A camp hatchet is arguably the most useful and versatile piece of camping equipment that you can own. In fact, once you bring it with you, you’ll notice that you can use it for almost anything and everything. That’s why we’ve decided to share some helpful info on how to find the best hatchet for camping so you don’t end up choosing just any kind.
A hatchet, as you know, is relatively small, no bigger than a regular hand-operated axe. This makes it a compact and highly portable tool to have on hand for tasks such as making hot dog spears, opening beers, pounding tent spikes, kindling, splitting wood and clearing areas, among other things.
Truly, this thing is so useful that if you’ve never used it before, you’ll wonder why you haven’t used it until now.
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Best Camping Hatchets
The key to finding the best hatchet for camping is to know what your options are. That way, you can choose comfortably knowing that the power is in your hands to find an option that best suits your needs and your budget.
Here are some camping hatchet reviews to help you get started.
1. Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet
What makes the GB Wildlife Hatchet a good hatchet? Well, for one thing, it looks easy on the eye. Beyond that, it features a 13.5-inch handle made from hardy hickory wood, a 3-inch bit, and a 1-pound head. All of this is encased in a durable leather sheath.
Not only that but it’s backed by a generous 20-year guarantee which alludes to the fact that this is one long-lasting tool.
Sure, it’s pricier than other models on this list, but this good camping hatchet is well-made and versatile enough to handle small and big tasks around camp.
Just keep in mind that it’s mostly designed on wood and should probably not be used to hack away at wildlife. Just saying.
2. Schrade SCAXE2 11.8in Stainless Steel Small Axe
Next we have the Schrade Survival Hatchet with its ergonomic rubber grip and construction from titanium coated stainless steel.
With its thermoplastic sheath, you can rest assured that it will fare well against the elements and it has a modern aesthetic that’ll look good next to the rest of your camping gear.
It has dimensions of 11.8 inches in length with a 3.8-inch blade attached. The whole thing weighs just 1.37 pounds, making it lightweight and portable. However, because it’s not as heavy as the Estwing, Almike, and GB Wildlife axes which are larger, it doesn’t offer the same amount of power.
But, it has a nice minimalistic design and it gets the job done with most of your tasks around camp.
3. SOG Tactical Tomahawks
This SOG Outdoor Survival Hatchet is made by one of the best manufacturers of outdoor tools and comes with that same distinctive military aesthetic that the company is famous for.
Coupled with its tomahawk style in a straight back shape and a futuristic design that combines tradition with technology, this hatchet even comes with a built-in fire starter.
In addition to this useful feature, the SOG comes with a paracord grip that’s firm as it’s strong. It’s perfect for making shelter, building snares, and a variety of other survival tasks that you might have to engage in.
Basically, this is a multi-tool of sorts that’s highly useful in the wild and allows you to get all of this while carrying just one item.
4. Estwing Sportsman’s Axe
The Estwing Sportsman’s axe is uber lightweight and versatile.
It’s a thing of beauty and it comes at an attractive price point too, making it the best backpacking hatchet around. It’ll definitely come in handy for those last-minute trips and you can keep it in your backpack or even your truck for use on the go.
Despite its modest outlay, this axe is easy to use thanks to its lacquered leather grip and it comes with a nylon sheath, a 2-1/4-inch cutting edge, and a balanced head-to-shaft ratio that allows you to wield it effortlessly.
5. MTECH USA Mt-629 Axe
The MTECH Mt-629 axe is considered one of our top picks because it’s useful for a number of different applications and is budget-friendly.
It sports a high-quality design and construction with a tactical angle that features a slight profile and a curved handle that makes it ideal for throwing.
Its dual-head and lightweight design makes it ideal for survival applications. The hatchet head specifically works great for chopping and cutting, and you can even use it as a hunting axe if you need to.
This is all thanks to the blade’s design which is conducive to aiming and cutting through the air to reach your target. Lastly, you have the nylon-wrapped handle which is ergonomic and perfect for cordage.
6. Fiskars 378501-1002 X7 Hatchet
This Fiskars hatchet is one of the best camping hatchets available on the market, not just because of its construction but because of its optimal swinging power.
Although lightweight and measuring just 14 inches, it can handle thick logs too, granted you use both hands to wield it, and the included blade is coated to foster low friction movement so you can get clean cuts every time.
It only weighs about 1.38 pounds which is quite impressive considering that it measures 14 inches long and this makes for a very balanced handle.
This well-made hatchet comes with an ax head that’s so well-attached that it’s guaranteed to stay connected to the shaft no matter what. Then you have the fiber composite handle which is durable and ergonomic.
We just wish the head was a bit wider and it’s not as compact as other options on this list but it’s surprisingly lightweight.
