Best Backpacking Axe Buying Buide

If you're a serious backpacker like me, you understand how handy an ax can be. It's not wise to go into the wilderness without one. There are many brands and models on the market today. This can make it hard to decide which will make the best backpacking axe. We have a few tips to make it easier for you to choose the right one to meet your needs.

Why Do You Need To Get a Backpacking Axe?

Many circumstances that can come up when you are backpacking or hiking. You may run into thick overgrowth that blocks the trail you're walking. If you are on an overnight trip or get lost in the woods, you will need to build a fire to stay warm. In either case, a good backpacking axe can make your adventure more comfortable. It may even save your life. They are just a few examples of the things that can happen when you are away from civilization. There could come a time when you'll need to depend on your survival skills. An ax could improve your odds of survival in an emergency situation. Even if you are perfectly safe, this handy tool will make gathering firewood or building a shelter more convenient.

How to Pick Your Backpacking Axe

The first step is to know the difference between an ax tomahawk, and hatchet. An ax and hatchet are very similar except a hatchet is only 12 inches in length and an axe is 22 inches or longer. Axes are better choices for camping or backpacking out of the three because they work the best when chopping or cutting wood. While a hatchet is more compact and may fit easier into a backpack, it doesn't cut through wood as quickly or as easily, but if space and weight is an issue it may be the best choice.

Choose an axe that is made of good quality materials and workmanship. The head should be firmly attached to the handle without wiggling. If the head is loose on the wood look at other brands. You don't need to buy the most expensive to get the best axe. The cheapest isn't necessarily the best bet either. Instead look for one that is priced in the middle range and has the most useful features.

Top 10 Best Backpacking Axe 

Product Image


Editor Rating



Schrade SCAXE2 Survival Hatchet Black Handle


Fasthawk Tactical Tomahawk (SOG F06TN-CP)


Hults Bruk Tarnaby Hatchet


Fiskars X15 Chopping Axe, 23.5-Inch


Fiskars X7 Hatchet 14 Inch


Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe


Gerber Gator Combo Axe II


Estwing E24A 14-Inch Sportsman's Axe


Coleman Camp Axe


Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

Detail Review of The Best Backpacking Axes


This survival hatchet is made to hold up under heavy use. The black handle is constructed of glass fiber filled materials for strength and durability. The ergonomic TPR rubber grip makes it more comfortable to use. The hatchet won't slip out of your hand when you're cutting through wood and brush. The rugged stainless steel head is titanium coated with extra strength material that holds a sharp edge longer. This lightweight hatchet is only 1.37 pounds for easy carrying. The blade is 3.8 inches with a 5.2-inch handle length in a compact size that fits easily into a backpack. This set comes with a thermoplastic belt sheath and an extra large size Ferro Rod with a lanyard that is stored inside the handle.


  • Fire striker included is handy for starting fires
  • Lightweight and compact for easy carrying
  • Versatile for many uses including cutting wood and hammering in stakes
  • Ergonomic handle is easy to grip without slippage


  • This hatchet is best for lightweight jobs. Avoid using on larger cutting jobs or in extreme cold as the handle becomes brittle in below zero temperatures.

The Schrade SCAXE2 Survival Hatchet is a lightweight and compact tool that fits well into a hikers backpack. It is easy to carry and cuts through light and medium-sized wood easily. It's an excellent choice for hikers or campers who need a light duty woodcutter but prefer not to carry a heavy or bulky axe. This hatchet was rated with a high score of 4.5 out of 5 possible stars for dependability and convenience.


The Fasthawk Tactical Tomahawk features a lightweight that is easy to carry when hiking or backpacking to camping locations. The 420 steel ax blade in 2 inches in width for cutting through small to medium-sized wood. A lightweight design with even balance makes this versatile tomahawk agile for hitting your mark in throwing competitions. The blade is coated with a hard case black finish and is firmly mouted to a handle made of ballistic polymer for strength and durability. Carry the Fasthawk along for fun and for practical purposes.


