7 Best Axe in 2020

To help you find the best axe to buy to complete a number of outdoor tasks, we’ve researched heavily and put the top models to the test. We set out to determine which is the best axe for splitting wood, the strongest axe for hardwood and the best survival axe. We looked at user-rated long term durability, grip comfort and weight. We also looked at cutting ability, favoring axes that could split a large pine log along the grain in twenty seconds or less.

Our top pick is the Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super (36″) Splitting Axe. This is a big, well balanced axe that delivers a powerful swing and is easy to hold thanks to its vibration reducing FiberComp handle. Read on for more on this high quality axe and the rest of our top picks for the best axe you can buy.

Top 7 Best Axe in 2020

 #1  Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super (36″) Splitting Axe

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: An elegant design plus ideal weight distribution gives you more power with each swing, while a unique convex beveled axe head makes it easier to withdraw the blade and saves time, making this the fastest and best axe for splitting wood we’ve tested.

Pros
  • Super sharp convex beveled head
  • Anti-friction coating on blade
  • Light yet super strong FiberComp handle
Cons
  • Its length can make it challenging for beginners and shorter people
  • Less traditional in appearance than some picks

If you’re looking for a good axe for splitting medium to large logs, this 36-inch Fiskars axe is highly recommended. A well made axe that blends high tech materials with Fiskars’ nearly 400-year experience in axe head design, it delivers the most power per stroke of any axe that weighs as little as this one. As a matter of fact, it weighs just over five pounds.

Its FiberComp handle is designed to absorb vibration and reduce fatigue, yet it never feels wobbly or loose. The axe head comes well sharpened and is made of forged steel and finished with a proprietary grind to deliver the optimum cutting wedge power. This product does have a unique appearance, however, which may not suit all consumers. If you don’t like to use an axe, you might prefer one of the best survival knives.

 #2  Coleman Camp Axe

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: This handy and simple axe is a must have for camping and as part of an emergency kit. It has excellent durability and a non-slip rubber grip.

Pros
  • Best on a budget
  • Comes with tent stake puller notch
  • Thick, easy to hold rubber grip
Cons
  • Not as sharp as our top pick
  • Small size makes it tedious to use for larger wood chopping tasks

While it may not be our first choice if we were looking for the best axe for cutting down trees, this handy small axe is an excellent value for those looking for a camp axe or portable axe for backpacking.

Despite its low price, it features a drop forged carbon steel head and a handle made of steel with a rubber grip. We found the grip to offer security even when wet, and the Coleman camp axe has proven quite durable for long term use, making it a solid choice for a backup. We also loved that it shipped with a tent stake puller notch. After you’ve got your campfire wood cut, you might want to grab a pack of the best all-weather matches to start a fire in any condition.

 #3  Husqvarna 26″ Wooden Multi-Purpose Axe

Award: BEST TRADITIONAL DESIGN

WHY WE LIKE IT: A good axe for chopping wood, it features a solid hickory shaft and a head made of hand-forged Sweedish steel while offering a classic traditional design that should meet the aesthetic demands of most consumers.

Pros
  • Great for chopping large logs
  • Securely fastened head with steel and wood wedges
  • Hand forged and polished blade
Cons
  • Longer and heavier than the Coleman camp axe
  • Not as powerful as the Fiskars 36”

Offering a balance between chopping power and ease of carrying, this 26” Husqvarna axe is a good axe for chopping wood, especially when it comes to tasks like preparing firewood and cutting up medium sized branches.

While it lacks the single-stroke splitting ability of the larger Fiskars axe, this beautiful hickory handled axe is easier to manage. With a length of 26 inches and a stout blade optimized for chopping wood, it’s an easy way to make short work of a stack of logs for firewood, as it excels with large logs as well as medium logs. If you love camping, you might also want to consider some of the best camping and hiking gear too.

