No matter how long of a trip or how many individuals are taking part, campfires are an essential component of practically any recreational camping experience. And while one always has the option of hauling in their own firewood and kindling, the reality is that this approach is akin to bringing sand to the beach, as the majority of off-grid locales are rich with trees, logs, branches, and other fuel sources for a campfire.
While not particularly difficult, sourcing your own firewood does require one specific tool: a hatchet or axe. And this brings us to today’s guide, where we’ll be counting down the best camp axes and hatchets currently on the market with a curated selection of utilitarian felling tools and splitters that are lightweight and compact enough to be brought into camp, held in a rucksack, carried on the belt, or strapped to a bag. So, without further ado, let’s get to choppin.’
Fiskars X7 Hatchet
One of half a dozen chopping axes from the Finnish firm’s X Series, the Fiskars X7 is a compact hatchet that’s powerful enough for the majority of campsite jobs while still being small and lightweight enough to serve as a backpacking or pack axe. Designed in Billnäs, Finland, the X7 is comprised of a shock-absorbing, textured non-slip handle made from FiberComp — a short Graphite fiber reinforced polyimide composite — that’s been mated to a hardened forged steel head using an insert-molded construction. In addition to being fortified with a low-friction coating, the blade also benefits from a proprietary grinding technique that affords a sharper edge with better edge-retention. Backed by a lifetime warranty, the X7 is also sold with a rigid, lock-on sheath.
Estwing Special Edition Fireside Friend Splitter
Founded in Rockford, Illinois in 1923, Estwing undoubtedly represents one of the most respected names in hammers, axes, and other American-made hand tools. Estwing’s Fireside Friend Splitting Tool boasts a forged, one-piece construction culminating in a 2.375” hand-sharpened edge. This Special Edition version of the Fireside Friend also sees the neck and face of its blade treated to a matte black finish and the regular model’s Blue Shock Reduction Grip swapped out for a stacked, leather-wrapped handle setup. Made in America, this pack-friendly camp axe is also sold with an included black nylon sheath.
Gerber 15″ Bushcraft Hatchet
A modern take on a compact camp axe that draws inspiration from tactical axes and tomahawks, Gerber’s aptly-named Bushcraft axe is constructed around a 15” handle that’s made from a glass-reinforced nylon polymer and mated to a 5.50” carbon steel axe blade and hammerhead. What’s more, the high carbon steel head has also received a Teflon-style (PTFE) coating to better protect and maintain its edge. The outside of the handle has also been supplemented via an ergonomic rubber overmold while its interior boasts a water-resistant storage compartment that comes with 60” of paracord. Also offered in a longer, 26.25” version as well as in a coyote color option, this item tips the scales at only 2.4lbs, too.
Barebones Field Hatchet
Protected by a two-year warranty, this Barebones axe is a modern-day reissue of a classic field hatchet with a dead-straight handle design and a Scandanavian-style head. Inspired by vintage camping gear, this axe features a 4″ cast 1055 carbon steel blade and hammerhead fixed to a Hickory construction handle. Weighing only 1.2lbs, this hatchet also makes for a great pack axe, despite its extended handle length. Stamped with a Barebones logo and finished with a matte black coating contrasted via a bare blade edge, the head of this axe is also protected by an included sheath crafted from rugged 900-denier polyester.
TOPS Knives Grandpa’s Ax
With its unique sweeping shape and ergonomic handle, the TOPS Knives Grandpa’s Ax delivers immense chopping power in a surprisingly compact 11” package. Designed by Lorenzo Espinoza, this axe sports a full-tang 1095 carbon steel construction with a tumble-finished 4.0” head that’s been rated at between 56 and 58 for hardness on the Rockwell scale. Sold with a 0.6oz leather belt sheath, Grandpa’s Ax sees its full-tang handle cloaked in a set of green Micarta scales, giving this traditional tool a more modern feel. The simplicity of this design coupled with its rugged materials practically guarantee a lifetime of use — if not several.
Council Velvicut Hudson Bay Hatchet
In continuous operation since 1886, Council Tool is another thoroughly iconic and thoroughly respected name in the hand tool game, with a 136-year history of delivering high-quality, built-to-last products. And this long-held tradition continues with the Velvicut Hudson Bay Hatchet. Coated in a light oil to prevent rusting and bring out the metal’s natural patina, this axe’s forged, tempered, and heat-treated 5160-grade alloy steel head is guaranteed by Council to last a lifetime. This heirloom-quality axe is equipped with a lightly-curved handle that’s composed of grade “A” American Hickory. Every component on this axe, from its head to its handle to its leather blade mask, is made in America, too.
