Axes are an iconic tool of the outdoors. But they are, quite frankly, big and bulky during transportation.
AGAWA GEAR, makers of one of the best camp saws on the market, today launched its solution: the ADK26 hatchet and axe in one. I received an early tester ahead of the brand’s Kickstarter campaign launch. Here are my initial impressions of this multifunction camp tool.
In short: The ADK26 is a hatchet with a handle extension that turns it into an axe. A simple latch design allows users to assemble it in seconds. And it transports in a nice holster for easy carry. But I noticed one flaw in testing.
AGAWA GEAR ADK26
- Weight 1.6 lbs. (axe head), 2.5 lbs. (overall)
- Length 14" as hatchet, 26" as axe
- Axe head Drop forged & hardened 5160 carbon steel
- Handle Impact-modified nylon with long glass fiber
- Compact, portable axe
- Wide cheeks split well
- Sharp factory finish excellent for fine work
- Test model had flawed sheath
AGAWA GEAR ADK26 Pack Axe Review
I placed a log on my splitting log, lifted my arms high over my head, and brought the ADK26 down with force. Whack! The knotty piece of elm offered significant resistance. I raised my arms again and the wood shards flew in opposite directions. Success.
Anyone who has split much firewood knows the feeling of a nice swing, and the AGAWA GEAR ADK26 provides it. This is a capable tool. But let’s step back to the beginning.
The ADK26 comes in two parts, plus a holster and sheath for the (razor-sharp) blade. It is a very nice hatchet in its short configuration. And in all honesty, it’s probably the way I would use it most of the time in the woods.
The short hatchet is perfect for everything from making fire sticks to limbing trees or making kindling.
But if you’re ready to get to serious wood-splitting work, the extension turns that hatchet into a full-blown (if light) forest axe. And it is very capable of splitting tough wood. I’ll get into the details more below.
For transparency, I’ve only been able to use the ADK26 Pack Axe lightly so far. But in performance, it exceeds my expectations. I’ll update this review once I’ve split more wood.
The magic of the ADK26 comes in its design. The handle is two pieces of impact-modified nylon with long glass fiber. One end slides into the other, forming a solid connection. Then, two latches clip the two sections together so they cannot separate.
It’s so simple, yet quite elegant in execution. Using the axe, it does feel pretty much like a single handle. There is a very little bit of play between the two pieces, but not enough to be significant in use.
Does it make me a little nervous while swinging? Well, yes, but that’s probably because I haven’t used it enough to trust it fully yet.
And let’s also not forget — solid wood handles can also break, and I’ve seen axe heads fly off of more than one traditional axe in my life. The point is, be safe and cautious around any axe.
To disassemble the ADK26, the company includes a small tool that fits in the sheath. You’ll need it, or some other tool like a spoon or metal tab, to pop the clips loose. They lock down tightly during use, which I think is a good thing!
The promotional video below does a good job of showing the handle mechanism and use of the axe.
I mentioned one problem, and I expect it’s a manufacturing defect in the model I tested. One of the rivets on the otherwise very nice blade sheath came off within my second day of testing. Unfortunately, that allowed the very sharp blade to cut through the leather.
I didn’t cut myself, but could have very easily if I’d pushed the sheath on harder.
I spoke with folks at AGAWA GEAR, who assured me it was an issue only with the early prototype I tested. Regardless, it covers its products with a full warranty and has already put a new sheath in the mail for me.
But similar to the Montana Knife Company Hellgate Hatchet, the sheath is the only piece of this product that wasn’t flawless, probably because it was a prototype.
Packable Axe: Who Will Want One?
In my short testing, I decided I liked the concept of the axe a lot. I always carry an axe in the Decked System in my truck, and the ADK 26 will likely replace my current model because, well, it just takes up a lot less space and does the same job.
For overlanding, hunting by horseback, or traveling by ATV, the ADK26 makes a whole lot of sense. The design is solid and the product sound. Besides the (likely uncommon) problem with my sheath, the axe/hatchet combo worked absolutely great.
The only question for me that remains is durability. But if it’s anything like AGAWA’s fantastic camp saws, which I’ve been using for more than 5 years now, I expect a long, consistent lifespan. I’ll be swinging this axe a lot during the upcoming hunting season, so I will drop in some updates as it gets more hours in the field.