A hatchet is a small axe. Much like a knife, the hatchet is one of the earliest known tools to mankind, and has been around for thousands of years.
The word ‘hatchet’ originates from the French word hache, which means axe. Although a hatchet looks a lot like an axe, it has a shorter handle, almost half the length of that of an axe. This makes it easy to use with one hand.
A hatchet is used for some obvious purposes. Cutting small branches or pieces of wood, cutting open boxes or crates, making hammering or kindling, and butchering are some of the uses that a hatchet is often put to (no, it is not used for spreading mustard on your sandwich!). But besides these uses, a hatchet is also an essential tool for survival.
If you need to spend a lot of time outdoors or in the woods, then a hatchet is a must-have in your bag. But isn’t easy picking the right hatchet for your needs, given the range of hatchets available in the market. The process of choosing the right hatchet becomes easier when you know what to look for.
HOW TO CHOOSE A GREAT HATCHET FOR SURVIVAL
There are different types of hatchets. A survival hatchet is one that weighs three pounds or less, with the total length being small enough to be held and used with one hand. On one end, a hatchet has a sharp blade between three and five inches.
On the other end, there is a flat area that can be used as a hammer. Hatchets make great survival tools because they are versatile, and can be put to several uses.
Whether you are going camping, hiking, trekking, hunting, fishing, or anywhere in the outdoors, a hatchet should always be included in a backpack. You can use it to make a fire, skin game meat, or rescue someone by cutting open a seat belt. A survival hatchet is easy to carry in a backpack, and the range of uses it can be put to makes it a dependable tool.
You can easily buy a hatchet online, at reasonable prices. However, not every hatchet will offer the same quality. Some hatchets will be better than others. But regardless of the brand, if you know what to look for, you will be able to buy a decent survival hatchet.
Here are the top five things you must look for when buying a survival hatchet.
Weight: When you are outdoors backpacking, the extra weight of the hatchet can feel uncomfortable to carry around all day. But a hatchet is also useful for many reasons, from removing an obstacle from the path to chopping wood. Therefore, consider the weight of the hatchet before buying one. Your purpose, where you live, and your personal capacity of carrying around weight should be taken into consideration when deciding on the weight of the hatchet.
Sharpness: To be able to put the hatchet to good use, it must be sharp. Even if the hatchet doesn’t come razor sharp out of the box, it should be easy to sharpen and able to hold its blade for a long time without frequent sharpening. If you carry a wet stone along with the hatchet, it will only add to the weight of your backpack. Therefore, look for a blade that’s been made of a very hard metal (not stainless steel).
Size: The hatchet needs to be small enough to fit into your bag, and comfortable enough to use with one hand. There are hatchets in various sizes. Although the size of the head doesn’t vary much, the length of the handle may vary from one brand to another. A smaller handle may be easier to fit into your bag, but a longer handle makes it easier to hold and use the hatchet. Therefore, choose accordingly.
Sheath: You cannot carry the hatchet around with the blade unsheathed. Most hatchets come with a protective sheath around the blade. Not only should the sheath be made of a durable, waterproof material, but also have loops for attachments. The handle also should come with a good grip to protect your hands while using the tool.
Cost: Hatchets come in a variety of price ranges. But remember that a higher price doesn’t always guarantee higher quality. Often you can buy a decent hatchet for a bargain price, and be surprised to find a disappointing performance from an expensive one. Instead of sorting by price, read various reviews to find out how well the top works.
If you are a hatchet connoisseur, you will already know the things to look for in a hatchet. But when you are in the market for your first hatchet, it is indeed difficult to make the right choice without knowing what to look for. Now that we know the important criteria for choosing a hatchet, let’s take a look at some of the best survival hatchets you can find.
You might find interesting to read our best splitting mauls article.
TOP 10 SURVIVAL HATCHETS
#1 FISKARS X7 HATCHET
(+) Renowned brand
(+) Efficient, low friction blade
(+) Duraframe handle with non-slip grip
Whether you are camping or trying to protect yourself, a hatchet is a useful and versatile tool to have with you. Even if you don’t need to use it all the time, you will still have peace of mind knowing that you have such a handy tool at home.
