Why would I want to use a spike hawk camping?

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It's been a common question with the advent of the tactical tomahawk. While spike hawks are just as old a design as any other, they are typically considered a combat weapon, not a utility tool.

If all you plan to do is chop wood with one, then the spike is pretty useless to you. It's even been commented that the spike could injure the user when swinging, but that's not likely. Very few hammer themselves if they have that poll on it, I don't hear much about people smacking themselves in the head with the bit when hammering. We use the tool slightly to one side because we intend to swing it from head height or even further, to get momentum on it. I'll venture to say that if swinging a tool like this could cause you injury, you might reconsider using tools at all. Your local emergency room with thank you.

"I have no need for a spike hawk." Actually, what is being said is they have other methods or tools to do those tasks, if the problems crop up at all. Taking it from the light hiker view, one Uncle Sam drilled into me repeatedly, living in the wild often means coming up with ways and means to deal with living in forestland and sleeping on the ground with very little shelter regardless of the weather.

Start with the bedding site. Rocks, roots, shrubbery? Haven't yet seen or camped on one that was perfectly flat and had no stobs to poke you thru a mat and bag. I always wind up removing as many as possible, it's only been the last two years I have had a cot. And that's not a great asset, the tent floor needs protection, too. A flat or hammer poll won't help much clearing rock - but a spike hawk can be used as a small pick mattock to lever them from the ground.

If camping with a wood fire, digging a hole in the ground to contain the coals and then cover the burn site is recommended in some circles. A spike hawk can do that. Turn it sideways, it's an expedient shovel.

If a suitable site is already cleared, it's frequently hardpacked. The spike hawk will start a tent peg hole, and then turned sideways, help hammer it in. If it's prone to rain, the spike hawk will allow trenching the perimeter to carry off the water.

These are things others would use a shovel for, but when you pack in, the weight becomes an issue. Hiking in a camp axe, shovel, and pick isn't often an option. Your food, shelter, sleeping gear, kitchen tools, water, and if needed, firearms, all take up the available weight. Ask a soldier - things are already an overload with tactical gear, personal necessities get short shrift in the available weight left. It's why the Army has become so much more mechanized now, and why the original pioneers used pack animals then.

When spike camping without the luxuries, then maybe a spike hawk is the answer. It creates the comfort zone we all crave in enjoying the outdoors. No doubt we take a edged tool, the question is how versatile it can be. The spike hawk offers more versatility, which should be self explanatory. It can do more just as it is, and relieve the necessity of having other tools simultaneously, plus the burden of taking them.

So, if the next time you are reading about someone using a spike hawk for the mundane chores of camping, step out of your comfort zone and consider - they are creating a comfort zone with theirs. It's just a different tool to do it with. Any tool can be used as a weapon, but not all weapons are good tools. Our European and Native American forefathers didn't have them in hand for daily use just as a weapon. They were tools for chores in their agrarian or woodland lifestyle, just the same as the machete and variants are tools in third world tropical environments. Show up with a Zombie Slayer and you'll get some looks. Maybe snickers, too.

Treat them as tools first, then the whole point of why they have been around for hundreds of years becomes more apparent.
 

lmalterna

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I like the spike for some uses, just wish we could have a spike/camp axe. I guess something along the lines of a miniature pulaski or firemans axe. I prefer the cheeks and weight of the small axe.

The flat tactical hawks lack the cheeks and weight to compete with a more conventional axe. But I do see places I would use the spike.

To be honest, for some uses, I grab a dead limb and sharpen the end. Digging a hole or scratching out a rain gutter.

Bill
 
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There's nothing you have described the spike doing a long sharpened stick could not do better.
I still think the spike is dangerous.
I like my spike hawk but it has no practical uses beyond a weapon, imho.
 
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I can do all of that and more with my axe, which has a hammer on the opposite side of the edge
I would also recommend using a sharpened stick.
You guys wanna' use a tactical tomahawk camping then go ahead, whatever suits you best.
If I were to ever use a tomahawk camping it would be the Gerber Downrange:
Gerber-Tomahawk1.jpg

Its pretty much the same as my axe, only slimmer, so whats the difference?
 
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Thank you for the post. I agree with you in that hawks are like many other tools; we each have our own preference in styles and patterns. How often have we seen the debate about best full size axe pattern, best camp knife, best....

