Here’s the deal:
I put lots of time and effort into research and writing for this guide.
So that you can save time and money when you decide to buy a backpacking hatchet.
I’m not going to waste your time, here’s what you’ll get from this post:
- Things you need to consider when choosing a backpacking axe
- How to choose the perfect backpacking axe for your needs
- My picks for the best backpacking axe (including budget minded picks)
- Important pros and cons about each product
So, stick around for a minute, and save yourself some time and money in the process.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick table I made of the best backpacking hatchets and axes.
- 1 Hults Bruk Tarnaby Hatchet Review
- 2 Husqvarna 13” Wooden Hatchet Review
- 3 Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet Review
- 4 Fiskars X7 Hatchet Review
- 5 Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet Review
- 6 Don’t Forget These Things When Choosing a Backpacking Hatchet
Hults Bruk Tarnaby Hatchet Review
Pros & Cons
If you’re long for a rock-solid, dependable and high-quality hatchet, look no further than the Hults Bruk Tarnaby hatchet. There’s a reason I’m starting with this hatchet.
Trusty & Reliable
Hults Bruk made this hatchet one of the most reliable and pride worthy tools you’ll own. High carbon steel, hand forged in Sweden by master craftsmen for a razor-sharp edge that can slice hairs and chop through branches with ease.
But when researching this hatchet, I came across a quality I’ve never heard of before. Hults Bruk forges these hatchets by striking the steel multiple times for a greater density and durability.
Additionally, they also create a tempered zone along the 3.5” long blade edge that helps keep the edge razor sharp even after being sharpened multiple times. I thought this was a great feature that helps add to the longevity of this hatchet.
Quality Handle Construction
American hickory is used for the 15” handle on this beautiful hatchet. Many hatchets have hickory handles, but Hults Bruk’s craftsmen don’t simply turn this handle, give it a quick sand and ship it out.
Instead, they hand shape each handle for optimal performance, balance, and comfort. The resulting handle is a beautiful piece of work that has the grain perfectly aligned for optimum durability and performance.
Easy to Use Design
This hatchet has a 1.25 lb head and a 1 lb handle, close to the 50/50 rule of thumb. Meaning, you’ve got plenty of power to chop, split, and hack around without it feeling weak or cumbersome.
Includes Hand Made Leather Mask
To help you store and protect your hatchet, Hults Bruk also includes a beautiful hand-crafted leather sheath decorated with traditional Swedish markings.
Long Term Warranty
As far as the warranty, Hults Bruk rocks an outstanding 20-year warranty on this hatchet. 20 years! If you read later down the list, you’ll see that few come close to a warranty this good.
Great Hatchet, But Not Perfect
Now, I will admit, this hatchet isn’t the be-all end-all for backpacking hatchets. There’s some downsides.
The first being you’ll need to clean and oil it after taking it out on a trip. This is to prevent the high-carbon steel from rusting, as it’s prone to do.
The second thing you’ll have to be aware of is the price. This hatchet certainly isn’t the most expensive on this list, but it does come at a mid-range premium price.
If you like this hatchet but want an alternative with a lower cost, Hults Bruk makes hatchets for Husqvarna, and there’s a 13” version for about half the cost of this one, but it doesn’t come with a 20-year warranty.
Instead, the warranty period is 30-days. Ouch. But if you like the price better, check out the Husqvarna 13” wooden hatchet, since it’s practically-speaking the same hatchet, for about half the price.
Otherwise, I think this hatchet is a great choice for the best backpacking hatchet because of how solid of a tool it is. Hults Bruk outdid themselves making this hatchet a go-to for backpacker.
The handmade craftsmanship, portable size, power, and dependability backed by a 20-year warranty is unmatched for the price.
- This axe head is hand-forged and made from Swedish axe steel in a foundry that has been in operation since 1697.
- As part of the production process, the steel is struck multiple times thereby increasing its density and resulting in more durability of the axe.
- The head is constructed in such a way that there is a tempered zone designed to hold a very sharp edge even after many sharpenings.
- Each axe comes with a traditional leather protective sheath that is embellished with some unique Swedish decorative elements. The axe is shipped in its own storage box and comes with a detailed users manual.
Husqvarna 13” Wooden Hatchet Review
Pros & Cons
Premium Quality Without the Cost
If you read the review above, you know that Hults Bruk makes these hatchets for Husqvarna, meaning you can get the same handmade razor sharp Swedish forged steel quality for nearly half the price.
Sounds good right?
One of the only differences between them is the handle length, the stamps, the quality of the handle and the quality of the sheath.
American hickory is still used for the handle, but it’s about 2” shorter, giving this hatchet a total length of about 13” inches. Instead of Hults Bruk’s mark on the handle, you’ll find a Husqvarna logo.
