When you’re backpacking, you’re playing a tight game with the space of your pack. You don’t want to carry around fifty pounds of wood just to have a campfire every night. If you want firewood, the best thing you can do for your shoulders and your sanity is bring along a good hatchet. A good hatchet is going to give you firewood everywhere you go, it’ll solve a lot of small problems that arrive, and it’ll save you the hassle of carrying firewood.
You can make kindling, you can trim down your logs, and you can use it to set up your tent spikes. Get yourself a good hatchet, there are a lot of shoddy products out there, so we’re here to do the work of picking out a quality piece of equipment so you don’t have to.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
Best Lightweight Backpacking Hatchet in 2021 - Overview
Here are the top 5 picks (keep scrolling for more details and picks 6-7).
- Small hatchet for firewood, garden work, Hiking and other outdoor activities
This little composite hatchet is the perfect tool for almost any job you’ll come across while you’re backpacking. It’s the perfect size, the perfect weight, and it’s sturdy enough to stand up to any reasonable challenge you throw its way. It’s small enough to hang out in your pack without taking up a huge amount of room, and the case it comes in makes it perfect for hanging from your bag. If you have something with a MOLLE system, you could probably slap your hatchet onto your bag, freeing up space and making it accessible at the drop of a hat.
This hatchet is perfect for gathering firewood, any kind of brush clearing, or hacking away at overgrowth blocking your path or hindering your setup of a great spot to post up overnight. This hatchet is made with a fiber-reinforced PA shaft, making it way more solid and durable than you’d think from its bright colors and simple construction. The handle is more than just durable and flashy, it’s carefully designed to give you a strong grip while you’re hacking away at your firewood.
The best spots to hold this axe are slightly cushioned, giving you some great shock absorption, and the point of balance is up towards the head of the hatchet, making it easy to swing and distributing the weight to make it easy to carry when you’re ready to make your way to the next stop. This is a hatchet you can rely on wherever you leave home to hit the trails. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting out there with your hatchet just to discover it’s cheap crap.
The head of this hatchet is amazing. It has a non-stick coating to ease the friction while the hatchet sinks into the wood you’re chopping. This is indicative of the kind of attention to detail that sets this hatchet apart from the competition. If you have steel wedges to split stubborn wood with, you’re going to love the hammer functionality of this hatchet. It’s a heavy and solid piece of equipment, and it’s a welcome addition to any pack.
No not the baby food. This Gerber comes fro Europe and they make incredible hardware. The head of this blade is coated in PTFE, which reduces friction when the blade hits the wood giving you nice clean chops as long as you have the power to back it up. Along with the friction-reducing coating, the head is an incredibly durable forged steel making it perfect for long term use. It’s not the kind of hatchet that just gives up after making it back from a single backpacking trip.
The composite handle absorbs a great deal of shock so you can get more time out of it before the fatigue sets in, and the grip on the handle is made from a tactile material to maximize your grip no matter how wet or dry it is outside. The construction is also nice and slim, focusing the weight toward the head of the hatchet so you’re getting the most efficient energy transfer every time you swing the hatchet towards your target.
If you want deep, effective swings, this is the hatchet that’ll get the work done for you. The handle is light and sturdy because of its composite build, the head of the axe is perfectly balanced, and it’s a tool that will make your backpacking much less stressful when you know it’s by your side.
When you’re trying to pack your stuff up for a backpacking trip, every single inch and pound counts. If you can save room by combining several tools into one compact solution, you’re setting yourself up for success. This survival axe is one such tool. From the moment you step into the car, this hatchet is ready to back you up. One of its multiple tools is a seat belt cutter, so if something happens on your way up to the trail, you’ll already have found a use for one of this hatchet’s many functions. It uses the head of the hatchet to create a wide array of tools. Of course, there’s the hatchet blade, a hammer head, a nail claw, and a pry bar all cut into the head of this hatchet.
This incredible selection of tools gives this strange-looking hatchet head an astounding number of uses. That’s not all, moving up closer to the blade gives you eight different hex socket heads, for on-the-fly repairs of loose bolts. Down in the handle of the hatchet, we can find a hidden saw blade that flips out to turn your hatchet into a saw. On the reverse side, you’ll find the seat belt cutter we mentioned earlier and a bit of hardened steel that acts as a glass breaker. Not a single inch of this hatchet is wasted.
4. Estwing Sportsman's Axe - 14" Camping Hatchet with Forged Steel Construction & Genuine Leather Grip - E24A
- FORGED IN ONE PIECE – The most durable, longest lasting striking tools available
This sleek-looking axe is a simple option for backpacking. It’s a beautiful full-tang hatchet that’s drop forged and hand polished before being delivered to you as the hatchet you’ll never want to let go of. The beautiful leather handle is ergonomically designed to make it easy to hold. You’ll be missing out on a little bit of shock absorption and tactile grip, but the tradeoff for a beautiful hatchet is well worth it.
