Buying Guide: Four Best Camping Hatchets in 2021

The axe is one of the tools that feature prominently through thousands of years of human history. It was originally designed with a stone blade joined to a wooden handle. The design of the axe has largely remained unchanged to this day.

In modern times, the word “hatchet” is more commonly used for small axes. In fact, the word comes from medieval French meaning a “miniature axe.” Hatchets differ from axes in other ways besides size. Hatchets usually have an axe blade on one side and a hammer on the other end.

Camping hatchets are essential for your time in the woods or mountains. They are used to clear a gathering for tents, collect firewood, and defend yourself.

Settling on a hatchet to buy is not going to be a simple undertaking. There is a wide array of considerations that you must take into account before making a purchase. Our buying guide on hatchets is aimed at simplifying that process.

In A Hurry? Here Are Our Top Picks…

Estwing Camper's Axe - 16" Hatchet with Forged Steel...
  • Crafted from the highest quality materials
  • Built for performance and durability
  • Made in United States

Estwing Manufacturing has been creating striking tools since its establishment in 1923. The company was founded by Ernest Estwing in Rockford, Illinois. Since then, it has been engineering hitting and cutting tools throughout the generations.

The Estwing 16” Campers Axe is made with one-piece American steel with a 4-inch cutting edge. This is a tool you can pass down to your grandchildren.

The grip of this hatchet is made of a nylon-vinyl material permanently bonded onto the handle. This handle is designed to reduce the reverberation transfer from the tool to the hand by at least 70%. 

This redistribution of energy uses a patented technology called Shock Reduction. Estwing introduced this technique on their tools in the 1950s.

This multi-purpose hatchet is used to chop firewood, kindling, clearing shrubs, etc. The 16” axe comes with a nylon sheath to protect the sharpened edge.

Key Features

  • A long-lasting axe with a one-piece steel head and handle for strength and longevity 
  • Engineered with American steel
  • The edge is sharpened by hand to give it a smoother cut
  • A blue nylon sheath can cover the edge to prevent unintentional cuts
  • Utilizes Shock Reduction Grip technology 
  • Perfect balance
  • Length 16 inches and cutting edge 4 inches
  • Lightweight at only 7 ounces (0.26 kg) 

The Good

  • One-piece steel constructions get rid of the safety concerns caused by axe-heads flying off handles in mid-use.
  • Extremely low-maintenance and requires only that the edge be sharpened by hand 
  • The edge lasts for log after sharpening

The Bad

  • It is not the ideal tool for chopping wood in the winter
  • For some people, the handle is too short to use with two hands and too heavy to use with one hand


  • Clearing yards
  • Creating kindling
  • Hunting
  • Rooting trees
  • Car and backpack camping

The Estwing 16” camper’s hatchet is a finely molded tool that provides more value for its price. It delivers excellent cutting power after sharpening and is designed to last for a lifetime. It is proudly American.

Estwing Camper's Axe - 14" Hatchet with Forged Steel...
  • FORGED IN ONE PIECE – The most durable, longest lasting striking tools available
  • OUTDOOR VERSITILITY - Perfect for chopping logs, small trees & branches or splitting firewood &...
  • HEAVY DUTY SHEATH - Includes ballistic nylon sheath to protect hand sharpened cutting edge

Like the Estwing 16” camping axe, the 14” is also a one-piece stainless steel hatchet. At a glance, you can see how simple and elegant this tool is. 

The one-piece design eliminates failure points. The head is not secured with either nuts or bolts. Because of that, there are no stress points on the axe with the passage of time. Stress points usually lead to breakages.

The cutting edge is hand sharpened and polished and then secured with a heavy-duty nylon sheath. 

The Estwing 14” made of high quality of American steel is an outdoor camping staple. Shock Reduction feature of the grip makes it comfortable to use.

