Whenever you set out for a backpacking trip, you must prepare yourself with all the necessary tools. A hatchet is one of those tools you must carry in your backpack when hiking or camping. They can help you create paths, shelter, fire, and more.
But getting a random axe or hatchet doesn’t cut it out for you because backpacking requires a special hatchet type. Finding the best backpacking hatchet can be quite difficult among hundreds of options.
That’s why we bring you some of the best hatchets you can get for backpacking to ease the whole selection process. All of them come with reliability meaning you simply can’t go wrong with these hatchets.
Why Should You Get a Special Hatchet for Backpacking?
Having an axe on any trip to the woods is almost compulsory. But not every axe will do the job when you are backpacking across the woods for a hiking trip. You will need a specific type of axe suitable for backpacking. Here’s some reasons to get a backpacking hatchet –
Creating pathways in the woods
Many hiking trips in the woods will involve a lot of trees or branches blocking your pathway. In those scenarios, you must cut them down to open the path and move forward in your trip. That’s where a backpacking hatchet helps you create your path through the woods.
Building a shelter for nighttime
No matter where you go for backpacking, you can’t move at night. You will need shelter. Out in the woods, you have to cut trees and logs to build a shelter out of it. And having a backpacking hatchet helps you cut wood for building a shelter.
Chopping wood for a fire
Creating a fire is very much essential when you are on a camping trip. It’s necessary not only for light or cooking food but also for safety. Having a fire around your camp helps you keep the wild animals away from the campsite. A hatchet is crucial for chopping and splitting wood for fire.
A self-defense tool
Aside from all the practical uses of a hatchet, it can also be a weapon to defend yourself. The purpose isn’t to attack any wild animal or hunt them down, but if they attack you, a backpacking hatchet can be a great weapon for defense.
Are Backpacking Hatchets Legal to Carry?
The legality of backpacking hatchets depends on your locality. For example, the UK treats axes or hatchets as illegal to carry in public. But you can own a hatchet and use it for camping purposes.
On the other hand, in California, carrying a backpacking hatchet around without any permit is completely legal. But if you are in Colorado, any blade exceeding 3 ½ inches in size is illegal.
To find out whether it’s legal in your area, you should contact the gun registration office at the local police station. It’s something you should do before purchasing a hatchet for whatever purpose.
The 8 Best Backpacking Hatchets To Try Out
After verifying the hatchets’ legality, you can check out the 8 amazing hatchets for backpacking. All these hatchets have the basic factors you need in a backpacking hatchet. The only difference between them is in pricing and some unique features.
#1- ESTWING Camper’s Axe – 14″ Hatchet – Best overall
The Estwing EB-25A is one of the most professional-looking hatchets you can find out there. While the looks will impress you at first glance, the functionality of the hatchet will leave you stunned. It has got all the makings of a perfect backpacking hatchet.
Features that make this axe most suitable are the combination of weight and size. It comes at a 14″ length, perfect for carrying in a backpack. And with the weight of 2 lbs, it’s light enough to carry but heavy enough to provide some good power on the axe head.
What sets this axe apart from all the other choices is the handle and grip on it. The handle features an ergonomic design with pretty sturdy construction. And the grip has a shock reduction feature that helps reduce the vibrating impact by 70 percent for the comfort of use.
Getting into the practicality of the axe, it has good enough sharpness for splitting and kindling some wood. With a 3.5-inch cutting edge, you won’t have to bother too much about the precision when cutting or chopping wood with this one.
Since it’s a full tang construction, there won’t be any risks of losing the axe head while striking hard with the hatchet. It adds up to the axe’s durability, making it last for a long time and more reliable to use.
- Excellent build quality and design
- Performs quite well with sharpness
- Comfortable and non-slippery handle
- Exceptional value for money
- Perfect weight and size for backpacking
- Lacks the use of leather sheath
- Needs a bit of sharpening for first use
#2- Fiskars X7 Hatchet – Wood Splitter – Best for performance
Whether you need a hatchet for splitting wood for fire or chopping trees to make pathways, Fiskars X7 might be the thing you need. It’s the perfect axe for your backpacking trip due to its weight, size, and power balance. Everything just works out for backpacking.
Starting with the high-quality axe blade on the hatchet, you get excellent craftsmanship. The blades have a sharp edge, which can create clean cuts on the wood without too much struggle. They also have a special coating to reduce the friction to glide through the wood.
What makes the hatchet more suitable for backpacking trips is its weight-to-power ratio. The hatchet weighs around 1.4 lbs which makes it a pretty lightweight axe. And the over-molded head connection on the axe gives it that excessive power right on impact.
Another factor making this hatchet a worthy option is the FiberComp handle design. It has a solid construction that’s supposedly stronger than regular steel handles. You won’t have to worry about the hatchets breaking apart while cutting wood on your camping trip.
Coming to the size of the hatchet, it’s just perfection. With 14″ in length, you won’t have to struggle packing it in your backpack for your trips. You can even carry it along in an axe holster on your waist. The handle is large enough to also have a grip for added pressure. In short, the perfect size.
