When you gotta go in the woods, it’s crucial that you follow proper Leave No Trace (LNT) practices to minimize your impact. I’ve included a refresher video at the end to review this essential skill, but here wanted to highlight one of its most critical aspects: digging a proper hole. Per LNT guidelines, it should be 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches in diameter.
The fastest and most effective way to excavate your backcountry drop zone is to carry a dedicated potty trowel. There is no shortage of options—from the recycled plastic GSI Cathole trowel ($4.95, 3.1 ounces) to the collapsible Sea to Summit Pocket Trowel ($22.85, 3.5 ounces) to the classic orange plastic Coghlan’s Backpackers Trowel ($3, 2 ounces)—but most of them lack a sufficiently sharp edge for slicing through hard ground and small roots, both common obstacles in the Northeast. They also all weigh a couple of ounces, anathema to all those ultralighters out there.
Enter the Deuce (formerly known as the Deuce of Spades) from TheTentLab. Made from stiff, durable 7075-T6 aluminum, the Deuce weighs in at a paltry 0.6 ounce, features sharp edges for slicing through hard dirt and small roots, and can be used in either direction for digging (the narrower handle end provides more power for excavating really hard ground). Other pluses: The Deuce comes with a lifetime warranty and is available in no fewer than 10 different colors. It costs $19.95.
Its big drawback is comfort in the hand, which is the price you pay for its ultralight weight. The thin edges dig into your palm and fingers as you use it, especially if you’re really gripping and working hard on tough ground. A wrap or two of duct tape around the handle can help mitigate this, though this compromises the effectiveness of the handle-first digging option. It’s not a deal-breaker—especially for something you only use occasionally—but it’s definitely a factor worth considering.
Keep it clean out there!