We do all sorts of activities to break free from the monotonous and boring office life and one of the activities is backpacking or camping. Backpacking and camping are adventurous and interesting because you get to see new places, meet new people, experience new cultures, and learn something new every time you step out of your home. Once you have planned to hit the road for a camping or backpacking adventure nobody knows what you will encounter while you are on the go especially when you are out in the middle of nowhere.
If you are traveling and camping alone in the wild with no access to anything nearby, you may find yourself in rough and tough scenarios where you need food, shelter from cold and harsh weather, and protection from while animals.
A Backpacking Hatchet comes in handy in such a situation. With lightweight Hatchets, you can start a fire to keep you warm, protect yourself from dangerous animals in the woods, hunt, cut woods for shelter, splitting wood, clear a path, and if it’s winter you can break the ice to boil for water when you have no water source. The Best Camping Hatchet can be useful in so many amazing ways that most of us do not realize until we need one.
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Best Backpacking Hatchet Reviews and Buying Guide
The market is flooded with all kinds of hatchets and axes with all of them claiming theirs is the Hatchet, a regular person may get super confused about which is the Best Camping Hatchet available? Worry not, we have surfed hundreds of pages to check the Best Camping Hatchets available in the market based on the reviews and features.
After going through this Hatchet Reviews and buying guide you will no longer have to worry about your lack of knowledge when it comes to buying the best product according to your need. We have listed products you can rely on without a second thought.
Out of all the hatchets, some are of standard specifications and offer pretty standard features as you would expect. Few of the hatchets offer certain characteristics and features which makes them a bit different and special. Please note, all the products are in the category of hatchets not axes as axes are much longer and used with two hands, unlike a hatchet.
1. Best Backpacking Hatchet Overall – Estwing 14 Inch Sportsman
Estwing 14 inches is a hatchet you will easily fall in love with. It’s made in the USA and you can tell it’s a quality product just by looking at it. Its single piece construction design makes it indestructible and it will not disappoint you while you are on your camping adventure.
The 14 inches length makes it one of the hatchets, the added length lets you generate additional force while using the hatchet. The perfect size of the hatchet makes it easy to handle and enables you to perform the wood cutting, chopping, and splitting task quickly for your campfire. Another hallmark feature is its lacquered leather grip; it feels smooth and helps you have control over the hatchet. The cutting edge is less than 3 inches which are good enough to chop whatever you need to.
- Longer than standard hatchet to generate force
- Forged in a single piece for durability
- Made in the USA
- Easy sharpening
- Perfect grip
- Handle feels slippery when wet
2. Best Backpacking Survival Hatchet: Off Grid Tools
Forged with 420 stainless steel material, this survival hatchet from Off Grid tools is a pretty spectacular tool. In addition to chopping and splitting woods, it comes with a saw blade which comes in handy to remove branches while you walk through woods.
The backpacking hatchet has some pretty interesting functions and features such as saw, hatchet/axe head, hammer, claw, can opener, bottle opener, hex wrench, pry bar, glass breaker, and strap cutter. These are pretty straightforward functions that you can perform with this tool but I guess you might be able to use the hatchet in some other ways too.
A few uncommon functions of the tool are gas valve shutoff wrench, demolition grip teeth, spanner wrench, box cutter, and a wire twist. Out of the box, the hatchet is not sharp as a knife but sharp enough like a hatchet should be and you will have no problem cutting and splitting woods right away. The tool is big enough to be useful but not that big that you will not be able to carry it in your backpack. It is a little lighter when compared to standard hatchets but heavy enough to do the job pretty well.
The saw is of great advantage when you are preparing fuel for fire on your camping trip. We all regularly use the back of the hatchet as a hammer, but Off Grip Tools’s Hatchet has a well-balanced hammer just like a regular hammer we use.
The claw is another useful feature of the hatchet, as it can be used to pull up tent stakes or something. Overall it offers great value for the money spent.
