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Updated March 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best camping axes

One of the best things about camping is sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows and swapping stories. But if you’ve ever tried to keep a fire burning at your campsite, you know how important it is to have fresh wood to feed it. That’s why you need a high-quality camping axe for all of your outdoor adventures.

With a camping axe, you can make quick work of fallen tree limbs so you have plenty of kindling. If you plan to cook over an open fire or use your campfire for warmth, a camping axe is a must-have. These sharp tools come in handy for other tasks as well, such as cutting rope and trimming branches on your hiking path. Some axes even have a handle that doubles as a hammer or mallet, which is helpful when setting up a tent.

Want a durable, versatile axe for your next camping trip? Start by deciding which type of axe best suits your needs. Then, figure out the size and weight that’s most convenient. You’ll also want to pay attention to critical features, such as the quality of the head and axe handle.

camping axe
An axe is a good addition to an emergency shelter, as it could come in handy for chopping and splitting wood.

Is a camping axe necessary?

If you plan to start a fire at any point during your camping trip, an axe is an extremely handy tool. With it, you can easily chop wood and gather kindling for your fire.

Even if you don’t plan on starting a fire during your camping trip, you may want to have an axe with you. Although some campgrounds are well-maintained with plenty of amenities, primitive and backcountry camping is different. An axe, in these scenarios, is a crucial piece of gear. You can use it to help clear your path as you hike to your campsite as well as other camping tasks.

Types of camping axes

Hatchets

Hatchets usually have a thick, sturdy handle with a weighted head and flared blade. A hatchet is the most common type of camping axe. This multi-purpose tool comes in handy for tasks such as splitting logs and cutting fallen limbs and vines.

Tactical axes

Another multi-purpose option, a tactical axe can be used for cutting and chopping. It also functions as a hammer and shovel. Most tactical axes feature high-grade steel and technical materials that keep them lightweight and durable.

Carpenter’s axes

These axes are designed for woodworking, but they can be used to chop or fell wood. They often have a groove in the head to remove nails, too.

Grub axes

A grub axe is designed primarily for gardening but can also be effective while camping.

Hunter’s axes

These axes aren’t as common as other types used for camping. However, they can be used for both butchering meat and chopping wood.

camping axe
DID YOU KNOW?
You can sharpen some axes at home with a file and whetstone. If you prefer, however, you could also have your axe professionally sharpened at a hardware store.
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Size and weight considerations

Before you go camping, think about the size and weight of your camping gear. Bonus points go to gear that’s easy to pack and carry. Camping axes come in multiple sizes, so it’s pretty easy to find a suitable option whether you intend to drive or hike to your campsite.

An axe that’s too large may be too difficult to carry. On the other hand, an axe that’s too small may be unsuitable for certain tasks. Hatchets are typically the most compact type of axe, suitable for hikers and backpackers.

The weight of an axe doesn’t just affect how easy it is to carry. A heavy axe can be challenging to swing safely and accurately. If you choose an axe that’s too heavy, you’re more likely to suffer an injury. For the best results, most campers should choose an axe between 2 and 5 pounds.

What features should camping axes have?

Head

An axe head is a critical component because it does the bulk of the work. Most axe heads are made of carbon steel, a highly durable and fairly affordable material.

You can also find axes with a 420 stainless steel head that resists corrosion. Stainless steel heads don’t maintain their edge as well as carbon steel, though.

Pay attention to the shape of an axe head, keeping in mind that a narrow head works well for cutting and chopping, whereas a wide axe head is preferable for splitting wood.

Handle

Wood: Some axes sport a traditional wooden handle. Wood has long been used for axe and hatchet handles because of the natural shock absorption it provides. However, wooden handles are more vulnerable to moisture and pest damage and require more maintenance.

Composite: Many modern camping axes feature composite handles. They’re more durable than wood and feel lighter in the hand. Some composite handles aren’t as comfortable to grip, so you may want to choose an axe with a rubberized grip on the handle.

Shock absorption

The material of an axe’s handle affects how effectively it absorbs shock when striking items. However, some axes also feature specialized grips to improve shock absorption. The grip reduces the amount of vibration upon impact, shielding the hand from discomfort.

Keep in mind that thinner axe handles usually offer better shock absorption. Why? A thinner handle is more able to flex to absorb shock upon impact.

Sheath

When packing your axe for a camping trip, it’s important to protect the head from damage. It’s even more important to protect yourself (and others) from the sharp edge. Some axes come with a sheath or mask for these purposes.

Camping axe sheaths are usually made of rubber. Many of the best axe sheaths are easy to put on and take off.

Color

The color of an axe does not affect its performance, but people often prefer to have gear in colors they like. Most axes feature silver or black heads. Handle color varies somewhat, from basic black to accent colors like red, orange, green, and blue.

To prevent the wood from drying out, wooden axe handles must be oiled. Boiled linseed oil works well for oiling most types of wood.

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How much do camping axes cost?

Inexpensive

For $15 to $25, you can find low-cost camping axes. Many of these have a carbon steel head and a composite handle. They’re lightweight and easy to pack, but they usually don’t offer many high-end features.

Mid-range

For $25 to $50, you can find mid-range camping axes made of carbon steel and stainless steel. Most have composite handles, but some have wooden handles. Included with some of these axes is a multitool or another high-end extra.

Expensive

For $50 to $100, you will find the priciest camping axes. These usually have heads made of 420 stainless steel. The handle may be wooden or a high-tech composite material. For the money, expect a highly durable camping axe that will last for years.

camping axe
CAUTION
Don’t leave your axe unattended. Even if you know exactly where you left it, other people may not. They could inadvertently stand on it, kick it, or otherwise hurt themselves.
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Tips

  • Store your axe in a secure, dry location. Moisture can damage the head and handle, thereby shortening the lifespan of the tool. Even more important: keep your axe out of reach of children.
  • Don’t swing your axe as hard as possible when chopping. Speed and accuracy matter more. To generate the greatest amount of power, think about these two things.
  • Make sure your axe is sharp. You’ll have to swing harder to chop and cut if its blade is dull.
  • Pack your axe in its sheath or mask. This helps prevent injury to you and anyone you’re camping with. It also protects the blade itself and other items you might store in your backpack or bag.
camping axe
Because they’re smaller, camping hatchets can be swung with a single hand rather than the two usually required by a traditional axe.

FAQ

Q. What can I use a camping axe for?

A. Most people bring an axe with them to chop and split firewood. You can also use an axe to cut fallen limbs or vines that might impede your hiking path.

The end of the handle can serve as a hammer, which may come in handy when setting up a tent. It can also be used to clean fish and game, break ice, and start a fire (by striking it against rocks to generate a spark).

Q. What maintenance does a camping axe head require?

A. Your axe head needs to be sharpened to maintain its edge. Consider having it stone sharpened at a hardware store to make sure it’s always sharp. Oil your axe head to prevent rust. If rust develops anyway, use oil and wire wool to buff it away.

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