As a Prepper, I am constantly looking to see how my gear can support me in various situations and whether what I have should be rethought or improved upon in some way. Over the years this process of evaluating and reevaluating options has taught me lessons about what works and what doesn’t for me at least personally. My Bug Out Bag has been the main source of churn for lack of a better word in my prepping efforts as I tried various items on backpacking trips. When you haul the gear you think will save your life around for a few days in the woods you learn a lot.

It is similar for my Get Home Bag that goes in my car with me. Like most people I assume, this bag gets used from time to time to supplement normal every day “stuff” that happens and you can count on using some of the items in this bag in ways that you might not have strictly planned, but you are happy to have the resources at your disposal. For example, I have used the food in my get home bag before to stave off one of my kids hunger, lighters have been used to start fires for making s’mores, multi-tools have come to the rescue and my gloves have been broken out to deal with weekend projects around the church. Using the stuff in your bags is a great way to practice with what you have and see if you are really considering the right things with your gear as long as used supplies get replenished.

What is an E-Tool?

One of the tools that I am familiar with from my Army days is the good old E-Tool or entrenching tool as it is properly called. For those who don’t know, an E-Tool is a small shovel that soldiers carry in their packs along with in some cases a heck of a lot of other gear. The modern soldier carries everything on their back into battle that they could possibly need even though in most cases, logistical lines of supply are always present to support soldiers. The days of soldiers roaming for months on their own in the woods or dessert are long gone (for most soldiers) but the E-Tool still has a place in our military to this day and some preppers advocate packing these shovels in your 72 hour bags.

What can you use an E-Tool for?

An E-tool does have a lot of uses not just for soldiers, but preppers too. For the military, these are primarily used to dig holes. Surprise? Digging holes for fox holes, taking dirt out of one hole and putting it into another hole but so much more. You can use E-Tools as weapons provided they are sturdy enough. Some entrenching tools on the market today barely fit the role of shovel, much less skull crusher, but others are very tough and their thick edges can whack a chunk out of someone’s noggin if you are prepared to do that.

Glock Entrenching Tool with Saw and Pouch

You can saw with some of these tools. For instance the Glock E-tool even comes with a steel saw attachment for cutting limbs (tree limbs that is) or chopping wood for a fire. You can use it as a pry bar or machete and again for digging holes. Like when you need to use the latrine (which is a hole you dig) and covering up what you leave there which is doubly important because you will cut down on disease carrying insects if you bury your waste and prevent all but the best trackers from finding you if you are on the run. Hey, it can happen and even if you aren’t worried about someone finding your #2, sanitation is important in survival.

Other e-tools like the Crovel which was actually highlighted on an episode of Doomsday Preppers (like a lot of other prepper business ventures) boasts additional features like a hollow handle that allows for the storage of key survival items (not included).

Is it worth it?

While I can appreciate the value of this tool and can’t knock the abilities you would have with a shovel in your pack; I don’t personally have one in my Bug Out Bag. I do recommend one for my winter car survival kit so I guess you could say I am carrying one, but I don’t pack them in by Bug Out or 72 Hour bag. Why? For me it comes down to philosophy on what that bag is designed to do. Some people come at Bug Out Bags from the standpoint of questioning what items could you possibly need in 72 hours to make your life better. Ridiculous toiletry items come to mind along with books and unnecessary creature comforts.

An e-tool isn’t a creature comfort but it is one of those tools that I can’t see me using. Could I dig a great big hole with it? Of course and I could also use it to whack limbs and open bottles and store my waterproof matches, but I also have to consider weight. Each item adds to the overall load you are carrying and pound for pound, I can’t see me using a shovel.

It could come down to what you have and where you plan on bugging out. Maybe you are planning to hike into the woods, set up a defensive firing position and wait in ambush for your attackers while you are drinking Sam Adams and applying plenty of moisturizer to your hands. I don’t know, but I can’t see me digging big holes. If I need to chop branches I have my main survival knife. If I need to crack skulls I would rather do that from a high-caliber distance if you know what I mean. This is just my opinion.

So, what do you say? Is an E-tool a must-have item in your pack?