The hatchet head is identical to Hults Bruk, which is expected since they’re made in the same foundry. Instead of the Hults Bruk forge mark, there’s a Husqvarna forge mark instead.
A sharp hatchet head and good balance give it plenty of power for camp duties such as chopping branches, small trees, and splitting kindling.
Previous Quality Control Issues
In the past, there were a few issues with quality control regarding the forge mark. A welt would develop in the steel where the mark was pressed, ruining the temper and causing some peoples’ hatchets to crack along this temper zone.
Nowadays, they seemed to work out this kink, and produce quality hatchets with a perfect temper. I haven’t seen any complaints about this issue for coming up on a year now.
Includes Tool Leather Sheath
Husqvarna includes a tooled leather mask with this hatchet to protect the blade from damage. While it’s not as nice and intricate as the Hults Bruk’s leather mask, it serves its job well and doesn’t disappoint. It’ll certainly protect the 3.5” axe blade from any nicks or damage.
A Quick Look at Two Issues
There are two downsides with this hatchet, one is nature, the other is on Husqvarna’s part.
The first downside is that you’ll need to care for this hatchet regularly by cleaning it and oiling it, as the carbon steel is prone to rusting. So long as you clean it after each trip and wipe it down with a thin coat of oil, you’ll keep it in shape for years to come.
The other downside is the warranty. Husqvarna gives these hatchets a 30-day warranty. Compared to other hatchet on this list which have 10-year, 20-year, and even lifetime warranties, a 30-day warranty is a bit pitiful.
But considering you still get a hand forged carbon steel hatchet made by Hults Bruk for roughly half the cost, the 30-day warranty may be a brush off the shoulder for you.
Overall, I think the Husqvarna 13” wooden hatchet serves a great niche role for backpackers who want a great quality hand forged hatchet without the high costs typically associated with expert craftsmanship.
If you don’t mind the 30-day warranty, I recommend you check out the powerful, portable, and well-priced Husqvarna 13” wooden hatchet.
- Small, light axe that can be used for cutting branches or splitting small camp fire wood
- Head is attached to the hickory shaft using both a wooden and steel wedge to secure fastening
- Comes with a leather edge cover
Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet Review
|Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet 13.50 Inch, Axe, 415||204 Reviews||$163.90||More Details|
Pros & Cons
My next pick for the best backpacking axe doesn’t sacrifice on quality on bit, and the premium price shows it. You get what you pay for with the Gransfors Bruk Wildlife hatchet. If you want only the best in quality and performance, look no further.
Incredibly Sharp Edge
My favorite feature about this hatchet are the hand forged Swedish carbon steel. Gransfors Bruk takes immense pride in forging these hatchets by hand.
The result is some of the sharpest edges, most durable steel, and overall one of the best quality hatchet heads on the market.
This hatchet comes incredibly sharp out the box, having no issues shaving hairs off your arm. Tempered carbon steel keeps the edge sharp through tough work and is easy to re-sharpen when needed.
With all the craftsmanship and care put into this hatchet, it shows the moment you pick it up. The Wildlife hatchet has no issue chewing through small trees, branches, and splitting kindling for the fire. Handling camping duties without a hitch is a great boon, especially given how portable it is.
Portable & Packable
Carrying the Wildlife hatchet on your backpacking trip is a breeze. Weighing only an incredibly light 1.3 lbs, it has a great utility-to-weight ratio that makes it worthy of your pack space.
The hand crafted American hickory handle is only 13.5” long and gives this hatchet a great balance. At 13.5” long, this hatchet sits in the sweet spot of maximizing power while minimizing footprint.
Hand Crafted Quality
Also included with this hatchet is Gransfors Bruk’s hand crafted vegetable tanned leather sheath. Given the price of this hatchet, you’d be wise to use this mask to protect the blade from any accidental nicks. I think it’s a great little sheath that is lightweight yet protects the blade nicely.
Generous Warranty Period
Unlike Husqvarna’s 30-day warranty, Gransfors Bruk offers a generous 20-year warranty on all their axe heads. If you were to crack your axe head under normal use conditions, Gransfors Bruk would gladly own up to their manufacturing fault and replace your axe head.
But, this is very unlikely, as Gransfors Bruk is known for making top of the line Swedish tools that embody the highest handmade quality and workmanship. I’d honestly be shocked if you could manage to crack one of their axe heads!
Overall, I believe the Gransfors Bruk Wildlife hatchet is one of the highest quality backpacking hatchets on the market.
If you want the best hand forged Swedish steel hatchet whose quality is matched by none other, this is your axe.
If you don’t mind paying the premium price tag to get the most reliable and effective backpacking hatchet on the market, check out the Gransfors Bruk Wildlife hatchet.
