If you are an outdoorsman who loves camping and being in nature, you know how important it is to have the best gear you can afford. One of the mainstays in any lineup of gear is an axe. Axes have an array of uses spanning from shelter building, wood splitting, self defense in the wilderness, and so much more. However, finding the best survival axe on the market can be a tedious process without the proper knowledge and information at your disposal. No one wants to purchase an axe expecting one thing and getting something completely different. Knowing what you are getting yourself into is key. In this article, we will break down the industry’s best survival axes and hatchets available to you right now. Each type has varying purposes and will help you in one way or another while in the wilderness. This will help you sort out what the best survival axe is for you.
What goes into a good survival axe or hatchet?
The handle and grip
A huge factor to keep in mind is the build of the axe handle. After all, this is what you are holding onto when using it, so it is important to find an axe with a good feel and comfort.
You also need a handle that is sturdy. This will make you feel more confident and safe while using the axe. Having a quality grip will also keep you safe from slips and the potential for accidents. When your axe is a non slip model, it is easier to have safe, efficient results.
The blade and head
The part of the axe that is actually doing the cutting is the blade. It is important to have a sharp blade that is made from a strong material. The blade is attached to the head which reinforces the impact the axe can make.
Survival axes have different capabilities depending on the thickness of the head. The thicker the head, the more it can handle, and vice versa. A lot of survival models are either smaller like a hatchet or have add-ons that take away from the cutting abilities. This is important because you might just want an axe for cutting larger logs. On the contrary, you may want a multitool. So, prioritizing different parts of the axe, including the head and blade, is crucial.
Build of the handle
One of the wildcards that come with a camping axe is how the handle is constructed. Do you want a classic wooden handle? Do you want a more modern, composite build? Do you want a full tang axe? There can be a lot of variables when it comes to survival axe handles.
You also need to keep shock absorption in mind. Especially when chopping heavy wood, you want your hands to be protected in the process. It is a horrible feeling to get a sting shot up through your hands because the axe is not absorbing a lot of the painful vibrations. This can usually be remedied with after-market grips that you can buy and install, but it is always easier to buy an axe with one already included.
Along with the head and blade, keeping the build of the handle in mind is super important. After all, if an axe is not comfortable in your hands, it will be no fun using it.
All of these factors need to come together and form a good balance. Having an appropriate weight distribution is one of the biggest factors to keep in mind. If your survival axe is unbalanced, it can be dangerous and inefficient to use. A big chunk of the weight should be carried in the head, and you should feel comfortable with your grip on the handle. When these aspects work together in harmony, using the axe will be seamless.
Although many people see axes for what they are on the surface, there are some great add-ons and alternative uses that makes you think outside of the box. Some options come with extras like flint and steel, saws, hammers, and glass-breaking spikes. This all comes down to personal preference and if these extras are worth having.
If you are buying a survival axe with its sole purpose being to prepare firewood, you won’t need a lot of the extras that come with some survival axes and hatchets. If you want to be able to hammer, dig, and have a tool for any situation, that is a big option to keep in mind.
What are some common uses for a survival axe or hatchet?
Since you now know what goes into a perfect survival axe in terms of physical materials, it is important to understand what survival axes can be used for. Here are some common uses for survival axes and hatchets!
The most obvious use for these tools is chopping wood. Whether it be for a fire, building a shelter, or anything else, the main use for an axe is to cut wood. However, when talking about a survival axe, you probably want to get more out of it can the most basic task.
If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where your live could be threatened by wildlife, a survival axe or survival hatchet is great for self defense. Axes are some of the oldest weapons in the world, so he inherit nature of the tool can be used to protect yourself.
Hammering or striking
A majority of axes have the ability to hammer and be that blunt object that is needed in many situations. The back of the head of the axe is usually both flat and strong. This gives you the option to use it as a hammer. Whether it be for building a shelter or driving in tent stakes, when you think outside of the box, these tools can be great for alternative uses.
Making a fire
This point kind of relates to chopping wood, but it goes further than that. Along with cutting big pieces of fuel, hatchets and axes can be used to prepare kindling and tinder. Both of these factors are important to take care of in order to get your first started quickly and burning hot.
