Fivejoy Compact Shovel, by Pat Cascio

I’m not quite sure where the name for this compact folding shovel came from – but its called the “Fivejoy” for some reason – I’m sure there’s something behind the name. There are a lot of compact folding shovels out there on the market, and many are absolute pieces of junk – not worth having in an emergency, even if they were free. I’ve tested a lot of folding shovels over the years – and I mean a lot. There are some poorly made copies of the tri-fold military shovel, and they look good, but are junk. There are some small, fixed handle shovels, and they are much better in many respects, we’ve tested and reviewed them here on over the years.

Long-time friend, Jeff H. sent me the Fivejoy compact shovel. I was more than a little excited when I pulled this shovel out of the carrying case it came in. By far, this isn’t the most compact emergency shovel, nor does it have a folding handle, instead, the handle is in pieces and you screw those pieces together. The shovel head itself folds, and you can fold it at 40-degrees, 90-degrees and 180-degrees, for your digging or trenching needs. The shovel spade itself is made out of carbon steel, not stainless steel. I’m not quite sure where this product is made, but some claim China, others claim Vietnam. However, it is a quality-made tool. I noticed some negative comments on the Fivejoy, but I don’t take everything I read as truth – so keep that in-mind. If you read any 1911 forums, you will come away believing that there are no good 1911 pistols made by anyone. Some people have nothing better to do with their time, than write and post product slurs.

Right now, I know I have three compact shovels in my pick-up truck…not excess, but they can be used for different chores – they just happen to be in my truck, because after testing them, I never removed them. I think my wife has two compact shovels in her e-box inside her SUV. I like to keep duplicates of different tools and other emergency gear in my rig – remember, “one is none, and two is one” – in the event one breaks or gets lost. It always pays to have a back-up, when it comes to survival tools. Just makes real good sense to have more than one tool on-hand, if you are caught out in the middle of no where.

In my old age, I’ve suffered from osteo-arthritis for a lot of years. My fingers, especially on my right hand – my gun hand – are all in sorry shape in the joints. I also have osteo-arthritis in my lower back, and this one is a killer – I’m never pain-free – ever! I refuse to live on narco drugs, and OTC pain-relievers don’t affect the pain. So, it is difficult for me to bend over and do much work that way, and I can’t stand for long periods of time, either. Not complaining, it’s the cards I was dealt, and I live with it. So, doing some of the testing on the Fivejoy shovel, was left to some volunteer helpers, and I “supervised” some of their testing – especially the digging, you have to get down on your hands and knees to do any serious digging with any compact shovel.

My entire front yard has about an inch or two of soil, and under that soil, are huge rocks and boulders – so it is next to impossible to dig down very far with any shovel or even a mechanical digging machine. Our digging was done on another part of my small homestead, and the Fivejoy did quite well digging through packed soil – we used the shovel fully extended (open) and at an angle to dig small trenches – it worked super. There is also a saw edge on one side of the shovel, for sawing small trees or branches – it worked, at best, just “okay” – but it did work.


Fivejoy ShovelThe back of the shovel spade could be used as a hammer of sorts, but I believe you are only inviting the spade to break, so be advised. So, let’s take a close look at some of the other features and tools the Fivejoy has to offer. The Flat Dark Earth carrying case is well-made, and you can use the attached carrying straps to carry it slung over a shoulder. Or you can keep it in your BOB, and it can even be attached to your military gear via Velcro straps. The shovel comes in two parts inside the carry bag, one side holds the shovel spade, and the other holds the handle that screws onto the spade. And, here is where the “fun” begins. The entire set-up only weighs 1.2-lbs – without the carrying case – however, inside the two piece handle, we have 550 para cord, a good length of it. We also have an emergency whistle for signaling for help – and it is loud. We have a small knife – one side is plain edge, and the other has aggressive teeth – meant for cutting serious things – it worked well on small tree branches. There is a magnesium rod, used for starting fires, and you can use the small knife edge to strike the rod. There is also a bottle opener – don’t know what I’d use that for in the wilderness, but its there just the same.

