There’s nothing that gets me excited about another day in life more than a morning spent heading out to the great outdoors.
Ever since our Dad introduced us to camping and bushcrafting, being around nature has always been part of me.
However, if there’s one thing, my exciting experiences have taught me, is to respect what Mother Nature can throw at you.
Admittedly, the outdoors can at times be quite harsh and unbearable, especially for first-time campers.
Nevertheless, I believe the first step to survival in the wild is preparation, and immediately following that is having the right gear.
While most survivalists have different preferences when it comes to the exact brand or style of starting gear, a good camping hatchet will be on the top of that list.
It’s easy to think camping hatchets are just for the hardcore campers. Sure, hatchets might make you look seriously hardcore, but their greatest draw is their versatility and flexibility.
From basecamp to the backcountry, there’re outdoor chores that take more than a sturdy knife or palm-sized rock.
Splitting kindling, protection against wild boars, clearing the bush, driving tent stakes, starting a fire, and building a shelter are among the list of hatchet-worthy tasks fitting a new generation of smaller, nimbler tools.
Camping hatchets are equally multi-functional tools, and when you need to travel light, a simple hatchet can serve plenty of purposes quite unequivocally.
But with plenty of camping hatchets in the market, finding the best option for your needs can be difficult.
To help with the selection, we’ve prepared a handy buying guide reviewing the market’s best camping hatchets.
Table of Contents
The Best Camping Hatchets For The Money
#1 Fiskars X7 - EDITOR'S CHOICE
The Fiskars X7 is a lightweight and easy-to-carry hatchet, perfect for hikers and backpackers.
It’s also an inspiring option for anyone looking for an inexpensive yet capable camping hatchet.
With its modern materials, advanced blade geometry, and construction, this hatchet is built to maximize performance.
Features and Benefits
The hollow plastic handle, created from the proprietary FiberComp plastic material, is surprisingly durable, by far stronger than a solid plastic or fiberglass handle.
It’s also ergonomically designed, fitting naturally to the contours of your hand.
We love how the belly is curved for a comfortable fit and a textured knob for a good grip even when your hands are slick.
As a final touch, the lug at the base of the handle also enhances the overall grip.
Weighing a measly 1.4 pound, Fiskars X7 is easy to take with you anywhere, hardly feeling its weight.
Of course, it’s understandable that you would be concerned about the cutting performance with such a weight.
Fortunately, the perfected weight distribution, complete with a weight-forward design, offers an optimal power-to-weight ratio, increasing swing speed to multiply power.
While the hatchet may not work through the thick logs, it offers enough intensity to slice through the medium or small-sized logs efficiently.
The ax head is forged from HRC 50-59 steel, a hardened type of steel offering unmatched strength and power.
On the other hand, the handles are made from FiberComp plastic, which is durable and no-slippery, offering a shock-resistant grip for safe and easy handling.
The Fiskars X7 package also comes complete with a hard-cover for easy and safe carrying of the hatchet on your trips.
The bit on the Fiskars comes with a combination of features to maximize the overall performance.
The bit is coated with a non-stick film, a low-friction coating allowing the head to pass through logs and slide out without getting stuck in the wood.
The factory edge is also quite sharp, and out of the box, it’s easy to chip with less effort than usual.
The head is also quite narrow, with a dimension of five-eighths of an inch. While the narrowness reduces the tool’s splitting capabilities, it does boost its knife-like fine motor skills duties. With your hand wrapped around your head, it’s easy to feather sticks for fire-starting or even process game.
Of course, it doesn’t come close to what I would consider an heirloom hatchet, but it’s a workhorse and an inexpensive one at that.
#2 SOG Camp Axe - Best Tactical Weapon
Our runner up option is yet another practical camping hatchet.
However, SOG Camp Axe is more than a simple hatchet; but it also doubles up as a tactical weapon.
In addition to the basic hatchet features, it also comes with features supporting defense and aggression.
Features and Benefits
SOG Camp Axe isn’t made for throwing, but you can’t resist the weighted design, offering a predictable rotation.
Of course, it doesn’t match a tomahawk’s accuracy, but it’s nicely weighted to support a fairly accurate throw.
Both the handle and the steel blades are made from durable steel, sturdy to shrug off any abuse.
The handle is further reinforced with a glass-nylon material for enhanced durability and better grip.
Weighing just a hair over one pound, Camp Axe is a nice lightweight and fairly well-balanced hatchet.
A total length of 11.5 inches is on the lower side, but we liked it because it enhanced the overall portability, making it easier to strap the hatchet on our beltline hardly feeling the weight.
Initially, we thought the thin handle on the Camp Axe would transfer some vibration to our hands, causing some discomfort.
To our surprise, the handle feels comfortable, even when using the ax on a heavy-duty application.
This is due to the glass-reinforced nylon sheath, large enough to cover the blade side and securely wrap around the handle.
The sheath offers a comfortable grip experience, absorbing all the vibrations while offering a steady grip even on the slick hands.
Nevertheless, the handle could have been a bit thicker for some.
Camp Axe offers you versatile usages; beyond splitting and chopping wood, you can pound tent stakes and tinder breakdown with the back of the hatchet handle.
