I've seen a lot of these type of things bend while being used. How does this one hold up to tightly-packed dirt and rocks?
I've used mine in West Virginia, and the Cascades. It doesn't do well in really rocky soil. Soft stuff is just fine, even not-too-coarse gravel. For volcanic "soil" like I ran into on the Hoh River Trail, I'd suggest some kind of light pick or mattock. What that would be and where you would find it would be up to you though.
This shovel is quite sturdy for the price and weight.. giving that no small hand shovel is going to let you blast through hard/clay soil or rocks, i cannot see this breaking unless you really start start whacking with a hammer or large stone. in soil that a hand shovel should be able to handle, this works great.
This is not a substitute for a heavy-duty steel camping shovel, but it's a great LIGHTWEIGHT backpacking alternative if what you're digging in is relatively loose.
This is a light weight, compact digging tool. It is inexpensive and fits into nearly every pack without adding to your load. Although it is made from nearly unbreakable plastic, you cannot expect it to perform the same function as a heavier and larger metal shovel.
If you want to dig into heavily packed, rocky dirt, it will not penetrate into the ground well. In such environments, you should get a foldable metal shovel.
Metal shovels range from about $12 on the low end, to about $50 for the best of the best, which is the military-spec Glock E-Tool. (Glock calls it "Entrenching Tool", because it can be used for more tasks than a "shovel").
It is a solid piece, no worries with hard ground. It can handle whatever you throw at it. I actually cant find mine so I am considering buying another one...