Key Features

  • High-quality stainless steel material, superb balance, and polished finish for head and neck
  • One-piece steel tool
  • Has a tent stake puller notch
  • Nylon-vinyl handle for shock reduction
  • Length 14 Inches
  • Weight 2.23 pounds (1.01 kg)
  • Length of the blade 3.25 Inches
  • Made in the USA

The Good

  • Long-lasting because of stainless steel construction material
  • The other head of the hatched can be used for hammering
  • Highly affordable 
  • The blade is very sharp
  • Shock Reduction technology used on the handle makes it easy to use

The Bad

  • The cutting edge is so sharp that the blade often sticks into the wood being cut


  • Chopping firewood
  • Splitting small branches
  • survival

The Estwing 16” and Estwing 14” inches seem to be almost identical in design and functionality. The only difference seems to be in the length of these two tools. So, how do you make a choice between these two?

How To Choose Your Axe Handle Length

The general fact is that the longer the handle, the more force an axe delivers. 

On the contrary, a longer handle is harder to control and is very imprecise especially with inexperienced ax-wielders. 

A shorter ax handle allows you to hit your target with more accuracy and better control.

If you are hiking into a forest, with camping gear on your back, then it is better to carry the 16” Estwing. It is the lightest of the two.

If you chop a lot of logs at home or in the camp, the longer axe will cut through the wood in fewer hits,

Gerber Pack Hatchet Camping Axe - Coyote Brown Handle/Black Blade [31-003484]

Gerber Pack Hatchet Camping Axe - Coyote Brown Handle/Black...
  • Full tang construction means steadiness in hand and the strength to power through swinging chores
  • A tall blade grind retains optimal sharpness
  • The handle is wrapped in a rubber over mold for added grip and comfort

The necessity of compact and lightweight hatchets existed from the 1950s. Back then, smaller hatchets were made from plated and stamped mild steel. The handles were made of riveted and molded plastic scales.

Modern technology has advanced to the point where cutting ends of the axe is made from nothing less than stainless steel. 

An array of synthetic materials are available for the handles. Materials that help in energy distribution from the tool to the hand are the ones preferred. 

The Gerber Pack Hatchet is the modern-day minimalist, compact and highly affordable cutting tool. It is made out of modern yet commonplace materials. It is very elegant and ergonomically designed.

 This is a desirable tool in the world of survival gamers because it is a full tang hatchet. A cutting tool with a full tang allows for excellent grip and balance capabilities.  

Having a full tang means that the cutting end of the hatchet extends down along the handle as one piece of metal. This design prevents the blade from flying loose. 

Key Features

  • A long blade grind
  • Rubber over-mold cover on the handle with comfortable grooves for high grip
  • Made with stainless steel core material
  • Lanyard holes near the bottom of the axe to secure it during movement
  • It comes with a nylon sheath that can be attached on a belt or a backpack
  • It weighs 1.3 pounds (0.59 kg)
  • Product Dimensions- L x W x H 3.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches

The Good

  • Rubber molded handle offers the user excellent control while using the axe to cut
  • Stainless steel is very long-lasting
  • During heavy use, the rubberized sections of the hatchet provide sufficient resistance to slipping
  • This is a very light tool 
  • We love the full tang design

The Bad

  • This is an ultra-modern axe that just may not cut it with the more conservative users
  • It may be too lightweight for some people


  • Outdoor survival
  • Camping
  • Hunting
  • hiking

The Pack Hatchet is a surprising tool. The superb engineering that went into making this hatchet maximized on every aspect of functionality they could get out of it. Because of that, this miniature axe will deliver in spite of its size and weight.

Husqvarna 13 in. Wooden Handle Hatchet
  • Hatchet is designed for one-handed use on light wood cutting
  • Premium 1.32 lbs. hand-forged axe head
  • Made with hickory and Swedish steel

Yes, a Husqvarna axe. The company does not only make world-famous motorcycles but also a wide variety of outdoor equipment. This company was established in Sweden in 1689 as a weapons factory.

It later went on to produce bicycles and then motorcycles. When the 20th century came they started their wood cutting line of products.

The Husqvarna 13-Inch wooden hatchet their modern take on a traditional axe. The axe-heads are all forged and shaped on Sweden out of high-quality steel. Its handle, on the other hand, consists of hickory wood.