A notable feature on this hatchet is the larger hammer surface area, doubling up as a hammer to help you ground your tent or get your stakes tight.
The 3.1-inch blade is pretty spot on when it comes to the chopping performance.
The chops are precise and will eat through the driftwood with ease.
Of course, the lightweight and shorter handle design means you sacrifice on the force for driving down on the head of the hatchet. This translates to a few more chops, though I didn’t mind considering the sharpness and accuracy of the hatchet.
The SOG Camp Axe package comes complete with a sheath to keep the blades safe and protected.
#3 Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet - Compact Solution
The Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is easily among the most compact and lightest yet practical chopping tools in the market today.
The hatchet is a backpacker’s and bushcrafter’s delight with its lightweight profile and powerful blade.
Features and Benefits
A striking feature of this hatchet is a slim profile along a razor-sharp blade.
The combination creates a hatchet with immense cutting capabilities, and perfect for storing in your backpack or bug out bag.
Weighing less than two pounds and with a modest length of 9 inches, it’s easy to think the hatchet backs down from the cutting and chopping challenge.
Surprisingly, the 3.5-inch razor-sharp blade offers a practical performance and will easily limb sapling and even split the small logs.
The handle and the cutting edge are milled from solid stainless steel for a simple yet indestructible tool.
The build quality also allows for powerful swings and optimal longevity.
We also love that the hatchet is powder-coated, eliminating the risk of destruction from elements, including rust.
Lastly, full-tang steel construction promotes greater durability and solid performance.
Sharp Cutting Edges
The blades on the Grylls Survival Hatchet are characterized with ultra-shape edges to make bushcrafting easy.
We love how the hatchet slices through the small and medium logs, kindling, and even clear the bush.
Along with the sharp edges, the nice weight distribution helps to promote cleaner cuts through each time.
Grylls Survival Hatchet comes with a host of practical features to enhance the overall ease of use.
For instance, the finger cutouts, just after the head, make it possible to choke up the hatchet and promote greater precision and control of your swings.
And to get hold of things, the manufacturers have included a rubberized grip at the base of the shaft to offer non-slip traction even when your hands are slick.
Plus, the presence of a hole at the butt makes it easy to slip a lanyard and attach the hatchet to your belt of the backpack for convenient portability.
Grylls Survival Hatchet is also quite a versatile model, with the blade’s opposite side, allowing you to perform other camping tasks such as striking, hammering, driving-in stakes, or even tenderizing meat.
#4 Estwing Sportsman’s Axe - Premium Option
Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is our premium choice for a reason.
Out of the box, you’re going to love this hatchet. Complete with a clean forged line, a stainless steel finish, and a full-tang construction, there’s everything to love about this hatchet.
The price might be a little on the higher side, but if you can afford it, it’s worth every penny.
Features and Design
Once you lay your hands on the Estwing, the first thing you notice is that both the head and the blades are heavy.
If anything, the hatchet feels ready to tip over out of your grip.
Is this a good thing?
Yes, the forward-weight transfers all your energy from your swing into the wood. Of course, you’ll need the right balancing since the slightest variation can completely change how you swing the hatchet.
Another awesome design aspect is the single-piece design, which not only promotes greater durability but ensures the hatchet delivers a forceful, balanced swing.
The blade on the Estwing wasn’t too sharp right away, but it wasn’t dull either. This might seem like a drawback on the surface, but it’s perfectly normal for hatchets as they don’t need the same sharpness as knives.
The blade is also curved, helping to maximize the PSI coming out of your swing.
While the straight blades are great for a splitting ax, the curved blades have greater versatility.
Estwing Hatchet is a solid choice for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a multipurpose tool for camping, hunting, and even self-defense.
The straight handle on the Estwing isn’t the most comfortable feature, but it gives your wrist the best cutting angle for splitting logs.
Along with this, the straight handle features a widened butt to prevent the hatchet from slipping through your hands as you work.
But what we properly feel assists with the grip is the leather-bound wrapping on the handle-it accommodates a good grip while granting you better control over the hatchet when chopping firewood.
The folks at Estwing have taken a unique approach to handle construction.
While most hatchets opt for a hickory handle or composite material like fiberglass, this option uses stainless steel for added sturdiness.
#5 Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet - Quality Option
Last on our list of the best camping hatchets is a tool from Gransfors Bruks.
Gransfors Bruks is a Swedish brand renowned for its quality handmade axes and hatches.
The Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet is no different and has some quality traits that every camper desires.
Features and Benefits
A notable draw on the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet is the quality.
I know quality might be quite subjective, but this is a handmade option, built to last.
If the reviews are anything to go by, the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet will give you long time service, working just as good as the first time you made its purchase.
Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet is by no means the lightest option on our list, but it’s not bulky either.
The lightweight design, along with the slim profile, means it’s easier to take the hatchet with you with the least effort.
The American hickory on the handle seems to be the perfect size for the chopping application.
Away from aesthetics and durability, the folks at Gransfors Bruks seem to have done a few interesting things on the handle that many manufacturers overlook.
