Best Bushcraft Axes in 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated on October 16, 2020

No adventurer can resist the call of the wild. Every veteran survivalist understands (beginners should know) the significance of a bushcraft axe. For tasks wide and varied, ranging from chopping, felling, and carving a tree, this is the go-to equipment. Well, making an informed decision is not easy.

All axes feature a niche design suitable to serve a specific purpose. Knowing why you’ll need it, and the compatibility between the axe’s length and your physical strength is vital to purchase the best bushcraft axe out there. For instance, an axe with a straight cutting edge is appropriate for precise cuts.

In contrast, long-handle axes will allow you to exert more force and complete heavy-duty tasks. However, the sheer number of products and the variety in purpose can invoke the fear of god in any customer.

To aid you in your search, we present a list of the best axe for bushcraft. More so, you can find all the related information regarding this equipment throughout this article. You can go directly to our top picks, or read further to understand whether purchasing a bushcraft axe is worthwhile.

7 Best Bushcraft Axe Reviews

In the upcoming section, you’ll find a detailed review of the top axes for bushcraft. All the pertinent information, along with the strengths and drawbacks, are included.

1. Husqvarna Wooden Multi-Purpose – Best Axe For the Money

Husqvarna 26" Wooden Multi-Purpose Axe ReviewIt is quite challenging to choose the best budget axe out of the numerous ones available in the market. The axes differ in weight, size, flexibility, and power, and they each serve different purposes. The Husqvarna Multi-Purpose Axe is a powerful tool that can efficiently chop wood and fell trees. It has a single-bit traditional design. You can also use it for other kinds of jobs.

The head of the axe is connected to a hickory shaft, which uses both a steel and wooden wedge. This makes the axe more secure and stable. Its long handle makes it ideal for chopping large pieces of wood. It is a useful object which you can take with you during backpacking or camping.

However, the large handle might cause a little difficulty during transportation. If you have a firm grip, you can use this best cheap axe with one hand. The alignment of the handle is quite reliable, and its ergonomic hold ensures that your hands will not get tired while chopping wood.

Its head is constructed with sturdy high carbon steel, which stays sharp for a long time, so you don’t have to sharpen it often. The tool includes a blade mask made of leather.

Pros
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Has a traditional single-bit design
  • Includes genuine leather made blade mask
  • Very budget-friendly
Cons
  • Large size
  • Weak hickory shaft

2. Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe, 420 – Best Small Bushcraft Axe

Gransfors Bruks 420 Axe ReviewNowadays, people use survival knives and saws instead of axes. However, there was a time when artisans always carried axes while going to the woods or backpacking. If you are interested in practicing wilderness skills, you need Gransfors Bruks 420 Small Forest Axe.

These types of bushcraft axes come from a famous brand that produces high-quality axes. The axe weighs around 2 pounds, so it would be pretty easy to handle. You can use it for hours without tiring your arms and hands. Although the head of the axe is slim, you can still chop large sizes of wood because of its durable and robust design.

Moreover, it has a handle made of American hickory, which is quite smooth and refined. It also has a gentle curve, which is excellent for handling. This is ideal for cutting limb wood, splitting tiny sticks, felling trees. The blade has a classic design and shape. It is quite thin but the sharp cutting edge is enough to cut the hair off your arm.

Furthermore, the head of this small forest axe is constructed from sturdy carbon steel, so it is very durable. You can use mineral oils to clean the blade since water causes it to rust quickly. The tool includes a leather sheath. We consider it as a good quality bushcraft hatchet available in the market.

Pros
  • Sharp carbon made blade construction
  • The hickory handle has a gentle curve
  • Able to fell trees and chop wood
  • Includes leather sheath for the blade
Cons
  • Unsuitable for hardwood
  • Sheath might get cut by the sharp axe

3. 1844 Helko Werk Germany – Best All-Round Bushcraft Axe

1844 Helko Werk Germany ReviewIf you regularly camp in the wilderness, then you must be aware of the accessories that you need to have for your trip. One of them is a bushcraft axe. While you’re in the wild, you’ll have to chop some wood, fell trees, etc. The Helko Axe is among the best tools for splitting wood.