The Fiskars X7 hatchet is one such tool that you will not regret owning, even if you never need to use it. It looks good, works like a charm, and sells for under $30. This 14-inch hatchet is the right size, and is comfortable for one-handed use. The 300-year-old Fiskars have always been renowned for their axes, but they take their A-game a notch higher with the X7 hatchet.
The blade of the hatchet is its nerve center. The X7 blade has been crafted with a sharper edge that not only produces cleaner cuts on impact but also stays sharp for longer. Even though the blade isn’t razor sharp, it is strong and durable, and you can chop more with less effort. The low-friction blade ensures that the hatchet smoothly comes out of the wood without getting stuck.
The DuraFrame handle is stronger than steel, but more lightweight and with a non-slip grip. This makes sure that the tool doesn’t fly out of your hands while you’re at work. The hatchet also comes with a lifetime warranty, which makes the deal so much sweeter.
Conclusion on the Fiskars X7 Hatchet: Considering you’re buying from a Finnish company established in 1649, you cannot go wrong with the X7. It ticks all the right boxes, from weight to ease of use to price to efficiency. Whether you’re a pro or a newbie, you will not regret this purchase.
But if you are buying it because you want to use it to shave, you are making an illogical mistake.
#2 ESTWING MFG E24A SPORTSMAN’S AXE
(+) Strong and sturdy
(+) Durable handle with leather grip
(+) Sharp and efficient
(-) The edge is a little thick
(-) The handle might be a bit slick
Estwing has been making axes, hatchets, and other outdoor tools since the 1940’s. Some of the earliest Estwing axes passed down through generations can still be found in use today. Needless to say, the Estwing E24A Sportsman’s Axe is a quality tool you will not go wrong with. The overall length of the hatchet is about 13 inches, weighing around 1.6 pounds.
The handle is made of metal and wrapped in leather washers that have been sanded and lacquered for additional longevity. The E24A is the only axe from the Estwing stable to have a leather grip (other tools from the brand come with plastic grips). The hatchet has been drop forged in one piece of metal to create a long lasting tool.
The ideal weight of the hatchet makes it easy to use for all kinds of tasks, from chopping wood to cutting boxes. The handle is comfortable for one-handed use, while the blade is easy to sharpen. Even though the blade isn’t razor sharp out of the box, it can be sharpened sadly.
The back of the head is great for hammering. Although this strong and sturdy hatchet is comfortable to hold, the leather grip on the handle can be a little too slick. The hatchet also comes with a leather sheath to wrap the blade in.
Conclusion on the Estwing Mfg E24A Sportsman’s Axe: This affordable and sturdy tool has an interesting design, and can easily be put to rough use. However, because of the thick edge, carving and detail work could be unpleasant.
If you buying this to impress your mother in law, may not be the best idea you can come up with!
We also suggest checking out our article about the best tomahawks for survival by clicking here.
#3 SCHRADE SCAXE2
(+) Lightweight and easy to use
(+) Comes with a fire starter rod
(-) Edge may be a bit thick
If you want a lightweight hatchet for everyday use, the Schrade SCAXE2 is a good option at less than $40. Whether you’re a camper, hunter, or outdoor adventurer, this small, handy hatchet is perfect for all purposes. The hatchet is 11.8 inches long, with a blade length of 3.8 inches, and total weight of 1 pound and 6.4 ounces.
The blade is made of reliable titanium coated stainless steel, with a glass-filled handle that’s flexible and resistant to cold. The black rubber grip on the handle makes sure the tool doesn’t slip out of your hand. As an added bonus, the hatchet also comes with a fire starter rod located inside the handle. The hatchet also has a hammer pommel.
The blade comes sharp enough out of the box and doesn’t require frequent sharpening. This isn’t a heavy-duty hatchet, and should be limited to mild to moderate tasks like chopping wood and cutting branches. There’s also thermoplastic sheath for the blade, and it comes with a belt loop.