- Length with handle: 13.50 inch, Item-ID: 415
- Weight: 1.3 lbs
- Sheath in vegetable-tanned leather
- Traditional scouting and camping axe
- Comes with English language Axebook, Made in Sweden.
Fiskars X7 Hatchet Review
Pros & Cons
If you’re looking for power, portability, and durability all for a low price, you need to check out the Fiskars X7 hatchet.
I’ve written about this hatchet before, and there’s a reason I keep coming back to it. This hatchet is one of the best deals for your dollar that you’ll find anywhere. Let me break down why I believe this to be true.
Powerful & Effective
Starting with the hatchet’s head, Fiskars uses forged carbon steel to create a very sharp, highly effective and functional blade. While it doesn’t hold an edge as well or have the same durability as hand forged Swedish steel hatchets, it’s hard to complain with a price this good. Baked onto the hatchet head you’ll find a non-stick low friction coating that helps this hatchet glide through branches and logs as it chops away with ease. Additionally, the coating prevents the carbon steel underneath from rusting.
Composite Materials Advantage
Unlike typical wooden hatchets which are hung on their handles using steel wedges, this hatchet’s head is embedded in molded plastic that extends through the handle. A result of this design is superb reliability, which is why Fiskars warrants these hatchets with a lifetime warranty.
Another benefit of the composite handle is the ideal weight distribution. The 14” long handle makes this hatchet like an aluminum baseball bat in terms of power-to-weight ratio and the leverage it gives you.
Unique Hard Plastic Sheath
To help you carry this hatchet easier and protect the blade from damage, Fiskars includes a hard-plastic sheath. The sheath is skeleton-style, meaning it acts like a frame that holds the axe securely in place and shields it from damage.
I think it’s a neat little sheath that’s easy to carry and attach to the outside of your backpack for easy transportation. With a weight of 1.4 lbs and a total length of 14”, you can easily carry this on this outside of your pack and save some interior room for other necessities.
If you’d like you could still carry this hatchet inside your pack, but you may find the plastic mask a bit bulky for limited storage space. Depends on how much room you have and how good you are at cramming things in your backpack.
For the price though, I’m sure you won’t complain. I believe this hatchet is an absolute steal given the bargain price you can pick it up for over on Amazon. Combined with the fact that it’s covered by Fiskars full lifetime warranty, I think it’s the best budget backpacking hatchet you’ll find.
Overall, I’d give this hatchet a strong buy for budget backpackers who want power and portability without the high price tag. Fiskars does an outstanding job making these hatchets powerful tools that everyone can afford.
If you’re looking for the best budget bushcraft hatchet, or even the best bushcraft hatchet under $50, I recommend you check out the Fiskars X7 hatchet.
- Ideal for chopping kindling and small- to medium-sized logs
- Chops deeper with each swing to get more done faster
- Perfected balance and power-to-weight ratio increases swing speed to multiply power, much like an aluminum baseball bat
- Proprietary blade-grinding technique provides a sharper edge for better contact and cleaner cuts
- Lifetime warranty
Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet Review
|Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet [31-002070]||728 Reviews||$25.34||More Details|
Pros & Cons
My ReviewBear Grylls’s survival hatchet is perfect for ultralight backpackers who are looking for a powerful yet portable tool with a budget price.
Starting with the hatchet’s head, you’ll find a sharp 3.5” blade that can handle chopping branches, small trees, and splitting light kindling without a hitch. Its blade is coated with a black baked-on layer that protects the carbon steel from corrosion. The head also has a full tang, meaning the head and handle are one piece of solid steel, giving it great durability.
On the reverse of the hatchet head is the supposed “hammering side”, which will do for intermittent tasks, but probably isn’t ideal if you need to hammer in more than about 20 tent stakes. This “hammering side” is a bit thin for most hammering jobs I’d imagine and doesn’t have enough beef to it for heavy hammering jobs, in which case you might want to use the side face of the hatchet instead.
Well-Designed Handle & Grips
Underneath the blade along the neck of the handle you’ll find finger cutouts, whose purpose is to help you maintain a better grip over this powerful tool. Further down the handle you’ll find the non-slip rubber grip that fits right in your palm and gives you complete control and precision.
Even in wet, muddy, and nasty conditions you’ll still be able to maintain a solid grip on this tool due to these cutouts and the non-slip grip. If you love backpacking in the hardest of environments, this hatchetwill be a great tool to carry along with you.
Includes Durable Nylon Sheath
To help you carry this tool with you on your travels, Gerber includes a mildew resistant nylon sheath. Mildew resistance is important for preserving your tool’s condition in harsh environments and nylon is a strong material that will resist wear great. However hard you decide to backpack and travel, this hatchet can come right along with you without any problems.