The Fivejoy is 19-inches long when assembled and the shovel spade is 4.5-inches wide, so it’s a bit longer than some other compact folding shovels when they are opened. The carrying case is very well-made, and should last a lifetime. The combo saw edge and plain edge small knife – the blade could stand some sharpening before you decide to carry the Fivejoy – not a big deal. Its easy enough to take care of in a few minutes with a stone if you want a good edge on this knife. And just a few minutes with a file or less thanb a minute with a bench grinder can put a better edge on the shovel blade.

Extra Goodies

When my wife blew the included emergency whistle, our two German Shepherds came running, so it matched heir hearing – maybe? All I know is, they came running to my wife, and as already mentioned this whistle is loud – if you start yelling for help, you will lose your voice in short order – that’s why we recommend a loud whistle in a BOB.

Of course, the 550 para cord, it can be used for any number of different applications, like helping build a shelter, or repairing gear or clothing – it can even be stripped and the inner cord can be used as an emergency fishing line. I’ve done it in the past, and left unattended, I caught quite a few fish inside of a day.

Fivejoy ShovelSo, let’s go over the goodies once again, we have a nice emergency shovel, that can be used at different angles – very nice. And, it does not have a folding handle that can loosen-up. The handle screws on to the shovel spade. The shovel has an edge that is aggressive enough for sawing small branches. The shovel could also be used as a hammer – not advised, though. The emergency whistle – a great item. The small fixed blade knife in the handle that has a plain edge as well as a saw edge – that works well – the plain edge needs to have a touch-up to bring it up to a better sharpness. We have the magnesium rod for starting fires  – a must have. The bottle open – ‘nuff said. The shovel only weighs 1.2-lbs, so it’s lightweight. And, a carrying case that is gonna last forever with a little care. That’s a lot of survival gear, all in one product, I was more than a little impressed with the entire set-up. And, of course, the shovel can even be used as a weapon, if need be.

You can find a Fivejoy compact shovel on Amazon, or eBay. This model goes for $59.99 – and while that  might seem a little expensive, it’s not – not with all the things it can do to help save your bacon. Check it out. I also think any Prepper would welcome the Fivejoy as a birthday or Christmas present, so keep that in-mind when you are doing your gift shopping.


  1. For even more utility, consider switching out that paracord for Titan Survivorcord. The interior cords have some additional types of lines for more versatility.

    As far as shovel goes … I’ve never had a folding or telescoping unit that didn’t eventually fail (even with my human neglect of not cleaning tool after use – stupid of me). What has NOT failed is a Cold Steel fixed Spetznat – that tool is bulletproof and has earned permanent spots in our vehicles. I have a lot of faith in it.

    Thank you for the above review.

  2. A >quality folding shovel is handy to have while camping. … Clearing a campfire area of combustibles is a shoveling-raking action. … The folding shovels are convenient to take along. … +For people stuck in the mud, a bit of patience and shoveling can often help solve the problem. [A shovel is needed, when answering the Call of Nature, in the Great American Outdoors.]

    See = ~Building a Fire in a Post-Collapse World, by Entropy~ JAMES WESLEY RAWLES SEPTEMBER 28, 2011.
    +Even in these peaceful times now days; = sometimes a fire in a pit (Dakota fire hole) is more pleasant and safer in the woods, than an above ground fire. A folding shovel can be very handy.

  3. I don’t like the serrated edge on the side of the shovel, that feature is dangerous. You or someone else will be injured by it. Being able to chop with the side of the shovel is somewhat more acceptable provided the edge is not sharp in the sense of a knife but just a mild bevel that would make chopping more effective.

  4. I have a folding shovel and as Pat described it’s junk, but was a gift. I use it to move ashes from a fire pit when camping is all and carry a regular shovel in the rig. I recall my dad had some surplus ones in the early 70s that were decent with a wooden handle; the folders are finger pinchers.

  5. Love my Glock shovel. Austrian engineering and quality. I would not trust a Chinese piece of questionable metallurgy and design with my life. YMMV

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