I’m in the market for a new camping hatchet, so here’s the breakdown of what I found based on reviews and sales rankings online, and ultimately what I’m buying for this year’s camping season.
A good camping hatchet will let you do some light splitting and chopping of wood, but mostly it’s good for chopping of kindling to get a fire started. And I also like to have one that also doubles as a hammer for pounding tent stakes into the ground. I’m in the market for a new camping hatchet, so here’s the breakdown of what I found based on reviews and sales rankings online, and ultimately what I’m buying for this year’s camping season. Also, check the end of the article for some info on how to sharpen a hatchet or axe. I looked that up because a number of the products I looked up had reviews stating that they were not terribly sharp when they arrived. So this information may be helpful at some point.
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Before I go on… when searching for camping axes, I am finding a large number of Zombie Defense axes. Most of those I am ruling out for this article. Most of the hatchets and axes designed for attacking zombies are not going to work well for pounding tent stakes into the ground. Instead of a hammer, they mostly have sharp surfaces for striking at, well, Zombies! So those hatchets are will have to be covered in a separate article. I’ve seen a few of those listed from time to time, but there are definitely a lot of Zombie defense hatchets and axes out there to choose from.
CRKT Chogan Woods T-Hawk
I’m a fan of CRKT pocket knives. And their Chogan Woods T-Hawk is seems to pop up on many of the searches for camping hatchet’s. This is more of a Tomahawk than a hatchet, but it does have the ability to function as a hatchet or small axe, as well as a hammer. The head is made in Taiwan, and the handle in the USA. It’s about 19” long. It’s around 1 lb, and the length is a little longer than some of the products I looked at. While the length is good when using it for an axe and doing some of the light firewood splitting work you may need, it doesn’t make this as handy to pack away. It does not come with a sheath, either. I may revisit this later, because it may be a good hatchet to leave in my camper when we go RV camping. But for this exercise, I want something a little smaller. Also, this has a very straight and smooth handle, so it could be a little slippery. Possibly wrapping it with some baseball bat grip tape would make it easier to hold on to.
M-Tech USA Camping Axe
Next is the M-Tech USA camping axe. This is about the length I’m looking for, and has the rubberized handle grip. It should work well when it’s slightly wet. It includes a sheath, but that seems to be pretty low quality based on various online reviews. I saw quite a few customers who commented that they were less than satisfied with the sheath, but that the tool itself was really nice. This camping hatchet is about 11” long and weighs in at just under a pound. This will likely be OK if you are using the sheath just to cover the blade when you pack this away. If you are planning on using the sheath’s belt loop to attach to your belt, or to your pack, then you may want to keep looking.
Husqvarna 13″ Wooden Handle Hatchet
The Husqvarna 13” wooden handle hatchet looks like a very good quality standard camping hatchet. It’s made in Sweden, and appears to have kept previous purchasers pretty happy overall. It’s a good size, with a 13” overall length, but it weighs in at over 2 lbs so it’s a little on the heavy side. It does come with a good quality sheath. Since this is one of the heavier hatchets on the list, and I am looking for something with a rubberized handle, I’m ruling this one out.
The Schrade SCAXE10 is another very good choice, and has made it to the top 2 choices. This has got everything I was originally looking for. Rubberized grip, and about the right size and weight (11” length and 1.37 lbs). It comes with a hard plastic sheath, which I’m not sure if I’m a fan of, but it should be a little more durable than the one that comes with the M-Tech USA hatchet. The reviews on this hatchet are all very positive, so this is definitely in the running.
The Estwing Camping Axe is made in the USA!!
Estwing Camping Axe
The Estwing Camping Axe comes in either a 12” and 14” version. This looks like a typical hatchet, and seems to be the top of the line. My primary focus has been a rubberized handle. But the reviews on this one keep bringing me back to it. It is also mentioned from time to time in reviews for other products! It’s also made in the USA, which is also in it’s favor. It has a polished leather grip, and heavy duty nylon sheath and forged from a single piece of steel. The 12” model is about 1 ½ lbs. Since this has a leather hand grip, polished with varnish, it comes with a shiny look to it. More than one reviewer on Amazon.com suggests sanding off the varnish, and applying Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil to the leather. This takes away the shiny look, and gives protection to the leather from a lifetime of sweat, rain, and snow. Probably a good idea to follow that advice, because from what the reviewers say, this hatchet will last a lifetime. No sense letting the leather grip rot away.
The final decision
I think I’ll be getting 2 of them! For the camping trips we take with groups, with gear bouncing around in the bottom of a plastic container, being loaned out and beaten by multiple people on a trip, the Schrade will be the tool of choice. For just family campouts, around home, or in our camper, the Estwing. The Schrade looks like it will take abuse, and if it gets beaten up badly, blade chipped, or the handle overly abused, I won’t feel so bad. The Estwing is going to be around a while. That looks like it’s going to be old reliable, that I, as well as my son will use on our own expeditions. I will stand up to time, but it deserves the proper care.
Tell us your favorite camping hatchet in the comments below!
As promised, here is a video showing the proper sharpening technique for hatchets and axes. This video is put together by the folks at Schrade Cutlery! Subscribe to their channel to get quick their tips. Schrade Quick Tips
Here is a quick video showing one way to safely cut kindling wood with a hatchet:
And the last video I’m going to add to this is a longer video showing a variety of techniques of splitting firewood and kindling with a hatchet. This is a really great one to watch if you’ve got the time – it’s about 17 minutes long, but worth the watch.