The best camp hatchets to keep handy on site
1. Gerber Freescape Hatchet
The Gerber Freescape hatchet is an ideal size for camp work or big game hunting. The forged steel ax head has a black PTFE coating to reduce friction. The head is attached to an indestructible glass-filled nylon handle, shock-absorbing FiberComp® and a 3D grip provide a strong, non-slip grip. The grip area of the handle, blade guard and sheath are bright green, so they won’t be left out. The Gerber Freescape hatchet includes a polymer sheath. Total length: 17.5″.
- Forged steel ax head
- Black PTFE coating
- FiberComp, 3D handle
- Glass filled nylon handle
- Polymer sheath
I’ve had this hatchet model (in orange) for over a decade and it still rolls. Over time the coating wore off and my dog also grabbed it one day and chewed on the polymer handle but after a bit of hand sanding and reconditioning his back was in use and still in use until this day.
Advantages/Lightweight, affordable and easy to sharpen
The inconvenients/Not incredibly well balanced and the anti-rust coating wears off quite easily
Conclusion/A cheap beast of burden
3. Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Ax
The Gränsfors Outdoor Ax was developed with the help of survival expert Lars Fält and is ideal for those who want to use an ax in different ways in the countryside. Although lightweight, it can be used to fell a tree, thanks to its relatively long handle and heavy, elongated head. The ax is also excellent for limbing a tree. The handle has a protective steel collar near the head so the ax can be used for light wood splitting tasks. It can also be used as a large knife. Lars Fält, who worked with Gränsfors Bruk to design the Gränsfors Outdoor Axe, established the Swedish Armed Forces Survival School and trained the Swedish Army Ranger Battalion for 35 years at the Ranger School and at the Parachute Ranger School. He has also written 10 books on survival and outdoor activities.
Advantages/Metal collar guard, premium construction and includes full grain leather sheath
The inconvenients/Very expensive
Conclusion/A great gift for a friend or for yourself – A truly premium option
4. Hachette Adler Rheinland
A versatile companion in the wild or for handling tasks closer to home. Ergonomic American hickory handles with unique non-slip paint for better grip. The shape of the head is the German “Rheinland” model which offers a larger and curved cutting surface. Each hatchet comes with a sturdy leather sheath with a 2-button release system and a cotton storage bag. Although the Adler is very basic, I appreciate the little upgrades they made to the handle and the inclusion of a nice leather sheath. If you’re looking for something simple that isn’t made from polymer, this is the ticket for you.
Advantages/Basic hatchet with excellent head design and smart upgrades to the handle.
The inconvenients/Always more expensive than the gerber
Conclusion/A large, no-frills camp hatchet
5. Morakniv Boron Steel Camping Ax
A great little camp axe. Keep in mind that it is not intended for splitting large logs, it is not a “winter axe” (everyone who receives the chips tries to split logs that are too large). It is intended for dead wood the size of your forearm and even then you should split your wood with the wood lying flat and not upright. It’s also a great little chopping axe. Pair it with a small fixed blade knife and a saw and you’re done. If used correctly, there’s no reason you should have any issues with this little axe. A Morakniv is still made in Mora, at their factory in the village of Östnor, where it has been for centuries. Morakniv controls the entire production, because they are the ones who carry out each step of the process.
Advantages/Affordable with a wide ax head design ideal for splitting branches and chopping kindling
The inconvenients/Not suitable for intensive use
Conclusion/A compact and simple option for light camping. Quality product made by dedicated craftsmen.
What is the difference between a camp hatchet and a regular axe?
A regular ax is longer and gives more leverage, so it is better suited for splitting lots of large logs. A camp ax is useful as a multi-tool and easier to use with one hand, thanks to its smaller size and lighter construction. When you go camping, you want to pack everything you need and nothing you don’t. The often compact and lightweight nature of a camp ax is therefore best suited to temporary sojourns in the wild where weight and usefulness are intrinsically linked.
What is the best length for a hatchet?
Somewhere between 12 and 20 inches in handle length. There are hatchets that fall well outside of these limits, but these types of hatchets are suitable for different jobs than camping. Smaller survival hatchets maximize compactness while still being able to be used as hammers or shaving wood for kindling, but lack the leverage of a camp hatchet for heavier chopping tasks. Meanwhile, longer hatchets give you more leverage but have the obvious downside of taking up more space and not being as easy to use with one hand.
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