Saturday, January 14, 2012

Crovel Extreme Survival Shovel Crowbar Review

Crovel Extreme Survival Shovel Crowbar Review

Sometimes combining two items makes sense and is executed brilliantly.  Other times you end up with the "christmas department store gifts for dad" rechargeable combo ruler flashlight.  In this case the Crovel is the former brilliantly executed combination of a folding military shovel and crowbar.

During disasters, survival or if you are the zombie apocalypse type, a crow bar and military shovel are two indispensable must have items in your bug out kit.  A good camp shovel can help out with everything  from digging a toilet and burying  waste to hammering, wood chopping and tree feeling to very effective use as a defensive weapon if it is strong enough.  Unfortunately most folding survival shovels were designed to be light weight and in the process giving up strength.  The result is that most are not up to the rigors of long-term use as a axe, hammer, or shovel and they could fail you when you need them most.

In survival situations the laws of breaking and entering become secondary to whether you live or die and can access the resources you need.  The crow bar is obviously a great tool for breaking into things locked, doored, and otherwise secured as well as being a formidable weapon. Combine the two and you end up with one mighty handy 5.5 lb tool called the Crovel.  The Crovel saves weight via the combination process while greatly improving the shovel durability and only marginally modifying the use of the crowbar.

The idea was spawned as the owner broke the handle on his folding military camp shovel.  Searching the garage for something tougher, genius struck and a crowbar was welded in place of the old handle by his neighbor.  Realizing he was on to something he and his roommate started playing around with various crowbar and shovel combinations and eventually settled on the original Crovel design which featured a heavy duty ruggedized folding shovel head, crowbar shaft and modified claw/hammer head.  Since its introduction the company’s production has barely been able to keep up.  This order backlog resulted in an effort to improve the design to increase production, but also upgrade the Crovel with extra features and so the updated Crovel Extreme was born.

I have owned many an entrenching tools and military shovels however none have ever come close to the fit, feel and beefy quality of the Crovel. This thing is built like a Abrams tank with a very high quality and durable baked on paint finish available in Green, Tan or Black.

Ever bent or broke a camp shovel using it as a hatchet or even as a shovel?  That will never happen from my estimation and testing with the Crovel.  The Crovel Extreme shovel 10 gauge hardened steel head is tough and thick enough for use in door prying and breaching and all the chopping and hammering you will ever want to do.  The
10 gauge shovel head is also hardened steel, which is just under 3/16” thick, and is mounted to the handle with a reinforced mount  with a 1/4" tool steel bolt and lock nut.  The head can be folded flat against the handle or locked in straight, 90 degree and 45 degree angles.  This allows for very efficient ground clearing, pick axe-ing, and digging. The lock is a heavy knurled and threaded coupler which assures the shovel is going no where in any of the locked positions.  If you get thirsty while working, the Crovel shovel head features a bottle opener, quite sharp unserrated side for use as a camp axe and a serrated side intended as a functioning saw blade for woodcraft and thicker branch cutting.

The 14” handle has been updated to a very thick walled hollow shaft design which retains all the strength of the original sold bar, but drops a little weight and provides a place to store survival supplies when the end is covered with the included threaded o-ringed aluminum plug.  The handle is wrapped with 15’ of 550 paracord which most importantly provides a more comfortable and warmer feeling grip, but gives you a little extra paracord if you need it.  Along with the handle, the claw end is also a major update on the Crovel Extreme to a new forged pry and hammer head that can also serve as a bushcraft wood carving wedge as well as a standard pry claw and hammer. The hammer head is now substantially larger providing a much more usable hammer surface and has been dimpled to reduce glancing blows.

Crovel has thought ahead and will be offering a variety of screw in o-ringed plug ends such as the currently available Z-Point zombie attack point I picked up.  The solid stainless steel zombie spike serves almost all the purposes the chisel end of my prybar with the exception of spinning licks off for removal.  Another accessory I picked up was the Kydex shovel head cover which protects the user and storage method from accidental cuts and abrasions when not in use.  Rotating and locking the Crovel Extreme’s shovel head at 90 degrees provides an excellent and sturdy elevated camp seat with the Kydex shovel head cover in place so you don’t cut your butt. 

Due to the weight I was expecting the Crovel to be unwieldy as a shovel however the weight of the Crovel Extreme is well balanced and helped to avoid "put some muscle in it" like you need to with light weight shovels. The weight is a tremendous benefit with chopping and hammering and allows the Crovel enough mass to power through.  From a defensive perspective the weight enhances the defensive slashing and blunt force capabilities substantially ove  a regular folding shovel.

