Entrenching Tool

Get a real shovel! I like the "T" or "D" handle types personally for carrying in a vehicle for recovery and/or camp purposes; these also work much better than "entrenching tools" for digging machine gun pits! :LOL:

Ive been considering one to go with my recovery gear (aimed at winter) but not sure which are good/not good.

What do you guys carry?

There's ones like the Cold Steel with hardwood non folding and plenty of different folders. Im not opposed to either, but would like one to work when needed.

Thanks in advance.

Happy Joe

Apprentice Geezer
I carry (though rarely use any more) U.S. G.I. (Government Issue) tri-fold E-tools in all my vehicles; they store more compactly (unnoticeably) than even the mini garden spades. (they are enough to get by; usually get (others) unstuck , clean out fire pits and dig cat holes).... BEWARE of junk imported imitations they will fold/self destruct in relatively light snow...
When planning on digging I bring full sized tools; bigger tools (typically) make the work easier.
The very small D-handle garden spades will also work (but not as well as full sized tools).
In the off road vehicles I also carry Svensaws (folding bow saws) and small G.I. pick-mattocks (very hard to find any more) or mini G.I. Mattock-axes, along with stretchy snatch straps and rated shackles.

IMO; other than when wheeling in DEEP (bumper +, or deeper) snow/mud; getting stuck/spinning tires usually mean that a vehicle, equipment or skill upgrade is needed.

Last edited:


Ive been considering one to go with my recovery gear (aimed at winter) but not sure which are good/not good.

What do you guys carry?

There's ones like the Cold Steel with hardwood non folding and plenty of different folders. Im not opposed to either, but would like one to work when needed.

Thanks in advance.
For many many years I carried a little folding shovel (E tool) while in the Army. I had a few versions ( issued to me and ones I bought) and the one thing they all had in common was they suck.

Now I am out of the Army and will never have to deal with one of those worthless POS folding shovels again. Now I carry a small solid shovel with a wood handle. For me a little shovel is fine but I am only digging holes to poop in.
IF you need to rely on your shovel GET A GOOD SHOVEL. Save your back, get the biggest one you can fit.


nomadic man
I used my little Glock E tool to dig out my buddy's 43' Winnebago diesel pusher.
He likes to camp back in the woods with me in my little class C.
When we went to leave, he got stcuk in some soft ground.
All we had was my E tool, it took us about three hours to get it rolling again.
Yes, the E tool sucked for the job, however, it did do the job.

I got it for my motorcycle, along with a Gerber Pacaxe. Both proved to be useful items when
out in the boonies. Compact yet works well enough to get the job done.


I got one these Gerber things back when they were around $50 or less---I have no idea why they'd be $100 now?https://www.amazon.com/GERBER-Entrenching-Folding-Plastic-Foliage/dp/B000OGZIG6/ref=asc_df_B000OGZIG6/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309717869430&hvpos=1o4&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4748382019617302851&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9031041&hvtargid=pla-584193839988&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=60671418454&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=309717869430&hvpos=1o4&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4748382019617302851&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9031041&hvtargid=pla-584193839988
I keep it in the vehicle at all times. But...I bring "real" tools** if I think there's a chance of having to seriously repair the/make a new dirt road in remote areas.
** Real tools is:
1 ea D-handle shovel approx 4',
1 ea Pulaski ax,
1 ea McLeod rake,
1 ea 4-5' long pry bar,

Happy Joe

Apprentice Geezer
Rarely do I need to do construction in remote areas; when I needed to do significant earth moving (at a home/cabin site) I used significant tools (a back hoe, or skid steer for example)...
Normally, I don't do construction/destruction any more so the full sized hand tools usually remain in the shed.
When participating in trail maintenance I bring the full sized tools.
In the vehicles for road trips, camping and wheeling; room is limited and unless snow wheeling; it is simply not worth while, for me, to bring full sized tools (my vehicles are well setup including proper axle gearing and selectable lockers and have GOOD medium to high traction mud tires (NOT ATs); stuck is not a concern.... those with less capable vehicles will likely need more & bigger tools.
It has been so long since I needed a winch that I haven't bothered to put one on the newest old vehicles...
Obviously folks will wheel/explore differently and there will be a few with something against E-tools but when its all that you have because the doubters didn't bring what they say they "use" a Good e-tool, will normally get the job done... over the last 50 years they have been mostly used for cat holes/sanitation, or to clean out preexisting fire pits (far from hard work).

Tried, and used many vehicle tools and setups the mini pioneer rack and an air compressor is small enough to stay (mostly) hidden in the vehicles until needed...(along with the TP)
Larger never/rarely used tools like the winch and hi-lift got semi-permanently stored in the shed decades ago.
When dropping trees and moving logs I do typically use a chainsaw and log chain, however, this is not normal while camping/wheeling/exploring, IMO.
The vehicle jacks are hydraulic and will work on their sides...
A 6" piece of 4x4 is normally along for the ride as a jack extension or wheel chock.

...A note: you do have to be smart enough not to get in beyond the point where self extraction is still possible... Gravity works going downhill but can be a real pain going uphill on steep loose slopes.

Last edited:
that smitty is part of their defender rack line. it originated with con-ferr, who went out of business , who also had used a different rack manufacture to make some of their parts, then sold out to ORW. ORW came out with the defender rack line ages ago and then ended up selling the line to smittybilt who continued to produce the same products. Smitty took some of the original products and made improvements to them ( such as a uniform cross bar spacing on the roof racks) and others were continued with the original design.

the smitty shovel and axe is available in two flavors. the d8005 which is just the brackets, and the d8138 which is the brackets and adapter brackets to bolt to the defender racks. They are pretty adaptable and i have used them in many builds. I normally stock them with a full size fiberglass shovel or fiskars shovel ( full metal) and a fiskars axe.


Expedition Leader
I've been using one of the old Con-Ferr brackets for ages. Carrying an actual shovel is almost as invaluable. Although I don't carry a full length, so I'm but an overlanding poseur.


Recommended books for Overlanding

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term Wo...
by Rolf Potts
From $14.29
Sailing Alone Around the World: a Personal Account of the...
by Joshua Slocum
From $26
Tortillas to Totems (Every day an Adventure Book 4)
by Sam Manicom
From $9.99
Cycling the Great Divide: From Canada to Mexico on North ...
by Michael McCoy, venture Cycling Association
From $9.99
Motorcycle Messengers 2: Tales from the Road by Writers w...
by Jeremy Kroeker, Ted Simon, Lois Pryce, Billy Ward,...
From $9.99