The Best Camping Axes (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Take your camping or outdoor skills to the next level with these handy camping axes
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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON December 5, 2020
One of the best parts of camping is sitting around the campfire with family and friends telling ghost stories and roasting marshmallows. Not only are there marshmallows to roast, but there are hot dogs, s'mores, and other items to cook, and they all have one thing in common: fire. It might be easy to start a fire if you have matches and flint, but it won’t stay burning for long unless you have wood to keep it going. Depending on where you are camping or hiking, there may be fallen limbs and trees around that can be used to build a fire, but they might need to be chopped into smaller pieces. This is when having a compact and durable camping axe can really come in handy. It gets the job done but doesn’t take up nearly as much space as a regular axe. Here’s a look at some of the best camping axes on the market.
This axe is a great option because of its lightweight design and ergonomic handle. It’s ideal for chopping kindling and small-to-medium-sized logs, which are the perfect size for any campfire.
- Ideal balance and power-to-weight ratio allow you to have more power and efficiency in each swing
- Low-friction, super sharp blade allows for deeper, cleaner cuts
- Some concern over the long-term durability of the blade
- The light weight of the axe makes it difficult to really bury in a log
The hatchet is 11 inches long, and the head is 3 inches, making it the ideal length to chop small-to-medium-sized logs without losing your balance or grip.
- Blade is constructed of solid 440 stainless steel that contains more carbon for extra hardness
- Sturdy lightweight rubber handle has a comfortable non-slip grip, so it stays in your hand when swinging
- Being on the smaller side, this axe may not get through some larger branches that other models will
This 14-in-1 tool has it all, including a hammer, an axe, a knife blade, a saw, assorted Hex wrenches, a Phillips screwdriver, a slotted screwdriver, a bottle opener, a file, a fish descaler, and a safety lock to keep everything in place.
- Compact and weighs in at only 13 ounces and is 7 inches long
- Comes with a nylon belt pouch that fits snuggly on your waist
- Because of its compact size, it’s not suitable for larger pieces of wood
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Benefits of Camping Axes
- Portable. A camping axe is an excellent, compact, lightweight alternative to a regular axe. The handle is much shorter, and the blade is smaller. This is ideal when camping because you’re usually limited on space when camping or backpacking and may not have room enough to carry a regular sized axe.
- Versatile. A camping axe is often a versatile tool with multiple uses. The axe's poll, or butt, is often used as a hammer to secure tent stakes into the ground. The axe can be used to cut lengths of rope or vine for cordage. Usually, camping axe handles will have convenient multitools built into them, making them even more versatile and user-friendly as a great all-in-one camping tool.
- Lightweight. One of the best aspects of a camping axe is that they are significantly lighter in weight than regular axes. This makes them an excellent option for people who may not be strong enough to safely and effectively swing a regular-sized axe.
- Inexpensive. Camping axes are also less expensive than regular-sized axes, making them a more budget-friendly option for people who only rarely require using an axe or use them for smaller jobs.
Types of Camping Axes
This type of axe is one of the more modern and usually acts more like a multitool. Not surprisingly, it’s gaining in popularity not only with campers, but also with soldiers, security personnel, law enforcement officers, and even for survival. Its uses are multi-faceted, from the obvious use of cutting and chopping to acting as a hammer, a shovel, a close-range weapon, wild game butchering tool, a pry bar, and more. These axes are usually constructed from high-grade steel and higher-tech materials to be ultralight and durable.
This is typically the style of axe that most people envision when they think of a camp axe. It’s a general-purpose tool that’s ideal for lighter jobs on campsites or around the yard, like felling small trees and splitting logs. They can vary widely in price, some of the higher-end ones costing upwards of $100. The handle is chunky and easy to grip, and the head is weighted, with a sharp-tipped, flared blade that is well-balanced to minimize the risk of injury and maximize the axe’s efficiency.
As the name implies, these axes are primarily used for splitting logs into usable kindling. They have a long wooden handle for good swinging action. However, unlike regular axes, since splitting mauls cut with the grain rather than against it, the maul's head is usually heavier than that of a standard axe. The head is shaped like a chunky wedge, and often the sharp end will be less sharp than that of a regular axe. Most of the splitting maul's power comes from its head's weight, not the sharpness of the blade.
This type of axe is more of a craftsman-type tool, specifically designed for fine woodworking. It’s not generally ideal for felling or chopping but could be used as such in a pinch. It’s slightly larger than the standard survival hatchet, with a super sharp, straight-edged blade and a flat butt, which you can also use as a hammer. Often, the head of the axe will also have a groove in it designed for removing nails, and the handle has a notch to allow for a better grip and more precise control over the motion of the axe.
This axe is more suitable for use around the garden, but can often be used very effectively for camping. Sometimes referred to as a “cutter mattock,” the head of this tool has a horizontally-oriented adze on one side and a vertically-oriented axe blade. As the name implies, it’s an excellent tool for grubbing in compact soil and harder or rougher terrains.
This type of axe is more obscure and less widely available than some others on the list. It is specially forged to be able to both chop wood and butcher meat. It usually comes equipped with a grooved handle to improve the user's grip if their hands are wet or sticky. This axe's head has a specially rounded "flay poll," specifically designed to make hide skinning clean and easy, without damaging it.