If you are in a situation that requires you to hunt for some food, a hatchet is a great tool to help do the job. Although axes can work, hatchets are usually better for hunting. The smaller build makes it easier to throw like a tomahawk. Although a gun or bow and arrow would be much more efficient, you often won’t have either in a real survival situation.
Along with the physical hunting, these tools are good for preparing hunted game. If you are lucky enough to get a rabbit or squirrel to eat, they need to be skinned and prepared. A survival hatchet is great for getting this done, especially when you don’t have the proper tools around.
In a more general sense, survival axes are made to help you prepare things. Whether this be cutting wood to build a shelter, preparing wood for a fire, or getting game ready to eat, you are using this tool to make your life easier. A normal axe is almost only made to cut wood. When in a survival situation, you need much more than that.
Now that you know what goes into finding the best survival axe or hatchet for you, it is time to breakdown some of the best on the market and figure out which ones are a good fit for you. Here are our picks for the best survival axes and survival hatchets in no particular order!
The Best Survival Axe to Buy in 2021
A great all-around axe to have on deck is the Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Axe. This model offers a really long 24-inch handle so you can put more power and speed behind your swing. The axe length of the handle is a factor that often times gets looked over or forgotten about. You want to make sure that the axe has a handle that fits well in your hand and allows enough length to execute powerful strikes. Being a fan of the axe is key. Without liking it, you can’t enjoy it. This is accompanied by a 1.5 lb. head, so its balance is a big selling point.
With the total weight at 2.2 pounds, it is fit for heavy wood chopping and other all-around tasks. This is one axe that has an interesting, deep-rooted history. The Swedish steel head was forged in an establishment that is over 300 years old. Not only will you be holding a reliable tool, but you will be a part of a long history of axe-making in Sweden.
This is a super versatile axe that can perform a number of tasks and will be a dependable part of your arsenal. The Forester’s Axe is made of Swedish steel and offers an American hickory handle, so strength is taken into immense consideration. However, this is a fairly pricey tool, so you have to keep that in mind when making your considerations.
- Very versatile and equipped to handle many situations
- Strong, steel head offers dependability when using
- Extra long handle to add control and power
- Will take up more space compared to other options
- Somewhat pricey compared to other wood-handle axes
A mainstay for many outdoorsmen and campers is the Estwing Camper’s Axe. Because of its affordability and dependability, it is a favorite in the community. If you’re looking for camping axe that won’t break the bank, here it is.
This is another axe with a long handle registering in at 26 inches. The length allows for better leverage and use of the blade. However, this could be a bad thing if space is an issue for you. This camping axe handle is fantastic for car trips or excursions that allow for a lot of space. This is also a composite axe that has a fantastic leather grip that takes away one of the biggest problems with using an axe; the vibration and shock that comes with use. The shock absorbing feature is this axe’s unique factor.
With the entire survival axe registering at just 7 oz., this is an excellent option for backpacking and camping when weight is an issue. This is one of the lightest axes on our entire list. However, this is a double-edged sword as its light weight can make it less than ideal for heavy wood chopping. You will want to stick with the smaller jobs, this axe can get it done. The blade length is also great for preparing smaller pieces of wood. When in the outdoors, you may need a tool that can handle big logs, but this isn’t quite it. Especially when going on excursions where wait limits can be an issue, keep the Estwing Camper’s Axe in mind.
- Very lightweight and easy to handle
- Strong forged steel head and blade
- Leather grip that provides excellent shock absorption and vibration reduction
- Long, light handle to improve stability
- Very affordable
- Not great for heavy wood chopping
- Despite being light, it will take up a lot of room
A very interesting tool that burst onto the survival market is the SOG Outdoor Survival Hatchet. This hatchet could also be considered a tomahawk based on its size and build. You may not find a use for throwing it like a tomahawk, but its an option.
Its strength comes from 420 stainless steel and is crafted to withstand the toughest survival conditions. This is paired with a fiberglass handle, which adds even more strength to the body. It is hard to find a survival hatchet that is both lightweight and strong, which the SOG is. However, there really isn’t a good grip on the handle. So, adding a grip will help you have better control and will make using this hatchet safer both you and the ones around you.
