Camping is much easier and enjoyable if you have the necessary tools with you. Aside from the usual gears like a tent or a multitool, you will need a tool that you can use to gather firewood and other materials from nature.
A backpacking hatchet can do just that and more. Aside from being able to cut and chop wood, you can use it to clear out the undergrowth and other vegetation. Furthermore, it is a valuable tool if you are planning on hunting or building a shelter during long camping trips.
However, choosing the right backpacking hatchet can be tricky. Aside from portability and weight, you will have to consider other factors such as weight, length, blade, and more.
Worry not! In this article, we will explore the best backpacking hatchets in the market. Do not miss our buying guide to help you during your shopping.
Overview of the Best Backpacking Hatchets
To give you a quick bird’s eye view of your choices, here are the best backpacking hatchets and their common features.
|Product||Weight and Handle||Price||Our Rating||Link to Amazon|
|Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet||$$||4.5||See price on Amazon|
|Schrade SCAXE10 11.1in Full Tang Hatchet||$||4.5||See price on Amazon|
|Husqvarna 13-inch Wooden Hatchet||$$||4.5||See price on Amazon|
|CRKT Birler Compact Axe||$$$||4.5||See price on Amazon|
|Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet||$$$$||4.5||See price on Amazon|
|Estwing Sportsman’s Axe 14”||$||4||See price on Amazon|
|Fiskars X7 Hatchet||$||4||See price on Amazon|
|Gerber 9-inch Hatchet||$$||4||See price on Amazon|
The Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is a versatile tool for tactical, survival, hunting, and backpacking. This hatchet may be small and slim, but its sharp 3.5-inch blade is great for quickly chopping down firewood. It can stand up against difficult tasks as it is made from a full tang construction stainless steel.
The rubberized handle is well-designed for comfortable and lock-tight grip that won’t slip even when it’s wet. The back of the blade is also designed for pounding purposes, and it’s perfect for hammering down tent stakes. When not in use, you can keep the hatchet safe in its mildew-resistant sheath that has built-in loops for easy attachment to your belt or backpack.
The Schrade SCAXE10 is a full-tang hatchet made of 3Cr13 stainless steel, making it durable and easy to sharpen. The blade is so sharp that it can slice through a single sheet of paper even after chopping some firewood. It is also easy to grip with its TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber) wrapped handle.
The rubber grip functions well in absorbing some shock when striking hard objects, and it also sticks to your hands even when wet. The loop at the base of the handle makes it easy to store or attach to your backpack. Just make sure to cover the blade with the nylon sheath to prevent accidents.
The Husqvarna 13-inch hatchet is another classic option, which is a great all-around tool, even outside camping activities. The American hickory handle is curved, which provides comfort when chopping and cutting. However, it can be a bit slippery, especially when used under less than ideal conditions.
Its solid Swedish 1.5-lbs (0.7 kg) axe head is a great advantage and disadvantage at the same time. The weight provides a boost of extra power when chopping into large chunks of wood. However, when combined with the 0.5-lb. handle, it is quite heavy compared to most backpacking hatchets in this list.
If you prefer a longer handle without the weight, then CRKT Birler Axe is something that you should look into. The handle is made of touch Tennessee Hickory which can last even during rough adventures. The slight curve in the handle makes it easy and comfortable to use.
The blade is made of 1055 Carbon steel, which can stay sharp without the regular sharpening. Even with the 16-inch handle, the entire hatchet only weighs about 1.14 pounds. While not the most compact, it is light enough to include in your pack.
If you are in the market for the best hatchet for backpacking, the Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet is a great option. Gränsfors Bruks is known for their skilled blacksmiths who produce the best quality axes in the world. That means they do not mass produce their products, which accounts for the high price.
However, the steel head that remains sharp even during the most challenging tasks is a great investment in itself. The wooden handle is made of hickory, which is tough. Its form factor makes it easy to handle, which means you can use it on many types of tasks during your adventure.
The Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is aesthetically appealing with its classy and sleek look. However, more than its appearance, its functionalities are what make this hatchet a great choice. The Estwing axe is forged from one piece, so there are no weak points between the blade and handle.
The handle is wrapped with a leather sheath for comfortable handling. However, the handle is lacquered, which can get slippery, especially during wet conditions. The 14-inch length gives you more leverage when chopping wood for a campfire. The 3 ¼ wide blade is great for splitting larger chunks of firewood.
The Fiskars X7 Hatchet is ergonomically designed to give an optimal power-to-weight ratio. Made from lightweight fiber composite, the handle’s durability is exceptional that it’s almost impossible to break. The 14-inch length gives the handler a more forceful blow when chopping larger chunks of wood.
The best feature of the X7 is the blade for how it is crafted as it has a sharper edge than other hatchets in the market. With its proprietary grinding technique, the blade cuts better and stays sharp longer. The blade also has a low-friction coating for smooth cutting and to prevent itself from getting stuck when chopping down larger pieces of wood.
If you are looking for an ultra-compact backpacking hatchet without sacrificing its performance, then Gerber 9-inch Hatchet is a great option. Its forged steel axe head comes with a razor-sharp blade that stays sharp even when used regularly. The PTFE coating significantly reduces friction, which means you can chop deeper into the wood with less effort.
Furthermore, the composite handle is shock absorbent. It feels good in your hand and reduces fatigue even after long hours of chopping. Additionally, the hatchet weighs only 1.21 pounds, which you can barely feel in your backpack.
Choosing The Best Hatchet – Buying Guide
Just like any backpacking gear, you will need to determine your needs before purchasing one. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran adventurer, investing in the right tools such as a backpacking hatchet can maximize its functionalities.
When it comes to the best backpacking hatchet, you have a few factors to consider. Length, weight, steel type, handle material, and other accessories can determine the right hatchet for your next adventure.
The length of the hatchet will depend on the activities that you are planning to do. Additionally, you should consider the packability of the gear, especially when you are planning to go on a long trip where every ounce is important.
Hatchet handles range from 8 inches to 35 inches in length. The short handle will surely be light and easy to stash in your backpack. However, they cannot chop large logs. These types of hatchets are great for occasional use or for chopping light materials.
On the other hand, choose longer handles if you are planning to chop big logs. These hatchets will allow you to conserve energy if you are expecting a lot of time using it. However, they can be heavy and cumbersome to pack.
Weight and Balance
The weight of the hatchet primarily comes from the axe head. Just like the length, you will have to evaluate the weight of the axe as it can affect its balance and packability.
You do not want a hatchet that is too heavy when you usually go on long hiking trips. However, a lighter hatchet may also affect the balance of the tool. It also means you will have to do more work when cutting and chopping wood.
You can compromise by choosing an axe that is about 1.5 pounds or under. This ideal weight, or somewhere in its vicinity, means you can carry the hatchet in your backpack while making sure that it is still usable.
Hatchet blades are made of different types of steel, which is too complex to cover in this article entirely. However, the three most common are carbon, stainless, and alloy. While they come with their specific advantages and disadvantages, the steel blade will determine how long the hatchet will last and what types of activities you can do with it.
- Carbon steel – This is considered the toughest steel variant, which is composed of iron and carbon. The concentrations also range from high carbon to low carbon. Hatchet blades usually come in high carbon and low carbon grades, which are graded 1065 – 1095.
- Stainless steel – This type of steel is a carbon and iron alloy with chromium. It is fairly soft steel with average edge retention. As such, it is not ideal for chopping large logs. Most hatchets use 420 stainless steel, which is resistant to corrosion and the elements.
- Alloy steel – This is a combination of various metals like iron, chromium, carbon, copper, nickel, and more. Such steel has medium level carbon. As such, hatchets made of alloy steel are tough and hard. They also endure impacts and shocks.
