2019 Review of the Best Hatchets and Axes for Survival

When it comes to tools necessary to survive out in the wilderness, you can’t really get more crucial than a hatchet or an axe. From clearing your trail, to cutting down firewood, to defending yourself in a moment of need, a good hatchet will be able to do it all for you. We have compiled a list of the best survival hatches and axes so that you can enjoy the great outdoors and rest assured you will return home safely.

Best Hatchets and Axes for Survival Comparison Chart

Product

Rating

Price

Fiskars X7

EstWing E24A Sportsman's Hatchet

Bear Grylls Gerber Hatchet

SOG Voodoo Hawk Axe

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Axe

What’s the Difference Between a Hatchet and an Axe?

If you are new to the outdoor wilderness world, you may not realize there is an actual difference between hatches and axes, and they are not just two interchangeable words for the same tool.

Hatchets are significantly smaller than axes, although there can certainly be big hatches that are very close in size to a small axe. So how do you know the difference for sure?

Hatchet vs Axe (Source)

In order to technically be defined as a hatchet, the tool must be able to be used with one hand by a typical user. In order to be defined as an axe, a typical user must have to use two hands to wield it. Hatchets and axes can serve similar purposes and we review examples of both in this article.

How to Choose Hatchets and Axes for Survival

Beyond the debate between buying a hatchet vs. buying an axe, there are a number of qualities you will want to consider when choosing which specific hatchet or axe to buy.

Of course, the first consideration you want to make is the quality of the material. If you are using your tools to help you survive out in the wilderness, you do not want them to break on you in your moment of need. Make sure your hatchet or axe is well designed and well made from good quality material, so you don’t have to worry about the head splitting or separating from the handle entirely.

Fiskars X7 Hatchet 14 Inch, 378501-1002

Another big factor to take into account when purchasing a hatchet or axe for survival is its portability. You do not want to find yourself sweating and straining to carry around a huge axe that feels like it is dragging your whole backpack down. Some hatchets are designed to be even more convenient to carry, with attachments that connect them to your belt or can be tied to the outside of a pack.

Finally, make sure the hatchet will be able to accomplish what you need. Smaller blades are typically better for brush clearing, while larger blades will do better to chop up wood for a fire.

Quick Take | BBest Survival Hatchets and Axes

Before diving into our review of the best survival hatchets and axes, here is a quick take of our top 3 picks:

Review of the Best Survival Hatchets and Axes

Now that you have a bit more knowledge of the world of hatchets and axes, read on to learn about some of the best brands and models available to wilderness explorers.

Pros

  • Lightweight, good to carry along when camping
  • Versatile – can cut through brush and larger trees
  • Fiskars as a company provides strong customer service
  • Durable and can stand up to daily use without dulling rapidly
  • Ergonomic handle and specially designed head for maximum efficiency

Cons

  • Can appear to be chipping quickly, but the chipping is actually the metal coat, not the metal axe itself

The Fiskars X7 is lightweight hatchet that can easily be carried along on any hiking or camping trip – but do not let its small size fool you. This hatchet can definitely take down some monsters when it comes to clearing brush or chopping firewood.

The Fiskars X7 has a uniquely shaped head and ergonomically designed handle, all of which is intended to provide maximum efficiency so you can get the job done quickly and get back to enjoying the outdoors. It chops quickly and effectively and can handle much more than you would expect for a hatchet that is so light and easy to use.

Because of its small size, it is also a simple task to clean this hatchet and find somewhere to store it when you are not out exploring the wilderness. And, thanks to the reliable Fiskars brand, it comes with a lifetime warranty, so you will never find yourself going without a hatchet again.

Bottom Line

The Fiskars X7 is an excellent smaller hatchet to carry along when camping, or even when just going on a long hike. It is reliable and will always get the job done, whether you need to chop up thicker logs for firewood or just clear yourself a path off the trail to set up camp. If aesthetics is a big thing for you, you should know in advance that the metal finish on the blade itself does chip off pretty easily.

Pros

  • High-quality forging
  • Head and handle are one fused piece
  • Hatchet head back is flat, doubles easily as a mallet
  • Durable enough to be passed on to your kids’ kids!
  • Comes with a specially designed leather sheath for the head

Cons

  • On the heavier side
  • Varnish on the handle can make it hard to grip – users report it is better to sand off the handle varnish and treat it with oil for more comfortable use
  • If varnish naturally rubs off on its own and leather underneath is not treated with oil, exposure to water will eventually cause the leather to rot

The EstWing E24A Sportsman’s Hatchet is a fantastic old school style hatchet that can still compete with the most modern technology. EstWing has been making hatchets, including the Sportsman’s Hatchet, since 1923, so they have a lot of experience in manufacturing perfection and the Sportsman’s Hatchet gets pretty close. You will only need to buy one of these, and when we say “one,” we mean one that will be passed on to your children and your children’s children – the Sportsman’s is that durable, it can last multiple lifetimes.