Husqvarna Forest Axe
Founded in 1698, Husqvarna has developed a reputation over the last few centuries for producing quality products from motorcycles to lawnmowers to chainsaws to axes. Husky’s Traditional Multi-Purpose Forst Axe is a premium, Swedish-made, hand-forged axe that’s designed to take on everything from splitting to log-limbing to small-scale felling. Weighing in at 1.87lbs, this model boasts an overall length of 26”. This item’s design is intentionally simple and was chosen to maximize the efficacy and lifespan of the axe. This axe’s wooden handle also comes adorned in Husqvarna’s signature logo — a design based on the barrels and sights of the rifles the company originally produced when it was first launched in the 1600s.
Gränsfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
Based in the Swedish province of Hälsingland, Gränsfors Bruks has been hand-forging heirloom-quality axes since its inception in 1902. This axe consists of a curved Hickory handle that’s been mated to a handmade, forged blade head that’s been manufactured using recycled steel. At almost 20” in total, this model is on the larger end of the camp axe spectrum, however, it’s still compact enough to be carried in or on a backpack or ruck. Weighing 2lbs, this Swedish-made axe is also sold with a vegetable-tanned leather sheath. And while it doesn’t come cheap, this is another tool that was engineered to last a lifetime.
Toor Knives Camp Axe
Designed using a spare-no-expense ethos, Toor Knives’ Camp Axe is an incredibly rugged and extremely capable hatchet that weighs in at only 1.30lbs and spans just 12” in total. Using a full-tang construction, this axe is built around a handle crafted from D2 blade steel before being adorned in G10 scales using Toor’s signature Dynamic Fluting grips. Protected by a snap-button-secured leather sheath, this axe’s head has been further fortified via a black, KG Gunkote finish. In addition to being made in America, Toor’s Camp Axe also comes protected by a lifetime warranty. This item is also produced in a total of three color choices and is available with optional custom engraving.
Filson x Brant & Cochran Dirigo Belt Axe
Born out of a collaboration between Filson and Brant & Cochran, the Dirigo Belt Axe is an heirloom-quality cutting tool that’s handcrafted in Maine using age-old forging and tempering techniques. This limited-edition axe features a 17” hickory handle that’s been bestowed with a hand-rubbed oil and wax finish to seal the pores of the wood and guarantee season after season of use. Mated to the handle is a traditional head design that dates back to the early 1900s. The axe’s 1.75-lb 1050 carbon steel head has been honed to a razor-sharp 25° edge before being securely fixed to the handle. On top of a custom leather sheath, this item also comes with an included honing puck.
Aclim8 COMBAR Pro Titanium
Unequivocally the most innovative axe on the market, Aclim8’s COMBAR Pro Titanium is a cleverly-designed six-in-one survival multi-tool that can handle everything from chopping to splitting to digging to hammering to sawing. Winner of a coveted Red Dot Design award, the COMBAR Pro sports a pivoting 420J2 stainless steel head and extended spade that are paired with an ultra-rugged glass-reinforced polymer handle. Also boasting a number of components made from a top-shelf amalgamation of 6AL-4V titanium and hard-anodized aluminum, the Pro-spec version of this axe contains an internal magazine that houses a folding saw and a full-tang fixed blade knife. Built to stand up to the world’s most hostile and unforgiving conditions, the COMBAR Pro Titanium offers an incredible amount of utility — and durability — in a single item.
Ben & Lois Orford Nordic Carver TAD Edition Hatchet
Made specifically for bushcraft and camping, the Ben & Lois Orford Nordic Carver TAD Edition Hatchet is an ultra-top-shelf hand axe with a unique design that marries modern materials with traditional Scandinavian aesthetics. Boasting a full-tang construction, this TAD Edition Hatchet is crafted from a solid piece of 0.22” thick O1 blade steel before being overlaid with a set of contoured and sculpted Micarta scales. On top of a flared pommel with multiple lanyard holes, this axe’s Nordic carving-style blade has also received a polished, convex edge. What’s more, this limited-edition axe comes with a hand saddle-stitched vegetable-tanned leather scabbard with embossed Triple Aught Design and Ben and Lois Orford branding.
The 30 Best Camping Gear Essentials
Looking to build out the rest of your camping loadout? Then be sure to check out our guide to the best camping gear essentials for a handpicked selection of more than two dozen of the latest and greatest must-have pieces of equipment for off-grid adventures.