Does your soul yearn for adventure in the outdoors? Enjoying spending time on public land in the middle of the wilderness – or even taking a short hike in the hills around your local area, is a great way to connect with nature.
Your gear is an integral part of your camping or hiking experience. The wrong shoes can cause blistering in your feet, and the wrong shorts will chafe your thighs. Not having an ax or hatchet on hand means you’re going to struggle with gathering and preparing firewood – and that’s a big problem.
A good backpacking hatchet is an indispensable tool that completes tasks that are too heavy-duty for your knife. With a good-quality hatchet, you have a tool with plenty of functionality, and you’ll be surprised at how often you need it around the campsite.
In this review, we’ll look at the best backpacking hatchet reviews. Check out our buyer’s guide and FAQ section to help you choose the right hatchet model for you.
Our Top Picks
If you’re one of those who prefer to get to the point, we put together this list of our top picks.
Best Pick: Gerber 9-Inch 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.
- Chop deeper with control + efficiency.
Gerber makes fantastic survival and camping tools, and this 9-inch camping hatchet is the best overall model in this review.
Featuring top quality design and finish, this ax comes ready to use right out of the box, with a razor-sharp blade that lasts for years without chipping.
Premium Pick: Estwing Sportsman’s Axe
- FORGED IN ONE PIECE – The most durable, longest lasting striking tools available
- OUTDOOR VERSATILITY - Perfect for chopping logs, small trees & branches or splitting firewood & kindling
If you’re looking for a combination hunting and backpacking ax, this Estwing model is a good choice. It wins our top spot for the best premium model backpacking hatchet in this review.
The high-quality finish is attractive, and the design makes it suitable for throwing and camping duties.
Budget Pick: MTECH USA Mt-629 Axe
- Throwing Axe
- 8.75" Overall
- 3.5Mm Black Stainless Steel Blade
- Cord Wrapped Handle
- Includes Nylon Sheath
If you’re looking for an affordable and durable camping hatchet, this MTECH model is your best option.
The nylon-cord-wrapped handle provides a sturdy grip, and you get the primary cutting face, along with the spike head for dual functionality. The price tag on this hatchet is affordable, making it an excellent value-for-money choice.
Camping Hatchet Reviews
Now that you know our top picks, we’ll unpack them in further detail. We’ll give you our analysis of the functionality, style, design, and components of each hatchet.
Gerber 9-Inch Hatchet – The Best Overall Camping Hatchet
If you’re looking for the best overall package in a backpacking hatchet for camping, this model is your top choice. Gerber has a reputation for building some of the best survival and camping blades and tools around.
This 9-inch backpacker hatchet is an example of a continuation in the quality of the brand. The forged steel blade comes with a durable PTFE coating for wear resistance and prevents corrosion. The PTFE also provides a frictionless surface for cutting tasks, preventing sticking while chopping.
The composite handle is durable and absorbs shock, ideal for cutting large branches for firewood. This hatchet weighs 1.2-lbs, making it compact and light enough to stow away in your backpack.
The 5.4-inch length of the blade and a 9-inch length of the handle provide plenty of leverage, power, and control over the edge while in use. You’ll also have plenty of control during one-handed use. The bottom of the hilt comes with a pre-drilled hole for attachment to a wrist safety lanyard.
- PTFE coated blade to reduce friction during use
- Dual function head for cutting and hammering
- 23-oz weight is lightweight and compact
- Easy to store in your backpack
- Ergonomic shock absorbent grip
- Comes with safety cover
- Good balance in the hands
- Plastic sheath cover
- No dual-blade functionality
Estwing Sportsman’s Axe – The Best Premium Camping HatchetThis hatchet is the best premium choice in our review for a reason. When you lay eyes on this model, it’s like love at first sight. The clean forged lined of this hatchet, and the stainless steel finish with full-tang construction is breathtaking.
This backpacking hatchet is a solid choice for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a multipurpose tool for camping, hunting, and self-defense. We like the attractive leather-bound handle that accommodates a god grip and control over the ax when chopping firewood.
The handle is straight, giving your wrist the best cutting angle for splitting logs. The widened butt of this hatchet also assists you from having the ax slip through your hands while you work. The only drawback with this model came in the leather binding on the handle.
After working with the tool for 30-minutes and building up a sweat, it started to feel loose on the impact with the wood. However, the clean chopping action of this hatchet, along with the hand-polished head, makes it a great choice.
We recommend that you use some dubbin on the leather for the first few uses to soften it and prevent moisture absorption in the material. This product is forged in America, making it a quality ax you can rely on for your camping trips.