This is one of the most versatile hatchets on this list because it can accomplish far more than splitting wood. This hatchet is great for hammering, cutting materials, digging into the ground, and cutting wood. It’s really modern look is sleek and appealing. Although the appearance probably isn’t the biggest factor that you are looking for, no one wants a really ugly hatchet. So, its appealing look is something to take into consideration. Plus, it comes with a sleek sheath that will keep both ends of the head protected when not in use.
- Can be used for so many different task besides cutting wood
- Weighs only 19 oz.
- It is not bulky, so it can be fit into a pack very easily
- Slim, ergonomic design that fits well in the hand
- Set includes a sheath and fire starter
- Strong, dependable steel and fiberglass makeup
- Stock grip has a tendency to become slippery
- Not make to chop really big, heavy wood
- When being used to dig or be in other rugged activities, it will need maintenance to stay sharp
If you really survival axes that do things far beyond chopping wood, the Off Grid Tools Survival Axe is an excellent choice. This is one of the most highly-rated survival multitools on the market today. Yes, it does have the axe portion required to be featured on this list, but there is so much more on top of it.
There are over 30 functions built into the design of this survival tool. Some of the functions include hammering, glass breaking, awing with the saw extension that comes out from the handle, prying with the pry bar, and so much more. The 31 functions may seem like too much, but even if you just use 4-5 of the functions regularly, you will get your use out of it.
Despite the various parts, it is surprisingly light and small. At 1.7 lbs, this tool is packs a lot of punch in a small frame. This survival axe is less than a foot long, so compact storage is super easy. Make sure that this added function is a priority, otherwise it would be pointless to get. This also saves you space because the add-ons you would normally bring are packed into the axe itself. So, your pack will have freed up space as a result.
All of this performance is backed up by 420 stainless steel with a nylon handle. Both of these work together to form a strong, dependable tool.
- Extended saw tucked away into the handle
- Over 30 functions
- 420 stainless steel provides reinforced strength to the body and blade
- Very lightweight and perfect for backpacking or camping with less space
- The functions may seem like overkill
- Because of so many uses, chopping big logs isn’t the best with this tool
To shift the conversation to a rather standard survival hatchet, we have the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet. This is one of the most reliable, nicest hatchets out there, and for good reason. Everyone who consistently uses an axe or hatchet knows the important of having a dependable, everyday user.
The Gransfors hatchet is perfect for anyone who is willing to spend a little money on a classic tool. This will cost a bit more than some of the other tools on this list, but the Gransfors Bruks makes you feel good about the investment. On top of the quality being delivered with the price, you will have access to a 20-year warranty to protect your purchase in case something were to happen.
The head is stainless steel and it pairs with a strong wood handle to provide a marriage of strength and performance. Surprisingly enough, this wood handle does an excellent job of absorbing any shock sent through it which is a challenge for many wooden hatchets. When you make your purchase, it will be protected in a leather sheath, and you will go home feel confident about the investment.
Plus, who doesn’t want to look good while working with a hatchet? The classic look of the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet makes you feel good while also getting all of the work you need done.
- The quality is up there with the best on the market
- Very dependable and is a great everyday tool
- Stainless steel head and blade that is very strong and sharp
- Leather sheath
- 20-year warranty to make you feel better about the purchase
- Very durable
- Quite expensive
- Heavier than many other hatchets of this size
- Longer than many at 13.5 inches
The Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is an improved version of the Camper’s Axe that is far beefier and of a higher quality. This makes it one of the most reliable and durable on your entire list. This is because of the single-piece construction coming from carbon steel. It starts as a carbon steel head and works its way all the way to the bottom of the handle, to former the axe in one single piece. One normal axes, they tend to break in the connection point between the head and the body/handle. This is completely avoided when the entire took is one piece of carbon steel.
Because of this durability, the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is perfect for heavy wood chopping and other high-stress work. You do not have to worry about the head coming loose or a wooden handle snapping in your hands.
Thankfully, the Sportsman’s Axe does come with a genuine leather handle grip to absorb a lot of the shock that comes from the carbon steel build. This is paired with a leather sheath that will keep the blade as sharp as possible when not in use.
