The success of any camping trip depends to a great extent on the tools you have. When it is time to set up a camp, create a trail, construct an emergency shelter, or harvest wood for a campfire, the quality of the tools you have will matter most. One of the most important survival tools to have during backpacking or a camping expedition is an axe or hatchet. They are resilient and useful in so many ways and will help you tremendously.
The axe is one of the oldest tools made by man. It is a true survival tool that has survived all civilizations. Asides from few adjustments in the materials they are made from, axes and hatchets have remained unchanged over the centuries. This is a direct testament to their timeless utility. In the earliest days, they were simply designed with stone blades joined to a wooden handle. Today, however, the best camping axes and hatchets are made from such improved materials as stainless steel, ballistic nylon and plastic composites. Wood remains the top choice for handles: they are normally treated to enhance their look and improve durability.
Axes and hatchets are used for different purposes besides camping and outdoor survival adventures. There are some, however, they are built with features that make them more suitable for camping. These are the ones we are going to focus on in this piece. There are several axes and hatchets in this category that it can be very hard to choose one. To help make things easier for you, we will review the best axes in this category and provide a buying guide that will help you pick the best one for your camping/backpacking needs.
Our Top 7 Picks
Looking for the best camping/backpacking axes and hatchets? Here are the top seven options to consider right now:
1. Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
This axe which is hand made by a historic Swedish company is definitely among the best of bests when it comes to camping and survivalist tools. The amazing craftsmanship is only equaled by the performance offered by this same axe. It features a carbon alloy axe head that is strong and clearly durable. It is also very sharp and will cut anything in most campsites. This is also an excellent forest axe for felling trees and limbing.
Asides from the excellent axe head and the beauty of the high-level craftsmanship, there are other impressive things about this axe. It features a solid Hickory handle and comes with a vegetable-tanned sheath that will keep the blade contained in transit. It is perfect for splitting small sticks or cutting limbwood. The size of the axe (19 inches) is the ideal length for slightly larger scale chopping that you may need sometimes. The axe also manages to be just 2 lbs; an excellent weight for one-hand operation. Though it is a little on the expensive side, this is one valuable camping axe that will last a lifetime. You should definitely consider it ahead of other options.
2. Schrade SCAXE5 12.8in Full Tang Tactical Hatchet
This is one excellent option to consider if your goal is to get a good-looking yet top-quality and highly effective camping hatchet. It is highly effective and can stand its ground against any other camping axe in terms of all-round performance. It has an excellent hand-polished steel blade (1055 carbon), which is clearly durable. It also features nylon fiber handle and sleek, black-steel finish: it looks far more beautiful than most top-quality camping hatchets.
With an overall length of 12.8 inches, this beautiful hatchet weighs just 1.9 lbs. Besides being a lightweight hatchet, it has other features that improve its functionality and make it easy to use such as a pry bar, a molded nylon-fiber grip, and a spiked pommel in the head. It is a well-balanced hatchet that will handle most tasks you will throw at it during camping expeditions. It also comes with a convenient black nylon belt sheath with belt loop.
3. Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe
This is one of the highest-rated camping axes you will find anywhere. Coming from one of the most respected names in the industry, this axe will earn your respect after a few uses. Like other Fiskars axes, it features a superior blade design: the proprietary grinding technique provides a sharper edge for better contact and cleaner cuts. The blades are durable, include low-friction coating, and will stay sharp longer.
Working with the Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe will always be an excellent experience. It has a perfected weight distribution that provides an optimal power-to-weight ratio to make every swing more powerful. The stronger-than-steel FiberComp handles are virtually impossible to break and feel very comfortable to hold. It is perfect for easy one-handed use when splitting wood and comes with a sheath that helps to protect the blade and the user. The manufacturers also offer a Lifetime warranty.
4. Estwing Sportsman’s Axe
This is a unique American-made camping hatchet that ranks among the best of the best in terms of quality and overall performance. The entire thing is forged in a single piece from head to the handle which is impressive and enhances durability. It is also a well-balanced hatchet that grants the user greater control and less fatigue. It is also easy to sharpen whenever the need arises.
This Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is a top choice for all kinds of outdoorsmen. Asides from the hand-polished blades, the beautiful genuine leather grip is strong enough to outlast most handles you will find. It is perfect for use in all kinds of outdoor environments and quite comfortable too. It also comes equipped with a durable nylon sheath for the safety of the tool and the user. If the lacquered leather grip happens to be slippery, you can consider further sanding to make the grip more stable and comfortable to use.
5. Browning 231 Outdoorsman Axe
This stands tall among the very best backpacking axes of all time. It is an impressive option for those that want the best axe for outdoor activities but are keen to keep the weight down while backpacking. It weighs just under 4oz, making it not just easy to carry about but easy to swing too. The excellent axe head has a concave grind with a convex edge extreme cutting ability. This one-piece head is durable too.