- Forged head and handle for extra durability
- Well balanced for high-performance throwing
- Hand sharpened edge
- Genuine leather grip
- Made in the United States
- Total weight – 1.38-lbs
- The leather grip is aesthetic but gets slippery when sweaty
MTECH USA Mt-629 Axe – The Best Budget Camping HatchetThe MTECH Mt-629 axe makes it onto our list as the best budget model in this review. If you’re looking for a budget Axe that still has quality design and manufacture, then this model is the best deal in this review.
The MTECH is more of a tactical ax, with a curved handle and slim profile suitable for throwing. However, it also has a good look for survival situations, lightweight design, and a dual-function head. The head of the hatchet features a cutting blade for chopping and a spike.
The MTECH will work well for small chopping jobs, and it serves as a hunting ax as well. The curved design of the blade makes it easy to cut through the air to your target. The nylon-wrapped handle is also useful in a survival situation for cordage.
- Dual function ax head for chopping and spearing
- Affordable and excellent build quality
- Full tang forged design
- Suitable as a throwing hatchet for hunting
- Nylon cord on the handle for survival situations
- Comes with a full nylon sheath
- Curvature in handle makes it better for hunting than chopping wood.
CRKT Ruger HatchetThe CRKT is another masterpiece from the mind of Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ryan knows how to build a blade, and this tactical CRKT model is no exception to the brand’s image of quality.
The hot-forged, 1055 carbon steel blade features a black powder-coated matte finish. The lightweight handle features design and construction with glass fiber and polypropylene, providing excellent strength to the handle and ax, despite its lightweight feel.
The magnesium-phosphate coating gives the blade corrosion resistance while adding to friction-free cutting. The back of the head of this camping hatchet features a hammer poll for securing tent stakes.
- Multifunction use for camping, hunting, and close-quarters combat (CQC)
- Hot forged carbon steelhead
- Polypropylene glass-fiber-reinforced handle to reduce weight
- A blunt face on rear for hammer tasks like securing tent stakes
- Magnesium phosphate head gives excellent corrosion resistance
- Lanyard on the handle for wrist carry and failsafe protection
- Lacks full-tang construction
Promithi Camping Hatchet
For the camping enthusiasts that want to show their passion for the outdoors, we present the Promithi model.
This backpacking hatchet comes with an aesthetically pleasing wolf design on the head of the ax. The design might not be for everyone, but we think that there are plenty of people out there that will agree with us when we say it’s a unique and eye-catching design.
When it comes to the specs, this hatchet holds up to the best in this review. You get a full-tang design and construction from stainless steel for added corrosion resistance.
You get a lanyard hole on the butt of the handle, and a wood-embossed handle for additional looks and practical grip. The widened butt ensures no-slip during use.
- Multi-use for hunting, camping, survival, and CQC
- Stylish and unique design on the head of the hatchet
- Comfortable grip with good balance in the hand
- Full-tang solid construction
- Nylon sheath included
- Wooden grip gets a bit slippery
- Wolf design might not be for everyone
Off Grid Tools Survival Axe EliteThis Off Grid survival axe is an excellent choice for a backpacking hatchet that offers plenty of utility. We like the built-in wrench heads in the ax blade, along with the grp tools, spike, and other functionality.
The handle of this survival ax features a saw for cutting through smaller branches and cane, giving you more control over the process.
- Multi-function head
- Built-in saw in the handle
- Lanyard hole in the hilt
- Easy-grip handle
- Some complaints about the quality of the firesteel
Gerber Pack Hatchet Camping Axe
Gerber makes it onto our list with another fantastic deal for a camping hatchet. This model features a full-tang design with an ergonomic molded handle grip. The ax head features a blade with a tall grind, allowing for optimal sharpness and precise and powerful cutting action.
The portable size of this ax makes it an excellent choice for storing in your backpack. You get a nylon sheath included with the hatchet. The sheath has a clip for attaching to the outside of your pack to save room.
The stock of the blade above the handle features curved grooves for alternate grip positions when using the hatchet for scraping or other tasks that require more control over the ax.
- Dual function head for chopping and hammering
- Compact and lightweight
- Multi-grip positioning at the top of the handle
- Hole to connect safety lead or lanyard
- Molded synthetic grip for superior control – even in wet conditions
- Comes with a nylon sheath
- Not suitable for hunting or throwing
LIANTRAL Survival Camping Axe
If you’re looking for a great multitool to take on your next camping trip, then the Liantral survival camping ax is a great choice. At first glance, it’s easy to think thins hatchet is more of a novelty, but closer inspection shows its quite functional.
