- Our Top Picks
- Off Road Shovel Buyers Guide
- Why do I need a Off Road Survival Shovel?
- How to choose the Best Survival Shovel?
- Parts of a off road shovel
- What is a tactical shovel?
- Are survival shovels good?
- What shovel to use in Overlanding?
- How do I mount my off road shovel?
Our Top Picks
The 4Low is your reliable source for the best camping product reviews and buyers guides. Our experts test and rank the best options so you don’t have to.
Our ratings are based on features, customer reviews, hands on testing, price and warranty.
1. Most Versatile: Tyger Auto Shovel TG-SV8U3217 Compact Off Road Shovel
With 16 different functions and it’s small size, this is a great option for any tool box.
2. Most Affordable: RHINO USA Folding Survival Shovel w/Pick
Just because it’s the most affordable doesn’t mean it can’t do some serious digging.
3. Best Full Length Shovel: OAKVUE Survival Shovel Multitool with Tactical Shovel
The OAKVUE shovel is a serious tactical shovel at a reasonable price.
4. Most Durable: Hi-Lift HA-500 Handle-All Multi-Purpose Tool
This is a the no joke heavy duty multi purpose shovel you’d expect from Hi-Lift.
|Tyger Auto Shovel TG-SV8U3217 Compact Off Road Shovel
|Check Amazon Price
|RHINO USA Folding Survival Shovel w/Pick
|Check Amazon Price
Best Full Length Shovel
|OAKVUE Survival Shovel Multitool with Tactical Shovel
|Check Amazon Price
|Hi-Lift HA-500 Handle-All Multi-Purpose Tool
|Check Amazon Price
Off Road Shovel Buyers Guide
When it comes to choosing an off road shovel they all do the one thing we need them to do and that’s dig. However, with the rise of overlanding and survivalist there have been some modern improvements and features that make them quite the multi tool to add to your rig’s tool kit or bug out bag.
Why do I need a Off Road Survival Shovel?
Anyone who has been stuck on the trail knows that having a shovel to dig out a wheel can determine if you’re going to have a good or bad trip. This is especially true if you’re alone and don’t have a winch. Of course we don’t advise ever going off road alone but we understand things happen and that is why you should always prepare for the worst-case scenario.
How to choose the Best Survival Shovel?
Off road shovels are typically made from steel or aluminum. Both materials have different grades that determine the quality of the metal. Often times the shovel head will be metal but the shaft and handle will be made from either plastic or wood. When choosing a shovel the materials mentioned above will be just fine but never get one with a plastic shovel blade since this is a part of the shovel taking the majority of impact and is most likely to break.
When it comes to shovel length you need to consider the room you have to store your off road shovel or where it will be mounted. Many off road shovels now are foldable and come with a carrying case which makes them easy to store in your tool kit or inside your vehicle.
Folding shovels typically have a hinge located on the shaft that uses a collar to lock the two pieces in place while in use. Since a folding shovel does not have a one-piece shaft this can be a weak point for them if they are not adequately designed.
The longer the shovel the more leverage and force you generate when digging or prying with the tool. So keep this in mind when you see a shovel that’s just a little over a foot long. It may be easy to store but when it comes time to use it you may struggle.
When choosing a shovel you will typically buy a shovel based on the type of soil you intended to use it on. The biggest determining factor of what type of soil your shovel works best on will be the blade shape.
Typically more flat shaped square blade shovels are best for looser soils, while round point shovel blades are better for softer newer soil. Lastly, pointed shovel blades are best for compacted hard ground or soil.
Since we typically can only have one shovel type in our arsenal most off road shovels are pointed which will be effective on most soil types.
The two most common shovel handle types are straight shaft or loop style handle. Typically longer shovels will have a straight shaft while shorter shovels will have the loop style.
Shovel handles will typically come in three different materials
Steel is long known for its strength and durability. This is a great option when choosing a off road shovel. One thing to pay attention to with this style is comfort. Depending on how the handle is designed steel handles can have sharp edges.
You will see a lot of off road shovel handles using plastic or polymer compounds. This is a lightweight and durable option for a handle. This style of handle is more common on folding shovels and can be more expensive.
