Camping axe cutting wood

The 10 Best Camping Axes and Hatchets in 2017

Even the most peace-loving and placid amongst us love a little bit of axe-work, right? Whether it’s the image of the wild outdoorsperson or just the satisfying crunch of steel on wood, axes and hatchets appeal to some primal urge and sensibility that, ultimately, just feels a little bit cool.

Not only can they make us look cool and allow the indulgence of a touch of acceptable violence, however, camping axes and hatches are also mightily handy. Anyone who has ever been on a camping trip and tried to collect wood for a fire will vouch for that statement! Even if we’re only picking up chunks of deadwood from the forest floor, having an axe or hatchet to hand allows us to chop and trim the wood down to nice, tidy, fire-sized pieces. If nothing else, this will at least help to ensure we don’t turn our camp fire into a wild fire!

When it comes to choosing an axe, however, the number of options available makes decision-making testier than trying to chop down a giant sequoia with a butter knife. But have no fear, dear fellow Cool of the Wilder, we’ve got your back on this one…below, we’re going to take you through our selection of the best camping axes and hatchets out there in 2017 to make choosing your trusty tree-toppler (or trimmer, maybe) a cinch.

ProductFeaturesWeightShaft lengthCost
Gransfors Bruks Wildlife HatchetVery durable with 20 year guarantee1.5lb (650g)13.5in (34cm)$$$$
Schrade SCAXE2 Survival HatchetModern and portable1.37lb (621g)9.5in (24cm)$
Hults Bruk Almike HatchetPowerful and long1.75lb (794g)16in (40cm)$$$
Gerber Bear Grylls Survival HatchetGreat all rounder, light1.4lb (635g)9.5in (24cm)$
Estwing
Sportsman's Axe
Excellent value, good quality1.9lb (861cm)11.5in (29cm)$
SOG Base Camp AxeVery strong and durable2lb (905g)16in (40cm)$
Kershaw Knives Tinder Personal AxeLightweight with integrated tools1lb (454g)9.5in (24cm)$
Gerber Gator Combo Axe IIPowerful, comes with handsaw1.6lb (726g)15.6in (39cm)$
Husqvarna Hatchet AxePowerful and well made2lb (905g)13in (33cm)$$
Fiskars X7 HatchetGreat value with lifetime warranty1.4lb (635g)12in (30cm)$

What to look for in a great camping axe or hatchet

Before we get to our top ten picks, let’s have a quick look at what makes a good camping axe or hatchet.

Quality of build

Carrying an extra pound or two of gear into the backcountry with you only for that gear to then break would be massively disappointing and perhaps have you wielding another axe at whoever sold you the first one. For that reason, the materials and construction of your axe or hatchet must be high quality. Look for stainless steel, a solid shaft that’s long enough to give leverage and sturdy enough to avoid stunning your hand and arm, a sticky grip, and a good balance in weight between head and shaft.

Portability and weight

The fun and convenience of wielding an axe on your backcountry travels has to be weighed up against the inconvenience of carrying the thing in there with you. How heavy and bulky you choose to go will depend on your own preferences (and leg power!). Certain axes offer a more streamlined and lightweight solution that might sacrifice chopping power. Whereas weightier models might be better suited to the aforementioned sequoia than simply trimming a few finger-wide scraps of deadwood.

Efficiency

The overall cutting power of an axe is another very important pre-purchase factor. An axe’s cutting power depends on the balance, the blade, the ‘bit’ (the section behind the blade) and also the grip.

  • The grip

    A good grip will ensure your hand doesn’t slip when swinging and could potentially save you a few toes.

  • Balance and weight

    If the weight of your axe is mainly in the head, this will give you greater power and control when chopping.

  • The blade and the ‘bit’

    The blade’s efficiency mainly comes down to the material used, but its width is also important. With both the blade and the ‘bit’, too much width will make trimming branches tricky. If, however, these sections are overly skinny, in all likelihood the axe will wedge and get stuck if swung into larger logs.


The 10 best camping axes and hatchets in 2017

Now we know what we’re looking for, let’s get down to business with our top ten camping axes and hatches for 2017!
Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

The GB Wildlife Hatchet is a handsome devil of an axe. Beyond its looks, however, it also packs a mighty punch, boasting a 13.5-inch hickory handle, a 1-pound head, a 3-inch bit and a handy leather sheath. It also comes with a twenty-year guarantee but is so robust, well-made and durable that it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to use it!

Although pricier than similarly styled competitors like the Almike and Husqvarna hatchets, the GB Wildlife Hatchet oozes quality and provides better all-round performance on chopping jobs, little and large.

