Best Backpacking Trowels of 2024

Best Backpacking Trowels: A Zpacks trowel in use

In this post, we'll take a look at:

If you’re into long backpacking trips, picking the best backpacking trowel is really important. Choosing wisely can provide a helpful tool for many years with multiple uses.

When selecting one, pay attention to factors like its weight, durability, size, and efficiency.

Our guide is designed to assist you in finding the best backpacking trowel. We have picked some of the lightest options available and categorized them, making it easier for you to choose from.

Let’s get started.

What are the Best Backpacking Trowels?

  1. Most Ultralight: TheTentLab The Deuce #1 (0.45oz/12.7g)
  2. Best Overall: TheTentLab The Deuce #2 (0.60oz/16.7g)
  3. Best Value: Zpacks Ultralight Trowel (0.81oz/23g)
  4. Multifunctional Option: Vargo Titanium Dig Dig Tool (1.27oz/36g)
  5. Budget Option: Gossamer Gear Ultralight Backpacking Trowel (0.47oz/13.5g)

Dig deeper by reading on or check out the video summary:

1. Most Ultralight
TheTentLab The Deuce #1

TheTentLab The Deuce #1

Key Specs


Weight: 0.45 ounces (12.7 grams)
Length: 6.5″ (16.6 cm)
Material: Aluminium
Price: $$

PROS


✅ Ultralight

✅ Rewarding if used correctly

CONS


❌ Smaller size

❌ Can struggle with roots

❌ Not for beginners

The TentLab’s Deuce #1 UUL Trowel is a special tool designed for those who truly grasp its unique features and applications. That’s why the manufacturer suggests it’s best suited for devoted enthusiasts.

At 25% lighter than the Deuce #2, it has an incredibly light and slim design. However, using it effectively requires dedication from fans who appreciate its benefits.

If you’re willing to learn its specific techniques, such as using both hands to support it without applying too much force, you’ll have a remarkably light and efficient tool that stands out from the rest. Don’t worry, instructions on how to use it are available on the manufacturer’s website.

However, if you’re someone aiming to quickly and efficiently manage your catholes, continue reading this guide.


2. Best Overall
TheTentLab The Deuce #2

TheTentLab The Deuce #2

Key Specs


Weight: 0.60 ounces (16.7 grams)
Length: 6.8″ (17.3 cm)
Material: Aluminium
Price: $$

PROS


✅ Ultralight

✅ Durable

CONS


❌ Really none

The TentLab’s Deuce #2 UL Trowel is a groundbreaking tool for ultralight backpackers. Its unique design allows for versatile use with the handle up or down, providing extra digging power when needed. That’s why it’s our top overall pick.

Made from aerospace-grade aluminum, it combines exceptional strength with an impressively lightweight build. Slightly larger than the Deuce #1, it offers more material thickness-wise, making it a bit stronger.

Thoughtful design details, like the teeth for cutting through roots and the ergonomic handle, make it a standout choice for backcountry needs. Fortunately, the teeth aren’t too sharp, making it easy to pack with other gear, although cutting through roots may require a bit of effort.


3. Best Value
Zpacks Ultralight Trowel

Zpacks Ultralight Trowel

Key Specs


Weight: 0.81 ounces (23 grams)
Length: 6.75″ (17 cm)
Material: Aluminium
Price: $$

PROS


✅ Warranty

✅ Durable

CONS


❌ Smaller size

Meet the Zpacks Ultralight Trowel—an incredibly lightweight solution for your backcountry bathroom needs. Weighing just 0.81 oz (23g), this sleek and compact tool is designed with four teeth for efficient cat hole digging, effortlessly cutting through roots.

The handle features grip-enhancing indentations and can be flipped for breaking down tough surfaces. Easily attach it to your backpack or keychain to keep it from contacting your other gear.

Although slightly shorter and a bit heavier than the Deuce #2, the Zpacks Trowel offers excellent value and comes with a 2-year warranty. It’s perfect for those looking for a compact and reliable option from a more mainstream company.