  • Versatile for use as a throwing tomahawk or for cutting wood
  • Lightweight for easy carrying and compact to fit in small storage spaces
  • Attractive black tomahawk comes with black ballistic nylon sheath
  • Reasonable price for a quality tool


  • Not suitable for larger jobs so use for light to moderate wood cutting jobs and recreation

The Fasthawk Tactical Tomahawk is a versatile tool that is the best axe for hikers and campers who need a compact and light design for carrying. It works well for cutting through the small wood for clearing brush or cutting firewood. This tomahawk is also good as a throwing ax for recreational use. It is also excellent as a chisel, chipper and for hammering in tent stakes. The Fasthawk Tactical is given a 4.5 out of 5 star rating.


The Hults Bruk Tarnaby Hatchet is great for carrying ina backpack. It is light, weighing just 2.20 pounds and the 15 inch hickory handle is small enough to fit neatly inside for ease of packing it into remote camping sites. Swedish ax steel makes this hatchet a rugged tool that will hold up under heavy-duty jobs. The longer hickory handle is strong and allows for a more powerful swing when chopping through hardwood or heavy brush. Good for light area clearing, making kindling and using in the backyard. The curved shaft is ergonomic and easy on the hands and wrists. Built for moderate to heavy work with high-quality and durable materials.


  • Sharp axe blade holds an edge
  • Well-balanced for easy use
  • Lightweight and easy to carry in backpack
  • High-quality materials are strong and hold up under heavy use
  • Leather sheath included is a nice bonus


  • The handle fitment is a little off but is remedied by rubbing a small amount of linseed oil in.

The Hults Bruk Tarnaby Hatchet is a strong and high-quality hatchet that is made from high-quality Swedish steel and hickory wood. It can be used for jobs that range from light to moderately heavy. The blade holds up well without chipping and holds a sharp edge decently. It is light in weight which makes it easy to pack into remote sites. The even weight distribution gives this hatchet additional cutting power and greater comfort when swinging. The overall rating for this hatchet is a high 4.8 out of 5 stars.


Fiskars X15 Chopping Axe delivers high on ease of use and powerful chopping ability. The FiberComp handle acts as a built-in shock absorber to lessen the impact of blows. The handle material is stronger than steel but more lightweight for greater ease of packing into remote locations. This 23.5 ax is heavy-duty and lets you chop deeper with each powerful swing to finish big jobs faster. Cuts through all sizes of wood with ease and the materials hold up under heavy use.


  • Heavy-duty construction easily cuts through big jobs
  • Thinner blade works well for splitting wood and cutting through small limbs
  • Perfect balance for faster swing speed
  • Powerful axe with great cutting power
  • Even weight distribution for ease of handling


  • Some axes arrived with defects, but the company honors all warranties. Easy to return for refund or replacement.

The Fiskars X15 Chopping axe is built for light to heavy-duty use including cutting small limbs to felling trees. It is a well balanced tool that offers an easy and powerful swing with built-in shock absorption to make it easier to use for heavy jobs. This axe is recommended as the best ax for backpackers who anticipate the need for a strong, swift and sharp full-sized axe. It is rated with a 4.6 out of 5 rating.


The Fiskars X7 Hatchet is the ideal tool for camping and backpacking. The lightweight makes it easy to take along in a backpack. The blade is designed to stay sharp longer with a low friction coating for cleaner cuts. The even weight distribution gives you a more powerful swing for deeper chopping and faster cutting through logs. Faster swing speed multiplies the power behind the impact for faster progress. The Fiber comp handle is stronger than steel but lighter in weight. The molded head is inserted into the handle and is inseparable from extra strength and unbreakability. 4.6


  • Proprietary grinding on ax blade for sharper edge
  • Optimum weight distribution for maximum swinging speed
  • Powerful impact for faster and deeper chopping in small to medium sized logs


  • Some blades dull quickly but are fast and easy to sharpen

The Fiskars X7 Hatchet in the 14 inch for hikers who need a medium duty axe for clearing areas and cutting firewood. The high-quality materials are strong and built to last long under heavy use. The even weight distribution allows for a faster and more powerful swing for deeper cutting and chopping. This makes even heavier duty jobs go quicker and more easily.


Ideal for easy one-handed use when splitting small logs. Designed for maximum efficiency to give you more one-strike splits. Perfected balance and power-to-weight ratio increases swing speed to multiply power, much like an aluminum baseball bat. Included sheath helps protect the blade and the user lifetime warranty.


