Sometimes, the most basic devices make the best survival tools. With space at a premium in a bug-out situation, it’s crucial to find items that can do double duty so you can take fewer things with you when you get out of dodge.
Enter the shovel: simple in form but versatile in application. And with some of the new innovations in shovels, you can use this item for, well, a multitude of purposes.
Using a shovel isn’t as straightforward as you may think.
Broad shovel blades are commonly used to move lightly packed materials, such as snow, sand, certain types of stones and other materials, like grain. Narrower, pointed blades are used for densely packed materials, like soils or clay. If you match the right tool to the right job, you will exert less energy and work more efficiently.
The angle of repose— the angle that material can be piled at before it starts to slope—is important, too. If you can pile a material high with a small base area, it has a high angle of repose. If you have to get a wide, spread-out base to be able to pile up a material, then it has a low angle of repose. How does this affect digging? Sometimes, people start digging and forget to pile the material with a low angle of repose that they are taking out of the hole far enough away. When the pile is too close, the material falls back into the hole and the person ends up moving the same material twice.
Make sure you dig properly, as it will help you endure the task longer and avoid injury. You want to start lifting with your legs and then continue upward using your core. Not only will this help you avoid injury, but if you end up using a shovel often, you’ll also notice some serious physique benefits.
- Digging tool
- Frying pan
- Grappling hook
- Chopping tool
- Close-quarters combat weapon
- Stool (useful for latrine duty)
- Platform to cook on in the snow
- Measuring tool
- Throwing weapon
- Arresting tool (a good technique to learn when hiking in steep country)
WHAT’S A ‘CROVEL’?
If you want a shovel on steroids, check out the Crovel. Made by Gear Up Center, the Crovel Extreme II features a basic, foldinghandle design taken from the early military models but with an upgrade in materials and a few tweaks here and there that make it a very valuable addition to the stores of any prepper.
This handy tool combines a strong 4140 chromoly steel blade and hollow steel handle tools or fixtures all along the edges that serve for a wide range of duties. Made in the U.S. and weighing in at 5.5 pounds, the Crovel provides the user with a mind-boggling array of features, eliminating the need for several tools, thereby reducing extra weight and increasing versatility. It serves as a cutting, chopping and sawing tool, and it keeps its edge—even if you lose yours! You can store supplies in the handle, dig a hole in just about any kind of surface and, of course, use it for self defense if the need arises.
PACK IT IN
There is a variety of shovels available on the market, and my advice is to put one in any kit you prepare for bugging out. Should an emergency situation come up and you’re in the great outdoors, it can prove a most valuable tool for a myriad of applications.
HEAD: 4140 chromoly alloy, precision-sharpened edges, saw-tooth edge and bottle opener
EDGE: strong and sharp for cutting, chopping and sawing
HANDLE: 14-inch, hollow steel; provides storage for a fire stick, fishing hooks and line, water purification tablets, snare wire, flashlight and knife
HAMMERHEAD: provides a wider surface to the head for easier use
CLAW: crowbar style; includes a woodworking chisel and pry
- 550 paracord wrapped on the handle to add grip strength and provide 15 feet of lifesaving material
- grade-A washer and custom steel collar with oversized thread pattern for a strong, no-slip locking position
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the April 2014 print issue of American Survival Guide.