Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big spade test 2021. Here we present all the spades we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best spade for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a spade.




Summary

  • A spade can be used to dig in and out of various objects. It is popular in gardening as well as a digging tool for explorers.
  • Depending on the purpose, a field spade or folding spade is more suitable for you. The folding spade is easy to store because of its folding mechanism.
  • Spades can be compared on the basis of their construction, blade shape, blade width, length and weight.

The Best Spade: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a spade

What types of spades are there and what are they suitable for?

There are many different types and shapes of spades. For gardening, you need to make sure that the size of the blade is suited to your goal. For planting flowers, a small handy spade is sufficient, but if you want to dig up the lawn, you need a different model.

Likewise, the weight must fit the task. If you want to transport a spade, it also comes into play. The style can be made of different materials, but the blade is usually made of metal. Basically, spades can be divided into the following two product types:

Field spade Folding spade
A field spade is an assembled unit of blade, handle (made of wood or metal) and grip. Due to its fixed assembly, it is particularly stable and is therefore especially suitable for hard ground and deep digging Folding spades can be folded on one or two hinges (on the spade blade and on the handle) and thus reduced to up to one third of their use size. The folding spade is recommended for loose soils.

More detailed information, as well as advantages and disadvantages of each type of spade, can be found below.

What is a field spade and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Sturdy, but space-consuming - the field spade. A field spade is an assembled unit of blade, handle (made of wood or metal) and grip.

Due to its fixed assembly, it is particularly stable and is therefore especially suitable for hard soils and deep digging. Its disadvantage is that it takes up considerably more space during transport.

What is a folding spade and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Practical, but less stable - the folding spade. Folding spades can be folded on one or two hinges (on the spade blade and on the handle) and thus reduced to up to a third of their use size for more space-saving storage and transport.

Like all tools that consist of several parts that are not firmly assembled, a folding spade tends to break more easily. It is true that most manufacturers pay attention to the stability of the materials they use when checking the quality.

But even the models that are considered particularly resistant are not recommended for constant use in firm or stony ground. A folding spade should therefore be used primarily for loose and less deep digging.

The folding spade is most commonly used for camping, as the size is limited to a few centimetres.

What are other types of spades and shovels and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Apart from these two main types, there are spades with very different characteristics. Depending on the intended use, the nature of the soil and your own preference and physical strength, you should choose different shapes of spade blades.

For example, there are round spades as well as spades with a pointed blade for precise digging. Subcategories such as sand scoops (with a particularly large scooping surface) and sand coops (with holes for sifting for small finds) make digging on the beach and in loose soils much easier.

There are also specialised digging tools with untypically shaped and particularly sharp blades (for cutting through roots in the soil) and hand protection plates on the market, for example from the manufacturer Black ADA.

There are also genuine survival spades and combination spades with additional functions such as saws and picks, as well as original military and Bundeswehr digging tools. The general dimensions of the selected spade are also a decision criterion.

Large spades with a length of 95cm or more have certain advantages over mini-spades, such as a helpful tread and significantly greater leverage. However, as long as you don't expect to find a huge treasure trove of gold at a depth of several metres, we do not recommend such a space-consuming model.

How much does a spade weigh and how long is it?

Spades should be as heavy as necessary and as stable as possible. Fixed field spades take up more storage space than a folding spade. Field spades are on average 70 cm long.

Folding spades, on the other hand, can be folded down at the blade and thus reduced from an average length of 50 cm to half that. Most models of both types of spade weigh about 1 kilogram and thus fit well in the hand.

The weight should play a subordinate role when buying a spade. It is best to try out which weight you can handle best.

Spaten

Depending on the type of ground you want to work on with your spade, you need to focus more on material or weight, or both. (Photo: bhr2al / pixabay.com)

How much does a spade cost?

Spades are not that expensive. For a tenner you can buy a pragmatic model. Field spades range in price from 10 to 30 euros. Folding spades tend to be a little more expensive because of their more complex workmanship and cost 10 to 50 euros.

The price depends on the materials used in the spade blade and handle. For example, a spade with a blade made of hardened boron steel and a glass fibre handle is more expensive than a simple shovel with a blade made of pressed steel and a wooden handle.

Here you can find a summary of the approximate price range of the products:

Spades Cost
Simple field spade approx. 10€ and 30€
Simple folding spade approx. 30€ and 50€
Field spade with carbon steel blade from approx. 40€
Folding steel spade approx. 40€ and 80€

Can I repair my spade myself if it breaks?

Yes - provided you have the necessary technical know-how. In specialist discussion platforms and forums, gardeners will be able to give you help and advice.

Some hobbyists even build their own spades. For example, they buy a spade from a DIY store, cut the blade to their own specifications and add handles and grips that are ideal for their needs.

Decision: What types of spades are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between two types of spades:

  • Field spade
  • Folding spade

With each type, the construction of the spade is different, resulting in individual advantages and disadvantages. Which spade is the right one depends above all on the planned use and the nature of the soil.

