This review comes to us from James C. Jones, the founder of Live Free USA, based on his more than 50 years of experience in preparedness and survival.
Long before there were any devices specifically made for survivalists, Live Free members recognized the need for some kind of digging tool in the survival pack. A shovel would be needed to dig fire pits, drainage trenches around our tents, and dispose of waste. We might even need to dig shelters from weapons fire, nuclear blasts, and fallout.
Back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s surplus “Army Shovels” were plentiful, but too heavy for carrying any distance. They were excellent digging tools but intended to be carried and used by healthy young soldiers short distances to the front lines. After World War Two every child in my neighborhood had one, and we trenched and tunneled every vacant lot we could find.
We early survivalists started adopting garden trowels to put into our packs as a BTN (better than nothing) digging tools. The Vietnam era military folding shovels that came out in the 1980’s was lighter and more compact than the old army shovels and could be carried further but were not designed for civilian survival applications.
Recently, a wide variety of so-called “survival shovels” have come onto the market. These shovels range from basic folding shovels for about $15.00 to the complex GRAMFIRE for over $200.00. Survival shovels* are defined by being relatively compact while having multiple functions such as ax blades, saw blades, hooks, and wrenches. Like anything that is designed to do more than one thing, they are never as good as just a shovel, just a knife, just a saw, etc. but handy as being multi-functional. The 15-in-1 Multi-Function, Folding Shovel from Stealth Angel sells for a very reasonable $34.95.
The shovel blade is very heavy-duty and includes a saw blade, sharp ax-knife blade, hook, and two hexagonal wrench cut-outs. A small knife, fork, and saw blade are integral to one of the handle segments and a Philips and blade screwdriver are. Built into another segment. There is also a glass breaker point and a compass in the handle. A magnesium fire starter comes attached to the carrying strap and case.
The whole thing fits into a 9” x 6” x 2” cloth carrying case that weighs about two pounds. When all four segments are fully assembled you have a strong 30-inch-long shovel tool. The heavyweight handle and sharpened spade also make for a formidable weapon and effective rescue tool. There is a bit of room left in the handle for a few extra items. I do not advocate this for a primary survival pack item since you should already have a multi-tool, knife, fire starter and other tools with you, and there are lighter, smaller shovels available. It is ideal for carrying in a vehicle, keeping at your jobsite, or in a cache where you might need all of these functions.
* I covered a variety of survival shovels in chapter five of The Ultimate Book of Survival Gear. Published by Skyhorse Publishing.