 #4  Cold Steel Trail Boss Axe, 27 Inch

Award: BEST FOR CUTTING DOWN TREES

WHY WE LIKE IT: Featuring a 4 and a 1/2 inch cutting edge on its European-style blade, this traditional high quality axe is great for cutting down trees, a feature that is aided by its hickory wood handle.

Pros
  • Light yet sturdy hickory wood handle
  • Forged carbon steel blade
  • Holds up to repeated use
Cons
  • Heavier than some picks
  • Lacks hammer face

A good axe for brush clearing and heavy duty wood chopping tasks, this 27-inch axe from Cold Steel comes with a drop forged blade made from high carbon steel, with a long, 4.5-inch cutting edge. That means it takes a bigger “bite” with each swing than most of our camping and woodsman axe choices, which makes it the best axe for cutting down trees that we tried.

Featuring a handle of straight grained American Hickory, this well made axe has been proven to hold up to demanding, long wearing tasks such as brush clearance and fallen tree disposal. If you’re looking strictly for the best axe for camping, however, be aware that this axe doesn’t have a hammer side for hammering in tent pegs. If you love to hike, take a look at the best water bottle to bring on your next adventure.

 #5  Estwing Camper’s Axe – 26″ Wood Splitting Too

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Award: BEST MULTIPURPOSE

WHY WE LIKE IT: This full tang axe is among the most durable and the best axe we tested when it comes to resisting bending and vibration. It’s compact enough to go in your camping gear and makes short work of branches and kindling.

Pros
  • Forged metal hand polished finish
  • Forged steel one-piece construction
  • Shock reduction grip
Cons
  • Not the best for cutting down trees
  • More expensive than some picks

While it’s on the bigger side for camping axes, this Estwing axe is also more powerful and easier to use for chopping firewood and cutting up branches than a small survival or backpacking hatchet. Weighing just over three pounds, it’s manageable for most campers, and the rubber grip is comfortable to hold.

This axe also features an integrated vibration reducing handle that cuts down on shock by up to70 percent, helping you work longer without getting fatigued. Because the axe head is on the narrow side, it’s not the best tool for splitting logs, however. This is also a fairly expensive model. If you’re taking this axe on your next camping trip, take a look at the best two person tent too.

 #6  Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe 19 Inch

Award: BEST FOR CAMPING

WHY WE LIKE IT: Among the sharpest and strongest of wood-handled axes you can buy, this woodsman axe benefits from a long forestry tradition and boasts excellent material quality and an aesthetically pleasing design.

Pros
  • Arrives razor sharp
  • Leather sheath included
  • Weighs just two pounds
Cons
  • More expensive than other axes on our list
  • Single bit; lacks pick or hammer side

While it’s not the cheapest axe around, this is certainly a high-quality product that gets the job done.. Sometimes called the Rolls Royce of axes, the Gransfors Bruks forest axe is a woodsman axe with a smallish, 19-inch handle and a razor sharp forged and tempered steel head.

The fit and finish is exacting, the sharpness almost unbelievable and the shape of the blade ideally suited for getting through hardwood branches and sticks. It makes short work of small stumps and wood pieces up to about 2 and a half inches in diameter.

 #7  SOG Tomahawk Throwing Axe

Award: BEST FOR SURVIVAL

WHY WE LIKE IT: A versatile multifunction axe for camping, backpacking, wilderness survival or even sport axe throwing, this SOG Tomahawk comes with a sharp, high toed blade and a pick point for digging and emergency rescue.

Pros
  • Weighs just 19 oz, lightest on list
  • Balanced enough for throwing axe competitions
  • Has hammer and pick function
Cons
  • Axe head not wide enough for serious log splitting
  • Not the best axe for chopping down trees
  • Tomahawk aesthetic not for everyone

Light and well balanced, this SOG Tomahawk is billed as a throwing axe and is engineered to land point-down like a throwing axe, but it also has a plethora of camping, backpacking and survival uses. The 2” blade is forged from 420-satin polished stainless steel and the grip is made of glass-reinforced nylon with a textured, non-slip outer coating that provides purchase even when wet.