I must admit that the post did open my eyes a little regarding the potential utility of a spike hawk. I would have fallen into the pipe/ hammer poll hawk and a sharpened stick camp, but now I am asking: why not a spike hawk and a baton/ club?

I have never used a spike hawk. Perhaps it's about time?
 
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I'm sure those who are so against the spike have never tried one out either.
:I have one and it works for me.
 
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I think they were more of a status symbol than a tool. I would rather drive a tent stake with a rock.
 
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I did graze the bill of my baseball cap, chopping wood with a spike hawk. I was bent over chopping a log in two. I'm right handed, so swinging from the right side of my body was fine. Once I switched angles (making a "V" notch) is when the spike got closer to my head. Granted, it was the Renegade hawk, which is 9.5" long from blade to spike. A shorter spike, or shorter handle may not ever get as close? Either way, miles into wilderness is not the place or time I want a spike hawk driven into my neck or head. The spike hawks I own are not very good at chopping wood, I wouldn't take any of them camping.
Maybe a two handed hatchet, with a non sharpened spike would be more useful to me? The spike would be somewhat pointed for some utility, and the handle would be long enough to keep the spike away from my face.
 
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The first time I used my spike hawk I was just chopping at some dead fallen stuff, to get a feel for it. The bit got stuck, as it's thin. I was yanking the handle to lever it out and stumbled a bit, and sort of tripped toward the spike, which was just like a finger pointing at my abdomen. I probably never actually got within a foot or so of the spike but it would have stuck me like a pig with little effort. It spooked me though and I have not had the thing out since.
User inexperience? Absolutely, and probably a one in a million situation, but after that its always pointy parts away from me. Even using my poll on other hawks and axes I am always extra wary now, and usually use a club or a rock anyway.
 

lmalterna

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I might set aside a well used hammer poll carpenters haytchet head for a spike regrind o the hammper poll. Not the long thin spike but more a pulaski style regrind for when I have basement time this Winter. Something different to try. I bet a fiskars style variant in 16" would be nice.

Bill
 
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Never know when a pointy hook will come in handy, I can see it used to do a few things a pointy stick simply cannot do.
 
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There is a learning curve to any tool. How many times do we hear about striking our leg with an axe? It's so old, it's in fairy tale lore from medieval Europe. Much less the number of people who cut their legs and feet with a chain saw. I cut the toe on a nice pair of Red Wings doing that. And those who use air nailers have plenty of stories to trade about being in the emergency room getting a hot glued nail out of their leg or arm. Check the knife forum, how many pics of stitched up fingers from a big slip? I've got my scars, too. We all screw up in dozens of ways, you should be concerned about using a tool safely. How many have said you could hammer with the pommel of a big camp knife? Twelve inches of pointed steel coming back at you does need consideration. When it's all you have to do the job, no rocks because the environment simply doesn't have any, do you go without? Mankind isn't inclined, they assess the risk and take some care.

Yes, a sharp stick can do some of the same jobs as a spike hawk. In the Ozarks, plenty of them at hand. One of the enhancements of the spike hawk is that the spike is 90 degrees to the head. It's like trying to remove a nail with the claws of a hammer, you hook the spike under what you need moved, and roll the tool toward the bit. That works better than trying to remove a nail with a straight bar. Check the pic of the Gerber, even it has a curved foot to take advantage of it.

On the other hand, the open handle is lightened, and that big hole doesn't scoop so well. It's designed for deconstruction in urban situations, not field craft. Like having a double bit axe, it has some specialization that restricts other uses. Yes, the spike hawk, especially those cut from flat stock, isn't as heavy as the traditional polled handle axe or hatchet. That is the tradeoff - you sacrifice weight, add speed, and it still will chop. No, it won't chop down a mature tree well, but then most of the time, I'd use a Stihl FarmBoss for that. Not going to pack that in, tho.