This ax comes with seven different functions, including a compass, firesteel, hammer tip, hoe, cutting blade, and an emergency whistle included in the handle. The handle screws together to contain all the tools.
However, this ax lacks full-tang construction, and we think that serious heavy-duty chopping might cause a problem with the threads in the handle.
Still, this model is an excellent choice for a lightweight, multi-functional backpacking ax that serves practical and tactical use.
- Multitool with 7-functions
- Handle unscrews to reveal a fish knife, magnesium firesteel, emergency whistle, safety hammer, and compass
- Head has a cutting surface and a hoe
- Lanyard included in the last screw-on section
- Digi-camo nylon sheath included
- Ax head has spanner-holes for standard sizes
- Lacks full-tang construction
- More gimmick than a real-world ax
Other Best Selling Options
- 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
- Lifetime warranty. Low-friction blade coating powers through wood and prevents head from getting stuck
- Dimensions: 11.1 inch (28.1 centimeter) overall length with a blade length of 3.6 inches (9 centimeter) and a weight of 1 pounds 5.9 ounces
- Durable: Blade is made of reliable 3Cr13 S.S with a black, rubber wrapped handle
- Dependable: Quick and easy access with the convenient black thermoplastic belt sheath
- Secure: Have confidence that the blade will not slip with the security of the ergonomic black rubber grip
- Be prepared: Axe features a hammer pommel and has a full tang design
- 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
- MADE IN THE USA – Our tools are proudly crafted in Rockford, IL using the finest American steel
- Full tang construction means steadiness in hand and the strength to power through swinging chores
- A tall blade grind retains optimal sharpness
- The handle is wrapped in a rubber over mold for added grip and comfort
- Nylon sheath can be mounted on pack or belt
- Integrated lanyard hole secures the Hatchet while on the move
- 🚵♂️ One-Piece Axe & Knife - Both axe and camping knife with rope handle are forged entirely from 3CR13 steel, which has excellent strength, edge retention and corrosion resistance for lasting durability. The axe also comes in three sizes of hex bore for use as a wrench (5/8 ", 1/2 "and 3/8"). The rope on both of their handles can be easily disassembled for emergency use
- 🚵♂️ 10” Machete Knife - The machete knife has a sharp blade for cutting and back teeth for wood sawing. High quality 3CR13 steel with black paint ensures durability and corrosion resistance. The comfortable and textured rubber grip handle is provided with an anti-skid groove to prevent slipping and injuring yourself in the process of use
- 🚵♂️ Great Choice for Outdoor Work - Axe and two Knives have their own protective nylon Sheath, whose snap-button closure and hook and loop fasteners scabbard protects the blades for extra safety. Belt loop for easy attach to your belt, keep everything at your fingertips when needed.
- 🚵♂️ More Tools Beyond Your Expectations - There is also a 250LM zoomable flashlight with 3 AAA batteries inside. Three modes of high, low and strobe will meet many of your needs. 5 carabiner clips and 50 feet of parachute cord will help a lot during camping or hunting outdoors. In addition, a whetstone and a flint stick are also musts for camping
- 🚵♂️ What You Get - Combo Set includes 1 piece 10-inch machete knife with sheath, 1 piece tactical axe with sheath, 1 piece hunting knife with corresponding sheath, 1 piece 250Lm flashlight, 5 pieces carabiners, 1 piece 50feet long paracord, 1 piece flint stick and 1 piece knife stone sharpener. Perfect for outdoor activities such as fixing garden, camping, hiking, DIY home & farm projects
Camping Hatchet Buyers Guide
In this section, we’ll go through everything you need to know about selecting the right hatchet for your camping and hiking needs.
Do I Need A Hatchet?
The first question you need to ask yourself is if you need a hatchet? You might be okay with your fixed-blade or folding knife, depending on what you need to do on your trip. If you do not intend to build a camp and spend the night, there might not be any reason to bring a camping ax along.
However, if you find yourself struggling with cutting firewood for a campfire, banging in tent pegs, and other chores around the campsite, a backpacking ax is an excellent choice to add to your kit. Backpack hatchets also serve other purposes than camping.
If you’re hiking through public land, you might encounter wild animals that present a physical threat. A backpack hatchet with a tactical design could save your life in this situation. A backpack hatchet needs to suit your needs, providing you with practical assistance in your camping or hiking trips.
What are the Design Elements of a Camping Hatchet?
A camping hatchet comes with two components, the handle and the head. You can get backpack hatchets in two designs – full tang construction where the handle and the head are one forged unit, and others where the head connects to a polymer handle.
