In the past few years, camping shovels have become very popular additions to your camping checklist. A decade ago, no one ever thought to bring a shovel with them while heading out camping. Now, people are using shovels for a variety of uses. For example, shovels are great for “fun” projects like digging a fire pit. However, shovels have many more practical uses as well.
Camping shovels are great for digging latrine holes and for digging for freshwater if you know there is a spring a couple of feet underground. Burying excess food underground and digging backstops to prevent rainwater are also great examples of how camping shovels can be extremely useful.
But, which camping shovel is the best one for you?
For this post, I’ll highlight:
- A buying guide of what you should be thinking about when looking at a camping shovel
- The five best options in 2020
- A FAQ section on key questions you might have regarding shovels while camping!
So, let’s get started!
Camping Shovel Buying Guide
When you are looking for a shovel, there are several characteristics that are most important and worth prioritizing when you buy a shovel. In particular, I think the most important characteristics are:
- High Quality Blade: How many of us have used a shovel that dents the second it hits a rock underground? If you’re going to buy a shovel, then the last thing you want is your new shovel to do is get a lovely dent on your first trip out into the woods
- Transportability: Normal shovels are typically 5-8 feet and unwieldy. It would be a complete pain in the butt to bring that with you for a camping weekend. Fortunately, camping shovels are a lot shorter and therefore easier to handle. However, that doesn’t change the fact you still want a shovel that will be easy to handle
- Blade size: Will you be digging a campfire pit that is six inches deep or a latrine hole that is 3 feet deep? If it’s a shallow campfire pit, then you don’t need the biggest blade in the world because you don’t need to move a lot of dirt. If you are digging a much bigger hole, then you should look for a shovel with a much bigger blade
- Handle Size: I’m a bigger guy at over six feet tall. For that reason, my hands can struggle to comfortably grab the handle of a shovel if the shovel handle is way too small. That can make digging incredibly uncomfortable if you need to dig a bigger hole. It’s one of those things that you don’t think about until you buy it, but then drives you nuts once you do.
- Blade Sharpness: For those of you (like me) that have a little one who might be with you when camping. Shovels tend to have sharp blades, for obvious reasons. If you have a little one, then it could be worth looking into a blade that is less sharp so they don’t have something to cut themselves on.
- Multi-purpose functionality: Many camping shovels have started including extra features, like a compass, whistle, fire starter, etc. Frankly, I’ve never looked at a shovel and thought “Hey, I wish that had a compass!” That being said, it doesn’t hurt to have this extra functionality if that’s what you are looking for.
Based on my experience with these types of shovels for camping, I think these are the six most important characteristics. Now, let’s look at my five favorites.
The best shovels for camping in 2020
My favorite camping shovel: the REDCAMP Military Camping Shovel
If you are looking for a high quality branded camping shovel, then this military-inspired camping shovel from REDCAMP is the perfect option for you. It is a multi-functional camping shovel that can be used for different purposes such as sawing, hammering, digging, shoveling, etc.
The best thing about this camping shovel is that it is very compact and you can take it anywhere you want. You can also fold and put it in a carrying bag to make it more portable. If you travel frequently, then you can put in your car or even in your backpack for easy accessibility.
This camping shovel is specially designed to withstand the toughest conditions. It is made of the high carbon steel body, which makes it very durable. Along with this, it features a triangular handle that provides amazing grip and comfort while using. This camping shovel comes with a 100% money-back guarantee, which means if you face any problems with this product, then you can reach the customer support team and apply for a replacement or refund.
Pros of REDCAMP Military Camping Shovel:
- Features a sleek design
- Easy to hold and carry
- Very portable
Cons of REDCAMP Military Camping Shovel:
- Slightly smaller blade than some of the other options on this list.
The most portable camping saw: the SOG Folding Camping Shovel
This SOG Folding Camping Shovel is one of the most popular camping shovels currently available in the market. The best thing about this camping shovel is that it features a 3-way folding design and you can set it according to your needs and preferences. I don’t know of any other camping shovel that can fold down into such a tiny package for carrying. It even comes with a small bag, that is extremely small and can fit in any backpack.
High carbon stainless steel is used in its making, if you manage it with proper care, then it will last a long time. Though this camping shovel looks small and compact but when it comes to functionality, it can be used for any kind of purpose. Be it digging, hammering, it is very powerful. This shovel comes with a rotating shovel blade that can be used as a hoe or pick. Unlike other shovels, it is not bulky and difficult to use. If your shoves get damaged, then you can contact SOG for replacement and repair requests.
The clear downside, however, of the portability is how the shovel isn’t that great for hard-core digging. If you are looking to build a small fire pit with this shovel, then it will be great. If you are looking to dig a big hole or two, then this isn’t the best option on the market.
Pros of SOG Folding Camping Shovel:
- Comes with a foldable design
- It is very strong and powerful
Cons of SOG Folding Camping Shovel:
- Smaller design
Best Entry Level option: CO-Z Mini Carbon Camping Shovel
This CO-Z Mini Carbon Camping Shovel is the best option for people who are searching for a decent camping shovel at a cost-effective price. It will do a good job at just about everything, but won’t do a great job at anything. If you are looking for a starter shovel, then you’d be hard-pressed to go wrong with this one.