- 31 features and functions
- Multiple tools
- High grade stainless steel
- Saw blade lock
- Elegant and attractive design
- Frequent sharpening required
3. Best Premium Quality Backpacking Hatchet: Gransfors Bruks
The Gransfors Bruk has been forging hatchets and axes since 1902. The premium quality, backpacking hatchet from Sweden feels amazing as soon as you grab the wooden handle. Out of the box, the blade is razor sharp so you can get to work right away.
The handle of the hatchet is crafted from the best quality wood which is hard, durable, and surprisingly light at the same time.
It has a length of 13.5 with a perfect grip that makes the wood cutting, chopping, and splitting super easy. If you go to the market, you will find out that not every product is about quality. Gransfors Bruk on the other hand is committed to quality over quantity that will be visible to you once you lay eyes on this camping hatchet. Frankly, the hatchet looks like a Viking inspired hatchet to me.
It is forged with premium quality steel and sharpened by a professional blacksmith. Once the blade is ready it is attached to a durable and beautiful hickory handle. Hickory is famous for its strength and density and straight fivers of the wood make it perfect for shaping handles for axes and hatchets. The hatchets pass through strict quality control procedures and are checked carefully for quality. Every hatchet by Gransfors Bruk is marked with the initials of its maker.
- Premium Quality
- Sharp Blade
- Hand Forged
- Durable and strong material
- Pricy as compared to other hatchets but worth the price
4. Best and Coolest Backpacking Hatchet: 1844 Helko Werk Vario 2000
If you are backpacking and you need to do some trail work this is it. The Helko Werk Vario 2000 is one of the coolest backpacking hatchets for wood splitting, and wood cutting whether it’s for domestic use or campfire. The Vario 2000 universal hatchet is durable and reliable when it comes to the quality of the blade and handle’s material. It has an 18-inch handle that is long enough to be used with two hands to generate additional force, and at the same time, it is compact enough so you can easily pack it in your backpack.
Most camping hatchets feature a slim profile and only are used for wood splitting and cutting, but Vario 2000 is a multipurpose tool. You can use the back of the blade as a hammer for tent pegs.
The hallmark feature of Vario 2000 is that it features a patented interchangeable head design. It uses a German engineered patented bolt-on fastening system that gives the product versatility and efficiency and allows you to change the head of the hatchet whenever you need it.
The handle of the Vario 2000 wood splitting hatchet is made of well known American hickory that is strong and extremely durable. On top of that, the handle is a 150 grit sandblasted and matte lacquered finish. The package includes a vegetable-tanned premium quality leather axe sheath that will protect your hatchet. The hatchet gets full marks for its aesthetics.
- Hatchet and axe
- Interchangeable head
- Included hammer
- Beautifully designed
- Lightweight & portable
- Heavy compared to other models
5. Best Compact Camping Hatchet: Gerber 9-Inch Backpacking Hatchet
Gerber 9 inches cool camping hatchet is a smaller and lightweight version of 23.5 inch Gerber Camping axe. Gerber 9 inches is one of the backpacking hatchets for those who need to clear their campsite of bushes to install their tents. The design of the hatchet can absorb shock and it doesn’t strain your wrist even if you chop, cut, or slit woods all day.
For pleasant Camping or backpacking adventure, you have to have all the required tools and gadgets with you but since you have limited space in your backpack or back of your car it’s not possible to stuff everything in there.
Small profile or merely 9 inches, sleep and smart design, lightweight (1.2 pounds) it can fit easily in your backpack or the back of your car. The small size of the camping hatchet may confuse you but do not worry, it works perfectly for clearing branches, cutting, and splitting small logs for a campfire. In addition to cutting and splitting woods, the butt of the blade can be used to pound tent pegs just like a hammer.
The head is made of high grade forged steel and it stays sharp even after heavy use. A few strokes with a sharpening stone get it back in action in no time. The small size makes it easy to handle for smaller people or kids, and it fits perfectly in your hand. The nylon handle absorbs shock when you split larger logs without hurting the wrist. Chopping, cutting, and splitting woods for a campfire or domestic use has never been this easy.
