: Lightweight and packed with features including a compass, drill bits and a safety hammer. Collapses and fits into a carrying pouch.
Cons: Could be sturdier.
3. FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel
This folding shovel from FiveJoy has several components built into the handle, and you can remove the extension shaft if you need the minimum amount of weight possible. Within the handle is a whistle, magnesium rod, bottle opener and food cutter. The blade of the shovel has a folding design that allows it to function as a hook or entrenching tool.
Pros: Includes handy storage bag. Multiple tools built into the handle including a fire starter and whistle. Folding blade design.
Cons: No pickaxe on the head.
4. Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade
Gerber, not to be confused with the baby food company, is one of the most trusted brands when it comes to tactical knives and tools. If you’re already well-stocked when it comes to fire starters, knives and the like, then stick with a basic entrenching tool like this trustworthy option. It easily folds into itself for convenient carrying, and the large handle makes it easy to hold. The shovel is also assembled in the US.
Pros: Dependable and lightweight tool from a trusted brand. Made from sturdy and lightweight materials like glass-filled nylon, a carbon steel spade and a 7075 aluminum handle.
Cons: No sheath included.