It’s just a solid hatchet through and through. It’s going to be great for chopping wood when you’re out in the wilderness, it’s light enough to slap on your pack without noticing the added encumbrance, and it’s a nice simple companion to bring along with you on your trips. The steel is sturdy, its build is high-quality, and the leather handle is great to hold. This hatchet doesn’t come very sharp out of the box, so you’re probably going to have to sharpen it a little bit before you head out. Once it’s brought up to snuff, you’ll have a nice time out on the trail.
- Small, light axe that can be used for cutting branches or splitting small camp fire wood
This classic wooden hatchet is a little plain, but it gets the job done. If you’re looking for something simple with no frills that will go straight to work when you’re ready, then get a hold of this hatchet here. This hatchet is made from two distinct parts, the head and the handle work together to deliver decisive blows to your wooden adversaries.
When we say simple, we mean it. There are no hidden tools, no fibers engineered with glass to create a futuristic material capable of absorbing incredible levels. It’s just your hatchet head and your wooden handle. The wood is carved into a pleasing ergonomic shape, so you’re not going to be fighting against an awkward wooden pole when you’re using this hatchet while you’re
- Ideal for chopping kindling and small- to medium-sized logs
This hatchet is a real workhorse. It’s a composite axe designed to chop through wood with minimal effort. Whether it’s for chopping up kindling or splitting up medium-sized logs, this is a hatchet that’s going to get a lot of power out of a smaller package. They’ve spent a lot of time balancing the weight perfectly so you can get the most out of each swing. Not only is the hatchet perfectly weighted, but the head of the hatchet is also coated with a low-friction coating that allows it to slip into your wood with hardly any effort at all.
They also grind their blades with a proprietary technique that gives you a sharp blade ready to chop up firewood right out of the box. The balance of the hatchet increasing your swing power combined with the low-friction coating, and the sharpened blade makes this a hatchet that will save you a lot of time and energy. That low-friction coating doesn’t just allow you to get a deeper swing in, it’s also going to keep your hatchet from getting stuck. If you’re a seasoned lumberjack that’s sick to death of your hatchets betraying you, then you’re going to love using this hatchet during your backpacking trips.
7. Schrade SCAXE10 11.1in
- Dimensions: 11.1 inch (28.1 centimeter) overall length with a blade length of 3.6 inches (9 centimeter) and a weight of 1 pounds 5.9 ounces
This hatchet is an excellent full-tang design. The black powder finish and the polished grind combine to give this simple looking blade a little bit of flair. It’s a hatchet that seems simple at first glance, but once you look under the hood, it’s actually much more complex and premium than appearances would let on. During production, these hatchets are ground down to a fine edge. This makes them great for chopping as soon as they arrive at your door, but they’re also delicate enough to allow you to shave off pieces of wood to use for kindling pretty easily.
Without having to spend a ton of time chopping your wood down into minuscule chunks like you’re forced to when you’re working with worse hatchets that haven’t been refined before being sent to you. The black powder finish does more than just look cool. It’s also there to protect the steel your hatchet is made from. The 3cr13 stainless steel that this hatchet is made from is an excellent grade of material to make your hatchet from. It holds its shape well, the full-tang design is going to impart a lot of stability to it, and it holds a sharpened edge well because of how sturdy it is.
The power of this steel is on display most when using the oversized hammer end of the head of the hatchet. It’s dense and rigid, giving you even more versatility. This is the kind of hatchet you want on hand when you’re camping or backpacking. The sturdy material, the thoughtful design, and the solid fundamentals elevate this otherwise simple-seeming hatchet to a level much higher than hatchets that claim to stand on the same footing.
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This is the perfect composite hatchet. It’s just plain well-suited to use out in the field. The size and weight of it alone make it easy to pack away in your bags. The cover it comes with is minimal and makes it simple to slide onto the outside of your packs if you’d rather save space on the inside of your bags. The hatchet is light enough to make itself easily accessible wherever you want to make space for it on your person. You could strap it to your pants or jacket without feeling like it’s in the way at all.
This hatchet’s full of small design flourishes that make it the perfect tool for the job. The balance of the hatchet is situated at a point towards the top of your hatchet that multiplies the power of your swings, making it almost effortless to swing through your targets. The construction of the handle is subtle and ergonomic. The curves of the handle will keep your hands from slipping off the end, the texture of the material gives you a firm grip no matter what the weather is like, and the low-friction coating on the head of the hatchet is a godsend.
Not getting your hatchet jammed in your logs every single time you take a swing totally changes the lumber gathering experience. If you’re looking for a hatchet that’s perfectly suited to backpacking, this is the one you want. It’s light, it’s powerful, it’s full of little design tricks that make it more than the sum of its parts, and it’s a hatchet that’s going to last you a long time.
Bonus tip: The best hatchet in the world isn’t going to do you any good if you’re not going to use it well. This video tutorial will teach you all of the most essential hatchet use tricks.