How to Use an Entrenching Tool

Last update June 2, 2020
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What do campers, survivalists, military personnel, and even hikers all have in common? All of them have found themselves at one time or another in need of an effective digging tool that can be used in all different types of terrain. Whether you are on soft soil or harsh, rocky terrain, digging some kind of a hole or trench is often necessary when you’re outside of civilization. If you have found yourself in need of digging a hole or a trench while in the great outdoors, then you’re in the right place. Here we will talk about entrenching tools, the most effective ways for using them, and we will even help lead you to find the best entrenching tool for the job at hand.

How to Use an Entrenching Tool

How to use an entrenching tool

Whether you already have a tactical shovel or some other similar type of tool, or if you find yourself in need of one but don’t have one yet, it is best to know how to most effectively use these types of tools. Some people may be tempted to think that there’s nothing to it, as it’s just a special type of shovel. However, such type of thinking can lead someone to many hours of wasted effort and frustration if not used correctly. Learning about these tools, how they’re designed in a certain way, and how to properly wield and use them is essential to making them the most effective piece of camping or survival gear, and will help make your time outdoors much more productive.

What Is an Entrenching Tool?

Introduction to entrenching tools

Anyone who has spent time in the military, particularly a branch that often involves time spent out in the field, knows what an entrenching tool is, or may even know it by the term “E-tool”. For the rest of us, though, this term may or may not be self-explanatory. In short, an entrenching tool is a type of shovel that is meant to be carried on a person, allowing them to dig holes or trenches in an efficient manner. While some people may think that they have no difference from a standard shovel, this is definitely not true, especially so for the best military shovels that are used in various armies around the world.

Entrenching tools mainly differ from a standard shovel in several ways. For one, most standard shovels that can be purchased from the local hardware store are just too large and heavy to effectively carry around while you’re out away from civilization. Entrenching tools, on the other hand, are typically made to be much smaller, are constructed of lightweight materials, and are most often collapsible in order to allow them to be carried easily. Most modern entrenching tools will also have a blade that points at the end to allow for easier penetration or harder ground, or for scraping purposes where a large head is not needed, and some even have a serrated or sharpened edge that helps give them even more versatility in use.

How to Effectively Use an Entrenching Tool

Using an entrenching tool effectively

Based on the differences that an entrenching tool has in comparison to most normal shovels, one can probably guess that an entrenching tool has a wide variety of different uses. This, after all, is the true beauty of having one, and why these are far more practical to use out in the wilderness than a standard shovel. Although the range of different uses that they have can be almost limitless, there are a few standard purposes for which many a person has found them to be an ideal and extremely practical tool. Below are some of the most common uses that many people have found for a variety of different entrenching tools.


Good for digging

The main purpose of a shovel, and by extension an entrenching tool, is for digging, and that’s what these tools do best. As stated before, most entrenching tools often have a pointed blade that makes them good for digging in different types of ground. While digging is generally not a fun task to do for many reasons, the right entrenching tools will be designed in a way to make this process as easy and efficient as possible.


A quick and easy anchor

Do you often take a boat out to the middle of a lake, but often can’t find the right type of anchor that will help keep your boat in place? Some people have found certain entrenching tools to be ideal for this task. As most entrenching tools have a foldable head, folding the head 90 degrees and attaching it to a strong rope or chain can turn your entrenching tool into a quick and easy anchor that is best used for light boats.


A good way of chopping wood

Many of the entrenching tools that you’ll find marketed to campers and survivalists will often have a sharpened or serrated edge. That’s because many people have found such tools to be a good way for chopping wood, especially when they don’t have an axe with them. Although some entrenching tools will not be ideal for the task, they can certainly come in handy when you find the need to chop wood without having anything better on hand.


Can be used for cooking

Have you ever gone camping but then suddenly found yourself without having the right cooking tools for heating up a meal? An entrenching tool can come to the rescue here. When folded or extended out completely, most entrenching tools can be used as an ad hoc cooking pan should you find yourself in need of one.


The entrenching tool can be used as a seat

One other use that people have often found for an entrenching tool is as a makeshift seat. Although many of these tools don’t have multiple handles for providing a firm and completely stable base, they are often quite useful to make into a seat for times when you need to get off your feet for a few minutes and sitting on the ground isn’t quite ideal. 

The Best Entrenching Tool

Best entrenching tools

Now that you have seen some of the various ways that an entrenching tool can be used, you are no doubt wondering which entrenching tool is the best one to buy. This can be a tricky proposition for a number of different reasons, depending on the size of the tool that you need, how light it is, and what purposes it can be used for. If you are wondering this, you are certainly not alone. Virtually everyone who has found themselves wanting an entrenching tool has often dreamed about which model would be ideal for their uses.

The EST Gear Survival Shovel

The EST Gear Survival Shovel

The best entrenching tool that we have come across is the EST Gear Survival Shovel, an entrenching tool that has been made to be used for as wide of a variety of different purposes as possible. Why is it the best? There are quite a few different reasons for this, ranging from the build quality of the tool to the wide variety of different uses that it has been designed for. Below we will take a look at some of the qualities that make this the best all-around survival tool for anyone who needs one.

  • 18 Survival Tools in One

Earlier we listed just a handful of ways that entrenching tools can be used. With the EST Gear Survival Shovel, though, you get triple the number of uses out of this tool than what we mentioned. Along with many of the most common uses, this tool can be used for such things as a saw, a camping axe that rivals even the best tomahawks for survival, an ice pick, a ruler, a trowel, and also at least a dozen other uses. For example, the blade of this tool has various features that let you open cans, saw or chop through wood, take measurements, and even cut wires. In short, the variety of different ways that this entrenching tool can be used is mind-boggling.

  • Extremely Strong Construction

For any kind of survival tool, its durability is one of the top qualities that most people will look for, and that’s exactly what they will find in this survival shovel from EST Gear. This tool is made of heat treated high-quality solid carbon steel as well as aerospace-grade aluminum, making it a virtually indestructible tool that will easily handle any task that you put to it. In other words, you’ll get a lifetime of heavy-duty use out of this tool.

  • Compact and Lightweight

An extremely strong tool is great, but what is also necessary is one that doesn’t weigh a ton. Fortunately, despite the high durability of the EST Gear Survival Shovel, it also has compact dimensions and an extremely light weight that make it quite easy to take with you wherever you go. The tool is full-sized, yet fully collapsible in order to make it as easy as possible to store and carry with you, while giving you the versatility that you will need from it. It is also light enough to carry without feeling the weight of it. In fact, you’ll probably forget you’re carrying it until it is time to use it!


As you can see, entrenching tools on the whole have often proven themselves to be indispensable to those who have spent time outdoors for a variety of different reasons. Above all, though, the EST Gear Survival Shovel has been specially designed to meet the needs of any outdoorsman, camper, hiker, or survivalist, and will prove itself to be the best tool for virtually any type of use. Whether you need to replace an old, worn-out entrenching tool, or if you need to buy your first one, the EST Gear Survival Shovel is head and shoulders above anything else we’ve seen.