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Recommendation: Good hatchet or backpacking axe

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by GotSteel, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. GotSteel


    Mar 1, 2016
    Looking for a good hatchet or backpacking axe for hiking & short campouts. I don't know much about axes, thanks.
  2. Goose 7279

    Goose 7279 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 22, 2015
    Fiskars are cheap and tough and work great
  3. GotSteel


    Mar 1, 2016
    prefer wood handled and something maybe not too cheap
  4. bohdisattva


    Jan 13, 2012
    Hiya GotSteel-

    I'm pretty sure you will receive some great advice here, but I would like to recommend the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife hatchet. Here is a quick video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60RuK1Xm3iI

    There are many more on Youtube, but this is a quick short one.

    Good luck in your search.
  5. phantomknives


    Mar 31, 2016
    maybe a snow and nealey, the one with the 24"-ish handle
  6. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    If you want the best you can get then I suggest getting a vintage hatchet head and give it a functional restoration.
    Gransfors bruks axes are popular because they're ready to go and the steel is good, but they're not magic and a vintage head will be just as good if not better.
    If you're going to be using an axe or hatchet you might as well know how to rehang one and reprofile a bit , because handles can get damaged and bits can get chipped or dinged.

    I'd probably stick to a hatchet or boys axe, because those pack sized axes ( about 20" ) can easily become shim spliters if you don't know what you're doing.
  7. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    My favorite for use in camp is a True Temper claw hatchet hung on an 18" riggers axe handle.


    But if I have to carry it far I'll sacrifice utility for weight and carry a modified Fiskars X7 with a nail notch added.


    If you're an experienced backpacker and hike for longer distances then you'll want the Fiskars or nothing at all. If you're in a group of several hikers then you can consider heavier tools and let somebody else carry a stove & fuel. If bushcraft and wood gathering are on the agenda then consider a lightweight saw as well.
  8. GotSteel


    Mar 1, 2016
    Where should I look for vintage heads, and should I look for any kind of benchmarks on them. I was checking out some of those Gransfors Bruks @ LL Bean they also have one of their own brand called a Hudson Bay I was checking out, but I'm liking the idea of rehanging the vintage heads I just wouldn't know where to begin. I do have experience splitting logs and felling smallish trees from my younger years so I think as far as shin splitting goes I should be ok
  9. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    My favorite is the Plumb National pattern. Some will have a Boyscout logo stamped on them. They also have a hardened poll so good to go if you need to pound on steel stakes. Many of them available on that auction sight. The original hafts have a high survival rate especially those with permabond handles. They are the Cadillac's of the small scout sized hatchets in my opinion. Vintage hatchets are still a bargain, rarely going for more than $40 and many selling for less than $20.
  10. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Yardsales, thrift stores,flea markets, flea bay, antique malls, contact a member here jblytle ( check the " it followed me home " thread )
    Look for brands like collins, plumb, true temper, ec simmonds, Kelly, craftsman, wards master quality, master mechanic and among others.
    just make sure it has convex cheeks ( the sides aren't a flat surface ) as that will mean it's likely older giving you a better chance or high quality, plus it's a nice feature that reduces sticking.

    You probably won't be disappointed with a GB axe, but they just cost too much considering the typical sub 20$ cost to go vintage.
    BTW council tools is known to still make a great product, so you could go that route but you'll need to sharpen it yourself.
  11. GotSteel


    Mar 1, 2016
    Should i look for vintage heads to put onto a new handle or does the old wood hold up, I'm not really a wood worker
  12. jblyttle

    jblyttle Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 3, 2014
    My feeling is that if I'm on a day hike I don't need a hatchet and would probably just carry a light to medium duty knife. If I'm backpacking and just want to process some firewood, I'd probably choose a folding saw and a heavier bushcraft knife. I like and use hatchets, but I don't want to carry one around all day. I'd love to hear opinions.
  13. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    Back when I actually back packed I just carried a pocket knife and yes I cooked with fire. I think these guys are building shelters and stuff. About the only shelter building I ever did was hang a rain fly from trees etc.
  14. GotSteel


    Mar 1, 2016
    Oh ya I guess not if I'm just hiking around though maybe if I was gonna build fire, some times I'll hike off and camp out. I know I could get by without one but it would be handy for gathering some thicker stuff fatwood and whatnot, saw and bigger blade are not a bad combo.. maybe one of those plumb nationals would be best, not that I prefer to carry a load of weight but I don't think it would be too cumbersome.
  15. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade Knives, Big Brown Bear

    Mar 22, 2014
    council tool hudson bay or boys axe, best value
  16. Curt Hal

    Curt Hal Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 8, 2014
    If you have the chance, and are so inclined, building your own is very rewarding, plus you are putting a good piece of steel back into circulation. If you are looking to buy and don't want to spend $$$ on the boutique axes out there, I notice Lee Valley is carrying Adler hatchets at a pretty decent price. There are a few reviews on line and there has been some discussion of these axes on this forum. Looks like they make a 2lb on a 12.5in haft. (I think I would swap that out for a slightly longer haft.) It is priced at $36.50 (CDN)
  17. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    You can potentially find one with a good handle still on it , but most likely you'll need to buy a new handle from the hardware store. To hang a new handle all you really need is a rasp or file and a mallet.
  18. dogstar


    Jan 23, 2011
    For a lightweight hatchet, it's hard to beat the Fiskars. I would not be so quick to discount it; it's the Mora of hatchets.


    I'm also quite happy with my CS Frontier hawk with a cut down handle. I cut up a Christmas tree with it for firewood. It can handle anything up to 4" without too much fuss.


    Check this video out. It's long but I find this chap quite sensible. You can view it at 2x and slow it down when something interests you.


    By the way, for backpacking trips I need neither; I have a shelter, sleeping bag, and stove. I barely need my SAK. YMMV.
  19. Woodcraft


    Nov 7, 2016
    A good boys axe is will serve you well.
  20. rodriguez7

    rodriguez7 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 1, 2009
    [​IMG] I like this combo myself

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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