This heavy-duty axe is perfect for chopping larger sizes of timber as well as splitting hard logs, and is the best cheap bushcraft axe in the market. The head of the axe is made from Germany. It is constructed with durable carbon steel, which is great because you’ll be able to use it for a very long time.

You can swing the axe head on hardwood without it being pinched up or struck. The hickory handle is quite durable and easy to maneuver. This pack axe can also move logs efficiently. It includes a small flexible hook at the heel of the blade, which will help you to move the logs. It has a steel overstrike feature which will protect you from misplaced swings.

Furthermore, the function decreases the possibility of breakage and shaft wear. The tool also includes a vegetable-tanned leather sheath. Ideally, this equipment is the best size axe for bushcraft.

Pros
  • Contains steel overstrike feature
  • Constructed with high carbon steel
  • Includes small flexible hook on the blade
Cons
  • Dull blade
  • Leather shaft wears down over time

4. Estwing Sportsman’s Axe 14” – Best Camping Hatchet

Estwing Sportsman’s Axe 14” ReviewFinding the best quality axe for bushcraft takes quite a while because of several other axes available in the market. The Estwing E24a 14-inch Sportsman’s Axe is one of the good bushcraft axe for the money because of its innovative features and efficiency.

This outdoor axe has a classic design that has been around since the 1920s with a few minor changes which make it more durable. The axe is medium in size, with a 12-inch handle and 2-inch blade. This particular size makes it a hatchet that is useful in many situations. You can use this camping axe for small jobs, like cutting wood for a fire during camping.

Its handle is made of durable leather, which is good because it feels comfortable to hold and grip while swinging it over a log piece. This tool can also be used in DIY projects. The axe includes a carved sheath made of genuine leather so that it won’t wear out quickly. Moreover, the head of the axe is quite sharp and thin and is perfect for splitting logs. It is constructed with one-piece hand-forged steel.

You can try out essential outdoor work, camping activities like kindling, cutting firewood, or chopping small trees. Thus, we consider it to be one of the best all-around axe.

Pros
  • Durable and sturdy
  • One-piece forged steel
  • Carved sheath of leather
  • Very budget-friendly
Cons
  • Chips quite easily
  • Blade dulls faster

5. Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe, 430 – Best Felling Axe

Gransfors Bruks 430 ReviewAn axe might be considered as an old-fashioned and traditional tool when you compare it with the high-powered tools available in the market. Among the best bushcraft axes is the Gransfors Scandinavian Forest Axe, 430.

When chopping wood, this axe is perfect for professionals and novices alike. The axe is made of durable carbon steel with a very sharp cutting edge. Total weight of 2.6 lbs makes it lightweight, which means you can quickly put it in your backup while going to camp and use it for long hours without getting tired. You can chop small logs as well as use this axe for whittling.

Moreover, the axe head is manufactured with a dynamic curve that is suitable for chopping resinous trees. It can also withstand large trees with its lengthy handle, which can be swung with immense power. The handle is around 20 inches, made from hickory wood, and coated with refined linseed oil.

Also, the blade itself is ultra-thin, so it will take less time to chop large pieces of wood. The overall shape of the axe is perfect for fitting it into a backpack. This good axe includes a sturdy leather sheath for the blade.

Pros
  • Strong leather sheath
  • Durable and portable
  • Ultra-thin blade
  • Long and sturdy handle
Cons
  • Rough handle
  • Not very compact

6. Cold Steel Trail Boss – Best Survival Axe

Cold Steel Trail Boss 27" Axe ReviewWhether you are cutting wood for using it in a campfire, log burner, or just chopping it for clearing the land, having the right type of axe is crucial for your endeavors. This Cold Steel Trail Boss Axe review is for people who are looking to improve their survivalist skills. It is a powerful tool, made of high-quality materials.