7. Hults Bruk Almike Hatchet
Next, we have a camping hatchet that’s best described as the “Big Show.” This heavy-duty tool is similar to the GB Wildlife Hatchet and it works perfectly to tackle some of the heavy-duty tasks outdoors such as taking down large logs.
Because of this it weighs around 1.75 pounds and comes with a 16-inch American Hickory shaft which gives it a good balance of balance and power.
The axe head is heavy and hand-made from durable Swedish steel. It’s also incredibly sharp and remains so for a relatively long time after your initial purchase. Or that’s what camp hatchet reviews have to say.
This hatchet can be used not only during outdoors but at home too. Just make sure to put on your lumberjack shirt while you’re at it to complete the look!
8. Gerber Gator Combo Axe II
Here we have a versatile and affordable axe that comes with a coarse-bladed handsaw, making it a one-of-a-kind option for the avid camper.
This outdoor hatchet features a textured grip to make sure that your hands won’t slip when using it in wet weather conditions. The shaft measures 15.6 inches to give you the leverage and striking power you need to tackle large objects.
Now, that saw we mentioned. It’s magnetically attached to the handle and can be used to chop up small logs or to trim stubborn tree branches.
How to Pick the Best Hatchet for Camping
The next step in finding the best hatchet for backpacking is figuring out which features to prioritize.
Here are some helpful pointers:
Hatchet handles come in either a curved or straight shape. A curved handle has a more natural feel but it’s not very common among double-bitted heads.
Most handles are made from grip-friendly like leather, rubber, nylon, fiberglass, plastic, and wood.
The best options when it comes to wood include ash and hickory wood. Both of them are durable and made for harsh conditions.
Hickory wood is popular with a lot of manufacturers. This is because dry wood comes in a number of different colors and patinas that can give the tool a rustic look. Wood is also favored for its strength and durability. You can’t beat it as a shock-resistant and flexible material.
Wooden handles are also handy in that you can easily replace them and often come at a cheap price. But, varnished wood can be a hassle to grip when wet so keep that in mind also.
On the other hand, nylon and textured plastic handles aren’t as comfortable or grippy as other options on offer. While fiberglass is light and not as powerful. You certainly won’t be able to get the job done in one swing and your effectiveness will suffer as a result.
Both rubber and leather are very grip-friendly and ergonomic options that are comfortable to hold for long periods of time. This is all without slipping or causing sores and blisters. The downside to these two later options is that they’re not as durable as wood, fiberglass, or composite plastic.
Head and Bit
The head and bit of your hatchet will most likely be made out of steel, which is either machine or hand-forged.
This is an important question to ponder because hand-forged steel is known for its strength, durability, and powerful performance. This comes as no surprise as its origins go back to Swedish Vikings. It goes through a long process of careful creation.
With all that said, there are no hard and fast rules as to which option is better than the other.
The most important thing is to make sure that your hatchet bit isn’t too wide or narrow, but right in the middle. This is especially if you want optimal cutting efficiency. A narrow hatchet bit can make it difficult to chop large logs and a wide axe bit can turn trimming branches into a headache.
For optimal durability and performance, high-carbon steel is the best option, keeping in mind that low-quality alternatives may lead to softening or chip away around the cutting edge over time.
Last but not least, you will come across double-bit axes that are versatile and offer better swing balance. A single axe, on the other hand, provides great cutting power and better speed. You’ll want the former if your intention is to have a balanced weight or you’re focused on outdoor sports activities.
You want the best cheap hatchet that comes with a sheath for safety reasons. Luckily, most of the hatchets featured in our review section come with high-quality sheaths.
Leather sheaths are quite common because they’re durable and stylish at the same time. Other popular options are composite materials such as nylon.
This isn’t your regular nylon either. It’s the type of nylon that’s thick and tough so that it’ll keep you safe from the hatchet’s sharp edges without causing it to become dull.
However, the most portable sheath you can get is one that comes with its own handle.
Next, figure out what you plan to use the hatchet for. Most people want this piece of equipment either for on-site camping activities or for self-defense.
A versatile hatchet such as a hiking hatchet is very popular with backcountry campers, hikers, backpackers, and anglers for example. But car and RV campers are also known to keep one on hand just in case.
A hatchet can definitely be helpful in self-defense situations as it can serve as the first line of defense between you and a possible aggressor. It certainly is more accurate than a tomahawk and won’t let you down as a defense weapon.
The length and size of your hatchet will affect its capacity and portability.
For the most part, longer models can snag on undergrowth or thick foliage when you’re bushwhacking.
They’re also heavy and tiring when used all the time. but, they’re useful for heavy-duty tasks like chopping wood or splitting logs.
Shorter hatchets, on the other hand, offer better speed, accuracy, and dexterity when tackling campsite activities.