- Elegant sleek design
- Easy to store
- Easy to handle for small people
- Require extra force compared to the longer hatchets
6. Best Composite Backpacking Hatchet: Fiskars X7 Camping Hatchet
Fiskars X7 is an excellent choice for hikers, backpackers, adventure travelers, and camping freaks. X7 is one of the best hatchets for chopping kindling and small to midsized wood logs.
The X7 camping hatchet is a combo of perfect weight distribution, advanced blade geometry, razor sharp edge, and unbreakable design to maximize performance.
This combination of excellent features allows the hatchet to bite deeper while chopping logs for the campfire, with the blade going deeper with each hit, you can chop more wood in less time, with less effort and the fun goes on at the campsite. The nylon handle is super strong without adding weight to the hatchet overall. The 14 inch length and firm grip make it an ideal and best hatchet for camping or backpacking.
Do check Fiskars Hatchet and Fiskars IsoCore Maul Combo package if you are interested. Both the items can be shipped together as well as individually.
- Razor sharp blade
- Well balanced weight
- High quality steel material
- Narrow butt end
7. Best Survival Hatchet: Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet
Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is another impressive and must have camping tool. The item is only 9 inches which makes it easy to pack in your backpack when you hit the road. The hatchet has a pretty impressive design and the blade is 3.5 inches in size. It cannot be categorized as a heavy hatchet yet 1.54 pounds is pretty heavy for a 9 inch hatchet.
The length of the handle and blade size is well balanced that is beneficial for chopping, cutting, and splitting wood. One of the best features of this hatchet is that it is designed and forged from a single piece which makes it extremely strong and indestructible.
When it comes to the grip and handling of the hatchet, the impeccable rubber handle of the hatchet makes it super easy to grip. It absorbs the shock when you strike the log and due to its firm grip, you do not have to worry about the slips.
The razor sharp blade is ready to strike right out of the box and it doesn’t need a lot of sharpening after initial use. Gerber Bear Grylls Hatchet is not meant for large logs and overall it’s a nice, compact, portable, and durable option. The hatchet provides great value for the money spent.
- Compact size
- Fits Easily in a backpack
- Larger blade
- Firm grip, shockproof
- One piece strong blade
- Shorter length require more force
8. Best Large Size Backpacking Hatchet: SOG Tactical Tomahawk
The Tomahawk is a lightweight yet heavy duty multipurpose hatchet designed for tacticians and practical users alike. Tomahawk is a great breaching, camping, and backpacking axe with well designed nylon sheath. The hatchet can be used at home and in camps for wood cutting, chopping, and splitting for fire.
It is one of the largest backpacking hatchets on our list with a length of 15 inches. The hatchet has a different and unique design, unlike traditional hatchets. It is super easy to pack in your backpack due to its nice cover and with the longer length, you can use it with two hands, generating more force and easy cutting and splitting of woods. Out of the box and the blade is razor sharp, ready to split some woods for your campfire.
The backside of the hatchet’s blade is not like a hammer instead it is more like a breaching spike that can be used to split mini logs or dig small holes in the ground but cannot be used as a hammer to pound tent stakes or something similar.
Other features of this hatchet are a nail puller and a rod shaped fire striker metal. The product despite all these features is not that pricy as compared to some other backpacking hatchets that we have reviewed in our list.
- Lightweight despite being long
- Can be used with single as well as two hands
- Breaching hatchet, nail puller, fire starter
- 420 steel construction
- Sturdy and durable
- Hammer tool is not great for pegs
9. SOG FastHawk Gear F06PN-CP – Best Throwing Hatchet
SOG FastHawk gear F06PN-CP is a throwing axe but it very well can be used as a camping axe or backpacking axe. The hatchet is super lightweight and the 2-inch razor sharp blade is perfect for the light and medium chopping and splitting that people do at a campsite for a campfire.
Besides the most durable backpacking hatchet, it has a spike on the back of the blade end, a checkered section on the side that can be used as a hammer. The blade of the hatchet is made of high-grade 420 stainless steel, and the polished finish makes it look great. The handle is made of a ballistic polymer which is super solid and feels heavy duty. The grip is perfect to do all the chopping, splitting, and hammering around in your campsite. It comes with a nylon sheath so you keep it secure once you have used it for throwing or wood chopping. Overall an excellent product with a small price tag with great value to offer.
