Axes and hatchets are one of the most useful tools to have in the wilderness. If you’re anything like us you grew up reading survival and adventure books like the American classic “Hatchet”. Survival hatchets are built to be lightweight, compact, and ready to do all the survival and camp preparation tasks needed. We’ve reviewed some of the best survival hatchets and given a general buying guide to help you make your decision.

Best Survival Hatchets

Survival hatchets fulfill a specific niche in the tool world. They need to be highly portable, multi-functional, and durable. Their role is to help you clear ground, split wood, and do general tasks.

The best quality ones are compact, strong, and help you cut and split wood quickly. Here are several of the best survival hatchets on the market today.

Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

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The Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet was designed by Gerber with input from the famous outdoorsman himself. It’s an extremely portable 1.4 lb hatchet that’s just under 10 inches long.

This makes it perfect for packing in and out during camping trips or bushcrafting expeditions. The head is made from high carbon steel and uses a full tang design with a rubber grip overlay.

It comes with a nylon sheath with belt loops to make it easy to carry or attach to your bag. The head itself is coated with a nonstick material that makes it glide through wood more efficiently. Its small size makes it slightly less useful for chopping and splitting tasks but the very small size and weigh definitely make up for it.

If you’re looking for one of the lightest and easiest to carry survival hatchets out there you should definitely check out this Gerber Bear Grylls product.

Off Grid Tools Survival Hatchet Multi tool

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The Off Grid Tools Survival Hatchet is a true hatchet multi tool. It’s made from high carbon steel in a full tang design and packs more than 17 different tools into a body just under 12 inches long. These tools include:

  • Hatchet
  • Hammer
  • Nail Puller
  • Saw Blade
  • 10 Hex Wrenches
  • Seat Belt Cutter
  • Glass Breaker
  • Bottle Opener

Despite the high number of tools it includes the Off Grid Tools Hatchet weighs just 1.6 lbs. The hatchet blade itself uses a sharply curved design but works well for chopping and splitting tasks. One thing we really liked was the fold out saw blade.

It folds out from the handle and is 6 inches long. It’s perfect for cutting through small to medium branches when clearing brush or preparing a campfire. Even better, the saw is designed for easy removal and replacement.

The other tools on this survival hatchet work very well, though we didn’t get a chance to try out the glass breaker. The seat belt cutter was able to slice right through a nylon strap we had lying around.

This is a great tool to keep in your car or truck for emergencies or to take out on a camping trip.

Outdoor Edge Wood Devil Survival Hatchet

Outdoor Edge Camping and Hunting Hatchet

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The Outdoor Edge Wood Devil is a lightweight survival hatchet designed for hiking, camping, and bushcrafting. It uses a narrower blade profile than many traditional camping hatchets but is still strong and durable.

It’s 10 inches long and weighs just 1.2 lbs. The head itself is quite broad for a hatchet this small, fully 4 inches from top to bottom. Like most of the very small hatchets it uses a full tang steel design with a rubber handle. It also comes with a nylon sheath to attach to your belt or backpack.

The handle is designed with an ergonomic shape to reduce hand fatigue during long use. The narrowness of the blade makes it more difficult to use as a hammer but it was serviceable for pounding in tent stakes and other light tasks.

Fiskars X7 Hatchet

Fiskars Survival Hatchet

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The Fiskars X7 is a 14 inch hatchet that’s been engineered to produce a rugged, high-quality product. Fiskars is well known for the quality of their many outdoor and cutting products, their survival hatchet is no exception to this.

The X7 has a proprietary blade grind that allows it to cut faster and longer than comparable hatchets. The entire head is coated with a non-friction material to prevent the blade from catching in wood.

At 14 inches it’s definitely on the large size but weighs less than you would expect. This is due to the lightweight FiberComp fiberglass handle Fiskars used. It’s hollow and has a textured exterior for better grip. It comes with a hard plastic carry sheath that can actually be locked closed when not in use.

Overall the X7 survival hatchet is an excellent product at a very affordable price. It’s lightweight, highly durable, and has a great head that can stand serious use well.

Estwing Sportsman’s Axe

Estwing Camping Hatchet

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Estwing knows tools that swing. They specialize in hammers, axes, and other hand tools designed to take heavy impacts all day long. Their 14 inch Sportsman’s Axe is a classically styled camping and outdoor hatchet that looks downright handsome.

They used a full tang design with a burnished steel look. The handle is wrapped with genuine leather and lacquer for a nice smooth finish. The axe head itself is forged from a single piece of American steel for maximum durability and utility.

This is one of those tools you’ve no doubt seen used before and didn’t even realize. If you like old school styling on very high-quality products the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is a great product for you.

Blade Mate Survival Hatchet

Blademate Survival Camping Hatchet

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The Blade Mate Survival Hatchet is another full tang steel hatchet designed for the outdoors. It has a 4.5 inch blade on a total body length of 12.6 inches. It weighs just over a pound and has a bonus cutting hook on the rear of the hatchet blade.

