Best Hatchet for Camping
Have you ever read the survival novel called Hatchet by Gary Paulsen? Without giving away too much, it’s about a boy whose plane crashes and he is stranded in the wilderness. The only thing he has to survive is a single hatchet that was given to him as a gift. It’s an incredible novel that speaks to anyone who has a love for the outdoors. More so, the hatchet is almost like a character, who helps the boy throughout his time in the wild. And anyone who loves camping can certainly benefit from having a hatchet in their arsenal of outdoor gear.
A hatchet is a great tool to have as part of your gear and can be used for multiple purposes while outdoors. Not only can this piece of equipment help you produce enough firewood to keep everyone warm as the evening breeze rolls through, but it can also help you set up camp and clear away any brush or debris that might be in your way. However, finding the best hatchet for camping can be a bit of a hassle. But we have chopped through the options, done the research and listed the top ten hatchets on the market, and why these ten are the best of the best.
- CAMILLUS LES STROUD
- Quality construction
- ESTWING E45A
- High-quality craftmanship
- HULTS BRUK ANEBY
- Easy to use
- Hefty weight
10 Best Hatchets for Camping
CAMILLUS KNIVES LES STROUD
Because the blade is bonded with a titanium, it’s one of the strongest edges out there. While it does need regular sharpening, as all quality hatchets do, this one won’t lose an edge as easily as some on the market today.
Weighing just over two pounds, this hatchet is extremely lightweight and easy to use.
The nice thing about this particular hatchet is that while it is very well put together, it was also clearly created with the avid camper in mind. In addition to a very competent blade edge, it also has a hammer and fire starter built in, and can easily be used as a chisel as well.
Another great characteristic of this hatchet is the fact that it is affordable, even for the budget conscious. It’s a wonderful thing when you can get this type of quality at such a great price.
Measuring just under two feet in length, this hatchet will easily fit in your hand and will swing quite comfortably, even in tight forest conditions.
If you’re looking for a good contender for the best hatchet for camping, the Camillus Knives Les Stroud S.K. Vigor Hatchet should certainly be on your list. While the constant need for sharpening can be a bit of a hassle, the included features of a fire starter, hammer head and quality construction more than make up for it.
- Quality construction
- Included fire starter and hammer head
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Needs constant maintenance and care.
With proper care and maintenance, this ax keeps a four inch cutting edge that’s sharp enough to make quick work of branches, debris, and even small saplings.
The Estwing E45A Camper’s ax weighs just under 4 lbs in total weight. It’s light enough to carry on your person during the day, but still, has enough heft to make sure you have enough firewood for the evening campfire.
Estwing is one of the most well-known companies for making equipment to be used in the outdoors, and their reputation for quality and craftsmanship is well deserved. One of the reasons why we consider this the best hatchet for camping is the fact that it is solidly put together. The patented shock resistant grip makes it comfortable to use, and the overall balance is superb.
Another reason we like this particular camping hatchet is the overall price. It isn’t as expensive as some of the other examples on this list, but falls instead in that affordable, moderate range.
The overall size of this particular hatchet is 26 inches in length, making it a little over two feet in size. While it certainly is smaller than some camping hatchets, it is still a powerhouse when it comes to being able to get the job done.
The Estwing E45A Camper’s ax is a fantastic and versatile tool. It’s perfect for clearing brush, debris, helping to set up the tents and keep you firewood supply in great shape.
- 4 inch cutting edge makes short work of firewood, and brush
- High quality craftsmanship
- Requires regular maintenance and sharpening
HULTS BRUK ANEBY
Created through a process involving the use of Swedish axe steel, the edge of this blade can remain remarkable sharp, even after years of use. While any blade edge can become dull over time, with proper care it’s doubtful that this one will lose its edge very soon.
This particular hatchet weighs just under three pounds overall, so it is a bit heavier than some of the other examples on the list. The weight may make it a bit tiresome over long periods of use. However, the added weight also helps you make short work of larger branches and saplings that may be in your way.
When it comes to axes and hatchets, ones made with Swedish ax steel are renown for their strength, quality, and stability. Not surprisingly, this particular hatchet also shows the same commitment to quality in the handle, by using American Hickory treated with linseed oil. They also provide a traditional leather sheath as well.
This hatchet is certainly not cheap, and you’re certainly paying for the quality inherent in its construction. While it may set you back quite a few dollars, this investment should last for years with proper care.