Aside from the length of the handle, you should also consider the type of material used. Your grip is significantly affected by the type of the handle surface. As such, it is important to consider such factors when choosing your next hatchet.
Hatchet handles are typically made of two types of materials: wood or fiberglass/plastic.
- Wood – The overall weight of the hatchet will depend on the type of wood used. Hickory is one of the most common wooden handles as it is strong, durable, and flexible. Wooden handles are also easy to repair. However, these are also prone to overstriking. Additionally, if the handle is coated with urethane, it can be slippery and difficult to grip, especially during wet conditions.
- Fiberglass or plastic – These are usually lightweight and durable. Fiberglass or plastic handles are also not prone to splinters. However, these vary in quality, which means you need to examine the handle carefully before making the purchase. Additionally, they are harder to repair.
While not the most critical parts of the hatchet, the right accessories can make your experience much better. Some of the most common accessories are as follows:
- Hones – Sharpening hones are useful, especially when you are out camping for a long time. Some hatchets include hones in the package, or you can buy them separately. Having one in your pack means you can always maintain your hatchet sharp and ready for the next activity.
- Blade cover – Many hatchets come with a blade cover, which is great to prevent accidents. Packing a bare hatchet can rip the fabric of your backpack. Additionally, it can cause gashes that a cover can prevent.
- Overstrike protector – It is necessary if you are still not skilled at using your hatchet. Overstrike protectors are usually made of rubber or metal. These can protect the haft when you miss your target.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a backpacking hatchet?
A backpacking hatchet is a gear used to chop and cut small to medium-sized objects. Many refer to this as a hand axe. These are compact enough to fit inside a backpack. Hatchets are used to split firewoods, cut down plants, hunt games, and more.
What is the difference between an axe and hatchet?
An axe is a cutting tool typically used by two hands to split wood and other objects. The long handle is used to maximize the striking power of the user. On the other hand, a hatchet is a smaller version of an axe which only needs one hand. Hatchets are capable enough to split small logs and trim shingles.
What is the best hatchet for splitting wood?
The best hatchet for splitting wood combines a sharp edge and a strong and long handle. If you are planning to chop large logs, expect to expend energy as hatchets are significantly shorter than axes. Additionally, keep the edge sharp using a sharpening hone to ensure efficiency when using the hatchet.
What are hatchet heads made of?
Hatchet heads are made of various types of steel with varying strength and durability. Carbon steel, stainless steel, and alloy steel are just some of the most common materials for hatchet heads. Stronger steel, such as carbon, is more expensive than other types of steel.
How to Take Care of the Hatchet?
Taking care of the hatchet means maintaining its two essential parts: the head and the handle. Aside from keeping it sharp, taking care of the axe head also requires making sure that it does not rust due to moisture. You can cover it with a sheath when not in use or apply a thin layer of specialty oil to prevent moisture.
The same principle can be followed for the handle, especially those made with wood. Maintain the finish by applying boiled linseed oil, which is available in specialty shops. Use a clean cloth to remove the excess and let it dry.
Your camping activities will determine the best backpacking hatchet to bring. If you are looking for an all-around tool that will not add significant weight to your pack, then a hatchet with high-quality steel and the short handle is great for you. On the other hand, if you are expecting to gather your own firewood, then opt for a longer handle to give you more striking power.
Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet is a great option if you are looking for an investment for your future camping adventures. Its premium Swedish steelhead and hickory handle can last through several adventures. However, the expensive price tag can be out of budget for casual hikers.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a more handy option, then Gerber hatchets are compact without sacrificing the quality. Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet and Gerber 9-inch Hatchet are amazing options and can be effective all-rounders. They can be used for chopping firewood and cutting other objects.
Whether you are a novice hiker or an experienced adventurer, having a trusty hatchet at hand means you can make a campfire anywhere as long as there firewood available. It can also be used to clear out trails or even cut meat when you go hunting.