The full-tang construction is the preferred choice for chopping firewood and a long-lasting hatchet. The full-tang gives you more power behind the blade when cutting larger branches and logs, making it a handy tool to have around the campsite.
If you’re looking for a tactical hatchet, then a model with a polymer handle reduces the ax’s weight. Your get faster movement with the weapon in a CQC situation and more spinning action when throwing the hatchet.
The head of the hatchet has the following features.
- The edge
- Ax blade or Bit – The angled section of the head of the hatchet starting from behind the cutting edge
- Butt or Poll – The flat back end opposite the cutting edge, typically used as a hammer
The handle of the hatchet has the following features.
- The end or swell knob – The curved end that prevents your hand slipping
- The shaft – The part of the handle where you place your hands
What Do I Need to Look for In a Camping Hatchet?
The way the hatchet feels in your hands is a detrimental part of choosing the right ax. A well-balanced hatchet feels light in your hands, and you have full control over the ax head.
A well-balanced hatchet will be a good choice for throwing. You’ll get more spin from it as the weapon leaves your hand. If you’re going with a hatchet for hunting, look for models with curved handles, and dual-function heads.
The handle is an integral part of the overall package and needs to offer you the right fit in your hands that suits your needs for the tool. You also need to look for models that suit your needs around the campsite. Do you need something that blends in for camouflage, or a brightly-colored hilt that ensures you never lose sight of the tool?
Does the Length Make a Difference?
Yes, the size of the hatchet is a crucial factor when selecting your backpacking hatchet. The blade will typically count for most of the weight. Camping and tactical tomahawks with longer handles have more leverage and more pressure.
If you want to cut deeper into logs, the more weight you have in the handle and head, the more powerful the ax. When you’re chopping wood, the heavier the head and longer the handle, the less effort required for the job.
If you’re thinking about chopping logs thicker than 4-inches, you’ll need to carry a hatchet with a total size of between 12 to 14-inches.
A heavier throwing hatchet will have more impact when hitting the target, allowing you to take on bigger game.
How Sharp Is the Blade?
Your new backpacking hatchet should come sharpened right out of the box – or sheath. You’ll need to keep the blade sharp, as it dulls after use. Unless you have experience grinding knives, we recommend you use a professional for the job.
A professional sharpening maintains the edge much better than using a sharpening stone. Sharpening stones are for survival situations where you don’t have access to a professional sharpening service.
Should I Choose a Multi-Use Camping Hatchet?
When you’re at the campsite, having a multi-function camping ax is more useful than a dedicated hatchet. Some models come with survival tools in the handle, and others come with dual or multi-functional heads.
If you find yourself carrying multiple tools, a good backpack hatchet can replace two or three of them. Look for a model that fits your style of outdoor use.
What Price Can I Expect to Pay for a Camping Hatchet?
When it comes to selecting the best backpacking hatchet, price is a concerning factor. While you get plenty of good-value options, the general rule of thumb is that a hatchet under $40 much features design and construction with inferior materials.
Brands like Gerber have a solid reputation for producing affordable and durable camping, hiking, and survival tools and weapons. Choose a brand you can trust if you rely on your ax for survival situations.
Design factors like full-tang construction will drive up your knife’s costs but make it more durable and more robust.
Different Types of Hatchet
There are a variety of hatchet designs available. Each of them has features specific to a particular application.
- Camping hatchet – A mid-sized ax. Suitable for splitting and chopping logs for firewood around the campsite. The shaft is sturdy, with a thick grip, and the head of the hatchet has a thick butt. You may use the butt for other hammer applications, such as securing tent pegs.
- Survival Hatchet – A survival hatchet is for backpacking in hostile territory where you don’t expect to be around any camps or civilized locations. If you’re going deep into public land, a survival hatchet could save your life. These hatchets will come with other tools like fire steel, compass, and others.
- Tactical hatchet – A tactical model is a weapon for CQC situations where you need to throw the ax at an attacker. The handle is usually a polymer design, attached to a forged head. This lightweight design is a good choice for hand-held combat with the hatchet.
- Throwing hatchet – A throwing ax is a traditional hunting tool for taking on small game. If you’re looking to challenge yourself, try throwing it at a hare at 15-yards. These hatchets have a curved design to the handle. They feel balanced in your hand, regardless of throwing from the blade or the hatchet’s hilt.
Remember these Camping Hatchet Safety Tips
Whenever you remove the hatchet from its sheath, its an inert weapon that has the potential to harm you. Sure, it’s not a firearm, but the wrong move with a camping hatchet could cause a life-threatening injury.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to learn a few hatchet handling safety tips before you buy one for yourself.
