Looking for the best bushcraft axes & hatchets?
You’ve come to the right place.
I’ve put lots of research and care into making this guide.
The reason why?
So that you can save time and money when buying a bushcraft axe.
I’ll be prompt and to the point, here’s what I’m going to show you.
- MY picks for the BEST bushcraft axes
- What size bushcraft axe you should pick
- The best bushcraft axes for budget minded survivalists
- Unique pros and cons you NEED to know about each axe on this list
If you’re short on time, I whipped up this table as quick-reference guide.
- 1 Picking the Best Bushcraft Axe for YOU
- 2 Best Bushcraft Axes
- 3 Husqvarna 19-inch Carpenter’s Axe
- 4 Helko Werk Rheinland Pack Axe
- 5 Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 Wetterlings Backcountry Axe
- 8 Fiskars X7 Hatchet
- 9 My Opinion
- 10 Conclusion
Picking the Best Bushcraft Axe for YOU
When you’re trying to decide which bushcraft axe to get, you should consider your own personal needs. What is a great bushcraft axe for one person may not have enough muscle, or may be too cumbersome for you to carry. I’ll break down some common factors you should decide when looking for a bushcraft axe.
What Size Bushcraft Axe?
Size plays an important role in choosing your bushcraft axe. You likely won’t want to take a large 36-inch axe with you into the wild. It would be too cumbersome and difficult to carry in your pack.
Sure, it could certainly chop nearly any tree, but you would be weighed down by the heavy axe and slowed down by the awkward handle length.
For a bushcraft hatchet, you’ll need a compromise between handle lengths. Generally speaking, the smaller the handle, the less powerful the axe, and vice versa.
Small axes are great for easy carrying in a pack, but may top out at only being able to cut down 5-inch diameter trees. Larger axes can handle tough chopping jobs and split wood easier, but may not be ideal for carrying.
There’s a Goldilocks zone with bushcraft axe sizes. I find that a good range of power and portability is anywhere from 12-inches to 20-inches. Anything larger than 20-inches and you’re pushing it on portability.
Anything smaller than 12-inches and you start lacking the muscle needed for tough bushcraft jobs. If you want a portable hatchet, you could also carry a folding saw for cutting up large pieces of wood.
There’s exceptions for the smaller end with super portable hatchets like the Bear Grylls survival hatchet, but I find anything over 26-inches is out of the question. They’re just too large and cumbersome for carrying out in the wild.
What Bushcraft Skills Do You Plan to Use?
You can narrow down what you’ll need in a bushcraft axe if you can narrow down the skills you’ll likely use it for. I wrote about 6 Bushcraft Axe Skills Any Survivalist Should Know.
If you don’t want to read the article, I’ll save you some time with a couple scenarios.
Two of the most obvious uses are chopping trees and splitting wood for building fires. Depending on how hard the wood species are where you plan to practice bushcraft, you may need a different sized hatchet.
If you’re in an area with tougher wood species, you may need a bigger hatchet to handle them. If you’re an area with plenty of softwoods that chop easy, you might be able to get away with a very portable hatchet.
Keep in mind this can be subjective, as a smaller hatchet like the Fiskars X7 can chop tough hardwoods despite its 14-inch size.
Another bushcraft skill you should consider is dressing animals. While it’s not as easy as using a bushcraft knife, it’s a great backup skill to have in case your knife is damaged or lost. Dressing an animal with a larger axe may be a bit more difficult than using a 16-inch axe.
I’m sure that with a little practice before you must use this skill for your survival, you can manage to use larger axe to dress game. Just something to consider.
If you want to defend yourself with your bushcraft axe, you should also consider an axe’s handle length. A longer handle will swing harder and give you more reach compared to a smaller axe.
Smaller axes will swing faster, and you can use them if something or somebody is right up in your face. While it’s unlikely you’ll encounter a self-defense scenario with your bushcraft axe, it’s one thing to consider. Also, remember that the best axe for self-defense is one you train with.
Best Bushcraft Axes
Below I’ve listed my picks for the best bushcraft axes. Each pick is great for bushcraft and well-suited for tough survival scenarios. You can expect a breakdown of effectiveness, portability, quality, and my opinion on each. I hope I can help you choose the pick best suited for your needs!
Husqvarna 19-inch Carpenter’s Axe
|Husqvarna 576926501 19" Wooden Carpenter's Axe||1,595 Reviews||$57.99||More Details|
Husqvarna’s 19-inch Carpenter’s axe is a great choice for anyone looking to pick up one of the best budget bushcraft axes.
