Best Camping Axes
These days, camping can be a fantastic way to relax and get away from distraction. Reconnecting with nature by staying out in the woods is beneficial in a lot of ways, most notably in reducing stress.
However, if you want to go camping properly, you will need the right equipment. Most people think of tents and sleeping bags, but what about a camping ax? If you plan on building a fire or cutting any wood at all, a camping ax is a huge necessity.
Depending on the area in which you’ll be camping, an ax can mean the difference between staying warm at night or experiencing the biting cold. Today I’ll be looking at the best camping axes, and provide you with tips on how to choose the right one for your next camping trip.
How to Choose the Best Camping Axes
Will you be cutting down trees or splitting pre-cut logs? Will you need to cut other materials, such as rope or an animal carcass? Before choosing the best camping ax, you need to determine what exactly the ax will be used for, and then consider these options when making your purchase.
Splitting vs. Cutting
When it comes to axes in general, there are two basic types of blade. A thinner blade is used for cutting wood while a wider blade is used for splitting. When holding an ax, it is very easy to tell the difference, as one blade is much thicker than the other.
If you want a more versatile camping ax, choosing a thinner blade is best, since you can use it for a broad range of situations. However, if you plan on doing a lot of log splitting for firewood, it may be ideal to get a splitting ax instead, or in addition to a cutting ax.
Another main distinction of a camping ax is the shape of the bit (the blade). Most camping axes have a blade on one side. However, some models have a two-blade bit. The two-blade model is usually used for felling trees and splitting wood while a single blade has a bit more range to its uses.
In addition to a single or double bladed ax, there is a difference between the shape of the blade itself. Smaller, more versatile axes have a curved blade, which makes the ax ideal for cutting, shaping, and sometimes splitting.
Conversely, a flat blade is another option, which will give you a much more uniform cut. If you are using an ax to shape wood for any reason, you may want a flat blade for nice, smooth lines.
When it comes to camping axes, there is a lot of variety in the length of the haft. How long your camping ax should be will depend on for what it will be used. If you are using the ax for hunting purposes, you will want a smaller, lighter model that can be utilized for removing animal hide and chopping up bones.
If, however, you are planning on cutting mostly firewood, then you will need an ax with a nice, long haft to make the chopping process easier on your back. When looking at camping axes, measure the length and see how it feels when you hold it out in front of you.
Too short, and you’ll be stooping a lot. Too long, and it can become unwieldy when using it. Ideally, a proper wood cutting ax will be the length of your arm.
Back in the old days, axes were made of two materials: metal for the blade and wood for the haft. These days, however, the haft can also be made of a variety of materials, from metal to glass reinforced plastic (GRP) to composite materials.
Smaller axes are usually made of either metal or some kind of composite since it is much lighter and much more durable than wood. GRP hafts are commonly used in industrial practices, as that material can withstand a lot more abuse than traditional wood.
Metal is rarely used for a full-sized ax as it would make the ax too heavy. For camping, most small axes should either be made of composite or wood, but both materials work just fine.
Recommended Camping Axes
Below I’ve compiled a list of some of the best camping axes available on the market today. Each ax is suited for different uses, so make sure that when choosing the right ax, you first determine what you need it to do. All of these axes are top rated and come highly recommended.
1. SOG Specialty Knives & Tools F09N-CP Hand Axe
First on our list is the SOG Specialty F09N-CP Hand Axe. This model is very small and compact, making it ideal for wood cutting or animal carving in some situations.
The entire unit is one solid metal piece, making it very durable and long-lasting.
The handle comes with a plastic molded grip that conforms to your fingers for better handling. The blade is made of 420 steel and measures 2.4 inches lengthwise. What I also love about this ax is the fact that SOG has provided a limited lifetime warranty, so you know that it is high-quality material.
The most important thing to know about this ax, however, is that its compact size makes it ideal as either a backup ax or for someone who goes backpacking and can’t bring a full-size ax.
- Lightweight and compact design
- Perfect for cutting or shaping wood
- Plastic molded grip conforms to your fingers
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Made of heavy-duty 420 stainless steel which is super durable
- Comes with a thick sheath for added safety
- Not large enough for splitting wood or making firewood
- Size can make it a bit awkward for large individuals
- Handle is a tad thinner than the metal frame, so it can feel awkward when working
2. Kershaw Camp Ax
Next on our list, we come to the Kershaw Camp Ax. This model is bigger than the SOG, but it is still quite compact and lightweight as far as axes go.
The piece is made of forged high-carbon steel which is used for both the blade and the handle, so the ax is one piece, making it much more durable. The haft is covered in a Krayton non-slip grip for comfort and handling.
