Camping with an axe grasped firmly in your hand can make you feel like the wild caveman you have always dreamed of being, or maybe that’s just me..but really, the uses of one out in the field are infinite and it’s in your best interests to pack one.
Why? Whether it’s chopping up deadwood and kindling for your campfire, clearing thick bush on your hike, or using the back of a camping hatchet to hammer in your tent stakes, use the one tool that is fit for all, the camping axe.
The market is thick and full of models, shapes and sizes that are pretty confusing if you’re unsure what exactly you need. Preferences will vary from family camping to backpacking and hikers, but today you will find out what’s really best for you.
If you don’t know the difference from your Estwing and Gerber or your Gransfors and Kershaw, don’t worry we got your back with our full product reviews, buyers guide and extensive FAQ.
So What is a Camping Axe?
Known for their ease of use and portability, camping axes are a versatile and important tool in most outdoor situations. These lightweight hand axes are used for small tasks such as preparing kindling, trimming branches, and splitting firewood. In certain situations, a camping axe can also double as a hammer, although applications for more labor-intensive chopping will require a larger axe such as a maul.
Let’s hack our way into our top list first of all and discover the best quality within budget.
Best Axes for Camping Reviewed
1. Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet
Clocking in at under 1.5 lbs., this 13.5” hatchet is Swedish craftsmanship at its finest. While not the cheapest axe around, the price tag it commands is warranted. Razor-sharp and beautifully designed, Gransfors Bruk has made sure that your investment is of the highest quality, and as a result, it is truly a treat to use.
This hatchet excels in all areas: comfortability, carving, limbing, chopping, splitting, hacking – you name it, it will do it! The attention to detail makes this a product that you will not only have fun using, but will be proud to pass onto future generations.
- Ergonomically Designed for Comfort
- Hand-Forged Artisan Axe
- Excels in all Aspects of Chopping Applications
2. Estwing Sportsman’s Axe
Forged out of a single piece of steel, the Sportsman’s Axe is one of the most popular choices when it comes to camping hatchets. Proudly made in the USA, it boasts a 14” shaft and a somewhat hefty 1.91 lbs., making it one seriously durable hatchet.
It comes with an equally durable sheath as well as a beautiful leather grip. Performance-wise you should be able to get lots of use out of this guy before you will need to break out the sharpening stones. In addition, the backside of the blade is nice and flat to allow for hammering applications.
- Single-Piece Eliminates the worry of Head Detaching
- Top-Rated in this Price Range
3. Hults Bruk Jonaker Hatchet
Nothing screams quality quite like Hults Bruk, and they’ve delivered another gem with this hatchet. At 9.4”, this little wonder is perfect for carving, making kindling, and clearing brush. As with all the products in their line-up, this hatchet delivers a hair-splitting blade attached to a classic American hickory shaft.
It feels great in the hand and lends itself well to carrying on your hip belt due to its light weight. While it is nothing short of aesthetically magnificent, you will be hard pressed to find many negatives with this tool.
- Solid Hand-Forged Construction
- Dense Steel for Long-Lasting Durability
- Retains Edge after Extensive Sharpening
4. Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet
Bear Grylls is a man of the wild and his survival hatchet is an excellent choice for beginners or anyone looking for an affordable-yet-resilient option. One of the defining features of this blade is the non-slip rubber grip, ensuring safe use even in the wettest of conditions.
At 1.4 lbs. with a 3.5” blade, this full tang hatchet performs basic chopping and hammering tasks with ease and the military-grade (and mildew resistant) sheath will keep your blade (and body) out of harm’s way. Wild tested, Bear Grylls approved!
- Great Choice for Beginners
- Non-slip Rubber Grip
- Precision and Portability
5. Estwing Special Edition Fireside Friend Axe
A full-tang axe made in the USA; the Fireside Friend is a great companion for your outdoor adventures. Sitting somewhere between a hatchet and a full-sized maul, this beast is perfect for the times when you need to split those 6” logs that most campgrounds sell.
The 14” length, while standard camping axe size, is incredibly deceitful as you can reduce logs to kindling in rapid fashion. It is a heavier axe which can usually complete a split in a single swing. In addition, the axe is equipped with a shock reduction grip to minimize accidental slippage.
- Doubles as a Small Maul and Hammer
- Easily Chops through Logs
- Beautiful Handling with Shock Reduction Grip
6. SOG Survival Camping Hatchet
SOG is a pretty reliable name when it comes to outdoor tools and with their camping axe, they deliver an above average hatchet that will get the job done.
Clocking in at a compact 11.5” in length and all of a single pound in weight, you can bash as much wood as you need to in any type of weather with its stainless-steel blade.
It performs well with minimal wear after repeated applications, and the nylon handle provides a stable grip and low maintenance.
- Light but Powerful
- Stainless Steel Blade
- Stable Nylon Handle
7. Fiskars X7 Hatchet
Fiskars delivers a powerful weapon against wood in their 14” black and orange X7 hatchet. Virtually indestructible and impossibly lightweight due to its Fibercomp construction, a perfectly balanced weight distribution throughout allows for faster swings to powerfully explode through the wood.
The Fiskar blade is one of the best on the market as they tend to stay sharp for longer periods of time. You will be spending less time chopping and more time enjoying those campfires with this gem.
- Virtually Indestructible
- Lightweight Fibercomp
- Well Balanced
8. Gerber Pack Hatchet
One of the smallest hatchets on this list, this entry for Gerber is a nice little tool to add to your arsenal. Sturdy and balanced throughout, the full tang allows for easy digging, precision carving, and basic splitting.