- Durable and solid build quality
- Blades don’t stick inside the wood
- Slip-resistant molded handle
- Lightweight and compact for backpacking
- Excellent long-lasting sharpness
- Not suitable to work on hardwood
- Might not have enough force due to size
#3- Coleman Camp Axe – Best for affordability
Spending on an expensive axe isn’t worthwhile for anyone out there who doesn’t backpack or go camping regularly. That’s where the Coleman Camp Axe comes into play. It’s the perfect axe for camping without costing you a fortune.
Starting with the axe head, it has got a pretty heavy-duty construction. It uses drop-forged steel for the axe head with a notch cut included in the head. The notch cut helps pull out the tent stakes you push into the ground while camping.
Coming to the handle, you get a very solid and strong handle on the axe with steel construction. Although, the best part is the rubber grip on the handle, which ensures the axe doesn’t slip out of your hand at any point. The handle shape is also quite comfortable.
Something that makes this axe a suitable choice for backpacking is the size. It’s a pretty compact axe with a 13” length. Even though the handle feels a bit bulky due to the rubber grip, it doesn’t take up much space in a backpack.
One factor that can be bliss or a curse is the axe’s weight. It weighs around 2 lbs which can be great for some added power on the axe head. You can cut through some heavy wood with ease. But you have to carry some extra weight for that extra power.
- Very much affordable
- Solid build quality
- Comfortable nonslip handle
- Compact enough to pack in a bag
- Packs some power in the axe head
- Doesn’t come with a sheath
- The axe blade can go blunt
#4- ESTWING Sportsman’s Axe – 12″ Camping Hatchet
Estwing is one of the most renowned brands for outdoor hatchets and axes. This sportsman’s axe from Estwing is just a testament to why the brand is so popular. It has all the makings of a perfect camping hatchet for any backpacking trip.
An exceptional thing about this axe is that there are no joints or separators. With this kind of design, you will never have to worry about the axe head coming off the handle, which ensures reliability and durability.
Speaking of durability, the axe uses an all-steel construction with a leather grip on the handle. This means no wooden parts on the axe can deteriorate or break. Since Estwing uses top-quality American steel, there is no risk of damaging the handle in any way.
A very cool thing about this axe is the options you get on them. The axe comes in two different size options giving you a 12″ axe and a 14″ axe. And they also offer the axes in 3 different styles. One is plain and simple steel, one has a leather grip color, and the other one comes in black.
As for the performance of the axe for backpacking, there are no concerns whatsoever. You can easily cut through wood like butter with a sharp blade and 2-3 inches of cutting edge. With this kind of design and construction, you can put extreme force into cutting without thinking twice.
- Top notch build quality
- Comfortable and ergonomic leather handle
- Quality axe head with sharp edges
- Offers variety in size and colors
- Great value for money
- The stickers on the axe ruin the look
- Comes with a nylon sheath only
#5- SOG FastHawk- Lighter, Faster, Agile Throwing Hatchet
If you are thinking of swaying away from a typical axe look, and want a tactical appearance in your axe, then this is the perfect choice. Not only does it look modern, but it also packs many features. A great tactical choice for professional camping and backpacking trips.
Right off the bat, with its tactical design, you can expect excellent speed and agility on the axe. It’s very easy to control, which allows you to use it as freely as you want. The axe head is also quite compact, which makes it flexible for crafting and carving.
While it may not be the heaviest hatchets out there, a razor-sharp blade can still get the job done. The axe head features a 420-stainless steel blade giving it the perfect kind of sharpness for cutting small to medium logs and branches.
The main reason you would consider this a backpacking axe is the combination of weight and length. It weighs just about 1.18 lbs, and the length is around 12.5 inches. Such a lightweight and compact design makes it easy to carry in your backpack without taking up much space.
Something commendable about this particular axe is its versatility. You can perform many actions with this axe, such as chopping, hammering, prying, notching, crafting, breaking, cutting, piercing, and digging. It suits almost every need you may have in a hatchet for camping.
- Lightweight and maneuverable
- Very small to pack in a bag
- Provides great versatility
- The axe blade is quite sharp
- Impressive design and build quality
- It has a very short axe head
- Needs a bit of sharpening after using
#6- Gerber Gear Camping and Survival Hatchet
Here’s a brand everyone knows about when it comes to axes or hatchets for outdoor activities. This hatchet from Gerber Gear can be the best companion you take in your next camping or backpacking trip out in the woods.
The specialty of this hatchet has to be its size. Its 9.46″ length is one of the smallest hatchets you can find. You can almost use the hatchet like a knife while getting a similar strength to an axe blade.
Things get even better when you focus on the full tang construction of the hatchet. The design allows the hatchet to be stable and steady while providing enough power to cut through wood without any trouble.
As for the blade, you get excellent sharpness coming from the tall grind on it. It has a stonewashed finish and stainless steel construction, so you won’t have any trouble with the blade’s durability either.
