7 Best Hatchet in 2020

The best hatchet you can buy today is the Fiskars X7 Hatchet. This hatchet benefits hatchet from a beautiful design and well-balanced weight, along with an ultra-sharp axe head that includes low friction coating making it faster and more efficient for splitting wood.

To help you find the best hatchet for splitting wood, or the best camping hatchet for backpacking, we’ve analyzed reviews, consulted survival and wilderness experts, and put the top rated hatchets and survival axes to the test ourselves. In seeking out a good hatchet, we looked for high quality axe head materials, durable handles and a well-balanced design that makes one-handed chopping of wood easier. Keep reading to learn more about our top pick and the rest of the items on our list for splitting wood.

Top 7 Best Hatchets in 2020

 #1  Fiskars X7 (378501-1002) Hatchet

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: A stronger than steel FiberComp handle and an insert-molded axe head makes this our pick for the best camping hatchet, as it particularly shines in the durability department.

Pros
  • Best power to weight ratio
  • Balanced weight adds momentum to each swing
  • Well designed and durable handle
Cons
  • No belt attachment
  • Low friction coating can wear off over time

Among the smoothest and most efficient of the hatchets and camp axes we’ve seen, this Fiskars hatchet is a versatile survival and backpacking tool that excels at chopping wood, splitting kindling and even works for delicate carving tasks, thanks to its exceptional weight balance and the comfortable grip on hand from its high-tech “FiberComp” plastic handle.

While some may want a more traditional appearance with a wood handle, this Fiskars hatchet offers the advantage of a solid one-piece feel thanks to its insert-molded axe head, while still providing the security and comfort of a rubber grip. If this hatchet is too big, you might want to consider one of the best survival knives too.

 #2  Estwing Sportsman’s Axe 14″ Camping Hatchet

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: This small camp axe is forged from a single piece of high grade steel and offers exceptional durability. It also comes with a ballistic nylon sheath, which we found to be highly useful.

Pros
  • Hand polished finish & one piece for durability
  • Beautiful leather wrapped handle
  • Forged steel construction
Cons
  • Small size makes it less ideal for splitting wood
  • Not the sharpest out of the box

Made with one-piece forged steel construction, this 14 inch Estwing hatchet is among the most durable survival tools we’ve tested, while its hand-polished look gives it a clean, refined aesthetic. It comes with a leather wrapped handle for comfort and is made in the USA.

The cutting edge measures 3 and 1/4 inches, enough to make it a usable camping hatchet for splitting wood, and we’ve found that it chops branches up to 2” in diameter with ease, using just a few strokes, though it is not quite as useful for chopping large pieces of wood. You might want to consider bringing the best pocket knife along on your next camping trip.

 #3  Schrade SCAXE10 11.1in Full Tang Hatchet

Award: Best for Backpacking

WHY WE LIKE IT: This compact full tang hatchet comes with a belt loop rubber sheath for convenient carrying, plus it features an axe head made of high carbon steel and a secure rubber grip.

Pros
  • Compact and lightweight designy
  • Secure, non-slip grip
  • Belt loop attachment
Cons
  • Not as smooth for chopping wood as the Fiskars
  • Too small at 11” for splitting large logs comfortably

If you’re looking for a backup camp axe or a small survival hatchet for backpacking or wilderness adventures, this Schrade full tang hatchet makes a good compromise between cutting ability and ease of carrying. It measures just over 11 inches total, with a 3.6 inch blade, and weighs around 1.6 pounds..

Made of high carbon stainless steel and powder coated for durability, this hatchet has a substantial and solid feel, though it isn’t as perfectly balanced as the Fiskars, nor does it chop wood as quickly. It does, however, excel at splitting kindling and smaller branches, and it even works well for whittling and carving tasks. You might want to also consider bringing the best water bottle along to stay hydrated on your next camping trip.

 #4  Husqvarna H900 13″ Composite Hatchet

Award: Best for Hammering

WHY WE LIKE IT: It has a drop forged steel axe head with a flattened back that provides for a hammer function, plus a composite handle engineered for ideal weight distribution.

Pros
  • Well balanced for splitting wood
  • Non-stick coating
  • Rubber grip
Cons
  • Handle may warp more easily than some picks
  • Sheath lacks a belt loop

Designed for general wood cutting tasks as well as for splitting logs and for camping and backpacking, this composite hatchet takes the high tech approach to the age-old woodsman’s axe. It combines a drop forged steel axe head with an engineered composite handle, offering ideal weight distribution for maximum swing performance.

A non-stick coating helps when splitting wood, though it may not last beyond one or two sharpenings, as with most such coatings. Some may also find that the composite handle and rubber grip lack the solidity of a one-piece backpacking hatchet. You might want to consider packing this along with best two-person tent too.

 #5  Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

Award: Best Emergency

WHY WE LIKE IT: Easy to carry and generally regarded as a good hatchet for backpacking, the Bear Grylls full tang survival hatchet boasts a very sharp blade and weighs just 1.4 pounds.

Pros
  • High carbon steel and just 1.4lbs
  • Easy to carry non-slip rubber grip
  • Versatile and good for carving
Cons
  • Doesn’t give much leverage for chopping wood
  • Axe head not wedge-shaped enough for easy log splitting

This Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is billed as a multipurpose wilderness tool, and it does fulfill a number of functions very well. A super sharp forged steel blade and rugged durability, along with its small size, make it one of the best all-around choices if you’re looking for the best hatchet for backpacking or other outdoor activities.