Conclusion on the Schrade SCAXE2: Schrade is known for making quality hatches, axes, and outdoor gear. If you’re looking for an affordable and lightweight hatchet for light to moderate use, the Schrade SCAXE2 is a good buy but not if you buying it for your 2-year-old son!
#4 GERBER BEAR GRYLLS SURVIVAL HATCHET
(+) Lightweight and comfortable
(+) Versatile and multipurpose
(+) Comes with a sheath
(-) Blade can be a little too sharp
(-) The sharp edge may get damaged easily
If you’re looking for a compact survival hatchet, the Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is a good buy at $22, because as that name suggests, it is meant to be a survival hatchet.
Not all survival tools can feather a stick, chop a tree, skin a log, or skin game meat, but this one can, and quite effortlessly too. The hatchet is full tang, which means there are no welds or joints that could break.
The stainless steel blade is 6.35 millimeters thick, so this sleek and compact tool is rugged abs sturdy, yet weighs less than 1.5 pounds. The hatchet is not only sharp and efficient, but also comes with an ergonomic handle, for better grip and control. The back of the head is good for striking and hammering. The sheath is made reinforced nylon and there is Velcro closure flap inside to keep the hatchet snug. There’s also a belt loop with the sheath.
Conclusion on the Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet: This is one of the best products from Gerber, provided you use it only as a survival hatchet and not for heavier tasks. The edge can be too sharp, so make sure you are careful while striking. Overall, this is a suitable tool for including in a survival kit.
Though if you try to take it on an airplane you are just not thinking that clearly.
Check out our selection of the most stellar bushcraft axes article here.
#5 HUSQVARNA 576926401 13 IN. CURVED HANDLE HATCHET
(+) Practical and compact
(+) High quality steel blade
(+) Comes with leather edge cover
(-) Heavy handle
(-) Blade needs sharpening
There are several lightweight hatchets, but not every lightweight hatchet is equally capable and versatile. This 13-inch curved handle hatchet by Husqvarna is small and compact, but also versatile and capable enough for all your survival needs.
This Swedish-made hatchet isn’t full tang, and the head is attached to the hickory handle. Nevertheless, the hatchet is strong and sturdy to survive all your outdoor needs, from chopping logs to cutting branches to skinning meat.
The hatchet weights 2.9 pounds, which is a tad heavier than most other hatchets in the category. However, most of the weight is towards the handle. The Swedish axe steel is of high quality. The leather edge cover is practical and does the job.
Conclusion on the Husqvarna 576926401 13 in. Curved Handle Hatchet: Although not the best hatchet in the range, this one is fantastic to have in a survival kit in the absence of other options.
But if you try to put it in your shaving kit you probably are not thinking clearly!
#6 COLLINS HUNTERS AXE
(+) Cheap price
(+) Small and compact
(-) Not heavy-duty
(-) Blade needs sharpening
(-) Edge is thick
(-) Doesn’t come with a sheath
It’s always useful to have a small hatchet in your survival kit, and the Collins Hunters Axe fits the bill perfectly. It’s larger than a regular hatchet but smaller than an axe. Whether you’re a survivalist or a novice woodsman, this is one of the best hatchets you get for under $20.
The total length of the hatchet is 18 inches, the head material is carbon steel and the handle is made of hickory. This is a very cheap product that cannot be put to heavy uses. The edge is a little thick, and the blade needs sharpening. This tool is best limited to chopping small branches.
Conclusion on the Collins Hunters Axe: If you’re a newbie and want to try a hatchet for the first time, this is a decent buy. The hatchet cannot be put to heavy-duty use, and should be limited to light tasks.
If you are buying this because you need a paperweight you probably should rethink that idea though.