Adding to all that, there are several convenient features, like a rubber grip, to ensure non-slippery use. You also get finger grooves on the hatchet for better control of the axe, which results in excellent precision.
- Convenient build and design
- Good sharpness in the axe head
- Easy to carry with nylon sheath
- Very compact and lightweight
- Steady and powerful to use
- It’s a bit too thin for splitting wood
- Doesn’t work well for bigger wood parts
#7- WatchFire 10” Black Camping/Survival Axe-Head Hatchet
If you are going on a short trip and taking a small backpack, you can still take a hatchet with you. This survival hatchet from Watchfire is very compact, with some decent power to cut through heavy wood in the wild.
While the specialty is its small size, it doesn’t lack in the build quality aspect either. It has a proper axe head made of 3CR13 stainless steel. This means you won’t have to think about rust or corrosion with this hatchet.
You also get a very effective handle with a rubber grip. It has a ribbed pattern to give you the best possible friction on the handle. You get the perfect balance of comfort and efficiency from the hatchet handle.
Carrying the hatchet on your trips is the easiest thing you will ever do. The weight is just around 0.73 lbs which doesn’t burden your backpack. And the best part is that it doesn’t take up much space, considering it has a total length of around 10 inches.
One of the most surprising facts about the hatchet is the price. It has a very reasonable price considering the quality and features you get. You can get the hatchet for under $20.
- Excellent portability
- Affordable pricing
- Very functional for backpacking
- Corrosion and rust resistant blade
- Comfortable and non-slippery handle
- Lacks enough power for chopping
- Sheath quality is very poor
#8- Schrade SCAXE2 11.8in Stainless Steel Small Axe
Schrade SCAXE2 is one of those axes that just has it all. It provides every quality, functionality, and feature you should have in a backpacking axe. Working with wood using this axe becomes a pleasure most of the time.
Starting with the blade, it’s reliable throughout the use of this axe. The blade uses 3Cr13 stainless steel that has a titanium coating. It makes the blade much more durable and resistant to corrosion or rust. And even the sharpness of the blade is impressive to cut through wood with ease.
The quality of the handle has to be a talking point about this axe. Of course, it has a rubber grip to give you that convenience and security. But the feature that takes it to another level is the construction of the handle. It uses PA and TPR material filled with glass fiber to make it cold-resistant.
Another factor to love about the axe is its multi-functionality. There is a pommel on the back of the axe head that you can use for hammering stuff. It can work out great when you go camping and need to set up tents.
Lastly, portability is surely there to make it a top choice for backpacking. The 14″ length makes it easy to pack it in your bag without taking up all the space. And the weight is just around 1.5 lbs which doesn’t make your backpack heavy either.
- Very impressive design and build
- Lightweight and small to carry around
- Excellent handle material and quality
- The axe head comes with good sharpness and durability
- Features a hammering tool
- The plastic sheath isn’t that good
- Needs frequent sharpening
How to Choose a Backpacking Hatchet?
Going through some options doesn’t magically land you on the perfect backpacking hatchet. You must consider several factors to find the best hatchet that suits your requirements. Let’s check out what you should consider while choosing a backpacking hatchet.
Since you are thinking of backpacking, the most important factor to consider is the portability of the hatchet. It has to be lightweight and compact to fit in your bag and easy to carry. An average length of 14″ or less works great with a weight of less than 2 lbs.
A preferable hatchet design for a backpacking hatchet is full tang construction. This way, you get a hatchet with no separate head and handle. It increases the reliability of the hatchet and makes it more functional to use.
Build Quality And Durability
When you are out in the woods, you don’t want your axe to break down in the middle of cutting. Solid build quality on the hatchet is important to ensure it lasts long.
A hatchet or an axe is all about the axe head. You want an axe head that comes with a strong and sharp blade. Try getting an axe head of stainless steel with proper edging and sharpness. Also, something easy to sharpen also helps out a lot in the long run.
Ergonomic handle has to be the priority you have to focus on because it adds to comfort. But apart from that, you can always aim for a rubber grip to keep it non-slippery.
For the most part, you would want versatility in your backpacking hatchet. It doesn’t need to specialize in one function, but it should be able to do multiple things. For instance, a hatchet you can use for chopping, splitting, cutting, crafting, and carving is perfect for backpacking.
By now, you surely know what makes up the best backpacking hatchet. It’s finding the perfect balance of portability and power, which is difficult to maintain.
Considering all the factors, ESTWING Camper’s Axe – 14″ Hatchet is one of the best overall picks. It is very much portable, comes with decent power to cut wood, and has reasonable pricing as well.
Other than that, there are some more choices that you can consider based on your particular needs. Honestly, none of the ones from this list is disappointing.
Here’s all about our editorial staff. We have a team of 5 expert editors specializing in all kinds of tools. From their years of experience, they provide all kinds of solutions related to your tools. Our experts always try to find the most unsolvable tool-related issues and provide the most effective solutions. Also, we research the market and provide reviews on the best available tools after vigorous testing.