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10 Best Backpacking Axes & Hatchets

This is a selection of some of the best backpacking axes and hatchets for hiking and camping. I remember as a young boy watching my dad using an axe to chop up some firewood and became fascinated by them.

Fast forward to now and I still have that fascination, and as I am a backpacker, in the hiking sense and the travelling sense, having a backpacking axe or hatchet is great for when planning hiking adventures where you know you will be going into forested areas.

The Difference Between a Hatchet and an Axe

The main difference between an axe and a hatchet is the handle length.

An axe is used with two hands whereas a hatchet has a smaller handle and is generally used with just one hand.

In that sense, hatchets come in a smaller size and are more lightweight than axes and therefore make a better overall choice for backpacking because of the weight savings.

However, there are some small axes out there such as the Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe (see in the post) that are also lightweight enough and small in size giving you more flexibility with the tasks at hand when camping and make for great backpacking axes.

Best Backpacking Axes and Hatchets

backpacking axes

I’ll start with the legendary Gransfors Bruk axes. They are highly regarded in the bushcraft community and make some of the best axes that can be used for backpacking purposes.

They run a little pricier than other brands but you get what you pay for, as the saying goes. One of the world’s leading bushcraft and survival experts, Ray Mears, highly recommends using Gransfors Bruk axes.

Gransfors Bruk is known for its strict quality control standards. Each hatchet undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it meets the company’s high standards for performance and craftsmanship.

Gransfors Bruk has a long history of axe and hatchet making dating back to the late 1800s. Their tools reflect a deep appreciation for traditional craftsmanship and a connection to Swedish heritage.

Gransfors Bruk Hand Hatchet

backpacking hatchet

TheGransfors Bruk hand hatchet makes for one of the best backpacking hatchets due to its high-quality design and size. It is one of their most popular products, known for its exceptional craftsmanship and durability.

Here are some key features of the Gransfors Bruk Hand Hatchet:

Quality Materials: Gransfors Bruk hand hatchets are made from high-quality Swedish steel. The steel is carefully selected and tempered to ensure excellent edge retention and strength.

Handcrafted: Each Gransfors Bruk Hand Hatchet is hand-forged by skilled blacksmiths. This traditional craftsmanship results in a unique and well-balanced tool.

Size and Weight: The Gransfors Bruk Hand Hatchet typically has a small, compact design, making it suitable for one-handed use. The weight and size can vary slightly between different models, but they are generally designed for portability and versatility.

Handle: The hatchet comes with a carefully shaped hickory handle that is designed for comfort and durability. The handle is often treated with linseed oil for added protection and a comfortable grip.

Multi-Purpose: Gransfors Bruk Hand Hatchets are versatile tools used for various outdoor tasks, including chopping, carving, and splitting wood, and are great as backpacking hatchet.

Gransfors Bruk Small Hand Hatchet

backpacking hatchets

The Granfors Bruks Small Hand Hatchet is basically the same specs as the hand hatchet above but smaller in size making it easier and lighter to carry.

Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet

backpacking axes

The Gransfor Bruks Wildlife Hatchet has the same head as the hand hatchet but comes with a longer handle. This gives it a slighter better ability with having more power from the hatchet, especially if used for taking larger branches of trees.

While the Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet is considered a premium tool and comes at a higher price point than mass-produced hatchets, its quality and durability make it a favourite among outdoor enthusiasts, survivalists, and professionals who rely on dependable cutting tools in the wilderness.

Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe

backpacking axes

The Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is legendary in the bushcraft world. If I had to choose one Gransfors Bruk axe or hatchet I would actually go for the small forest axe as its versatility for more demanding tasks and its still reasonably lightweight make it perfect for backpacking with an axe as well.

The Small Forest Axe has a compact size and weight, making it easy to carry and handle in the field. It’s versatile and can be used for a wide range of tasks, including felling small trees, limbing, chopping, splitting, and carving.

While it’s called a “forest axe,” it can be used in various outdoor settings and for different tasks, from preparing firewood to building shelters and crafting woodwork.

Hultafors Agelsjon Mini Hatchet – The Buddy

Now the excellent Hultafors axes.

backpacking hatchets

Hultafors is a Swedish company known for producing high-quality hand tools, including axes, hatchets, and other cutting tools. They have a reputation for craftsmanship and durability in their products.

Mini hatchets like the “Agelsjon Mini Hatchet” are designed to be compact and easy to carry. They are suitable for tasks such as camping, hiking, and light woodwork.

Hultafors Hultan Wilderness Hatchet

backpacking hatchet

The Hultafors Hultan Wilderness Hatchet is their classic hatchet designed with the purpose of needing a hatchet when trekking.

Its main design and use is for at your campsite work like getting firewood etc.

After the Gransfor Bruks axes and hatchets Hultafors is the next great backpacking axes brand to look out for.

Helko Pathfinder Hatchet

Helko is a German brand that has been making axes since 1844.

backpacking hatchets

The Helko Pathfinder Hatchet is a high-quality handcrafted hatchet produced by Helko Werk, a well-respected German company known for its axes and cutting tools.

The Helko Pathfinder Hatchet is designed for anyone who needs a versatile and reliable tool for various woodcutting and bushcraft tasks.

Quality Materials: Helko Werk typically uses high-carbon steel for the head of their hatchets, which is known for its durability and ability to hold a sharp edge. The handle is traditionally made from hickory wood, chosen for its strength and shock-absorbing properties.

