If you’ve ever looked into buying a knife, you’ve heard of Cold Steel, a company that has, since the 1980‘s, produced high quality edged pieces of every variety. Besides their knives, Cold Steel has made fully functional swords, spears, daggers, machetes, and axes, all designed to work in the real world. What we really care about here, however, is the Trail Boss, a hatchet designed and tested over a month long Australian hunting trip by the company’s founder and president, Lynn C. Thompson. With this kind of testing behind it, you can be sure that you’ll be ready on your next hike or backpacking trip with a Trail Boss strapped to your pack.
The Cold Steel Splitting Axe
A quick look at this axe will tell you exactly what its purpose is. At 26 inches, or just over two feet, with a four inch head and a 4.5 inch cutting surface, this camp axe is really designed to take on heavy chores on the trail, with the right combination of leverage and cutting surface. To back all that power up, the head is made of drop-forged 1055 carbon steel and the handle is a solid American Hickory, making sure that no matter how much power you put into your swing, your axe will hold up.
However, just having the right pieces and craftsmanship in place isn’t enough; for Cold Steel, they have to prove the strength of their tools in slightly unorthodox ways. Just watching their videos, you can see that the Trail Boss is tough enough to cut deep into a horse skull (one of the toughest parts on its body), is sharp enough to cut cleanly through a cardboard tube, and makes short work of even pressure treated lumber. While the tests may seem unorthodox, they do prove quite a lot about the strength of this axe; it’s tough enough for regular jobs, odd jobs, and everything in between, both on and off the trail.
Cold Steel Axe Review: Trail Boss
Who Can Use This?
Due to its size and its cutting head, this splitting axe fits right between a stay-at-home splitting axe and a camp tool, making it a real god-send for bushcrafters or backpackers in serious wooded areas. Unlike a camp axe, this splitter really has a heft to it; a nice long solid shaft gives you leverage, while the big cutting edge makes sure you can really use the extra power for felling medium sized trees and splitting larger logs. That doesn’t mean it’s as unwieldy on your pack or belt as a regular axe, though; at almost a foot shorter, this axe may feel awkward on your belt, but strapped to your pack, it will fit just fine.
For bushcrafters, the Trail Boss is a great companion to a medium sized fixed blade knife, giving you pretty much all the tools you’d need to get started with primitive camping. By using the knife for precision and the axe for power, you really can make anything you need out of wood, giving you all the edge you need.
Conclusion? Great For Serious Campers
The Trail Boss has a lot of advantages going for it; it’s bigger, stronger, and better than most camp axes and hatchets. Definitely designed for serious work, the Trail Boss certainly delivers, due in large parts to its quality materials and rigorous testing. However, this splitting axe is a bit larger than your typical hatchet, so weight and carrying can quickly become a concern. If you have a good knowledge of bushcraft and want to make things on the trail rather than pack them in, you’ll find that the Trail Boss gives you the freedom to do just that, plus the power to make longer-term shelters.
For the type of person who just needs to cut branches or small trees for firewood, the Trail Boss might be more axe than they need; if you’re the kind of camper who wants to sleep in a lean-to, build a roaring fire, and make all your own cooking equipment, then the Trail Boss definitely has got you covered.