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When it comes to my go-bag, there are items that are essential and others that are just good to have. Keep in mind that my go-bag isn’t just sitting around waiting for an emergency to happen… I have it with me every time that I am in the field. The more practice that I get while wearing my go-bag, the better off that I will be when a SHTF scenario occurs.
I must admit… My go-bag is certainly heavier than what I would recommend to others. But to be honest, I also work on my physical preparedness much more than most. For me, it’s not about abs and muscle tone… It’s about getting out in the field and being able to accomplish my mission. In an emergency, I want to be able to carry as much weight as possible for great distances. The best way to accomplish this is to get out on the trail with your ruck and move!
Being out in the field isn’t just something that I have passion for, but it’s also part of my job. Luckily, this allows me to gather a lot of information, test it and bring that info to motivated individuals… Just like you.
I have survival kits that are catered to deploying with my vehicle and I have others that are intended for moving out of foot. Many of the items contained in both types of those kits are redundant. But as I stated earlier, some items are essential for all situations. One of the items that I consider a must is an entrenching tool (E-tool.)
I was first introduced to E-tools as a young U.S. Marine. As a Marine, I found that I couldn’t operate as efficiently in the field without my E-tool. As a civilian focussed on enjoying the outdoors as well as being prepared for emergency situations… Let’s just say that I have an E-tool in every survival kit that I own.
I want to go over a few reasons why I find the inclusion of an E-tool in my preparedness kits a must. By sharing this information with you, it will enable you to decide if the added space and weight of an E-tool is the right choice for you.
So let’s get right into it…
Used For Digging:
Granted…. This reason is basically a given. The word entrenching is right in its name. The initial E-tools that I used were military issued. I spent plenty of time getting acquainted with my E-tool as I dug countless foxholes. Apart from digging foxholes and filling sand-bags, there are various situations where being able to dig is a must. If you plan on sticking around your basecamp for extended periods of time, there is going to be some entrenching & trenching to do..
One of those instances would be to build a latrine area for you and your group. Sanitation and hygiene has to be a part of your plan if you want to stay healthy and comfortable. Having access to an E-tool will certainly make the task easier. Many prefer to use a trowel for latrine building. But I can tell you from experience, you will burn a lot more energy, using a smaller tool to dig with, than you conserved by opting to move-out with a trowel over an E-Tool. My suggestion… Carry, both! 🙂
I keep an fixed handle E-tool in my Jeep. My primary purpose for this E-tool is to be prepared in case I need to head out with my vehicle during an emergency. However, just this winter season alone, I used my E-tool twice to dig my Jeep out of a snowstorm.
Honestly… That was a use that hadn’t entered my mind. We tend to think of an emergency as only pertaining to an actual crisis situation. But we have to realize that we can use our gear to help prevent a few of those emergencies from ever affecting us in the first place.
For longer stays in the field, you may want to plant a garden. Once again, the E-tool can make that task much easier for you. If there is digging to be done, a trusty E-tool will go along way in making your work a bit easier.
It Packs Easily:
Most E-tools are made to fold up. Some fold into 3 segments, while others have modular handles that can be adjusted as needed. My military issued E-tools come with a durable, rubber, pouch. Other E-tools that I own pack easily into a small, tactical-type, bag. These pouches and bags have fastened clips so that I can attach them to my molle webbing on the outside on my ruck. Since I’m able to stage the E-tool on the outside of my pack, I can maximize the interior space for other gear.
Most E-tools are made from steel, aluminum or other light metals. I wouldn’t say that they are feather light, but from the uses that I mentioned so far, I certainly feel that for the extra 3-5lbs… you would be hard-pressed to find a more versatile tool to use in the field.
My favorite way to cook outdoors is by using a Dutch oven. Since I enjoy baking chocolate cakes and other tasty treats… I need a way to remove coals from my fire and place them on or under my Dutch oven. My folding (non-fixed handle) E-tools perform the task perfectly.
I can adjust the length and the angle of the spade so that I can be more precise with the placement of the hot coals. The durable steel construction of the E-tool allows it to handle incredibly high temperatures from the fire. In addition, its design stifles the heat-transfer to the handle allowing it to remain cool to the touch.
At times, when there is a long activity planned, I bury my Dutch oven and let it cook while we are accomplishing our mission. This is where the E-tool is key… I can use it to dig the hole as well as for transferring coals from the fire. By the time that our activity is done, we have a delicious meal waiting for us at basecamp. I’d say that’s putting a multi-purpose tool to great use!
Due to the attributes of the E-tool, it makes a viable self-defense tool. The spade has a great point and edge to it. Some even choose to sharpen their E-tool to a nearly razor’s edge. For safety concerns, I keep my E-tool unsharpened but if I had to, I can wield it quite effectively in a close-quarter battle situation.
It is well documented that E-tools have been used, with great success, as a self defense weapon during trench warfare. There are currently various military combatives methods that utilize a spade or E-tool in their training. Just like any skill… The more that you practice, the better that you will fair if you need to count on that skill in an emergency or crisis.
OK, I wouldn’t replace my field axe with an E-tool for the purpose of chopping. But in a pinch, I was surprised at what my E-tool could accomplish. The spade part of most E-tools are constructed quite well; They are made of quality steel. Since the handle and stem are usually much lighter than the spade head, it makes the E-tool top heavy. When wielded similarly to an axe, it can effectively chop through most kindling (or smaller bones.)
It also aids in clearing out paths while in the bush. Once again, some choose to sharpen a finer edge on the E-tool to help it perform this task with better results. It really depends on the mission at hand as well as your current options.
In areas where trees may be scarce or just not an option, I can drive my E-tool into the ground and use it as a post. I have seen Marines utilize this method for applications such as a toilet paper dispenser, an improvised chair or even a rack for their helmet. Some of the current E-tool options even allow you to attach a flashlight to the handle making it a viable lantern.
You can also use this method to tie off an end of a rope for a small laundry line or attach a poncho for wet weather protection. If you need a temporary post for whatever task, the E-tool can certainly provide a temporary solution.
Just like most of the gear these days, there are constant options being added to E-tools. Some are designed with a self-defense application in mind while others contain multiple survival necessities, i.e. flashlight, fishing kit, fire starter, etc. They are basically mini-survival kits encased in an E-tool.
Keep in mind that you want your E-tool to be able to perform its primary job… Which is entrenching. Other features are great to have in a pinch, but do not substitute the quality and integrity of your E-tool just to add some extra, redundant, gadgets.
You have a lot to think about when it comes to the contents of your go-bag. Your budget, health, fitness and skill level will often dictate which gear is best suited for you. What I want to convey to you with this article is how the E-tool has been a valued piece of equipment in my experience.
If you haven’t thought about an entrenching tool before, I’m glad that I was able to bring this diverse tool to your attention. It may be a piece of gear that has very little purpose for you or it may become your next must-have item. My goal with this article is to have you think and put what will work for you into action.
In an emergency, it will be too late to address this issue. The time to test, evaluate and prepare is now! Take advice from those that you trust. But in all reality, it is you that has to walk the talk to truly know what you will need when things go awry.