If you are a backpacker you know that there is more to the call of nature than a nice view. At some point you are going to have to answer those other calls. Here is where the EZEE trowel comes in. This has been our choice for 20 years.
For years there have been two basic choices of trowel for backpackers to use for digging small holes to use as a one-time latrine. There is this familiar orange trowel and the U-Dig-It, which is metal with a folding handle. They both have their proponents. I see that there is now a third choice called an iPood. But I think I’ll stick with the little orange shovel. Here’s why.
After 19 years of service on everything from solo trips to multi-week hikes with up to four people, our first EZEE trowel said that it was tired. See broken trowel. It’s also rather fades, but that’s certainly not important. But I ordered the same thing as a replacement.
The advantages of the U-Dig-It are that it is metal and that the handle folds down, making packing easier. The disadvantages are its weight and price.
The new iPood option is also metal, and does not fold, but has a short blade and a hollow handle for storing something- a very small wad of toilet paper? I haven’t tried it out, but it has the same disadvantages.
The advantages of the two metal trowels is that they may be sturdier for digging a hole in hard dirt. I say “may be” because there is only a certain amount of leverage you can get with a tiny shovel anyway.
Here is a table of the various specs
Item material weight price construction
EZEE plastic 2 oz $2.99 one piece- rigid, pointed
U-DIg-It stainless steel 6 oz $19.99 handle folds down, pointed
iPood anodized aluminum 3.5 oz $16.99 hollow handle, flat blade
For me, weight and price just can’t be beat on this classic item. Shedding ounces is the backpackers’ credo.
The EZEE trowel is made of a hard plastic and the edges are beveled so that they are sharp. Not sharp enough to cut yourself, but definitely helpful if you have to chop a hole in peat or cut some small roots. I see that the new version has measurements on the edges. I think this would be more useful if you were planting bulbs instead of digging a “cathole, ” but perhaps the EZEE is living a double life and is marketed as a gardening tool.
I really like the orange color. It’s easy to find when you lay it down. And sometimes when you are digging your little hole in a hurry, you aren’t really thinking about where you toss the shovel until it’s time to pack up the potty kit again.
The big disadvantage is the shape. It’s 11 inches long and almost 3 inches broad. This means that it won’t fit in a gallon ziplock bag except kitty-corner. You must store it in a place that can accept long items. On traditional backpacks there is usually a long outer pocket. Newer packs tend to have one central space, but however you pack, long rigid shapes are somewhat problematic. With the pack I use, it slips neatly behind one of my outer pockets (I’ve sewed the bottom of that placket shut so it’s really another easy-access pocket.)
Our potty kit consists of this trowel, a small roll of toilet paper (replacement rolls kept elsewhere), a coffee-bean bag for used paper (sturdy, damp resistant, and opaque), and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
Anyway, our old trowel finally snapped and it was given a brief funeral as it was tossed in the trash. It’s bright new replacement will be christened next week.