Last Updated on September 7, 2021
Whether you are camping or backpacking, a hatchet is a useful piece of kit to carry as it is a versatile item. The most common use of a backpacking hatchet is for chopping wood, either for a fire or for building a shelter. Another use is as an aid when backpacking over difficult or icy terrain. Backpackers may use a hatchet in these situations by embedding the blade into the ground so that they can pull themselves along. Furthermore, a hatchet can come in useful in survival situations for hunting and food preparation. Therefore, a hatchet is an invaluable tool for people who enjoy outdoor activities. After hours of extensive research, we put together this list of the best backpacking hatches and axes to help you choose the one that fits your needs.
Best Backpacking Hatchet
There are many different hatchets available that are suitable for backpacking and hiking. To help you make your decision, here are reviews of 15 of the best backpacking hatchets.
Measuring 12.5-inches in length, this is a relatively compact hatchet. It is also a lightweight backpacking hatchet as it weighs just 19-ounces. The two-inch blade is made from hardcased black 420 stainless steel. This is a durable metal that is unlikely to rust, which makes it ideal for outdoor activities, including hunting, camping, hiking, and backpacking. This is a multifunctional tool as it has features that allow you to use this tool in a variety of ways. In addition to the mini axe, there is a spike that you can use for piercing. There is also a flat edge that you can use for hammering. The handle of the hatchet is textured, so you will always have a good, safe grip while swinging this item. The hatchet comes with a ballistic nylon sheath that keeps your hatchet blade safely covered to reduce the risk of injury. The sheath will also protect your blade so that it is effective for longer.
- Compact and lightweight
- Multifunctional tool
- Textured handle for improved grip
- Comes with a blade sheath
Although this is available in five sizes between nine and 36-inches, the best option for backpackers is the nine-inch hatchet as it is the most compact and lightweight. This sturdy item has a forged steel head and a composite handle that is both lightweight and durable. The handle is soft to touch, so it is good to grip and feels comfortable in your hand. At the end of the handle, there is a hole that gives you the option to hang the hatchet at home when it is not in use.At the opposite end to the hatchet blade, there is a blunt section that you can use to knock in your tent stakes. This hatchet has a rugged and reliable design and it is suitable for various purposes, including hunting, survival, military, industrial, and outdoor activities. Included with the hatchet is a plastic cover that you can use as a sheath when you are carrying your hatchet in your backpack.
- Size options available
- Composite handle
- Comfortable grip
- Forged steel head
- Useful blunt section
- Plastic cover
The handle of this hatchet is made from hickory wood, which is a durable yet lightweight material. It is shaped so that you can get a comfortable and secure grip of the hatchet and do not need to worry about it slipping dangerously from your hand. This hatchet has a hand forged steel blade and the sturdy shaft uses both wooden and steel wedges for a secure fastening. This small backpacking hatchet is ideal for chopping wood for a campfire or cutting down small branches to create a clearing for a pathway or to pitch your tent. The hatchet comes with a good-quality leather blade cover. This blade cover will protect your blade from becoming damaged. It is also a good safety feature of this hatchet as it reduces your risk of injury and will prevent the blade from damaging your backpack or its contents.
- Shaped wooden handle
- Hand forged steel blade
- Small and lightweight
- Leather blade cover included
Ideal for chopping and kindling logs that are either small or medium, this hatchet is worth considering for your backpacking trips. Although at 14-inches it is a little longer than many other backpacking hatchets, it is still a lightweight option because of the materials from which it is made. The handle is made from a lightweight fiber composite that is extremely durable and almost impossible to break. The blade is probably the best feature of this hatchet because it crafted with a proprietary grinding technique that gives the blade a sharper edge than many of its competitors. This is advantageous because it gives the blade better contact and it will make better cuts. This grinding technique also means that the blade will stay sharper for longer. A further feature of the blade is a low-friction coating. Another benefit of choosing this hatchet is that it is designed to have perfect weight distribution, and this gives the optimal power-to-weight ratio. This means that the hatchet has a more powerful swing and that the swing speed is increased.
