How Do You Use a Backpacking Trowel?

By Michael Ferguson

A backpacking trowel is a must-have tool for any outdoor enthusiast who regularly ventures into backcountry areas. It is a small, handheld shovel that is specifically designed to provide quick and easy digging in tight spaces. The trowel packs down small and lightweight, making it an ideal tool for both long and short trips.

To use the trowel, first select the area you want to dig in. Make sure it is clear of any debris or vegetation, as these can make the job more difficult. You can also use your hands to break up any hard or compacted ground.

Once your area is ready, take hold of the trowel’s handle with one hand, and place its blade on the ground. With your other hand, push down on the handle to force the blade into the ground, creating a shallow bowl-shaped depression.

Slowly move the trowel around in a circular motion while pushing down on it, deepening and widening the depression until it reaches your desired size. This technique should be used when digging holes for tents stakes or campfires.


Trenching is another technique used with backpacking trowels. To do this, start by making a shallow trench line in a straight line across the desired area. Then start at one end of this line and begin to deepen it with your trowel until it reaches your desired depth.

Digging Out Roots

Sometimes when you’re out camping you may need to dig out roots from an area so you can set up camp or build a fire pit. To do this with your backpacking trowel start at one end of the root system and begin cutting through each root with short strokes from your trowel’s blade.


A backpacking trowel can be an indispensable tool for anyone who spends time outdoors in remote areas. It provides quick and easy digging in tight spaces without taking up much space or weight in your pack. With practice, you can master different techniques such as trenching and root removal that make using a backpacking trowel even easier.