Handcrafted: Like many other premium hatchet manufacturers, Helko Werk handcrafts their hatchets. Skilled artisans forge and assemble each hatchet with precision and attention to detail.

Compact and Portable: The Helko Pathfinder Hatchet is designed to be compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry in your backpack or belt. Its size allows for easy handling and precise control.

Versatility: This hatchet is versatile and can be used for various outdoor tasks, including splitting kindling, carving, light chopping, and general campsite maintenance.

Ergonomic Handle: The handle of the Helko Pathfinder Hatchet is designed to provide a comfortable and secure grip, allowing users to work with precision and control.

Traditional Design: Helko Werk hatchets often reflect traditional German craftsmanship and design principles. They have a classic, timeless look.

Helko Black Forest Hatchet

backpacking hatchet

The Helko Black Forest Hatchet is another excellent hatchet from Helko Werk and is one of the best hatchets you can get, indeed it’s their “flagship” model.

It has a traditional German woodworking blade. This type of axe was designed along the classic configuration that was used daily in the villages and cities along wooded areas by the Rhine River in Germany.

Prandi Hatchet German Type Hatchet

Prandi Italian hatchet

The Prandi German Type Hatchet, also known as the “Prandi German Pattern Hatchet,” is a type of hatchet made by Prandi, an Italian brand that started making axes in 1969 and although they haven’t been around as long as the others they are really great value for money.

While the company is Italian, the “German Type” in the name typically refers to the style of the hatchet rather than its country of origin.

Quality Materials: Prandi typically uses quality materials for their hatchet heads, often made from carbon steel, known for its durability and ability to maintain a sharp edge. The handle is traditionally made from hickory wood, chosen for its strength and shock-absorbing properties.

Versatility: The German-type hatchet is designed for versatility and can be used for various outdoor tasks around the campsite.

Compact and Portable: This hatchet is typically compact and lightweight, making it perfect for a backpacking axe.

Ergonomic Handle: Prandi often designs the handle of their hatchets to provide a comfortable and secure grip, allowing users to work with precision and control.

Morakniv Boron Steel Camping Axe

The Swedish company Morakniv are legendary in the outdoor knife world.

backpacking hatchet

This is the only steel hatchet I am mentioning here as it’s Morakniv’s most popular hatchet and being such a reputable Swedish company with knives and outdoor equipment I had to add it.

Morakniv axes often reflect Swedish design principles and woodworking traditions, with a focus on functionality and simplicity.

The Morakniv Boron Steel Camping Axe is a compact and versatile camping and outdoor axe produced by Morakniv and their best model to get for backpacking.

Quality Materials: The head of the axe is typically made from high-quality boron steel, which is known for its excellent strength and durability. Boron steel can maintain a sharp edge and withstand heavy use.

Compact Size: The Morakniv Camping Axe is designed to be relatively small and lightweight, making it highly portable and suitable for backpacking, camping, and other outdoor activities. Its compact size allows for easy handling and storage.

Versatility: Despite its size, this axe is versatile and can be used for a variety of outdoor tasks, including chopping, splitting, carving, and campsite maintenance.

Ergonomic Handle: The handle is designed to provide a comfortable and secure grip, allowing users to work with precision and control. It is often made from wood or composite materials.

Backpacking Axes and Hatchets Accessories

Most of these backpacking axes and hatchets will ship with an axe sheath to protect the axe head but double-check to make sure as you will need a sheath for safety.

To keep the backpacking axes and hatchets in optimal condition, regular sharpening of the blade and occasional oiling of the handle are recommended.

When using a ceramic axe grinding stone, it’s essential to follow proper sharpening techniques, including maintaining the correct sharpening angle, using water or a honing oil as a lubricant, and making even and controlled strokes along the edge of the axe blade.

Additionally, some ceramic stones require soaking in water before use, so it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage.

A ceramic axe grinding stone, also known as a ceramic sharpening stone or ceramic whetstone, is a tool used for sharpening the blade of an axe or other cutting implements.

These stones are typically made from ceramic material and are designed to provide a durable and effective way to sharpen the edge of an axe.

Hard and Durable: Ceramic sharpening stones are known for their hardness and durability. They are designed to withstand heavy use and provide consistent results over time.

Fine Grit: Ceramic stones usually come in different grit levels, with finer grit stones suitable for honing and polishing the axe edge. Finer grits are ideal for achieving a razor-sharp edge.

Precise Sharpening: Ceramic stones allow for precise control over the sharpening process. They are capable of removing small amounts of material to create a sharp, refined edge.

Consistency: Ceramic stones provide consistent results, which is important for maintaining the proper cutting performance of an axe. They can help maintain the angle of the blade.

Versatile: While primarily used for axes, ceramic sharpening stones can also be used for other cutting tools, such as knives, scissors, and chisels.

Longevity: Ceramic stones have a long lifespan when used correctly. They do not wear out as quickly as some other sharpening materials.

The best ones to get are:

Gransfors Bruks Ceramic Axe Grinding Stone

Helko Axe Puck Sharpener 

Hultafors Axe Puck Sharpener

Best Backpacking Axes and Hatchets

Those are some of the best backpacking axes and hatchets you can get. Whichever one you choose, one of these will be perfect for around the campsite.

To go along with the axes and hatches take a look at some of the best knives for backpacking.

And for more backpacking outdoor articles check out my gear guides.

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