From survival, craft, and self-sufficiency standpoints, there is no better place to start simplifying than by purchasing a camping hatchet.
While there are a million ways to camp and as many tools for the job, there is a solid case to be made for keeping things simple and maintaining some traditional approaches to this classic activity.
It’s not hard to find camping destinations that have cell phone service or will deliver cords of wood to your campfire, but what’s the fun in that? Whether you need a tool to pound tent stakes, split wood, or are looking for a survival axe in case of emergency, take a look at our list of the best camping hatchets of 2021.
If this will be your first camping hatchet, visit our buyer’s guide and FAQ below to learn more. Or if you’re looking for a specific type of hatchet, feel free to jump to that category using our list:
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2021
Best Overall: Morakniv Boron Steel
Morakniv made a name for themselves by creating sharp, strong, and beautiful knives in Ostnor, Sweden, for over 400 years. With such history, it’s no surprise that their Boron Steel Camping Axe ($60) is our pick for the best overall camping hatchet.
While this hatchet is light enough to use for both car camping and backpacking adventures, its weight does not compromise performance when splitting smaller pieces of wood around the fire. Although the Morakniv is not a heavy-duty winter axe, it’s an excellent option for chopping smaller pieces of wood to build fires around camp.
The exceptionally sharp blade makes this hatchet a perfect tool for bushcraft projects — from building shelters to carving intricate designs into wood. The reinforced plastic handle holds up to most projects. And, it helps keep weight down if you decide to keep this handy tool by your side on longer backcountry expeditions.
The limited lifetime warranty provides excellent insurance if you plan on putting this hatchet to use.
- Weight: 17.6 oz.
- Length: 12.6″
- Lightweight yet strong design
- Sharp blade proves excellent for both splitting wood and bushcraft
- Affordable price point with limited lifetime warranty included
- Low-quality hatchet sheath
- Difficulty in chopping larger logs
- Questions regarding handle durability
Best Budget: Fiskars X7
If money is tight, look no further than Fiskars ($34). Like Morakniv, Fiskars has been in the business for many years and has earned a strong reputation. The Fiskars Hatchet holds to this longstanding tradition and providers buyers an affordable option to keep around camp or throw in the backpack for longer adventures.
The Fiskars hatchet is well-built to split wood into kindling and is best suited for small to medium-sized logs. This light and portable hatchet has a sharp blade out of the box.
However, it does require a bit more regular maintenance than other hatchets on our list. Still, the power behind the axe head is strong enough to handle most basic splitting needs, and the light weight allows users to increase chopping speed.
The Fiskars engineers created this hatchet with affordability in mind, and it truly performs without costing an arm and a leg.
- Weight: 22.4 oz.
- Length: 16.5″
- Highly affordable
- Suitable for splitting kindling or small logs
- Relatively lightweight design
- Best suited for small to medium-sized logs
- Concerns of blade chipping
- Requires more regular maintenance to keep in prime condition
Classic Good Looks: Adler Rheinland Hatchet
When it comes to purchasing tools, the most beautiful option might not be the most functional. Still, it’s hard not to acknowledge the classic good looks of the Adler Rheinland Hatchet ($79). Thankfully, this camping hatchet boasts incredible durability and ease of use as well.
While a bit more expensive than some competitors, the Adler Rheinland Hatchet backs up its price point in both function and fashion. The wooden handle was designed with ergonomics in mind, making it comfortable and safe to hold and use.
The axe head itself is a large curved blade, allowing users to maximize contact points on the logs they are splitting. The sharp and strong steel blade, in conjunction with the incredibly well-crafted wooden handle, will eliminate any concerns of strength and durability after you swing it for the first time.
As a bonus, the wood waste created from manufacturing is used to generate energy that helps run the factory — making Adler an environmentally friendly choice.
- Weight: 30.4 oz.
- Length: 14″
- Beautiful design
- Ergonomic design promotes comfort and safety when in use
- High-quality construction
- Eco-friendly manufacturing
- More expensive than other options
- Unique shape of axe head takes a bit of getting used to
- Heavier than other options
- Not the best for backpacking
Best of the Rest
For a compact, durable, no-frills camping hatchet option, look no further than the Gerber 14-inch Hatchet ($49). At first glance, this hatchet’s sleek design may not inspire confidence, but don’t doubt the Gerber name. Their 14-inch Hatchet maintains the company’s longstanding reputation by providing a tool worthy of all campsites, be they roadside or tucked away into the backcountry.
Weighing 22 ounces, this especially lightweight option is perfect to throw in a backpack or keep tucked away in your car or camping vehicle of choice. The molding over the top of the glass-filled nylon handle provides excellent comfort, usability, and shock absorption.
The forged steel axe head holds up to heavy use when splitting smaller logs for kindling or approaching more intricate bushcraft projects.
- Weight: 22 oz.
