Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: Entrenching Tool

Here is a piece of disaster preparedness hardware that has been serving since the 1940's, and will likely continue to do so for the forseable future. This is the all-steel US Government Issue tri-fold entrenching tool. I picked mine up, as many would, in an army disposal store, and have never regretted it. This folds out to 56cm when fully extended, and collapses down to a mere 23cm when fully folded. This is not a thing of beauty, unless like me you find beauty in sheer utilitarian design. Lets start at the business end.
The heavy steel shovel head is edge-sharpened along all four dirt-hitting sides, with a broad and chunky blade-edge, not fine enough to be bothered by rocks and other dirt-dwelling blade-chippers, and yet bitey enough to cut roots and dig into hard or cloying soil. In fact, I have used the flat-side edge to chop trees, and split logs, and the tip to spike said logs for hauling and shifting one log out of a pile. The length of the unit lends itself to use when kneeling or crouching. The rolled-back-end makes a good boot purchase point, but its not a full length shovel, and that changes how it works. The other side of the shovel-head is saw-toothed, giving you a saw-option, for times when hacking at roots or cables isn't working out in whatever ditch you are digging.

I haven't had much use for the saw-side, but it's one of those things I'm glad it has, because I -might- need it some time. One thing I love about this particular model is that the shovel head can be adjusted to sit at 90 degrees, with the locking collar screwed down tightly, and converts a shovel into a hoe, which is a great option for those times when either there isn't much head-space in your trench, or scooping is more important than shoveling. I've found that for pulling cast-iron cookware out of fires, managing coals and flattening the bottom of trenches the hoe-configuration just can't be beaten.

Folded up the shovel packs into this press-stud closure case, which attaches with a pair of ALICE clips. I take this tool with me every time I go camping, and it rides on my belt when I am out doing Stargate lasertag LRP. The added weight of it on my hip is small consequence to the utility of having it on hand, and I would consider it an essential part of my preparedness gear list. I would love to compare its effectiveness with that of the GearUpCentral Crovel in a task-by-task lineup. My all-steel tri-foldup has never given me reason to doubt its efficacy, as a shovel, improv axe, pry bar, or impromptu hammer. Like most of what I carry and collect, its ruggedness, multi-function design and capability makes it a much loved and valued addition to my kit.

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