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Whether you’re chopping wood in your own backyard, clearing branches on a trail or hammering pegs to pitch a tent, a hatchet is a great multi-use tool. A hatchet is different from a traditional axe because of its smaller size, which makes it more portable. Hatchets can also be used with only one hand. Because of their compact design, hatchets are easier to swing in small spaces compared to axes. This makes hatchets ideal for camping trips when users don’t want to be weighed down by heavy gear.
A hatchet head is typically forged out of a single piece of steel and attached to a handle that can be made from steel, plastic or wood. Hatchets usually have a pointed, sharp edge for cutting wood and kindling and a flat hammerhead back. The second side adds versatility to the hatchet, which can double as a hammer. The best hatchets may even be forged from a single piece of steel, resulting in an especially durable outdoor tool.
Hatchets are typically used to chop wood, clear branches, help start fires by splitting kindling or, in an extreme case, used against a rock as a fire starter. They can also hammer tent poles and help to build a shelter in a pinch. Hatchets are an excellent multi-use tool that should be at the top of your list for your next outdoor adventure.
1. Fiskars 14″ Hatchet
Make quick work out of big jobs with the Fiskars 14″ Hatchet. The Fiskars is designed with a proprietary grinding technique that results in a sharper edge and cleaner cuts. Thanks to a low-friction coating, the Fiskars’ blade stays sharper longer. Designed with power-to-weight ratio in mind, the hatchet has an ideal weight distribution that is akin to swinging a baseball bat, increasing swing speed to multiply power and cut through wood faster. Designed for small- to medium-sized logs, the 14” Fiskars comes with a safety cover.
Pros: The Fiskars hatchet is designed with FiberComp handles and inseparable insert-molded heads, which are stronger than steel and virtually impossible to break, making this a tool that will last years.
Cons: The Fiskars requires frequent sharpening and does offer a sharpening rock-hatchet combo, but for an additional price. The backside of the blade cannot be used as a hammer, lessening the usability of the hatchet. This is a durable, modern hatchet, but it lacks that classic woodsman axe aesthetic.
2. Coleman Camp Axe
This hatchet by Coleman was made for more than simply chopping wood. Though it still does a great job of splitting logs and pieces of wood, Coleman’s hatchet has a few other tricks up it’s sleeve. For starters, they crafted a small notch into the bottom of the blade to help uproot camping stakes. For anyone who camps often, this is huge. Coleman also put a lot into the blade of the hatchet so that it can be used just as well for chopping as it can for hammering.
Pros: Drop-forged steel with notch in blade to help uproot camping stakes.
Cons: Blade and handle are two separate pieces, which can result in a less-durable hatchet.
3. Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet
For a traditional, high-quality hatchet that is strong, durable and will last for years, we recommend the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet. The Swedish-made hatchet has a carbon steel blade that stays sharp and doubles as a knife. The 13.5” handle allows the Gransfors to double as a small axe, with the hatchet boasting enough strength and weight distribution to cut large branches and split small logs. A genuine vegetable-tanned leather sheath protects both the user and the blade. The handle fits through a standard belt loop for easy carrying.
Pros: Every purchase of the Gransfors hatchet comes with a copy of the Axe Book. This hatchet features a classic woodsman axe design.
Cons: The Gransfors comes with a steep price tag.