The simple design addresses a lot of the issues you may be facing with other, more modern hatchets. The hatchet’s head and handle are completely fused together, so you will never have to worry about the head coming loose and potentially becoming a safety hazard down the line.

Additionally, the head features a wide, flat back, so this hatchet could also double as a mallet to be used when hammering tent stakes into the ground.  

Bottom Line

The EstWing E24A Sportsman’s Hatchet is a great traditionally styled hatchet that you will get a lot of use out of over the years. It does require a bit more effort up front than other hatchets, as some protective measures are necessary to ensure maximum comfort and durability of the leather handle. However, this effort will certainly pay off in the long run when this hatchet outlives your grandchildren!

Pros

  • Extremely sharp
  • Very lightweight
  • Great as an all-day carry tool
  • Excellent at cutting brush and wood chips
  • Handle has finger indentations for easy gripping
  • Smaller size allows for greater control by the user

Cons

  • Blade is made of stainless steel, so it dents easily
  • Some users report the blade’s finish is inconsistent
  • Thin build requires more effort on the part of the user to cut through wood

The Bear Grylls Gerber Hatchet is designed to be used in a variety of situations, from simple outdoor clearing to military action.

We are assuming you probably will not be engaging in the latter (though it is nice to know that this hatchet could be used for that level of defense if necessary) – but we are ready to endorse this hatchet for any outdoor/survival situations! 

The Gerber Hatchet is probably the lightest hatchet on this entire list, an attribute which makes it particularly appealing to female users. Because of its lighter weight and smaller size, this hatchet is also a lot easier to control than other models and can be used to make more precise cuts, which is helpful when woodchipping for a fire.

Bottom Line

The Bear Grylls Gerber Hatchet is an excellent choice when it comes to a lightweight hatchet that you can easily bring along with you for long distances and use for simple bushwhacking and woodchipping. When it comes to taking down larger trees, this hatchet likely will not stand up to any serious chopping, so make sure you plan in advance if you anticipate your hiking or camping trip to require something with a bit more bite.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Strong axehead edge
  • Ridged handle is easy to grip
  • Good for chopping smaller trees and larger limbs
  • Sheath has grommet holes that allow the tomahawk to be easily tied to a backpack or other carrying device

Cons

  • Collar at the top of the handle also loosens easily, although it can be tightened with screws
  • Short tang (part of the blade that is secured by the handle) means the head becomes loose quickly

The SOG Voodoo Hawk Axe is an excellent, versatile little axe from the renowned SOG brand. SOG is short for MACV – SOG, which stands for Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Special Operations Group – and trust us, you are definitely getting some military level efficiency when you invest in a SOG Voodoo Hawk Axe.

This lightweight axe could not be easier to carry, coming in at under two pounds. The blade’s sheath also has built-in grommet holes, meaning you could easily tie it to your belt, your backpack, or whatever bag you use to carry all of your camping equipment, still ensuring it is conveniently accessible if needed.

Bottom Line

The SOG Voodoo Hawk Axe is a nice little axe which will quickly and efficiently chop down smaller obstacles. With sustained use on larger trees, the head and top collar will likely start feeling loose. While this is an issue that can easily be addressed by carrying a screwdriver along with you to tighten these components if they loosen, you would likely be better off bringing the Voodoo Hawk when you know you will be encountering thinner branches, and bringing a stronger axe if you anticipate more serious obstacles.  

Pros

  • Good balance
  • Comes with a free axe hook
  • Comes with high-quality leather sheath
  • Specifically designed for trees in alpine areas
  • So well made it is practically a thing of beauty

Cons

  • Because it is on the larger side, may be better to store in your car rather than pack it along
  • Because it is designed for alpine trees, which typically have softer wood, the axe blade dulls quicker when used on harder wood trees such as maples

The Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Axe is a premium axe that is well worth the extra investment. It is easily the sharpest axe on this list, and potentially the sharpest axe available on the market today. Users report being able to shave their arm hairs with the blade when it first arrives, and also that the blade does not dull quickly, even with prolonged use.

If that is not enough to convince you of this axe’s extremely high quality, consider the fact that each axe handle is branded with the initials of the person who forged the blade. That’s right, Gransfors Bruks is old school, and that attention to detail shows in every aspect of this gorgeous axe.

Its size strikes the perfect balance – it is large enough to be effective, yet small enough to still be easily controlled. The blade is rust resistant and is made of 100% recycled metal, so you can also feel good about saving the planet when using this special axe.

Bottom Line

The Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Axe is probably the highest quality axe you can find. Although it does have some limitations in size and impact on different types of trees, it is far and above the most standout axe for a number of reasons. If you want a premium tool that will remain useful for years to come, you really cannot go wrong with a Gransfors Bruks axe.

Conclusion

Hatchets and axes are excellent survival tools, no matter what you are looking for out of your wilderness excursion. Because there are a wide variety of options available, make sure you take time to think about what you are specifically trying to get out of your survival hatchet or axe, whether that is portability, durability, or ease of use. You can’t go wrong with a good, strong, sturdy survival hatchet – it can give you peace of mind like nothing else.

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