How to Find the Best Entrenching Tool for Camping

An entrenching tool, or otherwise known as a collapsable shovel, may seem frivolous to an average person, but to outdoorsmen and survivalists, they are a vital tool.


Soldiers use them to dig a hole for protection, while campers use them to clear land for a tent or dig a sanitation ditch. The best entrenching tool is useful in more ways than one.

Uses of an entrenching tool​

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Historically, entrenching tools were used by soldiers to dig ditches and tunnels and break down walls.

They were also used as a weapon in close combat. Nowadays, soldiers still have them in their gear, but they've also become such an important tool for backpacking and camping.

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Here are some common uses of an e-tool: You can use it to clear a campsite and leveling the ground. You can also dig a rain trench to redirect water away from your tent.

  • It’s important to keep your waste properly so you should dig a compost pit. You can also use an e-tool to dig a latrine hole
  • If there are no fire pits yet in the campground, you can use the e-tool to make one. A fire pit is important because it contains the fire and prevents it from
  • Digging a compost pit
  • Saw through roots or branches
  • Getting your vehicle out of snow

Here are some unconventional uses of an entrenching tool:

  • You can use the spade as a cooking top.
  • If you don't want to sit directly on the ground, you can use it as a seat.
  • In the case of emergencies, you can use it as a weapon for self-defense.
  • You can use it as a paddle.
  • After you've dug a hole for your toilet, you can use use the e-tool to hold your toilet paper.
  • Some E-tools have sharp edges for chopping wood.

How to find the right entrenching tool

The best kind of e-tool is versatile and multipurpose, but it best that you consider what you will likely use it for. This will help you determine the right one.

For instance, if you plan on carrying it around for a long hike, a lighter shovel is ideal. However, these kinds may not be as strong for hard ground. Here are some other considerations you should take:​


An E-tool is only as good as its design and the materials it is made of. The blade is usually high-carbon steel or stainless steel, while the handle can be metal, wooden, or plastic.

You should also look for a blade that has a black oxide coating that prevents corrosion. Keep in mind that the materials are determinants of durability and weight.

Metal handles are more durable than plastic or wood, but they are also much heavier.


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E-tools can have a fixed design or a foldable one. Foldable ones are easier to carry since they transform to a smaller size that can fit in a backpack. When choosing an entrenching tool, think about the weight and size.

Carry case/cover​

A carry case is necessary, especially for those who will be hiking long distances with it. If you want to just leave it in the trunk of your vehicle or something like that, then it might not be necessary.

However, a carry case or cover protects your tool from environmental factors that could hasten or cause damage.

Other features

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A simple shovel/e-tool can do the basics, but you might be able to find something that can do more than just digging. For instance, some e-tools have sawing capability on one edge. There are also some that have a compass on the handle.

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Best Entrenching Tool​

1. Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade, Serrated Edge

When it comes to tools, you'll almost always find a Gerber product as one of the best. They are after all one of the leading brands of knives and tools. The Gerber E-tool is a folding survival shovel with a spade that is made of boron carbon steel.

The shaft is a high grade anodized aluminum, while the handle is glass infused nylon. Overall, it's built with very strong and very durable materials.

This e-tool is a great option for hunting, camping, and backpacking, weighing around 2.6 pounds. It has a folded length of 9.37 inches and expands to 23.75 inches. One edge is serrated for sawing purposes.

Best for: Backpacking, camping, hunting.​


  • Strong enough for most kinds of terrain for camping, hunting, and backpacking needs.
  • The handle design allows for a firm grip.
  • Very durable materials.
  • It features a locking mechanism that secures unfolded


  • Slightly heavier than some options but overall, it’s a good weight - strength ratio.
  • The coating doesn’t hold very well.

2. US GI Military Original Issue E-Tool Entrenching Shovel


The fact that this E-tool is made for the US Military should tell you that this one is tough and durable. Among the options, this E-tool can perform even the toughest of jobs when it comes to digging.

