Each one of us somehow loves a little bit of axe work, right? Whether you are a wild outdoor person or not, you will definitely want to get your hands on one of the best hiking axes/hatchets. These axes and hatchets not only make you look cool but are also mightily handy.
However, when it comes to choosing hiking axes/hatchets, there are so many options available. In this article, I am going to recommend to you the top 10 best hiking hatchets.
The list contains the following Hiking Hatches:
1. Schrade SCAXE2L 15.7in
2. CRKT Freyr 2746 Axe 4.528″ Axe edge, 16″
3. Gerber 17.5-Inch Freescape Hatchet [31-002536]
4. Fiskars 378501-1002 X7 Hatchet
5. Schrade SCAXE10 11.1in Full Tang Hatchet with 3.6in Stainless Steel Blade and TPR Handle
6. Cold Steel Throwing Axe Camping Hatchet
7. MTech USA Camping Axe, Two-Tone Blade, Black Rubberized Handle, 11-Inch Overall
8. SOG Camp Axe
9. Estwing Sportsman’s Axe – 14″
10. Coleman Camp Axe
Hiking hatches help you in any outdoor scenario, such as efficiently gathering and splitting firewood, creating bigger and better shelters, and speeding up game processing. Let’s find out why to hike with one.
Why Bring a Hatchet When Hiking?
I would suggest you definitely carry a survival hatchet along when you go hiking, as it gives you more options and versatility than a knife. You won’t be able to do enough with a survival knife. Hiking hatches are the undisputed “king” when it comes to chopping power. If you own a well-designed sharp blade hatch and have room in your pack, then there is no choice but to leave it behind.
Though hiking axes and hatches are heavy tools, the weight alone cannot surpass its uses and benefits. Also, the usefulness of hatches highly depends on the activities you are going to perform. If you have no plans to cut and process wood, you can skip that to trim down weight.
But if you have intentions of woodworking, then it would be essential to carry. It is a simple but extremely reliable tool that can serve every role in between. It shortens your time and efforts for a carving project and can turn fir-making into a pleasant experience. You will understand its value in the worst conditions and worse weather.
5 Qualities A Hiking Hatchet Should Have
Once you are convinced to bring a hiking hatchet when hiking, the next step would be to buy one. If you already have one, then it’s more than perfect, but if you don’t, then go and buy one for yourself. Each tool is something very personal and highly depends on individual choices and needs.
In this section, I am going to discuss 5 main qualities a hiking hatchet should have. I hope this helps you choose one for yourself.
- The Head
There are a few shapes of heads of the hatchets that suit specific uses, but if you want a good all-rounder, then get one with a flat top and a finger wide. Its blade should be curved downward. The top of the head should be flat and shouldn’t extend beyond the handle.
I recommend a flat top head because it can also be used as a hammer. The downward curve prevents the hatchet from getting stuck in the woods. It also allows you to swing it back and forth.
A good hiking hatchet has to cut well. This is not only about the sharpness of the hatchet but also about the area behind the cutting edge (bit). If your hatchet has a thick bit, it will give you a hard time penetrating into wood, no matter how sharp its blade is. A thick bit of hatchet would also cause it to bounce off the tree while chopping or carving.
If you plan to buy a hatchet for woodwork, I would suggest getting one with a thin bit. The cheeks of the hatchet, i.e., sides of the Head, should also be smooth and continuous. If you keep these considerations in mind, you will end up having a very functional tool.
- The Handle
You will get multiple options in the market, from wood, fiberglass, plastic, rubber, and metal. I would prefer you to stay away from metal handles. I can’t deny the fact that they are strong, but they are awfully heavy and will burden you. You can also go for fiberglass handles as they are very strong and lightweight. But make sure they do not have other material at the core.
Wood handles are also a good option. For wooden handles, you need to consider the grain orientation. By grain orientation, I mean when you place the hatchet on the table, the grain of the wooden handle should be vertically lining up with the bit. This type of orientation is an indication of the strongest handles.
Now, let’s discuss the shapes and sizes of the handles. It comes in various sizes and shapes, serving different purposes. When you have to split large wood pieces, choose long handles as they allow you to put more force.
If you are planning for firewood, small hatchets will suit you better because it gives you better control. For an all-rounder, I would suggest you get a medium-sized handle that will give you a good balance between both.