Although this survival axe will be a little more expensive than some of the others on this list, there is no reason why this won’t be a life-long tool that you can use for a very long time.
- Very durable and will last a tong time
- Full tang build (all one piece of carbon steel)
- Great for light and heavy work
- Equipped with full leather accessories
- Heavy feel
- Little bit pricey
If you are in the market for a modern, dependable axe, the Schrade SC Axe 2 is a great option. This model puts its identity in durability, reliability, and performance. At just 15 inches, it is on the boarder of being a hatchet, so keep the size in mind. If you want something that is great for heavy duty wood chopping, you may want to look at something different.
This is perfect for the smaller cutting and oddball jobs that need to be done. Because of the short build, it is great for jobs like driving in tent stakes and hammering nails. The back of the head is perfect for going through those other tasks besides chopping wood.
Also because of its size, the Schrade axe is great for backpacking and storage when space is a little tight. This is a big factor to consider, especially when you know you could be using this on the trail.
Another great perk is the titanium coating that helps protect the axe from the elements. Some models aren’t made to hit the trail or be an everyday user in adverse weather. This is where the Schrade axe steps up and can deliver. The stainless steel head is coated in titanium to add that extra layer of protection.
The handle is covered in TPR rubber so you can get a good grip without the handle slipping out of your hand. The last thing you need when chopping wood is for the tool to fly out of your hand and potentially harm someone.
- Very packable and compact
- The rubber grip allows for maximized use safely
- Built-in hammer on the back of the head
- Titanium coating on the stainless steel provided reinforced strength.
- Titanium coating can chip and lead to damage down the line.
- Pretty short for an axe. Almost at a hatchet level
If you are looking for an everyday survival axe that won’t break the bank, the Fiskars X7 Hatchet may be for you. This is one of the most affordable hatchets on our list and can fit into a lot of people’s budgets, which is a huge perk. However, you have to take this with a grain of salt as cheaper doesn’t always mean better. You can’t expect top-notch quality that axes of hundreds of dollars brings. You get what you pay for, so keep that in mind.
Made from carbon steel, the head is very durable and reliable. This is a really big perk, so keep that in mind. After all, you don’t want to buy a hatchet or axe that will break early on. This is paired with composite handle that gives the hatchet a modern, solid look. The end of the handle is angled upward to help you secure your grip. This type of grip also makes the the hatchet light.
The blade has a really cool coating that helps the hatchet not get stuck when pulling it out of a piece of wood. This isn’t enough, however, to make this hatchet great for heavy wood work. This is more for firewood prep and odds and ends. You probably won’t be doing any heavy duty chopping with this, because the design and build do not compliment that type of work.
Overall, the Fiskars X7 is a fantastic hatchet to have around in case you need it that will not completely destroy your budget.
- Very affordable
- Lightweight at 1.38 pounds
- Carbon steel makeup
- Good grip and handle feel
- You get what you pay for
- Not intended for heavy duty work.
A great way to take your time in the wilderness up a notch is by getting a survival axe that has many uses on top of chopping wood. The Iunio Camping Axe does a great job of doing just that. Yes, this is a survival axe, but it offers so much more to each user.
When you are in a survival situation, you want a tool that can do many things and make your life just a little bit easier. The Iunio’s innovative design stacks all of the add-ons into the body of the axe. This helps save space while also giving you a solid handle and build.
Some of the multitool elements with the survival axe include a compass, emergency whistle, flint and steel striker, hammer, and a bottle opener. All of these can come in very handy in both survival and casual situations. Especially when backpacking or travelling with limited space, a lot of add-ons are packed into the body, so you will save space. It uses a long handle to house all of these additions.
On the actual axe side, it is made of a combination of aluminum alloy and high-carbon steel. It is pretty durable, but it is not suited for for heavy duty work. It’s biggest selling point is the versatility and access to the multitool aspect, so the quality will suffer a bit on the axe’s end. If splitting wood is your only task, this isn’t the option for you.