The Hults Bruk Aneby Hatchet measures just twenty inches in length, so it’s still a relatively good size for a camping hatchet.
While its price is a bit steep, this is one situation where the quality of the workmanship justifies the investment. So if your needs include dealing with a good deal of heavy vegetation or gathering firewood on a regular basis, this is one hatchet you may want to consider.
- Hefty weight and superior blade makes short work of saplings, large branches, etc.
- Quality construction – it will last.
- A bit pricey, but not unreasonable considering the quality.
HELKO CLASSIC PATHFINDER
Made from high-grade German carbon steel, this blade easily keeps its edge long after others have dulled away to nothingness. While it does require proper care and sharpening, this is a fairly low maintenance blade.
The hatchet weighs about two lbs, so it is fairly lightweight and easy to carry. While it may not be suitable for every job around the campground, the sharp edge and weight will make short work of quite a few smaller branches.
Handmade in Germany, this hatchet shows exemplary quality and craftsmanship. Not only is the ax head made of quality carbon steel, but the Swiss-made handle is made from hickory wood, and oiled with linseed oil. Lastly, the leather sheath is vegetable tanned, so it’s soft and easy on the skin and metal.
While not the most expensive on this list, this is still a hatchet with a pretty substantial price tag. However, based on the quality seen, it’s well worth it.
Measuring only fifteen inches in length, this hatchet is slightly smaller than other hatchets on this list. It is often well suited for preparing to kindle or clearing small amounts of brush, but may not work well with heavier wood.
The Helko Classic Pathfinder Hatchet is a great choice for those times when kindling is scarce and you need to clear smaller branches from your campsite or the path to it. While it’s not suited for larger jobs, for the smaller ones you’ll likely to encounter it’s a joy to work with.
- Smaller size makes it easier to handle
- High quality blade and handle.
- A bit expensive
- May not have the heft to handle larger jobs
COMPADRE CAMP Axe
The three inch powder coated blade is made of spring steel. While it will need frequent sharpening with use, it’s one of the most durable metals out there.
Weighing just over 23 ounces, this hatchet is one of the lightest that we considered for this list. While it may not have the weight needed to handle the larger jobs, it’s perfectly suited to help you handle the smaller ones.
Overall, it’s easy to see how much attention to detail and thought went into creating this hatchet. The handle is designed to fit comfortably in the hand, and the steel of the ax head is powder coated to protect it from rust. And finally, the black leather sheath not only adds further protection but also provides a welcomed touch of class.
The hatchet is moderately expensive, which honestly left us a little underwhelmed when compared against the size and overall cutting power of the blade. Still, for the price it’s not a bad investment overall.
This hatchet is a little over a foot in length, which makes it one of the smallest ones that we took into consideration. While we like the smaller, lighter hatchet for the jobs that don’t require a lot of power, the size can be an overall limitation.
Compact and lightweight, the Compadre Camp ax is a great choice for those smaller jobs in and around the campsite that fall between the need for a pocket knife or a larger hatchet. While we adored the easy to hold the handle and the sharp blade, the overall size and weight somewhat limited its capabilities.
- Very lightweight and easy to use.
- Very comfortable handle
Spring steel requires more maintenance for upkeep.
Slightly more expensive than we would like
GRANSFORS BRUKS OUTDOOR
Created with quality steel, the blade edge easily retains its sharpness over quite a few strikes. With proper care, this particular blade will be doing what needs to be done for some time to come.
With an ax head weight of 1 lbs, most of the weight of this 1 lbs 5 ounce tool is found there. While it is great for chopping, it may seem a bit unbalanced to some users. However with practice, it can be gotten used to.
Overall this hatchet is very well put together. Not only does the ax face curve to promote proper cutting, but the collar guard offers protection for the handle when in use. And finally, the steel collar on the axe head helps to make splitting of logs easier overall.
This is by far one of the most expensive hatchets on this list. While it can quickly become an asset to any campground, it’s versatility leaves a bit to be desired. This is definitely an investment piece of equipment, and if you want something that is useful for more than just cutting wood, there are other options available.
The overall handle measures about 15 inches, and with an ax head weight of about one pound, this hatchet is relatively small overall. Thankfully because of its design it can still easily handle the larger pieces of wood if needed.
While the sticker price on this particular hatchet left us a little bewildered, there is no denying that it is a good quality hatchet that is designed for making sure having suitable firewood at your campsite is not a problem.
