In today's article, we will discuss a couple of different hatchets and see which one is the best for you. When you are planning on heading out to the wilderness you want to enjoy the time out there. Part of that is making sure you have everything you need to last the trip without putting too much on your back. A great way to limit the weight is by picking a tool with multiple uses and is very compact. That is where a hatchet comes in. It is more than the ax’s little brother and has a bunch of uses beyond chopping wood.
When choosing the best camping hatchet here are the 4 most important things to consider.
1. A hatchet should weight 1.5 to 2.0 lbs.
2. The length of a hatchet should be 18 inches long.
3. The handle should be made of steel or fiberglass.
4. Here are the multiples uses for a hatchet: chopping down small trees, cleaning ups limbs, driving tent stakes, building shelters, splitting kindling and as a snow and ice removal tool.
Hatchets are meant to be smaller versions of an axe and able to perform the same functions but on a smaller scale. Especially when used on a backpacking camping trip when weight and size is very important. This is why a hatchet should weigh between 1.5 and 2.0 pounds. Backpacks can be very difficult to carry on long hikes. A fully loaded pack should only weigh about 20% of your body weight. Which averages 30 to 40 pounds for persons who weight between 150 and 200 pounds.
In addition to weight, the length is very important as well. And since most camping gear is either inside or attached to a backpack the hatchets total length should be no more that 18 inches which is the length of the average backpack. You don’t want the hatchet longer than the pack because it will either stick out of the pack and hit the back of your head or if attached to the pack be slapping your backside.
Steel or Fiberglass Hatchet Handle
Pay attention to the materials used to make the hatchet handle. For instance, I recommend using a hatchet with a handle made of steel instead of a wood handle. This is a tool that you may depend on heavily while out in the woods and making a new handle out of wood for your hatchet if it gets busted or broke may be something you may not know how to do. Stick with a material that is less likely to break. All the hatchets we will be talking about today will not have wood handles.
The Multiple Uses for A Hatchet
Hatches can be used for multiple uses like chopping down small trees to either build a shelter or for firewood. A sharp hatched easily clean ups limbs on a small tree. The back of the hatch head serves a hammer for many things like driving tent stakes, nails, cracking nuts for food leveling a spot on the ground. Splitting kindling and shaving it down to start a campfire is it most valuable use on a camping trip. And yes, it can be used as a snow and ice removal tool or a weapon for protections.
Another thing to pay attention to is the back of the hatchet head. The back of the hatchet head may be shaped differently depending on what other uses the manufacturers had in mind when they made it. Some could be used for not just hammering but could be used as picks. Pay attention to this so you don’t pay more for a hatchet you will only get half the use out of.
The first survival hatchet is the one you take with you when you expect to be roughing it. The SOG Outdoor Survival Hatchet. The head is made of tough stainless steel, the back of it can be used as a pick and a wire cutter, and for a bonus, the checkered area can be used as a hammer. So, the head alone has three uses. The handle is also made from steel and has a built-in fire-starter. The sheath that comes with the hatchet can be attached to either your pack or your belt so you can have it easily accessible while hiking or working.
If you are looking for something that gets the job done and looks cool this is a great choice. The grip on it will help with reducing the impact on your hands and arms. The company behind it will also help with replacements and repairs barring there is no proof that you were treating this thing horribly on purpose like beating it against a rock. For everything, it comes with and what it can do, I think the price is more than fair. Please check out the SOG Outdoor Survival Hatchet on Amazon.
The second survival hatchet is the Estwing Tomahawk Axe. This hatchet is one that is built tough and virtually indestructible. It is drop forged and made to stand up to any chopping job you need it to do. The band of the head is made to be used as a pick and the whole thing only weighs seven ounces. The whole hatchet is one piece so breaking the handle is close to impossible unless you are trying. The Estwing Tomahawk Axe is a foot and a half long, which is a few inches longer than the SOG. This allows for a bit more momentum on the swing or more space to choke up on the handle to use for different projects. Please check the Estwing Tomahawk Axe at Amazon.
The next hatchets on this list are meant less for the extreme survivalist and more for the casual camper or homebody who does plenty of outside projects. To start we have the Fiskars 375501. The whole hatchet is made of steel and comes in at 1 lbs It is around a foot long.
While still small and relatively light it is not as portable as the survival hatchets above but can still be carried around with ease. The fact that the handle is not made of wood ensures it will last a long time and the design gives it a good balance of weight and power so swinging it is smooth and is sure to be easy to use.
I would say this is more of a home project or gardening hatchet. It is ideal for clearing small brush or splitting a few longs for the fireplace. You can take it camping but I think you would find it more ideal to keep in the garage or shed and use it in the backyard. Still, this is a solid purchase for anyone who is looking to add something reliable to their tool collection. Check out the Fiskars 375501 at Amazon.
When it comes to hatchets the Gerber 17.5-Inch Freescape Hatchet is a bit of a big boy. The longer handle allows for a bit more versatility in use and more momentum on that swing so you can chop some bigger logs and get more reach. The head is made of forged steel and the handle is made of composite materials. This combination means you will have a hatchet that will last you a long time.
It weighs in at 2-lbs so it is a heavier hatchet as well. I say if you are looking to add a very reliable tool to your collection, the Gerber is the hatchet for you. In terms of bringing it camping, I say it's good if you plan on setting up camp and stay put for a while, but not, if you will be moving around a ton. There are other hatchets smaller for things like that. But if you are looking for a workhorse of a hatchet that can get the job done and you don’t have to worry about it falling apart on you, this is a great hatchet. Check out the Gerber 17.5-Inche Freescape Hatchet at Amazon.
Here is the Best Camping Hatchet
It is lightweight, sturdy and the added features it includes makes it an all-around great hatchet to bring with me when heading into the brush Small, compact, and easy to use while the belt sheath makes it also easy to access while on a hike is something I think makes it pretty nifty to include in my camping gear. Also, the bonus coverage of the company warranty is a comforting thing to think about. It must be pretty sturdy if the manufacturer will be willing to cover repairs.
Having a hatchet that can help me start a fire from chopping up a few small logs, making a finding, and even starting the fire without having to change tools. I know that makes setting up camp a lot faster. The hammer portion can even be used to set tent stakes as mentioned. This is really an all-around kind of tool. And it doesn’t hurt that it looks pretty cool as well.
One More Thing
Nothing is more dangerous or frustrating than a dull hatchet. Check out this article on, How to Sharpen Your Axe in 5 Minutes or less. It works for hatches as well.
Well, friends. I hope you found this information useful for when you go out and get your own hatchet. Be sure to get something that fits your needs and abilities. Safety first. Just because they are smaller than an axe doesn’t mean they are any less dangerous. Other than that, I hope you have a great time camping.
All the Best,
P.S. Here's a great trick on how to use a hatchet to split a thick log. Enjoy!