“Well, THAT’S gotta be too good to be true.” I thought. I was searching Amazon for a good Entrenching Tool, a small collapsible shovel, for my BOB/truck. I was really looking for a Glock E-Tool, but as I was scrolling through the results, this baby popped up for a mere $9 plus shipping. It was an SOG F08-N E-tool, and it looked like a pretty decent piece of gear for the money. SOG Knives have always been pretty decent blades for the money, and I know they generally don’t put out crap. So, knowing that, I added the SOG E-tool to my shopping cart, and had it winging my way in no time. I figured for $14 all tolled, even if the thing sucked I wasn’t out too much money. I arrived a couple days later, and I was reasonably impressed. The first thing you notice is the size. It’s pretty damn tiny. All folded up, it’s really not much bigger than a package of ramen noodles, and it only weighs 1 1/4 lbs. All unfolded, it it is 18 1/4″ long. Not huge, (GI E-tools are much bigger), but a good useful size. The shovel part is stamped steel, sporting a really kinda useless-looking root saw serrations on one side, and a pick-axe that can be deployed opposite the shovel. The shaft of the handle is aluminum tubing, the locking collar ring is plastic, and the handle is rolled steel, very well made. The hardware is all zinc-coated washers, nuts, and nylon lock bolts (and therefore not optimal for long-term corrosion resistance…I will likely change these out with stainless hardware.). The case it comes with is very cheap nylon, with what passes for a belt loop on the back. I’m guessing it won’t exactly hold up as long as the E-tool will. But what do you want for $9? I wanted to put it through its paces. This was NOT a tool I would keep with me for digging trenches and foxholes; and believe me, it’s not gonna hold up to that. But, within its ruggedness niche, it should be perfect for what I wanted: a tool to fill sand buckets and sandbags, to dig out a stuck car or truck…not fighting zombies and excavating. With tons of melting snow and freezing runoff, I needed to go to the town sand shack and get some sand for traction aid. So I grabbed a coupla buckets and the E-tool for its first test. I know it’s not a big one, but it would be pretty approximate for a planned job. It worked great, even chunking through the semi-frozen sand with no hassles. Now I know I could be the most badass sand castle builder on the beach! I got home deployed the sand on the walkways with it, and noticed that one of our snow shovels had been frozen into a snowbank, where melting roof snow runoff had created a 12″ thick swatch of ice in front of my house…and MAN, was that snow shovel stuck. Next test! I loosened the lock collar, turned the E-tool shovel blade 90 degrees, and pulled out the pickaxe blade. With a snugging up on the lock collar, we were good to go. I used the E-tool to chip away the ice rather forcefully…wouldn’t be much of a test if I babied it, right? In not much time at all, I had a lovely collection of ice chips (who brought the whiskey?) and a freed snow shovel. The handle wasn’t really optimal for pick-axe duty, with no real place to grip it comfortably, so I had to grasp it where the handle met the shaft, and it lessened the leverage I had with my swing. But It worked pretty well. The pick-axe attachment proved plenty rugged for chipping away roughly a cubic foot of ice. So, all in all, it seems like a pretty decent piece of emergency gear, especially considering what I paid. It’s not a seriously rugged do-all E-tool like the old-school GI ones, but as an emergency stow-away piece of gear for a Bug Out Bag that doesn’t take up much room at all, it certainly has a welcome spot. The lock collar doesn’t seem like it would hold up to a ton of tightening, so I really just snugged things up…and like I said, I’d much rather have stainless hardware on an emergency tool. But digging out stuck vehicles or making a snow shelter would be no problem for this SOG E-tool, so it’ll stay right in my BOB. Good gear is always welcome there. Do you guys run an E-tool in your Grab N Go gear? What do you keep with your for digging purposes? Stay safe! -TRW
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