Anyone that has used an old wooden shovel will remember the splinters that walked away with. Wood handles are are becoming less common for off road shovels since most folding shovels will not work with a wood handle. Also, if you plan on mounting your shovel to the outside of your vehicle the wood will degrade much faster. It’s best to stay away from a off road shovel with wooden handles.
An important factor for an off road shovel is its ease of use. We want to make sure that the shovel we have will do a sufficient job without straining ourselves.
When it comes to some of the compact shovels, or folding shovels you need to make sure it’s not too small or difficult to assemble. When it comes time to using a shovel the last thing you want to worry about is trying to figure out how it works. It’s a shovel and shouldn’t be a puzzle.
The modern off road survival shovel has many different designs now. Some have a serrated edge for cutting, some have a razor sharp axe head, and some even have a sledgehammer attachment.
These are all great bonus features when choosing a off road shovel but remember we don’t want any of these other features to take away from the one thing it should do and that’s dig.
There are three main design types of off road shovels
A compact shovel has a fixed shaft that is typically shorter than a standard shovel. Of the three types of shovels on this list, a compact shovel is the largest and if often mounted to the exterior of your vehicle.
A folding shovel will have a hinge point located on the shaft that allows the shovel to fold in half. These will typically come with a storage bag that can be easily stored inside the vehicle. Keep in mind that these types of shovels may be weaker than a compact shovel.
Extending shovels have shafts that break down into sections. These sections can extend or shorten the overall length of the shovel depending on which section of shaft you have installed.
At the end of the day, we are talking about an off road shovel, right? We want something that will dig when we need and we also hope that we never have to use it. It’s a safety tool we keep and we don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on it either.
Most off road shovels will range in price from $25-$100. This is a pretty big price range and the main thing other than quality that affects the price is features. If you’re looking for an affordable shovel with minimal features you should easily be able to find one for $30.
When choosing an off road shovel you should consider how portable it is. There are folding shovel options that pack down very small or compact shovels that are a few feet long.
Lastly, when choosing an off road shovel we want to consider the weight. Heavier shovels will be more effective in hard ground but we also need to consider the weight when packing our vehicle.
When we add winches, heavy bumpers, and sliders the weight of our vehicle drastically increases. I know, it’s just a shovel but it’s certainly something to consider.
Parts of a off road shovel
The grip of a shovel is the top part of the shaft that will be held while in use. They’re typically made from wood, plastic, or metal. Some full sized shovels do not have grips while most of the compact overland shovels do.
The shaft of the shovel is the pole portion that connects the handle to the blade. This is the portion of the shovel that takes the most force and is used for generating leverage. Most shafts of shovels are made from either wood, fiberglass, or metal.
The collar of a shovel is the portion where the blade connect to the shaft. Using a rivet or a screw, the collar is connected to the shaft. Some shovels will have replacement shafts and to change them out you just need to remove them from the collar.
The kickplate is the portion of the shovel designed to be used as a step to aide in adding pressure. This is located on the top portion of the shovel head.
The shovel blade is the lowest section of the shovel that makes contact with the ground and is the part responsible for serious digging. Most shovel blades are made from steel or aluminum and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the mini shovel types include a toothed blade for cutting.
The tip of the shovel is the lowest portion of the blade. These come in many different shapes for different uses. The flatter tips are typically for scooping, while the pointed tips are for digging.
What is a tactical shovel?
A tactical shovel is a small often foldable shovel that includes other features such as axes, knives, bottle openers, fire starters, serrated edges for cutting, and screw drivers. These have become a new multi-tool that’s perfect for any off road tool bag or bug out bag.
Are survival shovels good?
Yes, but there are always things to consider when purchasing one. The reason we buy a shovel is to dig. Some of these shovels have 10+ different tools or functions that they offer but you need to make sure it does the most important task best.
What shovel to use in Overlanding?
A tactical folding shovel or off road shovel is perfect for Overlanding. If your stuck in sand or dirt having a shovel nearby is always a necessity. Second, if you have a fire pit it’s good to have a shovel nearby to help extinguish the flames.
How do I mount my off road shovel?
Since some of the off road shovels do not fold you will need to find a way to mount it to your vehicle. Some of the common places to mount a shovel are roof racks or tire carries.