#7 GERBER 14-INCH HATCHET
(+) Lightweight and sturdy
(+) Sharp blade and comfortable, shock-resistant handle
(+) PTFE coating reduces friction
(-) Doesn’t come with a sheath
For a truly efficient hatchet that can split and dice like a dream, you need to shell out some cash. For a little under $40, the Gerber 14-Inch Hatchet is a remarkable tool, allowing you to chop, slice, and cut anything you want to. The blade has been coated with PTFE to reduce friction, the forged steel head is sturdy and durable, and the composite handle is lightweight, comfortable, and shock absorbent.
This Finnish-made tool is extremely sharp, and can cut through several pieces of log and wood without needing to be sharpened. Whether you’re going camping or need an axe around the house, this good-looking tool is great for the job.
Conclusion on the Gerber 14-Inch Hatchet: For a capable hatchet under $40, this one is a good buy. Lightweight enough for everyone to use, yet sturdy enough to perform all tasks effortlessly, this sharp hatchet is a must-have in all survival kits.
#8 SCHRADE SCAXE10
(+) Efficient and durable
(+) Sturdy, friction resistant blade
(+) Ergonomic handle with rubber grip
(-) Small in size
Another quality product from Schrade is the SCAXE10 hatchet. It is 11 inches long with the blade being 3.6 inches. Total weight of the product is 1 pound and 5.9 ounces. The 3Cr13 stainless steel blade is forged from the same metal as the rubber-wrapped ergonomic handle.
It also has a hammer pommel. Whether you use it to chop wood or hammer in nails, this little versatile hatchet can be a lifesaver in many situations, especially when you’re out camping or hiking. Easy to use and carry, this hatchet costs a little more than $20, but delivers quality performance.
Conclusion on the Schrade SCAXE10: If you want a handy and compact hatchet to find place in your backpack, this should be it. This hatchet ticks all the right boxes, from the weight to balance to sharpness and durability.
Though if you think this is going to come in helpful at your daughter’s softball practice you need to rethink that idea.
#9 MTECH USA CAMPING AXE
(+) Attractive design
(-) Poor manufacturing quality
(-) Sheath doesn’t work
If you need an emergency tool in your survival kit or backpack, then the MTech USA Camping Axe could be given a try. This full tang steel hatchet comes from a brand reputed for their tactical tools and weapons. The hatchet is 11 inches overall, and has a 3-inch satin finished carbon steel blade. The blade is beautiful to look at with a two-tone design.
The handle has a black rubber grip. Although the hatchet is great for all purposes, including cutting, chopping, and slicing, American-designed but Chinese-made tool wears out quickly after a few uses. This is a problem with most tools made in China.
There is also a common complaint regarding the sheath, which is too loose and makes the hatchet fall off. Nevertheless, the hatchet is compact and travel-friendly, and affordable a little over $20.
Conclusion on the MTech USA Camping Axe: At such a great price, this hatchet can be your perfect camping companion. Compact and sturdy with a rubber handle, the hatchet is perfect for survivalists, woodmen, and other outdoor adventurers.
Using this outstanding tool to cut the turkey in front of your in-laws during Thanksgiving may not impress your wife that much though.
#10 TEKTON CAMP AXE
(+) Heavy enough and well balanced
(+) Comfortable grip
(-) Comes dull
(-) Doesn’t have a sheath
This is another quality hatchet under $20. Compact and lightweight, the fiberglass hatchet is great for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. The head is forged and polished, and the sharp blade easily chops and cuts, while the pommel is great for hammering the stakes. The fiberglass handle is strong and weatherproof with a non-slip rubber grip and ergonomic shape.
Conclusion on the TEKTON Camp Axe: For this price, you get solid quality in the form of the TEKTON Camp Axe. Whether you take it camping or include it in your bug out bag, this is a handy piece of tool to own.
But keeping this outstanding tool near your laptop in your laptop bag is just ridiculous.
There are several types of hatchets in the market today, in varying price ranges. Not all provide the same quality, so before settling for any, it is vital to do some research and ask others who own a hatchet. After all, when you’re buying such a handy little tool, you must make sure it’s worth every penny.