NB. If purchasing the GB Hatchet, rest assured that – despite the name – no wildlife need meet with its keen-edged blade. Wood will do just fine…

Pros

  • Very handsome!
  • Quality sheath
  • Hand made
  • Great for chopping kindling
  • Good handle
  • Robust and durable
  • 20 year guarantee
  • Reasonably light (1.5lbs)

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Occasionally comes with some minor, character-giving flaws due to being handmade (slight misalignment, varied curvature)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Schrade SCAXE2 Survival Hatchet

Schrade SCAXE2 Survival Hatchet

The Schrade Survival Hatchet is almost the antithesis of the above GB hatchet. Using a titanium-coated stainless steel head, fibreglass handle, rubber grip and thermoplastic sheath, this is a very tidy, ergonomic axe with a far more modern feel. Measuring in at 11.8” long with a 3.8” blade and weighing 1.37lbs, the Schrade is highly portable but consequently lacks the striking power of longer or heavier axes such as the GB Wildlife, Almike, Estwing and Husqvarna axes (below).

Overall, a nicely balanced and minimalist axe that will serve you well as long as you don’t intend on toppling anything too big!

Pros

  • Nice grip
  • Good balance
  • Only 1.37 pounds
  • Storage space inside the shaft (no, really!)
  • Portability

Cons

  • Shaft a fraction short (about 9.5” to the axe-head)
  • Hollow shaft can mean getting some ‘stingers’ if you swing into a hard, chunky log

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Hults Bruk Almike Hatchet

Hults Bruk Almike Hatchet

In appearance, the Almike bears a vague resemblance to the classy-looking GB Wildlife Hatchet (above), but pick it up and you will instantly realise that this bad boy is a little better suited to a serious session of big log chopping than the Wildlife. Weighing in at a fairly hefty 1.75lbs and boasting a 16” American Hickory shaft, the Almike packs a lot of power with good leverage and balance. The dense axe head is hand-forged and made from Swedish steel making it super durable whilst maintaining its sharpness, even after multiple sharpenings.

This is a good option for bigger chopping jobs at camp or at home – just make sure you’ve got your lumberjack shirt at the ready!

Pros

  • Handcrafted
  • Powerful – can tackle larger logs
  • Good leverage and balance

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Big (16” shaft)!
  • On the pricey side

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

Despite looking more like a futuristic tomahawk than something you’d chop wood with, the Bear Grylls Hatchet is an awesomely-portable and practical little hatchet that will do pretty much everything you need to do barring chop the wood for you. Though missing a decent hammer on the reverse of the blade, this Bear Grylls-approved hatchet (pretty much the Nobel Prize in hatcheting, right?) is ultra-compact (9.5”), light (1.4lbs), has a grippy handle and a narrow blade for chopping kindling and stripping bark. It could, moreover, double up as pretty handy tomahawk…winner!

Pros

  • Very compact
  • Light
  • Sturdy considering its size
  • Comes with a copy of Bear Grylls’ “Priorities of Survival” pocket guide
  • Looks kinda cool
  • Comes with a military-grade sheath with belt loops

Cons

  • Won’t chop wood for you

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Estwing Sportsmans Axe

Estwing Sportsman’s Axe

The super-sleek, classy-looking Estwing Sportsman is an aesthetically lovely little chopper. It might weigh a few hundred grams more than some of its competitors (the Fiskars X7, Almike and GB Wildlife Hatchet, for example) but you might be tempted to plump for this one just in order to have fellow axe-wielders eye your shiny, one-piece tree-trimmer with envy. Where the Sportsman might just win your approval over the similarly visually endearing Almike and GB Wildlife Hatchet is its price, which is very pleasingly low (about a quarter of the Almike’s and a fifth of the GB’s!). For this very modest outlay, moreover, you get a very reliable axe with a lacquered leather grip, a tempered 3-1/4” cutting edge, strong nylon sheath and a nice head-to-shaft balance.

A strong contender for the title of Best Budget Axe!

Pros

  • Wide hammer end for easy splitting of larger logs
  • Very good-looking
  • Cheap
  • Very well-made
  • Single-piece construction means you never have to worried about the head flying off

Cons

  • Sheath is a bit tacky

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


SOG Base Camp Axe

SOG Base Camp Axe

The SOG Base Camp is another tough, single-piece axe that boasts a sleek finish, rubber grip and a decent flat head for knocking in tent pegs and stakes or any other bashing needs. At over 2lbs in weight and 16” long, however, this isn’t the most portable axe in our review. It also falls a little short of other one-piece or heavyweight competitors the Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet, the Kershaw Tinder, Estwing Sportsman and Husqvarna hatchet in terms of practicality. First of all, it arrives fairly blunt and will require some sharpening before cutting through even small branches efficiently. The blade and bit are also fairly shallow, meaning that, despite its size, the SOG struggles to make its way through larger chunks of wood.

