If you’re packing for your next adventure in the great outdoors, remember to bring an axe. No camping trip is complete without a campfire, and building a good fire means splitting wood. Whether you are roughing it in the backcountry, cutting down trees and hacking apart logs, or sleeping in a luxury RV and breaking up sticks, having a tool to help you build your fire is a must, no matter where you go.
Camping axes can also be used to sharpen sticks for roasting food over the fire, hammering equipment around camp, or, in extreme situations, self defense. They have a whole host of survival uses, and are just generally a great tool to have around.
Things To Consider When Buying an Axe
Having the right axe can make a huge difference in your camping experience, but how do you know which one is right for you? Your local sporting goods store probably has a wide selection of different axes, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, the choice can be overwhelming. Here are some considerations that can help guide your selection:
Knowing the weight of your axe or hatchet is extremely important, especially if you will be hiking. Having unnecessary weight in your pack is exhausting and can be more than a little inconvenient. Finding an axe that is lightweight and effective can help campers of all skill levels have a more enjoyable outdoor experience.
If you’re on a camping trip, you certainly don’t need a big lumberjack axe used for chopping down trees. A good camping axe should be between 12” and 24”. This size is ideal for a camp environment, because it means that the axe is easy to carry or stow. Shorter hatchets are great for portability, but will offer less strength and control. On the other hand, a longer axe will give you more momentum, but is harder to carry around.
As mentioned above, longer axes are stronger because of the physics involved in splitting wood. Additionally, the construction of your axe will have an impact on its strength as well. Axes where the head and handle are forged of one solid piece of metal will be stronger and will tend to last longer.
As with most outdoor equipment, you get the axe that you pay for. More expensive, name brand axes usually perform better than cheaper ones. If you are an avid camper or someone who splits logs often, it might be wise to invest a little more money on a well-made axe. On the other hand, if axe quality doesn’t matter that much to you or you aren’t much of an outdoorsman, it makes sense to go with a cheaper option.
Axe or Hatchet?
Axes and hatchets don’t really look that much different, but using the right terminology can help you find what you’re looking for. In general, axes are longer handled tools designed to be used with two hands to chop, split or hew wood and fell trees. Hatchets are essentially one-handed axes that are ideal for splitting small pieces of firewood.
Best Camping Axes
Once you know what you have in mind for your axe, it’s time to start shopping. While you do this, it’s important to keep in mind that no two camping trips are created equal; the perfect axe for someone else may not be right for your situation, or vice versa. However, here are a few suggestions that work well in a variety situations and can fit into many budgets.
Estwing E24A Sportsman’s Axe
Blade Length: 3.25”
Overall Length: 16”
Manufactured in America since 1923, Estwing has been a trusted brand for almost a century. One-piece steel construction makes this axe extremely durable, and it will stand up to decades worth of wear-and-tear. The narrow head makes it perfect for splitting logs, and it is extremely portable. However, this little hatchet won’t be your best bet for felling trees — while it is perfect for use around camp, it is neither strong nor sturdy enough to take on really big projects. Overall, this old standby makes a great camp axe that will hold up well in many situations.
Gerber Gator Combo Axe
Blade Length: 2.7”
Overall Length: 8.75”
If you’re wandering out into the wilderness and looking for a lightweight hatchet to carry with you, the Gerber Gator Combo Axe is a great bet. Weighing in at just 2 pounds, it won’t add extra weight to your bag, but it is still tough and reliable. The hollow handle of the axe holds a 7” long knife that can be used for a variety of smaller tasks. Buyers say it is lightweight, sturdy and easy to sharpen. Again, because this axe is smaller, it is not ideal for bigger tasks, but it is great for splitting up smaller sticks and firewood.
Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe
Blade Length: 3”
Overall Length: 20”
This axe harnesses the power of physics to bring you superior wood-splitting ability in a reasonable price range. It is designed for one-handed use, but comes in a variety of sizes that can handle bigger jobs (up to 36”). Some buyers complain that the handle is not very sturdy, and its length and density make it inconvenient for trips where you must pack light. However, this axe is great for general camp use and its power and usability make it perfect for almost any outdoor enthusiast.
Kershaw Camp Ax
Blade Length: 3.5”
Overall Length: 11”
Sometimes the best things come in small packages. The Kershaw Camp Ax is a perfect example; the ax itself weighs less than a pound, but still packs a punch. Its single piece construction makes it exceptionally strong and durable, and the curved handle gives just the right amount of leverage to chop and split wood. This axe is easy to throw into a pack, and you will hardly notice its weight. Like other small hatchets, this one won’t stand up to heavy-duty jobs, but it is perfect for any camping situation.
SOG Base Camp Axe
Blade Length: 3.4”
Overall Length: 16”
Looking for a heavier duty axe? SOG’s Base Camp Axe has you covered. This axe is perfect for medium sized jobs like felling and splitting, and its flat back makes it a pretty handy hammer as well. The cutout feature on the head of the axe reduces friction while the rubber grip handle makes it great for all conditions. This axe might be a little heavy to take on a backpacking trip, but it’s a great investment for serious campers who are looking to perform avariety of tasks.
Columbia River Kangee T-Hawk
Blade Length: 2.93”
If you’re the kind of camper who likes to do it all, then this is the perfect axe for you. Its light weight and small size make it a great candidate for hikers, and it can certainly stand up to heavy use. Its slim body is packed with a lot of power, because the axe was originally designed to be used in combat or survival situations. Its single-piece construction brings durability and balance, and the blade on the back is perfect for digging or prying. The T-Hawk makes a great companion in camp or on the trail.
Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
Blade Length: 3.25”
Overall Length: 19”
For campers willing to pay a little more, the excellent Swedish engineering from Gransfors Bruks is some of the finest in the world. Each axe is handcrafted by an experienced artisan who stamps his or her initials on each axe produced. Outdoor enthusiasts swear that this axe is the best on the market – proof that you get what you pay for. The blade of the axe is extremely sharp and durable, while the handcrafted hickory handle provides excellent grip. For serious campers with a little more money to spend, this axe is a must.