While not necessarily the most glamorous piece of gear in your kit, a good lightweight trowel is an essential component for all types of backpackers. Vital for practicing proper LNT (disposing of waste properly), there are a ton of these little dudes on the market. Sure some of the differences are subtle and nuanced, but when nature calls, you don't want to be stuck with an inefficient and ineffective digger. Fear not. We've got you covered! Here are our 5 favorite ultralight trowels.
Dimensions: 7.5in x 2.25in x 1in
Why it's a top 5: The Prarie Dog's versatility lies in its 2 different ends as well as its ability to easily attach a stick as an extended handle. The wider end is great for moving looser dirt, sand and rocks, while the narrower pointy end is great for digging into tougher and more gravely earth. While I've very rarely attached a stick to the trowel (usually the trowel is sufficient on its own), when doing so, I've always elected to use cordage instead of the bulkier cable ties. Temper your expectations, as even with a stick as a handle, the Prarie Dog doesn't suddenly become a backhoe.
- The #1: .45oz
- The #2: .60oz
- The #3: .97oz
- The #1: 6.5" x 2.4" x 3/4"
- The #2: 6.8" x 2.5" x 3/4"
- The #3: 8" x 2.6" x 1"
- The #1: $19.95
- The #2: $19.95
- The #3: $24.95
Why it's a top 5: The Duece is a classic. Light, intuitive, and simple, it's a no-frills trowel that's designed to dig down. With a prominent leading tip and 4 small teeth, all three Duece sizes have a defined handle to help with grip. While all three are great, my favorite is for sure the #2. It lacks some of the bulk of the #3, and it's a bit more sturdy and powerful than the #1. A perfect balance! Additionally, the range of colors is an added bonus. They are easy to see, easy to find, and about as "fun" as a trowel can be.
Dimensions: 7.25" x 2.1" x .75"
Why it's a top 5: Made from 7075 aluminum, this Etsy wonder product is great at digging as well as cutting. With a rubber stopper on one end and a small strip of serration on the side, the BoglerCo UL is easy on the hands, and simple to use for both digging and widening holes. It snuggles up around Smartwater bottles, and its added length and stiffness makes it a great cottage option.
Dimensions: 8.1in" x 1.7in"
Why it's a top 5: Probably the strongest and most efficient trowel of the bunch, the Dig Dig adds a couple of ounces in order to greatly increase its ability to tear through the ground. Made from lightweight titanium, it's long, narrow, stiff, and comes with serrated edges on both sides. The length allows for extra leverage and the serrated edges get your holes to a great width in a jiffy. The U-shape design also makes for a great hold on the trowel. If you are willing to carry a wee bit more weight (or know you are going to be traveling through really tough terrain), its a great option!
- Original: less than 0.4 oz, 6.00" long
- Big Dig: less than 0.6 oz, 7.25" long
- Mega Dig: less than 1.0 oz, 8.5" long
- Original: 6.00" long
- Big Dig: 7.25" long
- Mega Dig: 8.5" long
- Original: $29
- Big Dig: $36
- Mega Dig: $39
Why it's a top 5: Stong, very durable, and it doesn't have any sharp or painful edges. Plus... It works GREAT. While it's a slightly higher price point than the others, I've got zero complaints about its performance.