- Great for chopping wood
- Relatively small and easy to handle
- Decent quality and workmanship
- Price doesn’t quite reflect the value overall.
- Not as versatile as we would like
ESTWING E24A 14 INCH SPORTSMAN
Forged from a single piece of high-quality steel, this hatchet can certainly keep an edge through numerous uses. It measures about three and one quarter inches in length, and is well suited for splitting the softer woods such as pine. There have been reports, however of the edge becoming dull more quickly when faced with hardwood material.
Weighing in at just shy of two pounds, this is a lightweight hatchet that is perfect for the smaller jobs.
The overall look and feel of this hatchet lets you know that this was a well thought out design. Not only is it forged from a single piece of metal, but it also includes a leather grip and a nylon sheath as well. While some customers did not find the lacquered finish on the handle appealing, the hatchet is still solidly built.
This is perhaps one of the most budget friendly hatchets meant for camping that you can find on the market today. Well within the price point for most outdoors enthusiasts.
Measuring just about 14 inches from ax head to the tip of the handle, this hatchet is also on the smaller size, but it’s still very versatile and easy to use.
While not as expensive as some of the other hatchets on this list, the Estwing E24A still packs quite a lot of value in its little package. It’s great for creating kindling and dealing with softer woods such as pine, although the edge has been known to become dull quickly when used on hardwoods.
- Very affordable
- Easy to use
- Blade dulls more quickly when chopping hardwood materials
- Lacquered finish may be unappealing to some.
HULTS BRUK KISA FELLING
Forged from Swedish ax steel by hands and then hand sharpened numerous times through grinding and striking, the blade of this hatchet has an increased density that leads to a better, sharper and more long lasting edge.
At 3.2 pounds, this hatchet definitely has a bit of weight to it, and is perfect for handling those larger jobs that the other camp hatchets just can’t.
In general, the craftsmanship of the ax head is wonderful, and the protective leather sheath is certainly a nice touch. The handle, made from hickory wood and treated with linseed oil is also well made, but there have been reports of the handles being a little too brittle.
This is a moderately expensive hatchet, and considering it’s overall heft, and the materials used, the increase in price is not unreasonable.
This medium sized hatchet has an overall length of 26 inches, and an ax head weight of 1.75 lbs. It’s perfect for clearing heavy brush and debris, or chopping firewood, but not exactly suited for finite work around the campsite.
If you’re in need of chopped firewood quickly, this hatchet may be your answer. It is a bit larger and more powerful than the others on this list, but it may be too large to handle some of the smaller tasks that may come up while camping.
- Quality construction
- Easily handles large branches, saplings etc.
- Edge is easy to maintain.
- A bit on the expensive side
- Not very useful for smaller jobs.
MORAKNIV BORON STEEL
The boron steel blade in this hatchet is coated with black epoxy material, and the overall thickness of 0.25 inches means that keeping an edge is not really an issue.
Weighing just over 17 ounces, this is a very light and compact blade. While it can’t really handle the larger chopping jobs out there, for just about anything else it is more than sufficient.
Overall, the blade on this hatchet is made and serves very well. We were disappointed somewhat with the reinforced plastic handle. While the handle was certainly lightweight, it also had the potential to become brittle in colder weather.
This particular hatchet is priced in the middle of the spectrum, and should easily be affordable by most everyone interested in buying it.
Measuring just 12.6 inches this is indeed a small hatchet, perfect for smaller jobs such as breaking apart kindling or helping to set up the tents.
If you’re looking for a small hatchet that is easy to carry on your person and perfect for those small jobs that a normal hatchet would be an overkill for, this hatchet may be a great choice.
- Small and easy to carry
- Boron infused steel blade keeps edge well
- May be too small for larger jobs
- Handle may become brittle under cold conditions
CONDOR TOOL AND KNIFE THORAX
The overall shape of this hatchet actually extends the potential cutting edge of this blade quite a bit, but thankfully the 1075 carbon steel help to keep that edge relatively sharp.
This hatchet weighs just over a pound and a half, and is great for those smaller jobs that you’ll find around the campsite.
While the ax heat itself is well made, quite a few customers found the combination of the handle and the ax head to be a little cumbersome by design.
The price of this particular hatchet is fairly moderate, running about the same amount as a dinner at a restaurant for a family of four.
