5 of the Best Backpacking Trowels for Camping & Hiking 2023

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5 of the best backpacking trowels

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As you plan your next backpacking trip, we thought it might be helpful to include a few thoughts on what features make an excellent backpacking trowel.

We’ve looked at 5 of the best backpacking trowels currently available and listed them below with their features. Most people don’t think about picking up a backpacking trowel until they start thinking about hiking or camping gear- but this is one item that should not be ignored!

Backpacking cathole trowels are an essential part of leave no trace wild camping, we all have to go, and that is best done by digging a cathole, well out the way of people, waterways, walkways.

In a Hurry? – Here’s Our Top Pick

Sale
TheTentLab Deuce(R) Ultralight Backpacking Potty…
  • International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad…
  • Three sizes: #1 – .45oz, #2 – .60oz and #3 – .97oz
  • An excellent aid to leave no trace backpacking – it really helps…
  • Strong and tough, they’re made of aerospace grade 7075-T6…
  • Lifetime Warranty for years of impressive service – guaranteed…

Last update on 2024-02-29 at 02:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

What to Look for in a Backpacking Trowel 

A good camping trowel should be strong and lightweight, and I prefer a one-piece construction that way; there are no joints to snap when digging.

I like all-metal construction as it’s lightweight and robust when digging hard ground or around roots, though some of the plastic options are good in the correct environment (soft mud/sand).

The material a backpacking trowel is made of needs to be chosen according to the environment you’ll find yourself in.

If I’m backpacking, hiking on mostly hard ground, then an all-metal construction works best for me as it’s lightweight and robust when digging and will not quickly go dull; a trowel with a serrated edge can be helpful around tree roots.

I don’t find plastic trowels do well in hard ground and where there may be tree roots, so I would advise you to buy a metal camping trowel and call it good its got you covered in all situations and should last you for years.

Material:

  • Plastic – Tends to be heavier than some of the metal options as it needs to be thicker to make up the strength in the trowel
  • Metal – most metal backpacking trowels are made from aluminum or titanium, making them both lightweight and robust but also thin, making digging into hard ground and roots easier.

Length:

Put simply, the longer the handle, the easier it is to dig with! But there are also the factors such as the thickness of the handle to grip onto.

If you suffer from poor had grip or arthritis, a thin metal handle may not be for you, and you may prefer a larger rubber overmould handle.

Edge:

To make digging easier, your trowel will need to have a sharp edge, so again we go back to the material.

  • Plastic trowels over time will lose the sharpness of their edge, and plastic being thicker, the edge is often not as sharp as a metal trowel and usually doesn’t last for very long.
  • Metal trowels are thinner and therefore sharper by default and will hold an edge way longer; most metal trowels come with a serrated edge, making munching through roots ad hard ground far easier.

Why Do You Need A Backpacking Trowel

A backpacking trowel is a versatile tool that can be incredibly useful for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly those who engage in backpacking, camping, or hiking. Here are several reasons why you might need a backpacking trowel:

  1. Digging Cat Holes: When you’re camping or backpacking in the wilderness, it’s essential to practice Leave No Trace principles. This includes properly disposing of human waste by digging “cat holes” for burying it. A trowel makes it easier to dig these holes, ensuring proper waste disposal and minimizing the environmental impact.
  2. Tent Stakes and Anchors: A backpacking trowel can be helpful for digging small holes to anchor tent stakes, guy lines, or other equipment. It allows you to secure your tent or shelter more effectively, especially in areas with rocky or hard-packed soil.
  3. Campsite Preparation: A trowel can be useful for preparing your campsite. You can use it to clear rocks, level the ground, or create small trenches around your tent to divert water and prevent flooding during rainstorms.
  4. Cooking and Fire Pit Preparation: If you plan to cook meals or have a campfire, a trowel can assist in preparing the fire pit. You can use it to dig out the pit, clear debris, and create a safe space for your fire or cooking equipment.
  5. Trail Maintenance: In some situations, backpackers may encounter overgrown trails, fallen branches, or other obstacles that impede their progress. A trowel can serve as a lightweight and compact tool to clear vegetation, remove debris, or create makeshift steps, enhancing your hiking experience.
  6. Emergency Situations: A backpacking trowel can be a valuable survival tool in emergency situations. You can use it to dig trenches for water collection, construct emergency shelters, or even create signaling devices.
  7. Gardening or Planting: If you’re interested in foraging or planting small seeds or saplings during your outdoor adventures, a backpacking trowel can assist you in digging holes and preparing the soil.

Remember that when selecting a backpacking trowel, opt for a lightweight and durable option specifically designed for outdoor use. Always follow local regulations and ethical practices when using a trowel in the wilderness.

The Deuce of Spades Backpacking Trowel #2 

Sale
TheTentLab Deuce(R) Ultralight Backpacking Potty…
  • International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad…
  • Three sizes: #1 – .45oz, #2 – .60oz and #3 – .97oz
  • An excellent aid to leave no trace backpacking – it really helps…
  • Strong and tough, they’re made of aerospace grade 7075-T6…
  • Lifetime Warranty for years of impressive service – guaranteed…

Last update on 2024-02-29 at 02:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Weight – 17g

length – 17.2 cm

Material – Aluminium

features:

  • A featherweight at only 17g and durable, this version is surprisingly strong
  • can attach easily to your backpack using a lanyard. 
  • comes in many bright colors, making it easy to find in any terrain
  • The Deuce of Spades Backpacking Trowel is a worthwhile investment for any outdoors enthusiast. 