The material of the hatchet’s Head and the shaft matters a lot. If you are working outdoors and work with wet wood, I would suggest you go for stainless steel heads as they are rust-resistant. It is long-lasting and requires less maintenance, but it doesn’t hold as sharp as a carbon steelhead. Another option you have is carbon steel, but this is more prone to corrosion; therefore, it requires more love and care.
In my opinion, full steel hatchet handles, i.e., metal from the head to the handle, are the worst. Though it would allow you to craft your own handle for insulation and comfort, it is extremely expensive to repair once something breaks.
I think wooden handles are the best. Handles are the weakest part, so if it breaks, it will be easier and cheaper to replace a wooden handle. One good option is hickory wood for the handles. While choosing your hatchets, feel the wood to ensure its protective coating is not too smooth. Because if it’s too slick and smooth, you will lose your grip, and that’s a bad thing.
- Sharpness Of The Edge
The sharpness of the edge is actually one of the most essential aspects of its quality. Sharp hatchets mean cleaner cuts and easily getting through the wood.
It is specifically important when the wood has a lot of knots in it. But for that, you need to be extra careful. It does need more maintenance and care since blunt edges are more prone to accidents than sharp ones because of the extra force you put.
I would recommend trying out the hatches before taking them out to the woods. This will help you to get used to its weight and handling.
You should be aware of the balance of a hiking hatchet. A good hiking hatchet has a balance point on the handle. This gives you entire control when you choke up on the hatchet for carving.
Also, when the hatchet is balanced in such a way, the head should rest horizontally. It increases your accuracy and reduces wobble during a swing.
If you want to throw axes for recreation, you will want to get an ax designed for that purpose and learn all the safety guidelines to prevent an injury. Throwing axes are usually well balanced and called tomahawks. They have a thin penetrating blade but may not be great at chopping wood.
Bonus: Sheath Quality
A hiking hatchet is a sharp tool, so you would want to ensure that it remains safe and secure when you put it away. Therefore, I would suggest leather sheaths instead of nylon sheaths. It should cover and protect the head of the hatchet so the edge is safe. It should also have an eyelet or a snap fastener to prevent the sheath from opening and the hatchet from falling out.
Top 10 Hiking Hatchets
1. Schrade SCAXE2L 15.7in
So the first one on my list is Schrade SCAXE2L 15.7in. Let’s look at a few attributes of this hatchet:
- Dimensions: Its overall length is 15.7 inches (39.9cm), including the blade length of 4.2 inches (10.6 cm). Its total weight is 1 pound 15 ounces.
- Durability: Its blade is made of 3CR13 Titanium Coated S.S., which delivers strength and durability. The handle is made with black glass fiber and cold resistance flexibility, which provides a comfortable grip and guarantees firm contact when chopping.
- It comes with a handy polyester belt sheath.
- It has a hammer pommel and an extra-large Ferro rod stored inside the shaft.
The scaxe2L has a perfect length, weight, and design. If you have to use one hatchet for life, I would suggest going for Schrade SCAXE2L 15.7in. It’s your “If I only had one” choice. It has all the properties of an ideal hiking hatchet. It’s not too heavy, but heavy enough, reliable, and sturdy. Also, I wouldn’t recommend the shorter length scaxe2.
Scaxe2L would make your hiking/camping experience a memorable one with all its qualities. It reduces your fatigue when you use it and allows the Head to do all the work. You only need a few swings to break apart branches up to three inches wide. It reduces the danger and power required because of fewer swings. In my opinion, it’s perfect and cannot be improved any further.
2. CRKT Freyr Axe 16″
The second one on my list is CRKT Freyr 2746 Axe 4.528″ Axe edge, 16,” so let’s see a few of its attributes.
- Dimensions: Its overall length is 16.125″, blade length is 4.528″, and weight is 1.79lb.
- The material used: Its blade is made with 1055 carbon steel. The material used in its handle is Tennessee Hickory.
- Durability: 1055 carbon steel provides edge retention and durability. The Tennessee Hickory material used in the handle is a dense material that withstands hard use.
CRKT Freyr is a TACTICAL axe, not a camp axe, not a brush craft axe, not a carpentry axe, not a felling axe. It has a heavy head and thick blade geometry that makes it a great entry tool. You should definitely get your hands on this one. It can go with you anywhere you want, as it does a good job as a splitter and camp axe. This hatchet can own any job placed before it, from kindling to throwing. It can be slightly heavier, but make yourself stronger enough to carry it for the benefits it provides. Because of its hickory handle strength, it has tremendous uses for fieldwork and self-defense.
