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Usually, detectorists carry trowels. They are easy to use, small and lightweight so you can carry them in your hunts easily.
But sometimes, it is better to use shovels. The problem with them is that they are usually bulky. The solution to that is to buy a folding shovel.
The best folding shovel for metal detecting should have certain features…This is what I cover in the following paragraph. If you are in rush, the most popular is the Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade.
Things to consider when buying a folding spade
-It should be small enough to be carried in a backpack when folded. That’s the point of having folding spade from the first place.
-But when deployed, the shaft should be long enough to avoid bending a lot and having back pain.
In addition, a longer shovel means more leverage. If you still remember the Roadrunner cartoon, I think you noticed the coyote always brings a long stick to throw a rock on the roadrunner (mig mig!).
Longer shaft helps you move dirt easier the same way the coyote move the big rock easily when it uses a long stick (I know it’s fiction, but the same principle is true in real life!).
However, the longer the shaft the easier it will bend so it’s a compromise to do. You have to pick the right length.
Moreover, you don’t want a very big shaft. So that, you will be able to use it easily, it will be lightweight and so that it folds easily.
-It is better also that it has one serrated edge (teeth saw) to cut through the roots easily.
-The edges of its blade should be sharp enough to penetrate the ground.
-Another important thing is that the handle, the shaft, the blade and the joints, which link them, have to be sturdy.
You don’t want a shovel that bends or cracks when you dig a hole or when it hits a rock.
-You want also enough space on top of the blade where you can place your foot.
Finally, and most importantly, if the army uses a model of shovels. Then certainly, it has a good quality.
Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade
The Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade is NATO approved. Therefore, it must have good quality.
Its dimensions when folded are compact. It measures 9.37 inches in length when closed and unfolds to 2 feet. It is easy to store or to carry in your backpack.
It locks into a 90° angle. So, you can use it as a shovel and a hoe.
It has a serrated edge to cut the roots easily. It is lightweight it weighs only 2.55 pounds. It can be easily carried for long hunts.
To avoid folding the shovel when you are using it, turn the ridged knob that wraps around the shaft. This way, the spade will stay locked. The blade is 8 inches wide.
But, the sheath is not included. The foot ledge is a bit small. In addition, the shovel is not very long. You will have to bend to use.
All in all, this folding shovel has a good quality. It is lightweight and has a small size when folded. It is good for metal detecting. However, its main problem is that it is too short.
Fivejoy RS folding shovel
Fivejoy RS folding shovel weighs 2.16 lbs. So carrying this lightweight spade while metal detecting is easy.
The width of the upper part of the blade is 5 inches and its lower part is 5.75 inches wide.
The length of the shovel is 20.6″. In addition, you can buy two extensions separately. The length of each one is 7 inches.
If you use one of them the shovel extends to 27 inches. If you use the second one too, it becomes 34 inches long.
The two extensions don’t add a significant weight to the shovel. Each one of them weighs only 0.3 pounds. They are made out of aluminum alloy.
With the two extensions, you will get a carrying case.
You could buy as many extension as want and connect them to the shaft. But, attaching more than two extensions is not recommended.
If the shaft is too long, the torque will be too strong and the joints will wear out.
Anyway, getting the two extensions is a good idea. Because this will help you to have stronger leverage. Moreover, with a longer shaft, you don’t have to bend to dig a plug.
It has other features that you don’t really need for metal detecting. But I think they are worth mentioning.
When you unscrew the connected tubes, which form the shaft and the handle of the folding shovel, you will find many tools.
At the top of the shovel, There is a whistle and magnesium rod. When you scrap the latter with a fire steel, you can start a fire if you choose to camp or to cook something while you are metal detecting.
In the middle part, there is a knife, saw, and a can opener. The blade of the shovel could be locked at different angles and can be used as a hoe (90°) or a shovel (180°).
One downside is that the two edges are sharp. None of them is serrated. The serrations help sawing the roots while you digging a hole to recover a buried item.
It comes with a sheath and a carry pouch for the tubes that form the shaft.
IUNIO folding spade
The IUNIO folding spade comes in three slightly different variants the 17, 31 and 35 inches. The difference is not only in the total length.
The dimensions of the blades, other additional features, the type of the carrying bag…are different.
* The 17 inches variant comes with a sheath that closes with a Velcro and it has a loop so you can attach it to your belt or to your backpack.
You can lock it in different angles and use it as a shovel, as a hoe, and as a pickaxe. This way you can dig holes in different ways.
It has other features that detectorists don’t necessarily need. One edge of the blade is sharp and can be used as a cutting tool.
It has a bottle opener on the right edge of the blade, a serrated edge on its right side.
It has also a nail extractor and a compass to help you find your way if you are lost in the forest.
The blade is 5.51” long and 4.33 inches wide. The folding spade is lightweight and weighs 21 ounces only.
* The 31 inches variant comes with a waist bag. It closes with a Velcro and a buckle.
It has hand rope to keep the shovel attached to you. It is fitted with an emergency whistle, a magnesium rod to start a fire and knife with a saw. You have to unscrew the extension tubes to get to this tools.
The blade is a bit longer than the previous version. It is 6.89” long. But, it has the same width.
* The 35 inches version comes with a waist bag too. It has a loop for an easy attachment to a belt.
The size of the blade is different. It is 7.87 inches long and 5.51” wide. It has the same extra tools as the previous ones plus an ice axe.
Gerber E-Tool is a good quality-folding spade. It weighs only 2.55 pounds. Its size when folded is 9.37 inches. And its total length when opened is 2 feet. It has a serrated edge. The sheath is not included.
The Fivejoy RS is extendable up to 34 inches. It weighs (with the two extensions) 2.22 pounds. It doesn’t have a serrated edge. And the sheath is included in addition to carrying bag for the extension tubes. And it comes with a bunch useful tools, but they are not needed for metal detecting.
There are three versions of the IUNIO folding spade. The tallest one is 35 inches long. It has a serrated edge. And it is fitted with many nice tools.
If you want to choose one of them, pick the Gerber E-Tool.