The size of this ax makes it ideal for cutting and shaping wood, but not necessarily splitting it. If you are trying to break apart a small to medium size branch or log, this ax can do the job, but it’s better for cutting wood than splitting.
- Forged high-carbon steel construction will last for years
- Ax is one metal piece, making it very sturdy
- Haft is made of Krayton non-slip material for extra comfort
- Perfect size for cutting and shaping wood
- Lightweight design
- Sheath is made of plastic and doesn’t seem very durable for long term use
- Ax must be sharpened before using it; the unit comes dull
- Size can be a bit awkward for some users since it’s a little too heavy for backpacking but not quite thick enough for splitting logs
3. Gerber Gator Axe II Saw Combo
When it comes to camping materials, Gerber is one of the better-known brands out there.
The Gator Axe II Saw Combo is an interesting item since it has multiple uses. The ax itself is made of a fiberglass filled nylon haft with a forged steel head at the top.
The nylon material makes this ax very lightweight, but extremely durable. Inside the haft is a cutting saw, which can be used to cut off small branches and shrubs. At first glance I thought the saw could be used for hunting purposes, but according to Gerber, it is only rated for wood cutting.
- Strong yet lightweight design
- Forged steel blade will retain sharpness and last for years
- Comes with a ten inch saw in the haft for added versatility
- Length is perfect for chopping small logs and cutting wood
- Comes with rugged nylon sheath for protection and safety
- The saw attaches into the haft, but it can still shake loose when cutting, posing a safety hazard. You should ideally remove the saw before chopping or cutting
- The blade is centered inside of the handle, instead of the handle being centered inside the blade. This design can lead to issues down the road, such as debris getting caught in the space between blade and haft
- In some cases, the holder for the blade can crack, posing a safety hazard when chopping
4. Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe, 17-Inch
As the name would suggest, the Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe is perfect for splitting wood. It has a long, super durable handle and a nice heavy blade for breaking small and medium sized logs.
While it may not be able to handle large pieces of wood, you can still split big logs into smaller chunks with this ax, making it very versatile.
The haft is made of a fiberglass composite material that makes this model lighter than other similar axes. The head is centered into the haft, but Fiskars has designed it in such a way that the head will not separate, even after heavy use.
One thing I also like about this ax is the sheath. Fiskars provides you with a plastic sheath that covers the blade, but also provides a handle for easy carrying. Finally, the balance ratio of the ax is such that it provides extra momentum when you swing, so you don’t have to work quite as hard when splitting logs.
- Durable, heavyweight blade made of forged steel
- Haft is made of a fiberglass composite material that is lightweight yet super durable
- Fiskars PermaHead design ensures that the blade stays in place and will not pop out of the handle
- Sheath doubles as a grip handle for easier carrying
- Balance ratio is intended to provide extra momentum while swinging, making it easier to use than other models
- Ideal for splitting medium logs, although you can still break apart large pieces with some extra effort
- In some cases, the handle may feel slick to some users, requiring the addition of tape or some other covering to make it more stable
- On very rare occasions, head may break off under extreme stress
5. Estwing Mfg E24A Sportsman's Axe
Finally, we come to the Estwing E24A Sportsman's Axe. As far as camping axes go, this unit probably looks the part more so than the other models on this list. It is over a foot long, with a forged steel frame that is all one piece for extra durability.
The haft is made of polished leather for added comfort. What I like about this ax is that it is perfect for cutting and shaping, but the head also has a wide, flat back section for hammering.
If you need to drive a tent stake or hammer in a nail, the ax can do all of that in a pinch. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using the ax in place of a hammer all the time, but the blade is designed for that purpose, so it makes the Estwing a bit more versatile than other models on this list.
- Forged steel construction for added durability
- Unit is one piece of metal, making it much more sturdy
- Haft is made of polished leather for added comfort
- Perfect for cutting and shaping wood
- Blade comes with a flat back end for hammering
- Can be used on wood or animal carcasses, although wood is its primary function
- Not ideal for splitting wood
- Size can be a bit awkward for large users
- In rare cases, blade may crack or bend under extreme stress
When looking at camping axes, the most important issue should be safety. Since you are dealing with a potentially dangerous tool, you want a piece that is as safe as it is powerful. That being said, I alway prefer an ax that is one solid piece of metal or has the handle inserted into the blade, rather than the other way around.
That being said, I would highly recommend the Estwing or the Kershaw camp ax for their durability and versatility. However, if you are looking to split wood, the Fiskars splitting ax would be a better choice.