To help you decide and find the best spade for you and your purposes, in the following section we present the two different types of spades in more detail and list the advantages and disadvantages clearly.

How does a field spade work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A field spade consists of a handle, a shaft - which can be made of different materials, such as wood or metal - and the spade blade. These three components of the field spade are firmly mounted and thus cannot be taken apart.

Advantages
  • Sturdy
  • Suitable for hard soils
  • Suitable for deep digging
Disadvantages
  • Bulky

Due to its solid construction, the field spade is very stable. It can also be used on hard ground without any problems. In addition, the field spade is excellent for digging deep holes.

For transport, however, a field spade can be a bit bulky, as the length cannot be reduced as with the folding spade. Therefore, field spades are much more unwieldy than other types of spades.

How does a folding spade work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Folding spades also have the same three components as field spades. They also consist of a blade, handle and grip. Unlike the field spade, however, a folding spade is not permanently mounted.

It has one or two hinges, usually on the blade and sometimes also on the handle. This allows you to fold a folding spade to half or even a third of its original length. Folding spades, which used to be used mainly by the military, are now used in many different ways.

Folding spades are particularly popular with campers because they are very small and therefore do not take up much space in the tent. Outdoor sports enthusiasts, such as mountaineers, also rarely do without the handy tool, which is also very light.

And folding spades can also be interesting for car drivers, as they can be used to easily remove snow or mud around the car. When digging in loose soil or when it is not necessary to dig too deep, the folding spade is always perfectly adequate.

Advantages
  • Space-saving
  • Handy
  • Versatile
  • Suitable for loose soils
  • Suitable for shallow digging
Disadvantages
  • Less stability
  • Not suitable for firm or stony soils

This variant of the spade is therefore particularly handy and easy to transport, as a lot of space can be saved and the device can be carried more easily by folding it up. If longer distances have to be covered between digging, a folding spade is therefore more practical than a field spade.

If you fix the blade of a folding spade at a 90 degree angle to the handle, you can easily turn it into a hoe. Folding spades can therefore also be used in many different ways.

However, the fact that it can be folded means that the folding spade is not as stable as the field spade and can therefore bend or break more easily. The folding spade is therefore not ideal for working on hard ground or for digging deep holes.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate spades

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate spades. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular tool is suitable for you or not. In summary, these are:

  • Type
  • Blade shape and width
  • Total length and weight
  • Additional functions

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Type

Field spades are made of one piece and therefore take up a lot of space in your luggage. Folding spades, on the other hand, can be folded up to save space. They also often come with a protective bag for the spade blade.

Whether or not you choose the advantages of a folding spade depends on how much you trust the stability and workmanship of the chosen model. After all, any tool that consists of changeable and movable parts will break more easily than one with unchangeable individual parts.

If you are only going to be digging shallow holes in loose soil, you can safely buy a folding spade. If you also expect to dig in harder, stony soils, it may be worthwhile to save space and carry an extra field spade.

Leaf shape and width

Leaf shape and width have a lasting effect on the method of digging. Wide round leaves, for example, allow for more extensive soil excavation, but are more difficult to drive into the ground because of their long edge. Pointed leaves make it easier to penetrate the soil, but move little overburden at a time.

Garten Spaten

Pointed leaf shapes allow you to penetrate the soil more easily, but at the same time they have less pick-up function.

Overall length and weight

The overall length of your chosen spade affects handling and transport. Shorter, handy spades of around 40 to 60 cm in length allow you to work well in confined spaces.

Longer spades of 70 cm or more require considerably more space, but offer more leverage. If your only concern is that your spade is easy to store, folding spades are unbeatable because they can be folded to a fraction of their weight in use.

Additional functions

If you simply need a functional digging tool, then a field spade is quite sufficient for your purposes. But since not all ground is free of stones and roots, folding spades often have practical additional functions such as a hoe or saw that you can use to clear these obstacles out of the way.

Facts worth knowing about spades

From field spade to folding spade - the origin of excavation tools

The field spade served as both a tool and a weapon during the world wars. Later it was replaced by the space-saving folding spade. The field spade (also known as a pioneer's entrenching tool) takes its name from the battlefield.

Soldiers carried it on the belt of their uniforms during combat operations and used it to dig out earth fortifications such as trenches, fighting positions, trenches and foxholes. It was also used in trench warfare as a quick-grab close combat weapon, for which it is still used today by Russian infantry and special forces.

The standard field spade of the German Wehrmacht was 50 cm long and had a rectangular blade. In 1938, the field spade was replaced by the practical folding spade.

This offered a longer handle totalling 70cm, but was no longer than its predecessor when folded. Its rectangular, multifunctional blade had a ground edge and a saw. Today, folding spades are still used in modified and modernised form by the US Army and the Bundeswehr.

Picture credits: Pixabay.com / AdinaVoicu

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