Best Camping Axes Review
Why Buy a Camping Axe?
When you're on a long hike, the lighter you can make your load, the more energy you have for the journey. However, it doesn't help matters if when you get to camp, you're struggling to chop wood with a knife or hammer in a tent stake with a rock.
Today's camping hatchets provide more than a blade on a handle; most offer simple tools such as a hammering head, while others provide fire-starting tools, ratchets, even bottle openers for when the chores are done. The right camping axe not only makes regular camping chores easier, but it also helps you tackle emergencies or problems on the trail.
Our testers at Active Junky evaluated many different brands and types of axes, from modern multitool versions to the traditional lumberjack style. They took them to testing grounds in the Appalachians, on South American expeditions, on camping trips and when boating. They used the axes for a multitude of camping tasks. After each task was completed, and the blade was able to demonstrate its safety and durability, our testers moved on to increasingly difficult challenges.
Our Active Junky testers put these axes through their paces to evaluate their durability, safety and performance. Here, then, are the top 10 that rocked our campsites. For more great camping gear reviews, check out Active Junky.
Calling Out the Best of the Best
…For Campsite Preparation
Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Hatchet: The Gransfors Outdoor hatchet weighs only a pound, making it easy to carry, yet it's well balanced, precise and slices through wood with the ease of a chainsaw.
…For Campsite Construction
Klecker Knives KLAX Lumberjack: This lightweight axe is easy to carry and makes just about anything, even its own handle. With multiple tools built into the blade, it's by far the most versatile camping hatchet in our lineup.
CRKT Woods Chogan T-Hawk: This is a woodsman's axe, built to fell trees and split wood. Its hardy construction and tomahawk design make it a handy addition to the family cabin or in a trader's rendezvous.
…For Backcountry Travel
SOG Survival Hawk: Light and durable, this tomahawk-style blade made short work of clearing the camp and chopping firewood. The head lets you hammer spikes or pull up nails. It attaches to your belt or backpack for easy portability.
…For Home & Cabin Utility
Estwing Camper's Axe: Estwing caters to tradesmen, so it makes durable, long-lasting tools. While this axe was harder to sharpen than other axes in our lineup, it handles impacts well and has a shock-absorbing handle. Great for a first-time axe owner.
How We Tested Camping Hatchets
We looked at a wide range of camping axes, with prices varying from $40 to $200. Sizes ranged from the KLAX axe head that snaps onto your belt to a couple of 19-inch-plus axes that are better suited for a cabin or home. Even so, the brands were winnowed to the ones with strong reputations for excellent construction.
The testers at Active Junky do more than look at specs and carry out simple tests. They take every axe into the field, putting them through their paces for chopping wood, clearing brush, shaving spikes and driving tent stakes. They pushed them to, and sometimes past, the limits of what blade manufacturers say the axes can withstand. We also sought out – and found – some creative uses that demonstrate these hatchets' versatility.
The testers also tried these axes out in different environments, from desert camping in Utah and backcountry hikes to expeditions in South America.
Camp Hatchets: Choosing the Best Model for You
When deciding on the best camp axe for your needs, consider use, functionality, and quality. We covered some of the best brands for different uses above, but if those choices aren't quite right for you, consider your choices with your specific needs in mind. A fancy multitool axe might not be the best choice if you only want an axe to chop logs for a fire.
Functionality encompasses how well the blade penetrates the wood, how durable the axe is overall, and how light and easy it is to swing.
Quality refers to craftsmanship and applies to the materials used to manufacture the axe as well as the design and the reputation of the manufacturer.
Cutting to the Chase: The Most Important Things to Remember About Camping Axes
The best camping axes can be used for more than chopping a few logs. Most help you drive in-tent spikes, clear brush, pry up that stubborn rock, or even open a can (without chopping off the top).
Well-made hatchets, manufactured by reputable manufacturers, have strong blades that retain their sharpness, sport handles with good grips, and sheaths that protect you and the blade while making them easier to carry. Each, however, has standout qualities that speak to its best uses.
As you examine the different camp axes on our lineup, be a sharp shopper and keep in mind how you intend to use the blade.
For a more-detailed examination of the features and items to consider when choosing the best camping axe, check out our article on finding the best camping axe for you.