It’s not the cheapest hatchet, nor is it likely the best hatchet for splitting wood; its small size and thin blade make it less suitable than others on our list for splitting logs and chopping larger branches. However, the easy to carry non-slip rubber grip and light form factor make it an ideal choice for a large variety of scenarios, including wilderness survival and emergency preparation. All you’ll need is your best hiking socks and you’ll be ready for your next camping adventure.

 #6  Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

Award: Best for Chopping Wood

WHY WE LIKE IT: With a beautiful wood handle and high grade steel axe head, this scouting / camping axe is a best bet for those who prefer a high quality and traditional approach in their woodsman’s axe.

Pros
  • Excellent traditional design and long handle
  • Wood handle is comfortable and sturdy
  • Secure, tough leather sheath
Cons
  • More expensive than most camping hatchets
  • Requires regular sharpening

For the demanding woodsman, this scouting and camp axe offers a good mix of traditional high quality materials and everyday usability. The length, just under 14 inches, is just right for chopping wood up to about 2 inches in diameter, while the forged steel axe head offers a well designed wedge angle for splitting wood.

The polished handle is beautiful to look at and comfortable to hold, giving near ideal weight distribution. It’s also easy to carry at just 1.3 pounds and comes with a high quality leather sheath.

 #7  Estwing Tomahawk Axe 16.25″ Lightweight Hatchet

Award: Best Lightweight

WHY WE LIKE IT: This hatchet is a full tang design and made from one piece of high carbon steel, with a rubber grip coating designed to reduce vibrations and allow a smoother, more accurate stroke.

Pros
  • Patented technology to reduce hand fatigue
  • Pick end works for breaching and digging
  • Forged steel construction
Cons
  • Longer than most hatchets for backpacking
  • Not the best hatchet for splitting wood

This is more of a traditional tomahawk than a camping hatchet, but it is one of the best we’ve tested. Full tanged and with ideal weight balance, the Estwing hatchet / tomahawk is a versatile outdoor tool for mountaineering, wilderness adventure, backpacking and survival.

Lighter than a hatchet and even more maneuverable than the best hunting axe or woodsman axe, the tomahawk has a wide, hatchet-like blade but without the wedge, along with a pick blade on the reverse of the axe head. This makes it useful for digging, breaching and rooting. It also makes it a formidable emergency escape tool.

How We Decided

In order to narrow this list down to the best hatchets you can buy, we set strict criteria for which products made the cut in terms of durability, cutting performance and ease of use.

To ensure that our survival axe and camp hatchet top picks were worth the space they took up in your gear pack, we only included those that weighed less than 3 pounds. We also set a maximum length of 18 inches for portability.

In order to ensure cutting performance, we limited our search to hatchets with forged or polished steel heads, preferably made with high carbon steel for durable performance. We preferred blades of at least 3.5-inches long.

We included both wood handled and full tang hatchets, as well as some composite molded hatchets like the beautifully designed Fiskars. However, we insisted on durability and only picked those that showed no warping or loosening after repeated stress tests.

Best Hatchet Buyer’s Guide

Features to Consider

  1. Axe Head
    To find the best hatchet for splitting wood, look for a wedge-shaped axe head, preferably with a hand sharpened and polished, honed edge. For wood chopping performance that holds up year after year, look for the hardest steel available.
  2. Handle Length
    Along with the size and shape of the head, the handle length and ergonomics determine the performance of a hatchet or camp axe. If you’re looking for a survival hatchet for backpacking, a shorter handle might be better, while a longer handle with more leverage might excel as a general use camp axe or for the chopping of firewood.
  3. Grips
    The best hatchets, including tactical hatchets, camping hatchets and hunting hatchets, generally have an ergonomically shaped grip that’s designed to hold securely even when wet. A good grip is a key safety feature when chopping wood or even preparing a meal at the campsite. Some of our favorites have a rubber grip, while others go with leather wrapping.
  4. Full Tang vs Wood-Handled
    For a more traditional woodsman axe, you might want a wood-handled hatchet. These benefit from long experience and tend to offer good weight distribution for swinging to chop wood and are thus among the best for splitting wood for kindling or firewood. Full tang hatchets tend to be smaller and somewhat heavier for their length, but have advantages when it comes to tasks like carving and whittling.

Hatchet FAQs

What makes a good hatchet?

Durable construction, high-quality materials like high carbon steel, and the right design for the job are all characteristics of a good hatchet. Also, consider weight distribution and ergonomic grips.

Who makes the best axes in the world?

Along with traditional craft workers and artisans, some of the best axes you can buy for relatively cheap are from companies like Estwing, Fiskars and Hoffman. The Kershaw camp axe is also of a high quality.

Are Estwing hatchets good?

Estwing is known for high quality forged steel hatchets and Tomahawks, with about eighty years of experience and a reputation for lifetime durability.

Do I need a hatchet for camping?

A hatchet is one of the most highly recommended camping and survival tools, and may be one of the most useful single tools there is. Among the oldest human-made tools we’ve ever found, after all, the stone “hand axes” dating back over a million years, are technically hatchets. Even today, if you’re not planning on lugging a chainsaw around, a hatchet is your best friend when it comes to woodwork and fire prep.

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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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