All told, this is a simple, reasonably-priced axe that does everything moderately well but fails to excel to the extent of other low-cost options such as the Grylls Survival Hatchet and the Husqvarna Hatchet Axe.

Pros

  • Nice curved and rubberised handle
  • Flat hammer head handy for knocking in stakes and pegs
  • Very strong and durable construction

Cons

  • Not the best sheath
  • Heavy

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Kershaw Knives Tinder Personal Axe

Kershaw Knives Tinder Personal Axe

In the coolness and quirky stakes, the Kershaw Tinder Axe is very much a winner. Not only does this tiny little axe boast an integrated pry point, nail remover and four hex tools for tightening and loosening bolts, it manages to squeeze in a bottle opener in the base of the handle too! Although very robust, portable, cheap and weighing just a fraction over a pound, however, this is not the most practical for those who’d like to do some serious chopping. The shortness of the shaft and the consequent lack of balance mean the Kershaw really isn’t going to do much more than chop a bit of kindling and, with a bit of effort, cut some moderately thick branches.

For those on a budget or keen to cut down on weight, the Kershaw poses competition to the Grylls Survival Hatchet, the Husqvarna hatchet and Fiskars X7, coming in cheaper and lighter than all three. It does, however, lack much of their chopping power…

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Very portable
  • Has an integrated bottle opener!

Cons

  • Poor balance
  • Very short (lacks leverage)
  • Not made for chopping larger logs/branches

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Gerber Gator Combo Axe II

Gerber Gator Combo Axe II

The Gator Combo Axe is a versatile, low-cost chopper boasting a super-handy integrated freebie – a coarse-bladed handsaw! The textured grip prevents slippage in wet conditions and length of the shaft (15.6”) gives good striking power for larger chops.

Strangely, the most functional and appealing aspect to this axe is the integrated saw, which is held magnetically inside the handle and is ideal for trimming stubborn branches or cutting smaller logs to size. Compared to the the other axes and hatchets in our review, the quality of the Gator is nothing to write home about, but this bonus feature just might make it worth its relatively low price.

Pros

  • Integrated saw is very handy!
  • Not too heavy (1.6lbs)

Cons

  • Not the most durable
  • Takes a while to sharpen

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Husqvarna Hatchet Axe

Husqvarna Hatchet Axe

Another classy looking chopper, the Husqvarna Axe uses a curved, hickory handle and a shiny Swedish steel head. The most appealing feature to this axe is also is greatest drawback – the 1.5lb head. While great for chopping into larger chunks of wood and providing great striking power, combined with the 0.5lb handle it makes the Husqvarna a little low on portability and heavier than most competitors. Given its low price, however, the Husqvarna offers a well-made and solid, cheap alternative to other wooden handle axes such as the Almike and GB Wildlife Hatchet.

Pros

  • Very friendly price!
  • Solid, Swedish steel head
  • Nicely weighted head
  • Leather sheath

Cons

  • Slightly slippery handle
  • Heavy (2lbs)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Fiskars X7 Hatchet

Fiskars X7 Hatchet

Cheap, ergonomic, relatively light and fitted with a flared head that prevents it getting wedged in your log, the Fiskars X7 is a very neat-looking and practical chopping companion that is ideally suited to small jobs but can also take on some larger splitting tasks. Most endearing in the X7 is the lug at the base of the handle for better grip and the aggressively shaped head, which is also decently weighted and well balanced with the lightweight shaft.

Pros

  • Reasonably lightweight (1.4lbs)
  • Ergonomic
  • Good grip/handle
  • Nicely weighted and shaped head
  • Cheap!
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Metal is a touch on the soft side and prone to denting and/or chipping
  • Not quite the same chopping power are similar sized and weighted axes like the Grylls Survival Hatchet and Husqvarna Hatchet Axe

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Whether you’re an ultra-light obsessive, an old-school aestheticist or a fan of the newfangled and quirky, Cool of the Wild hopes you will find an axe or hatchet ideally suited to your needs in the above list. Whichever axe you choose, we’re sure that you’ll be chopping up a storm somewhere soon!

Happy hatcheting, people!

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