- Lightweight fiber composite handle
- Blade stays sharper for longer
- Low-friction coating on the blade
- Sharp edge
- Perfect weight distribution
- Optimal power-to-weight ratio
Aesthetically, this is one of the most visually appealing hatchets available as the handle has a striped and polished look that is like that of a high-quality knife. However, there is more to this hatchet than simply its appearance as it is a practical option with many features that will appeal to backpackers and hikers. The blade and the handle are forged from one piece, so there are no weak spots around a bolster. Therefore, it is a durable and long-lasting tool for striking. The handle is coated with a leather grip that is hand-sanded and lacquered. This finish makes the handle very hard-wearing and it feels comfortable to use. The finest American steel is used for the blade of this hatchet, and the hand-sharpened edge is very sharp. It comes with a ballistic nylon sheath that will protect your knife, reduce the risk of injury, and protect your belongings.
- Forged from one piece
- Finest American steel blade
- Hand-sanded and lacquered leather grip
- Comfortable to hold
- Ballistic nylon sheath
A multifunctional tool, this hatchet combines the functions of an axe and a hammer and was designed by Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical. It has a simple cylindrical handle that is made from tough Tennessee hickory while the blade is hot forged 1055 carbon steel. One side of the blade is a small axe, while the other side is a hammer head. This means that you can use this tool for chopping wood, cutting down branches, knocking in stakes, and for many other tasks. The edge of the axe measures 3.5-inches and it holds its edge well. This is a larger hatchet and its dimensions are 19.1-inches long, 8.2-inches wide, and 1.5-inches thick. Although this means it is a longer and heavier hatchet, it is worth considering for your backpacking trip because it is versatile and it is a good choice if you will spend a lot of time at camp.
- Multifunctional hammer and axe combination
- Carbon steel blade
- Hickory handle
- Holds its edge
Gerber is one of the leading manufacturers of knives and tools in the United States. They are known for producing top-quality products using the finest craftsmanship. The rugged and reliable design of this tool makes it one of the best hatchets for backpacking. It is also suitable for survival, military, hunting, and tactical purposes. At just 4-pounds and 13-inches length, this is a compact and lightweight hatchet for backpacking that will not add lots of extra weight to your backpack. Despite the lightweight design, this is a sturdy item with a 3.5-inch blade that is razor sharp. The back of the blade head has a crosshatched striking surface that is perfect for various camp duties, including tenderizing meat, straightening ben backpack stays, or knocking in tent stakes. A rubberized coating covers the handle of this hatchet, and this gives the user an excellent grip during use. The hatchet comes with a military-grade sheath that is mildew-resistant and has loops to strap it to your belt or backpack. Included with the hatchet is a copy of Bear Grylls’ pocket guide, ‘Priorities of Survival’.
- Lightweight yet sturdy
- Razor sharp blade
- Multifunctional tool
- Rubberized handle grip
- Military-grade, mildew-resistant sheath
- Survival pocket guide included
Made in Sweden, this is a traditional scouting and camping axe. At just 1.3-pounds, it is a lightweight backpacking axe that will not add too much weight to your load. The 13-inch wooden handle gives the axe more power than a hatchet with a smaller handle and this means it takes less effort to complete tasks. Therefore, it can lop off larger branches and splitting bigger logs than many other backpacking hatchets. Its handle has a hole in one end that you can use to hang the hatchet when it is not in use.The blade is made from mid-carbon steel and has a 3.5-inch edge with a mirror-finished convex grind. A vegetable-tanned leather sheath is included with the hatchet, and this provides good protection for your blade. It also reduces the likelihood of you injuring yourself or damaging your backpack. Another bonus when you buy this backpacking axe is that it comes with ‘The Axe Book’.
