Backpacking is fun and adventurous because you’ll not only get to see new places, but also experience new cultures and meet different kinds of people. However, once you decide to hit the trail, there’s no telling what you’re going to encounter, especially when you’re hiking or in a backcountry type of setting.
Axes come in handy during backpacking trips because you might find yourself in a situation where you need shelter, food, protection, and even warmth. With an axe, you’ll be able to start a fire to keep yourself warm, scare away predators, hunt and prepare food, build shelter, clear trails, and even signal for help using the axe metal’s reflection. You’ll also manage to break ice and snow during winter.
These are just some of the benefits of having a backpacking axe. To help you determine what kind of axe you should carry on your trip, we’ve reviewed some of the best backpacking axes in the market. Our selection consists of axes that you can rely on regardless of your chosen destination. You’ll no longer feel the need to limit your hikes or avoid remote locations.
How to Buy a Backpacking Axe
Here are some of the things that you should take into consideration when buying a backpacking axe.
The Size and Weight of the Axe
You want an axe that will comfortably fit in your backpack. That’s why you should lean more towards axes with 12 to 24-inch handles. The axe should also be lightweight because you’ll be moving around with it. Your backpack will already be full of essential items, so you shouldn’t go for anything that’s going to weigh you down. The axe’s head should also weigh around 1.5 to 2lbs. Such axes are more versatile and easier to handle.
One of the most important axe accessories is the protective cover. They are essential because of two major reasons. Covering your axe ensures that you won’t accidentally cut yourself, especially if you keep your it outside your backpack. An exposed blade might also cut your backpack or damaging your other belongings.
The second reason why you need an axe cover is that it helps protect the axe from wear and tear. As you can see, an axe sheath will benefit both you and your axe. Some axes come with their own covers, but there’s no guarantee that the included covers will be of great quality.
Some sheaths might fall off, while others may be flimsy. In such cases, the best thing you could do is purchase a reliable axe cover. Remember, your safety should always be your biggest concern.
Sharpening hones and files should also be on your backpacking checklist. When traveling with your axe, you’ll need to sharpen it from time to time, especially if you’ll be spending most of your time camping and on the trails. Make sure you have one or both tools with you so that your axe will always be sharp when you need it.
Overstrike protectors will also come in handy, for shock absorption. They’ll reduce the impact on your axe’s handle and can help prevent it from breaking.
The Type of Axe
If you’re new to backpacking, camping, or hiking, you should consider getting a camping axe. They are mid-sized, sturdy, and can handle a variety of tasks from cutting down bushes, to splitting firewood, among other camp chores.
Outdoor and survival enthusiasts should lean towards survival axes. They are a great fit because they can help build shelter, fell trees, chop big branches, and other tasks that would be challenging to handle with camping axes.
You might want to consider getting a tactical axe if you’re looking for a self-defense tool. These axes are usually thin, light, and easy to swing. You can also use them to make precise cuts and for some light chopping tasks.
10 Best Backpacking Axes Reviewed
1. Husqvarna 13" Wooden Hatchet
This axe can handle a variety of tasks despite its compact design. That’s part of the reason why outdoor enthusiasts highly regard it. You can use it to skin animals, cut firewood, carve, make cooking rigs, and build shelter, among other things. The Swedish axe was drop-forged by hand. It also has a light head that weighs about 1.32lbs. Its weight and size make it a convenient backpacking companion.
If you’re using it for the first time, you’ll feel as if it’s a bit heavy. However, its performance will impress you since it’s user-friendly. Its weight gives it more cutting power compared to lighter hatchets. You’ll not need to swing as hard to get the job done. As a result, you’ll end up working faster, and you won’t exhaust yourself as much.
The axe has a wide hickory handle. Its handle is also thicker compared to those of most hatchets. The benefit of using such a handle is that the axe won’t turn in your hand, and you’ll have a firmer grip. The handle also has a near-perfect grain - almost vertical and tightly packed.
- The head has excellent geometry.
- The edge has a great curvature.
- Comes with a sheath.
- The grind of the bit isn’t polished.
This tool is best for backpackers who want a powerhouse tool at a bargain price.
2. Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet
The Wildlife hatchet is more of a traditional camping and scouting axe. It’s another powerful axe that you can use to split small rounds of firewood, limb fallen trees, fell small trees, and even hammer in tent pegs. It’s also useful for precision work like carving and making bows because of its thin profile. The axe is lightweight as well, so you’ll be able to use it for extended periods.
It has a partially finished head made of high carbon steel. The head is convex ground, and the blade is easy to sharpen. It’s quite strong, that’s why you’ll have an easy time cutting down different tree species like poplar, maple, and oak. Users also like how it can deal with both hard and greenwoods.
The axe will also enable you to make deep cuts using the least amount of energy. Reason being, it provides clean and precise cuts instead of crushing wood fibers like some axes. It also features a straight grain American Hickory handle with a curved and contoured design. The handle has a light finish, and it’s also very comfortable.
- Excellent weight distribution.
- Comes with the Gransfors Bruks Axe Book.
- Has a vegetable-tanned leather sheath.
- A few quality control issues reported.
This product is best for backpackers who want a well-balanced, heirloom-quality axe that’s going to last them for several years.
