Hatchet stuck in a log at a campsite

The 5 Best Hatchets for Camping and Backpacking

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A fire can’t be made without wood, a tent can’t be set without stakes, and a zombie can’t be killed without a hatchet.

A hatchet is a tool that once you start you can’t stop, kinda like that potato chip commercial from back in the day. They serve as a knife, fire starter, wood splitter, and hammer.

Hatchets come in a variety of sizes, with subtle variations in the shape depending on who makes your particular hatchet. Hatchets for camping and backpacking are going to be more versatile than a simple knife and will be used every day by utility camper’s and backpacker’s alike.

The first trip you use a hatchet, you are going to ask yourself…

Why the hell haven’t I been using a hatchet all along?​

Name

Product

Weight

Buy

Estwing Sportsmans

Hatchet

7 oz

VIEW ON AMAZON

Bear Grylls

Survival Hatchet

1.3 lbs

VIEW ON AMAZON

Fiskers X7

Hatchet

1.4 lbs

VIEW ON AMAZON

Husqvarna 13″

Hatchet

2.2 lbs

VIEW ON AMAZON

Garnsfors Bruk

1.3 lbs

VIEW ON AMAZON

What is a Camping Hatchet?

It is not an axe like the one George Washington used to cut down that cherry tree, not sure if that ever really happened.

It isn’t a tomahawk like the one used in the movie Last of the Mohicans. Great movie by the way, if you haven’t seen it, give it a watch.

A hatchet for camping and backpacking is going to be smaller than an axe, yet similar in design. It will be more versatile, lighter, and easier to carry.

Typically a hatchet is going to be anywhere from 1-3 pounds and in the area of 12 inches long. For the backpacker and camper with pack weight in the front of their mind, a small compact hatchet is a bad ass addition to your pack.

How to Choose the Best Hatchets for Camping and Backpacking

A hatchet wedged in a cut piece of wood

When choosing a backpacking hatchet the first thing to avoid is accidentally purchasing a throwing hatchet. Not gonna lie, that wouldn’t be the worst thing. Hours of fun can be had launching a throwing hatchet at everything in your backyard.

But, back to the topic at hand…

There are a number of different factors that go into the finding the best possible hatchet for backpacking. ​

Weight

For those of us that prefer to go as lightweight as possible, this is going to be a determining factor in our decision on which hatchet to bring.

The ​ideal weight is anywhere from 1-2 pounds, including the sheath. Anything more than that, in terms of backpacking, makes the juice not worth the squeeze.

Design​

The design specs on hatchets have seen an evolution from the hatchets of the early twentieth century. Your Grandpa’s hatchet is made with a wooden handle and a forged piece of steel.

Hatchets today are made with synthetic metals that tend to be more lightweight, however, an old-school wooden handle is common.

A full tang hatchet is another popular design, they are made from a single piece of steel, therefore, limiting the failure points.

The head of the hatchet takes on the same classic shape, with a sharp edge on one side, and a blunt edge on the opposite side.

Head

The head of the hatchet should only be made with the best carbon steel. This is the most important part of any hatchet, as it sees the most use and abuse.

Look for a hatchet that is made of the best forges steel and read some reviews of people who have purchased and used it on a regular basis. At least a couple camping and backpacking trips.

Material

This encompasses everything from head to toe of a hatchet. From the steel you will be using to chop wood, to the grip of the handle, and everything in between. With a camping and backpacking hatchet, there’s not much in between, but you get the point.

Look for a camping hatchet made with the best quality steel and materials. Not something “private label​ed” that sells for the cheapest price and makes the seller the most money.

Length

The length of the hatchet is dependent on the operator, for camping and backpacking the ideal length of a hatchet is around one foot, or 12 inches long.

The more compact the hatchet is, the easier it is to be to carry in your pack. A hatchet for camping and backpacking, ideally, will be convenient enough to strap on to the outside of your backpack.

You won’t even know it’s there.

Grip ​

Grip is everything, the last thing that you need is a sharp object flying out of your hand.

If you planning on using the hatchet during the winter or in inclement conditions the grip is going to be a key factor in determining which hatchet is right for you. 

Look for a hatchet handle made of wood or a synthetic material, something that isn’t slippery when wet. 

Estwing Special Edition Camping Hatchet

Length:

14 in

Weight:

7 oz

Steel:

1055 carbon steel

Finish:

Black

This is one of the few products left that is and always has been crafted in the USA. That is validation, in and of itself. The same hatchet that your great-grandfather used, with nearly 100 years of improvement.

Properly used and taken care of this hatchet will last you and your family for generations, making this hatchet a top pick.