- Traditional style axe
- Wooden handle
- Long, powerful handle
- Mid-carbon steel blade
- Vegetable-tanned leather sheath
- Book included
Another lightweight hatchet that is ideal for backpacking and hiking as it weighs just one pound and nine ounces. It has an overall length of 12-8-inches and a blade length of 3.1-inches. This full tang axe is a durable tool made from good quality materials. The blade is made from SK-5 high carbon steel, which means it is a sharp, reliable, and hard-wearing blade. Its handle is made from black, nylon fiber that is durable and comfortable to hold. You will not need to worry about this hatchet slipping from your hand during use as the textured surface and shaped grip of the handle give you good security while chopping. There are some useful extra features on this hatchet, including a spike pommel and a nail pull. It comes with a protective black nylon belt sheath that features a belt loop for you to attach the sheath and hatchet to your belt or backpack.
- Durable materials
- Nylon belt sheath with belt loop
- Excellent grip
- Spike pommel and nail pull
Possibly the best small hatchet, this tool weighs just 18.6-ounces and has an overall length of 11-inches. Therefore, it is the ideal size and weight for backpackers and hikers who need to keep the weight they carry to a minimum. The blade is made from durable 420 steel and the razor-sharp edge measures 2.4-inches. This hatchet’s handle has G10 scales, and this improves the grip for safety when using this tool. The textured surface also feels comfortable to hold. It is a smart looking hatchet with a black oxide finish that does not deteriorate, even with repeated use. The hatchet comes with a black sheath that covers the sharp blade edge when the hatchet is not in use to prevent you from suffering an injury and to protect the blade. It will also reduce the risk of your backpack or its contents getting damaged if you carry the hatchet inside your backpack. The sheath has a snap closure and a belt loop so that you can attach it to your backpack or belt.
- Lightweight and compact
- Good quality and durable materials
- G!0 scales for good handle grip
- Smart appearance
- Sheath included
A durable tool, this hatchet has a 3.6-inch blade made from stainless steel, which is a long-lasting and corrosion-resistant material that retains a blade edge well. The overall length of this hatchet is 11.1-inches and the handle is wrapped in shaped and textured black rubber. Not only does this make the hatchet feel comfortable in your hand, but it also means that you will have a secure grip of the handle when you are chopping. This small, full tang axe has an interesting design, which includes a useful hammer pommel that can come in handy for many tasks at camp. A loop at the end of the handle gives you the option to hang the hatchet for storage at home or to attach it to your backpack during a trek. It comes with a black, nylon sheath to cover the blade edge when the hatchet is not in use. This reduces the risk of injury and protects your hatchet blade from damage.
- Stainless steel blade
- Shaped and textured rubber handle
- Hammer pommel
- Sheath included
- Loop for hanging
Measuring just 10-inches in total length and weighing only 0.7-pounds, this is one of the best lightweight hatchets available. The Swedish manufacturer GransforsBruk is one of the leading brands in this industry and they have established an excellent reputation for the quality of their products. This is evident with this model that is made from materials that are durable, practical, and aesthetically pleasing. The curved steel blade is shaped in such a way that there is a great blade edge without reducing the amount of hand space available on the handle. This hatchet has a sturdy and long-lasting wooden handle that will feel nice in your hand. It comes with a high-quality tanned and studded leather sheath that protects your blade and reduces the chances of an accident with your hatchet when it is not in use. The hatchet also comes with ‘The Axe Book’.
- Lightweight and compact
- Quality materials
- Book included
- Leather sheath
- Durable and practical
The materials for this hatchet are sourced from different parts of the world so that only the best materials are used. The blade is made in Germany from German C50 high-grade carbon steel that is hard wearing and durable but is sharp and can retain its edge. American hickory is the material used for the handle, although this part of the hatchet is made in Switzerland. It is a long-handled axe with an overall length of 18-inches. This hatchet is also one of the heavier options available at three pounds, but this means that it has more power and is suitable for chopping larger logs and branches. This hatchet comes with a vegetable-tanned leather sheath. The sheath is tough enough to effectively protect the blade when it is not in use and to keep you safe from harm while carrying your hatchet. Also included with this hatchet is a one-ounce bottle of Axe Guard protective oil for you to maintain your hatchet’s blade.
