Should I carry a shovel on my backpacking trip?

If you are going on an overnight backpacking trip or a thru-hike, you should carry a shovel with you. You might think that kicking the dirt with your shoe will create a large enough hole for your needs, but in most cases it’s almost impossible to create a cat hole (6 inch hole to bury your waste) with only your shoe. A shovel makes digging a hole much easier and reduces unnecessary wear and tear on your shoes.

shovels being measured

Plastic Shovel

Weight:  1.8 ounces (51 grams)

Blade Length: 6 inches

Pros: Cost, blade length, comfortable handle, easy to see orange color

Cons: weight, plastic more likely to break


Coghlan’s Backpacker’s Trowel

Retail Cost: $5

Aluminum Shovel

Weight:  0.6 ounces (17 grams)

Blade Length: 3.5 inches

Pros: lightweight, durable

Cons: expensive, short blade length, uncomfortable handle


The Deuce of Spades

Retail Cost: $20


So is it worth carrying a shovel with you? Yes! If you plan on going on a multiple day backpacking trip, you should carry a shovel with you. For most hikers and backpackers, the affordable orange plastic shovel will work fine. But for long-distance hikers and thru-hikers that want to save weight and are not price sensitive, the aluminum and titanium shovels might be the better choice.