The pry/hammer head works extremely well for prying and nail removal and the hammer head is handy for a large variety of tasks. Sharpening the pry/chisel head further increased the performance for me to be able to remove large chunks of wood in case you want to build a log cabin, hollow out a log for cooking, or boatmaking. Once the shovel head is removed you have a ergonomic easy to use tool, but with the head attached it is a little awkward.  The accessory spike ups the defensive capabilities of the Crovel and does a wonderful job starting a split for firewood and of course would be an exceptional zombie head crusher.

Unlike a lot of writers I actually test the products I review and sometimes get into it so much, blood is shed in the process.  I beat the hell out of the Crovel and it thanked me and asked for more. The Crovel Extreme is good,... really good and a marvel of innovative usefulness in a compact package, however with the exception of shoveling activities, it does not do everything as well as purpose built tools.

What the Crovel does do well is be an outstanding log splitter, an exceptional shovel, pick axe, and chipper, a serviceable axe, and an effective hammer both using the shovel head and the hammer head.  For digging and ground clearing the shovel head design is excellent and the front and side edges are sharp enough to provide good ground cutting and axe strokes. The saw was serviceable but the weakness is the tooth design and I was able to chop though larger trees much faster than with the saw.  I would have preferred the serrated side be left square and unsharpened for improved cutting simply remove the serrations completely and finish it like the plain sharp edge.  Due to the weight and thick sharpened edge it did not function well as a machete for me. Machetes are light, thin edges and easy to swing in short strokes the 5.5lb Crovel is none of those things.  

The result is a conscious and muscled effort to produce short controlled swings for serviceable machete work all while assuring the pry end does not catch your knuckles in the process.  The new Crovel head is well designed if you need wood crafting capabilities however my preference would be the pry head be straitened out to 90 degrees or simply a chisel or point crowbar end... what can I say, I have have far too much experience working a crow bar. My motto is that there is little in life that cannot be sufficiently motivated with proper leverage, so I am a bit picky on my crowbars. 

A 90 degree head would be much better for use as a wood splitting axe, could still maintain the chipper functionality and provide an improved entry tool for fire rescue.  If you feel the same way let the guys as Crovel know.  They love feedback and are always looking for tweaks or perhaps they can just offer a new screw in accessory end. I can definitely see an Entry/Search and Rescue tuned model of the Crovel being very handy to law enforcement, military, and fire rescue. Maybe I will sacrifice a crowbar and break out the welder to make a few personalized tweaks.

I would carry a hex wrench and Leatherman to remove the shovel head when needed. Ergonomically the shovel head is occasionally in the was in the way of using the hammer pry end to it's full capability; a quick release mount to remove the shovel head would drastically increase usability of the hammer claw head. Don't misunderstand the observations, the Crovel brilliantly palm to the forehead innovation which serves as and combines many useful and relevant tool capabilities into one tool which provide excellent function and can makes use of the weight in all but a few acceptable situations. However there are bound to be a few ergonomic limitations you need to work around as concessions for consolidating into one tool. The Crovel Extreme is so much more substantial and bulletproof than any other folding shovel, I would buy one even if it did not have the hammer/claw end.  

Despite a few personal preferences for an more entry focused tool, there no tougher folding shovel on earth than the Crovel Extreme. The Crovel Extreme can be crowned the king of the folding shovels. Though some idiot will find a way to bend or break it, I would venture to say the Crovel is a bomb-proof folding shovel design which will handle more than you can physically dish out even under the stress of the body weight of a large fit male. 

If light weight is what you are after, pick up a plastic gardening spade. Yeah, 5.5lbs is a lot of weight to carry for hiking and camping, however for survival purposes you have to remember that there are no do overs, no resets, and no going back to get a higher quality tool. Bringing an indestructible multi-use tool like the Crovel Extreme would be worth the weight.  I would stake my life on the quality durability and performance of the all American Made Crovel Extreme to perform under the most severe of conditions.  If you want the ultimate folding shovel then the Crovel Extreme is the ultimate option.


  • Total Length Extended - 26.75”
  • Total Length Folded - 20”
  • Shovel Head Size - 8.25” x 5.75”
  • Shovel Head Thickness - 10 Gauge/3.5mm
  • Head Pivot Thickness - .1875”/5mm
  • Hammer Head Size - 1.125” x 1.125”
  • Handle Length - 14”
  • Weight - 5.5lbs
  • Crovel Extreme - $109
  • Z-Spike - $24.50
  • Crovel Kydex Cover - $24.95
  • Made In - USA

Crovel Folding Shovel

Gear Up Center

No comments: