Best Folding Shovels for Your Truck or Camping Kit

A folding shovel is a handy tool to keep in a car trunk. Here’s how to choose the right one for how you plan to use it.

Popularized during World War I, the entrenching tool was used for many things other than digging defensive positions, latrines, and graves. It could be used as a weapon in hand-to-hand combat, a hammer or axe, an oar, and even as a cooking utensil. These multiple-use folding shovels evolved through time and conflicts, and quickly entered the marketplace for civilian use when campers found how useful they could be for removing rocks and cutting roots at a campsite, digging trenches for drainage, and managing and extinguishing a campfire. Some multi-use folding shovels today (still often called entrenching tools, or E-tools) come with additional features like saws, picks, and knives that survivalists find useful, or at least comforting to know they’re on hand if needed. Some everyday car commuters and SUV drivers keep a basic folding shovel in their vehicles in case they need to dig themselves out of mud or snow, or break glass to get into or out of a vehicle that’s been in an accident and the doors won’t open. And there’s a whole range of folding shovel types in between. If you’re shopping for a folding shovel, keep in mind the following:

1. Long-handled folding shovels

IUNIO folding shovel
Look for a folding shovel that breaks down into sections so that it won't take up a lot of room in your vehicle.IUNIO

Any prolonged amount of digging is best performed with a shovel that has a long handle. A short-handled shovel means you need to bend over or kneel down to reach what's at your feet. And if you've high-centered your vehicle, you're going to have a tough time clearing what's under the vehicle unless your shovel's handle is long enough to reach it.

2. Lightweight Folding Shovels

rhino usa folding survival shovel
Look for a lightweight folding shovel that breaks down into a small package and has a scabbard so you can carry it easily.Rhino USA

This may seem obvious, but it's very easy to decide to leave a heavy shovel at home or in your vehicle when you're ready to head out on a backpack or carry-in camping trip. It may seem like more fun to bring an extra flask of whisky instead—and that, of course, is when you're going to find yourself in a situation in which you wish you had the shovel.

3. Heavy Duty Folding Shovels

Tyger heavy duty folding shovel
This heavy-duty folding shovel weighs just under five pounds and features a built-in knife blade, ice pick, screwdriver, and magnesium firestarter.Tyger

A broken shovel won't be much help if when you need to dig your ATV out of a swamp, put out a spreading fire, or break your way out of a flipped 4x4. If you'll be using your folding shovel for serious work, or if you may need it in a true emergency, make sure you're using one that's overbuilt and won't fail on you.