Husqvarna did a great job of making a handmade and hand-forged tool that will last a lifetime. Plus, this axe has plenty of power to handle any task you may come across when you’re out in the sticks.
Pros & Cons
Excellent quality starts with durable high-carbon steel axe head. High carbon steel gives this axe the ability to keep a razor-sharp edge very well, while also being easy to sharpen.
Husqvarna gets the axe heads for their axes from Helko Werk but brands them as their own.
What does this mean for you?
You get the same handmade quality at a fraction of the price. Sounds good to me!
The Carpenter’s hatchet has a sharp blade that sinks into wood like butter and chews away at tree trunks. Hacking off small branches, limbs, and vines is easily done in one smooth swing.
American hickory is used to form the durable yet lightweight handle. You’ll find the handle to be quite comfortable and balanced in the hand with a great finish. There’s not really anything to complain about, Husqvarna did a fine job crafting a solid handle for this axe.
Despite being beefy, isn’t too thick for people with smaller hands to use. You can even use it one-handed or two-handed for more power if you desire. I’m quite fond of this handle and how much versatility it offers.
To help you keep your axe blade in top shape, Husqvarna includes a tooled leather sheath with this axe. It’s a nice addition that helps prevent any nicks or damage to the blade.
While it may not be as intricate or quality as Helko Werk’s handmade leather sheath, it certainly gets the job done. If you want a better quality and more compact sheath for your axe, you could also pick up an aftermarket leather sheath made custom for this axe by YAE.
If you’re after power, this axe delivers. The beefy head has plenty of power to fell trees up to 10 inches diameter with relative ease. Despite the budget price, this axe is very effective and surpassed my expectations.
If you plan on doing any carving or shaping sticks for something like a deadfall trap, this axe is also an excellent choice. Simply grab it near the neck and let the Carpenter’s axe do its job.
As far as size goes, the Carpenter’s axe is on the larger end for bushcraft axes. I’d say this is one of the best choices if you’re after a powerful bushcraft axe.
If you’re after an axe you can carry on your hip, you may want to look else. Being 19-inches in length and weighing roughly 2lbs, it’ll be unwieldy. If you need a powerful hatchet you can carry on your hip, consider the 14-inch Gransfors Bruk Wildlife hatchet.
If you don’t mind carrying around a slightly larger axe, then you’ll have no issues bringing the Carpenter’s axe on your camping trips.
This one is pushing the limit for size and portability though. I wouldn’t advise getting a larger axe, as this one sits right on the border of remaining portable for bushcraft, sitting at 2.4lbs overall.
If you cover the blade with the included sheath, you could carry it on the outside of your pack ready for when you need. I know some people like to carry their hatchets on their hips, which you could do with this one if you’re determined enough, but its large size and heavy weight will make that very, very impractical.
All things considered, I believe this is one of the best bushcraft axes for the money. If you don’t mind the 30-day warranty, you can pick up a top quality handmade bushcraft axe for less than half the price of more expensive models.
The Husqvarna Carpenter’s axe is great bushcraft tool that will last a lifetime given you take good care of it.
- Designed with a long straight cutting edge and thin blade to allow for stability and control when cutting
- Best suited for carpentry and other wood work
- Recess in the head so that the hand gets as close as possible to the cutting edge for maximum control
- Includes a leather edge cover
- Head is attached to a hickory shaft using both a wooden and a Steel Wedge to secure fastening
Helko Werk Rheinland Pack Axe
|1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Rheinland Pack Axe||21 Reviews||$147.00||More Details|
My next pick is another beefy bushcraft axe that comes from Wuppertal, Germany. This is where Helko Werk handmakes the 1.5lbs axe heads with high carbon steel, making these axes super durable and great for holding a sharp edge.
Pros & Cons
One unique feature about the shape of the Rheinland pack axe’s head is the German bearded shape. This unique shape gives the axe head a longer blade, which can come in handy when you’re limbing trees or trimming branches.
Speaking of power, it doesn’t all come from the powerful axe head. The other part of the equation is the durable grade-A American hickory handle. These are handmade in Switzerland and don’t skimp on quality one bit.
Instead of using polyurethane or paint to seal in the handle while saving costs, Helko Werk uses boiled linseed oil as a finish coat. I think this is huge improvement in quality, as there’s nothing worse than having your clear coat peel off your axe handle, ruining the finish.
Helko Werk gives these axe handles a proper treatment that puts them a step above the competition on quality and durability.
To help you protect this axe’s sharp edge, Helko Werk includes a vegetable tanned leather sheath. It simply slips over the axe blade and the durable leather will protect it from any nicks or scratches that may damage it.
