Gear Guy

What are the best new backcountry hatchets?

One of my favorite chores around the campsite is to chop wood for the fire. What’s the best tool for the job?

(Photo: Lizard via Shutterstock)

Backpackers looking for a portable and light woodcutter have two options: camping hatchets or camping axes. Try not to confuse the two. Axes are longer, have a straighter handle, and don’t generally have a flat side for hammering. But our new favorite tool, the camping axe from SOG, breaks the rules—its head is perfect for everything from pounding in tent stakes to chopping wood for the campfire. 

SOG Backcountry Axe
Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet Designed by Gerber
Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet
Fiskars X5 Hatchet

The Best New Backcountry Hatchets: SOG Backcountry Axe

The new SOG Backcountry Axe has a sturdy hand-forged head with a saw hidden in the glass-reinforced nylon handle. When using the saw, a hand-guard flips out automatically, helping you safely cut branches and brush. The sharp business end of the axe makes it easy to chop small trees and firewood. Best of all, it packs in a sheath and hangs from a belt clip, making it perfect for backpackers moving from campsite to campsite.

Length: 16 inches
Weight: 1.8 pounds

The Best New Backcountry Hatchets: Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet Designed by Gerber


The rubberized handle and finger notches make the Survival Hatchet easy to grip in cold or wet conditions. The compact size is good for strapping the sheath to the outside of your pack, and the head has a 3.5-inch blade and a striking surface for campsite chores.

Length: 9.5 inches
Weight: 1.3 pounds

The Best New Backcountry Hatchets: Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet


All you have to know is that a Swede hand forged this hatchet just as Gransfors smiths have done since 1902. Given its 13.5-inch length, this tool seems to fit into the “axe” category, not the “hatchet” one, but who are we to quibble.

Length: 13.5
Weight: 1.0 pound

The Best New Backcountry Hatchets: Fiskars X5 Hatchet


We like the Finnish-made X5 implement because of its affordable price and high quality. The design makes cutting branches and spitting sticks for the night’s kindling easy. The blade’s teflon-coating reduces friction, its geometry speaks to the wood grain well, and its balance is a joy to swing.

Length: 8.0 inches
: .9 pounds

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Lead Photo: Lizard via Shutterstock
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