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Thread: Trowels and Shovels for Backpacking

  1. #21
    Scout darodalaf's Avatar
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    Everyone who doesn't 'get' trowels lives in places with normal dirt. Dig a hole with your boot-heel, indeed! I need TNT to make a modest cat-hole where I go.

    Seriously, trying to dig a cat-hole with a plastic trowel in the decomposed granite 'soil' and caliche that is common around here is not just pointless, it is comedic. And you don't want to laugh while squatting over a broken plastic trowel with a full colon.

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  3. #22
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    I take a E-tool. When i got to go i got to go NOW !! I ain't taking any time sharpening a stick! Plus the shovel come in handy when moving hot coals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by supersloth View Post
    I take a E-tool. When i got to go i got to go NOW !! I ain't taking any time sharpening a stick! Plus the shovel come in handy when moving hot coals.
    Exactly!

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    Iz

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    I take a small trowel when backpacking, i use it for:

    Latrine package disposal
    On the rare occasion i have a fire i remove the top layer, have the fire then return the top layer, as i absolutely hate seeing fire scars left by lazy campers.
    Also found it was a pretty good splint when a buddy sprained his wrist.

    Many areas where i hike you cannot guarantee there will be any trees or even wood, and there is no way i'm using my knife to dig a hole, so i take a small light hand shovel with me.
    Last edited by gixer; 01-23-2013 at 08:04 PM.

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    I have a small U-Dig-It stainless steel trowel that lives on my belt when I'm out. It's very low profile and I don't notice it at all, even when wearing my pack. I haven't weighed it, but I'm sure it's a matter of ounces. I understand that they all add up, but I don't see it as being too critical. Like Iz and Sloth mentioned, scooping coals can easily be done with a small metal shovel. Less easily done with a stick, though still possible. Not recommended with plastic!

    The other reason I carry and use a trowel is somewhat prissy, but I hate to get my hands dirty, esp. if it's not easy for me to wash them. Using a digging stick is great, but it doesn't scoop the dirt out. A trowel helps alleviate my OCD.

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    I have the large one of these.

    http://www.qiwiz.net/trowels.html

    It's not the cheapest option, but I believe it is the lightest and it is Made in USA

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  11. #27
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    Most times out, I carry a big heavy Czech military shovel (24" long, 6.5" wide shovel). Sharpened to knife edge on on all sides. It's sorta like a Cold Steel shovel x2. If I was building my gear pile -- instead of paring it down -- I would probably buy a CS shovel instead due to the weight & size.

    The most common things it does for me is dig cat holes and clear fire pits. It's also pretty good for chopping up branches (90 degree crosscuts up to 1-2" in one chop). This makes short work of fallen deadwood, especially when coupled with a take-down bow saw and a stout battoning knife. That said, the shovel does not come out every trip... More like half the time.

    I frequently camp in areas where there is a designated fire pit or ring. Usually, these are completely overflowing with ash and dirt. I like to clean them out as best I can for the next guy. Not sure it's the right thing to do, but I spread the ash out over a very wide area so as not to choke out any growth.

    I've also been known to "improve" my sleeping area a bit... and it's an absolutely rock-solid ground anchor (vs. tent pegs) when one is needed.


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    I completely understand that a shovel is very nice to have on occasion. But, is it REALLY needed? If you put your mind to it you can easily improvise and save yourself from carrying that pound or two of extra weight. But hey hike your own hike, by all means if you want to carry one I won't stop you. I have been backpacking for quite a few years all over the us and have hiked almost 8000 miles, and never once have I wished I had a shovel or trowel. There is almost always a way to do what you are trying to do with an improvised method/tool.

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    Up-thread I stated that I find a trowel to be largely unnecessary, except on day trips where I expect to be foraging for wild edibles, or on longer canoe-trips, where I expect to be foraging. The weight and bulk of a trowel is hard for me to justify on backpacking trips where going light is at a premium. But that's for 3-season outings.

    In winter, it's a different matter. I never go camping without a take-down shovel, and even when snowshoeing off-trail, I strap a shovel to my day pack as a precaution against entrapment and because it's such a practical way to make a quick temporary shelter from wind when I want to stop for a break or lunch. For any interested in the risks posed by tree wells or spruce traps in winter, I began a thread about that a while back. Here's the link for those who might be interested in the merits of a shovel for snowy winter outings: http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/showth...ight=tree+well

    Hope this helps,
    - Martin

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    I wouldn't be without one, mine is a folding stainless steel trowel, it's billed as a folding camping shovel, but it's trowel sized and the handle folds over the blade and stores in a nylon belt pouch.
    There are several companies making and marketing these things, and prices can run as much as $30.00 bucks, the model I use is strong, the handle locks in securly, and it doesn't bend or deform when using it in tough ground, one side can be sharpened and used as a cutting tool for cutting cordage or small roots, or in a survival situation can substitute for a knife or spear point.
    I like it because it's compact, light, and it works, I use it for cat holes, fire holes, and clearing my bedroll space, but it really comes into it's own around the camp fire, try that with a plastic trowel.
    I seldom use a stove, i prefer to cook over coals, preparing and maintaining a cook fire including moving coals from the main fire to a cooking area such as in a key hole fire is so much easier with a metal trowel or small shovel, and if you bake with a small dutch oven or inverting pie pans, the trowel is great for placing coals on top of your make shift oven.

    I now have a few of them in different packs, I get them at Walmart, and the cost is $4.99 each, Why would you not have one ?

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