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 a Best Backpacking Hatchet, you can start a fire to keep you warm, protect yourself from dangerous animals in the woods, hunt, cut woods for shelter, 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.
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 Best Backpacking 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 Best Backpacking 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 upon without a second thought.
Out of all the best backpacking 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
- FORGED IN ONE PIECE – The most durable, longest lasting striking tools available
- OUTDOOR VERSITILITY – Perfect for chopping logs, small trees & branches or splitting firewood & kindling
- HEAVY DUTY SHEATH – Includes ballistic nylon sheath to protect hand sharpened cutting edge. 2.75 or 3.25 inches edge
- GENUINE LEATHER GRIP – Hand sanded and lacquered for a durable yet comfortable finish
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 best backpacking 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 is good enough to chop whatever you need to.
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, hammer, nail puller/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.
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 backpacking 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.
3. Best Premium Quality Backpacking Hatchet: Gransfors Bruks
- Length with handle: 13.50 inch, Item-ID: 415
- Weight: 1.3 lbs
- Sheath in vegetable-tanned leather
- Traditional scouting and camping axe
The Gransfors Bruk has been forging hatchets and axes since 1902. The premium quality, best 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 checked carefully for quality. Every backpacking hatchet by Gransfors Bruk is marked with the initials of its maker.
4. Best and Coolest Backpacking Hatchet: 1844 Helko Werk Vario 2000
- HANDMADE IN GERMANY The Vario 2000 Universal Hatchet is a durable and reliable outdoorsman's tool. With an 18 inch axe handle, this hatchet can be easily strapped to your pack for any wilderness excursion. The wedge incline in the blade allows the hatchet to be used comfortably for both splitting and cutting work, whereas most camping hatchets feature a slim profile designed for cutting only. This unique head shape makes the Vario 2000 hatchet a great go-between tool for all kinds of work.
- PATENTED INTERCHANGEABLE HEAD DESIGN With C50 high carbon steel - 53-56 HRC The Vario 2000 uses Helko Werk's patented axe design - a German engineered bolt-on fastening system that introduces incredible versatility and efficiency across the Vario product line. All Vario heads, handles, and fastening components are fully interchangeable and inter-compatible. The heads are assembled with bolts which are driven through the handle and secured by a butt-plate retainer cap.
- GRADE A AMERICAN HICKORY - MATTE LACQUER FINISH - 150 GRIT SANDED Lightly lacquered with black-dipped grip, individually selected for grain orientation and density, and sustainably sourced grade A American hickory
- INCLUDES FULL GRAIN LEATHER SHEATH - 1 OZ. BOTTLE OF AXE GUARD PROTECTIVE OIL All Helko Werk Axes include a vegetable-tanned premium leather axe sheath to protect your axes and hatchets
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 backpacking hatchet is durable and reliable when it comes to the quality of the blade and handle’s material. It has an 18 inch handle which 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 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.
5. Best Compact Camping Hatchet: Gerber 9-Inch Backpacking Hatchet
- PTFE coated blade reduces friction, chops clean.
- Forged steel head construction is durable for long term use.
- Composite handle is shock absorbent, reducing hand strain.
- Slim sheath ensures safe storage + transport.
Gerber 9 inches cool camping hatchet is a smaller and lightweight version of 23.5 inch Gerber Camping axe. Gerber 9 inch is one of the best backpacking hatchets for those who need to clear their campsite of bushes to install their tents.
The design of the hatchet is able to 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 in 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.
6. Best Composite Backpacking Hatchet: Fiskars X7 Camping Hatchet
- Ideal for chopping kindling and small- to medium-sized logs
- Chops deeper with each swing to get more done faster
- Perfected balance and power-to-weight ratio increases swing speed to multiply power, much like an aluminum baseball bat
- Proprietary blade-grinding technique provides a sharper edge for better contact and cleaner cuts
Fiskars X7 is an excellent choice for hikers, backpackers, adventure travelers, and camping freaks. X7 is one of the best backpacking 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 the 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 makes 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.
7. Best Survival Hatchet: Gerber Bear Brylls Survival Hatchet
- 3.5" blade for swift, precise cuts + easy portability.
- Full tang, high carbon steel construction for durability.
- Ergonomic, non-slip rubber grip is secure in wet/dry conditions.
- Mildew-resistant nylon sheath w/ belt loops for accessibility.
Gerber Bear Brylls 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 backpacking 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 woods. One of the best features of this backpacking 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 Brylls Backpacking 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.
8. Best Large Size Backpacking Hatchet: SOG Tactical Tomahawk
- 12.1 INCH STAINLESS STEEL TACTICAL AXE: The Survival Hawk tomahawk axe is a wood chopping axe, camp axe, hiking hatchet and survival tool with a 3 inch hardcased black stainless steel blade
- 19.5 OUNCE PORTABLE MULTITOOL AXE: Light yet tough, this small backpacking hatchet and survival axe with firestarter is a superb outdoor tool with a glass-reinforced nylon and paracord grip
- HUNTING AXE WITH SHEATH: The Survival Hawk stainless steel metal hatchet and multi functional camping axe includes a ballistic nylon sheath that can be slung from your belt or gear for easy access
- FIRE STARTER AND CLAW SPIKE: Tactical axe tool features a checkered hammer edge, claw for prying and wire cutting, and an in-handle ferrocerium firestarter rod for fire starters camping tasks
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 which 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 backpacking 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.
9. SOG FastHawk Gear F06PN-CP – Best Throwing Hatchet
- SOG THROWING TOMAHAWKS WITH BITE: At 12.5 inches, these throwing hatchets and tomahawks are built to swing fast and true; these throwing axes feature a razor-sharp 420 stainless steel hatchet blade
- 19 OUNCE TACTICAL TOMAHAWK: Lightweight yet heavy-duty, FastHawk throwing hatchets are superb backpacking, hiking and survival axes to add to your throwing axes set; tomahawk is designed with satin-polished 420 stainless steel
- TOMAHAWK THROWING HATCHET WITH SHEATH: Light, fast, and agile tactical tomahawk snaps securely in its ballistic nylon sheath; competition throwing axe includes belt loop for 1.5-inch belts
- HAMMER AXE EDGE AND PIERCING SPIKE: FastHawk tactical survival axe features a flat edge for hammering and a spike for piercing; a throwing axe first, but versatile to handle small wood chopping tasks
Basically, 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 a backpacking hatchet, it has a spike on the back of the blade end, a checkered section on the side that can be used as 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 and great product in a small price tag with great value to offer.
Best Backpacking Hatchet Buying Guide
With all the brands and products reviewed above, in case you still are confused what to look for while buying the best backpacking hatchet, 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 a backpacking hatchet. 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.
A best camping axe as well has 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 happen with 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 reasons and you may need to build a shelter, and a hatchet will help you greatly.
In such unpleasant scenarios, a decent backpacking hatchet 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 hatchet.
Always check and look for a well balanced design. The way the weight of the 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 really 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 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 backpacking hatchet. The spiked end, fire starter, a 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 full tang or a great wood handle is worth paying a few extra bucks. If you are regular backpacker or camper, go for a topnotch 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 few sturdy logs for a shelter but cutting thicker logs will be a tough job. Survival hatchets are not really 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 really great for chopping thick logs.
Useful Safety Tips
The hatchets are basically 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 chopping logs, 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 the passage of 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 our backpacking hatchet reviews and buying guide 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 a 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 best 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!
Must Read: Best Camping Equipment!