Transporting it is a breeze and it fits well on your hip as it is just under 9.5” long. Grooves in the rubber handle make for a firm finger grip no matter if you are chopping or choking up for finer cuts.
- Extreme Portability
- Great Bang for your Buck
- Multiple Color Selection
9. Estwing 26″ Camper’s Axe
This camping axe from Estwing provides you with a solid piece of steel that will easily decimate small logs and well as larger ones. Unlike the majority of camping axes, this one is quite a bit larger at 26”, but is still light enough that you won’t be overly exhausted from use.
It works great as a felling axe and the shock reduction grip they’ve bonded to the shaft is a nice touch to save you any strain while hacking away. The backside of the blade provides you with a decent hammer that will accomplish what you set out to do with it. Estwing makes sure you are getting a very durable camping axe in this selection and is one of the best axes for splitting wood in our list.
- Hammer Head
- Competitively Priced
- Great Felling Axe
10. IUNIO Hatchet Survival Kit
If you are caught in a life or death situation, you might want to have this kit from IUNIO nearby. This high-carbon steel and aluminium alloy axe comes with a camo grip. It can assemble into two different sizes to cater for different duties at camp.
When disassembled you get some really important survival tools at your disposal – a whistle, bottle opener, safety hammer, compass, flint, and fish scaler.
Basic camping to wilderness survival applications are what this kit is most popular for. The axe also comes with a protective sheath that allows for easy belt attachment. Hard to say no to this one!
- Fantastic Value Kit
- Survival Tools Included Free
- Lifetime Warranty
How to Choose a Camping Axe or Hatchet (Buyers Guide)
There are a few crucial things you will want to consider when in the market for a camping axe or hatchet.
As with most material goods, when it comes to quality camping axes, you get what you pay for. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the woods with a tool that has failed. Look for an axe or hatchet with a stainless steel head, a solid and sticky shaft, and an even balance in weight distribution.
Type of Head Steel
Camping axe heads comprise of stainless steel, but the price tag will vary depending on if it is machined or hand-forged. While there is really is no difference between the two from the standpoint of getting the job done, a hand-forged blade is considered to be a superior axe due to the man hours and personal touch that has been put into it.
If you are an avid outdoorsman, size will surely be a factor when selecting your axe as the weight of what you are carrying will need to be taken into consideration. Small and lightweight axes are great for when you don’t need something with massive chopping power, but won’t do the trick if you are looking to cut up large pieces of wood. Most people go with something in the medium sized range.
Ease of Use
How does the product perform? Make sure you select an axe that allows for a firm grip, is evenly balanced and has an efficient blade. High performance camping axes will reduce grip slippage, increase control and power and chop through wood with laser-like precision.
Camping Axe vs. Hatchet?
The main difference between a camping axe vs. a hatchet comes down to portability and weight.
Camping axes have a longer handle/shaft, and a larger head.
Hatchets are smaller with a shorter handle and head.
Due to differences in size, hatchets work great for splitting smaller pieces of wood, making kindling, and chopping small branches.
While your average camping axe can handle larger logs that require a bit more elbow grease to get through.
Most hatchets will have a hammer built into the backside of the blade, where the majority of camping axes are to be used for chopping only.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Materials are Used to Make Axe Heads?
The majority of axes and hatchets are made of steel. Depending on the model, you will mostly come across axes with a head made of hand-forged Swedish steel or stainless steel.
How to Carry a Camping Axe in your Backpack?
The business of axes is not to be taken lightly.
You want to make sure you are correctly carrying your axe to limit any chance of serious injury.
It is vitally important to make sure your camping axe blade is always covered using the provided sheath, and that it is always facing away from your body.
Depending on your backpack, shovel pockets or belt loops are excellent choices to keep your axe at the ready, while maintaining safety practices.
How to Sharpen a Camping Axe?
No one likes a blunt axe.
In fact, it’s quite dangerous to use an axe that isn’t sharp as you will be exerting more energy while making less controlled movements.
Electric sharpening machines are a great option as they use different belt sizes to restore your axe’s edge.
By contrast, sharpening stones or files are most axe men’s preferred method.
This method works by securing the axe in a vice, allowing for greater control over your movements as well as the sharpening angle.
As with all things axe-related, gloves are recommended to avoid any injuries.
How to Use a Camping Axe?
Camping axes and hatchets are a multi-tool of the outdoor enthusiast.
A high-quality axe will provide you with an endless amount of campfire wood when you are at one with nature.
You want to make sure you always have a firm grip on the shaft of the axe as this will reduce serious injury.
With a sharp axe, accuracy will be your friend over power.
Your dominant hand should be the one closest to the axe head.
Set the wood you are going to split on a chopping block, and bring the axe down onto the middle of the wood. Make sure you are swinging at a 45-degree angle.
If you come down directly over the wood, you are greatly increasing your chance of injury, as the axe could potentially bounce off the wood and come back at you.
The proper angle will ensure safety and less power needed to get through the wood.
In addition to splitting wood, carving tent stakes, hammering objects, trimming branches and even cutting up meat are all additional applications for camping axes.
As you can see there is a wide range of camping axes on the market that you can choose from. You really can’t go wrong with any of them, as they will all chop wood, but the higher quality ones will give you more use in the long run.
Having said that, the extreme portability of some of the smaller hatchets is a very attractive feature for a lot of outdoorsmen.
You don’t always need the best of the best; you only need something to get the job done. Only you can know what works best for you.