Key Features

  • Swedish steel axe head
  • 13” curved hickory handle
  • The axe weighs 2.2 pounds (1 kg)
  • Product Dimensions - L x W x H 15 x 6.5 x 1 Inches
  • The head is held securely by a steel and wooden wedge to avoid flying off mid-use 
  • It is packaged with a leather cover for the head
  • It is ready to use straight from purchase since it comes already sharpened
  • The grains on the hickory handle run parallel to the handle. Grain orientation is for strength and shock absorption qualities of the handle

The good 

  • It is very balanced and perfect for one-hand use
  • Shock absorption properties of hickory wood make it suitable for use over several hours
  • It is easy to maintain this hatchet, it only requires oiling the head and covering with its leather sheath
  • It can be sharpened with the standard axe sharpening stones
  • You can replace the handle, so the axe can last as long as you want it to

The Bad

  • The handle might shrink under warm conditions so be mindful of your storage


  • Chopping
  • Shaving and carving
  • Cutting kindles
  • Making trails

The classic look of this hatchet is its main selling point. This is why it is so popular among survivalists. If wooden handles stir longing within you then this is the axe you should get. It is great for the small tasks that need to be done during camping trips.

How to Choose The Best Camping Hatchet

From what you have read so far, it is evident that you have to take into consideration more than one factor while selecting a camping hatchet.

Here is the summary of the things to look out for while shopping for a hatchet:

Type of Steel: This is a no-brainer that you are supposed to go for axe heads made only of the best quality stainless steel. 

High-quality steel is sharp, versatile, and offers excellent performance. Quality steel also does not rust easily. 

High-end steel axe-heads may cost more but it is worth it in the long run. Resist the urge to compromise on the quality of the head even though they will be cheaper. 

Weight: Camping hatchets need to be lightweight and functional. Fortunately, a lot of camping hatchets are designed in this manner. Heavy hatches are only practical if you are camping from your recreational vehicle.

Length of handle: The length of the handle is directly proportional to the efficiency level of the tool. 

Smaller handles mean better precision when you are cutting. If you are new to hatchets then it will be easier to work with a shorter handle. 

If you want to take a guess, then go for the one that is at least the same length as your arm.

Material on the handle: If at all possible, try testing out a hatched before buying it. You can do this by trying from friends, workplace or family. 

The handle material must be comfortable, provide good slip resistance, and be long-lasting. 

There are wood, steel, and fiberglass handles both with their advantages and disadvantages. Try your best to have a feel for the different types of handles before you make your purchase.

Sheath: It is crucial that your new hatchet comes covered with a securely placed sheath. The leather sheath takes preference over a nylon sheath.

A sheath should be able to cover the entire axe-head and be fastened with eyelets and snap fasteners. This is to ensure that it does not slip and expose the blade.

In the conclusion of our review, we are confident that finding the best hatchet for your needs has been simplified. Having gone through the uses and benefits, as well as shortcomings of different hatchets, you can make an informed decision.

Storing and Caring for Your Camping Hatchet

Once you have the best camping hatchet at your disposal, you need to take care of it.  Sure, many of them can withstand the elements, but do you really want it to rust, or chip over time? 

That's why you should consider storing and care for your hatchet.  

First off, let's talk about storing your camping hatchet.  It's recommended that you keep it in the dry area so as to reduce changes of rusting (if the material is of such that that can happen) and ensure it stays clean.  

However, if you have young children, you may want to consider having a safe for it, like a gun safe.  This way, your children will not have access to it and they should be protected.  If you do use a gun safe, then I'd recommend looking at having the right dehumidifier inside the safe. This will help with regulating the moisture and ensure your camping hatchet doesn't rust.  

You should also consider cleaning and caring for your hatchet.  It isn't enough that you wipe off the dirt, but also that you use solvent and oil for your hatchet.  This will help to keep it clean and ensure that it doesn't rust as well.  You can use gun oil for this as well and solvent if you have it already.  If not, usually you can find this sort of thing at a hardware store. 

So, with that, you now have an idea of where to store the best camping hatchet, as well as clean and take care of it. 

Now, go and enjoy!

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