Another bonus Helko Werk includes to help protect your axe head is a bottle of their “axe-guard”. Helko Werk says you should apply a light coat of the solution over any exposed metal to lubricate it and protect it from rust.
You’re not just limited to chopping away at branches with this axe. You’ll have no issues felling trees 10-inches plus in diameter or splitting kindling for the fire with an axe this beefy.
Helko Werk did an excellent job with the axe handles, but they’re not perfect. One caveat about these axe handles is a side effect of their size.
These handles are thick around, meaning if you have small hands, it’ll be a bit hard to maintain a good grip on one. But if you have regular sized or large hands, you’ll appreciate the size and feel like a true mountain man wielding this beast.
The “axe-guard” is good for those who are buying their first hatchet and may not be familiar with axe maintenance. While you could just pick up a bottle of light-machine oil or tool oil and use it instead, it’s a nice little bonus to get you started and keep your axe in top shape.
Overall, I think this axe is great for those who want a ton of power from their axe and don’t mind a larger bushcraft axe. Helko Werk pours quality and care into these axes, giving you a tool that you can be proud to own for a lifetime.
- Handmade in Wuppertal, Germany
- German C50 high grade carbon steel, 53-56 HRC
- Switzerland made handle, Grade A American hickory
- Includes vegetable tanned leather sheath
- Head Weight: 1.5 lb / Length: 19 in. / Total Weight: 2 lb
Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet
|Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet 13.50 Inch, Axe, 415||205 Reviews||$140.00||More Details|
One of my favorite bushcraft hatchets is the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife hatchet. These incredible tools have been handmade by Gransfors Bruk since they opened their doors for business in 1902.
Pros & Cons
Each axe head is hand forged in Sweden with tempered high carbon steel. Hand forging the axe head ensures that each tool passes quality inspection and comes out a masterpiece. After being forged, they’re hand sharpened to give each a razor-sharp edge.
To compliment the handmade quality of each axe head, Gransfors Bruk uses hand shaped axe handles. American hickory is used for its durability and lightweight.
After pouring care and quality into the handle with hand shaping and grade-A American hickory, the result is a tight-grained handle with near perfect alignment that offers only the best in durability and power while remaining lightweight. The expert craftsmanship, care, and attention to detail is palpable when you hold it in your hand.
Carrying around the Wildlife hatchet is made easier by the vegetable tanned leather sheath Gransfors Bruks includes with these hatchets. They’re made with high-quality leather that is sure to last a long time given you properly oil it and keep it from drying out.
A neat feature about this sheath is that you can easily clip it around you belt loop for more comfortable carry. Instead of needing to keep it in your pack, you can carry your axe on your hip while still protecting the blade from nicks and damage with this sheath.
At only 1.3lbs and 14-inches in overall length, the Wildlife hatchet is incredibly powerful for its size. Each of these high precision tools is ready to be used out the box for scouting, felling small trees, clearing branches, or even splitting kindling for a campfire.
One thing I found impressive about the Wildlife hatchet is that it comes with a 20-year warranty on the axe head. If you ever manage to crack it in two or damage it during normal, Gransfors Bruk will cover it in their generous warranty.
The biggest negative aspect about the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife hatchet is the high price tag. You’re paying for premium quality materials and expert handmade craftsmanship.
While these two traits are highly desirable and key to making a top-quality product, it may make the Wildlife hatchet too expensive for those looking to bushcraft on a budget.
Overall, the Gransfors Bruk Wildlife hatchet is one of the small axes for lightweight bushcraft.
You’ll have a tough time finding handmade quality, master craftsmanship, and premium quality materials that match the level of the Wildlife hatchet.
Throw in a handmade leather sheath and a 20-year warranty, and this hatchet will serve anyone looking for a lightweight bushcraft hatchet well.
- Length with handle: 13.50 inch, Item-ID: 415
- Weight: 1.3 lbs
- Sheath in vegetable-tanned leather
- Traditional scouting and camping axe
- The Axe Book comes with every axe purchased from Gransfors Bruk, Made in Sweden.
Wetterlings Backcountry Axe
Wetterlings’ Backcountry axe lives up to its name, since this axe is right at home out in the backcountry. With an overall length of 20-inches and weighing in at 2lbs, this axe has plenty of power to take on the toughest bushcraft tasks.
Pros & Cons
Power starts in the axe’s head, where forged high-carbon steel provides great durability and keeps an edge even after a hard day’s work. This axe comes razor-sharp out the box, like all axes should. Since it’s made with high-carbon steel, sharpening the axe blade to its razor sharp-state again won’t be too difficult.
