Tools For The Woods – Shovel, Hatchet, Bowie, Saw


While out in the woods – perhaps on an overnight (or longer) excursion – there are some tools which you might consider bringing along to help you build shelters and build fires.

The question is, what are some of these tools?


Trench Shovel


Digging trenches for rainwater runoff around your shelter /tent. Maybe to dig a Dakota fire hole. Lots of uses.

This is THE TOOL that all others are measured by. Yeah, sure, you’ve seen the folding shovels in the sporting goods section at the big box stores. Don’t they look kind of cheap and flimsy?

Ever thought about actually needing a shovel when you are miles from nowhere? What if the first time you use that cheap folding shovel – it breaks? Yep, that’s what the cheap ones do.

That’s why I suggest getting a good one. It will last a lifetime with ordinary care.

Maybe this one?
US Military Issue Entrenching Shovel




Gerber – Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

What about a full tang, no welds, stainless steel compact hatchet?

The ability to turn out firewood or help you to improvise building a shelter. One that’s not too heavy, but not too light either… Rugged enough to get the job done.


Bowie Knife

Schrade Bowie Knife
High Carbon S.S. Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife

Schrade Bowie Knife

A Bowie knife may be a priceless tool in the woods.

For chopping brush, branches, digging, cutting. Making tinder, kindling, feather stick for fire. Processing food, carving, making shelter. Countless uses.


Folding Saw


Sven Saw 21″

Would a folding backpacker’s saw help in the woods? A serious saw like this one – when folded up the sharp blade is hidden, so you don’t need to put it in any sort of case or sleeve. This, and a reliable fire starter, you’ll be all set for fire-making.

We could all load up our packs pretty quickly if we get ‘carried away’ with all sorts of gear. But within the confines of building a shelter or procuring wood for a fire, these ‘tools’ for the woods will certainly help!

Read more: A Fire Starter Kit List

Read more: Best Knife For Batoning Wood – How to, and What for…


  1. – Too short and too light just doesn’t “cut” it for a hatchet. Otherwise, have and have used all of the above tools. My hatchet is a roofer’s model with a real hammer head and a nail notch.
    – Papa S.

    1. – I do have a small, similar hatchet over 100 years old (and obviously not stainless) that belonged to my Great-grandmother, who kept a small commercial flock of chickens. I can remember the milkman coming in and leaving milk and money for eggs to sell on his route, LOL. The only thing that little hatchet was used for was killing Sunday Dinner.
      – Papa

  2. I have two hatchets, both, like me, antiques. One is a Plumb brand, complete with the OD green canvas carrier, with U.S. stamp and web gear hooks. The other is a genuine 1950’s era Boy Scouts of America (engraved on the head) with leather edge protector/cover. Would hazard a guess that both have higher quality steel than is available today. The oil finished hickory handles on both are solid and strong.

  3. Of all the tools listed, one of the most expensive can be the bowie blade listed depending upon the maker of the blade. The tools I used were generally full sized, non folding, meant to be used standing upright. Examples include the lady shovel in place of the military entrenching tool, a “boys axe” in place of a hatchet. (lightweight steel head on a longer handle to take advantage of increased leverage. Too big to carry on a belt – this was tied to a pack). The bowie blade was replaced with a straight blade machete because it was cheaper to buy, easier to find at a hardware store and long enough to be used as a draw knife in conjunction with heavy-duty gloves to remove bark from tree trunks. Saws – I like them and use them a lot. I like the chainsaw and the chainsaw requires its own set of tools to keep them running. For smaller branches, I like the smaller pruning type saws.

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