Last updated: August 6, 2021

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Your garden needs tilling with a hoe, spade and more. Or: For your camping trip tomorrow, your backpack is packed with a compass, bottle opener, hammer and saw. You wonder if there isn't a device that combines all these tools in a compact way. And that's exactly what it is: the folding spade.

Here you will learn everything you need to know about the folding spade and its purchase. First, we give you specific purchase recommendations. Then we present the buying and evaluation criteria for folding spades, before finally answering all the important questions about the folding spade in the guide section.




Summary

  • A folding spade is a small, foldable spade that can be used for gardening. Multifunctional folding spades can also be used as a saw, hoe and more, making them perfect for camping trips and the like.
  • The classic folding spade is designed for efficient work in the garden. The military folding spade is inspired by the folding spade of the Wehrmacht and is particularly sharp and powerful. The multifunctional folding spade combines functions of all kinds, e.g. saw, knife and hammer.
  • If you want to buy a folding spade, you should make sure that it is as light as possible and made of stainless steel. Depending on the use, you can choose a smaller or larger one, one with very many or rather few functions and one with a D-handle or a normal handle as a grip.

The Best Folding Spade: Our Choices

Buying and review criteria for folding spades

If you want to buy a folding spade, you should pay attention to certain buying criteria to find the best folding spade for you. These criteria are as follows:

In the following, we would like to explain to you what the individual buying criteria are and what you should specifically consider if you want a really good folding spade.

Size

The size of a folding spade includes the length of the handle and the width of the blade. If you don't want to get backache from the work, you should choose a longer handle length, i.e. about 60 cm. If, on the other hand, you want to transport the folding spade frequently, then smaller lengths of approx. 43 cm are more suitable. When folded, such folding spades are only about 17 cm long.

The advantage of a wide blade is, of course, that you can dig up more soil in one go. But it also provides a surface on which you can push the blade down with your foot when you insert the spade into the ground. A narrow leaf, on the other hand, is easier to plant in loose soil. Because the blade is smaller, such a folding spade is also better suited for transport.

Weight

The folding spade you choose should weigh as little as possible. This makes transport and work easier and less strenuous. A light folding spade weighs 500 grams, a heavy one about 1.2 kilograms. The belief that a heavier tool lasts longer and is more stable is no longer true; light folding spades are also of good quality.

Material

The best folding spades are made of stainless steel, carbon steel or boron steel. These are more or less equally stable and durable. They are also easy to clean, rustproof and weatherproof. However, if the material is untempered metal or steel with a powder coating, you should repaint the folding spade every now and then to prevent rust.

Multifunctionality

A multifunctional folding spade combines numerous tools in one and is a faithful helper in a wide variety of situations. If you are only interested in simple gardening, a folding spade with a shovel and hoe function is sufficient. For passionate trekkers, campers and survival fans, on the other hand, folding spades with knife, saw, hammer, pick, spade and many other functions may be of interest.

Handle shape

There are folding spades with a D-handle and folding spades with a normal handle. The D-handle is so called because its shape is reminiscent of the letter "D". You can easily hang it on a hook or attach it to your equipment. In contrast, you cannot hang a normal handle as a grip, but it is narrower and therefore more compact.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about folding spades answered in detail

In this guide section, we would like to answer the most frequently asked questions about folding spades in depth so that you have a better understanding of them.

What is a folding spade?

A folding spade is a short and small spade that is foldable for easy transport. It is often used for tilling the soil in the garden. It is a useful tool for planting and farming.

Folding spades are often multifunctional and can also be used, for example, as a saw or hoe; thus they are also used for trekking and camping. The first use of the folding spade was in the army, and today it is still part of the equipment of the German armed forces and fire brigades.

What types of folding spades are there?

The classic folding spade can only be used as a spade and sometimes also as a saw; it is ideal for gardening. A military folding spade is based on the folding spade model used by the Wehrmacht. It is very sharp, stable, light and portable. The multifunctional folding spade, the third type, has several additional functions; you can use it not only as a spade but also, for example, as a knife or whistle.

What does a folding spade cost?

To give you an idea of the price ranges for folding spades and what you can get for them, we have prepared a corresponding overview in table form for you:

Price range Available products
Low-priced (7 - 30 €) Classic folding spades with cheap to mediocre workmanship, Military folding spades with cheap to mediocre workmanship, Multifunctional folding spades with few functions
Medium-priced (30 - 60 €) Classic folding spades with good to very good workmanship, Military folding spades with good to very good workmanship, Multifunctional folding spades with many functions
High-priced (from € 60) Multifunctional folding spades with a lot of functions and a bag, often of inferior quality

It becomes clear that a reasonably satisfactory folding spade is available for as little as €7 to €30. If you are going to use your folding spade very often and need really good quality, however, we recommend one in the price range between 30 and 60 euros. It is noticeable that the multifunctional folding spades from 60 euros offer a lot of functions, but are often not of good quality.

How do you sharpen a folding spade?

You should sharpen your folding spade regularly to keep it fully functional. To do this, first remove the dirt from the folding spade and clean it thoroughly. Then clamp it in a vice, if you prefer. You then move a hand file with a coarse grit up and down the edge of the spade before filing with a fine grit. Finally, apply a little oil to prevent rust.

How do I recognise an original Bundeswehr folding spade?

An original Bundeswehr folding spade has been manufactured "according to TL" (Technical Terms of Delivery) of the Bundeswehr. However, cheap copies are often sold. You can recognise an original by the fact that it is sturdier, heavier and better made. The blade is embossed with "Made in GDR", a National Stock Number and the year of manufacture.

Conclusion

When deciding on the size of your future folding spade, you should consider whether working comfort or transportability is more important to you. In addition, the lighter the folding spade, the more transportable it is. You can't go wrong with a folding spade made of stainless steel, and you can use the multifunctionality for your needs. Handle shapes include the D-handle or a normal handle.

Besides the classic folding spade, there is the military folding spade and the multifunctional folding spade. You can get the best folding spades for 30 to 60 euros. It is also important to sharpen them regularly with a hand file. You can recognise original Bundeswehr folding spades by the markings on the blade and better workmanship.

(Cover photo: Annie Spratt/ Unsplash)

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