A crucial component that gives this axe more power than other bushcraft axes is its large 20-inch long American hickory handle. Each axe has a tight grain and good alignment that makes hickory an excellent choice for being lightweight yet extremely durable.
Protecting your axe blade is important, it’s one of your most valuable tools out in the wilderness. Luckily, this axe comes with a leather snap sheath that easily and quickly snaps on to your axe and protects the axe blade from any dirt or damage that may ruin the head.
If you’re trying to bushcraft on a budget, you may want to pass this axe up. It’s got a price tag that fits the quality of materials of workmanship poured into this beauty of a tool.
But if you don’t mind spending a little money to own a Wetterlings tool that’s bound to last a lifetime, you’ll love it for bushcraft.
You’ll find this axe’s handle is beefy, but not as thick around as the Rheinland pack axe, meaning it can still be used by people whose hands are a little smaller than the average. The handle is very well balanced, making it suitable to be used both one-handed or two-handed if you want more power from your swings.
With this axe’s beefy handle and sharp carbon steel head, you’ll have no issue felling 10-inch plus diameter trees, clearing branches, and even splitting medium sized firewood. Chopping or shaping any kind of wood will be no issue, making this a great tool to have for bushcraft.
Plus, the added fact that these axes carry a 20-year warranty should say enough about their quality.
Overall, Wetterlings’ Backcountry axe is an excellent tool for bushcraft that lives up to the quality of the Wetterlings name.
It’s got plenty of power to handle chopping down large trees, shape wood, split firewood, and anything else you may encounter while you’re out in the bush.
- A lightweight axe with a long handle that can be used one or two Handed
- Great for limbing or cutting smaller Trees cutting smaller Trees
Fiskars X7 Hatchet
The last (but not least!) pick on my list of the best bushcraft hatchets is the Fiskars X7 hatchet. I’ve written about this one several times, and there’s a reason I keep coming back to it. This hatchet offers some of the best quality and durability for one of the lowest prices on the market.
Pros & Cons
Starting with the axe head, Fiskars uses high-carbon steel that is factory forged for good durability. Covering the axe head, you’ll find a non-stick coating that helps the axe head glide through wood easier, while also serving to keep it from rusting.
Additionally, there’s a practically zero chance of breaking the axe head off the handle, since it’s securely attached via durable molded polymer that runs through the handle.
The handle is also a bit different from other picks on this list. Instead of American hickory, you’ll find a composite multi-layer handle that is very well designed.
Fiskars’ unique composite handle cuts down on weight too, with the whole axe weighing 1lb with a length of 14-inches. Very impressive! You’ll have no issues carrying this lightweight and portable hatchet around with you everywhere.
If you’ve ever suffered wrist pain from vibrations when striking material with an axe before, this hatchet aims to solve that. Fiskars uses technology like their IsoCore system that helps reduce the impact of hard blows on your hands and wrist.
Not only does the handle reduce vibrations, but Fiskars also claims that it’s virtually indestructible. Multiple layer of advanced polymer and metal create a lightweight yet super durable handle that can handle any bushcraft job you throw at it.
Fiskars is so confident in their design that they offer a lifetime warranty on this hatchet. If you ever manage to break this handle, not only will you greatly surprise me, but Fiskars will likely replace your hatchet and let you run out into the woods again worry free to beat the next one up.
Protecting your axe blade is important to keeping it honed and sharp, which is why covering it with a sheath is a great measure you can take to preserve your axe’s edge. Fiskars includes a hard-plastic sheath that is excellent at protecting the axe blade from damage.
While it doesn’t have the hand-forged quality of the other bushcraft axes, it gets the job done just fine. You’ll still be able to handle felling small trees, limbing branches, shaping/carving wood, and splitting kindling for a campfire.
I think the biggest draw to this hatchet is the sheer value you get. It can still compete with hatchets ten times its price and will likely last a whole lot longer too. The composite materials are a boon too, since the handle absorbs vibrations, preventing hand and wrist pain.Plus, no-one can match Fiskars lifetime warranty.
Fiskars tried and succeeded to add some extra value to this package and take a unique approach with their hard-plastic sheath. However, I will say that the plastic sheath is a bit bulky to carry in a backpack. If you decide to carry it on the outside or just make a little extra room, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Overall, the Fiskars X7 is my personal recommendation for those who are looking to bushcraft on a shoestring budget. It’s an incredibly lightweight and portable axe at only 1lb and 14-inches overall, yet still packs enough power to chop trees, split kindling, and make any structure or craft material you’d desire.
Plus, if you ever manage to break this axe (highly doubt it), Fiskars will replace it for you! No needing to worry about buying another axe.
- 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