Shovels have come a long way since they were just simple tools used to dig holes in the ground or clear snow from driveways. Since outdoor adventurers generally hump everything on their backs, they understand the benefits of having a single tool that can accomplish a variety of tasks. The more functions a tool has and less weight and space it takes up, the more useful it is. The military is also well known for packing everything and anything possible onto a soldier’s back; $640 toilet seats notwithstanding, they excel at developing new technologies learned from valuable experience in the field too. Combine all this input and experience and you evolve a one-trick pony into a tool capable of a numerous uses — the modern multi-purpose shovel.

Militaries around the world have developed their own versions of multiuse shovels. Commonly known as entrenching tools, they are used for everything from digging foxholes and trenches to hand-to-hand combat. The most popular and common in the States is the U.S. Military Entrenching Tool, or E-Tool, used not only by American military forces, but also by NATO nations. It is a simple and sturdy tool made of steel that folds into three sections, much like the Gerber’s Entrenching Tool. The E-Tool has a spade head with a serrated edge that can be configured in several different ways. It has served many well for decades as a shovel, a hoe, and even as a makeshift axe or saw. The military-issue-version E-Tool is commonly available at surplus stores.

As handy as the Mil-spec E-Tool is, multi-purpose shovels are constantly evolving with more features added to each new iteration. There are models that now include bottle and can openers, picks, and even hammers. With commercial companies, private inventors, and the world’s militaries all vying to make the ultimate shovel, it can be hard to figure out which one is best for you. Let’s dig deeper and see what these multi-purpose shovels have to offer.

Multi-Purpose Shovels Buyer's Guide

  • ace-camp-survivor-multitool-shovel

    Ace Camp Survivor Multitool Shovel

    Make & Model - Ace Camp Survivor Multitool Shovel
    Length - 11.875 inches
    Weight - 11.1 oz
    Carry Case - Nylon with belt loops
    MSRP - $20
    URL - http://www.acecamp.com
    Notes - The Survivor Multitool Shovel is the smallest shovel in our guide, but certainly not less capable. What it gives up in size, it makes up for in mobility, storage space requirements, and hidden tools. Its functions include shovel, hatchet, saw, hammer, wrench, nail puller, bottle opener, and compass. Hidden inside the handle are an emergency blade, fishing line and hook, and matches. Sure, its not going to dig as efficiently as a larger shovel, but it is very light weight and a lot easier to pack than larger units, making it more likely to be packed in limited-space applications.

    What the Survivor Multitool Shovel gives up in size, it makes up for in mobility, storage space requirements, and hidden tools. Its functions include shovel, hatchet, saw, hammer, wrench, nail puller, bottle opener, and compass!

  • crovel-extreme-ii-shovel

    Crovel Extreme II

    Make & Model - Crovel Extreme II
    Length Open - 27.5 inches
    Length Closed - 21 inches
    Weight - 5 lbs, 14 oz
    Carry Case - None
    MSRP - $140
    URL - http://www.gearupcenter.com
    Notes - Probably the toughest multifunction shovel on the market, the original Crovel Extreme busted onto the scene and quickly gained a rabid following of believers and users. Crovel is back with the Extreme II, and like its predecessor, it exceeds expectations of what a survival multi-purpose shovel can do. The hardened 4140 chromoly-alloy shovelhead has blade-like sharpened edges, a vicious saw-tooth edge, and handy bottle opener. The sharp edges make cutting, chopping, and sawing a breeze, and the hardened surface keeps its edge. Its generous 14-inch long hollow steel handle is wrapped with 15 feet of 550 paracord and allows storage of survival items. It is plugged at the end with a knurled plug, which can be replaced by several types of available spikes — making it a great standoff device as well as rescue tool. The Crovel's hammerhead is clearly built to last and includes a crowbar claw that has been upgraded to a woodworking chisel as well as a pry bar. On top of all that, the Extreme II is made in the United States. The largest and heaviest of the shovels in this guide, the Crovel Extreme II's many uses easily outweigh its heft. This tool is made to withstand daily use of first responders and not just the occasional camping trip. In a disaster scenario, this tool should provide you with the means and confidence to get out of any dire situation.

    Probably the toughest multifunction shovel on the market, the original Crovel Extreme busted onto the scene and quickly gained a rabid following of believers and users, and Crovel is back with the Extreme II!