  • Splits all wood types including hickory and other hardwoods with ease
  • Perfectly balanced ax can be used with one hand when splitting smaller logs
  • Easy to control for a more powerful swing
  • Durable materials that hold up under heavy use
  • Bonus sheath for blade and user protection included


  • A few of the handles have separated from the head in the bitter cold. Although this is not a common complaint, if it does happen, contact the manufacturer and return for a refund or replacement.

The Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe is good for splitting small to medium sized logs. It has a compact design and a lightweight that makes it easy to carry in a backpack. The perfect distribution of weight makes it easy to swing this axe with one hand while holding a log in the other. The sharp blade cuts through hardwood quickly and easily thanks to the ultra sharp blade. This axe has received a high rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.


The Gerber Gator Combo Axe II features a head that is constructed of rugged forged steel for an edge that stays sharper longer. It is a must for basic camping gear that performs under all conditions. The long handle allows for more forceful swings and a greater striking force to chop wood quickly and easily. The handle is made of durable glass-filled nylon that offers a firm and secure grip. This ax comes with a ballistic nylon sheath that protects ax and user when not in use. The included saw cuts through small to medium sized limbs as an additional tool for clearing small areas. It stores neatly inside of the handle when not in use. This portable unit is 15.6 inches in length and a lightweight construction that makes it ideal for carrying in a backpack or other small storage space.


  • Compact and lightweight for ease of carrying
  • Forged steel holds an edge for longer and is easier to sharpen as needed
  • High-quality and durable materials for longer life
  • Combination axe and saw for more cutting and clearing options


  • Plastic handle is slippery at times. If this is an issue, wrap with a rubberized coating for extra grip

The Gerber Gator Combo Axe is an excellent value for the cost. It combines an ax and saw in one package. The forged steel construction helps this ax to hold an edge for longer than many other materials. It offers a compact and lightweight solution for backpackers, hikers, and campers who don’t want to carry a heavy or bulky axe. This combination is rated with a 4.3 out of 5 stars.


The Estwing 14-inch Sportsman’s Axe features one-piece forging of the handle and axe head together for unbreakable performance. This axe is forged of the finest American steel for durability and long life. The cutting edge is hand sharpened and is designed to hold a sharp edge for longer. The leather handle grip makes this ace easier to control for precise swings and deeper cutting. The ballistic nylon sheath is heavy-duty and protects the axe blade and the user.


  • Forged one-piece construction makes this a durable axe that holds up under heavy use
  • Hand sharpening gives the blade a sharper edge
  • Leather handle adds greater gripping ability for less slippage
  • Easily cuts through hardwoods
  • Blade is resistant to chipping


  • The leather grip can feel slick in the hands. Rubbing neatsfoot oil into the leather gives it better grip.

This axe is a good choice for carrying in a backpack because of its compact size and lightweight. It is useful for cutting through all types of wood, both soft and hard and works well for light to moderate clearing and chopping tasks. Hand sharpened American steel is ultra-sharp and holds its edge well. This axe is rated at 4.6 out of 5 stars and is highly recommended as one of the best axes for backpackers and campers.


Coleman is one of the most trusted names in outdoor camping. This camp axe is a good choice for camping, hiking or for backyard use. The axe head is made of drop forged carbon steel that is highly durable and holds a sharp edge for longer. The handle is also made of forged steel and it features a non-slip grip for greater control.


  • Quality materials for long life
  • Carbon forged steel holds sharp edge longer
  • Nonslip grip for ergonomic handle control
  • Lightweight and compact for easy carrying


  • Comes from the factory with a dull blade that is easily sharpened as the solution.

The Coleman Camp axe is a good choice for backpackers who are looking for a light and compact camp axe. It is best used for light duty clearing and cutting. This sharp camp ae is easy to sharpen when needed. The ergonomic handle makes it comfortable to use with less slippage. The quality materials make this a durable ax that holds up when used for its intended purposes. The rating for this ax is 4 out of 5 stars.


The Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is a special edition that features a generous sized 3.5-inch sharp blade for precision cutting. It is lightweight and compact in size for easy packing and carrying to remote locations. The high carbon steel is durable and holds a sharp edge for longer. A non-slip rubber grip makes this hatchet easy to hold and to control in both dry and wet conditions. The nylon sheath which is included is resistant to mildew and comes with belt loops for carrying and easy access. This hatchet has been approved by celebrity survival expert Bear Grylls.