Coming to the handle of the Browning 231, it looks strong enough even though it has more flex than most people will love. In fact, some people complain seriously about the handle. The handle, however, is one of the reasons the axe is so light and can hold up against the elements. It offers a stable grip too, and you will not have to worry about blisters. With this axe, you will be able to cut with ease for long hours without fatigue or injury.
6. Gerber 17.5-inch Freescape Hatchet
There are very few composite hatchets you can compare with this wonderful tool. It has been described as the contemporary iteration of a classic wilderness hatchet. It features a forged steel construction that is durable. The hardened blade slice through wood efficiently for improved performance. It is also coated with a low-friction surface that helps to make the chops clean. It is a perfect tool for most campsite tasks like creating kindling for the fire, pound in tent stakes and building a primitive shelter.
One of the major reasons you will love this tool is the handle. The composite handle is lightweight and extremely durable. It is also shock absorbent, reducing hand strain. It also comes equipped with a grippy (and bright) mold for comfort and ease of use. The hatchet also comes with a slim sheath that ensures safe storage and transport.
7. Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet
You may be easily deceived by the design of this little hatchet into thinking that it is a toy. It is a fantastic survivalist hatchet that will fit into your backpack and perform most of the tasks you will need a camping axe to perform. Asides from being awesomely portable, it is an efficient tool. Most of the heft is concentrated on the head, making the 3.5-inch razor-sharp blade very efficient in chopping wood. The Full-tang construction also enables the hatchet to stand up to the harshest tasks. There is also a crosshatched striking surface at the back of the head that can be used for several campsite duties.
This little survivalist hatchet also features the sort of handles you will find in top-class tools. It has an ergonomic, non-slip rubber grip for comfortable, secure handling in all conditions. It also comes with a military-grade, mildew-resistant nylon sheath with belt loops. This little but sturdy hatchet also comes with a copy of Bears Grylls’ “Priorities of Survival” pocket guide, which you may find very helpful.
How to pick the best axes and hatchets
As you know already, there are thousands of camping/backpacking axes and hatchets on the market. Finding the right one can be very hard if you want to go the road alone. To help make the experience easier for you, we have reviewed seven of the very best options for you. In this section of the article, we will provide some information you will need to pick the right tool.
Factors to consider when choosing camping/backpacking axes and hatchets
The usefulness of any tool in any situation will depend majorly on its most important features. To get a tool that will serve you efficiently, it is important that you consider these important features and other determinants of performance. Here are the most important factors you must consider if you want to buy the best camping/backpacking axes and hatchets:
The head of the axe or hatchet is obviously the first part to consider. It is the part of the tool that performs the main task and is impossible to replace. The material the head is made of matters. Hand-forged tools are also valued higher. Depending on the tasks you hope to accomplish with a camping axe or hatchet, consider the size of the head and the weight too.
The overall weight of the axe or hatchet matters so much when it comes to performance and convenience. It is important that you know the weight before buying since it also determines portability. Lightweight options are often preferred but they must be powerful enough to perform the tasks you are buying them for.
Handle Material and style
You need to pay attention to the handle of the axe/hatchet as it influences performance and comfort. Wood remains the favorite material for axes but there are so many modern hatchets with composite handles that are strong and durable too. Besides the handle material, consider the style too: ergonomic design and good grip are important.
It will be a little difficult to understand the overall efficiency of an axe or hatchet until you actually use it. There are some important specs that influence the efficiency massively and you should look out for them: the grip, the balance and weight, as well as the blade and bit will all influence overall efficiency and performance.
Other important features
Some of the other important features you must consider include tang, the accessories that come with the tool like sheath, the price, and warranty.
Frequently asked questions
Is carrying a camping/backpacking axe or hatchet legal?
It is generally legal to carry camping axes and hatchets. This does not mean you can have them with you at all times. These are tools that should only be with you when you need to use them and when you are taking part in outdoor activities that require their uses.
What is the difference between an axe and a hatchet?
While they look very much alike, axes and hatchets are different. The major difference is the size. While axes are generally longer and designed to be used with two hands, hatchets are smaller and generally used with one hand. Axes are used for larger tasks while hatchets are used more delicate and intricate tasks.
Can camping axes and hatchets be used for self-defence?
Yes, camping and backpacking axes and hatchets can be used for self-defence. While this is not their primary purpose, axes and hatchets will come in handy when you are in any danger. This is another reason why lightweight tools that are easy to swing are considered more desirable.
How can I sharpen my camping axe/hatchet?
There are different tools you can use to sharpen camping axe or hatchets including grinding stones. The most effective way to do this, however, is to start with a file and use a wetting stone to complete the task.
With so many options to consider, buying a camping/backpacking axe or hatchet can be daunting. To make the process easier for our readers, we have researched extensively to select the best options on the market right now. The products featured here are from reputable producers and have been highly rated by verified buyers and users. We have also discussed some of the most important things to consider when buying these important camping tools. We have also answered some important questions buyers ask frequently. We sincerely hope this piece helps you find the right camping axe or hatchet.
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