The Blade Mate hatchet has a textured composite handle over stainless steel. The blade is softer than some of the carbon steel hatchets on this list but extremely lightweight for its size. It’s coated with a corrosion resistant material to prevent rust or other environmental damage.

It comes with a nylon sheath that buttons closed over the entire hatchet head. The cutting hook was a neat feature but does prevent you from using the back of the hatchet as a makeshift hammer. Overall we think it would be better without it.

This is a quality product at a reasonable price. It looks sharp, has a very useful blade size and is easy to carry long distances.

Husqvarna Composite Hatchet

Husqvarna Composite Hatchet

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Husqvarna has been making high quality Swedish axes and blades since 1689. They know their business and produce some very nice axes and hatchets. The 13 inch Composite Hatchet is no exception to this tradition.

It combines Husqvarna’s centuries of forge experience with the latest synthetic materials. It uses a coated fiberglass handle for maximum durability and weight savings. The axe head itself comes quite sharp and has a very nice hammer area on the other side.

It’s a bit heavier than many similarly sized hatchets, weighing just under 2 lbs, but makes up for it with its durability and sheer cutting ability. The head is coated with a non-friction material to protect the blade from impact and cut through wood easier.

The only real downside to the Husqvarna Composite Hatchet is its relatively high price. You can find similar hatchets without its famous name from less than half the cost.

Is it worth it? Probably.

This is a very high-quality survival hatchet that gives you a lot of value. If treated right you’ll be chopping with this bad boy for decades.

Schrade SCAXE10 Full Tang Hatchet

Schrade Full Tang Hatchet

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The Schrade SCAXE10 is a full tang hatchet that’s just 10.1 inches long. It’s made from durable stainless steel with a rubber wrapped handle. This makes it both highly durable and comfortable to use.

The blade is 3.6 inches long and has a full hammer pommel on the reverse side. The entire hatchet weighs just 1.6 lbs. This makes it compact, lightweight, and easy to carry with you.

It comes with an attached lanyard on the bottom of the handle and a thermoplastic belt sheath. This makes it easy to attach to your belt, bag, or hang off a strap somewhere.

Schrade is a respected name in the outdoor knife and axe world. The SCAXE10 is well designed, ruggedly built, and priced to move. It’s a great survival hatchet that won’t let you down when it counts.

Estwing Camper’s Axe with Shock Reduction Grip

Estwing Campers Hatchet

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The Estwing Camper’s Axe is designed to meet all your hiking, camping, and bushcrafting needs. It has a 14 inch full tang design with a more tactical look than many of their other products.

It’s available in several different color and wrap options. The handle is covered with a rubber shock absorbing wrap to prevent slips and add to your comfort. It comes standard with a ballistic nylon belt sheath for easy carry.

Estwing manufactures all their products in the USA, using only the finest American steel. They have a well deserved reputation for excellence. If you’re looking for a modern survival hatchet with a low profile design the Estwing Camper’s Axe is an excellent choice.

Schrade SCAXE5 Full Tang Tactical Hatchet

Schrade Full Tang Tactical Hatchet

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The SCAXE5 is a full tang tactical survival hatchet made from high carbon steel. It’s 12.8 inches long with a 3.1 inch blade. It has multiple tools built into the head and handle, including:

  • Hatchet
  • Spike Pommel
  • Nail Puller

The SCAXE5 is a tactically focused hatchet. It has an all black design with a black nylon fiber handle. It’s textured and provides a very firm grip. The hatchet comes with a nylon sheath for belt or bag carry and weighs 1 lb 9 oz.

This is a good hatchet for carving or chopping. The only real downside to it is the lack of a hammer. You can’t use it effectively for setting up tent stakes or other pounding tasks.

All in all the SCAXE5 is a quality hatchet with a lot of useful features. It falls more on the tactical side of survival hatchets but still provides good value.

IUNIO Multi-Tool Survival Hatchet

Multi Tool Survival Hatchet

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The IUNIO Survival Hatchet skirts the high side of what a hatchet can be. It’s almost 17 inches long and weighs over 2 pounds. The head is made of stainless steel while the handle is hollow aluminum. It provides you with 8 different tools, including:

The handle actually screws off into different components. You can access different tools and parts when they’re needed then reattach them when you’re done with them.

The fire starter and fish scaler are both a reasonably good size. They work well for what they are and give you everything needed to clean a fish and start a fire. In a survival situation this is invaluable.

The hatchet itself is made of slightly softer steel than many other hatchets. It needs sharpening a bit more often than ones made from harder steel but still works well at chopping and splitting tasks.

If you want a lightweight survival hatchet with multiple survival tools this is a great choice.

Buyers Guide for Choosing the Best Survival Hatchet

There are a lot of factors that go into picking the best survival hatchet. The biggest fear when buying a new tool is discovering you’ve ended up with a glorified paperweight.

As long as you carefully consider the materials, manufacturer, and basic design principles it’s a lot easier to find the best camping hatchet than you’d think.

Price/Value

Thankfully hatchets aren’t particularly expensive items. You can get a really good hatchet for around $20 without too much effort. The trick when considering price vs. value with hatchets is to look at the materials and design.