Don't forget, I'm not saying the spike hawk is the greatest bestest wood processing tool of all time. I'm suggesting that if you deliberately restrict yourself to just packing it in, then you likely won't be taking a full size axe, either. And yet we still recognize the need for some sort of wilderness wood craft tool. Some lean toward the machete or camp knife, yet those aren't as good a chopper - they are biased to working with softer tropical vegetation. Been there with an Ontario, then a Swamp Rat Camp Tramp, Campanion, even Randall #14. And like the Civil War photos of Bowies, they are great for show, not so much with a full load of required web gear. Since I still hunt with a backpack stuffed full of lunch, rain gear, camo, snivel gear, etc. the weight limit of cool doesn't make the grade. But a spike tomahawk to improve a ground blind, trim shooting lanes, or simply dig a cat hole, that's useful. If you hunt, you've likely seen other guys taking a limb saw, pruners, or hatchet to improve things. And if you hunt large game, a hatchet is part of an upscale butcher kit to quarter the animal for the hike out. A spike won't impede that.

I'm obviously not going to make some change their mind about using a spike hawk. We have our concepts about how things can be done, and it's normal to reject a new concept with the first thing to come to mind. Thinking beyond those objections then gets to the root of the matter, tho, and I'm just saying a spike hawk in the field can do that better than a $200 camp knife or sharp stick. What likely needs to be considered is whether you picture one as a black gothic battle weapon, or a field tool for camping. Would it help if it was Estwing blue with a synthetic grip? http://www.estwing.com/ao_black_eagle_tomahawk.php

Not as likely to lose it that way, as many have posted. Paint it to see it, and you keep it from the wood gnomes.
 
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lmalterna

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http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/s...e-Mfg-Co-Tool-Co-Tool-Works-True-Temper/page2
Post #26. True Temper Dynamic- I picked one up in a box of tools. Take alot of slow grinding on that hardened head, but might make a nice spike hatchet. I just prefer the cheeks for chopping/splitting to a hawk. Always up to try something new.

When team camping, I used to always get fire duty and carving a long digging stick was part of that.

Bill
 
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There's nothing you have described the spike doing a long sharpened stick could not do better.
I like my spike hawk but it has no practical uses beyond a weapon, imho.


+1. Liked what garryp said, too. Only reason I can think of for bringing a hawk camping is for fun. I think its ok to do that... no need to make up other reasons. There are better tools or better tool-less ways to do all the stuff people talk about.
 

lmalterna

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Pullrich,
One idea I am thinking is harvesting fatwood... I know not everyone does so but it requries chopping into some dense hard wood and more than a little prying. Often we are going after the rootball just below the ground. Tuff on a blade. Again, kind of specialized but something I see myself doing at times when hiking/camping. There are better tools if that is planned from the start but I am thinking a mod kind of like the point on fencing pliers more so than a dead on round spike.

Maybe I can get pics if I get around to grinding one.

Bill
 
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I've been using one of these for years:

I've never used it while camping, but it might be useful there too.
I heat my house exclusively with wood, so I am in the woods a fair bit during the winter season cutting firewood. This "Felbacher Handsappie" is extremely useful when delimbing smaller wood and picking up logs.
It's a tool, not a weapon - but one should be careful using it nonetheless.
I don't even own a Tomahawk, but I think it's time to pick one up... ; )
Thanks to the OP for a very interesting and inspiring post!
 
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Feb 3, 2006
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Another use I've always thought would be a benefit for a spike was for going off trail. There's a lot of downed logs you'll more than likely have to climb over and I would think the spike would be nice in that regard as long as you had a cover for the blade.

Sink the spike into the log and now you have a handle to hoist yourself up with. Using it just like you would an ice axe.
 
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Aug 16, 2005
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The dangers of a spike during use have been mentioned already. What make me cringe is how I see spike 'hawks carried, people seem to love to carry them tucked into their belts either near their right flank, aiming the point squarely at the kidney, or in front, waiting to disembowel the wearer. I know smart people like us would never do such things ;) but there is a large contingency of people with them, and they all seem to like to take pictures of themselves "in action."
My 2 cents, probably worth less.
 
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Again, thanks to all the posts that are forward thinking about a non-traditional tool. It's cool to see some of the ideas to use a tool differently than the design's intent may have been. It's rather like a challenge (rather than excuses) to think outside the box. Some times trying to get people that are in to traditional or primitive means to look at anything tactical in anything but a condescending way is like talking smack about INFI in the Busse forum. As stated, tools are dangerous. Especially if you aren't used to them.

I prefer a hammer rather than a spike, but am willing to give it a thought on what I can do with the spike. Just like extended and pointed pommels. I found them useful in foraging, rather than caving in a skull. Also good in some skinning applications. Anyhow, love the ideas so far.
 
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