3. Gerber 17.5-Inch Freescape Hatchet
Let’s see a few characteristics first!
- Dimensions: Its overall length is 17.3 inches.
- The material used: Its blade is coated with PTFE. The Head is constructed with forged steel.
- Durability: Its Head is durable for long-term use. The PTFE-coated blade helps chop clean and also reduces friction. Its handle is extremely durable and lightweight. The handle is a shock-absorbent that reduces hand sprain. It comes with a slim sheath to ensure safe storage and transport.
It’s one of my favorites; obviously, that’s why it has made a list. If you want something with more bite, this one is for you. You can chop 2 times faster and deeper with Gerber 17.5 Freescape. If you are someone who is working with wood, whether it’s splitting firewood, building shelters/camp, or failing small trees, I would suggest going for Gerber Freescape because the material used in Freescape is grind and lightweight, which makes it an ideal hatchet for woodwork.
I have continuously and vigorously used Gerber 17.5, but its blade is still razor-sharp. You can split wood down the middle and bang and continue chopping until the wood splits but still, your Gerber17.5 will not buckle.
4. Fiskars X7 Hatchet
Some major attributes:
- Dimensions: Its overall length is 16.5 inches, height is 1.4 inches, and width is 5.8 inches. The total weight is 1.38 pounds.
- The material used: The material used in Fiskars X7 is fiberglass. Its blade is made of forged steel.
- Durability: Its forged steel blade stays sharp for a longer period. Also, the blade has low friction that prevents the Head from getting stuck. Its handle has a textured nonslip grip, which improves control and reduces strain.
If you want a hatchet for chopping small to medium-sized logs, then Fiskars X7 is an ideal hatchet for you. You can chop deeper and faster with it. It has a perfect balance and power-to-weight ratio that doubles the swing speed. Its blade has proprietary grinding techniques that provide sharper edges for cleaner cuts. I would suggest sharpening its blade once, and you will get a great edge with no chipping at all. If you want a lightweight but supremely sharp, then it’s the one you were looking for.
You can take it with you for any outdoor adventures or camping tours, and it will help you in cutting a lot of brush and firewood. I would recommend it, especially for a cold hiking or camping trip where you need to keep the fire continuous. It will help you even if you do not have deadwood nearby; you can use Fiskars X7 to cut down big trees and then cut and split a good amount of wood.
5. Schrade SCAXE10 11.1in
Some of Schrade SCAXE10 attributes
- Dimensions: Its overall length is 11.1 inches (28.1 cm) with a blade length of 3.6 inches (9cm), and weight is 1 pound 5.9 ounces.
- The material used: The blade is made with 3Cr13 S.S., and the handles are wrapped in black rubber. It comes with a convenient black thermoplastic sheath.
- Durability: The black rubber-wrapped handle gives a secured grip that doesn’t allow the blade to slip. It is very sharp and lasts longer.
You can confidently take it camping. It can help you to get your fire started. If you have size issues, then I would suggest getting Schrade SCAXE10 since it is the right size to keep in the pack. Its weight is majorly towards the Head to facilitate chopping. In simple words, it’s a great product with a good grip that will help you a lot in hiking and camping.
6. Cold Steel Throwing Axe Camping Hatchet
Some key attributes are:
- Dimensions: Its overall length is 20 inches, and its weight is 32 oz.
- The material used: The material used for the handle is American Hickory, and for Head forged, 1055 carbon is used.
- Durability: It’s a classic Chinese hatchet. It is very stylish, iconic, and durable. Its drop-forged 1055 carbon makes it capable of reaching razor sharpness but with a soft steel body for shock absorption.
Cold Steel Throwing Axe Camping Hatchet is specially designed for throwers who don’t rotate when they throw. I would highly recommend this Axe for throwing because its handle is unbreakable. It’s long-lasting, durable, and will stay all along with you. If you are a throwing coach and looking for “THE ONE,” I would say go for Cold Steel Throwing Axe Camping Hatchet. This would never cause any fatigue to your shoulder as it’s a lightweight axe. I have tried several wood handle hatchets, but none of them can beat this in durability.
