In Search of… The Goldilocks Overland Shovel
I’ll admit to hauling some gear around for years that I’ve never once needed, but our shovel isn’t one of those. We use our shovel on darn near every adventure. I won’t leave home without it.
The #1 use for our shovel is Fire Duty. Whether digging a firepit, moving hot coals, or extinguishing the fire before bed, there’s no substitute for a good shovel with a long enough handle to not leave you with your eyebrows fully-intact.
The #2 use for our shovel is literally #2- Latrine Duty. There’s nothing worse than finding a serene off-grid spot to camp for the night, and finding bits of toilet paper scattered about. We’re firm believers in Leave No Trace, and always dig cat holes for #2. Having a shovel in camp alongside the TP and hand sanitizer keeps things tidy, and sanitary.
The #3 use for our shovel is vehicle recovery. Making a flat spot for your jack, removing sand from in front of your tires, clearing snow from under the frame rails. Prepare for the unexpected.
Which shovel you carry is really a matter of your available space, and your budget. The cool kids in the overland community are ‘digging’ the Krazy Beaver shovel with it’s zombie-slayer looks, break-down design, and ‘elite’ price point. No doubt it’s a sweet scoop if you’ve got the budget.
If you really want a Krazy Beaver, but think $150 for a shovel is a bit mental, take a look at the Seymour Midwest Structron for around half the price. Not quite as 'Krazy', but a full-size shovel with that same toothy-grin worn by the Krazy Beaver for breaking up hard ground and cutting through stubborn roots.
On the flipside, some people opt for a cheap folding shovel that can fit comfortably in their man bag. This RedCamp shovel also converts to a pick for trenching. I'll just say, I’m not a huge fan of folding shovels, unless you are seriously constrained on space. A trail shovel should be large enough to use while standing (36+ inches), rigid enough to withstand using it pry rocks and hard ground (no moving parts), weatherproof (no wood handles) and darn near indestructible.
My top recommendation is what I call the 'Goldilocks' shovel. The Nupla Power Pylon is not too big, not too small, not dirt cheap, but not stupid-expensive. It's super-rugged, and unlike the Crazy Beaver, it won’t leave your neighbors with the impression that you have a side hustle as an extra on The Walking Dead.
It's a heavy-duty mid-size shovel at 40” long, with a large round blade, rugged fiberglass handle, and a handy D-grip. And because it’s designed for industrial applications, it’s safety-orange in color. We love the size, function, and great looks on the back of our rig. This just-right shovel will outlast us, and is our go-to digger for all of our off-grid adventures.
We attach it to our bumper with a pair of Quick Fist Clamps. The quick-release adjustable rubber jaws have kept our shovel from moving or rattling over thousands of miles off-road.
The only thing that would improve the Quick Fist Clamps would be a locking mechanism to keep our super-cool shovel from ‘walking away’ when parked amongst Muggles. For that reason, we run a cable lock through the D-handle when in-transit. The Masterlock Python locking cable won’t keep out the real creeps but will keep honest people honest.
And by the way, we haven’t been paid by any of these manufacturers to say nice things about their products. We write about what works for us. If you find this info useful, click one of our links below to learn more or make a purchase.