Hatchet vs axe for bushcraft

Hatchet vs axe for bushcraft


As a beginner in bushcraft, your biggest dilemma would be – a hatchet, or an axe?

Majority of the users struggle to answer this, but before proceeding to the axe vs hatchet comparison, let’s define bushcraft.

What is bushcraft?

It is a set of skills required for surviving in nature and using its available resources. Combine your experience and knowledge for the flora and fauna, with several tools and you will make your living in the wild easier and more efficient.

Bushcraft tools

While learning the skills, you will notice that every one of them requires having a tool. So, what are bushcraft tools?

Knife, machete, and axe/hatchet.

Axe vs hatchet

Which one is the best and what should I buy?

The best thing you can do is to buy all of them. But the real question is – should you go for an axe or a hatchet?

First, let’s define these tools.


Axe is a tool that should be used with two hands, for a maximum power. They are great for felling trees and splitting firewood. However, more power means more weight.


The easiest definition of a hatchet is a smaller axe. It is a one-handed tool, designed for tasks like chopping small branches and splitting firewood.

It isn’t easy to choose, however, I would go for the Fiskars model. What do you prefer? Feel free to post your favorites in comments.

So, what to choose?

There isn’t one answer, as this depends on the tasks you are willing to do, your kit, location, and weather conditions. When it is down to tools, size definitively matters.

I prefer a hatchet for bushcraft. I hatchet may not be able to do the heavy chopping and splitting work as efficiently as an axe but a hatchet is generally lighter than an axe, great if you need to carry it in your pack, and is great for finner work like whittling things from wood and other more delicate tasks.

Check the models that you may find useful for bushcraft.

CRKT Kangee T-Hawk

CRKT Kangee T-Hawk

The CRKT Kangee T-Hawk

Once you take this model in your hands, the only thing that stands in your way… just kidding, nothing can stand on your way with the CRKT Kangee T-Hawk.

It is made of carbon steel, but still fits perfectly in your hand – it combines comfort and power and it can handle a variety of tasks.

Lightweight model, easy to handle and great for bushcraft. Its only negative point is its price – you will have to pay about $100+ for it.

lightweight expensive
a powerful strike
comfortable handle
easy to attach to your gear


Cold Steel Trail Hawk

Cold Steel Trail Hawk

The Cold Steel Trail Hawk

This durable and steel drop forged model is the perfect pick if you need a bigger axe for your tasks.

Want to go hiking and you need a tool that can chop branches without problems? This is what you need.

Plus, bushcrafting isn’t the only thing you can use this for. Check how you can use this model as a throwing axe.

It is relatively a cheap model, as you can find it for $30. Great tool that deserves a special place in your garage.

cheap difficult to pack
steel drop forged


WatchFire Hatchet

WatchFire Hatchet

The WatchFire Hatchet

Looking for a small hatchet, designed for hiking? Say no more.

This lightweight and compact model has everything you need. Its blade is made of stainless steel, and it has a skid proof handle.

Plus, you get it with a nice sheath.

The best part? It has a very good price, as you can get it for ~$20, which is another reason to consider this hatchet.

lightweight can’t be used as a hammer
great for chopping and kindling
very good for carrying


Gerber Gator Combo Axe II

Gerber Gator Combo Axe II

The Gerber Gator Combo Axe II

Looking for an unstoppable axe, designed for tough tasks in bad weather conditions? Consider this one.

This Gerber Gator axe has a forged steel head with great striking force. It has a nylon handle and thanks to the Gator grip you will be able to handle this axe in toughest conditions.

If you are in need of a tool for outdoor activities, this one is the perfect pick.

However, quality models aren’t cheap, and you will have to spend around $50 for this one. Don’t hesitate much, as it would be worth every cent of its price.

lightweight expensive price
ideal for tough tasks in different weather conditions
great striking power

Wetterlings Saw 118 Outdoor Axe

Wetterlings Saw 118 Outdoor Axe

The Wetterlings Saw 118 Outdoor Axe

If you are looking for a quality axe with finest details, this is just for you.

As a camper, you will fell in love with this axe immediately. It has a head made of high carbon steel and the wooden handle will offer you much comfort.

