An outdoorsman from Salt Lake City, Utah has designed a multi-use survival tool for heavy use in the wild.
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“SPARtool began as a quest for the ultimate survival tool – the one item you would want to have with you to do any task in an urban or wilderness survival scenario,” says SPARtool designer Stewart Yeoh. “It would need to be light enough for backpacking, where every ounce counts. It also needed to be so durable that no conceivable use or misuse could damage it.”
Some wilderness tools on the market are too heavy, Yeoh maintains. Others looked and felt flimsy and cheap. Most models were poorly laid-out, or lacked tools that were deemed essential, he says.
“I decided to focus on a few core tasks that come up in nearly every outdoor excursion, and make sure that this tool could do them well,” Yeoh said, explaining that the SPARtool needed to be able to dig, chop, saw, hammer, pry and open a cold beer when the work is done.
The SPARtool features a six-inch x 8-inch shovel head with integrated chopping edge and saw blade. The 1075 carbon steel and Zytel handle is topped with a flat pry bar, hammer, and 4-inch pick that functions as a handle for digging and sawing. The total tool length is 22 inches, and the weight is 2 pounds 15 ounces.
One side of the hardened and tempered steel shovel head is ground “scary sharp,” giving it a 9-inch cutting surface.
“When used against small branches the thin edge acts like a machete, passing through with minimal resistance. When employed to split logs, the curvature of the shovel head acts more like an ax, forcing the wood apart cleanly. The edge of the shovel is carefully aligned parallel along the center of the handle, creating the most direct transmission of force, and reducing the chance for dangerous glancing blows, Yeoh says.
It’s equipped with a saw blade on the other side.
“Saws are often one of the weakest links in multi-tools due to disregard for their mechanical and design principles. Our saw teeth are an aggressive 4/inch, 60° tooth layout, cut at a 15° rake,” Yeoh says. “Our saw is laid out as a crosscut saw, with a 15° fleam and a wide alternating offset tooth pattern to clear a wide kerf. Once again the saw edge is parallel to the handle to allow pure single axis motion.”
The 4-inch pick spike can break hard earth and rocks or forcefully open padlocks. The curved pick also serves as a convenient and comfortable handle when digging or sawing, Yeoh says.
The SPARtool handle ends in a flat pry bar with a rounded, shepherds-crook curve and designed for prying open doors or crates, pulling nails, chiseling, and other demolition tasks. The handle has a .20-inch thick carbon steel bar, forged half round to fit in your hand. Inside the half round’s curvature is an impact grade Zytel polymer insert; which provides stiffness in the secondary direction and is textured to give a secure grip.
Currently, the SPARtool has a prototype sheath built from 1050 denier ballistic nylon with MOLLE-compatible strapping and belt loop. The cutting surfaces on the shovel head are protected by a nylon and Kydex sheath which is fully detachable from the backbone of the sheath. The cutting surfaces of the pry bar and pick are similarly protected with a Kydex guard, and are freely detachable with secure snaps. When in use, the cover guard for the opposite end is left in place and protects the user from accidental injury.