It has a sharp steel ax edge and a saw edge, and a hard and durable aluminum handle/ The tool is finished with black powder coating to prevent corrosion.

The tri-fold design makes it a good option for camping and backpacking. It folds to only 9 inches, and it extends to 24 inches. However, it is slightly heavier than some of the other options, weighing at 2.48 pounds. Still, this e-tool is a tough one to beat. It is expensive, but I think the quality is worth the investment.

Best for heavy duty performance​


  • It’s very strong and durable, able to break through tougher ground.
  • Tri-fold design allows for easy carry and storage.
  • Saw edge is convenient and offers more functions to the E-tool.


  • The coating chips off easily, exposing it to premature corrosion.
  • Joints need maintenance to fight off rust.
  • It has a slightly higher price than most of the options.

3. Glock Entrenching Tool


The Glock E-tool isn't anything gaudy; it has a simple yet very practical design. The high-grade polymer shaft extends like a telescope to allow a comfortable two-handed grip.

The absence of welding and rivets improves endurance and durability. You can fold the blade in four different positions, so it's very versatile.

Another great thing about this E-tool is that it comes with a saw. It's not on the spade but it extends from the handle, so it easier to use. It also comes with a holster that you can easily stick to your belt for easy reach and quick draw action.

Best for: Camping, backpacking; light to moderate duty.​


  • The handle has a removable saw.
  • It’s very easy to extend and keep. It’s very compact when folded, ideal for space saving activities.
  • It can withstand most soft to common ground.


  • The blade is dull. You can sharpen it, but it’s also just right for most camping needs.

4. Cold Steel 92SFS Special Forces Shovel

This shovel has got to be the simplest one on the list, in a sense that it has an unfoldable design. It’s about 20 inches long and 1.6 pounds heavy, with a shovel head that is 2mm of medium carbon steel.

The socket is also medium carbon steel, but the handles are hardwood.

This shovel gets its shape from the original Soviet Spetznaz shovel. The medium carbon steel was heat treated to improve the strength further.

It has three sharp edges that make digging and chopping branches easy. It's also popularly used for sport and recreational throwing. When you get this shovel, you will also get a Cor-Ex sheath.

Best for recreational throwing.​


  • Sharp edges can cut through branches. You can also use it as a hatchet if needed since the head is heavy and sharp enough.
  • It’s lightweight.


  • Since it is not foldable, it’s not ideal for backpacking and other space saving instances. Other than that, it’s a great option for most activities.

5. SOG Entrenching Tool F08-N


The SOG Entrenching Tool F08-N is the best selling in camping shovels for awesome reasons. By the way, it looks, you'd think it's expensive, but it's very affordable.

The tool is made of high carbon steel with a black powder coating that is corrosion resistant. It has a tempered steel blade fit for cutting and slashing and one serrated edge for sawing.

This e-tool has a triangular handle that ensures a secure grip for either hand. It folds three times and has a nylon sheath for easy carry. The full length is 18.25 inches, and it weighs only 1.5 pounds.

It might be quite small for tough grounds. However, for basic camping needs like fire pit, and other light duty work, this shovel is more than enough.

Best for: Camping and backpacking; light duty use.​


  • It's folded to a very compact, portable size. It’s also lightweight.
  • The black powder coating prevents corrosion.
  • Reasonable price for a great e-tool.
  • It comes with a nylon carry case with gear loops.


  • Some find it too small that it’s not comfortable to use.


Entrenching tools can be very basic or have so many accessories. Your preference has the highest influence, but we think that with e-tools, there is power in simplicity.

It's a very straightforward too, so you don't need much. The best kind has a good weight-strength ratio, comes at a good price, is portable, and easy to use. A sheath or a carry bag is also a plus.

The E-tools on this list are great in their ways, but the best one, in my opinion, is the Gerber E-tool.

It's got strong, sharp edges, a saw edge, and durable handles, all at a very reasonable price. It’s also one of the best ones for heavy duty work or hard terrain. Finally, it folds into a nice compact size for backpacking and camping.

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