Whether you are a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or just starting out, you know that you need to do your research on a wide variety of survival gear to ensure you always have the very best equipment.
There are many pieces of equipment that are deemed invaluable by many survivalists and campers none more so than the axe. This post will help you choose the best survival hatchet for your particular needs and budget. There are many great options available and you should always check out a few of them first to make sure you have decided upon the perfect survival hatchet for you.
The Best Survival Hatchet – Just a few to get you started
Table of Contents
What exactly is a Hatchet?
In the simplest of terms, a hatchet is an axe – the smallest type of axe. While there is no hard and fast set of guidelines outlining the difference between the two, in general a hatchet will be up to 16 inches in total length, has a blade of five inches or under in length and weighs up to three pounds, anything bigger is generally considered to be an axe!
Aside from its size, a hatchet resembles an axe in every other way: A long handle with a metal bit at one end, the metal head divided into two sides, one being a crescent blade and the other a sturdy blunt hammer-like knob.
The best survival hatchets can be used for most of the tasks you would use an axe for as well as some of the tasks a survival knife would be used for!
Important Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Survival Hatchet
Okay, so you are looking for the best survival hatchet but are unsure about what it is that actually qualifies it to be a “best”, let us help!
Your survival hatchet will likely be carried on your person, either strapped to your bug out bag or backpack, or attached to your belt, either way; it needs to be fairly lightweight for the variety of tasks you will eventually need it for. However, you don’t want one that is so lightweight it performs poorly; remember the best survival hatchet will have to be strong, and sturdy enough to withstand some demanding tasks.
A heavier handle can certainly bring more force to a swing, but will also make a hatchet harder to use due to its increased weight; plus it will increase the overall weight of your emergency gear.
When choosing a survival hatchet you need to consider how you are intending to use it; what will be its primary use? There is no factor more important when choosing your survival hatchet. If you’re going to be doing a lot of heavy work like chopping down trees and carving large logs, then a heavier hatchet might be the best choice for you, however, if you intend to do more delicate work such as making kindling or carving you will want a lighter option that is more suited to that type of work.
Knowing the materials used in the making of any hatchet will help you to evaluate the weight of it. While the head – the part with the cutting edge and the hammer- will always be made with metal, the handle can be made from a number of different materials which results in big weight differences.
A metal handle will weigh more, increasing weight without increasing the size. A wooden handle has a good heft to it without being too heavy but is also very durable, it can, however, become slippery to hold when exposed to water or oil. Fiberglass is a very sturdy material, extremely durable and doesn’t weigh too much; it is usually wrapped in rubber to provide a more comfortable and more secure grip.
But the material the handle is made of isn’t the only thing to consider.
Most heads are very similar in appearance although there are certain things that will mean one head is better for certain tasks than another. A head that thickens quickly just past the cutting edge isn’t as good for chopping as a more tapered edge. A thinner metal body allows the blade to penetrate deeper into wood on each impact, increasing the efficiency of the task.
Not all heads will be made with the same grade of metal, which is generally steel. The more expensive, higher quality tools will have high carbon steel heads that have been hardened to retain an edge for longer and will have largely been forged by hand. As always, it is the case that quality costs, the better made, higher quality heads, will inevitably cost more.
So you’ve chosen your best survival hatchet, it has a hand forged, razor sharp edge and is the perfect weight, all you’ve got to do now is go out and buy it!
One more thing you need to check is the balance! It may not seem overly important but an improperly balanced hatchet can lead to serious accidents as it is far more difficult to achieve chopping accuracy consistently.
The balance isn’t difficult to check, simply try to balance your hatchet on your index finger, it should balance perfectly with your index finger near the head, if it doesn’t then it isn’t well balanced.
Now that we’ve covered the most important factors for choosing the best survival hatchet let’s take a look at what we at Alpha Survivalist believe to be some of the best offerings currently available.
Best Survival Hatchet Reviews
With so many brands to choose from we are aware that the selection process can be a little daunting, therefore we feel that providing a shortlist that covers some of the best survival hatchets currently available is the perfect way to help you start looking for your new tool.
We are also aware that beyond the six we have chosen to highlight, there are many more exceptional survival hatchets, some of which could have easily pushed their way onto our shortlist, so our apologies go out to any manufacturer that produces a quality, ‘state-of-the-art’, offering that we have not covered here.
Grånsfors Bruk Wildlife Review
If it’s quality you are after then the “Wildlife” from Swedish company Grånsfors Bruk is a superb choice. Grånsfors Bruk makes a wide range of hatchets but the Wildlife is the one that stands out as a perfect choice for every prepper or survivalist.