The length of this hatch measures just a shade over 14 inches, and with the weight of a pound and a half, it is well suited for chopping small branches or kindling, but not really much else.
While the untraditional shape intrigued us at first, the Condor Thorax Hatchet proved to be quite capable of handling small cutting or chopping jobs around the campground. While we wouldn’t use it for clearing heavy brush, it is certainly a viable option for other tasks.
- A bit cumbersome to use
- Not suited for larger branches or clearing heavy brush.
Criteria used for finding the best hatchets
In order to chop effectively, the blade of a hatchet, or any cutting tool, really needs to be sharp. In order to be useful, the blade needs to be able to keep that sharp edge. It really is as simple as that. So in order to find you the most effective hatchets for camping, the ability to hone an edge and keep it sharp was one of the primary characteristics we looked at.
For the most part, the hatchets presented here are well known for keeping a sharp edge with proper care and maintenance. While some, such as the Compadre Camp ax require more maintenance to keep an edge due to the presence of spring steel, overall these hatchets are fairly easy to sharpen and to keep sharp.
When you’re swinging even a small hatchet around over a prolonged period of time, your arms and shoulders can get fatigued remarkably fast. This is especially true when you take into account the overall weight of the hatchet in question. It may not sound like much, but something as little as five pounds can add a significant strain to your body over time.
Thankfully, most of these hatchets are around two to three pounds in weight, which is a little bit easier to handle over the long haul.
When you consider how the best hatchet for camping would be made, you’re taking into account the craftsmanship of the piece of equipment in question. It’s pretty obvious why this would be important. If the hatchet is well made, it should last through many camping trips, hikes, and even work around the house. Of course, if it is poorly made, the opposite would be true. Since buying a hatchet for camping can be a sizable investment for the avid outdoor enthusiast, finding one that will last a good long while is very important.
With a few minor exceptions, such as the handle on the Morokniv Boron Steel Camping ax, which has the potential to break in cold weather, most of these hatchets are very well made. In addition, they are often well designed, sometimes with the avid camper specifically in mind. While the Estwing Camper’s ax tops our list, the Camillus Knives Les stroud S.K. Vigor Hatchet follows a close second partially because of the features such as a built in fire starter and hammer, both of which are quite useful to those who enjoy camping.
While we would much rather not have to look at price, the fact remains that most of us must live within financial restraints. Therefore, the retail price of a hatchet is something to consider when making a purchase. While the old adage of “you get what you pay for” is usually true, in some cases, you can get a significant steal. Most of the hatchets, for instance, are well within the price range of a nice dinner out for a family of four, or in some cases a dinner and movie for a young couple. Considering how much fun camping can be for everyone involved, we see the cost to be a reasonable investment.
And finally, we took a look at the overall size of the hatchet, including all the parts such as the handle and ax head. In addition to the overall weight of the hatchet, its size can determine how useful it is in certain situations. For the most part, hatchets are designed to chop relatively small pieces of wood, or clear smaller areas of brush. Often these areas are tight and not easy to maneuver in, so having a more compact hatchet can come in handy.
While some on this list, such as the Hults Bruk Kisa Felling ax is decidedly larger at 26 inches, most of these hatchets fall well under two feet in length. This is beneficial because it allows the user to be able to utilize the hatchet in cramped quarters if necessary.
More food for thought
What will be its primary use?
It may sound silly, but often the best hatchets can often be used for more than just chopping wood. The right hatchet in the right hands can easily help clear a new path to a campground, aid in setting up a tent for the family, and even help to scare away the local wildlife when necessary.
So when you’re buying a hatchet, take into consideration what you’re mostly going to use it for. If it’s simply to chop firewood for the nightly campfire, then any hatchet on this list will do a wonderful job. If, however, you want something with a little more heft to clear larger branches something like the Hults Bruk Kisa Felling ax might be a better choice.
Who will be using it?
Another important thing to consider is who will be using the hatchet and what their ages and maturity levels are. While none of the hatchets presented here are toys, a few, like the Estwing E24A 14 inch Sportsman’s ax might be a more reasonable choice for more adult hands based only it’s overall size and weight.
Q: What’s the difference between a hatchet and an axe?
While these two terms are often used interchangeably, there are significant differences between the two. The first, of course, is the overall size of the piece of equipment. The hatchet is usual quite a bit smaller than an ax, measuring between one and three feet in length, while an ax often measures five feet or more.