  • gerber-e-tool-with-pick

    Gerber E-Tool with pick

    Make & Model - Gerber E-Tool with pick
    Length Open - 23.25 inches
    Length Closed - 12.5 inches
    Weight - 2 lbs, 15 oz
    Carry Case - None
    MSRP - $90
    URL - http://www.gerbergear.com
    Notes - Basically a revised and upgraded version of the venerable general-issue military E-Tool, Gerber's rendition includes the addition of a pick to help break up especially hard surfaces — and can act as a defensive implement as well. This military-grade digging tool's heart is its powdercoated, carbon-steel shovelhead with serrated blade edge. The E-Tool has a foldable body that is comprised of an anodized aluminum shaft and a durable glass-filled nylon handle.

    Basically a revised and upgraded version of the venerable general-issue military E-Tool, Gerber's rendition includes the addition of a pick to help break up especially hard surfaces - and can act as a defensive implement as well.

  • glock-entrenching-tool-with-pouch

    GLOCK Entrenching Tool with Pouch

    Make & Model - GLOCK Entrenching Tool with Pouch
    Length Open - 25.125 inches
    Length Closed - 10.25 inches
    Weight - 1 lb, 7.3 oz
    Carry Case - Nylon with belt loop
    MSRP - $50
    URL - store.teamglock.com
    Notes - This folding multifunction shovel is lockable in four positions and can be configured as a spade, shovel, saw, and hoe. It weighs about half that of a conventional E-Tool. The extendable telescopic handle allows the tool to shrink down to a very manageable package and is made of high-impact resistant polymer material for outstanding ruggedness and reliability. The hardened steel blade is sharpened and is finished with a durable, black anti-corrosive surface treatment. Stored in the hollow handle is a separate steel saw blade with screwdriver tip that attach to the handle for use. For enhanced endurance and reliability, the entrenching tool has no welding or rivets.

    This folding multifunction shovel is lockable in four positions and can be configured as a spade, shovel, saw, and hoe.

  • sog-elite-entrenching-tool-f19-n

    SOG Elite Entrenching Tool/F19-N

    Make & Model - SOG Elite Entrenching Tool/F19-N
    Length Open - 26 inches
    Length Closed - 10.5 inches
    Weight - 1 lb, 8.8 oz
    Carry Case - Nylon
    MSRP - $74
    URL - http://www.sogknives.com
    Notes - This folding and telescopic shovel contracts down to roughly fill the footprint of a letter-sized sheet of paper. Its 1075 carbon-steel shovelhead can dig you out of rubble from a fallen building or scoop out a hole in the ground to get a fire pit going. Its glass-reinforced nylon construction telescopes out to give you the leverage you need for digging into tough terrain. Like the GLOCK shovel, it also has a saw blade hidden in its handle, but the one found in the SOG has more aggressive teeth. It's a foldable shovel capable of doing some heavy-duty work while remaining highly packable.

    This folding and telescopic shovel contracts down to roughly fill the footprint of a letter-sized sheet of paper. Its 1075 carbon-steel shovelhead can dig you out of rubble from a fallen building or scoop out a hole in the ground to get a fire pit going.

  • wjq-308-chinese-military-shovel

    WJQ-308 Chinese Military Shovel

    Make & Model - WJQ-308 Chinese Military Shovel
    Length Open - 23 inches
    Length Closed - 15.75 inches
    Weight - 2 lbs, 0.5 oz
    Carry Case - Nylon with two pouches, belt loops, shoulder strap
    MSRP - $88
    URL - http://www.wjq-308.com
    Notes - The WJQ-308 shovel has gained many fans worldwide, including plenty here in the States, due to its simple build and versatility. This is the original version, useful for digging, sawing, chopping, cutting, picking, prying, hammering, bottle opening, can opening, wire cutting, climbing, measuring, shoveling, and even as a mini shield. There is a second version of this shovel that features an upgraded shovelhead, handle, and other upgrades. The WJQ-308 comes with a water-resistant nylon carrying case. Check out the video found on its website — you'll be amazed to see how this shovel is properly used.

    The WJQ-308 shovel has gained many fans worldwide, including plenty here in the States, due to its simple build and versatility. This is the original version, useful for digging, sawing, chopping, and more!

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