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.


  • Larger blade for deeper cuts and greater precision
  • Non-slip handle grip is ergonomic for more control and less slippage
  • High carbon steel is long lasting, holds an edge and is easy to sharpen
  • Portable size makes it perfect size and weight for hiking or backpacking
  • Bonus mildew resistant sheath with belt loops adds convenience


  • Super sharp makes it easy to cut yourself. Store in the sheath when not in use

The Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is the ideal choice for backpackers who need a compact and lightweight hatchet for light clearing and wood chopping. A sheath with belt loops is included with the hatchet. it is well balanced for a more powerful swing and offers excellent grip with the rubber handle. 

What Parts Make An Axe… An Ax?

An axe consists of two main parts. The handle and the head. The handles can be made from a variety of different materials including Hickory wood, Oak, Pine, Walnut and other types. The better axe handles are reinforced with a steel core that runs from the top to the bottom for maximum durability. Some are made of synthetic plastics or forged steel.

Axe heads are generally made of Steel or alloys. The heads may be forged into the handles as one piece, or in some cases they are attached with rivets or screws. The fully forged handles and heads which are joined together are among the strongest and most difficult to break.

Are all hiking axes the same?

Not all hiking axes are the same. This is why we’ve included ten different axes in our reviews. There are many different types, brands and models because people have very different needs and preferences. Here are a few examples of how these differ.

Camping Axe

A camping axe is generally used for the basic camping tasks that need to be done. Usually making kindling for building fires and clearing small brushy areas. These axes do not need to be large or particularly heavy-duty. A medium size and strength axe or hatchet will do.

Survival Axe

A survival axe is one that you may need to use to fell trees and build shelters with. It is best to go with a strong axe that you know will not fail you. If the cost is a little higher, it will be well worth the expense if you need it.

Tactical Axe

A tactical axe is one that offers more precision cutting. These usually have thinner blades and can serve a variety of functions including chipping cutting, chopping, throwing and hammering. When looking for a tactical axe consider all the tasks you may need to complete before making your final choice.

Top Things To Consider When Choosing a Backpacking Axe

Before purchasing a backpacking axe there are a few things that you need to consider. First, the size of the axe. Larger axes with bigger blades will cut larger pieces of wood and if you have some heavy-duty work to do, this may be your best option, but if the jobs will be light, you can go with a smaller ax.

Longer handles may give you more swinging power for faster and deeper cutting, but they will also be more difficult to carry. For heavy-duty work you’ll need an axe with a strong blade and handle, but you can get by with lighter duty for smaller jobs. Also consider the handle materials because some are weaker than others. You don’t want your axe handle to break in the middle of a job.

Single Bit Vs. Double Bit

There are advantages to both single bit and double bit axes. Double bits offer two edges for less frequent sharpening. When one side dulls you can use the other. They are however, considered to be more dangerous because there are two edges to be concerned with rather than just one. The heads are also heavier, and they can be cumbersome to carry around with you. It all comes down to the matter of preference.

How To Use a Backpacking Axe

When you use you backpacking axe, be careful to sheath it properly before packing away. This will prevent any accidental injuries from reaching into the pack and cutting yourself on the blade. Inspect the axe to make sure that it is in proper working condition before you use it. Make sure that it is sharp so it will cut effectively. Make sure that you have plenty of room to swing and that there isn’t anyone standing behind you. You may also want to wear eye protection to avoid injury from flying wood chips. Keep your fingers and toes away from the area that is being axed. When you are finished using your backpacking axe, store it safely in its sheath so it won’t become a hazard at camp. Keep it away from small children.

Safety first!

When you use your camping axe, the most important things to remember are safety first. You should always check the head connection to the handle make ensure that it is secure. Many accidents happen when people use defective axes that break when they are using them. If the axe head is not secure it could fly off and cause serious injury or even death. Take care when you use your axe. Also, be careful not to cut yourself on the blade because they are often sharper than they look. Keep fingers and toes out of the swinging radius to avoid accidental injury.


It pays to do your research before choosing a backpacking axe. The best one will be an axe that meets your needs, stands up to the jobs you will do and offers reliable performance. This will be different for everyone, so there is not a one axe fits all in existence. Make your final choice based on your needs and preferences.

Michael Ethan

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