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The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

It’s not hard to find camping destinations that have cellphone service or will deliver cords of wood to your campfire, but what’s the fun in that? We've rounded up the best hatchets available so you can keep your camp stocked with dry kindling, stay occupied with bushcraft projects, and complete any number of camp chores.

The Best Camping Hatchets(Photo/Fiskars)
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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.

Whether you need a tool to pound tent stakes, split wood, or are looking for a survival hatchet in case of emergency, take a look at our list of the best camping hatchets of 2023 before making your purchase.

If this will be your first camping hatchet, visit our buyer’s guide and FAQ below to learn more. For a quick rundown of prices and specifications, check out our comparison chart.

The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023


Best Overall Traditional Hatchet

Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 4.8 oz.
  • Overall length 13.7"
  • Head length 4"
  • Steel type Recycled steel
  • Handle material Hickory
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Blacksmith-forged head with stamped initials
  • Polished cutting edge
  • Quality vegetable-tanned leather sheath

Cons

  • Price
  • Simple fit and finish
Best Budget Hatchet

Fiskars X7

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 6 oz.
  • Overall length 14"
  • Head length 5"
  • Steel type Hardened forged carbon steel
  • Handle material FiberComp composite
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Highly affordable
  • Suitable for splitting kindling or small logs
  • Relatively lightweight design

Cons

  • Best suited for small to medium-sized logs
  • Concerns about blade chipping
  • Requires more regular maintenance to keep in prime condition
Best Modern Hatchet

Gerber Bushcraft Hatchet

Specs

  • Weight 2 lbs., 6.4 oz.
  • Overall length 15.25"
  • Head length 5.5"
  • Steel type Forged & coated stainless steel
  • Handle material Synthetic polymer with rubberized inserts
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Reliefs in head allow for easier penetration
  • Advanced ergonomics and shock reduction
  • The stash pocket is awesome

Cons

  • Doesn’t come sharpened from the factory
Runner-Up Hatchet

Morakniv Lightweight Axe

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 1.6 oz.
  • Overall length 12.6"
  • Head length 4.5"
  • Steel type Boron steel
  • Handle material Polypropylene
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Lightweight yet strong design
  • Sharp blade proves excellent for both splitting wood and bushcraft
  • Affordable price point with a limited lifetime warranty included

Cons

  • Low-quality hatchet sheath
  • Difficulty chopping larger logs
Classic Good Looks Hatchet

Adler Rheinland Hatchet

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 14.4 oz.
  • Length 14"
  • Head length 4"
  • Steel type C45 steel
  • Handle material U.S. hickory
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Ergonomic design promotes comfort and safety when in use
  • High-quality construction
  • Eco-friendly manufacturing

Cons

  • More expensive than other options
  • Unique shape of axe head takes a bit getting used to
  • Heavier than other options
  • Not the best for backpacking
Best Compact Hatchet

Gerber Pack Hatchet

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 8.5 oz.
  • Overall length 9.5"
  • Head length 3.5"
  • Steel type Stainless steel
  • Handle material Rubber overmold
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Compact packed size
  • Tall grind maintains sharpness
  • Finger grooves for choking up on fine detail work

Cons

  • Less durable sheath
  • Not meant for bigger jobs
Best of the Rest

CRKT Chogan Hatchet

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 5 oz.
  • Length 13.19"
  • Bit length 3.16"
  • Steel type Manganese phosphate coated 1055 carbon steel
  • Handle material Glass-reinforced nylon
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Lightweight but effective
  • Forged 1055 carbon steel head for long-term abuse

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a sheath
  • Ideally suited for splitting kindling, not much bigger

Hults Bruk Almike

Specs

  • Weight 2 lbs., 12 oz.
  • Overall length 16"
  • Head length 3"
  • Steel type Forged steel
  • Handle material American hickory
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Functional design
  • Incredibly durable
  • Holds edge even after many uses
  • Exceptionally sharp blade out of the box

Cons

  • One of the most expensive hatchets on our list
  • Hand-forged steel can sometimes lead to uneven grinding

SOG Camp Axe

Specs

  • Weight 16.1 oz.
  • Overall length 11.5"
  • Head length 3.1"
  • Steel type Stainless steel
  • Handle material Glass-reinforced nylon
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Durable and sturdy construction
  • Affordable price for an axe of this construction and weight

Cons

  • Hard plastic handle could benefit from an added rubber grip
  • Not the sharpest blade and may require more maintenance

Estwing Sportsman’s Axe

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 6 oz.
  • Overall length 12-14"
  • Head length 2.75"-3.25"
  • Steel type Tool grade steel
  • Handle material Stacked leather
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023

Pros

  • Single forged design is durable and comfortable to hold
  • Works well as a small task axe or bushcraft hatchet

Cons

  • Larger wood chopping tasks a real challenge
  • Axe blade could be much sharper
  • Takes some front end work to maximize usability

Camping Hatchet Comparison Chart

Camping HatchetWeightOverall LengthHead LengthSteel TypeHandle Material
Gränsfors Bruk
Wildlife Hatchet
1 lb., 4.8 oz.13.7″4″Recycled steelHickory
Fiskars X71 lb., 6 oz.14″5″Hardened forged carbon steelFiberComp composite
Gerber Bushcraft Hatchet
2 lbs., 6.4 oz.15.25″5.5″Forged & coated stainless steelSynthetic polymer with rubberized inserts
Morakniv Lightweight Axe1 lb., 1.6 oz.12.6″4.5″Boron steelPolypropylene
Adler Rheinland Hatchet1 lb., 14.4 oz.14″4″C45 steelU.S. hickory
Gerber Pack Hatchet1 lb., 8.5 oz.9.5″3.5″Stainless steelRubber overmold
CRKT Chogan Hatchet
1 lb., 5 oz.13.19″3.16″1055 carbon steelGlass-reinforced nylon
Hults Bruk Almike2 lbs., 12 oz.16″3″Forged steelAmerican hickory
SOG Camp Axe16.1 oz.11.5″3.1″Stainless steelGlass-reinforced nylon
Estwing Sportsman’s Axe1 lb., 6 oz.12-14″2.75″-3.25″Tool grade steelStacked leather
Gerber’s Bushcraft Hatchet
We did the test swinging so you don’t have to; (photo/Nick LeFort)

Why You Should Trust Us

At GearJunkie, we’re not collecting hatchets to hang on our wall to stare at. We’re using and abusing them so that we can make proper recommendations to you. 

