Best Camping Trowels Reviewed

steel folding trowel

Exceptionally built folding trowel. Click pic for current pricing.

One of the problems with being embarrassed with certain outdoor topics is that you tend to then forget necessary equipment to make your camping and hiking experiences complete. If you’re going to be camping a lot at rustic campsites, setting up hunting camps in the middle of nowhere, or doing some serious through hiking then you will want to make sure you have the right equipment to get the perfect camping bathrooms set up.

A camping trowel is a critical piece of outdoor equipment, and there are many good ones to choose from. Whether you’re a long distance backpacker and thru hiker, a rustic camper, or a survivalist who doesn’t want to be caught realizing you need a tool you don’t have in a practice survival situation, there are many great reasons to make sure you have one of these quality trowels in your pack, not the least of which is digging a cathole or latrine hole when a portable camping toilet simply isn’t an option.

Read on to learn our top choices for this outdoor tool to add to your gear!

Trowel NameOur Rating (Out of 5.0)Click for Up to Date Pricing

Coghlan's Backpackers Trowel

Grizzly Peak Ultra Lightweight Backpacker's Trowel

The Tentlab Deuce of Spades Trowel

HTS 220F8 Folding Stainless Steel Camping Trowel

SOG Entrenching Tool F08-N

Camping toilet checklist:

Our Picks for Top Camping Trowels:

orange plastic trowelCoghlan’s Backpackers Trowel

One of the most highly rated backpacking trowels on any list, Coghlan makes an extremely good ultra lightweight model (molded from high impact polystyrene) that comes in at a mere 2 ounces yet is firm and study enough to break through most soil types for when nature calls and you need to dig a decent sized cat hole fast.

Generally orange in color and also available in three packs, these trowels are also very inexpensive making them very popular with various outdoor enthusiasts.

Having the right tools when out in the wild is crucial. You want to always dispose of waste properly when camping or out in the wild. This inexpensive trowel is reliable for a wide variety of soil types, even hardened desert soil like what you find in Arizona and Texas during the height of summer.

However, there is one potential downside to this model. While good for tough dirt and soil, these do not have serrated edges or the extra sharp points or sides that can be critical if you’re cutting through soil thick with small roots from grass, weeds, and small plants in the area.

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black green plastic trowelGrizzly Peak Ultra Lightweight Backpacker’s Trowel

Available in black & green or orange & gray color combinations, these inexpensive but well designed plastic trowels are near the top of the list when it comes to the best cheap backpacker trowels. The Grizzly Peak company manages to create a good backpacking (or gardening) trowel that gets the job done even in especially hard soil while taking it easy on your pocketbook.

Weighing just a sliver under two ounces, these are built to be as sturdy as possible without weighing down the pack. Considering that long distance backpackers are going to need this tool as much as anyone, it’s refreshing to see certain pieces of outdoor gear that are designed to work for the audience that needs them most.

Measuring 11″ long and 3.5″ wide, these trowels are strong and designed to cut through hard dry ground without an issue. A rubber thumb grip and good handle design means that you can hold this tool easily and get to the bottom of some hard soil to set up the perfect cathole or even dig deeper for a self dug latrine that needs to work for several days.
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seven colored trowels on grassThe Tentlab Deuce of Spades Trowel

Sporting a very different and extremely unique design, the Tentlab Deuce of Spades trowel definitely sticks out among the competition and that’s not only because of its unique design but because of a variety of other specific traits that make it really look difference from the rest of the competition that is out there.

Made from aerospace aluminum and designed so both ends can be used for digging or removing dirt, depending on how much it needs to be broken up, the Deuce of Spades gets especially high marks when it comes to dealing with tricky ground where you need to be able to cut through roots in order to get a good solid hole dug.

The special aluminum material used in construction means that these are super lightweight in addition to being extremely tough. Unlike the occasional cheap plastic trowels, these aren’t just going to snap at random – they are going to last the test of time over and over again. This is a great option for backpackers, campers, or even gardeners.

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folded steel hand spade

Click picture for up to date pricing.

HTS 220F8 Folding Stainless Steel Camping Trowel

Some people are perfectly fine with the inexpensive plastic trowels, while others want aluminum at an absolute minimum. Then there are the group of campers and hikers who simply believe in the power of steel and that’s where the HTS 220F8 comes in as a high quality camping trowel made from stainless steel that is not only well designed and constructed, but also won’t throw off the weight of a pack or bust your budget.

This trowel weighs 4.7 ounces and it comes with a nylon pouch that allows for easy storage and carrying, as well. While used mostly as a digging tool the use of steel allows it to be versatile, as it can even be used to scale fish or be heated to work for cooking in a limited capacity. There are many outdoor enthusiasts who really like this particular model, but there is one serious potential flaw that a few buyers have reported: on some models the handle has not held up well when dealing with a particularly weighted load of dirt and stone, which would definitely cause some legitimate frustration.
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black portable shovel toolSOG Entrenching Tool F08-N-Folding Shovel

Created from high carbon steel this entrenching tool and folding shovel isn’t your conventional backpacker trowel, but it works great for this purpose.

Perhaps even better in some situations, but this high carbon steel folding shovel isn’t exactly backpacker friendly but at 18.25 inches and a mere 24.5 ounces, this is still a high quality tool that can move dirt, sand, and snow.

This is definitely a quality tool. Not only is there the obvious shovel, but a serrated edge with tempered steel means cutting and slashing is possible with this particular tool. This tool can be used as a hoe or pick, as well, adding to its sheer versatility and helps explain why these types of tools are favorites among survivalists and many outdoor enthusiasts who like the ultra rustic camping side of things.

The tri-fold design makes them especially easy to fold up and pack, and a lifetime warranty helps buyers rest assured that they are covered no matter how often they use the tool. This is designed to hold up against the test of time.
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Plan Your Camping Latrine Setup

This is really an important part of the process. Whether you are on an epic through hike like on the PCT or CDT and need to create a new spot to do your business at each one, or set up a camping bathroom that is going to work the weekend for your small rustic site, there are just certain tools that you will need in order to set up everything the way you want it.

You will want to plan your campsite whenever possible. Any outdoor bathroom whether you’re setting up a latrine for multiple uses or just setting up a one time use cat hole, you need to make sure you are at least 200 feet away from any trail, campsite, or water source. Keeping nature as pure as possible is critical, and you don’t want cross contamination.

Why Plastic Trowels Over Metal Trowels?

This might seem strongly counter-intuitive at first and there was definitely a time not all that long ago when going with a metal trowel would have made sense. That being said, plastic doesn’t necessarily mean plastic anymore. There are types of plastic that are incredibly hard, just as good as metal, and without the issues that come with metal like rusting or weight (which is a huge one if you are backpacking long distances).

With these specially formed plastics the design can be changed and altered to be more lightweight, more streamlined, or in some cases even look completely different from what you would see from a traditional metal trowel design. These different designs have been shown to work really well and it is now even possible to get trowels that specialize in pulling up a certain type of soil or dirt.

In Conclusion

While digging a proper cat hole and setting up your perfect outdoor latrine are not sexy topics by any stretch of the imagination but this is a very important topic and making sure you have the right tools is crucial to setting up everything correctly so you can take care of your business, not threaten your campsite or any local water supplies, and pack out easily. This starts with having a high quality backpacking trowel that will help you cut through the dirt, because these aren’t the types of holes you want to dig with bare hands when nature is calling and the dirt needs to be moved quickly. Always have a good backpacker’s trowel on hand and you’ll be a lot happier.

Good How To Dig A Proper Latrine Hole Video