5 Best Backpacking Hatchets – Lightweight, Portable Axes

Backpackers will run into tough situations where they need a knife, a sharp object, or a heavier duty hatchet to help them cut through thick tree brush, branches, or other debris they encounter along their hiking trails. Then, you might run into a situation where you’ll need a hatchet for camping, if you’re hunting and foraging for food, need a sharp knife if you’re caught in a compromising situation, or just need some help setting up your camping bag. No matter what the situation, the best backpacking hatchet will come in handy during your next hiking trip. So, what’s the best product available for you to invest int? Let’s review a few of these great camping and backpacking hatches for you to consider for outdoor use, survival, and meal prep, among other things.


The 5 Best Backpacking Hatchets

When the time comes to invest in a new backpacking hatchet, you want a sharp blade, precision, and built-in safety. The last thing you want is to cut yourself with a sharp blade in a situation where you don’t have the right safety or first aid kit handy. On the same token, sharpness is a must; what do you do if you have a dull hatchet, and can’t even cut through a few branches on a camping trail? If you’re looking for the best backpacking hatchet, consider these five options.

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet


The Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet is a great option for backpackers. At 13.5 inches, the blade with the handle is the perfect size for chopping away at thick piles of wood when building a fire or preparing a meal while camping. There’s a small hole towards the base of the handle, which you can attach a string/sturdy chain onto, so you can easily hang the hatchet so you always know where it is while you’re camping and when you need to grab it quickly.


Some of our favorite features include:

  • You receive an axe book with your new axe.
  • It’s lightweight, at only about 1.3 pounds, making it easy to swing with high precision and accuracy.
  • It includes a sheath, in vegetable-tanned leather, for easy storage and added safety when the blade’s not in use.
  • The thick wooden grip allows you to get a great hold onto the axe’s base, for more power.
  • You increase momentum with each swing, allowing you to cut evenly and precisely when chopping through piles of wood.


Some of the drawbacks worth mentioning include:

  • The lightweight design does give off somewhat of a flimsy quality/design.
  • The axe is manufactured in Sweden, so those who would prefer a product made in the USA should opt for a different model.
  • For the price point of $150, customers indicate they’d expect greater power, precision, and force for chopping.


Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet


The Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is lightweight and dependable. This survival hatchet features a 3.5” swing blade with a smooth finish. This ensures precise cuts and accuracy with each chop. It’s highly portable and lightweight, which makes it easy to carry around with you while hiking or backpacking. The blade features a full-tang design and the high-quality, carbon-steel finish, won’t dull over time.


  • The carbon-steel blade is sturdy, and won’t bend or crack under pressure.
  • The ergonomic, non-slip rubber grip gives you full control while swinging quickly with the blade.
  • A smooth-blade edge doesn’t dull and doesn’t require frequent sharpening.
  • The nylon sheath not only protects the blade but prevents mildew as well, which isn’t the case with leather sheaths.
  • Great, backpacking, hiking, or meal prep in the great outdoors.


  • It’s fairly lightweight, so it’s not as strong as other products.
  • The flat-blade design doesn’t dig as deep into wood while chopping and doesn’t build as much momentum.
  • Many claim the hatchet isn’t powerful enough to cut through thicker wood, it’s okay for branches/twigs, and smaller items, but not thicker woodpiles.


Estwing Sportsman Hatchet


The Estwing Sportsman Axe is a heavy-duty, light-weight hatchet for backpacking and hiking. With a durable, wood-grain handle, you get an excellent grip with this hatchet for outdoor camping and backpacking use. The 14-inch camping hatchet features a forged steel construction blade, for more integrated power with each swing of the hatchet. It’s available in a leather finish, or a leather special-edition finish, with a black head blade, giving it an elegant allure the other hatchets don’t possess.


  • The large 14-inch size is great for full control with every swing of the blade.
  • It’s made in the USA with American stainless-steel, and a forged finish, for high-quality precision.
  • It’s versatile for chopping wood, meal-prep, cutting through brush, or other outdoor challenges you encounter while.
  • A heavy-duty sheath protects the blade from dulling, and covers the blade when not in use, to keep your hands protected.
  • A genuine, saddle leather grip is sturdy and will withstand heavy use.


  • There are gaps throughout the blade’s finish, limiting force/strength when cutting.
  • Some customers indicate that the blade dulls instantly when you begin chipping away at thicker woodpiles.
  • The grip isn’t ergonomic and the leather doesn’t hold up well in rainy conditions.


Fiskars Backpacking Hatchet


The 14-inch Fiskars Backpacking Hatchet is great for chopping, cutting, or breaking through firewood, kindling, or making a fire with small to medium logs. With each swing of the hatchet, you’re going to get greater force, and a deeper cut into the wood you’re chopping. With more momentum, you’ll find this hatchet will make tough tasks a little less challenging when you’re out on your camping adventure.


  • Large, 14-inch size is great for an ergonomic grip on the handle and helps you deliver more momentum with each swing.
  • The perfectly balanced power-to-weight ratio allows you to swing without worrying about over/under-utilizing your strength.
  • The blade features a proprietary, grinding technique, to produce deeper cuts with each swing.
  • The low-friction blade helps power through and create more heat while chopping, for easy cutting through the thick wood.
  • It includes a lifetime warranty with your new hatchet as well.


  • Customers claim the blade is dull and doesn’t sharpen easily.
  • The handle feels slippery, so it might not be great for wet cutting conditions.
  • A small grip handle isn’t ideal for chopping for long periods and may cause cramping.


