Top 6 Best Hatchets for Backpacking

People who love backpacking are only able to carry a few items with them through their adventures. For that reason, those items must be carefully selected in consideration of their utility. Without a doubt, a hatchet is an incredibly useful tool for people who are serious about backpacking, particularly in forested areas.

large blue-head hatchet

This guide will focus on the best backpacking hatchets available for purchase. In order to do so, it will list and describe each product along with its characteristics, features, and advantages. Additionally, it will provide insight into the aspects you should take into account when choosing a tool of this kind.

The Best Backpacking Hatchet Brands to Consider

1. Gransfors Bruks Mini Belt Hatchet

a gransfors hatchet with a metal head

With a longstanding history of axe forging, Gransfors Bruks is a prime example of the incredible level of quality traditional Swedish craftsmanship has. Forged by hand, this is a resistant and durable tool that’s perfect for adverse conditions. Allowing more intense usage, it doesn’t use a metal wedge to attach the blade to the handle.

Because it entails incredibly precise incisions to be made, this is a true accomplishment of smithery. Despite its toughness, Gransfors Bruks’ Mini Belt Hatchet only weighs 11 ounces. While this tool is not the cheapest one in the market, its amazing quality more than justifies the price tag.

2. Helko Vario 2000 Backpacker Hatchet

small helko vario hatchet

While this one does not feature the best type of steel or the highest quality of smithery, its incredible portability gives it a spot on this list. The secret of that portability is in an innovative system that allows interchangeable heads.

This lets users use different heads for different tasks without carrying separate tools. At 18” of length, this medium-sized axe allows for a good swing without being inconvenient or uncomfortable to carry. Featuring a fiberglass polymer composite handle, this hatchet has a fantastic grip that makes it great for either splitting or cutting work.

3. SOG Tactical Tomahawk

someone's hand holding a sog hatchet

Although this hatchet may seem too small at first, it is actually impressively tough and capable. Featuring a design that is inspired on an actual tomahawk axe, this hatchet is truly ergonomic and fun to wield. Its sharp edge is extremely resistant, needing much less maintenance than that of other hatchets.

Tightly built, the Tactical Tomahawk can even be used as a throwing hatchet repeatedly without showing any signs of structural damage. Compact, light and practical, this hatchet makes it on this list despite its unconventional design.

4. Gerber 9-Inch Hatchet

a small gerber hatchet with a black handle

Native Americans used stone axes and hand axes that were made through a process known as flintknapping. Modern axes are essentially no different, but their materials and construction process has greatly evolved. Gerber’s 9-Inch Hatchet is made of a combination of PTFE coated steel blade and hollowed-out hard plastic.

This combination results in a stable and sturdy little hatchet that only weights 19 ounces. Even though it may not have all the leverage of a larger axe, this tool is fantastic for tasks such as hacking down firewood. Compact, light and durable, this hatchet is guaranteed to get the job done.

5. Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

a small gerber bear hatchet

Along with other types of axes, hatchets have been around since the year 6000 BC. However, they have continued to evolve throughout the years. This product is a good example of their evolution. Featuring a single-piece type of construction that dramatically improves functionality, this is a light but solid piece of smithery.

Its design is dynamic and ergonomic, allowing quick and precise strokes. Additionally, the Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet’s grip is tight and reliable, permitting a swift and intuitive handling. While it is compact, this hatchet’s low price makes it a valuable addition to any backpacking set.

6. Wetterlings Small Axe

long wetterlings hatchet

Another company with a rich history of axe craftsmanship, Wetterlings has been producing superior quality hatchets since the 19th century. Crafted through the same age-old process as all the other Wetterlings axes, this hatchet is a perfect example of the company’s expertise in smithery. Although it’s the smallest product of the entire line, it boasts a healthy weight that gives it surprising power.

Choosing the Right Backpacking Hatchet for You

There are hatchets of different types and models available for purchase, each of which was designed for a particular purpose. It’s important to choose an axe that fits the type of activity you want to do. The following guide will provide you with insight on the matter.

#1. Chopping

This excellent tool makes up in weight everything it lacks in size. Perfect for chopping small logs and branches, the two and three-quarters inch cutting edge of the Wetterlings Small Axe gets the job done swiftly and efficiently.

#2. Splitting

Despite its size, this powerful little item boasts incredible cutting power that is perfect for hacking down firewood. Without a doubt, the Gerber 9-Inch Hatchet is the best wood splitter out there.

#3. Carving

Its ingenious design makes this little hatchet amazingly versatile. Among the best of its unique capabilities is carving. This is because the SOG Tactical Tomahawk’s sharp blade allows for surprisingly precise incisions.

#4. Survival

Compact, balanced and versatile, the Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is, without a doubt, the best tool for survival backpacking. Its reduced weight and one-piece design make it a practical tool that’s perfect for extreme adventures.

Without a doubt, a hatchet is a must-have tool for backpackers everywhere. Not only is it helpful, but it can also actually save your life out there. For that reason, whatever model you choose should have enough power and sharpness to get the job done consistently and without falling apart.

At the same time, it must be lightweight and practical enough to be carried around, sometimes for miles at a time, without becoming a terrible burden. The key to a hatchet’s success lies in the balance between cutting power and practicality. If you know any other good hatchets for backpacking, let us know!

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Pamela M. Slocum