The 5 Best Survival Tools to Carry – #1
This post follows on from the previous post; “What is the most important survival tool”. At the conclusion of that post we were left with a top 10 survival tool list, which I will now reduce to five. I will also eliminate the Heat Blanket form the top 5, as I have already shown its versatility in other posts.
That gives us a top 5 survival tool list that looks like this:
- Multifunction Folding Shovel – 37 pts
- Knife – 31 pts
- Parang/Machete/Hybrid Knife – 29 pts
- Axe/Hatchet/Tomahawk – 28 pts
- Rifle/Handgun – 24 pts
What is The Most Versatile Survival Tool?
Topping the list on 37 pts, the multifunction shovel showed a lot of versatility across the following tasks:
- Fire lighting/Firewood gathering
- Water gathering/Purification
No.1 – Multifunction Folding Shovel
The old school army issue folding shovel has been around forever and have always proved to be useful. A standard folding shovel like this, scored a respectable 21 pts in the best survival tools spreadsheet.(Subscriber access only) However, the latest folding shovel designs have included other functions and tools to increase their versatility.
These tools are available online in a staggering array of designs and price points to choose from. Generally, they all have some of the below features and each tool has different designs for their versions. For example, most of them have a knife blade incorporated but some have a saw backed knife. Others have a (groan) bottle opener/knife blade!
- Adjustable shovel head with sharpened edge for axe work and saw edge
- Ferro Rod
- Knife Blade and/or Spear point
- Glass Breaker end stop
- Handle extensions
- Rescue Whistle
- Wire Saw
Choose Your Multifunction Shovel Carefully
I purchased a $100 shovel, to see if these tools are any good and I like the versatility they provide. For example, mine came with the items in bold above, allowing me to carry all these things in one tool. While I wouldn’t rely on these as my primary options, they do make a nice backup to have in case of emergency.
Apart from the price, I chose mine based on its knife/spear point design, it just looked sturdier than the others. For instance, some of the other knife points had bottle openers incorporated and just made a weak point in the blade. Considering that you can use it as a spear, I thought a robust spear point would be preferred.
Check out these items below but I don’t recommend purchasing any of them, I am still testing mine out! The first link is to the shovel I purchased and the others are the ones I rejected, due to their design/price. Make sure you assess the usefulness of each feature before you commit, as well as the quality of their design. Try not to get bedazzled by all the bottle openers and focus on the fundamentals of survival.
Online Options for Survival Tools – Focus on the Details
This is the one I purchased, note the wider spear point and no bottle opener or other weak point in the blade. This model also has thick walled handles and is reasonably heavy, adding some heft to its chopping potential.
Similar type but see the poorly placed bottle opener on the end of the blade. If the blade is going to break, it will most likely be there.
Too many weak points in this blade, however, it does come with a nice spear point
Similar $100 version, no spear point but it has an ice pick and a bottle opener of course!
It wouldn’t be online shopping without a crazy expensive type. This is not the craziest either and there are dozens to choose from. Make sure you look over the individual items and focus on their function and durability.
Multifunction Folding Shovel Review
The Shovel Head
Now I’ve had a chance to look over my shovel, I can offer some feedback on what to expect from the $100 range. Starting at the head, which is a reasonable quality in finish and strength but not really sharp. The Axe edge is blunt but with the weight it makes for a very effective chopper on standing deadwood. This survival tool will have no problems de-branching a tree with its heft and handle length.
Also, there is a saw edge on the opposite side to the axe blade, for you to cut down branches instead. Maybe it’s a fish de-scaler because it sure as hell is not a saw! For starters the teeth are not sharp and have absolutely no “set”, making it a fish scale remover at best. It will need some grinding work to improve but even then, it will never be an effective saw.
All in all, the shovel head feels strong. After bashing it into a tree and prying up some large rocks, it held up well for a $100 survival tool. With its length and weight, you can gather firewood more efficiently and save your energy for other things.
My shovel came with 3 handle extensions that all thread together nicely and with no slack. Also, there is a rubber O-ring that threads in to dampen any vibration which could cause them to come loose. I hacked a few decent branches off a tree and they all held tightly together while I did.
Made from Aluminium, the handle extensions are thick walled and very strong and actually quite heavy. Keep in mind, that if you wanted to reduce weight in your pack, you could carry less handle segments. Even with less length in the handle the shovel still performed well enough to replace an axe.
With all three extensions and the head piece, the multifunction shovel is almost 1 meter long. Which makes this a formidable survival tool and a must to have in your Bug out Bag. Overall, even a cheap version will do the job out in the wild and replace the need to take other tools with you. This will help make up for the heavy weight of this kit.
This survival tool comes with other tools which I will quickly discuss each item. The compass is fixed at the bottom of the handle and will definitely break, it is poor quality anyway. Even if it was good quality, a few whacks into a tree and its reliability would be in question. You can remove just the compass section from the handle to prevent this and other versions may have a better compass.
The Ferro rod/whistle is pretty standard and the knife/spear attachment has 90 degree edges to act as an efficient scraper. The knife/spear point seems well tempered and would hold up to some reasonable use. The weight of the handle could cause issues, if you were to throw the spear into a tree for instance.
Also included was a small paracord lanyard and a glass breaker point, revealed when you remove the compass segment. All up the construction and materials, of my choice of multifunction shovel, will do the job that I wanted.
Survival Tasks for Survival Tools
The tasks that I scored the tools against were the basic things a survivor would expect to carry out. To get a good score, the survival tool needed to score in all categories to make it into the top five. I will go through the categories and explain why the multifunction shovel scored so well.
Firewood Gathering/Fire Starting – 5 pts
The shovel top scored (out of 5pts) in this task and not only because it has a Ferro rod to start a fire. It is also a replacement for an axe to gather firewood and I probably should’ve given this survival tool 10 pts here.
Hunting – 5 pts
With the inclusion of a spear point and the sheer weight of this tool, it makes for an effective option for hunting. You can also use it as a shovel to dig holes and fashion other traps for even larger animals.
Water/Water Purification – 4 pts
Having a shovel in your kit will allow you to dig a hole for a solar still and enable you to make and purify water. You will obviously be able to dig deeper for water in dry river beds and such other places that you find water.
Medical – 3 pts
With the knife/spear point you will be able to do some first aid procedures like any blade. The handle sections can be used to splint broken bones or even used as a crutch at full length.
Shelter – 4 pts
Not only used as an axe to cut saplings for a shelter, you can also dig into snow or earth if required.
Signal/Navigation – 4 pts
It has a compass; it does work in spite of its poor quality and will need to be protected from damage. The shovel head surface is reflective and could be used to signal for rescue in a pinch and you have a rescue whistle too. I took a point off as the compass needs better protection in its current location at the end of the handle.
Defence – 5 pts
If I had a choice of this shovel, a knife, machete or axe, I would choose the multifunction shovel for my defence. The shovel has the weight and reach and you don’t even need the spear point for this thing to defend well. It’s a beast!
Useful Score – 7 pts
As the shovel scored in each of the 7 tasks, so it also scored 7 pts and made it a clear winner. I wasn’t sure that was correct at the start but after using mine for a little bit, I think it’s a pretty accurate score. I am definitely including a multifunction shovel in my Bug out Bag.
What Survival Tools Should You Carry?
Now, I’ve settled on the No.1 tool, I can look to shape the remaining tools that I need to carry in my BoB. And I think some might be redundant, due to the versatility of the multifunction shovel. Read the next post on the remaining survival tools and see which ones are in and out.
Thanks for reading!
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