If we haven’t said this enough, we’ll say it one more time; having the right splitting axe for the job makes a world of difference. With the right axe, splitting becomes less a matter of brute force and more a matter of good technique, making it that much easier for anybody in general and less muscular individuals in particular to split logs down into usable firewood.
Naturally, like any tool you want to get the most possible use from, it’s a safe bet to buy from time-tested big names in the outdoor tools industry, and the Estwing axe has definitely earned its place here. With a huge line of solidly built hand tools ranging from ice axes to masonry hammers and yes, also splitting axes, and almost a century of American-made craftsmanship, Estwing has already proven that it knows how to make tools that are as tough as the jobs you need them to do.
Of course, even among good tools, having the right one for the right situation can make a world of difference. Depending on your needs for a splitting axe, Estwing offers two great products designed for splitting wood as efficiently as possible within two different niches.
#1 – Estwing E45A Camper’s Axe
Made with campers in mind, the Estwing E45A combines a slim profile with a solid degree of versatility. At just 26 inches, or just over two feet in length, this axe blurs the line between the hatchet and the full-size chopping axe, giving you noticeably more leverage than the former and a much smaller package than the latter. Of course, just because this axe was designed to be carried doesn’t mean it skimps on a solid axe head; you’re still getting a 4 inch cutting edge, ground with a convex bevel, on a forged steel head and a solid steel body.
In addition, you’re also getting Estwing’s patented Shock Reduction Grip, designed to (surprisingly enough) reduce the shock from your strikes by as much as 70 percent, making it much less tiring to use even without gloves. It’s a no-nonsense Estwing camping axe that’s been cut down enough to carry on your belt or backpack, but not so cut down that you lose your mechanical advantage.
Old-school woodsmen, hunters, and rough-country backpackers swear by a good axe and knife, and for good reason; with that combination of tools, you’ll find that you’ve got a lot of options on the trail. Besides chopping wood, you’re also getting the ability to do the entire bushcraft catalog, from making snares and skinning game to building shelter and simple tools to make more elaborate structures, just like our pioneer forefathers.
Even if you’re not a pioneer camper, the back end of the E45A can be used to tap in tent stakes, use the blade for a fire-starter, or simply to fell some small trees for a fire. What this axe is not, however, is a splitting maul, so you’re going to have a bit more trouble splitting larger pieces of wood down for fires and the like; however, the sheer versatility of the Estwing E45A makes it worthwhile to even the casual camper.
#2 – Estwing E3-FF4 Splitting Axe
Just one look at the E3-FF4, or “Fireside Friend” Estwing splitting axe, and you can tell that this axe was designed to fill a completely separate set of criteria than the E45A. What you’re getting on this Estwing camp axe is, in contrast to the chopping head of the E45A, a miniature splitter/maul that is designed to split fallen logs into burnable firewood.
At 14 inches with a four pound head and a hammer back, the FF4 excels in a way that your regular camp axe or hatchet cannot; the extra weight and force inside the axe head to work like a true splitter, yet designed to be portable enough to strap onto your backpack or belt without adding too much unnecessary weight.
What this splitter does have in common with the E45A is the construction; like its chopping cousin, the FF4 is made of forged steel and comes with a Shock Reduction Grip, so even heavy strikes don’t cause extra strain on your arms either. Even though it’s all metal, the design of this tiny splitter makes sure all the force gets concentrated where it’s needed most, making this a true fireside friend.
While this axe serves a very different purpose than a chopping axe, it’s still a worthwhile tool for both bushcraft and as a general purpose tool. The convex blade may seem a little duller than on the chopping axe, but the smaller size and maul back on the FF4 don’t take away your ability to shape wood for bushcraft, while they also make driving stakes or splitting heavier logs much easier than similar sized chopping axes. However, the FF4 is a fairly substandard chopping axe; the combination of a small lever in your body and a blunter blade means that felling small trees is going to be considerably more effort with this tool than with the E45A.
While the debate over which is better all around will rage on forever, the best for your purposes really depends on what exactly your purposes are. For shorter hikes and camping trips where moving around is going to be less of an issue, the FF4 really shines as a good splitting axe to keep a roaring fire going as long as the wood holds out. However, if you plan on going backpacking or hiking longer distances, you’ll find the E45A to be much more to your liking; because your fires are going to be much smaller and more temporary, you’ll find you don’t need to split large logs as much as you need to chop down medium sized branches.
If you’re still not sure, then take both, dividing them out between other members of your hiking group to get the best of both worlds.Whatever you choice, however, you can rest assured that you’re getting a set of the best Estwing splitting axes possible, designed to be just as tough as the whole outdoors put together.
Also check out the Estwing wedge to give yourself some additional support.