You want something from a reputable company, made from quality materials, with a tried and true design. There are plenty of great companies out there making hatchets that will last a lifetime with proper care.

Head

When it comes to the head of your survival hatchet you need to look at the material, blade style, and any extras. First things first, the only material you should consider for a camping hatchet head is carbon steel.

Axes and hatchets need to be made from hard steel that will take and hold an edge. There’s nothing worse than having to stop every 20-30 minutes to sharpen soft steel gone dull.

When you look at the style of the blade this comes down to type and design. Tomahawks and traditional axe heads both work well in this size. Tomahawks will generally have a spike or other striking point on the rear. With traditional hatchet heads you’re looking at the size of the blade and whether it has a hammer on the back.

Wider hatchets will usually be a bit heavier but can cut more wood with each strike. They aren’t usually as well suited for something like carving but do a great job at splitting kindling, etc.

Handle and Grip

When it comes to survival and camping hatchets there are three main materials used for handles:

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Fiberglass

Wooden handles are the most traditional, and for good reason. They’re durable, easy on the eyes, and require only basic care to last. One thing to keep in mind with wood handled hatchets is the grain pattern. You want the grain to run parallel with the bit. This gives you maximum strength.

Metal is arguably the strongest material for a hatchet handle but does have some downsides. The most obvious is its weight. Metal handled hatchets are noticeably heavier than their wood or fiberglass brethren. Corrosion can be another factor with metal handles. Though made from stainless steel they’ll still rust if not kept properly dry and oiled.

Fiberglass is a newer handle material than wood or metal. It’s lightweight, extremely strong, and resists all forms of corrosion. You’ll usually find fiberglass hatchets with a rubber grip overlay.

This is because fiberglass is actually quite slick on its own. Some people don’t like the look of fiberglass handles as well. They tend to look more ‘plasticky’ than wood or metal handle hatchets.

Balance

Balance is an often overlooked part of picking an axe of a hatchet. It’s not as essential as with full sized axes but is still important. You want your hatchet to have its center of gravity right near where the head meets the handle.

Check for this by finding where it will balance on your finger. The closer it is to the head the less work you’ll have to do to swing it. A poorly balanced hatchet makes every swing more difficult and a little more tiring.

Multi Tool

Axes and hatchets are excellent multi use tools all on their own. Nowadays though there are several companies putting out true survival hatchet multi tools.

They contain things like saws, compasses, hammers, and all kinds of other useful tools. You still won’t get as many tools as a true folding multi tool but the ones you get are generally a very useful size.

Durability and Strength

The durability and strength of your hatchet comes down to the materials of the handle and head. As long as you’ve purchased a carbon steel head and high quality handle you should see years of use out of your hatchet.

That being said, you don’t want to abuse a hatchet. Survival hatchets aren’t axes. If you try to do serious chopping or heavy wood work with a hatchet you’ll definitely wear it out faster. Poor form, such as driving the head into earth or a rock, will also likely end in damage and chipping on the blade.

Size and Weight

At their most basic hatchets are shrunken down axes. Most will be somewhere between 10 and 15 inches. Any larger than that and you start to get into the small axe category.

The weight of a hatchet should be equally reduced. You want to look for one with a head between about 1 and 1.5 lbs. That makes it easy to use with one hand without tiring yourself out.

Sheath

A sheath is absolutely essential for any camping axe or survival hatchet. They cover the blade when not in use and protect you and your other belongings from accidental damage.

Most sheathes will be made from leather, plastic, or nylon cloth. While not as important as the quality of your hatchet itself you should consider whether the sheath is junk or not.

Uses for a Survival Hatchet

Survival hatchets are tools that have a ton of potential uses. Before we go into the primary ones we wanted to make sure you know the proper technique to use for basic hatchet work.

Because of their short handle and light weight hatchets should ideally be used from a kneeling position with one hand. This lets you precisely control every stroke and prevents you from putting too much swing into it.

Chopping Wood

Chopping is the role where camping hatchets shine the brightest. They’re perfect for clearing brush, small trees, and other debris from a trail or campsite.

Their one handed design allows you to control your swings with more accuracy and leaves your other hand free to move things out of the way after each stroke.

Splitting Wood

Hatchet’s are great at splitting small logs and kindling. You should start by kneeling down and setting the piece of wood either on a stump or another chunk. This prevents you from missing with your swing and hitting your leg or the ground.

You won’t be powering through large logs but you’ll find it easy to create manageable pieces of wood for a fire.

Carving Wood

If you’re a carver you’re no doubt aware of how useful a hatchet can be. The trick for hatchet carving is to hold it by the head and slide it along the piece of wood.

This lets you remove long strips of wood with maximum delicacy and control. It’s also a great trick for producing very small pieces of kindling to get a campfire going.

Final Thoughts

A good survival hatchet can be the difference between life and death in the wilderness. Even when on a regular camping trip you’ll find that they’re one of the most useful tools to have.

By following our buying guide and sticking to quality manufacturers you make it much more likely you’ll find one of the best survival hatchets.