- Lightweight, Compact
- Easy to carry around
- Sturdy, durable
- Attractive design & well balanced
- Great value at low price
- Not suitable for heavy duty use
Best Backpacking Hatchet Buying Guide
With all the brands and products reviewed above, in case you still are confused about what to look for while buying the best backpacking axe, here are some of the main points to consider.
Why do you need a backpacking hatchet at all?
If you like to keep your backpack super light then we cannot convince you to buy lightweight backpacking hatchets. But there are some good reasons to have a hatchet with you while you go out for a backpacking or camping adventure.
Kindling is not enough to start a decent campfire. If you aren’t able to chop and split up logs at the end of the day, it means you will not be able to have a fire and freshly cooked food. And that’s where a camping hatchet comes in handy.
The best camping axe as well as a tactical and survival aspect that is pretty useful when you are to defend yourself against a wild animal in the woods. In case such an unpleasant incident happens to you, a hatchet would be great as compared to a knife. In case of an unfortunate situation, your camping tent may get damaged for some reason and you may need to build a shelter, and a hatchet will help you greatly.
In such unpleasant scenarios, a decent camping axe can turn a bad day into a lot better day.
Construction / Structure of a Hatchet
Just to understand better the construction of a hatchet here is a summarized analysis of how a hatchet is structured. In terms of a layman, a hatchet is made of a head and a handle. The hatchets are either cast in a single piece which is called full tang or it is made of two separate pieces.
The head or Blade of the axe is made of:
- An eye-opening at the top of the head, where the handle sticks through.
- The sharpened edge of the blade.
- Angled part of the axe head starting right behind the sharpened edge.
- The flattened backside of the head. (Opposite to the sharpened edge)
The Hatchet handle is made of:
- Shaft or handle where hands are placed to hold the hatchet.
- End knob which is a curved edge at the end that prevents hands from slipping.
All these parts, if designed differently can have a different effect on the performance of the axe or hatchet.
With that said, here are some key features that you should be considering while choosing the best backpacking axe.
Always check and look for a well balanced design. The way the weight of the axe head is balanced with the handle has a great effect on how good a hatchet feels in your grip and how well it performs while chopping and splitting logs. A perfectly balanced hatchet will enhance the speed through the air and deliver greater force while striking downward. The curved shaft helps to position the hands better and the swollen end prevents hands from slipping.
When we talk about hatchets, size does matter. A longer handle means you will be able to generate more speed and force when you swing, and it increases the chop with minimal effort. But at the same time, more length means the hatchet will be heavier to pack in a backpack. On the other hand, a short hatchet is pretty easy to carry in a backpack and it is also enough to chop small logs for a campfire. If you are going to chop something thicker, try to get something in the range of 14 to 16 inches.
If a blade is sharp, it will easily penetrate through the wood. Out of the box sharp is great but it should stay sharp for a long time and for that it should be made of high grade steel.
Size and Weight
Of course, you’d want a hatchet to be lightweight so that you can carry it easily. But with a lighter hatchet, you will have to work more to deliver the required amount of chopped logs. If you compromise on handle length it again means you’ll have to work more. Always look for something that is reasonably lightweight with the average handle length. Go for the hatchet that’s at least 1.5 lbs and 9” in size. The bigger the better is great but only if you can carry it easily.
This is the age of multitasking. Manufacturers have realized that and they always try to add some additional features and functions while designing a lightweight backpacking hatchet. The spiked end, fire starter, hammer, nail puller, can opener, bottle opener, hex wrench, glass breaker, and strap cutter are some of the features which you can easily find in the best camping hatchet.
We all love to have well designed products, don’t we? Some aesthetics have practical aspects to them as well. For example, a brightly colored hatchet makes it easier to find it when you drop it off. Shiny and polished hatchets do look good in the eye.
