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.
The Best Camping Hatchets of 2023
- Best Overall Traditional Hatchet: Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet
- Best Budget Hatchet: Fiskars X7
- Best Modern Hatchet: Gerber Bushcraft Hatchet
- Runner-Up Hatchet: Morakniv Lightweight Axe
- Classic Good Looks Hatchet: Adler Rheinland Hatchet
- Best Compact Hatchet: Gerber Pack Hatchet
- Weight 1 lb., 4.8 oz.
- Overall length 13.7"
- Head length 4"
- Steel type Recycled steel
- Handle material Hickory
- Blacksmith-forged head with stamped initials
- Polished cutting edge
- Quality vegetable-tanned leather sheath
- Simple fit and finish
- Weight 1 lb., 6 oz.
- Overall length 14"
- Head length 5"
- Steel type Hardened forged carbon steel
- Handle material FiberComp composite
- Highly affordable
- Suitable for splitting kindling or small logs
- Relatively lightweight design
- Best suited for small to medium-sized logs
- Concerns about blade chipping
- Requires more regular maintenance to keep in prime condition
- 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
- Reliefs in head allow for easier penetration
- Advanced ergonomics and shock reduction
- The stash pocket is awesome
- Doesn’t come sharpened from the factory
- Weight 1 lb., 1.6 oz.
- Overall length 12.6"
- Head length 4.5"
- Steel type Boron steel
- Handle material Polypropylene
- Lightweight yet strong design
- Sharp blade proves excellent for both splitting wood and bushcraft
- Affordable price point with a limited lifetime warranty included
- Low-quality hatchet sheath
- Difficulty chopping larger logs
- Weight 1 lb., 14.4 oz.
- Length 14"
- Head length 4"
- Steel type C45 steel
- Handle material U.S. hickory
- 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 getting used to
- Heavier than other options
- Not the best for backpacking
- Weight 1 lb., 8.5 oz.
- Overall length 9.5"
- Head length 3.5"
- Steel type Stainless steel
- Handle material Rubber overmold
- Compact packed size
- Tall grind maintains sharpness
- Finger grooves for choking up on fine detail work
- Less durable sheath
- Not meant for bigger jobs
- 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
- Lightweight but effective
- Forged 1055 carbon steel head for long-term abuse
- Doesn’t come with a sheath
- Ideally suited for splitting kindling, not much bigger
- Weight 2 lbs., 12 oz.
- Overall length 16"
- Head length 3"
- Steel type Forged steel
- Handle material American hickory
- Functional design
- Incredibly durable
- Holds edge even after many uses
- Exceptionally sharp blade out of the box
- One of the most expensive hatchets on our list
- Hand-forged steel can sometimes lead to uneven grinding
- Weight 16.1 oz.
- Overall length 11.5"
- Head length 3.1"
- Steel type Stainless steel
- Handle material Glass-reinforced nylon
- 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
- Weight 1 lb., 6 oz.
- Overall length 12-14"
- Head length 2.75"-3.25"
- Steel type Tool grade steel
- Handle material Stacked leather
- 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
Camping Hatchet Comparison Chart
|Camping Hatchet||Weight||Overall Length||Head Length||Steel Type||Handle Material|
|Gränsfors Bruk |
|1 lb., 4.8 oz.||13.7″||4″||Recycled steel||Hickory|
|Fiskars X7||1 lb., 6 oz.||14″||5″||Hardened forged carbon steel||FiberComp composite|
|Gerber Bushcraft Hatchet||2 lbs., 6.4 oz.||15.25″||5.5″||Forged & coated stainless steel||Synthetic polymer with rubberized inserts|
|Morakniv Lightweight Axe||1 lb., 1.6 oz.||12.6″||4.5″||Boron steel||Polypropylene|
|Adler Rheinland Hatchet||1 lb., 14.4 oz.||14″||4″||C45 steel||U.S. hickory|
|Gerber Pack Hatchet||1 lb., 8.5 oz.||9.5″||3.5″||Stainless steel||Rubber overmold|
|CRKT Chogan Hatchet||1 lb., 5 oz.||13.19″||3.16″||1055 carbon steel||Glass-reinforced nylon|
|Hults Bruk Almike||2 lbs., 12 oz.||16″||3″||Forged steel||American hickory|
|SOG Camp Axe||16.1 oz.||11.5″||3.1″||Stainless steel||Glass-reinforced nylon|
|Estwing Sportsman’s Axe||1 lb., 6 oz.||12-14″||2.75″-3.25″||Tool grade steel||Stacked leather|
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.