It’s smaller than most of the axes on our list, and with only a 2” blade with very little convexity, it’s not great for splitting large logs, but this multifunction survival axe is much easier to carry than most of our woodsman axe choices, and it has pick and hammer functions that may come in handy when out in the woods or in emergency situations.

How We Decided

In order to bring you our selections for the best axe you can buy, and to ensure we only chose the best made axes on the market, we limited our choices to axes with forged steel axe heads and well-honed blades.

We only looked at axes that weighed less than 6 pounds, and had at least a 2” wide cutting edge. For those seeking the best axe for cutting down trees, we recommend at least a 4 inch head, and so we did give preference to larger axes.

We considered axes with traditional wooden handles as well as those using modern composite materials, in addition to all-metal axes.

When it came to performance, we only included axes that were capable of chopping a two-inch hardwood branch in less than 30 seconds. Hammer sides and picks, useful in a multipurpose axe or survival axe, were considered a bonus.

Best Axe Buyer’s Guide

Features to Consider

  1. Length
    A longer axe provides a more powerful swing, while a shorter axe is easier to carry, so the best axe length for your needs depends largely on a compromise between mobility and chopping power. For splitting logs, longer is better, whereas the best camp axe or woodsman axe is one you can comfortably carry through the forest.
  2. Handle Material
    If you want the best looking traditional axe, consider one with a handle wrought from high quality wood. Hickory is often favored for its combination of toughness and light weight. On the other hand, an axe with a composite handle can offer features like vibration reduction and a textured grip.
  3. Single vs Double Bit
    Most chopping axes have a single blade, or bit, and can be distinguished by the wedge shaped convex design of the axe head. A thicker wedge and longer “toe” or blade area, makes for an easier time splitting logs along the grain. A double bit axe, such as a pick axe or tomahawk, has a cutting edge on either end of the head.
  4. Hammer Side
    Some camping axes feature a flat portion either directly opposite the blade or on the side of the head. This can come in handy for driving in tent pegs and other camp tasks. It’s also helpful if you use a splitting wedge to split large logs.
  5. Grip
    While some prefer a carved and well-shaped wooden handle for grip, a rubber or composite grip can offer vibration reduction that makes the axe easier to use.

Axe FAQs

What is the best axe to split wood?

To find the best axe for splitting wood, you’ll want to look for what’s known as a splitting axe. These have wedge shaped heads and long enough handles to allow for a powerful, long swing with plenty of momentum.

What length axe should I get?

The best axe length for you depends on your purposes as well as what you feel comfortable with. When it comes to splitting wood, taller people will likely prefer a longer handled axe that helps make the most of their reach and preserves good form. For a camp axe or woodsman axe, look for one that’s long enough to chop branches but that fits on your pack, belt loop or saddle bag.

What are the different types of axes?

Among the different types of axes are: large felling axes, designed to swing horizontally and with wide heads. The best axe for cutting down trees is probably a large felling axe. There are also chopping axes, also typically large but with a more wedge-shaped head designed for splitting logs. Then there are smaller, more portable camp axes, backpacking axes and woodsman’s axes. These can be used one-handed and are supposed to fit in your pack or, originally, on a horse’s saddle bag. Lighter and less bulky, but usually a little longer than a camp or backpacking axe, the Tomahawk is a two sided axe, of Native American origin, that typically features a cutting blade on one side and a pick point on the other, and is balanced for throwing.

What is the best made axe?

When it comes to craftsmanship, the best made axe is likely a custom piece handmade by blacksmiths. However, there are some companies that offer excellent, high quality and well made axes at a higher volume and for a little less money. These include Gransfors Bruks and Fiskars, along with American-made Estwing.

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Ryan Mcbride

Ryan McBride is a writer based in Los Angeles. He has contributed work to magazines and sites including Gayot, Spy, Paper, Ladygunn, 3AM and the Crab Creek Review. He writes consumer reviews, essays, science and tech journalism as well as literary and art criticism.

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