The Deuce of Spades Backpacking Trowel is light, sharp, and tough. It’s available in multiple bright colors so you won’t lose it (and the handy-dandy lanyard hole lets you clip it to your backpack) and features aluminum construction that is durable and long-lasting, weighing in at a mere 17 grams, ideal for lightweight backpacking.

JUPSK Military Portable trowel 

Multi Tool Survival Shovel Camping Spade Metal…
  • Material: This outdoor digging shovel is made of heavy duty and…
  • Ergonomic handle: ​The handle is made from comfortable Nylon…
  • Multi tool: It is not only a garden shovel, but also a nail…
  • SERRATED Jagged edge design. The sharpened edge is for digging…
  • Easy to Carry: This mini shovel comes with a storage bag, which…

Last update on 2024-02-29 at 02:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Weight – 192g

length – 26.3 cm

Material – Hardened steel

features:

  • Paracord handle (290cm) always useful to have around camp
  • Serrated edge making for effortless digging around roots
  • Carrying pouch keeps your kit clean
  • Lifetime warranty say no more

The JUPSK Military Portable trowel is a must-have for your outdoor adventures. Whether you are in the woods or the hills, this tool has been designed to help you dig holes for firepits, catholes, and so much more!

This is one of the heavier and larger in size options on the market, so it would not suit someone looking for an ultralight backpacking kit,

This product comes with an attached paracord handle that measures approximately 290cm long.

The serrated edge of the trowel will make digging through hard soil and tree roots easy and efficient.

With a carrying pouch included, you won’t have to worry about messing up the rest of your kit in your backpack.

TheTentLab Deuce Ultralight Backpacking Trowel 

The Deuce(R) Ultralight Backpacking Potty Trowel -…
  • First, save yourself a ton of time and use the Deuce UPSIDE-DOWN…
  • Three models; #1 is the lightest at .45oz (the weight of just 2…
  • Tumbled until fully de-burred; smooth, rounded edges and shape is…
  • Anodized in fun colors to prevent corrosion and surface damage;…
  • International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad…

Last update on 2024-02-29 at 02:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Weight – 12g

length – 16.5 cm

Material – Aluminium 

features:

  • super lightweight coming in at only 12g will suit the ultralight backpacker
  • easy to pack at only 16.5cm in length
  • Finger grip contours on the handle
  • minimalist design

The TentLab Deuce Ultralight Backpacking Trowel is a lightweight, versatile, and durable tool that any hiker or backpacker should have in their pack.

It measures just 16.5cm long, making it easy to pack! Featuring a minimalist design with finger grip contours on the handle.

Weighing in at only 12g, The Deuce is also amazingly lightweight, making all the difference when packing for a long multi-day hike.

Plastic Cathole Trowels

GSI Outdoors Cathole Trowel 

GSI Cathole Trowel Racket, Unisex, Adult, Green,…
  • GSI OUTDOORS hard material
  • Unisex Adult Camping Hiking Bat
  • Cathole Trowel (2010)

Last update on 2024-02-29 at 02:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Weight – 90g

length – 15.2 cm

Material – plastic

features:

  • Solid one-piece construction
  • Comfortable handgrip
  • Serrated digging edge to help power through small roots
  • Measurements on the trowel

The GSI Outdoors Cathole Trowel weighs in at 90g and is small enough to stash in a pocket, pack, or even on your belt!

The trowel’s serrated edges make it easier to slice through tough dirt and small roots, making digging out a cathole quick and easy.

Made of recycled plastic and coming with a little card booklet attached containing information on Leave No Trace Camping practices, this trowel is durable yet easy to carry.

Coghlans Back Packers Trowel 

Sale
Coghlan’s – Scoop – Unbreakable, Orange
  • Light weight and almost unbreakable scoop
  • Ideal for travelling, while hiking, backpacking etc.
  • With measuring indications on scoop

Last update on 2024-02-29 at 02:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Weight – 45g

length – 28 cm

Material – plastic

features:

  • Budget-friendly not sure you can buy anything purpose made for the outdoors cheaper
  • Lightweight coming in at only 45g
  • Bright color making it hard to lose in the undergrowth 

The Coghlan’s Back Packers Trowels are at a budget-friendly price that is hard to beat by any other purpose-made outdoor trowel on the market.

They come in bright orange, which makes it easy to find if you misplace it while camping. If you are looking for the cheapest backpacking trowel on the market, then this is it. 

Final Thoughts

Backpacking Trowels are one of the essential tools for any backpacker and can make all the difference in your experience.

Whether you’re going on a day hike or an extended backpacking trip, any of these 6 trowels will serve you well on your outdoor adventures!

We hope this guide has helped you find the perfect tool for whatever adventure awaits. Wherever life takes you, be prepared with quality equipment.

Looking for a folding shovel? check out our post here

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