Founded in 1689, Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna has been a global leader in the innovation and development of many products, from rifles to kitchen appliances to power tools. The company is most well-known in North America for its line of chainsaws and its line of leaf blowers, among other things.
Coleman is one of the most famous manufacturers of reliable camping gear and equipment. It’s responsible for creating the first portable gas-powered lantern. Today, Coleman makes high-quality products, like tents and camp stoves, that help create a fun and enjoyable outdoor experience.
Columbia River Knife & Tool
Founded in 1994, Columbia River Knife & Tool is committed to building knives and tools that inspire and endure. It makes innovative and never-before-seen products like the Guppie Multitool and the ergonomically-designed Minimalist Clever that set it apart as one of the most creative producers of outdoor knives and gear.
Fiskars was founded in Finland in 1969. Since then, it has grown to become a global leader in crafting, gardening, school, cooking, and building supplies. Most commonly known for its line of children’s safety scissors, Fiskars also produces innovative tools like the QuikFit Interchangeable Tool System, which allows you to swap and combine various tool heads and handles so that you need fewer tools overall.
Estwing is an American-based company founded in 1923 in Illinois. It specializes in manufacturing tools and construction materials. It introduced a patented “shock reduction grip” in 2001 that has since become known as the best grip on the market for decreasing vibrations of tools caused by impact. Its more popular products include the HammerTooth Hammer and the Special Edition Fireside Friend Splitting Tool.
Camping Axe Pricing
- Under $25: Camping axes in this price range are designed for the budget-conscious consumer. They will get the job done, but don’t include many high-end features or high-tech materials in their construction.
- $25-$50: This is the most common price range for the widest variety of camping axes. Here, you will find axes of different sizes, different blade shapes, constructed from different materials, and with accessories, like multitool features.
- Above $50: This price range will get you the crème de la crème of camping axes. They’re made from the highest-quality, most rugged materials and are built to last using the best construction methods.
This feature particularly refers to the weight balance of the camping axe. A good camping axe will be precisely and ideally balanced to allow you to deliver powerful, accurate, and efficient strokes that easily and quickly cut through wood while minimizing your risk of injury from the bounce back.
A good camping axe can perform multiple tasks safely and quickly. You want a camping axe that will also be able to help you pound tent pegs into the ground deeply and securely. Along with that, you may want your camping axe to be able to break up fallen debris, act as a close-range protective weapon, be able to help you build an emergency shelter or splints for injured parties, and more.
Any good camping axe will be made with super sharp, rust-proof metal that won’t chip or degrade after multiple chops, and a long-lasting, durable handle that will provide years of reliable use without breaking. Many of the most durable camping axes on the market can last 20 years or more with regular sharpening and proper care.
- Size. Camping axes can vary greatly in size, so when choosing one that’s right for you, consider what your primary purpose or use will be. Something too large can be cumbersome and impractical, but something too small won’t get the job done.
- Weight. This is a major consideration for users who may or may not be able to handle accurately and safely swinging a heavier axe. An axe that isn’t weighted ideally for your swinging ability will increase your risk of injury from inaccurate cuts or bounceback from a lack of ability to penetrate wood grains effectively.
- Warranty. Consider purchasing a camping axe that comes backed by a solid warranty. Many times, there can be little defects in the quality of the axe blade, handle, or the point at which the two are joined. You want a company that will protect your investment by providing a hassle-free return or replacement in the face of any manufacturer’s defects.
- Purpose. Different types of axes often have different purposes. Do you want a hatchet for cross-cutting small logs and branches, or do you want a splitting maul that takes larger branches and splits them to make kindling and tinier pieces of wood? Maybe you need an axe that can also work as a hunting tool on animal skins or digging holes in tough and hard ground. Choose one that’s right for your primary and secondary needs.
Best Camping Axe Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Be sure to check your axe for quality issues or defects as soon as you get it. If you don’t intend to use it right away, you may miss out on your warranty window if you find a defect or problem too late.
- Measure how long you want your axe to be before purchasing. Since axes come in many different lengths, it can be easy to get one that has a handle either too long or too short to meet your particular needs.
- Test its durability and function as soon as it arrives. Address any issues with chipping or lack of sharpness immediately with your supplier. Finding out it doesn’t work well when you’re at home is much easier to rectify than when you’re in the middle of the woods.
- Always read online user reviews, not just the five-star ones, but have a look at the lower review ratings and see what the major issues are with the axe you may want to purchase.
- Always be sure to take proper care and maintenance of your camping axe. This will help ensure longevity and optimal function for years to come.
- Store your camping axe in a dry and safe place where it won’t accidentally get wet or be discovered by children and mistaken for a toy.
Q: What is the best camping axe?
A: The best camp axe is compact enough to fit easily in your camping gear and is constructed from the highest quality materials with an excellent weight balance for sure and true cutting capability.
Q: What is a camp axe used for?
A: A camp axe is primarily used for chopping and cutting small brush and logs for kindling, but can also be used to hammer in tent pegs, build emergency shelters, dig up tree roots and clear brush, and even to butcher game while hunting.
Q: What is the difference between an axe and a hatchet?
A: Both are tools used for cutting and chopping wood, but the main difference is that a camping hatchet is much smaller and more compact. A hatchet is a single-handed axe used for smaller jobs.
Do you have a favorite camping axe that didn’t make our list? Tell us in the comments below.