The Grånsfors Bruk Wildlife ticks all the important boxes outlined above. High quality craftsmanship, hand forged head made with hardened high carbon steel, strong American hickory handle, perfectly balanced (a prime indicator of a high quality hatchet), compact size, low weight, and a 20 year manufacturer’s warranty. There’s not a lot to dislike about this great looking tool!
Weighing in at an impressively low 1.3lb one would expect the Wildlife to lose a little bit of the heft you’d expect of a top cutting/chopping tool but the Wildlife isn’t having any of that! The head has been made thinner, which accounts in part for the lower overall weight, this has been done without adversely affecting the effectiveness of the blade which benefits from having been forged and honed expertly from the aforementioned high quality steel used by Grånsfors Bruk.
The handle is carved from American hickory and is finished with a beeswax and linseed oil which gives a feel and smell only a handmade quality item offers.
The Wildlife is supplied with a handmade vegetable tanned leather edge sheaf which will stop your backpack being damaged by the sharp cutting edge and, as with the handle and head, exudes quality.
The Grånsfors Bruk Wildlife is the perfect hatchet for anyone looking for a quality tool that will never let you down; it may be more expensive than a lot of its rivals but quality does cost.
The German made Helko Werk Voyager Camp is a compact and lightweight hatchet that is absolutely perfect for camping trips, emergency preparedness, and general use.
Unlike the Wildlife featured above from Grånsfors Bruk the Voyager is constructed from quality parts that have been manufactured in different countries, although still to a high specification.
The wooden handle is Swedish made and is crafted from Grade A American hickory selected for its strength, grain orientation, and density; while the head is forged in Wuppertal, Germany using C50 high grade carbon steel. The quality leather sheath is vegetable-tanned and has been made in the United States… a truly global affair!
The head weighs 1.25lb and the total weight of the tool is about 1.75lb, which, although heavier than the 1.3lb Grånsfors Bruk Wildlife, still makes it fairly lightweight.
At thirteen inches in length, with a 3 inch head length, the Voyager Camp is compact and can easily be packed away or attached to the outside of a backpack.
As with ALL other Helko axes the head is hand-forged and as an added bonus with every purchase Helko supply a free 1oz bottle of Axe-Guard which is used to polish, protect, and clean the head.
The Voyager Camp is at the more expensive end of the scale but that is to be expected when buying tools that show this level of high-quality craftsmanship; even if the craftsmanship takes place in three different countries!
Estwing E24A Review
The Estwing E24A is a single-piece metal hatchet.
The bit and handle are one piece of forged steel, meaning it is a little heavier but also more durable than a wooden or fiberglass handled tool.
Due to the fact that the E24A is a single cast piece and not hand forged means it is fairly cheap when compared to the Grånsfors Bruk and Helko hatchets covered previously.
The Estwing is American made in Rockford, Illinois using tool-grade American steel.
The handle is wrapped in a leather grip to improve grip and reduce any slipping while in use.
A nylon blade sheath is included with purchase.
Despite being made entirely of steel the E24A is relatively light, coming in at 1.7lb.
The Estwing E24A may not have the aesthetics of a quality hand-made and hand forged tool but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a place at the table, especially as it comes in at a very affordable price too.
It is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts of any experience and being made entirely out of steel it lasts longer especially if cleaned and sharpened properly.
The Husqvarna is a popular choice among campers, outdoorsmen, and preppers, though other lengths are available, although there is a little bit of confusion over the size. Although advertised as 13″the actual length is around 15″. The handle up to the head is 13″ but this extends to 15″ with the head. Strange but true!
You may also be surprised to learn that Husqvarna do not actually make any of their own survival hatchets, instead they contract another reputable Swedish axe maker to make them, Hults Bruk.
The head is made with Swedish steel and American hickory is again used for the handle.
At 2.2lbs, it is certainly one of the heaviest survival hatchets on our list, and although the extra weight helps with chopping it does mean it increases your pack weight, not ideal if you are intending to travel long distances on foot.
The Husqvarna is supplied with a leather cutting edge cover as shown in the image.
Surprisingly, the excellent Husqvarna is about half the price of the Grånsfors Bruk Wildlife, but whereas the more expensive Grånsfors is superbly finished the finishing of the Husqvarna is in contrast a little bit shoddy.
However, if aesthetics and highly polished finishing touches don’t bother you the Husqvarna does as good a job as any of the other hatchets on this page, and at the end of the day that is all that matters.
