Today I would like to mention two camping and backpacking tools that are inexpensive, yet worth the purchase. Sometimes the simplest piece of gear, can give you the most use on a day to day basis if you have it on hand out in the woods. Bothe are small, relatively light weight, and are multi-purpose. I’m talking about the “Spetsnaz” shovel and the pipe hawk, both made by Cold Steel.
First, let’s talk about the shovel. This little thing is very well balanced, it feels like an extension of your arm, and even though small, is larger than the junky army folding E-tool. It has a wooden handle, which means that if you manage to break it, you could make a replacement handle from a branch fairly easily, or even if you wanted to make a full size handle in camp.
The spetsnaz shovel comes sharpened on three sides! This is one thing that will come in handy in a pinch. I have chopped down small trees with ease, when used as a chopper, it cuts deep for what it is, and the good balance of the shovel, makes for fast and easy work. It also makes a very nasty weapon, it can be thrown like a knife, I also have done this………it will stick into wood pretty hard.
Because of its balance and size, it’s very fast if you were to use it as a slashing weapon, you can tell this was made by a knife company. Oh! I almost forgot! it will dig a hole! Its blade is decent quality for all kinds of abuse. I have two of these, one stays in the truck, and one is on my backpack.
The next tool I have is almost as old as the outdoors itself. It’s the tried and true, tomahawk. I picked the pipe hawk because the “Pipe” is actually a hammer pull, and find that if I have a hammer out there, it solves a lot of problems fairly quickly. This is what they call a traditional tomahawk, as opposed to a tactical hawk, which is mostly a weapon and of little use as much of anything else.
Here I should give you a warning, cold steel’s traditional hawk line come to you pretty crude. They are 1055 carbon steel, which is a good quality metal, known for being able to take abuse and hold there edge for long periods, however, when you get it, it’s not very sharp at all (unlike the spetsnaz shovel).
The other thing that you will need to do is remove the set screw in the side of the blade piece that holds the handle in place……….remove it, then throw it away!!!. Cold Steel puts it on there, I think because most people don’t know how to use a traditional tomahawk and don’t understand that the blade is tension fit, and is SUPPOSED to come off the handle! This is where you will have to do a little work. You will need to sand a bevel in the handle where you see the line where the top of the blade piece stops.
Like I said, the blade of traditional hawks are supposed to be able to come off. Frontiersmen used the blade as a scraper, a hand cutter, etc. That’s why, unlike a hatchet or ax, the tomahawks handle is tapered from high to low, so when you need to use the blade for other things, it’s a simple matter of just holding onto it, and giving the handle a quick tap at the bottom.
The hammer pull is great for opening and breaking things, the chopping ability of the pipe hawk is very good. It has a long narrow profile, so it tends to cut into things pretty deep, which is what you want in a chopper. It can also be used as a weapon, just like our ancestors did, however, it wouldn’t be my first choice as a weapon, even though its small, it’s still in the ax family, which means is unwieldy compared to other things. I would be much more afraid of the guy with the spetsnaz shovel than a tomahawk as the shovel is lightning fast and able to slice huge gashes in you without a lot of effort (Just sayin).
Between the shovel and the hawk on my pack, there are not too many things you will not be able to handle. Both are inexpensive, both will give you many years of good service, both are multi-purpose.
Here’s a video of the pipe hawk in action:
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