- Length: 14″
- Impressive weight for price and durability
- Ergonomic handle shape improves safety and comfort when in use
- Short handle can be difficult to use/get used to
- Complaints of chipping on axe head
It’s hard to argue with a company that has been hand-forging steel in the same Swedish foundry since the late 17th century. And that is why the Hults Bruk Almike ($154) makes our list as one of the best camping hatchets of 2021.
The hand-ground axe head on the Hults Bruk Almike is struck multiple times throughout the process to increase the final product’s density and durability. Just one glance at the axe head will make you realize just how reliable this blade truly is.
When combined with the curved hickory handle, you will be hard-pressed to find a camping hatchet more suited for chopping small trees and splitting wood around the fire. Not only is the handle comfortable to hold, but the curvature and overall shape are also hard to beat in terms of elegant design.
The Hults Bruk Almike is smooth and sleek, and it’s accompanied by a beautifully crafted leather sheath to further the aesthetic appeal of this highly functional bushcraft tool.
- Weight: 44 oz.
- Length: 16″
- Functional design
- Incredibly durable
- Holds edge even after many uses
- Exceptionally sharp blade out of the box
- Most expensive hatchet on our list
- Hand-forged steel can sometimes lead to uneven grinding
The SOG Camp Axe ($54) makes our list as another reliable, lightweight tool to accompany campers on both front-country escapes and deep wilderness missions. Weighing only 16 ounces and under one foot in length, the SOG Camp Axe is an easy addition to any backpack.
Despite being incredibly compact, this tool is strong enough to handle most camp tasks and does so with ease. In addition to a 3-inch blade on the axe head, the opposite end of this tool boasts a hammerhead to assist in pounding tent stakes into hard ground or tackling other unpredictable camp tasks.
Like the Gerber 14-Inch Hatchet described above, this SOG alternative also has a glass-reinforced nylon handle. This construction promotes heavy use and requires zero maintenance to keep it in working condition.
SOG has a comprehensive commitment to keeping customers happy. If you take care of your SOG Camp Axe and use it as it was meant to be used, the team at SOG is committed to helping you maximize its functionality and lifespan.
- Weight: 16.1 oz.
- Length: 11.5″
- Lightweight and compact design
- Durable and sturdy construction
- Affordable price for an axe of this construction and weight
- Hard plastic handle could benefit from an added rubber grip
- Not the sharpest blade and may require more maintenance
If you are in the market for an American-made hatchet for smaller jobs around camp or the garden, consider the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe ($47-68). Coming in both 12- and 14-inch varieties — both lightweight — this is a great axe to have around if you don’t plan on putting it through consistently heavy use.
The head and handle of this axe are forged in one piece. Given this unique construction, the Sportsman is exceedingly comfortable to handle and provides solid balance when in use. The leather grip is both beautiful to look at and functional to use.
The 2.75-inch cutting edge is plenty to handle the lighter use tasks for which it was designed — think chopping green wood for shelters or woodworking, splitting small pieces of deadwood, and stripping bark.
While not the most heavy-duty axe on our list, it is a solid option for lighter projects at home and the occasional camping trip.
- Weight: 22 oz.
- Length: 12-14″
- Single forged design is durable and comfortable to hold
- Works well as a small task axe or bushcraft hatchet
- Larger wood chopping tasks a real challenge
- Axe blade could be much sharper
- Takes some front end work to maximize usability
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Camping Hatchet
When seeking out the best camping hatchet, there is a lot to consider. Ultimately, the best hatchet for you may not be the best hatchet for someone else, and it will take weighing some personal pros and cons before you gain full confidence in your decision.
As you shop around for hatchets, consider the following points of differentiation as you move closer to your final decision. If you’re stuck between a couple of options, there’s no harm in having multiple tools in the toolbox!
Head Weight and Handle Length
Two of the most important considerations when buying an axe are choosing its head weight and handle length. Both of these decisions can be almost entirely informed by determining the hatchet’s intended use.
A hatchet used primarily for wood shaping and intricate bushcraft will have a smaller handle. Hatchets used for chopping and splitting wood have a longer handle. That’s not to say that both long- and short-handle hatchets can’t do it all, but each will perform better at specific tasks than others.
Like handle length, head weight is a good determining factor for what the hatchet is designed to do best. Lighter axe heads offer excellent control for smaller projects and close-to-the-body woodworking. Heavier axe heads allow for more swinging force, making them the optimal choice for wood splitting.
Where you plan on using your camp hatchet the most often is also worth consideration. If the majority of your camping is done on the roadside, weight shouldn’t matter much.
If you spend a lot of time off-trail or backpacking deep into the wilderness, weight matters. In this case, sacrificing some functionality to save some weight in your backpack may be required.