3. Hults Bruk Akka Foresters Premium Outdoor Axe
The Hults Bruk Akka Foresters axe is dense and durable because its steel was struck multiple times as part of the manufacturer’s hand grinding production process. It also holds a sharp edge, thanks to the head’s tempered zone design.
Its handle length will enable you to carry out challenging tasks since it will provide you with more leverage. You’ll also like how it will adapt to your hands because of its contoured shape. That’s part of what makes it capable of handling any cutting task. The handle’s shape also gives users a good grip, so you can trust that the axe won’t easily fly out of your hands on the upswing.
Aside from clearing trails and splitting wood, this axe is also useful for controlled carving. It has a finger notch near the head and a straight knife ground edge that makes it ideal for all sorts of carving tasks.
- Straight hickory handle.
- Linseed oil treated handle.
- Has a leather protective sheath.
- A few users claimed that their handles and edges were not straight. The manufacturer needs to be cautious of such quality control issues.
This product is best for people who want a lightweight axe that offers premium leverage and power.
4. 1844 Helko Werk Germany Rheinland Hatchet
You can’t go wrong with an axe that has a 53-56 Rockwell Hardness. This axe consists of German C50 high carbon steel that was hand forged by drop hammer. It's suited for cutting tasks because of its traditional German wide-bit blade.
The axe has a grade A American hickory handle, which the manufacturer sanded and treated with boiled linseed oil to provide users with an excellent grip.
- Comes with a full-grain leather sheath.
- The handle is hung with wood and notched steel ring wedges.
- The purchase includes a 1 oz. bottle of protective Axe Guard oil.
- The edge is blunt on arrival.
This product is best for people who want a handcrafted axe that is easy to maintain and exceptionally holds an edge.
5. Estwing Special Edition Sportsman's Axe
This Estwing axe is popular among outdoorsmen, and with good reason. The manufacturer used the finest tool grade steel to forge it. It’s a durable axe that was forged in one piece. The axe is also easy to use and comes with genuine leather grips that are sanded and lacquered.
- Durable nylon sheath.
- Long-lasting finish.
- Hand sharpened and polished.
- Some users don’t like the quality of the sheath.
This product is best for people who want a durable backpacking axe with a head that won’t get detached.
6. SOG Outdoor Survival Hatchet and Tactical Tomahawk
You can use this SOG axe as an emergency hatchet, a chopping axe, a survival tool, a hiking hatchet, and a camping axe. It features a claw spike on the other end that you can use to cut wires or as a pry bar. It also has a glass-reinforced nylon and paracord grip.
- Comes with a ferrocerium fire starter rod.
- Has a superior power to weight ratio.
- Has a ballistic nylon sheath.
- Some users feel that it doesn’t have enough shock absorption.
This product is best for backpackers who want versatile axes that are also built for survival, hunting, and camping chores.
7. Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet
This full tang hatchet can effortlessly handle difficult tasks. It consists of sturdy stainless steel and comes with a razor-sharp blade, a crosshatched striking surface, a rubberized handle, and a military-grade sheath. It’s also the kind of axe that you can count on in all weather conditions.
- Zero slip grip.
- Comes with Bear’s “Priorities of Survival” Pocket Guide.
- Durable construction.
- The blade work is questionable.
This product is best for backpackers who want a small axe that can handle tasks that are beyond its weight class.
8. MTech USA Camping Axe
Mtech offers an axe that will meet your needs, whether you’re out camping or on a rugged outdoor expedition. It has a satin-finished steel blade with excellent edge retention. The axe also has a comfortable grip thanks to its durable rubber handle.
- Comes with a black nylon sheath.
- Easily portable.
- The other end can be used as a hammer.
- It can’t chop down trees.
This product is best for people who want an axe that can withstand long term repeated use.
9. Promithi Camping Axe
This Promithi axe has two edges – a chisel edge and a curved cutting edge. The axe consists of forged carbon alloyed steel with a 56 Rockwell Hardness. It’s a quality axe with a durable anti-corrosion design and an ergonomic, aesthetic handle. It’s versatile enough to be used for hiking, throwing, and fire rescue, among other things.
- The wolf head etched on the blade is appealing.
- Sanded handle for a better grip.
- Comes with a nylon sheath.
- Poor sheath design.
This product is best for people who want an aesthetically pleasing multipurpose backpacking axe.
10. Prandi German Style Hatchet
This German Style hatchet was drop-forged by hand. It consists of C45 high carbon steel and has a durable American hickory handle. The axe is well-balanced, and its head design is well suited for crafting, small chopping and splitting needs, camping chores, and backpacking.
- The handle comes with a short and sturdy lanyard.
- Nice leather sheath.
- Comes sharp enough for some light tasks.
- The handle might need some finishing.
This product is best for people who want a quality, well-balanced backpacking axe.
The Best Backpacking Axe
As you can see, there are different types of backpacking axes, each with their strengths and weaknesses. They vary in terms of size, quality, versatility, and durability. Some of them even have designs that stand out more than others. However, all of them are great backpacking axes. All you have to do is select the one that best meets your needs and is in line with your personal preferences.
We recommend the Husqvarna Wooden Hatchet as the best backpacking axe because it’s a hand-forged Swedish steel axe that can handle whatever you throw at it. The axe will also provide you with a firm grip, and it offers more cutting power compared to most backpacking axes.