A longer hatchet offers better power and force but less accuracy and control. That’s the long and short of it, mind the pun, so choose accordingly.
If most of the weight of your hatched is distributed towards the head, then it will be easier to chop with more power and control.
Hatchet weight will also affect how heavy it is to carry and its overall portability. Ideally, you should look for a hatchet that weighs 5 pounds or below for the best results.
Anything heavier than that might be a drag to carry around.
As with anything, it’s important to purchase your hatchet from a well-known brand that has a long track record of producing the best products over time, and positive reviews from happy customers.
A few brands that meet these criteria include Wetterlings, Outdoor Edge, Ontario Knife Company, Klecker Knives, Gerner, Estwing, CRKT, and Gransfors Bruk to name but a few.
Even then, it’s important to make sure your hatchet is agile, of the right size, accurate, offers good cutting power, and is durable and made to last.
The way your hatchet is constructed and the materials it is made from will also play a role in its performance. You want a high-quality hatchet that’s made to last for at least a decade of regular use.
A durable shaft and stainless-steel blade are two markers of good quality, as is a sticky grip and long length. This will help to maintain optimal balance over time and extend the hatchet’s lifespan.
It’s important to note that even though wooden handles are popular, they do splinter, contort and even rot over time so keep that in mind. That’s why a growing number of consumers are opting for equally durable and long-lasting options such as reinforced nylon, fiberglass, and steel.
The best hatchet for camping is usually a one-piece full-tang design that won’t come apart over time, even though you use it regularly.
Types of Hatchets
These are the types of hatchets that you can expect to choose from:
These comprehensive hatches aren’t as hefty as regular hatches and are thus unable to split larger sized logs.
But, they’re suitable for use in different applications due to their thin tapered heads. They’re utilized for fine tasks such as carving because they’re easier to handle overall.
With their low profile and minimalist design, these hatchets have a light and flat head that makes them portable and easy to carry.
These small hatches are tiny versions of lightweight backpacking axes and typically have a long handle that gives you a balanced swing as well as a thick-wedged edge.
This will help you split pieces of wood along the grain. They’re perfect for chopping logs apart.
Tomahawks are basically lightweight axes that have short blades and long handles. Larger versions of them have been utilized by Native American tribes in the past as self-defense weapons.
Hatchets vs. Axes
There are a few noticeable differences between hatchets and axes.
They also have a few similarities, especially when it comes to aesthetics, but they differ widely when it comes to their applications.
Here are some of the most important differences between hatchets and axes.
For the most part, an axe is usually significantly larger and measures about four feet or even longer. Large axes are typically utilized to bring down large objects such as trees.
That’s why they’re a popular homesteading too. But, they’re not portable or meant for travel of any kind. You certainly won’t be able to take them backpacking.
Axes usually don’t offer much precision when compared to hammers because of their length and weight.
Hatchets are much smaller and offer better precision as a result. This is why they’re favored for camping applications because you can carry them on your backpack and use them for a number of campsite jobs.
Most axes are double-bladed which means that there’s a cutting surface on either side. This isn’t the case with any and all axes but it’s a fairly common feature.
Hatchet heads are different in that they often have a cutting surface only on one side while the other side will have a hammer surface or another tool.
This is what makes hatchets so versatile. I mean, if you think about it, an axe doesn’t make for a good hammer even if one side of it has a flat head.
In addition to size and head shape differences, hatchets and axes have very different uses. Hatchets, for example, are clearly made for hitting and precision cutting. That’s what they’re good at.
This is why they’re commonly used to turn small pieces of wood or even a tiny branch into fine kindling or shaving wood.
Axes are much larger and heavier, which makes them ideal for applications like felling trees and splitting logs. Hatchets can be used to cut smaller trees down and even then, with much difficulty. But they’re useless at bringing down large, full-grown trees.
Basically, hatchets and axes probably shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence. They’re about as different as swords and pocket knives or multitools and that’s because they’re created for two very different purposes.
One is made to tackle smaller tasks with high precision, while the other is made for large broad work.
So, what do you think? Which hatchet are you going to opt for? If you were to ask us, we would wholeheartedly recommend the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet. Why?
Because this hand-made and good-looking hatchet is made to last and ticks all the boxes of what you should look for in a camping hatchet.
For one thing, it comes with a 13.5-inch hard hickory wood handle with a 3-inch bit and a 1-pound head, kept safe inside the included leather sheath.
Not only that, but Gransfors is so confident in their creation that they’ve decided to back it up with a twenty-year guarantee. You probably won’t even need it because this is the type of tool that’s made to last for generations, provided you take care of it and use it well of course.
The best part is that this hatchet is versatile and designed to handle a number of tasks around the campsite and it’s lightweight and easy to carry too.