7. MTech USA Camping Axe, 11-Inch Overall
Some major characteristics are:
- Dimensions: Its overall length is 11 inches. The blade length is 3 inches.
- The material used: The blade is made of satin-finished stainless steel. The handle is made of rubber. It comes with a nylon sheath for covering the blade.
- Durability: Its handle gives a comfortable grip. MTech USA Camping Axe is a compact and portable tactical axe. It’s amazing for camping rugged outdoors.
If you are a camping enthusiast or someone who spends most of the time outdoors, I would highly recommend getting this one. It’s compact, portable, and useful as a tactical axe. The grade 440 stainless steel used in this Axe has more carbon, which gives it edge retention and superb hardness. It is a well-designed camp axe, and you can easily maintain its edge. It will help you in everything when you go hiking or camping, from solid construction to wood chopping and splitting chores. It has the perfect weight to carry, not too light nor too heavy.
8. SOG Camp Axe
Some major attributes are:
- Dimensions: Its total length is 11.5 inches, with a blade of 3.1 inches. Weight is 16.1 oz.
- The material used: The material used for the handle is glass-reinforced nylon. The Head is made of satin polished stainless steel.
- Durability: The nylon handle gives a good grip and requires zero maintenance. Its stainless steel is designed for all-weather exposure and for rough use as well. A nicely curved handle and flat hammerhead make it handy for pegs and stakes, making it a durable and strong construction.
It’s a small forest axe, backpacking hatchet, and camping hatchet. It is a lightweight but a heavy-duty camp hatchet. The reinforced glass handle is amazing in absorbing the shock produced during the swing. You can use it to handle light tasks, including driving in tent pegs, chopping off foliage, and clearing trails. If you are going for a camping trip and want to carry a lightweight, small, compact, and portable tool along, I would highly recommend the SOG camp axe.
It doesn’t require much force, thus making it just right for chopping firewood into fire size pieces. It’s a single piece axe with a sleek finish rubber grip and a flat head for stakes and bashing needs though it requires some sharpening before cutting.
9. Estwing Sportsman’s Axe – 14″
Some major attributes are:
- Dimensions: its total length is 14 inches, and its weight is 0.82 kg.
- The material used: it has a forged carbon steel head and forged steel handle with a nonslip grip.
Say “Goodbye” to all those stinging sensations you have ever felt while striking and get your hands on Estwing Sportsman’s Axe. When you strike something with this Axe, it will absorb all shocks on impact because of its leather grip.
It is just the right size for backpacking. The leather sheath that comes along with it gives it safety and extra mobility. It may assist you with splitting small logs during hiking or camping, chopping small-sized woods, trimming tree limbs, and tackling other tasks. Also, I would suggest using gloves with this Axe to feel extra comfort and reduce the risk of pain and blisters.
10. Coleman Camp Axe
Some major attributes are:
- Dimensions: its total length is 15.85 inches, and its weight is 0.7 kg.
- The material used: it has a high-carbon steel head and a strong, full-tang steel shaft with a nonslip grip.
It’s an amazing camp axe for outdoors, hiking, and camping, keeping you prepared for trips. It may be the best and the right tool for you to perform almost all the jobs. It has a sharp-edge forged steel head that helps you easily split wood for a stove or campfire.
Its flat edge will facilitate you for driving tent stakes into hard ground. Also, you can easily pull your tent stakes with its notch cut. I can confidently say that it will provide you the full control even if it is covered with blood.
The blade is so sharp that it can cuts through flesh and bone very easily. It is basically a general-purpose axe that lasts you forever though it does need sharpening and grinding as it’s your BASIC Axe.
How to Use a Hatchet
There are three basic uses of hiking/camping hatchets.
The most important usage of hiking hatchet is chopping. Let’s focus on a few things very broadly. A major problem that most people face when they are new to hatchet is that they keep swinging a hatchet at a tree all day long without cutting anything. This usually happens when you do not know the right techniques to use a hatchet.
If you want to cut a tree, the first thing you would do is hitting the tree with you hatchet perpendicularly from the side. The edge of the hatchet will cut in. But if you keep swinging it in the same direction, you might end up spending the whole day just making cuts into the wood.
Now I will give you a much more efficient way of making real progress. Start chopping wood with a hatchet by choosing a specific area where you want to cut. Then cut a wide V shape with the point ending in mid of the tree trunk.