For instance, the handle features ears on the head, helping to bolster the handle’s bond for long term use.
Secondly, the handle is coated with linseed oil and beeswax for a great finish and a nice grip. The coating also seals the wood, protecting the handle from rotting.
Another great feature is the nice balance and alignment of the handle with the head’s eye, giving you a nice yet impactful swing.
The handle is only 13 inches long and might be the perfect option for backpackers due to its small size.
The 1 pound head, with a 3 inch cutting surface, offers a practical solution to chopping and clearing wood.
You’ll also notice that the head has a squared-off back, which is a great feature for hammering tent stakes.
Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet isn’t going to fell a tree, but you can do a lot with this little tool.
From doubling up as a hammer, shaping ax, knife to a finishing ax, there’re lots of things that you can do with this hatchet.
Best Camping Hatchets Buying Guide
In the hatchet buying guide below, we shall look at everything you need to know when selecting the best camping hatchets for your needs.
We shall outline all the critical factors you should consider;
Essential Factors to Consider when Purchasing a Camping Hatchet
A key place to start when selecting a camping hatchet is to identify the use.
Generally, hatchet use falls under two categories, which are camping activities and self-defense.
Either way, many campers choose a camping hatchet because of its versatility.
While a hatchet will do a great job of chopping firewood, clearing the bush, or even driving the tent stakes, these tools will also excel when it comes to self-defense.
However, if you plan to carry your hatchet primarily for self-defense, you should invest in an option with a long shaft to offer some distance between you and the aggressor.
Length and Size
Both of these two factors affect the overall portability and cutting capacity of a hatchet.
For instance, the larger and longer hatchets tend to snag on thick foliage when bushwhacking. They’re also bulky and can be tiring to use on repeated tasks. On the upper side, longer hatchets are more impactful when performing heavy tasks.
In comparison, the shorter and smaller hatchets are lightweight and favored for their dexterity, accuracy, and speed. However, this often comes at the expense of power.
The weight is probably the biggest aspect affecting the portability.
Weighty hatchets are tiring to carry and will easily fatigue you, especially when backpacking for long distances.
Nevertheless, weight can also affect the overall performance of your hatchet. For instance, if the bulk of the weight is concentrated on the head, you gain more control and chopping power.
The trick here is to balance between weight and performance.
When choosing a hatchet handle, it would help if you considered the shape and material.
The handles of a hatchet come straight or curved. We prefer the curve handles as they’re ergonomic, feeling more natural in your hands.
The straight handles are equally fantastic, but only for the double-bitted head.
Regarding material choice, you’ve several options to choose from, including traditional wooden, nylon, rubber, leather, and fiberglass.
All the choices have their pros and cons, but we prefer wood, particularly hickory wood, as it has an antique look, but more importantly, it’s durable and shrugs off any abuse.
Additionally, wood is easily and cheaply replaced. Unfortunately, wood is slippery when wet, especially the varnished kind.
Textured plastic, nylon, and fiberglass are not comfortable to use and suffer from a slippery experience.
Leather and rubber offer the highest level of grip and comfort. Unfortunately, they tend to wear out fast.
Head and Bit
Steel is the de-facto material on camping heads, and so, the only thing you should be concerned about is the quality build of the bit; is it hand-forged or machine forged.
There’s still no consensus on the superiority of either, though the hand-forged bits are a bit expensive.
However, for the best cutting experience, choose a bit that is neither too wide nor too narrow.
If the bit is too narrow, it’s easy to get lodged in the larger wood. On the other hand, the too wide bits make it challenging to trim branches.
The material construction of a hatchet determines the overall durability.
The high-carbon steel heads have better performance than the regular steel heads and aren’t prone to chipping.
When it comes to the handle, it’s easy to get tempted to go for the wooden options. Sure, they’re gripping and more aesthetically appealing, but they’re susceptible to splintering, rot, and contortion over time.
In comparison, steel, fiberglass, or other composite materials offer a more durable and rugged handle.
Arguably, one-piece full-tang hatchets provide the highest level of durability and eliminate the risk of loosening.
The sheath is a safety accessory used to cover the hatchet blade/head.
It’s an essential feature, especially if you plan to move around a lot with your hatchet.
Some of the common materials used include leather, nylon, or composite materials.
We prefer nylon sheaths because they’re thick and tough and will effectively cover the sharp cutting edges of your hatchet.
Wrap Up: Our Pick
If you’re still unsure of what camping hatchet to pick, we would recommend the Fiskars X7.
It’s a unique product, coming with unique features, specifically proprietary features to enhance your camping experience.
For starters, this option is built with what the folks at Fiskars call FiberComp plastic, a proprietary and sturdy plastic, far much more durable than regular plastic or fiberglass.
Away from the tube handle, Fiskars X7 has an overall impressive build quality, complete with stainless steel bit or the ultimate durability.
The cutting edge is also longer and wider, yet, the film coating ensures the blade doesn’t stick into the wood. Instead, it allows the head to pass through logs and slide out without getting stuck in the wood.
It might not be the most performance-oriented camping hatchet, but few hatches can match Fiskars X7 performance for the price.