A cutting implement that looks as good as it chops, the versatile Hudson Bay Axe from Treeline Outdoors has earned a place in my camp kit.
When I first got my hands on the Hudson Bay Axe, I was a little skeptical. It looked like something that would be better at sitting on my mantle than splitting wood. To some extent I was wrong.
The Hudson Bay style axe was first popularized by fur traders, who favored the shorter handle and smaller head for portability. Not as large as a felling axe, the Hudson Bay is easy to pack in a canoe or on a horse and can still handle many tasks around a camp or cabin.
This version from Treeline Outdoors is made in the USA. The company has done a good job of leveraging the marketing moxie of the “lumbersexual” trend, but I wanted to find out if this axe was actually any good.
At 28 inches long, the shaft is made from hickory. It’s sturdy and balanced. The 2 pound head, made from high carbon steel, is covered in a coating of green paint to deter rust. It has a pronounced beard, with a large cutting blade in relation to its smaller head. A riveted leather sheath protects the blade.
Hudson Bay Review: Versatile Camp Axe
I’ve spent a couple weeks with the axe cutting, splitting, and limbing pine, ash, cottonwood, and oak on my land in Minnesota and camping in Wyoming.
The smaller head doesn’t give quite the same bite as a full felling axe, but I’ve been able to drop trees up to 10 inches without much trouble. It works well limbing downed trees and its smaller size makes it easy to maneuver among branches.
Obviously not as powerful as a splitting maul, the axe chops halved or quartered wood just fine. Splitting a full log up to 10 inches was easy. Larger than that and the axe started to struggle. The smaller size makes it easy to swing, but also makes it less effective at splitting and also more dangerous than one with a longer handle — it’s easier to over-rotate with a short handle and hit your leg.
As I mentioned, this is a nice looking tool, and that isn’t to be ignored. But if you use this hard as an axe is intended to be used, it will quickly look, well, like a used axe. That’s not a bad thing, just a truth.
The green paint over the head quickly rubbed away once I started using it. Don’t expect the paint job to hold up very long.
The blade dulled from super sharp to not-so-sharp pretty quickly, although nothing out of the ordinary. It was easy to resharpen, and I wonder about the hardness of the steel. The company doesn’t provide much detail about the steel used beyond “high carbon.”
If you are looking for an axe for serious work, the $125 price tag is a little difficult to stomach, especially when you can get a highly effective, made in USA Estwig Camper’s Axe for just $40.
But this axe looks as good as it chops. If you take pleasure in the warmth of wood on your hands and classic styling, there’s a lot to be enjoyed with this nice little axe. If taken care of, it should last for many years and would be a fine gift to my kids some day in the distant future.
If you’re looking for a portable axe that can do double duty chopping and splitting on your weekend camping trips — or look handsome paired with your favorite plaid — the Hudson Bay Axe From Treeline Outdoors satisfies.
- 2 lb forged steel head
- 4 cutting polished edge
- Head coated in durable paint to deter rust
- 28 Hickory handle with Gunstock stain
- Handle hole for strap (strap not included)
- Durable sheath with snap and belt slit
- Made in the USA