When you’re heading out for a camping trip, an axe is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can take along. Why? Can you imagine clearing a trail or prepping firewood without one?
Even if you gather branches and twigs from the ground, you’ll still need to make sure they’re the right size and shape for your fire -- unless you want awkward, flaming pieces dangling dangerously out of your firepit.
So, grab your axe and hop in the Jeep. Set the GPS, aaannd...wait -- let’s see which kind of axe you’ve got and what traits you’ll need for camping first. Yes, it is that important:
How to Buy the Best Camping Axe
Before you select your camping axe, ask yourself exactly what types of tasks you’ll be using it for. Will you be cutting down small trees as well as chopping up firewood? How often will you need to clear a path? Will you need to do any basic building or construction using the wood you’ve cut? Will you need to use your axe to help drive in your tent stakes?
Some folks even consider using theirs for self-defense; although that isn’t an extremely likely task for your axe, it can’t hurt to put it in the back of your mind as a distant possibility when you’re out in the wild. Firefighters have used axes to break down many a door to enable many a rescue. Similar emergency-type scenarios could be imagined while camping.
Let’s take a look at each part of your axe and see if it has what you’ll need for a safe and efficient camping experience:
Most camping axes feature shorter handles than others, as well as lighter, with both features adding greater agility overall to the axe. This keeps the axe from becoming stuck in thick brush, and won’t hinder the user’s range of movement. Handles made by the top axe makers tend to be made of quality woods like hickory.
Once again, consider your tasks. Blades ideal for cutting may be slightly different than blades used for splitting, etc., but they tend to all share one thing in common: the best of today’s axe blades are comprised of stainless steel (recycled when possible), and for camping, they are generally long and flat with a narrow head.
With regard to design, some top axe-makers have taken an interest in creating their axes as sustainably as possible. Gransfors Brus’ website, for example, explains that they have been “producing axes from an environmental perspective, without unnecessary consumption of nature’s resources.”
The site also promises that they will, “manufacture axes with respect for the people who create them.” Overall, this ensures environmental sustainability and fair trade practices.
Top 10 Camping Axes of 2019
1. Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe
Made in Sweden, Gransfors Bruks sets the standard in quality axes worldwide. This gem was created to satisfy many tasks, with its 15-inch hickory handle, lightly curved 2.5 inch face, and a blade that stays impressively sharp even after numerous uses. Comes with a full grain-leather sheath, a twenty-year guarantee, as well as the AXE BOOK, as do all Gransfors Bruks Axes.
- Lightweight and easy to use.
- Performs chopping and splitting as an axe, also works as a knife.
- Some reported theirs had rusted.
- Not big enough to fell larger trees as some had hoped.
This product is best for the camper who wishes to be equipped for limbing, light splitting, and the possibility of felling small trees. It was described by one reviewer as “a universal light axe for an outdoorsman.”
2. Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe, 17-Inch
Chopping at least three times deeper than other brands, Fiskars X-Series axes integrate cutting edge features for more one-strike splits. Finnish-made, these axes earned the international red dot ‘best of the best’ product design award in 2010’s garden category. This axe splits wood more easily, causing less hand strain and conserving essential energy needed while camping. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Low friction coating keeps blades sharp longer.
- Great for chopping down split wood for a fireplace fire.
- Small size makes it easy to control and store.
- Takes multiple swings to get through a larger log.
- Wood must be straight grained and dry with no knots, or axe has trouble.
This product is best for the innovative and adventurous camper who anticipates clearing paths and chopping kindling or small logs for firewood.
3. Estwing Camper’s Axe
Made in the USA with American steel, the Estwing Camper’s Axe is constructed with a patented shock reduction component which lowers impact vibration by seventy percent. There’s also a 4-inch tempered edge for smooth cutting, and a nylon sheath with belt loop for outdoorsmen who like to keep their axe conveniently at their hip.
- Excellent quality.
- Versatile enough to chop logs, split kindling, etc.
- Good shock reduction.
- Some received theirs with nicks and cuts; obviously returned by other customers.
- Heavier than some prefer.
This product is best for outdoorsmen who prefer American-made products and/or could use a little more shock absorption when chopping.
4. Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Premium Outdoor Axe
The Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Axe is a perfect forest trail companion with its curved hickory handle and 1.5 pound axe head for superior leverage, all weighing in at only 2.2 pounds total. The quality of this axe links to seventeenth century Sweden, when the foundry that forged its axe head began operating. Its leather sheath is even adorned with traditional Swedish designs.
- Clears a path of snow, fallen branches, and debris in minutes.
- Hickory handle is treated with linseed oil.
- Expertly crafted and sturdy.
- Some reported receiving low quality axes with knots, bent handles.
This product is best for those who enjoy overnight wilderness journeys with the occasional need to clear trails and complete carving tasks.
5. Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet
This compact hatchet weighs in at only 1.4 pounds with a 3.5-inch super sharp blade, a small but durable solution to chopping, clearing, and other survival tasks. Equipped with a rubber handle for superior gripping, and finger notches just below the head to secure full control. Comes with a guide entitled “Priorities of Survival” with suggestions on what to do during outdoor survival situations.
- The back of the axe head is crosshatched for driving tent stakes and other tasks.
- A hole at the handle base lets you secure the piece with a lanyard.
- Comes with a military-grade, mildew-resistant sheath for safe-keeping.
- Some were unhappy their axe blade was dented after first/early use.
- Some said the steel used to make theirs was of poor quality.
This product is best for the occasional camper who likes to attach it to their belt loop and use for light clearing and chopping tasks. May not be ideal for actual survival situations.
6. Husqvarna 26-Inch Wooden Multi-Purpose Axe
This is a multi-purpose, traditional axe for all the basics of your camping expedition. Tree felling, wood chopping, branch trimming, trail clearing, and other tasks will be a breeze with this quality hickory handled, hand-forged Swedish steel headed beauty. Comes in twelve slightly different varieties, each similar in their superior Husqvarna quality.
- Head is securely attached to the handle with both a wooden and steel wedge.
- Great for general camping chores.
- Nice, thick handle prevents fatigue.
- Some reported their blades broke in two pieces when chopping and hit a knot.
- If stashed away for a long time, it may rust; remember to grease it first.
This product is best for completing general camp chores like clearing, chopping and splitting small logs, limbing, etc.
7. Kershaw Camp Axe
This American-made Kershaw Camp axe is drop-forged to stretch the grain structure of the metal and form one piece of precision strength. There’s a smart non-slip Krayton handle, and a protective sheath to cover the blade. Ideal for all forms of outdoor adventures, any outdoorsman would be pleased to receive this as a gift.
- Great for backpacking.
- Use the back of axe head to drive in tent stakes easily.
- Ideal for making a fire at the end of the day; a perfect “first camp axe”.
- Some reported the sheath was awkward to get through to use the axe.
This product is best for light camping tasks such as getting kindling ready for a neat, nightly fire.
8. Browning 231 Outdoorsman Axe
Aptly named, the Browning 231 Outdoorsman Axe performs nearly every outdoor task for the hunter, fisher, or backpacker’s campsite. Handle is precisely in place for cutting, and the hot-forged one piece head wields heavy duty durability with each and every swing. Its size of 24-inches, weighing in at only 2 pounds, 4 oz., places it directly between the definition of a hatchet and an axe -- the company went ahead and called it an axe to keep things simple.
- Very sharp and solid.
- Great for splitting wood when camping.
- Ideal for a young camper’s first axe.
- Some reported their handles broke.
- Some said their blades also chipped easily.
This product is best for hunters, fishers, backpackers, and recreational campers as well. Any basic campsite task is a cinch with this heavy duty axe.
9. CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk Axe
Lightweight with a hot-forged 1055 carbon steel blade and beautifully-lacquered hickory wooden handle, this axe was designed by Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical of Chattanooga, Tennessee. One of many custom tomahawks he’s created, this axe is covered by a limited lifetime warranty for any defects in workmanship.
- Heavy duty handle made of thick Tennessee hickory.
- Blade curve allows for deeper cuts into hardwood.
- One of the better quality Tomahawks you’ll find.
- Some reported axe head was not secure upon receipt.
- Some said their blade was not sharp upon receipt.
This product is best for multi-purpose use as a camping tool for the well-rounded outdoorsman.
10. Outdoor Edge Wood Devil
This lightweight axe consists of a handy rubberized grip, a sturdy steel axe head with black-oxide coating, a gracefully contoured neck for precision cuts, and its own nylon belt sheath for safe-keeping. Carries along with a backpack perfectly.
- Great for hiking, backpacking; easily fits inside backpack.
- Easy to transport and durable.
- Non-Slip Handle holds in place as you cut.
- Made in China.
This product is best for any outdoor survival situation. Blades are hand-forged and heat-treated into a brilliantly sharp edge, while the axe’s shape is ergonomically energy-saving.
The Best Camping Axe
From the aforementioned products, you can see the differences in quality, versatility and durability of axes made for camping. As far as our highest recommendation overall, we prefer the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe and all it has to offer.
Swedish-made and highly popular among outdoorsmen, this axe uses only top notch materials and the best construction process available, backing this up with the company’s twenty-year guarantee.
The Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is well-made, easy to use and helpful for a variety of tasks around the campsite. We wish you the best in acquiring one of these excellent tools, and would like to agree with the individual who asserted the axe is, “a universal light axe for an outdoorsman.”