If you’ve planted trees, bulbs, or even put in fence posts, you’ve probably thought of the best hand auger to get the job done.
This is 100% true if you work on agricultural land or are a landscaper.
Landscapers and homeowners use hand augers for managing gardens and placing fence posts. Before choosing a more expensive tool, like an electric auger, let’s check out the pros and cons of a manual model.
Sometimes, they’re preferred over electric and gas models. We recommend that everyone owns one in their shed for a ton of reasons.
Best Hand Auger Quick Chart
Best Hand Auger Reviews
Nils is marketed as one of the top fishing equipment manufacturers, because of their location in Finland. Their hand augers are known for having the best reputation when it comes to power and ease of operation.
If you'd rather operate a handheld auger than one that is powered by gas, electricity or propane, this is likely a great option for you.
Versatility is the name of the game with this auger. You can use this auger by either attaching it to a cordless drill or manually, with the handle.
We found that when using it without the drill, you only need to use minimal pressure to get it going. Hooking it up to the drill levels it up and makes it powerful and fast, blasting through 2 feet of ice without issues. It's sharp and cuts through thick ice easily.
One major drawback for us is that it only cuts holes that are 6 inches in diameter, so it's not good if you're chasing larger fish. Second if you're chasing fish, you should bring extra batteries for your drill because they drain so fast in cold weather.
Because this hand auger is so lightweight it's the best when you're pulling a sled behind and don't want to pull a ton of extra weight onto the ice. That's huge especially if you're travelling a long distance to your fishing spot.
Check out this quick video below of the Nils in Action!
What’s great about the Seymour hand auger is how simple it is to use. It doesn't require you to spend hours reading a manual or watching online tutorials to understand how to use this product to dig a hole.
To use this tool, all you need to do is dig it clockwise. If you reach a point where it is tough to dig through, such as a rocky spot, then you can simply turn this tool in a counter-clockwise direction once and awhile to work through.
The Seymour adjustable auger comes with completely adjustable settings that will allow the user to create holes either at six, seven, or eight-inch diameters. We found that it performed much better than regular old clam shell diggers.
When compared to an old-fashioned clamshell post hole digger, the Seymour post hole digger will take as little as 10 minutes to dig a hole that is two-feet deep and perfectly round. Not an easy feat for clam shell diggers.
As with all hand augers, this bad boys ability to dig through gravel/rocky soil is very limited. Best to know what sort of soil conditions you'll be working in before you purchase this unit. You might be better off with the best powered post hole auger instead.
It's not often that you hear people saying that a hand auger cuts through ice like a hot knife through butter! But when they do, you should listen.
When we tested the StrikeMaster Lazer Hand Auger we were impressed. What impressed us most was the ease of use, how sharp the blades are, and the stainless steel construction.
If you're going to use a hand auger, then this is THE one you want to use. When drilling holes, it cut through the ice almost twice as fast as other comparable hand augers.
We timed it and we could drill through approximately 10" of ice in 10 seconds....14-17 inches in just under 30.
The handle adjusts from 48 inches to 57 inches, giving you good reach when drilling through deep ice. It comes in a ton of diameters from 4" to 8".
If you're after larger fish, we recommend you go for the 8" model. The 5" will do for perch and walleye. It tends to catch at the end of the hole but it's nothing that would steer us away from using this hand ice auger again.
Pair this with a drill and you save a ton over electric, propane and gas augers. Check out the super fast drill with the Lazer Hand Auger below!
The Eskimo HD06 Hand Auger is a six-inch model which is very popular in the market right now. It has razor-sharp steel blades that can cut through the ice smoothly without causing any cracks. As a popular hand auger with a decent price, it is one of the best options if you are planning to try ice fishing.
The HD06 comes with a blade protector and has an adjustable height, so we found it super comfortable on the ice, no matter the height of the person using it.
It's lightweight at 7 lbs and equipped with dual flat stainless steel blades that slice through ice fast. Even though it's lightweight, we found that it felt solid out on the ice.
This unit is perfect for those hobby ice fishers, that only plan on ice fishing a few times a year and would like to save some money over buying a powered auger.
If you're not into manual labor when you're out on the ice, consider one of the best ice augers that come in electric, gas and propane.
Hand Auger Buyers Guide
What Is a Manual Post Hole Auger?
A manual post hole auger is the perfect example of a tool designed to do the majority of the work for you. Digging a hole is time consuming and labor-intensive, which is why post hole augers are designed to be easy to use.
With its help, you can easily shave hours off the time you’d typically spend outside trying to dig semi-perfect holes.
Hand augers are designed to work their way into the ground in an effort to loosen the soil. Some manual augers are shaped like power post hole augers and they collect the soil in the surrounding area and trap it within the bit.
When removed from the hole, hopefully the majority of the soil comes with the auger and leaves a perfectly sized hole for fence posts.
Some manual diggers are shaped more like clam shells and you push them into the ground like a shovel and the clamshell shaped prongs grab dirt and you life it out of the hole.
These are ok if you're only digging a few very shallow holes like gardening. Otherwise, using this style of manual hand auger to dig holes would take FOREVER!
A manual post hole auger is one of the most frequently used items in any landscaper’s equipment due to its versatility and ease of use.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Manual Auger?
Knowing the Pros and Cons of a manual auger is necessary to ensure you’re selecting the right tool for the job. Otherwise, you’ll never truly see their advantages over using a traditional shovel to dig holes.
Certain versions of the tool are also highly recommended for ice fishing, because they create the perfect sized hole without scaring off your fish. Every design comes with different features and advantages to make digging holes a more enjoyable experience.
Pros of Using a Manual Auger
By far, the largest advantage of a manual auger is the fact that it doesn’t require any type of power or fuel. This makes them substantially more affordable but also ensures that it’s ready to use whenever you need it.
You’ll won't have to worry about the perfect ratio of oil and gas, as you would with gas-powered augers. And you won't have to make sure its batteries are charged, like with electric augers.
Many people suggest hand-operated augers are far more convenient, as you don’t have to worry about it running out of fuel halfway through a job. This gives you the ability to make as many holes as you want throughout the day, making it a great option for ice fishermen as well.
2. User-Friendly Design
There’s no point to having a tool designed to be convenient but is also hard to use, which is why manual augers are as popular as they are.
They have very limited features and using one only requires one person rather than two. Using one is a two-step process since all you have to do is pick it up, mark the spot you want to dig in, and then start digging.
Another important factor of its user-friendly design is that it helps to reduce the amount of strain your body experiences from digging holes. An auger is a convenient tool that anyone in the family can use, as it’s operated by people power.
3. Lightweight and Portable
You’ve likely heard that electric augers are more lightweight than gas augers, which is true, but did you know that a manual auger could be the most lightweight option?
Since there aren’t any highly technical parts and pieces added to the threads and handles, it’s by far the most convenient variant to carry around with you. In addition, they are built to last, as they’re incredibly heavy-duty, so you won’t have to worry about replacement parts in the future.
If you’re someone who frequently goes from one job site to the other, you’re not going to want to have a tool which needs to be strapped to a dolly or a wheelbarrow because of its weight. Manual augers are highly portable and easy to carry on your own.
4. Ideal for Simple Tasks
If you need to replace one section of fencing on your farm, you could start up your gas-powered auger to dig holes, but with a manual auger, you don’t have to use heavy machinery.
With their convenient and ready-to-use design, it’s a far better option for simple tasks around the house. You won’t have to worry about waiting for it to start up or have to drive heavy machinery, such as a tractor, to the location.
5. Easy to Control
Individuals who have never used an auger before might be intimidated by the idea of using a gas or electric-powered one, as it may have more control over you than you of it.
Manual augers are powered by you and you alone, making it easier to create holes at specific depths without over- or under-digging. The more control you have over your tools, the faster the job will be and the happier you’ll be with the results.
6. Quiet Operation
Because you don't have to worry about startup noises or the sound of a motor powering the tool, you can guarantee hand augers are MUCH quieter than their gas or propane powered cousins. If you’re particularly sensitive to sound, or maybe your neighbors are, this is very important to take note of. Plus, it’s a better alternative for ice fishermen who need to make holes in the ice without scaring fish away.
As you can tell, there are plenty of advantages to having a manual auger, but there are a few disadvantages to take note of as well.
What Are the Cons of a Manual Auger?
A manual auger is an all-in-one solution, but as with any tool, it’s not recommended for every job in the world. A couple of the most important disadvantages you might experience with a hand auger digger include:
Cons of Using a Manual Auger
1. Manual Labor
When compared to an electric or gas auger, you will immediately tell that a hand auger is going to take far more effort, especially if you’re digging multiple holes during the day.
It takes less effort than a traditional shovel, but it isn’t as convenient to use as an auger with a motor. If you’re in the market for a tool that makes holes in a matter of minutes, a manual auger post hole digger or ice auger isn’t your best option.
2. Not Recommended for Hard/Rocky/Difficult Soil
It would be nice to have an auger that can power through any type of terrain, as you might not know what type of material is found beneath the surface of your work area. For example, if you’re digging post holes, you might not know whether there’s soil or rock beneath the topsoil.
Unfortunately, manual augers are not recommended for hard soil or rock, as it’s going to take a lot more effort to dig holes in this material.
In fact, there’s a very high likelihood you can damage your post hole digger when working with tougher materials, especially rocks, as you’ll be putting more pressure on the device than it’s built to handle. It’s highly important you survey the land you’re working on before using one.
There aren’t many negative aspects of manual post digger augers to consider, aside from the fact that it takes more effort than gas and electric augers. They’re certainly not recommended if you want a tool that ensures you don’t get fatigued at all.
Tips to Get Started with Your Hand Auger
You can easily get started with your new hand auger because of their user-friendly design.
1. Mark Your Spots
We recommend that you mark out the spots you’ll want to dig in. This takes the guesswork out of determining where to place your holes. The other option is to mark as you go, but it can also be more time-consuming.
2. Size Your Auger
Hand augers come in a variety of sizes; the larger ones are obviously more expensive. You’ll want to make sure you choose the ideal size for the holes you’ll be making.
3. Maintain Your Blades
There’s very little maintenance you’ll have to worry about with your hand auger, aside from dealing with the blades. Over time, they are going to become duller and might get nicked as they hit rocks or slice through the ice. Sharpening your auger blades is an essential part of both dirt and ice augers, manual OR powered.
When you're ice fishing, it's important to bring an extra set of blades in case yours get damaged and you’ll also want to keep your existing ones sharp using a file. The sharper the blades on your auger are, the easier it will go through the ice.
4. Have the Right Form
Using a manual auger has a lot to do with the way you hold your body; otherwise, you’ll become incredibly fatigued in a short amount of time.
As with any other tool, there is proper form to use. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your feet solidly on the ground and hold the handle of the auger at approximately chest height.
When you drill or dig into the ground, apply constant pressure to the handle with your top hand and use your bottom hand to turn the screw. To avoid injury and fatigue, ensure your back stays straight the entire time without hunching.
The one thing that can be said about a manual auger post hole digger is that it’s one of the most versatile and convenient tools to carry with you for many jobs. Not only does it assist you with digging holes for fencing, but it can also be used for gardening and even ice fishing!