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  • checkForged with  a single piece of the finest steel
  • checkHand sharpened edges
  • checkLeather Grip
  • checkHeavy duty nylon sheath included

Pros

  • thumbs-o-upLeather Grip
  • thumbs-o-upMade in the USA
  • thumbs-o-upHand sharpened

Cons

  • thumbs-o-downNarrow head
  • thumbs-o-downStickers everywhere
  • thumbs-o-downNylon sheath

Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

Length:

9.46 in

Weight:

20.8 oz

Steel:

3Cr13MoV

Handle:

Polypropylene

If you can get past the corny name, it’s a great hatchet with a silly name. Out of the sheath, this hatchet is sharp enough to cut through your skin, that’s a good thing, minus the princess band-aid your daughter insists on.

This hatchet handle, blade, and head are all one piece of steel, with no welds on any point of the hatchet. Eliminating the most common points of failure in your ordinary hatchet.

The Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet has a convex blade, in other words, a curved blade. This makes chopping wood easier, and the axe more versatile than others. 

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  • check3.5″ blade
  • checkMade of high carbon steel
  • checkMildew resistant nylon sheath
  • checkErgonomic non-slip grip

Pros

  • thumbs-o-upFull tang​
  • thumbs-o-upErgonomic
  • thumbs-o-up3.5″ blade

Cons

  • thumbs-o-down3cr13 Steel
  • thumbs-o-downShort handle
  • thumbs-o-downThin head

Fiskers X7 Hatchet

Length:

14 in

Weight:

26.08 oz

Steel:

Forged carbon steel

Handle:

FiberComp

Fiskers X7 Hatchet design gives you added leverage when chopping wood and kindling. Making your chopping smaller pieces of wood a cakewalk, a hatchet isn’t designed to chop down a tree or split logs.

It is an easy to carry hatchet making it perfect for taking with you on your next backpacking or camping trip. The edge retention for the Fisker X7 Hatchet is durable, even after chopping into knots it maintains its edge.  

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  • checkLifetime warranty
  • checkPerfect balance
  • checkProprietary blade grinding technique
  • checkLightweight

Pros

  • thumbs-o-upLifetime warranty
  • thumbs-o-upWell balanced
  • thumbs-o-upLightweight

Cons

  • thumbs-o-downSlippery grip
  • thumbs-o-downNo strap on sheath
  • thumbs-o-downNot ergonomic

Husqvarna 13-inch Wooden Handle Hatchet

Length:

13 in

Weight:

2.2 lbs

Steel:

Swedish axe steel

Handle:

Wood

The carbon steel head is top quality and for a camping hatchet, the head is a critical component. The weight of the handle and the head make cutting much easier with the increased leverage that comes with a heavier hatchet.

The head is held in place by a wood spacer, as well as, a metal expansion ring. Ensuring that the head doesn’t take an unexpected and dangerous flight when you are mid-swing.

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  • checkHickory wood handle
  • checkHand-forged
  • checkLeather sheath
  • checkCurved handle for ergonomic fit

Pros

  • thumbs-o-upHand forged
  • thumbs-o-upErgonomic grip
  • thumbs-o-upCarbon steel

Cons

  • thumbs-o-downLoose sheath
  • thumbs-o-downDull edge
  • thumbs-o-downHeavy

Garnsfors Bruk Wildlife 13.5 inch Handmade Axe

Length:

13.5 in

Weight:

20.8 oz

Steel:

Ovako steel

Handle:

Wood

It is called a handmade axe, however, at only 13 and a half inches it is more in line with the size of a hatchet. GB is well known in the outdoor industry for making only quality products with the finest materials.

This is no exception, it comes shave sharp out of the box and ready for anything that you throw at it. It also comes with a leather sheath that fits over the head perfectly. 

This is a once in a lifetime purchase, meaning, with a little TLC this camping hatchet will last forever, forever ever, and ever ever.

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  • checkTanned leather sheath
  • checkDense steel head
  • checkHead has a “tempered zone” for increased durability
  • checkInstruction manual on proper care

Pros

  • thumbs-o-upLeather sheath
  • thumbs-o-upQuality craftsmanship
  • thumbs-o-upQuality materials

Cons

  • thumbs-o-downThick handle
  • thumbs-o-downShort handle
  • thumbs-o-downWood grain not perfect

Conclusion

Finding out how to choose the best camping and backpacking hatchet is a fun processes. There are a handful of factors that go into making a quality hatchet that remains consistent, then handle and the head.

Quality materials and quality craftsmanship are constant themes when choosing a hatchet that you plan on keeping for all of your future backpacking and camping trips.

Find a hatchet that works best for you and suits your needs, take a little time and read some reviews.

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