Bushcraft, i.e. wilderness skills, or the ability to thrive in a natural environment, requires some tools. The first of these tools is a top notch bushcraft axe. But exactly what types of tasks will need to be performed with a bushcraft axe? Let’s take a moment to consider each one.
Surviving in the wilderness demands a range of skills, including but not limited to:
Since the best bushcraft axe should be able to help you survive in the wilderness and perform most of these tasks as needed, we must carefully examine the features of the ideal axe.
How to Buy the Best Bushcraft Axe
Before you select your bushcraft axe, let’s take a look at each part and see if it has what you’ll need:
Experienced bushcrafters recommend a handle between 18” and 28” long. This length is ideal for comfortable woodworking. Either longer or shorter handles can be awkward and difficult to manage properly for the tasks at hand.
Wooden handles are best for bushcraft axes, especially American hickory or ash. For starters, wooden handles are lighter than metal, and therefore easier to carry. They are also able to absorb the shock of repeated swings into a log or other material without causing the user pain. (Some users suggest coating the outside of a wooden handle with linseed oil for best results.)
The best blade for bushcrafting is of medium thickness and made of forged steel, the very most popular being Scandinavian.
The ideal blade weight is around 3 pounds, give or take half a pound, as this is really all you need to fell and split a softer-wooded tree for wood when necessary. Hardwood trees or wood that has been seasoned at all might require a heavier one, weighing at least 3.5 pounds.
The best bushcraft axes are somewhat compact, of the approximate measurements mentioned above, with the most preferable models easily zipping up into a backpack for lightweight, convenient travel. Handmade axes are the best, of course, and, as such, are often unique with an occasional imperfection.
The Top 10 Bushcraft Axes of 2019
1. Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe
This is a budget axe that handles easily at 2.25 pounds with a fine grain steel head and hickory handle just under 16 inches long. You’ll find the wood grain aligns almost perfectly throughout the tool. It comes with a leather blade sheath for safe-keeping as well.
- An excellent value for the price.
- Well-constructed with the head and handle in perfect balance.
- Slim and comfortable design; easy to grip.
- Edge doesn’t come or stay sharp, but you can sharpen and use linseed oil on it.
- Some reported the wood grain was off a bit on theirs.
This product is best for active, resilient outdoorsmen everywhere.
2. Hults Bruk Aneby, Stout Medium Sized Axe
Use this one with both hands if you’re new to bushcraft or one if you’re a bit more skilled. It’s a stout medium-sized Hults Bruk Aneby model with a solid Swedish steel head and 20-inch American hickory handle. Lightweight at appx 2.75 pounds, it even has a curved skinning poll for hunters.
- Very sharp out of the box.
- Accompanying leather sheath is very well-made.
- Offers a lot of power in a compact size.
- Some reported theirs arrived poorly constructed and in need of sanding.
This product is best for all the camping, hiking, and hunting tasks you can think of, including light forest work.
3. Gränsfors Bruk Scandinavian Forest Axe
These Swedish-made, hand-forged axes are a favorite among wilderness survivalists. They’re lightweight at 2.6 pounds, each with a 25-inch handle and 2 pound head. They’re easily able to clear a trail, fell a tree, limb it, and chop it for firewood.
- Comes with vegetable tanned leather sheath and Gransfors Axe book.
- Useful for all necessary bushcraft tasks.
- Superior quality craftsmanship.
- Some reported receiving their axe in poor condition.
This product is best for the avid bushcrafter, ready to hit the campsite or trails hard and use this axe for all the tasks intended.
4. Morakniv Boron Steel Camping Axe
This is a basic, sturdy camping axe with a strong and ergonomically reinforced plastic handle, a perfect blade made of black epoxy coated boron steel, and the superior craftsmanship known to come with the Morakniv name of Mora, Sweden.
- Blade arrives extra sharp -- so use caution!
- Great for light camp chores, log chopping and splitting, etc.
- Comes with a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
- Some reported the back of the axe head is too thin for driving in tent stakes.
- Some said it’s not good for splitting logs larger than your forearm.
This product is best for campers or hikers ready to chop reasonably sized firewood, clear a path, and do some light chores. Most outdoor survivalist tasks of the bushcraft type are easily done, but chopping down the biggest tree in sight may pose a problem.
5. Council Tool 2# Wood-Craft Pack Axe, 24” Hickory Handle
This Council Tool model is a premium axe made for multi-functionality in wilderness survival. Users can count on it for efficient cutting, chopping, splitting, hammering, carving, fire-starting and more.
The Council Tool Wood-Pack Craft Axe is one of a series of premium axes and large hand tools made by hard-working Americans in the USA. Designed with versatility and multi-functionality in mind, the Wood-Pack Craft Axe covers all your wilderness survival tasks and then some!
Council Tool is known for their interest in bringing a premium line of axes to the public for use in their work and play.
