You should never discount the importance of equipment when backpacking or camping. As a smart survivalist, you make sure to pack your compass, tent, flint, cooking equipment, emergency food, and your other supplies, but do you take a backpacking axe?
Every good survivalist needs an axe (and a good axe sharpener to go with it). They can be used to chop down wood and other natural resources, and they can be used for protection in a pinch. It’s like having a larger, more durable knife with you.
Surviving is all about taking everything you might need. You may never use it, but you’ll be glad you have it if you do. With that in mind, here are some of the criteria for choosing the right axe, along with the 5 best backpacking axes you need to pack.
Gransfors Bruks Small Forest
Shock reduction grip
Gerber Gator Combo
Durable ballistic nylon
Estwing E44A 16-Inch Camper’s Axe-All Steel with Shock Reduction Grip
This campers Axe from Estwing is perhaps one of the best choices for all-round axes. It can be used for camping, hunting, or for working on the farm. It features a powerful and durable forged steel head, and the handle has the patented shock reduction grip. Estwing put this on all their best axes as it’s capable of reducing shock by up to 70%.
The cutting edge of this steel axe is a solid 4”, meaning it cuts deeper and easier. The axe also comes with a tough sheath. This lightweight but tough and durable axe is great for camping. It cuts through small and medium pieces of wood quickly and smoothly. To cap it off, the Estwing E44A is made in the USA.
This is a great axe for what it does. It’s a powerful workman’s axe, but it might be a little too much for recreation. If you’re looking for something to take on the occasional camping trip then this axe might be too much for you. It’s also a shame that, while it does come with a sheath, it’s not shipped in the sheath. Another great choice for people with experience who know what they’re doing, but not so much for the novice.
Fiskars X15 Chopping Axe, 23.5-Inch
The Fiskars X15 Chopping Axe, as the name implies, is ideal for cutting down trees. What makes it so great is that it cuts deep each and every time. You’ll make quick work of whatever tree you decide to unleash this beauty on. It’s designed in a similar way to an aluminium baseball bat, in that it perfectly balances power and weight to give each swing the most power and speed possible.
The design and materials of the X15 chopping axe are ideal for the job it does. The blade is designed to deliver power to each swing and slice through wood. The 23 and a half inch handle might sound a little long to some people, but it does make the axe much easier to control. It also features a shock absorber to reduce the shock of heavy hits and thick trees.
Fiskars sweeten the deal by including a lifetime warranty. They are so sure that this axe will do the job each and every time that they put their money where their mouth is and guarantee it.
The X15 chopping axe is ideal for doing just that – chopping. It comes at a reasonable price with a guarantee, making this a great choice for people looking for a solid first axe. It’s impressive enough to satisfy experienced woodsmen too. If you’re looking for something that packs a punch to help you gather firewood and clear some land, then you’ve found it with this Fiskars axe. The guarantee is just the icing on the cake.
GransforsBruks Small Forest Axe
This small forest axe from Gransfor Bruks is a great choice for the average camper or outdoorsman. This axe has a thin blade and a long handle that allow you to do some pretty powerful chopping despite the small size. It’s a practical choice for cutting limbwood and splitting sticks. It also comes with a blade guard, meaning there’s no need to buy one separately. It weighs just 1.5lbs, has a 19” hickory handle, and a 3 ¼” face.
It’s made in a traditional style using all natural material and no synthetics. The blade is impressively sharp and keeps its edge for a long time, even if you use it to hack up hardwoods such as maple. The metal of the blade is so polished it also doesn’t rust.
This is a solid, well-built axe from a company with a good track record. It handles well and is lightweight enough to be used by a young person. A sturdy and solid choice, but probably not the best choice for the first-time buyer given the price.
Choosing the Right Axe
Of course, not just any old axe will do. You need to choose the right one for you. Here are some of the criteria to consider when choosing an axe.
- Blade Guard
The blade guard is essentially the “holster” for your axe. It keeps the blade safe from the elements when the axe isn’t being used and – perhaps more importantly – keeps your legs/back safe from the axe when it isn’t being used.
An axe guard keeps the axe in a convenient location. You don’t want to be fiddling through your bag looking for it in an emergency. Some axes come with a guard of their own, but you may need to buy one separately. Get one made from a sturdy leather for maximum protection and safety.
Weight is an important factor. You need to consider not just the weight of the handle, but also the blade itself. A thick and heavy blade is able to do more damage and chop through thicker wood, but it can be unwieldy. It could even be too heavy to keep on your person at all times. On the other hand, one that is too light isn’t going to be much help in an emergency. Find a good balance when it comes to weight.
- Handle Length and Material
The length of the handle is another important consideration. Once again, it’s something that can affect how well you can handle the axe. A longer one can be safer, as there is less room for error, but it can weaken the strength of the handle. Most people consider a good short hand-axe to be good for survival. Don’t forget about the material the handle is made from.
Not all wood is created equal. Some axes aren’t even made from wood. Get one with a good length, sturdy, tough handle. The material of the handle also plays a part in the weight of the axe, which can impact power and portability. Some materials, such as steel, are heavier than others.
Much like any bladed tool/weapon, the blade of an axe will dull over time and need to be sharpened occasionally. You need to find an axe that isn’t difficult to sharpen and can hold an edge for a long time. How long an axe can hold an edge basically refers to how long you can go between sharpening sessions. Keep your axe sharp and it’ll always be there when you need it.
Some axes are easier to sharpen than others. Keep this in mind when choosing an axe. Don’t overlook shipping processes either if you’re buying online. The way an axe is shipped can have a dramatic effect on how sharp it is when it reaches your door. You wouldn’t want to buy an axe only to have to sharpen it before you can use it.