I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have some kind of compact shovel in my vehicles. Some are better than others. Today, we’re taking a close look at the “Jeep Shovel” from Major Surplus. It is quite the little tool.
Haunting Army-Navy Surplus Stores When I Was a Kid
I grew up haunting army-navy surplus stores back in Chicago, IL when I was a kid. I could, and I did, easily spend hours and hours in those stores. Two, in particular, were just a couple of blocks away from one another in downtown Chicago, so it was easy visiting both surplus stores. Back then, almost all the surplus in those stores, was USGI. Today, it’s hard to find genuine U.S. military surplus gear and equipment. Instead, we find a lot of foreign military gear. While, in most cases, that military gear, even used, is better than most civilian camping/outdoor gear and clothing though not always better but in many cases, I’ll take military gear over civilian gear for survival.
Though I don’t remember the name of one of the army/navy stores in downtown Chicago, it was at the south end of “The Loop” on State Street, and I recall that it was fairly small. It had a great selection of bayonets and other USGI military equipment. The other store, called Bailey’s, was just a couple of blocks away. I believe they’re still in business. They were a much larger military surplus store with a lot of military uniforms upstairs and other military gear and equipment downstairs. I was in heaven when I visited those two stores.
Military Surplus Stores Today
Today, one of the best military surplus stores back in Chicago is called Charley’s Surplus. They have a real decent selection of genuine USGI and foreign military gear and clothing. I order from them a couple times per year and try to steer clear of foreign-made copies of USGI gear whenever possible. To be sure, much of it isn’t made to USGI specifications, and it isn’t not made nearly as well as the genuine article. I’ll take used USGI military gear and clothing over the imported copies. Still, Charley’s has a good selection of stuff. Check out their website.
Another great place to shop is Major Surplus. They are in southern California, and they have a huge operation. Unfortunately, much of the military gear they carry is from foreign militaries. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but just be advised. Major Surplus does carry a lot of “Mil-Spec” gear, and this stuff isn’t honest-to-goodness USGI mil-spec stuff. Instead, it is made to U.S. Military Specifications. In some cases, it is even better than surplus mil-spec gear and clothing.
U.S. Military A.L.I.C.E Web Gear
I just wanted to alert some of our readers to a couple of companies that still provide USGI mil-spec gear, or as close as you can get to USGI gear. To my way of thinking, as a life-time prepper, I’ll almost always choose military gear over commercial gear. Then again, I still prefer the old U.S. military A.L.I.C.E. web gear over what the U.S. military uses these days, where everything is carried on your load-bearing vest/body armor. I’m old school and always will be, I guess.
I have a couple friends who are currently serving in the U.S. military in one branch or another, or who are recently retired from the military. When I show them old school A.L.I.C.E. web gear, they comment on how much better it is than the stuff they are now using or have used in the recent past. Go figure, eh?
A Shovel For My Vehicles
Back to what I started talking about in this article, and that is a shovel for your vehicle. My wife drives a full-sized SUV, and I drive a pickup truck. We could easily carry a full-sized shovel in our rigs, if we wanted to, but we don’t. Over the years, I’ve tried many different types of folding shovels, some mil-spec and some really poor Chinese-made copies that broke easily. I much preferred the old school USGI single fold entrenching tool over the newer ones that are tri-fold, which is one more thing to break if you ask me.
The old entrenching tool, or e-tool as they are called, were really well-made and designed and could sure help you dig a fox hole. Does the military still do this these days if called upon? Still, they weren’t perfect for all jobs.
Mil-Spec Jeep Shovel
Enter the new Mil-Spec (the name of the company) Jeep Shovel. Much of what they produce is made to USGI mil-spec or even better. Now, we all know that the U.S. military no longer uses the old Jeeps from WWII, Korean War, Viet Nam police action, and other military wars/actions. Instead, we transitioned to the Hummer, and now it is being retired. Still, I’ve always liked the old WWII Jeeps. They came equipped with a spare tire, spare gas can, and what was then simply called a “Jeep Shovel”.
Major Surplus has been carrying the Jeep Shovel for a couple of years now, and I always wanted one. I just never got around to ordering it. Last year, I purchased a used but like-new Jeep CJ5. It was a fun vehicle, but it leaked when it rained, like most Jeeps CJs do. I finally traded it off. Still, I put together an emergency box, and in that box I added a Jeep Shovel. I also put one in my wife’s SUV.
Jeep Shovel Description
The Jeep Shovel is a one-piece shovel; it doesn’t fold up. It has a “D” metal grip on the end so you can really get a great grip on it when the digging gets tough. The spade itself has a rounded/pointed steel blade with a turned step. The blade is riveted to the wooden handle, as is the “D” metal grip. I don’t know what the wooden shaft is made out of other than it is listed as a “hard wood” of some type, and the entire Jeep Shovel is painted OD green. Oh yeah. That’s right up my military mind for military gear. Also, the entire shovel is compact; it is only 28 inches in length overall, which is about half the size of a full-sized shovel. See the pics I included with the Jeep Shovel next to a full-sized shovel. The entire Jeep Shovel only weighs 2.22 lbs too.
Compact Enough For BOB
Yes, I know, the Jeep Shovel isn’t as compact at one of the folding e-tools or a tri-fold shovel. However, it doesn’t take up all that much room in my e-box. If need be, I could stick it in my BOB or attach it to the outside of the BOB with no problem at all.
Of course, the Jeep Shovel isn’t quite as good of a digging tool as a full-size similar shovel. However, when you are on your knees digging, you will certainly appreciate the short overall size of this compact shovel, and with the “D” handle you can really dig deeper and faster than you can with the old military e-tool. With it being a one-piece set-up, there is less concern with it breaking, too.
My rural homestead’s front yard has rocks under the dirt. We are only talking a couple inches of dirt covering these big rocks. They are huge rocks underneath. I tested the Jeep Shovel in several areas of my front yard, and it did fine until it hit those huge rocks. After that, it would take a front end loader to get those rocks up. I also tested the shovel in some of my thick underbrush, where there weren’t any big rocks. It worked extremely well. I needed to find a clean out for our septic tank. We have several clean outs for the rooter guy, but one always gets covered with dirt and weeds. Even though I try to mark where this clean out is, the marker manages to get lost. The Jeep Shovel made quick work of uncovering the hidden clean out. I also used the Jeep Shovel to cut down some blackberry vines. While not intended for this task, it did an okay job if I swung it downward at an angle when hitting the vines.
All things considered, I was more than a little impressed with the WWII-style “Jeep Shovel”. It was everything I expected it to be and more…and it sure does smack of WWII military gear. I don’t know if you could find a genuine WWII Jeep Shovel these days. If you could, it would cost you a lot of money, as do most WWII collectibles. The Major Surplus Mil-Spec Jeep Shovel sells for $25.95, and it is worth every red cent, if you ask me. Be sure to check out their website, and I’m betting you’ll find a whole lot of other prepper gear you’ll want.