Hatchets are one of those tools that are surprisingly versatile. More importantly, you’ll never feel quite as awesome as you do while you’re (safely) swinging a hatchet out in the wilderness.
Sure, you can chop wood to your heart’s content, but a well-built hatchet also works as a quality hammer to pound down tent stakes and a quick center pole for a makeshift shelter. For hunters, a sharp axe can help break down an animal faster than Bobby Axelrod can negotiate a billion-dollar deal.
If you’re looking for longevity in a hatchet, bypass the local hardware store. They’ll likely just have economy options that won’t stand up over time and could end up doing more harm than good. Like with most things, you get what you pay for.
So where can you find the best hatchets for the modern-day outdoorsman? Keep reading for everything you’ll need to order a kick-ass hatchet online. (Hint: These tools also make great gifts for the impossible to shop for men in your life!)
What to Consider Before Buying a Hatchet
Hatchets come in three main handle options which represent the most variety you’ll find. The actual axe blade material doesn’t vary as much.
- Steel-Handled: Best for short jaunts and stationary basecamps, these are often heavier hatchets, but have more power and thrust because of it. Steel-handled hatchets typically have one-piece construction (for a longer life) and are also great for chopping wood at home.
- Wood-Handled: The vast array of woods makes these hatchets the most handsome of the bunch and they are considered the most “classic” style among axe enthusiasts. Keep in mind that many wooden handles are varnished and that coating gets slippery in wet conditions.
- Speciality and Other Materials: You will find budget plastic and combo-material options, but they have varying capability and durability rates. These are often lighter and meant for more outdoorsy travel purposes and come with varying levels of success and use.
With that in mind, we pulled together eight of our the best hatchets with a range of uses so you can sharpen your focus when shopping around.
1. Gerber 17.5-Inch Freescape Hatchet
The Freescape lines include a few different options, and we like that range representing some of the best in compact hatchets. The one featured here includes a 17.5-inch, PTFE-coated blade, which helps reduce friction as you chop through wood. Weighing in at 32.6 ounces, it’s a great choice for backpacking or to throw in a bag and head out on the phone. It’s sensible and a nice axe to meet most overall needs.
The Bottom Line: We can’t find any faults here. This is just a great hatchet in every way.
2. Hults Bruk Jönåker Hatchet
Out in the backcountry, you need a light, compact axe that’ll get the job done time and time again. Leave it to Hults Bruk to put a ton of reliability into a hatchet that weighs only 1.5 lbs. Up top is a hand-forged piece of Swedish steel perfect for small jobs and the curved hickory handle latches right onto a utility belt as well.
The Bottom Line: The Jonaker is a compact, traditional hatchet with fine European engineering, and it sure packs performance.
3. Coleman Camp Axe
BEST BUDGET AXE
You know Coleman as a trusted camping brand with a lineage spanning decades, and that extends right to this camping blade. While it’s not built to cut through big bones or massive hunks of wood, it will chop smaller pieces to size for the campfire or break down smaller game. At this price point, it’s affordable enough to take to the sharpener as needed since the lower-quality blade will break down a bit faster than other models.
The Bottom Line: The Coleman Camp Axe is a solid basic choice for these needing few features.
4. Best Made Straight Hold Hatchet
If you’re looking for a strong hatchet that’ll get better with age, or even just a showpiece to cap off a man cave, you could do much worse than this American-made beauty. The straight hickory handle is gorgeous (just sand off the lacquering) and it’s curved in a way that feels great while chopping. You also get a full 1060 alloy steel blade and a classic leather sheath.
The Bottom Line: Best Made’s Straight Hold Hatchet is very, very handsome, but it also carries quite an edge.
5. Fiskars Norden N12 19” Axe with Sheath
BEST OUTDOORS AXE
Some of the best hatchets feature a handsome design and leather sheath, but this Fiskars tools is a bit more straightforward (and we mean that as a compliment.) If you’re of a certain age, you’ll know the classic orange handle Fiskars scissors from school. Turns out, the company has quite a history in cutting tools, and that extends to hatchets. This longer axe is great for cutting larger pieces of wood with a carbon steel blade and solid weight distribution. The recycled leather sheath is a nice nod to less harmful practices, too.
The Bottom Line: The Fiskars Norden N12 19″ axe is hardy and tough.
6. UST Parahatchet FS
BEST MULTI-USE AXE
A growing segment of the hatchet market is the multi-use category, where your axe does more than just chop wood. UST’s entry into this category includes a blade that has three hex wrench sizes built-in and an integrated rope cutter. It’s a nice small cutter that’s a sure bet for any outdoors survival kit.
The Bottom Line: The UST Parahatchet FS is a handy multi-tool for weekends outdoors.
7. ManMadeCo Old Henry Hatchet
BEST SHOWCASE HATCHET
How sweet is this axe? There’s a simple elegance to the vintage look, especially with the riveted sheath. Of course, this hatchet will get the job down outside, but you’d be forgiven if you just placed it on the wall as a showpiece in the cabin.
The Bottom Line: ManMadeCo’s Old Henry Hatchet is one part vintage, one part contemporary and all parts awesome.
8. SILKY NATA Double-Edge Hatchet/Machete
MOST UNIQUE HATCHET
A double blade is an interesting alternative with extra performance built into the overall setup. While you can use this as a traditional hatchet, it’s better served cutting through brush and stiffer debris on a trek or wherever else your expedition may require it. Of course, with two live edges, any user should take extra care.
The Bottom Line: Though it’s not a traditional hatchet it will perform many of the same tasks. The SILKY NATA Double-Edge Hatchet/Machete has double the edges for double the potential.