THETENTLAB THE DEUCE OF SPADES
BY NANCY GRIFFITH
March 06, 2020
Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
126 lb (57.20 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a co-ed scout group which made a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since college in Pennsylvania. I have hiked 1/4 of the Appalachian Trail and 2/3 of the Pacific Crest Trail. My typical trip is in the Sierra Nevada from a few days to a few weeks long. My base weight is lightweight at 15 lb (6.8 kg) while still using a tent, stove and quilt. Longer mileage summer trips are now stoveless.
|wear at tip|
Manufacturer: Inkling Inc.
|pine sap stains|
Year Acquired: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.thetentlab.com
MSRP: $19.95 US
Listed Weight: 0.6 oz (17 g)
Measured Weight: 0.6 oz (17 g)
Colors Available: Fire, Ice, Lime, Orange, Sky, Green, Gold, Black, Purple
Mine is Orange
Dimensions: 6.8 in x 2.5 in x 3/4 in (173 mm x 64 mm x 20 mm)
Made in Colorado, USA
TheTentLab Deuce of Spades is an ultra-lightweight aluminum trowel made from US-produced, aerospace grade 7075-T6 aluminum. The current Deuce #2 is the same product as mine with just a few minor improvements.
There is a hole in the small end which can be used for hanging the trowel or guying it for use as a tent peg in soft surfaces.
I received this trowel as a gift from a backpacking friend many years ago. My husband and I thought that we were doing just fine digging catholes with sturdy sticks or trekking poles but once we tried the Deuce, we were sold! It has been in one of our packs ever since. We manage to share it which hasn't been a problem yet. Although the Deuce is so inexpensive that I really should get another one. For sanitary reasons, the rule is to only DIG with the trowel. Any post-business filling must be done with a stick, stone or shoe. This way we know that the trowel is always 'clean'.
I have to admit that my catholes are deeper with the Deuce than before. It's just so easy to dig with. The trowel is thin and strong which allows for easy digging in most soils. I've used it in sand, loam, clay, dirt and even rocky soils. I try to avoid doing my business in rocky soils, but the trowel is a great help even then. It can be used to lever out smaller rocks. The edges of the trowel are excellent for cutting a hole and can even cut small roots. It can be used with the scoop end or the handle end equally well for digging. In the right soil conditions, a plug can be cut that is even replaceable.
For people like me who like gear with multiple uses, the trowel can be used as a screwdriver on bear canister screws too. I love the bright orange color for being able to see it in the forest duff. We've had no problem locating it so it hasn't been lost. The size (length) of the Deuce also serves as a scale for measuring the necessary depth of a cathole. One Deuce-length should do it. The edges of the Deuce are thin but rounded off nicely for a good fit in my hand. Even in tough digging situations, it doesn't cut into my hand.
I'm really not a fan of carrying extra gear that I really don't need, but the Deuce has been well worth the smidge of weight. We've carried it on approximately 30 backpacking trips for a total of 140 days and over 1,500 mi (2,415 km). Most trips have been on the Pacific Crest Trail with other trips to Utah, Florida and Death Valley. Overall there was a lot of variation in the ground surface conditions.
Some examples of my trips include:
Pacific Crest Trail from Etna Summit, California to Cascade Locks, Oregon: 40 nights; 550 mi (886 km); 170 to 7,676 ft (52 to 2,340 m) elevation with most between 5,000 and 6,000 ft (1,524 to 1,829 m); 39 to 95 F (4 to 35 C)
Pacific Crest Trail, Southern Sierra Nevada, California: 8 days, 87 mi (140 km); 6,299 to 12,126 ft (1,920 to 3,696 m) elevation; 31 to 89 F (-0.5 to 32 C). Mostly clear with some breezes and some afternoon thunderstorms.
Pacific Crest Trail, Section F, Southern California: 6 days; 86 mi (138 km); 3,773 to 7,003 ft (1,150 to 2,135 m); 29 to 87 F (-2 to 31 C); clear sunny skies to dense 'raining' fog to snow to howling winds.
TheTentLab Deuce of Spades Trowel (now the Deuce #2) is an ultra-lightweight trowel that has performed flawlessly over years of hard labor.
THINGS I LIKE
Digging a bigger/deeper cathole
Doesn't hurt my hands
Bright color - easy to find
Easy to pack
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
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Read more reviews of Inkling Inc. gear
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith