Many of us go through an arc when it comes to backpacking.
We buy many gadgets in our exuberance as new backpackers.
Gadgets, tchotkes, knickknacks, and doodads are purchased as “must have” items.
And ubiquitous among these items purchased is the orange potty trowel.
You all know the one.
About two ounces, a little bulky in size and about $5 at your local Dick’s, Sports Authority (well, not for much longer!), Wally World or similar.
We went forth and did what we had to do, dug a hole, covered it up and went forth again with our packs laden with other doodads, gadgets, knickknacks and tcothkes.
Then we (allegedly) became smarter and more efficient. A tent stake, a hiking pole or even a foot was enough to do what we had to do.
Except maybe we didn’t dig that hole quite as deep as we should. Or we rolled a rock over what we had to do.
In the far remote backcountry and/or off-trail, some of these techniques don’t matter quite as much.
But on the popular long distance trails or in high use areas such on-trail in Colorado, it is a crappy situation. And, no, I am not making a bad pun… (OK, maybe just a little bit…)
Perhaps it is the Catholic guilt I was brought up with and I feel bad about some past transgressions or maybe I’m maturing in my outdoor habits, but I now carry a trowel.
But not just any trowel. One that is lighter, more durable and less bulky than the orange trowel that I still have in my collection somewhere: The Deuce of Spades.
Made by The Tentlab , it is a simple but effective design. Thinner than the orange trowel, I find it digs better. Smaller, so it is more compact and fits in a ziplock with hand sanitizer easily. It has two ends so you can dig in both loose soil or rocky and rooty areas easily as needed.
The handle can be a little awkward to use…but you are only using it a few minutes a day. Some people have found this to be an issue; I have not.
Though more expensive at $20 vs $5 for the orange trowel, The Deuce of Spades really is more effective. Digs better and more efficiently and in more varied terrain…in addition to being lighter. And, per the website, it does indeed open a bottle of beer! Multi-use at its finest..if a bit awkward. But hey, try opening up a beer bottle with the orange potty trowel. 😉
The Tent Lab will occasionally have “oops” sales where unbranded/off-color/slightly irregular trowels will be sold for cheaper. That is how I bought my trowel last year. Plus these irregular ones are lighter too (.4 oz vs .6 oz…at least for the “oops” one I bought).
Besides being a good price-to-weight ratio, the designer is just down the road from me in a town next to Boulder. Plus he designed the Kelty Zen that I still have a soft spot for. 🙂 Call it local loyalty. As a bonus, The Deuce of Spades is made in the USA and is fabricated by Arrow Sheet Metal in Denver. Very local indeed!
The Deuce of Spades is not glamorous or “cool”. It is simply a well designed, light, durable and effective tool for something that is becoming an increasing problem in the more popular backpacking areas.
Whether you go with the venerable orange trowel, The Deuce of Spades or another alternative, please consider going with some type of trowel.
Otherwise we’ll continue to have a crappy situation.
Disclosure: I bought The Deuce of Spades with my own funds last year. The first, er, field use was in the Little Bookcliffs WSA. The scenery was grand. The hiking fantastic. And the trace left? Hopefully little-to-none that was noticed.