Gerber Pack Backpacking Hatchet


The Gerber Pack Hatchet Camping Axe is strong, lightweight, and easy to carry. This hatchet features a full-tang construction, ensuring steadiness with each swing while chopping. You have full control with an ergonomic grip handle, and as you swing back and forth with the axe, you’re going to gain momentum which makes it easier to chop through thicker piles of wood when you’re camping.


  • It features a nylon sheath which won’t rust or become moldy.
  • It has a cover and belt loop so you can easily carry the blade around with you anywhere.
  • The integrated lanyard helps secure the blade while you’re on the go.
  • The handle is wrapped with a rubber-finish for comfortable grip and usability.
  • Its ergonomic handle makes it great for left/right-handed users.


  • The lightweight construction feels somewhat flimsy in comparison to other hatchets.
  • There’s very little weight in the head, which makes it difficult to gain momentum while swinging.


Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Backpacking Hatchet

Before you invest in a new hatchet for camping, hiking, and outdoor use, what should you look for? These are a few important characteristics to look for when shopping for a new backpacking hatchet.

Blade Design & Size

The blade’s size and design should be balanced with the remainder of the hatchet. If not, you’ll feel difficult when trying to chop or cut. Like high-quality camping knives, you should make sure the blade features a full-tang design to provide optimal stability and control. Also, look for a blade which is at least 3 to 4 inches in size, so you have optimal control and follow through with your swing.


The hatchet should be evenly weighted throughout, with some added weight in the head (blade area). This will help you gain momentum in your swing, and make it easier for you to build force as you are chopping intently through challenging brush, wood, or other thick items on your camping trails.

The weight of the axe is especially important if you plan to carry other large tools at the same time, such as a camping shovel or saw. Remember to consider the total weight of all the items you are going to carry with you, they add up quickly!


An ergonomic grip is extremely important. You don’t want a hatchet you can’t swing or chop with easily. Nor do you want something that feels awkward when you’re in a dangerous situation and need to protect yourself. So, look for a sturdy grip, and something that fits your hands comfortably.

Sheath & Protection

You don’t want to cut your hand when chopping or cutting, nor do you want to injure yourself when the hatchet isn’t in use. Therefore, you need something with a sheath that covers the entire blade, and a sheath that won’t come off.

Ease of Use & Carrying

Look for a hatchet which features a hole that you can attach a lanyard and hang onto your backpack, pants, or other harnesses. Make sure you can easily access it while camping, especially if you’re in a compromising situation and need a blade quickly for your protection. The hatchet should be easy to transport, easy to access, and should allow you to hang it on your backpack with a carrying case/lanyard design.

Handle Length

Another important factor to consider is the length of the handle. While handles come in many different sizes, axes for backpacking usually have a 20 to 26 inch handle. There are also axes designed specifically for chopping and splitting wood, which typically have a handle length of 28 to 31 inches. For portability and common use, most campers and backpackers should opt for a handle that is between 20 and 26 inches long.


Backpacking Hatchet FAQs: What to Know Before Buying

What should you look for when shopping for the best backpacking hatchet? These are a few questions you might have when choosing a new hatchet.

What is a backpacking hatchet used for?

Backpacking hatchets are versatile tools that are ideal for many different situations. Some of the more common uses include:

  • Splitting wood.
  • Making a fire.
  • Meal prep.
  • Protection.
  • Setting up your tent.
  • Chopping down wood, or cutting through brush.

When your hands can’t get the job done, your hatchet probably can.

How sharp should the blade on a backpacking hatchet be?

It depends on how you plan on using the backpacking hatchet. The cutting edge should be sharp enough to cut through twigs and medium-sized wood/branches. It should also be strong enough so that you aren’t sawing away. Remember, it’s a backpacking axe, not a backpacking saw, so strength and rugged design are important.

What type of grip should I look for on a backpacking hatchet?

The best type of hatchet grip is a matter of personal preference. Ultimately, something that’s ergonomic, fits comfortably in your hands, allows you to gain momentum when you swing, and something you can use in wet and dry conditions. You don’t want the hatchet flying out of your hands in the rain. So, look for something solid, well-built, and allows you to deliver heavy blows, without overpowering it and allowing you to maintain full control while chopping away with your camping hatchet.

There is also a variety of different high quality woods that are used to construct axe handles. While this is up to your own personal taste and budget, hickory handles have become a popular option among campers and backpacking enthusiasts.



Final Thoughts

Regardless of when you’re going camping, or what you plan on using the hatchet for, quality and precision are important characteristics when shopping for a new hatchet. So, what’s the best backpacking hatchet for you to invest in?

Best Affordable Hatchet

For those looking for overall quality and design, the Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is a great option. It’s affordable, features a comfortable ergonomic grip handle, a reasonably-sized 3.5-inch blade, and smooth, full-tang design. Its nylon sheath protects it in the wilderness, and heavy head helps you gain momentum as you’re swinging. The main drawback is a flat-blade design that isn’t capable of cutting through the thicker brush. However, it’s fairly in line with the quality you’d expect from a blade at this price point and does come in handy for several tasks around the campsite.

Best Overall Hatchet

For the best overall quality, regardless of price, the Estwing Sportsman Axe is the top pick. However, at $150, it’s out of reach for many campers. It does have a heavy handle, a high-quality blade, and a longer blade with a smooth finish than the other hatchets. It also has the hole to add a carry lanyard, and leather grip finish gives off the impression of high-quality material finishes. If pricing isn’t an issue, this is the top hatchet for camping and general outdoor use.

Don’t compromise when it comes to searching for the best backpacking hatchet. If you find none of these meets the criteria you’re looking for, keep searching and shopping, to find the perfect fit for your next camping and backpacking trip.

Happy Camping!



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