Then start cutting it from the top and the bottom. When you cut the top and the bottom, the material between the two ends of the V should fall off on its own or can be easily detached by a slight twist with your hatchet.
Carry on doing it until you reach the endpoint of the V. then start doing it on the other side of the tree trunk. Remember, the wider the V is, the faster you can remove wood from the tree.
Mostly splitting wood is done with an ax, but you can also do it with a hatchet. The technique is, place the log on a tree stump and, with your hatchet, hit it squarely. I would recommend three important techniques for this technique.
The first thing is chopping in kneel down position. This is crucial because a hatchet is very short, and there are chances of you missing the log while standing. If this happened, you might end up swinging the hatchet right in your logs, and of course, you would never want this to happen. If you chop it in a kneeling position, then the hatchet would hit the ground before hitting you.
The second thing to consider is not doing it directly on the ground. If the wood splits, the hatchet will go straight down into the ground, damaging the edge.
The third thing to keep in mind is aiming for the log’s side and not the middle. In this way, the log is more likely to split rather than the hatchet getting stuck.
Another technique I would suggest is taking a small log and holding it from one end. While holding the log, place the hatchet blade on the log’s side at the other end. When you hold both the hatchet and the log in the same particular positions, lift both together up and then down on another piece of wood. You will see the hatchet will penetrate the wood easily. It’s usually useful for small pieces of wood that are difficult to balance on a stump.
The most underutilized characteristic of the hatchet is carving. But once you get familiar with it, you will see that your carving projects will get completed much easier and faster with a hatchet.
The reason is that you can apply more force with the hatchet allowing you to remove more wood as compared to a knife. Also, you can control how much pressure you apply with your hatchet by repositioning the grip.
How to Care for Your Hatchet
If you want your hatchet to stay with you for life, you will need to take care of it. Its maintenance has some easy but some complex parts. Once you get your desired hatchet, you need to maintain it like a knife.
Keep the metal part dry to avoid rusting, put some oil on the wooden handle to prevent it from drying out, and sharpen the blade with a sharpening stone. All the hatchets mentioned above are very useful, and guarantees work, but if kept with care.
Let’s discuss a little more detail about how to care for your hatchet to keep it in good condition and protect it from the environment:
- How To Take Care Of Hatchet Head
If the Head of your hatchet is made of steel but not stainless steel, then it’s likely to get rusted very quickly and easily if kept damp for a longer period. It would badly affect the finish and thus longevity of the Head. So the most important thing to keep your hatchets Head in good condition is to keep it dry.
In my opinion, the easiest and the best way to do this oil the head. The best option I would recommend is using gun oil that is specially designed to dry once applied. It remains therefore a longer period. Since it dries out, so it won’t make the inside oily, neither it would transfer.
Remove the mask. Apply a layer of oil over the metal of the Head. Remove the excess oil with a cloth. Do not refit the mask until the oil gets dried. If the metal has some rust, apply some oil, and use wire wool to remove the rust. Wipe off the area with a clean cloth reapply the oil to the whole Head.
- How To Take Care Of Hatchet Handle
The handle of a traditional hatchet is made of wood. However, now a day’s it’s made of good quality hickory. Though hickory is a resilient and tough wood, it would still last even longer when kept with care.
Everyone would love to keep their hatchet in the condition they come in. You can either replace the wooden handle with a higher quality finish, but I won’t recommend doing this. As it is not a reasonable solution for keeping the handle in good condition.
In my opinion, the best way to maintain the handle finish apply a layer of boiled linseed oil from time to time. Remember using boiled linseed oil and not raw because raw linseed oil will not dry, and it will remain sticky.
First check, if the handle is completely cleaned or not. Apply a coat of boiled linseed oil to the finish. You can do this with a rag, pour oil on it, and rub it into the handle. You can also use a small paintbrush.
The most important thing to consider is that both axes and hatches are dangerous tools. They highly depend on the momentum and weight to do their job. If you lose your control, you will end up facing serious consequences.
So take it slow and learn to use it with small slow controlled swings. When you are very careful using an axe or a hatchet, you’ll be less likely to get hurt. First, make yourself comfortable with the tool your using and plan each step.
I hope this article has helped you in some way! Thanks for visiting Helpshoe.com