4. Multifunctional Option
Vargo Titanium Dig Dig Tool

Vargo Titanium Dig Dig Tool

Key Specs


Weight: 1.27 ounces (36 grams)
Length: 8.1 inches (20.5 cm)
Material: Titanium
Price: $$$

PROS


✅ High quality

✅ Great length

CONS


❌ Relatively expensive

❌ Very sharp

The Titanium Dig Dig Tool by Vargo Outdoors is a unique and practical tool for ultralight backpackers. Its design works as both a small shovel and a tent peg, so it’s versatile and convenient.

The sharp edges can cut smaller branches to make it even more useful, but be careful when using or packing it with your other gear. Overall, this titanium tool’s many uses make it a great addition to your camping gear.

It’s a bit heavier compared to similar tools, but it’s longer, which is fantastic if you want a longer shovel. Even with the extra weight, it’s a top choice if you want one tool that does a lot.


5. Budget Option
Gossamer Gear Ultralight Backpacking Trowel

Gossamer Gear Ultralight Backpacking Trowel

Key Specs


Weight: 0.47 ounces (13.5 grams)
Length: 7.25” (18.4 cm)
Material: Aluminium
Price: $$

PROS


✅ Affordable

✅ Comfortable

CONS


❌ Can feel a bit flimsy

This backpacking trowel is versatile, super light, and perfect for minimal packing. It’s our budget pick, but don’t be fooled—the prices on all these tools are quite similar.

Being compact is convenient and makes it comfortable to use, but it might struggle with harder dirt or thick roots. Also, the teeth are not as intense as on the Vargo, so if you need to cut branches, the Vargo would be a better choice.

Also, there are comparable trowels with the same design sold under the BoglerCo name. So if Gossamer doesn’t have this one in stock, you could look at those. But we aren’t sure if they’re the same quality.

How to Choose the Best Backpacking Trowel

Picking the right trowel is key if you love the outdoors. Think about price vs quality – spend a bit more for one that will last.

Also, remember that ideally, proper catholes should reach a depth of at least 6 inches. Here’s what to look for:

  • Lightweight but tough – Titanium is the strongest material, over aluminum or plastic. So take this into consideration.
  • Bright colored so it’s easy to spot.
  • Can handle all soils – Has a sturdy edge to dig through roots and pry out rocks.
  • Comfortable grip and long handle so it’s ergonomic.
  • Durable overall – Metal trowels last for years while cheaper trowels break sooner. Investing in one now saves money later.

You may want to consider a multipurpose option if you value practicality. Check if the trowel you like can also double as a tool to cut branches for your wood stove or serve as a tent stake in a pinch.

If you’re eager to become an expert in selecting the right camping trowel, check out our comprehensive post for more insights and knowledge.

FAQ

Why do you need a backpacking trowel?

When backpacking in the wilderness, having a reliable and packable trowel is necessary for proper waste disposal away from water sources. While a standard gardening trowel may seem like a reasonable option, these are often too heavy to comfortably carry for multiple days. Lightweight folding backpacking trowels are preferable to bulkier alternatives that won’t pack down small. However, foldable designs can be unreliable. Look for a durable, high-quality backpacking trowel designed for harsh outdoor conditions. Proper backcountry sanitation requires a purpose-built trowel able to withstand rigorous use on hiking trips.

How to choose the best backpacking trowel?

When embarking on wilderness adventures like backpacking, it’s important to select a portable trowel that can withstand rigorous outdoor exploration and last for years. Opt for a durable titanium or aluminium model with a sturdy, sharp edge to effectively dig catholes reaching the recommended six-inch depth through varied soils, roots and rocks. Consider ergonomic designs with a non-slip grip and extended handle for comfort. Choosing a lightweight yet tough option in a bright color makes it easy to spot. Look for a multipurpose trowel that can double as a knife, stakes, or wood-splitting tool to add functionality.

What materials should I look for in a backpacking trowel?

The ideal material for a backpacking trowel balances durability with low weight. While stainless steel provides long-lasting strength, the material is often too heavy to comfortably carry in a backpack over multiple terrain. Lightweight titanium withstands damage better than aluminum or plastic alternatives. Carbon steel is another good compromise, with high toughness at a relatively low ounce weight. No matter the material, opt for a design with full tang construction rather than separating head from handle. The right choice allows effortless digging through tough soils on extended trips. Consider materials like titanium that are lightweight yet tough enough for backcountry cathole duty.

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