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Review: NDUR Survival Shovel

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Okay, okay. I’ll admit it right off: I may be a little biased when it came to the NDUR Survival Shovel. You see, I’m a child of the ‘80s, with all of the over-the-top silliness that comes with the decade that brought us the Rubik’s Cube, “Red Dawn,” the Delorean and the invasion of Grenada. I was a teenager in the days of the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sylvester Stallone/Chuck Norris action movie extravaganza, where we got such cinematic masterpiece dialogue as “Ain’t got time to bleed” and “Crime’s the disease, I’m the cure.” Ah, yes. Everything a growing boy needs.

One of the staples, in between the Ruger AC556 and the MAC-10, was the survival knife. Whether wielded by the iconic, bulging-muscle hero or the archnemesis of the hero, you could count on there being at least one bowie-length knife with a sawtooth edge, hollow handle for supplies and a compass in the pommel. If you were a teenager and had $10, there were many nearly metal versions sold at knick-knack shops and gas stations that you could acquire to almost scar yourself. So, I guess the short version of this is that when I saw the Survival Shovel, I paid attention.

The tactical shovel is an offshoot of the tactical knife, with variants sold as Spetsnaz, Special Forces and/or Commando (Kommando) variants. All had a sharpened edge—some were hawked as “throwing shovels.” Kids, do NOT try this at home. Speaking as someone who dulled more than my share of knives attempting to get them to stick into anything when thrown, the last thing you want is a shovel bouncing off an old sheet of particle board and rebounding at your feet. But, again, I digress.

However, shovels are actually useful tools. Growing up in the Arctic Circle (New England), we often had to deal with snow and ice from, well, Halloween to Easter, roughly. Keeping a shovel in your trunk came with the territory—you might need it to dig yourself out of a snowbank, spread sand around for traction or dig the jack out from under your car when you stupidly change a tire in mud. I’ve had some form of shovel in my vehicle for as long as I’ve been driving, and the last couple of cars have had a generic entrenching tool in its OD green pouch tucked in a corner.

I’ve also had a multi-tool, as well as rescue knives, that resided in various nooks and crannies of my vehicles. It’s always good to be prepared, and while you might not ever need a glass breaker, if you ever do need one, you need it for a reason. When I saw the NDUR Survival Shovel had various and sundry tools contained in the various sections, I was especially intrigued.

NDUR Survival Shovel tools

Now, NDUR lists 16 tools, which is technically correct, although I’d wager there’s little call for a harpoon these days. There are four sections of aluminum handle, each with its own hidden tool(s). For starters, there’s the obligatory compass in the stock, err, handle, which also contains the magnesium stick for fire-starting chores. In this same section is a Philip’s head/flathead screwdriver (reversible bit like in many cordless drills). That’s four tools.

Continuing to the second section, there’s the glass breaker. The third section houses the harpoon, saw, knife and bottle opener, for five more tools. The fourth section is the shovel itself, which can also function as a hoe (2 tools). On the face are hexagon tools, a strap cutter, a ruler and a serrated blade and a straight blade (five tools). Now, yes, the odds of you needing to measure something in an emergency are slim, but why not make use of the space?

Again, remember that the primary intention of the multi-tool is not to be the best [ANY TOOL] possible. Is the NDUR Survival Shovel the best shovel on the market? I don’t think even the company itself would claim that. Rather, it’s the best shovel you can have on your person or with your gear at any given time. It fits underneath a car’s seat, in any of several small cubbies in the trunk or even in a door pocket or seatback pouch. It even comes in a nylon pouch with both a belt loop and a carry strap, should you want to bring it with you.

Fully assembled, though, it’s sturdier than the entrenching tool I’ve had in my hatchback’s spare-tire wheel well for years. While I wouldn’t want to dig a latrine with this shovel, it’d work just fine to shovel sand on a patch of ice for traction, or to cut through ice buildup on the side of the road to park. In the nylon pouch, all of the components have their own section and take up no more room than a hardcover book. It’s great for your car’s trunk, bug-out bag or in your camping gear.

Really, though, can you dig it? (Yes, I know technically that’s a late ‘70s reference, but hey, it’s a shovel pun!) MSRP is $74.99; visit ndurusa.com to see other products from NDUR or to order a Survival Shovel of your very own…

Article by JAY GRAZIO

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