- Always make sure you carry a medical kit with a tourniquet when carrying a firearm or hatchet
- Remove the hatchet from its sheath only when you intend to use it, put it back after
- Never leave a hatchet unattended without its sheath
- When using the hatchet, make sure the surroundings are clear around you before you swing
- When you start to chop, focus on the target area, and don’t fall prey to distraction
- Make sure you always have a good grip and control over the hatchet
- Keep support hands away from the hatchet
- When chopping wood, never place you hand on the same stock you’re splitting from the top
- Use another piece of wood to stabilize the other before splitting
- Only cut wood on a flat surface
- If you’re chopping on the ground, get onto your knees for leverage over the stock
- Check the condition of your blade after each camping trip
- Use a professional service to sharpen your hatchet
Maintenance Tips for Your Camping Hatchet – Keep it Sharp and Ready for Use
As mentioned, the best option for sharpening your knife is to use a professional service. There’s no way you can get close to the precision finish you get with a machine and a talented knifesmith.
However, there are times where you may be in a survival situation, or on an extended camp where you have no choice but to sharpen your knife yourself. If that’s the case, you need to know what you’re doing to get the best results.
If you must sharpen the hatchet yourself, use these guideline steps for the best result.
- Follow and maintain the original curve and shape of the ax-blade
- Use a quality sharpening stone
- Carrying a small sharpening tool or puck in your sheath or rucksack won’t take up much weight or size
- Start with the coarse side of the sharpening puck
- Work on one side, maintaining the angle with long sharpening strokes
- Repeat on the other side – watch that bevel!
- It should take anywhere from 10 to 50-strokes per side to get the blade sharp, don’t overdo it
- Use the smooth side of the sharpening puck to create a smooth finish
- For best results, add some water to the blade
Storage, Handling, and Care of Your Camping Hatchet
Whenever you hatchet is not in use, store it in the sheath. The sheath acts as a safety measure, preventing accidents. However, the sheath also stops the dulling and damage of the blade, preserving its service life.
Eventually, even with the best care, your backpacking hatchet will start to show signs of corrosion or wear. If you only take your ax out for one or two trips a year, keep the blade oiled between use. Some light gun oil or ceramic oil is a good choice for keeping the edge sharp, clean, and free from rust or corrosion.
When selecting your blade, look for anti-corrosion coatings for specialized use around water and coastal conditions. These coatings stop rust, and you’ll be surprised at how fast a stainless steel blade starts to show signs of corrosion at sea level.
Camping Hatchet FAQs
Can I use a throwing hatchet as a camping hatchet?
Yes, you can. However, throwing hatchets have more curve in the handle to induce the spin during a throw. As a result, you’ll have the compensate for the curve when cutting wood. However, they still make useful cutting tools for occasional use. Heavy-duty use is likely to damage the blade.
Can you use a camping hatchet to split wood?
Yes, that’s one of the primary tasks of using a camping hatchet. Camping hatchets will split wood quickly. If you have a bigger log you’re trying to split, you can bang the back of the ax head, and it will drive the blade through the wood.
How do you throw a camping hatchet?
The perfect camping hatchet throw occurs with the hatchet sticking into the target at a 45-degree angle. Finding your range is the most crucial part of learning to throw the hatchet. One rotation might take 10-feet, and if you’re throwing the hatchet at 15-feet, turn it around in your hand.
Do Special Teams in the Military use tomahawks?
Yes, special teams do use tomahawks in CQC situations. They’re a silent tool when it is deadly in the hands of a trained expert.
What makes a good hatchet?
The first thing to look for in your hatchet is the design. Full-tang is always the preferred option for strength. However, if you need a lightweight hatchet for CQC situations, like a mountain lion charging you, a throwing hatchet with a polymer handle is a good option.
If you’re going camping soon and need to decide on the best backpacking hatchet for your trip, why not rely on our top picks for your decision?
- The Gerber 9-Inch Hatchet wins our top spot for the best overall backpacking hatchet in this review. The lightweight design, multi-functional head, and rugged handle make this the best choice for campers concerned with a tool for the campsite, more than hunting.
- The Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is our choice for the best premium camping hatchet in this review. This model features full-tang construction with dual-head for hammer and cutting. It also serves as a good hunting ax, with an excellent balance in the hands and good rotation during a throw.
- The MTECH USA Mt-629 Ax is the top choice for the best budget buy. This camping hatchet is an excellent choice for cutting and hunting.
The dual-action head features a spike, and the curved handle makes this tool more suitable for throwing and hunting than cutting. However, at this price, you’re getting a useful camping or backpack hatchet as well.