Our team of testers spends hours carrying these hatchets into remote locations and using them to split and chop wood and anything else they’re designed to do. Sometimes it’s out camping. Sometimes we’re out on the trail clearing debris. Sometimes it’s just gathering wood in our backyard for a fire in our firepits. But whatever we’re doing, we’re doing it to test each tool to its limits.

Our approach is to prove or disprove manufacturer’s claims about their products. That covers form and function, as well as the materials that are being used. So, while testing we’re looking to see if a certain steel holds up in wet weather conditions. We’re checking to see if synthetic handles absorb shock better than wood handles. We’re also thinking outside the box to see what else we can do with these hatchets. We want to cover all of the bases so that if you have questions, we have answers.

Beyond that, we’re following trends. We’re looking to see what’s new in the market that could be a game changer; the next big thing. This allows us to keep our info up to date so that you can rely on us to help you choose the right hatchet for your next adventure.

Three hatchets
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Camping Hatchet

When seeking out the best camping hatchet, there’s 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.

You also should consider if a hatchet is going to be the best tool for the job. Processing wood outdoors can look pretty different depending on the size and scale of your endeavors, with full-sized axes being primed for tree felling, bushcraft knives working excellently for fine work, and hatchets landing somewhere in the middle.

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!

Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet
The Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet is a high-quality camp hatchet that will process wood for many years; (photo/Anthony Sculimbrene)

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.

The average hatchet handle length ranges from 12 to 18 inches. The average head weight ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 pounds. In order to determine the right combination of head weight and handle length, you want to find balance. To check that, you can lay the hatchet across your palm just below the head. If it balances in place, then the ratio is spot on.

The reason behind all of this is leverage. You want to let the tool do the work so you don’t get fatigued. It’s a tale as old as time and something that comes with using a hatchet over and over again. If it’s well balanced, the weight of the head and the length of the handle should work in synchrony to make chopping things energy efficient.

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.

The balance between the head and handle can make or break a hatchet; (photo/Sean McCoy)

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 as does the head and bit shape. 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.

Gerber Bushcraft Hatchet - Blade
The reliefs on the cheek of this Gerber Bushcraft Hatchet allow for deeper penetration when chopping and splitting; (photo/Nick LeFort)

Durability

Both materials and construction play directly into the durability of the best camping 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 forged steel heads, with a stronger preference edging toward those that are hand-forged.

It’s 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.

Fiskars X7 Hatchet
While hardwood is traditional, a composite glass-reinforced handle can be easily as strong and durable; (photo/Sean McCoy)

Carry

If you’re headed out on an adventure, you need to be conscious of how you’re going to carry your hatchet.

Most hatchets come with either a leather or composite sheath that allows you to lash the hatchet to the outside of your pack, or even throw it inside. The sheath also protects the bit from getting banged around and beat up and from cutting into anything it comes into contact with while traveling (including you).

Unless you’re buying a hatchet to leave in one place all the time, like your backyard, prioritize the hatchets with sheaths on your final list of what you’re considering buying.

The leather sheath on the Gransfors Wildlife hatchet has an additional strap for belt carry or lashing to a pack; (photo/Nick LeFort)

Price

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.

Consider what you’re getting for the price you’re paying: How many tools is it? What are the materials being used? Does it come with a sheath?

Also, 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.

Gerber Pack Hatchet Whittling
The diminutive Gerber Pack Hatchet slides in under in competition in price, but you have to keep in mind its functional limitations; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

FAQ

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 single 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 Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet (traditional) and Gerber Bushcraft Hatchet (modern) as our overall favorites. That said, that doesn’t mean these two hatchets are 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?

(Photo/Nick LeFort)
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.

For a deeper, expanded look at the possibilities a hatchet can provide, check out this article.

Hults Bruk Hatchet Test
(Photo/Sean McCoy)
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, but some may come from the factory without an edge. Either way, eventually every hatchet will need maintenance to keep it in good, safe, working order.

The frequency with 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 may not need to sharpen it frequently.

If you regularly use your hatchet at home and camp for chopping kindling and woodworking alike, you will more than likely 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. 

We’ve relied on this Dual Grit Sharpener for years as it’s easy to use, can restore an edge quickly, and doesn’t take up much space in your pack.

Many professionals sharpen knives and axes for a living. If you don’t 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 if you’re starting with this list, it shouldn’t take long to find the best camping hatchet for your needs.

How should I store my hatchet when not in use?

Different manufacturers may have specific recommendations on how to store your hatchet when you’re not using it. You can always refer to the included manual or their website for specific instructions.

Beyond that, we recommend you clean up your hatchet before storing it. Any moisture and debris can impact the overall quality and reliability of your hatchet over time. Make sure to clean off the head of any debris and wipe it dry before putting it back in the sheath.

As wood handles start to age, over time they may require a re-waxing or sealing. There are a few different methods for doing this, but we recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions and using any products they offer to restore the handle to its original state.

With any piece of gear or clothing, it’s best to store it in a dry place. Hatchets are a little hardier than some of the other gear you take along with you on your adventures, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not susceptible to the elements.

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