Fiskars X7 Review
The 14 inch X7 from Fiskars is constructed using a single piece reinforced moulded fibreglass and head with a carbon steel cutting blade integrated into the front of the head.
The Finnish made X7 is as far removed from the appearance of a standard hatchet as it can be with its striking orange and black Fibercomp handle instead of the standard wooden one. This use of a lightweight, extremely strong, and almost unbreakable material for the handle puts the majority of the weight at the head allowing for deeper cutting.
So confident are Fiskars in the strength of their Fibercomp material that they offer a lifetime guarantee.
The X7 has a handle has a Softgrip texture and a hook at the bottom to prevent it slipping out of your grip.
The fiberglass composite is designed to be shock-absorbing and therefore cut down on hand strain while using.
There is no hammer knob at the other end of the bit piece, so it cannot be used as a hammer. It is 1.38 pounds, so it is a nice light weight for campers and backpackers and is perfect for kindling and cutting small logs.
Although the Fiskars X7 isn’t exceptional and has limitations, it makes our list because it is by far the best ‘affordable’ hatchet we’ve come across, so you may want to check it out if your budget doesn’t stretch to one of the handmade options higher up on our list.
The X7 doesn’t offer the craftsmanship of those further up our list, but it does look ultra-modern and is designed to get the job done with a minimum of fuss. It comes with a leather holster.
Wetterlings is the oldest axe maker in Sweden and has been making axes since 1880. Wetterlings hand forges all of their heads and its handles are all handmade.
The Wildlife from Wetterlings, sometimes called the ‘Expedition’ in the US and the ‘Wilderness’ in Europe is 13 inches long and has a 2.75 inch cutting edge.
Weighing 1.6 pounds, it is small and light weight and is perfect for cutting kindling and doing bush work while camping or working in the yard.
The head is 5.25 inches long and the handle is made of strong hickory.
It is more of a craftsman tool than a survival item, but its simple yet sturdy design and light weight make it effective for all sorts of outdoor tasks.
Being a smaller size it is much easier to carry around.
As with other hand forged and craftsman made items on this list, the Wetterlings Wildlife is quite expensive but as you have no doubt guessed; our list is mainly made up of high quality items, many of which are Scandinavian in origin, and quality generally costs!
What Can Your Best Survival Hatchet Be Used For?
Like any axe a survival hatchet can be used to chop down trees. An axe is better for larger trees, but for smaller ones a hatchet is a safer and more efficient tool. In addition to cutting down trees a hatchet can be used to carve and splinter wood.
Though a survival knife is better for fine carving techniques, a good hatchet is small and controllable enough to do some wood carving. It can be used to shave off bark or make large cuts quicker than a survival knife.
It can be better for turning smaller branches and pieces of wood into kindling. An axe can take longer and will take more energy than using the smaller, lighter option for the same task.
If you are building a shelter out of wood, an axe is useful for many pieces of the shelter but the smaller, finer pieces can be much more difficult.
Basically a hatchet can be used for smaller-scale versions of tasks you would use an axe for. Its reduced weight makes it a more attractive option for some tasks as it allows for finer work with less effort than lugging an axe around and swinging it several times. It is also a time saver for some tasks associated with using a knife.
Things to Avoid
Try to avoid swinging into the dirt: Doing so can ding and dull the blade and reduce its efficiency. Also avoid swinging while standing. The size and swing arc of a hatchet means it is usually much safer if the user is on their knees, reducing the odds of an accidental body collision.
How to Sharpen Your Best Survival Hatchet
Once you have decided upon your perfect survival hatchet the next thing you need to do is to learn how to look after it. The most IMPORTANT thing to remember is that a sharp hatchet is safer to use than a blunt one! This video will show you how to keep your axe or hatchet razor sharp.
With so many different options across such a wide price range it is easy to be overwhelmed when seeking out the best survival hatchet.
Consider what your hatchets primary use will be when choosing: Will you be using it in the yard or at a campsite? How much do you need to cut and of what types of wood? Will it be a single-use tool or will you use it for a variety of things? All these questions are important as the only way to know which will be the best survival hatchet for you is to know exactly how you intend to use it.
You may also consider the price of some of the survival hatchets on our list a bit excessive at first glance, but if you’re intending to use one regularly or intend to add it to your survival gear; gear upon which your life could depend should the SHTF, then you would be better served by spending as much as you can afford and buying a high quality tool rather than one that could let you down when you need it the most.
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