- American hickory handle
- German high carbon steel blade
- Long-handled axe
- Powerful and durable
- Vegetable-tanned leather sheath
- Protective blade oil included
In terms of versatility, this is probably the best backpacking hatchet. Thanks to its many features, you can use this multifunctional tool for many tasks while hiking, backpacking, or camping. Some of the 31 features of the hatchet include the hatchet blade, a hammer head, a nail claw, a pry bar, four hex sockets, a hardened steel glass breaker, a seat belt cutter, a glass valve cut off, an integrated bottle opener, and a replaceable six-inch saw blade with an updated locking mechanism for safety. This full tang hatchet has a steel head that is durable and sharp. The hard-wearing handle is made from lightweight, glass-filled nylon that is shaped for a secure and comfortable grip. The total length of this compact hatchet is 11-inches and it weighs just over 1.5-pounds. It comes with a sheath to protect you, your hatchet, and your belongings.
- Versatile and multifunctional tool
- 31 features
- Hard-wearing handle
- Sheath included
- Compact and lightweight
This handmade hatchet has a hand-forged blade made in Sweden using steel from a steel foundry that was established in 1697. During the production process, the steel is struck repeatedly as this increases its density and Improves the durability of the steel. The head is constructed so that there is a tempered zone. This is designed to give the blade an extremely sharp edge and to retain the edge for longer. The wooden handle is shaped so that you have a comfortable and secure grip. This hatchet has a traditional leather protective sheath that is embellished with Swedish designs. The leather protects the blade and is thick enough to keep you and your belongings safe. There are two storage options for when this hatchet is not in use. First, you can put on the sheath and then hang it from the hole at the end of the handle. Alternatively, you can keep it safely in the storage box in which it is originally packaged. The hatchet also comes with a user manual.
- Handmade hatchet
- Enhanced blade density and durability
- Sharp edge and good edge retention
- Shaped handle for comfort and security
- Storage options
- Sheath and user manual included
Best Hatchets and Axes for Backpacking- Buying Guide
As there are so many hatchets on the market to choose between, finding the best one for you means considering all the factors. Here is a buying guide to help you find the best backpacking hatchet to meet your needs.
Size and Weight
Like with most items you may take backpacking, the size and weight of a hatchet are two of the key features to consider. When deciding which to buy, you should think about the following:
- Backpackers usually want a compact and ultralight hatchet that will not take up too much space in their backpack and that will add as little weight as possible to the load they are carrying.
- The weight is so important because you will carry it all day while hiking but you will only use it for a few minutes each day. Therefore, the need for a lightweight backpacking hatchet outweighs the need for a larger hatchet that has more force.
- The materials used are the biggest factor that impacts on the size and weight of a hatchet.
The size, shape, and material of a handle are all essential factors to think about. Some points to consider are:
- Handle length is important for the type of tasks for which you intend to use the hatchet. However, it is better to choose a general hatchet that you can apply to most tasks when backpacking.
- Choosing a shorter handle means you will use up less space in your backpack. Similarly, a hatchet with a shorter handle is usually a more lightweight option.
- Shorter handles are better for occasional use, and this is all that most backpackers will need.
- If you will spend more time at the camp than hiking and intend to use your hatchet for lots of tasks, it is worth considering choosing a hatchet with a moderate to long handle.
- Wood handles can vary in weight depending on the type of wood used. One of the benefits of choosing wood handles is that they are easy to repair. The downsides of handles made from wood are that they are vulnerable to overstriking and are often badly made. Furthermore, if they are coated in urethane, they are slippery and hard to grip properly.
- Fiberglass or plastic handles are usually lightweight, durable, and less prone to splinters. However, they vary drastically in quality and they are harder to repair or replace than wood handles.