The Price Tag
You get what you paid for. The shiny, well designed, made of high quality steel that stays sharp, a hatchet that doesn’t rust comes at a cost. The design features such as a full tang or a great wood handle are worth paying a few extra bucks. If you are a regular backpacker or camper, go for a top-notch high-end premium hatchet from our list. In case you are an occasional backpacker, you can opt for a cheaper one since you will not be using it a lot.
Types of a Hatchet
Hatchets have various uses and applications. You will be choosing between the following hatchets.
A Camping Hatchet
Camping hatchets are mid-sized hatchets primarily designed for cutting, chopping, and splitting woods for a campfire. The handle is long enough for two hands, and short enough to be stored in a backpack to carry easily. The butt of the hatchet is wide to hammer the pegs when you install the tent.
A Survival Hatchet
The survival hatchets are designed with a shorter handle intended for single-handed use. In case you have to build a shelter when you are out somewhere, the survival hatchets come in handy. These hatchets are good enough to cut a few sturdy logs for a shelter but cutting thicker logs will be a tough job. Survival hatchets are not great for splitting a lot of firewood.
This hatchet is more like a defense weapon. If you are out in the wild, a tactical hatchet is something you will be using to defend yourself from wild animals. A tactical hatchet can save you from a bear attack if used properly and with smart moves. But we hope it never comes to that, the hatchet is mostly used to cut thinner branches and split kindling.
These tomahawk-style hatchets are designed to be thrown to be embedded in whatever thing they hit. It’s a great choice for enthusiasts who love hatchet throwing. The hatchets are balanced in the center, great for throwing but they are not great for chopping thick logs.
Useful Safety Tips
The hatchets are designed to chop wood, kindling, and clear bushes when you are on a trail. But if handled poorly it can cut you as well. If you are planning to keep your fingers intact, these hatchet safety tips are for you.
- Before you start make sure there is no obstacle or people near you. Always check if you have enough space to swing your hatchet easily, nobody should be behind or in front of you while you chop logs.
- Don’t hold the log you are chopping with your hand or feet instead you can hold it with another piece of wood.
- Always keep the hatchet sheathed unless you are using it.
- Always keep the hatchet sharp, a dull blade will increase your work and reduce the productivity
- Double check that the head is secured properly to the handle.
- Don’t chop woods barefoot, hiking boots will not stop a misplaced hatchet but they provide protection and reduce the damage in case your hatchet slips.
- Use a surface that is 1-2 foot off the ground, this way you will not have to bend too low.
How to keep a hatchet sharp and in shape?
“Change is the only constant” is a very well-known saying. Eventually, your hatchet will change and become dull with time.
Always make sure that the original shape of the blade is retained. File it down on an emery wheel but cool down the blade otherwise, it may lose its temper and will damage a lot quicker than you’d expect.
Once you did that, keep a sharpening puck in your backpack, it doesn’t take much space and helps you sharpen your hatchet in the field when you need it the most.
- Use one side of the puck on one side of the blade, work on it until the scratches are no more.
- Work on the other side of the blade, and maintain the same sharpening angle.
- Now use the smoother side of the puck on the blade, maintain the angel and the blade will be pretty sharp in no time.
How to protect the hatchet from rust?
Go for a hatchet with a hickory handle, it is an ideal wood handle if you want your hatchet to last. Secondly, always use linseed oil to keep the finish from damage. The Hatchet head will develop some rusty spots, but cleaning it with machine oil or gun oil will eventually protect it from rust and the spots will go away.
The market is flooded with all sorts of gimmicky hatchets claiming to do magical things with multiple features and functions. We hope after reading reviews and buying guides you’ll be able to understand a bit about hatchets and it will be easy for you to buy the one you are looking for.
One more thing, if you decide to buy a hatchet for backpacking, do not worry about the weight. You will be able to handle an extra pound but cheap all-in-one sort of stylish hatchets will not cut a log when you are out there in a situation. Always go for the durable backpacking hatchet your budget allows you for. The Best Backpacking Hatchet will is the one that is safe to use, makes it less frustrating, and provides greater results when you have to get the campfire and FUN going. Happy Camping!
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