The Best Folding Backpack Shovel
I like small shovel multi-tools. I keep one in each of our vehicles, for a number of reasons:
- Digging without a shovel is very difficult/impossible and there are lots of scenarios why you might need to dig a hole: stuck vehicle, catholes, food procurement, shelter creation, etc.
- A shovel with backup tools saves space and gives you...well, backup tools for important items such as knives, fire starting, saws, whistles.
Notice i said backup tools. Other than the shovel, the other tools included would not be my primary tools - we'll discuss why in a moment, but always remember that backups are important for critical gear: two is one, and one is none.
We've got a handful of these types of shovels - but our favorite right now made by a company called FiveJoy.
FiveJoy Military Folding Shovel Multitool
There are a lot of random Amazon-only brands out there that make tools - and let's be honest, FiveJoy is probably one of them.
But to be fair to them, they made a very nice product with their Folding Shovel Multitool. It's not perfect, but for $37 bucks its the right blend of function to price.
Here's some of the reasons why:
It's Well Built
Its a solid shovel, made from a combination of carbon steel and aluminum. There's a little bit of plastic here and there, but not in any of the structural parts.
More importantly, the stuff that's included works as you would expect it to. The shovel digs. The knife and saw edge cuts. The whistle is loud and the magnesium rod shoots sparks.
Are any of these the best possible versions you could get? As I said before, no. But they work and if your other options break or become unavailable at least you got something.
Diving into specifics, there isn't too much to say about the shovel. It digs holes of course and is solid enough to get into pretty solid stuff.
You can cut thru some small roots with brute force, but will need to chop at the bigger ones with a saw.
Yes, there is a serrated edge to the shovel bit, but I haven't found it super useful. I prefer the one on the knife which works better.
I tried cutting some medium size wood with it, just to see what it would do. You're much better off with a Bahco Laplander.
You can adjust the shovel head to different angles, if you want to use it as a hoe. I never found a reason to do that.
That does lead me to my first gripe - there is a little metal piece which locks the shovel head into place. It's easy to lose when you take the shovel apart, it just floats loosely in the carry case, so I wish there were a better solution there.
Also I've found that the handle can unscrew itself pretty easily while twisting and turning the shovel. It's kind of a pain. I might try to use some Loctite Red on it to see if it will help.
I have a similar gripe with the knife. When cutting the little knobs on sticks (where other branches were connected to it) i will twist my blade up to whittle them down.
The problem is this is the same direction as unscrewing the knife from the handle (lefty-loosy) so the blade will come undone. This could be solved with Fivejoy making this a reverse thread instead - or by being left handed I suppose.
Other than that I'm impressed with the little blade. It works well, has a good edge to it out of the box, and the serrated edge works quite nicely on anything smaller than 1 inch or so.
It Has Useful Tools
We already mentioned the shovel and the knife - additionally you get a few other items as well.
First and foremost is the magnesium rod / whistle.
If you don't know, the magnesium rod shoots off hot sparks when rubbed with the flat part of the blade (the section along the top right of the knife in the photo above) to assist in starting a fire.
You aren't lighting a log with those sparks, you'll need something super easy to ignite like lint or some kinda fuzz or grass. Delicate stuff which you can get smoldering and a small enough flame to light up some leaves.
The whistle is plenty loud and a good thing to have should you find yourself lost or in need of help.
You get a carry case and a shovel head cover along with some paracord on the handle. That much cords not gonna do much for you except maybe to lash some sticks together.
What I cant figure out is how to store the handle in the case without exposing the blade or the magnesium rod. Design flaw or user error? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
A shovel like this is cheap insurance. You can perform a lot of survival tasks with it, and use it to supplement your primary tools: knife, saw, fire starting kit.
As I said, we keep one in each vehicle. Put it under a seat somewhere. Easy peasy.
Where to Get One:
Typical Price: $37
Heavy duty shovel, sharp axe blade, serrated saw edge, hammer, paracord, hidden rescue knife and saw, emergency whistle, fire starter (magnesium rod), bottle opener, and more!
Compact , Portable Multitool- Lightweight (only 1.2lbs), and amazingly compact, this is an essential gadget to add to your outdoor first aid survival kit/ gear.
Forged from heat-treated high-quality solid carbon steel (blade and knife) and aerospace grade aluminum (knife), for maximum strength and lifetime durability. Rust, water, and fracture resistant.