You my friend are one of the hardened adventurers and grizzliest of woods-people, that's why you're looking for a backpacking hatchet.
And if you're ever stranded in the wild and needing to to build shelters, chop firewood, or in need of a makeshift hammer then it's a great choice.
The problem is, not every hatchet will do. They’re notoriously heavy and large tools.
You’ll need to be able to lug them around the world with you, and being that they’re a dangerous item, they should be kept inside your bag and out of view as you travel.
So which hatchet to choose from?
Below is my findings on what is the best backpacking hatchet money can buy...
The Best Backpacking Hatchets Buyer’s Guide
If nothing on our rugged list chopped its way into your heart, here are some things you should consider as you broaden your search for the perfect hatchet for backpacking.
These are all things we ourselves thought about when choosing hatchets for our list.
Hatchets come with a range of price tags.
It’s best to set yourself a budget so you can cut to the quick and find the right one for you.
I personally like this option but you may think the price is too high if it won't be something you use regularly.
The most important aspect of a hatchet in this case is its portability.
You need to be able to lug it around with you through forests, over mountains, across rivers, and more importantly, through populated areas.
Backpacking isn’t just about the wilderness. Yes, it’s a constant state of leaving, but that just means it’s also a constant state of arriving.
You need to be presentable in public, and a wild-looking, travel-weary individual carrying a hatchet is not going to be accepted by the townsfolk.
Your hatchet needs to be stowed away securely and comfortably.
Backpacking is all about traveling light, but your bag is probably already pretty stuffed.
Unless you want to sacrifice some other equipment or clothing, you’re going to have to find an incredibly compact hatchet.
Of course, the smaller you go, the less useful it’s going to be out in the wild.
We recommend looking for something between 6 and 16 inches in length. Any larger and you might have to try and source a separate carry case.
This particular hatchet is 9 inches so fits right in the middle.
The next factor to consider is weight. It’s no good having a nice sized hatchet if you feel like you’re dragging around Thor’s hammer.
You need to try and find a balance between durability, and portability. We recommend never choosing something over 2 pounds.
We know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but add anything heavier than that to the rest of your belongings and you’re in for a spine splitting experience.
The #1 pick within this post is just 1.5 pounds total weight, which is ideal.
Most hatchets will come with their own custom-fitted sheath, but they tend to vary in quality, so it might be worth putting some money aside for an upgrade.
A strong handle couldn’t be more important when it comes to hatchets.
They have to withstand all the force that passes through the head and stifle it so you don’t feel it running through your hand and wrist.
Companies are stuck with heavy steel for their hatchet heads, so they’re always experimenting with different handle materials to bring down the overall weight without losing too much durability.
Due to this, you’re likely to run into all kinds of different materials when shopping for your backpacking hatchet.
Whatever it is, it should be durable and shock absorbent. Strong woods are great as long as they’ve been treated with something like linseed oil.
Different kinds of rubber are great shock absorbers. You may even run into some strange composite metals.
As long as you check up on the qualities of the material, you’ll know if it’s a quality component.
This combo of Swedish steel and American wood is the perfect mix.
Traditional style hatchets tend not to have special grips, which gives them a really nice classic aesthetic, but out in the wild, a little bit of extra grip will make it highly functional in bad weather.
The last thing you want to happen in a storm is a rain-slick handle slipping from your grasp on a backswing and flying off the side of a mountain, or even worse, injuring a friend.
Most hatchet heads will be made from steel, which is great, but not all steel is equal in strength.
Make sure you find out exactly what kind of steel has been used. High carbon and stainless steels are perfect.
The top pick in the post uses Swedish steel, see it for yourself here.
How the blade is fitted to the handle is everything when it comes to hatchets.
These two parts are useless when separated.
If the head runs all the way through the handle and out the other side, it’s going to be far more durable than if it only travels partway into the handle.
A curved blade will be better for lateral strikes and felling trees.
A straighter edge will suit vertical swings and chopping logs. This isn’t too important, as both will do both, so to speak.
A bearded hatchet will have a gap between the handle and the lower portion of the blade.
This allows you to grasp the hatchet high up for precision work. The gap in the steel also keeps weight to a minimum.
The larger your edge is, the larger the logs you’re going to be able to split.
This is essential to any kind of Hatchet.
You need something that’s weighted to give each swing optimal force. This means the head should account for well over half the total weight.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between an axe and a hatchet?
It’s mostly a size difference.
Axes are designed to be used with two hands on larger logs. Hatchets are supposed to be single-handed devices.
See the best hatchet on our list here.
How do you sharpen a hatchet in the wild?
You can use a stone with any kind of lubricant.
Oil is perfect but water will suffice. Soak the stone then run the blade away from you at a roughly 10 to 15 degree angle around 10 times a side.
There you have it you wandering wolves, five of the best hatchets for backpacking. Each of these products has something really special about them.
Any one of them would make a great tool to accompany you in the great outdoors.
I hope you've been able to choose the best backpacking hatchet for your needs now.