Ben Bogler of BoglerCo holding the Ultralight Trowel in its two most popular colors, black and orange.
Ben Bogler spent much of his youth canoeing and camping along Arkansas’ beautiful rivers. After college, which he attended in both the US and abroad, Ben rediscovered his love for the outdoors.
At some point during a 2018 backpacking trip in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, he found himself staring at his trowel with abject discontent. Holding a master's degree in mechanical engineering, and a love for tinkering, he thought to himself:
“...I can make that...I can make it BETTER...”
Ben loves to analyze and create. His first few trowel builds were just for fun; just to see if he really could construct the optimal cathole shovel. Several iterations later, he was ready to release the BoglerCo Ultralight Trowel to the UL masses.
The backpacking community can sometimes fixate on specific pieces of gear — the Dandee Standard Pack and Senchi Wren can sell out in mere minutes, for example. At first, the BoglerCo Ultralight Trowel was no exception. But with ingenuity, Ben streamlined the trowel-making process, allowing him to now keep pace with demand.
Being the analytical engineer that he is, Ben knows to the minute how long it takes him to make a single trowel. It’s seven minutes, in case you were wondering.
Every feature of the BoglerCo Ultralight Trowel has a purpose. The holes in the handle are placed in such a way as to provide finger grip; while, of course, also cutting precious grams off the end product.
If needed, you can also use the trowel as a stake, and even set a deadman’s anchor because of the holes.
The shovel of the trowel features three serrated edges capable of cutting through the densest of roots and earth, while the minimalist handle is adorned with a plastic cap to increase comfort.
Did I mention that Ben designed the trowel to be just a little over six inches long, so that you can also use it to measure a proper cat hole?
BoglerCo uses lighter aircraft grade aluminum than its competition; the cottage brand is able to do so because Ben figured out how to build several of the specialized tools needed to bend and temper aluminum sheets.
Ben is constantly trying to find the limits to his Ultralight Trowel. He subjected his early prototypes to repeated stress tests. And sought to get a force measurement for his final product through a jury-rigged test.
“I used a rock to hammer the trowel into the hardest ground I could find and pulled back on the handle with a pull scale using a stick for leverage,” Ben said. “It read 42 pounds of force before it threw a big chunk of dirt and rocks into the air. The trowel was not damaged.”
For now, Ben doesn’t envision BoglerCo growing beyond the Ultralight Trowel. However, after interviewing him, I can’t quite see that being the case.
As Ben takes the time to explore more of his budding backpacking hobby, I can’t help but think that he’ll take a look at a recently broken stake, or an especially finicky trekking pole and say to himself, “...I can make that...I can make it BETTER...”
Rafael ”Horsecake” Mujica is a freelance writer and adventurer based in the Mountain West. You can find him trail running, backpacking, or sampling the best tacos during his free time. Follow all his adventures over on Instragam @horsecake22, or read more of his work over on his website.