- Excellent quality.
- Heat-treated on both ends for exceptional durability.
- Some reported their axe handle arrived damaged.
This product is best for camping, hiking, and even some extreme outdoor survival activities, as well as industrial, construction, firefighting, and hardware use.
6. Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet
Another great bushcrafting axe from Granfors Bruks, this model is also lightweight at 1.5 pounds with a beautiful wooden handle and high quality carbon head. It comes with the Gransfors Axe Book, as all Gransfors Bruks axes do, and a high quality leather sheath to protect your belongings from the sharp axe head. It easily fits into your backpack as well.
- Heirloom quality.
- Signed by the artisans individually.
- Excellent, ergonomic handle.
- Some reported their arrived with the head’s eye off center a bit.
- Did not arrive as sharp as some expected.
This product is best for the tasks of traditional scouting, camping, and similar activities.
7. Husqvarna 26” Wooden Multi-Purpose Axe
A well-known manufacturer, Husqvarna provides great versatility paired with quality and affordability in this multi-purpose axe. The hickory handle is sturdy while the axe head maintains its edge for an extended period. This model is ideal for chopping softer woods, but skip the hardwoods unless you want to spend a long time on them -- or possibly break the axe handle or head.
- A versatile axe that covers many tasks.
- Great handle for beginning learners.
- Stays sharp for an extended time.
- Some reported heads breaking with regular use.
This product is best for multiple traditional outdoor survival tasks.
8. 1844 Helko Werk Germany Classic Voyager Camp Hatchet
Another hand-forged beauty, this model is an international sensation. It features a head created in Germany, a handle constructed in Switzerland, a sheath made in the USA, and an accompanying oil also made in the USA. With its high carbon steel head, a grit-sanded hickory handle made with sustainably-sourced wood and finished with boiled linseed oil, and a leather sheath with a one-ounce bottle of its own protective oil, there’s no doubt this is a superior quality product when it arrives at your door.
- Great value for the buck.
- Efficient for splitting and chopping.
- Polished head increases rust resistance.
- Some said theirs wasn’t sharp at arrival and didn’t keep an edge long once sharpened.
- Some complained of low quality, but customer service later replaced.
This product is best for everything from yard work to camping and outdoor adventures. Newbies and seasoned survivalists alike can enjoy this beautifully-made axe.
9. Cold Steel Trail Boss Axe, 27 inch
This model was field-tested in the Australian outback to determine its task efficiency, and it turned out to excel at a vast number of tasks including clearing trails, chopping kindling, and building shelters. It can even fell an occasional, medium-sized tree. The head and handle are sturdy for the most part, and it’s compact enough to carry with you for extended periods without weighing you down.
- Highly affordable.
- Superior quality Grade A American hickory handle.
- Great for beginners to use.
- Won’t split seasoned wood.
- You’ll need to keep the head oiled to prevent rusting.
This product is best for all the survivalist tasks with the exception of chopping hardwoods or seasoned woods.
10. Hults Bruk Akka Foresters Premium Outdoor Axe
With a hand-forged 1.5-pound axe head and 24-inch curved linseed-oil treated hickory handle, this model was constructed in a foundry that originated back in 1697. Superb at clearing trails, it comes with a beautifully decorated leather sheath with Swedish adornments on it and an extensive instruction manual. It also arrives with a remarkably sharp edge and maintains it quite well over use -- use a little caution when unboxing to avoid injury.
- Lightweight at 2.2 pounds (entire axe).
- Great for carving and splitting.
- Stellar quality, great brand name reputation.
- Not ideal for hardcore chopping.
This product is best for overnight forest camping, clearing trails and roads, building the perfect fires, and even more adventurous wilderness tasks. You’ll be able to split and cut down wood to create the ideal fire size or perhaps build a small shelter, but large trees will be a challenge.
The Best Bushcraft Axe
Although the top ten examples we shared above are all great bushcraft axes, there is only room for one Best Bushcraft Axe. For the avid wilderness survivalist intent upon thriving in a natural environment whether rain or shine, snow, fire or ice, we’ve decided upon a favorite selection.
The gorgeous heirloom quality and unique ergonomics of the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet first draw you in, while the lightweight wooden handle, superb carbon head, and top quality protective leather sheath complete the look. We especially love that the artisans sign each axe individually so you know who worked on it.
Easy to securely slip into your backpack, this model is perfect for hiking or otherwise travelling a distance without it dangling at your side like other types. Don’t forget it comes with the usual Gransfors Bruks Axe Book like all Gransfors Bruks axes do (it’s amazingly available in 8 languages), which describes the different axe models the company makes, how they are made and how they should be used/maintained, as well as the Gransfors Bruks company philosophy.
If you’ve got bushcraft tasks to tackle with your camping, scouting, hiking, or other such activities, you can’t go wrong with a Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet!