For the past 6 years or so I’ve used one of those short $10 pony shovels and one of those $8 Ames True Temper diggers. I liked the shovel because it would fit in my back pack along with my detector and gear. I would hang a pair of binoculars around my neck and hike to my detecting spots. If I ran into anyone, I just looked like another birdwatcher. Shovel worked great except on big roots. I had been wanting a longer shovel to save on my back but didn't want to be seen lugging a shovel through the woods. So I went to the Home Despot and picked up a 54 inch replacement handle made of ash. I took the blade off my short pony shovel and trimmed the end of the long handle to fit it. Now I have a dual purpose tool. A nice sturdy hiking stick that doubles as the handle to my shovel blade. I just put the blade on my walking stick when I get to my site and pop it off with a couple of whacks with a stick when I am ready to pack up and head out. Works great the few times I’ve used it this year.

The $8 Ames digger would take over when I had to dig around big roots. I lost a few of those Ames diggers over the years but never broke one. But I replaced my $8 Ames digger with an $8 “survival” belt knife I picked up at Harbor Freight. Their motto is “cheaply made tools at cheap prices” . This knife also serves multiple purposes. With an 8 inch blade it is fearsome enough to scare away most two legged animals that might have bad intentions. It also is a pretty good digger. It has a saw tooth pattern on the back of the blade that actually cuts really well. I used it a couple of weeks ago to hack and jab through some frozen ground and it held up fine. It actually is a survival knife with a working compass and a hollow handle for a whistle, matches etc. At $8, I won’t be too put out when I snap the blade at some point.