However, not everything is good about this model. It offers good value, but for an expensive price. If you can spend about $120, you will enjoy the benefits of this great tool.

high carbon steel head expensive price
great camping model


Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe

Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe

The Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe

Could you imagine what would be like to have a hatchet that could be used as a knife as well? This way you will have to carry less and will save some money as well.

Well, you don’t have to imagine, as this model is just what you need. This small, lightweight model is here to help you with a variety of tasks.

Limbing, or chopping branches for the fire, this model is a great choice for every camper.

But, if you want to get this model you will have to pay couple of hundred dollars, which isn’t cheap. Your money, your decisions, so the choice is up to you.


great model for hunting and camping too expensive
small, one-handed axe
very powerful strike


Fiskars X7 Hatchet

Fiskars X7 Hatchet

The Fiskars X7 Hatchet

If you still didn’t make your pick, consider this one.

Fiskars constantly provides great quality models, and this one is not an exception.

It is an unbreakable hatchet, with the traditional orange handle and a molded head. The blade is extra sharp and it has way better design than any other hatchet.

It is a one-handed hatchet that provides quick swings and deep cuts. It is best for chopping small to medium-sized trees, but you can use it for a huge range of activities.

As a camper, you need to consider this one as well. If you need more info about this model, check my article about the different kinds of fiskars axe, with reviews and comparisons.

You can get this one for a price ~$40, which is reasonable for what you get.

ideal for chopping small to medium-sized logs you may have to sharpen it
great power-to-weight ratio
small, one-handed axe
very powerful strike


What skills are required?

Well, humans have a strong connection with nature. People of all ages are capable of developing skills in order to survive in nature.

So, the skills include lighting up a fire with sparks, cooking on fire, building a shelter, using different plants and finding water. Yes, this is almost equal to the survival movies you watch on TV.

But, we live in the 21st century. Nobody wants to live like a caveman. Can’t you just stay at home and live in a civilization like most of the people?

Of course, you can, but take a look at what you get from bushcraft.

Bushcraft benefits

  • Adaptation ability
  • Boosting confidence
  • Getting survival skills
  • Preparation for facing new problems

Bushcraft will force you to go beyond your expectations and possibilities, and achieve things that you didn’t think were possible.

This isn’t one skill, but a range of skills, a completely changed mindset that will give you a different point of view of the world.

What you will learn from bushcraft, you can apply to many aspects of the modern living. Bushcraft will make you a better person, as it develops great habits and teaches discipline.

Long-term learning

People often ask about the duration of the training required to develop all the skills. Well, there are many things to learn, and even after years of doing this you just can’t say that you are capable of everything.

Little by little, you will get better and better and you will be able to track the progress easily.

However, as a newbie, don’t let this disappoint you. The worst thing you can do is to stop reading.  Every beginning is tough, but the results are worth it.

How to start?

Start with learning smaller things. What can be considered as small?

Be realistic, and set goals that you can achieve. Cutting branches, making a cordage, tying a knot, these small steps mean a lot to you.

This may be annoying at first, but you need to learn these skills so you could gradually move to something bigger.

It is unrealistic to try to build a shelter if you don’t know basic things. Once you acquire some skills, you will proceed to activities like that.

Who can teach me?

A group of your friends often go hiking? Ask if you can join them.

Check the advertisements regularly – hiking is very popular, so you can find beginner courses near your area.

You don’t want to be alone in the process of learning, people who have been doing this for a while will be pleased to help you learn new skills.

None of your friends prefer hiking and you can’t find a course like that? No problem.

If these options don’t work for you, there are other alternatives as well.

I mentioned shelter building above – here is one great book that could teach you how to build one, and even more than that.

Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters

Book: Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters

It is an easy to read, step by step guide, with practical instructions and advice.

The book: Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters is available on Amazon, check the price here.

Plus, there are lots of videos online and once you get a visual, it is easier to do the task.

Summing up

I prefer a hatchet for bushcraft but if you will do a lot of heavy chopping and splitting and don’t mind the extra weight or a longer handle then an axe may be a better option for you.

Best Axes and Hatchets for the Wilderness

If you are looking for more axe & hatchet options for bushcraft and the like, check out my review of axes and hatches for these outdoor activities here:

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