This sheath also has a belt loop hangar that makes it easy to attach it to your hip but will only fit around belt loops that are around 1.5” or small in thickness. I think this is a neat feature that I’m sure many backpackers will take full advantage of, given it fits around your belt.
Perfect for Ultralight Backpacking
Carrying this hatchet in your pack or on your hip will be near effortless considering this hatchet weighs only about 1 lb total, including sheath. Combined with an overall length of 13”, I think it’s a fantastic choice for backpackers who are wanting a backpacking hatchet suitable for ultralight travel.
Includes Unique Pocket Survival Guide
Gerber also includes an extra “Bear Grylls: Priorities of Survival Pocket Guide” that contains lots of survival information and techniques that apply to nearly every survival situation.
Necessities such as sourcing suitable drinking water, food, shelter, and fire are including, as well as advice on preserving calories, moving camp, signaling for survival and emergency medical information. Carrying around this hatchet with Bear Grylls’s waterproof folding survival guide could save your life.
Covered by Long Term Warranty
To top it off, Gerber warrants these hatchets with a limited 25-year warranty that covers manufacturing defects and workmanship. Given that Husqvarna sells a hatchet twice the price and only warranties it for 30-days, I think Gerber does a good job in looking out for their customers here.
Overall, I think this is a deal for ultralight backpackers who want a mini hatchet with plenty of power for a bargain price.
If you’re looking to pick up a budget mini hatchet for backpacking that doesn’t sacrifice quality, check out the Bear Grylls survival hatchet.
- 3.5" blade for swift, precise cuts + easy portability.
- Full tang, high carbon steel construction for durability.
- Ergonomic, non-slip rubber grip is secure in wet/dry conditions.
- Mildew-resistant nylon sheath w/ belt loops for accessibility.
- Wild tested, Bear Grylls approved.
Don’t Forget These Things When Choosing a Backpacking Hatchet
There’s nothing worse than carrying around a bloated, cumbersome pack that you’ll have to drag for miles and miles.
That’s why you should carefully consider certain factors about that backpacking hatchet you’ve been eyeing. I’ve drilled it down to three crucial factors that you need to keep in mind when you make a buying decision.
These factors are:
- Power (Relative handle-to-head size/weight)
- Portability (Overall Weight & Size)
- Price (Get your money’s worth + warranty)
Easy to remember, but important. Let’s look at each one individually.
It’s important that you consider the power that you’ll get out of a hatchet. The secret to power in compact backpacking hatchets is by having a well-matched head weight to handle weight.
Typically, this means having roughly 50% of the weight in the head vs 50% of the weight in the handle. Having more than 50% of weight in the head is good, but once you start getting to a heavier head-balance, it feels like you’re swinging a rock on the end of a stick.
Keeping the 50/50 balance is a good rule of thumb to maintaining an easy to use hatchet.
And guess what….
Each pick on this list is vetted to ensure it meets this standard. I made sure each backpacking hatchet was a prime choice for usability.
If you follow my recommendations, that means you can’t go wrong getting a lemon! Each pick can chop down small trees, branches, and splitting kindling.
When you’re on the move backpacking, you need a portable hatchet by your side.
Lugging around a heavy, long-handled axe will be cumbersome and slow you down. Instead, you can keep a small backpacking hatchet in your pack.
Two important factors for portability are weight and handle length.
Keeping you carry weight low should be a familiar concept. The less weight you carry, the further you can travel without tiring.
As for handle length, aim for a handle that gives a hatchet a total length of 16” or below. Otherwise, you may find it cumbersome to carry.
Price & Warranty
Finally, the last fact you should consider is price and warranty.
Well, you worked hard for your money, so I’m sure you want to get the most out of it!
Backpacking hatchets and axes fit within a large price range. You have everything from the Fiskars X7 for under $30, to the Gransfors Bruk handmade hatchets that can be close to $200!
BUT, there’s another thing to consider as well…
You deserve a good warranty for a tool you shelled out your hard-earned money for. If a company trusts in the products they make, said company should have no problem issuing good warranties.
In case your tool becomes damaged, you can easily exercise your warranty and get your tool repaired or replaced!
But there’s one thing:
A higher price tag doesn’t always buy you a better warranty.
In the case of the hand-made hatchets from brands like Hults Bruk and Gransfors Bruk, you can expect a ten to twenty-year warranty on the axe heads!
At the same time, the Fiskars X7 comes in at around six to seven times cheaper than some of the more expensive hatchets yet comes with a full lifetime warranty.
Lucky for you, I dug up the warranty for every hatchet on this list and give my opinion on each. You can plan for that just-in-case scenario if your hatchet breaks and you need to go through the warranty process.