Ease of Splitting
The ease of splitting is a crucial thing to consider when purchasing a camp hatchet. If you are buying a hatchet with wood shaping and detail work in mind, wood splitting may not be a primary concern. If you envision yourself felling trees and splitting wood often, then the ease of splitting should move to the front of your mind.
Again, longer handles and heavier axe heads generally lend themselves to easier splitting. Consider the construction of the head and shape of the handle when shopping between similar models as well.
As you explore options, if you decide you need a tool fully dedicated to wood splitting, take a look at larger axes instead of hatchets. It’s entirely possible that the more compact camp hatchets on this list aren’t what you need after all, and you require a heavy-duty, full-size axe.
Both materials and construction play directly into the durability of camp hatchets.
When shopping and considering various options, pay special attention to the materials used to create the head and, to a lesser extent, the hatchet handle. The highest quality hatchets will have steel heads, with a stronger preference edging toward those that are hand-forged.
It is also worth noting how the head is attached to the shaft. Each user will have their preference, from full tang to separate pieces, and each style comes with its pros and cons.
Do diligent research on company websites and track down user reviews. These often provide excellent metrics when gauging the durability of a tool that will surely be put to use.
As with any outdoor gear, price plays a significant role in deciding between similar products. Most hatchets, and especially those on our list above, are fairly priced. That is, you get what you pay for.
When comparing different makes and models, pay close attention to the accompanying warranties offered. Warranties on heavy use tools such as hatchets can be a useful guide in helping buyers decide between options.
A hatchet that costs a bit more, but offers a lifetime warranty, may be worth the added cost compared to a more affordable option with no included insurance policy.
What Is the Best Camping Hatchet?
Choosing the best camping hatchet is almost entirely dependent on the individual and its intended use. Some companies certainly have a stronger reputation than others, but choosing the one best camping hatchet for everyone is a nearly impossible task.
We did our best in outlining some of our favorites above and ultimately chose the Morakniv Boron Steel as our overall favorite. That said, the Morakniv won’t be for everyone.
Sort your priorities and intended uses, and weigh some pros and cons of various options. You will soon find that the best camping hatchet for you may not be the best hatchet for your camping partner.
Do I Need a Hatchet for Camping?
While you certainly do not need a hatchet for camping, it does make our list as a top tool to have on any camping adventure. Hatchets are multifaceted tools; from instruments of survival to campground maintenance tools, hatchets can be used for many things in the woods.
We can say with almost full confidence that you will never regret having a hatchet with you when camping. Inevitably, someone will pick it up to split wood, make kindling, or tinker with a small bushcraft project around the fire. There is also something to be said about learning new skills and promoting self-sufficiency when out in the woods.
What’s more fun — having firewood delivered or using newly learned skills to gather your own?
Hatchet vs. Axe: What’s the Difference?
All hatchets are axes, but not all axes are hatchets.
In short, hatchets are just small, lightweight axes. Axes can and often should be used with one hand as an all-purpose tool.
The classic grip to use a standard axe requires two hands. These axes are less utilitarian and have a more focused design for tree felling, wood chopping, and other forestry needs.
What Is a Hatchet Good For?
Depending on shape and construction, hatchets are good for quite a lot. Their most common purpose is for chopping and splitting smaller sections of wood. Hatchets excel at cutting green wood or chopping dead wood roughly the diameter of an average forearm and slightly bigger.
Given their smaller size, hatchets are excellent tools for more intricate bushcraft tasks. They are the perfect instrument for shelter design or carving and crafting woodworking projects. In a bind, hatchets work when cutting through bone and cartilage if you do not have a field dressing knife on you following a hunt.
Do I Need to Sharpen My Hatchet?
A good hatchet will last for generations, but it will require some upkeep. Most of the hatchets on our list are sharp straight out of the box. Depending on the individual hatchet, though, it will require some maintenance after repeated use.
The frequency in which you sharpen your hatchet will depend on how often you use it and what you are using it for. If you purchased a high-quality hatchet, only go camping once or twice a year, and use it sparingly, you will not need to sharpen it frequently.
If you regularly use your hatchet at home and camp for chopping kindling and woodworking alike, you may need to give the axe head a little extra love.
Many hatchets come with user manuals for guidance in sharpening. Some hatchets even include a file and sharpening stone with your purchase.
Many professionals sharpen knives and axes for a living. If you do not have the time to give your hatchet the proper maintenance it deserves, consider taking it to someone who does.
A reliable hatchet should be in the toolbox of any diehard camping enthusiast. You may not use it on every trip, and you may not want to carry it on long backcountry excursions. However, if you spend enough time in the woods, we guarantee you will enjoy having one around.
From killing time with fun bushcraft tasks to utilizing it as a survival tool in dire situations, hatchets can do it all. There are many options to choose from, but it won’t take long to find the perfect hatchet for your needs.
Have a favorite camping hatchet? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll check it out for future updates to this article.