There are many differences between the blades of the backpacking hatchets available. Some points to think about include:
- Most hatchet blades are made from steel but vary in the type of steel used.
- The only type of steel to avoid for hatchets and axes is true mild steel. Any other type of steel is acceptable.
- Some specialized steels have designated markings that indicate the type of steel and its features.
- Basic oil-hardening steel is marked as 0-1, while basic high carbon steels are marked with numbers between 1065 and 1095. Both these materials are acceptable for hatchet blades and they are among the cheaper options.
- Standard high-chromium stainless steel is another of the cheaper options and this material is unlikely to rust, which is an advantage.
- For the sharpest blades that can hold an edge, the best choice is a blade made heat-treated steel with a marking between 1085 and 1095.
- The size of the blade is also important and there are various blade sizes available. The size of blade you choose will depend on how you intend to use the hatchet. It is worth noting that the larger the blade, the heavier the hatchet. This is an important consideration for backpacking.
The accessories that a hatchet comes with can impact on your decision and can make some models stand out from the rest. Some of the accessories that come with some hatchets include:
- Blade cover- Many hatchets come with a blade cover. This is a handy accessory to have because it will prevent accidents. If you keep your hatchet in your backpack, it can tear the fabric if the blade does not have a cover. If you hang it on the outside of your bag, you are at risk of getting a nasty gash to your arm that a hatchet blade cover could prevent.
- Sharpening hones- Having a good hone can come in handy for sharpening when outdoors. However, it is not a big deal if a hatchet does not come with one as you can buy them separately or just use a small fine-tooth file.
- Extra wedges- it is rare to see a hatchet sold with extra wedges, but there are some on the market with these accessories included. An alternative is to make your own metal or wooden wedges.
- Overstrike protectors- These are helpful if you are not all that skilled at using your hatchet as they protect the haft of the hatchet from impact if you miss your target. They are usually made from either metal or rubber.
- Other tools and features- There are some hatchets that include extra tools, such as a bottle opener, specialized hammer faces, or nail pullers. These extra features are often on the butt of the axe. You only need a hatchet that has the features you are likely to use.
The price of a hatchet or axe is one of the most influential factors in the decision about which product to buy for most people. In relation to the price of the hatchet, you should think about the following:
- The price of the hatchet will depend on the materials used, the brand, the size of the hatchet, and if it comes with any accessories.
- A hatchet’s price does not always reflect its quality as it is possible to get some of the best backpacking hatchets for a low price.
- You can save money when buying a backpacking hatchet if you shop online instead of shopping at a bricks-and-mortar store.
- Shopping online for your hatchet also means you can compare prices and customer reviews of each of the products.
What Are Hatchets and Axes and How Are They Useful for Hiking and Backpacking?
Both a hatchet and an axe are tools intended for chopping tasks, such as chopping up logs or chopping down branches. The difference between a hatchet and an axe is the size. A hatchet has a shorter handle and smaller blade than an axe. In theory, you could take either along with you when hiking or backpacking as both tools have the same function. However, because a hatchet is smaller and usually lighter, they are a much better option for backpacking.
Hatchets or axes are most commonly used by hikers and backpackers when they are setting up camp. They might use their hatchet to clear the undergrowth so that they can pitch their tent and then chop up wood to build a campfire.
A backpacker or hiker can also use their hatchet in other ways, such as to clear their path during a trek or to use the blunt part of the hatchet to knock in their tent stakes. If the hatchet has other features, such as a bottle opener, they may also come in handy.
A hatchet is a useful item to take on your hiking or backpacking trips. There are many hatchets to choose between and each of these has its own features. The overall best backpacking hatchet is the SOG Throwing Tomahawk Axe. This is a compact and lightweight multifunctional tool with a rust-resistant blade.
Another fantastic choice is Off Grid Tools Survival Axe because of its versatility. This is so much more than a hatchet because of the multiple features that you can use to complete many tasks in outdoor settings. This removes the need to pack multiple tools to take along on your backpacking trip so that you can save space and weight in your backpack.