Another difference between the two tools is how they are meant to be used. A hatchet is designed to be used with a single hand; it is used mostly for clearing away brush and debris, or chopping single pieces of wood for the fire. An ax, on the other hand, is designed to be used with both hands. Its main use is to fell larger trees. An ax also requires more room to use, since it has a much higher swing radius than a hatchet.
It is true that an ax and a hatchet could be used for the same tasks. Each one would simply perform better at what they were designed to do.
Q: What is the best way to keep a hatchet sharp?
If you want to keep a hatchet in top condition, it pays to keep it sharp. In order for that to happen, you need to both use it properly and for the tasks that it was designed for, and perform regular maintenance on it.
There are a number of different ways to sharpen the blade edge of a hatchet, including the use of files, whetstones, grinding wheels and rotary tools as well. While each method have their benefits, two of the easiest, and often the most commonly used are the use of files and whetstones.
Using a file to hone the blade of your hatchet is a fairly simple process and because of the portability of the files, this method is sometimes preferable out in the field. Start by removing all distractions and place the head of the hatchet between your legs with the blade facing outward. Next, place a little bit of lubrication oil on the file itself and place it against the blade edge, with the other end of the file resting against your legs. The file itself should be perpendicular to the blade edge and at an angle of about twenty degrees from the side of the ax head. Your leg, the file, and the ax head should form a triangle when you look from the side. Now, move the file along the blade edge, keeping that angle, and using long strokes. Repeat the process on the other side.
If you want to use a whetstone to sharpen your hatchet, the best way is to place the whetstone on a surface where it won’t easily slide around and make sure that the whetstone is well lubricated. Then, using both hands, place the blade edge of the hatchet against the whetstone at a 15 to 20 degree angle and move the ax head from the upper left or upper right corner of the whetstone down diagonally to the opposite corner. Once one side is sharpened, be sure to do the same to the other side of the hatchet blade to prevent uneven wear on the blade itself.
Q: What kind of hatchets are there?
Of course, there are! There are quite a few different uses for hatchets, and the variation in their overall design is a testament to that. Throwing hatchets, for example, are often much lighter than their camping cousins and are balanced to allow them to be thrown through the air end over end without much trouble. A tactical hatchet is designed not primarily for brush clearing or chopping firewood, but for overall defence as well. These hatchets usually feature a stronger, yet lightweight composite metal material, and more hand-holding friendly grips. They are also much smaller in size.
Q: What size hatchet should I get?
While it may be tempting to buy the biggest hatchet you can find, that may be the wrong direction to go. In most cases, the size of the hatchet you need depends greatly on two factors – what you’re going to use it for, and your overall body type and strength.
Think of it this way, any edged tool, even a hatchet works the most effective when it is treated as an extension of your arm. The hatchet is not designed to chop on its own, just as your arm isn’t either. Instead, they are designed to work together to get the job done. If you choose a hatchet that is too long, your arm will tire out more rapidly because it is supporting more weight than normal. If the hatchet is too short, it becomes ineffective because the power isn’t there.
A good rule of thumb is to use a hatchet that measures about half the length of your arm, and only use it for things that are the width of your arm or smaller.
Q: Can you use a hatchet to cut wood?
Here is the deal, it takes a bit of practice to use a hatchet in a way that is effective for bigger jobs, like cutting wood. Often, most people opt for something like an axe to do their bidding when it comes to breaking through large wood pieces. However, it is most definitely possible to split wood with a hatchet. You need to start by putting the piece of wood on a stump or firm place. Next, hit the wood squarely on. You may find it helpful to kneel why doing this, as it gives you more leverage. Lastly, do not aim for the center of the piece of wood. Rather, you will want to begin your chop by aiming for the corner of the log, so that your hatched does not get stuck. Continue in the process, and you will have some chopped wood.
It’s important to remember, that you do not want to chop your wood flat on the ground, because if you do, the hatchet can become stuck in the ground, which damages it. Also, be sure to kneel, because if the hatchet goes downward, the chances of it landing on your leg are minimized.
When it comes to camping, you really need only a few essentials. You need shelter, food, water, and the ability to keep warm and safe. In truth, a quality hatchet can help you find all these things when you’re in the wilderness. Therefore, finding the best hatchet for camping and your particular needs is important. After checking out this list of the top ten hatchets on the market, you should now have a good idea which hatchet will be a perfect addition to your gear.