For years I objected to carrying a shovel for pit stops, relying on a tent stake and soft soil to dig out my deposit spot. Now that I frequently backpack with two daughters, and the three of us are on different schedules (ahem), I sometimes find the regularity of digging cat holes, with less than adequate tools, too much for my patience. MontBell’s Handy Scoop is a lightweight option constructed of sheet steel for better digging performance and durability. We gave it a thorough test in the dry, rocky, hard soils of the Arizona deserts and rocky canyons.

MontBell’s Handy Scoop weighs 1.4 ounces and measures 6-1/4 inches in length. Its thin profile doesn’t consume pack space. It is by no means a featherweight, but only titanium could yield the same performance at a lighter weight, and that might be a tad too pricy for the general market. Sure, it’s nice to pull out titanium cookware to impress your friends, but an expensive titanium potty trowel would not hold the same allure. (Tip: shave some weight by removing the strap and rubber coating off the handle).

The Handy Scoop exceeded my expectations for digging performance; and that’s saying something considering I’m a Soil Scientist by profession. The 1mm thick stainless steel used is very tough, able to chisel away at hard ground and pry out stones with negligible wear. The tip’s shape, being narrow and formed into a dull point, allows the little scoop to penetrate and maneuver around gravelly material. All in all, it does its job well, far exceeding the performance of cheap plastic trowels, which often weigh 2 ounces or more.

Features and Specifications

  • Manufacturer: MontBell
  • Weight: 1.4 oz (39 g)
  • Size (measured): 6.25 in x 1.6 in (15.9 cm x 4.1 cm)
  • Materials: 1 mm thick stainless steel
  • MSRP: $8.00