NAME: Joe Schaffer
HEIGHT: 5′9″ (1.75 meters)
WEIGHT: 175 lbs (79.4 kilos)
HOME: Hayward, California
I began backpacking in the Pacific Northwest (USA) 50 years ago. Since 2001 I've cavorted mostly in California, up to 95 nights a year. I camp every month; about half the time solo. I work part time at an outdoor store to feed a gear habit. As a comfort camper I lug tent, mattress, chair, etc. Summer trips last typically a week to 10 days; 40 lbs (18 kilos), about half food related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day. I winter camp most often in the Sierras at 6,000′-7,000′ (1,830-2,135 meters); 2-3 nights; 55 lbs (25 kilos); 1-4 miles (1.6-6.4 km) on snowshoes.
Manufacturer: Mont-Bell Co., Ltd.
Web site: http://www.montbell.com
Product: Handy Scoop
Year purchased: 2010
Weight: 1.38 oz (39 gm)
Length: 6.25″ (159 mm)
Handle length: 3″ (76 mm)
Handle width: .83″ (22 mm)
Blade length: 3.25″ (83 mm)
Blade width (max): 1.58″ (40 mm)
Factory specs (from website):
Weight: 1.4 oz
Curved stainless steel 1mm thick with plastic-coated handle and a lanyard. The scoop is stamped from a single piece 6.25″ (159 mm) long; curved full length at about the round of a person's thumb, allowing the handle to cradle the thumb. The handle is .83″ (22 mm) wide to its full length of 3″ (76 mm) coated with about .04″ (1 mm) of black plastic, softening the feel of the edges. The top of the handle is drilled with a .38″ (9.5 mm) hole to accommodate a webbing lanyard .63″ (16 mm) wide and 5″ (127 mm) in circumference. The elliptical blade holds the same curve as the handle; splaying to a maximum width of 1.58″ (40 mm) at about the center length of the blade, leading to an apex sharp enough to break through turf.
I've carried this product for about 200 backpacking days, sampling all kinds of conditions from sand to sod.
I've snapped a lot of plastic trowels over the years, often owing to urgency. Plastic trowels fill the hand and can move a volume of loose dirt; but I find they won't tolerate prying. I've yet to damage the Handy Scoop in any way, perhaps because it is too small in my hand to gain enough leverage. However, it will pry out stones and rubble that would snap the traditional plastic trowel. (The newer recycled Lexan trowels are cheap and very strong, but like other metal trowels I've tried, are also large and heavy.) I find it nearly impossible to dig without prying at some point.
In firm, gravelly dirt I can move material easier and faster with the Handy Scoop. I find the small, relatively sharp blade cuts into dirt and humus more efficiently than a larger blade and doesn't torque the wrist on hurried excavations. While a larger blade has potentially more capacity, the more common conditions seem to prevent loading a large blade to its potential.
In sand or such the Handy Scoop moves material slower than a larger trowel. However, when the ground is that loose, I find it more convenient just to scrape a hole with a boot heel.
It works no better than a right angle stick, but I find it comforting to know I always have digging capacity readily at hand for about the weight of a packet of energy gel.
Handy Scoop quick shots:
a) Low weight
d) More $ than a stick