- Provides many uses with the added on tools other than the axe
- Handle is adjustable in length to fit your needs
- High-carbon steel is paired with aluminum alloy for extra strength
- Handle is used as storage
- Quality isn’t the best
- The pieces that make up the handle can fall apart or loosen
- Not made for heavy wood work
Bear Grylls is one of the world’s most famous wilderness survival experts. For many years, Grylls has hosted TV shows and competitions to teach the world about survival and how to get out of precarious situations. Given his stature in the industry, he posed as the perfect figure to partner with brands and put products to use on the world stage. One of Grylls’ biggest partnership is with Gerber.
Although he has many products with Gerber, one of the staples is the survival hatchet. This is a really compact, light hatchet that is perfect for both survival situations and casual use. It’s entire identity is made to last a long time, deliver results, and be durable to the elements.
This hatchet is a backpacker’s dream as it is less than 10 inches long and weighs about 21 ounces. This can be packed away super easily and will be reliable on the trail. Although this might be a little bit too short for some, it is by design, so keep that in mind.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is full tang, so the enter tool is made of one piece of metal. This helps build durability and makes the hatchet far stronger than some of the others. Plus, this makes the tool less likely to break because there are not separate pieces connected to make it. Although it is all metal, Gerber puts a great rubber handle over the frame to absorb some shock and give you a better grip. To add even better control, there are finger slots on the grip, so you can have the maximum handle of the tool possible.
- Reputable brand in the industry
- Full tang to be extra strong and durable
- Sticky drip that maximizes safe use
- Light and compact
- May be too short for some
- Not made for heavy wood chopping
Another well-known brand is Kershaw. Although this brand is known to make really high-end, durable pocket knives, they do have a great hatchet in their lineup. The Deschutes Hatchet is an excellent, simplistic tool to have in your arsenal.
Although there aren’t many add-ons or additional uses associated with this hatchet, sometimes you need a tool that just does what it is designed to do. Sometimes, there can be too many alternative uses to a hatchet that can take the quality away from its main purpose. This is a hatchet to have when doing the basic tasks a hatchet is designed to do. As far as hatchets go, this model is on the heavier side at 1.5 pounds and 14 inches in length. the heavier weight is not necessarily a vice as it can handle some heavier chopping than some of the other hatchets on this list To cut a little bit of weight, there is a slit taken out of the head that also poses as a bottle opener. This is reinforced with the ultra-strong 3Cr13 stainless steel head. This is a very durable build, so chipping and breaking n the head and blade aren’t to be worried about.
The steel head is paired with fiberglass handle that is wrapped in nylon. There are rubber grips mixed in so you don’t have to worry about the hatchet slipping out of your hand during use. With a Kershaw, you know you are getting quality but this won’t come cheap. Although there are plenty of more expensive tools on the market, Kershaw has a reputation for being a fairly upscale brand, so be prepared to open your wallet.
- High quality brand
- Great for chopping wood, especially compared to other axes
- Really strong steel build
- Not too many alternative uses
This axe is made of 1055 carbon steel that makes it super durable and up to any task you put to it. You don’t have to worry about your wood cutting task being too big or too tough. Although this is not a full tang axe, it is considered integrated tang because the metal from the head extends partially into the handle. This reinforces the strength of the entire axe.
This head and blade is paired with a really strong, but light, handle that feels good in the hands. The sleek handle is made from a mixture of fiberglass and polypropylene. These materials cut down a considerable amount of weight compared to other axes that use other handles. A lot of axes of this size range from three to seven pounds in weight. This model comes in at 2.8 pounds and 24 inches long. This is a huge perk to keep in mind, especially when you are in the market for something that is both light and reliable for heavy work.
Browning is also a reputable brand in the hunting and outdoor space. So, you know what you are getting into when buying this axe. You can get a constant user from a reputable brand without completely breaking the bank to do it.
- Good, reputable brand
- Very light, but durable handle
- Strong, chip-resistant head and blade
- Limited uses
- Could be too long for some users
Hopefully, this list will help you make more informed decisions the next time you are in the market for a survival axe or survival hatchet. Whether you may find yourself in a survival situation or not, it is important to have dependable tools that cater to your needs. If you just want to chop wood, there are some great options. If you want a tool that has over 20 uses, there is that as well. No matter what you are looking for in a survival axe, there are great options. It all comes down to knowing what you want and executing on it.