It is built with premium quality materials and comes with amazing heat resistance capabilities. This camping shovel is very versatile and perfect for all kinds of recreational outdoor activities. It is very compact and you won’t face any difficulties in its transportation.
Most people complain about their shovels getting rusty after some months but that not’s the case with this camping shovel. It is rust-resistance and anti-deformation, which makes it very durable. It comes with a strong foldable blade that provides an excellent digging or cutting experience. The best thing about this camping shovel is that it is very lightweight. It only weighs 1.8 lbs and the good part is that you will get a nylon carry case to store it.
Pros of CO-Z Mini Carbon Camping Shovel:
- It is very lightweight
- Comes with anti-rusting capabilities
- The blade is very sharp and powerful
- Very affordable
Cons of CO-Z Mini Carbon Camping Shovel:
- Slightly smaller
Best Shovel for serious digging: Lifeline Sports Camping Shovel
If you are someone whose main priority is to do some serious digging, then this camping shovel from Lifeline has everything you need. Here’s the crazy thing: Lifeline actually advertises this as a snow shovel, which I think is totally wrong. The blade absolutely isn’t big enough for snow shoveling, but it is the perfect size for digging while camping.
It features a classic plain design, which looks very elegant. The best thing about this camping shovel is that it is a collapsible shovel that makes it easy to store. You can also break in into pieces if you have limited space. This shovel is very compact and you can keep in your backpack without feeling any burden on your back.
Despite being so powerful, it is very lightweight and gives you amazing comfort and better holding experience. Lifeline is an ISO certified company and all of its products go through strict quality check procedure. This means that you will only get branded high-quality products that will stay with you for a very long time.
Pros of Lifeline Sports Camping Shovel:
- It is made of high-quality products
- Doesn’t require much space for storage
- Comes with adjustable modes
- It is an ISO certified company
Cons of Lifeline Sports Camping Shovel:
- As compared to others, it is expensive
Most comfortable shove to use: IUNIO Camping Shovel
This IUNIO camping shovel is a multifunctional camping shovel that can be used for different purposes. Many other shovels on this list have a U shaped handle, which means that it is incredibly uncomfortable to use if you have bigger hands. For that reason, this shovel is actually one of the more comfortable shovels to use on the market.
It features a compact design and you can easily store it anywhere you want. This camping shovel comes with different useful features such as bottles opener, emergency whistle, nail extractor, etc. Because of its amazing features, it has become one of the most selling camping shovels with hundreds of positive reviews.
It doesn’t matter whether you want it for adventurous activities or just for home usage, it is perfect for everything. High carbon steel used to make its blade, which is very powerful and water-resistant. For easy usage, a rubber is attached to the handle. It is very easy to carry, you can either store it in a bag or hang it on a belt loop for more convenience. After receiving this product, if you are not happy with its functionality, then you also apply for a replacement.
Pros of IUNIO Camping Shovel:
- It features a strong design
- Loaded with amazing features
- Rubber grip for easy usage
Cons of IUNIO Camping Shovel:
- A little heavy
- Smaller blade than some options on this list
FAQ on shovels and why you need them for camping
My hope is that my thoughts on some of the best shovels on the market have helped you figure out which shovel, if any, you would like to get. That being said, there are always a few FAQs that have come up regarding camping shovels. My hope in this section is to highlight answers to those FAQs to help you make the most informed choice you possibly can.
Why do you need a shovel for camping?
It’s the most basic question, but that also means it is the best place to start.
A shovel has a lot of different uses while camping. A really common and basic use for it is to dig a slight hole to create a fire pit. Another use for a shovel is to dig a deeper hole for water, burying food scraps, or even a latrine pit.
A shovel is great, however, in that it has so many multi-purpose options. For example, I’ve used a shovel to move some dirt around a campsite in order to make sure that the ground was level before putting the tent down.
I’ve also used a shovel to build a barrier to protect against rainwater. I was camping near the bottom of a hill and it seemed like it might rain that night. So, I built a little barrier in case the rain did come and it was going to flow down towards my tent. That’s why the barrier ended up being so helpful.
How to use a folding shovel on a camping trip?
Folding shovels work best on a camping trip. If you aren’t camping, then it makes sense to use a normal shovel. The reason why is a normal shovel is much larger and has a bigger blade, meaning that you can do a lot more with a normal shovel.
Of course, a normal shovel cannot be as transportable as a folding shovel!
To use a folding shovel while camping, save some space in your bag. As you can see from most of the shovels up there, they typically come in a small bag. If you bring the shovel with you while folded up, it should only take up a tiny part of your bag.
Once you arrive at the campsite and have a use for the shovel, simply take the folding shovel out of the bag, fold the shovel into shape, then start using it as you would use a normal shovel.
Why do you need a bucket and shovel for camping?
This is a different question. Some locations request that campers bring and a bucket and shovel with them. The reason for this request is wildfires. You can put out fires by dumping water on it from your bucket, or by throwing dirt on it with your shovel.
See you at the campsite