It has a sturdy hickory handle with an elegant grain pattern, which makes it easy to grip. This best budget bushcraft axe is portable, as well as functional. The head of the axe has a long cutting edge, which is great because you can efficiently chop more substantial pieces of wood. Though it is not very simple to carry, you can quickly put it in your car trunk for a backpacking trip.

It is quite suitable for splitting wood, with its head being more concave in design. The overall size of the axe is 23 inches, which is perfect for chopping logs and felling trees. Due to the force, it can exert, we deem this to be the best woodsman axe out there. The grain on the handle is quite wavy and angled, unlike other tools.

Moreover, the head of the axe is constructed with high quality forged carbon steel, which can effectively cut down logs. It has a very sharp cutting edge and will not chip easily, no matter how hard you swing it. The axe comes with a sturdy leather sheath.

Pros
  • Budget-friendly axe
  • Sturdy hickory handle
  • Durable and easy to use
  • Sharp-edged blade
Cons
  • Prone to rust
  • Unstable axe head

7. Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet, 415 – Best Wildlife Axe

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet #415Cutting a piece of wood might look easy from afar, but you have to put some muscle into it. Professionals and novices alike search for an efficient way to chop wood and one of the ways to do it is with a bushcraft woodcraft axe. In this Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet review, we will introduce its excellent features such as its small, yet powerful axe head.

The axe has the right balance, which guarantees exceptional performance. Although the blade of this axe is quite small, it has its uses. You can work with it for as long as you want since the total weight of the axe won’t tire you anytime soon. Also, its compact size makes it portable.

You can carry this small forest axe in your backpack and use it to cut down small trunks, bright bushes and branches. The best-quality steel blade’s cutting edge will not chip or dull quickly. With its splitting wedge design, you can also use it for splitting small pieces of wood.

Behind the axe, you’ll find a hammer face which increases its functionality. Its slim convex grind will allow you to go deeper into a piece of wood with a single swing. The handle is made from American hickory wood, and it has a slight curve to it. This will give you a good grip while using the axe. Therefore, we can infer that this is the best small axe for bushcraft.

Pros
  • Efficient construction with good materials
  • Perfect balance
  • Portable and sturdy
  • Durable leather sheath
Cons
  • Too light
  • The area underneath the head may splinter

Why Choose A Bushcraft Axe?

The biggest competitor to this type of axe is the survival knife or saw. Many people think that the axe is an outdated device, and one is better off using something lightweight. Well, a portion of its true, but not entirely. While survival knives can give you the freedom to move around, they are seriously lackluster when it comes to power-performance.

For instance, if you're out with a pocket knife, then you can only scrape or slightly carve wood. Tasks requiring more power such as felling a tree, carving deep into a block of wood, would be impossible to perform. Therefore, this type of axe is a versatile tool that can aid you in a variety of circumstances.

Now, we won't be all mushy and only tell you about the benefits of the axe. Nothing is perfect, and there are drawbacks to the aforementioned versatility. Even the best bushcraft ax for sale would be susceptible to certain demerits.

The Drawbacks

One shoe can't fit all feet, right? Similarly, the axe is not going to help you in certain situations despite its prowess. Despite the debate between axe vs hatchet, it is of no concern if you have a proper-sized axe. The major disadvantage of the bushcraft axes is their considerable weight. As we've mentioned before, the survival knife is compact and lightweight in comparison.

Therefore, you need adequate upper-body strength to carry and correctly use this equipment. If you're going out on a trekking adventure that demands more walking, then carrying an extra weight would be difficult. Furthermore, experts suggest staying longer at camps for proper rest, if you are planning to get the right ax from Bushcraft axes.

Another significant pointer is that if you're not performing heavy-duty tasks (logging, felling), don't take it. However, for people looking to improve their survival skills significantly, the expert recommendation would be to carry and learn the proper use of this type of axe.

A User-Friendly Buying Guide

We've already established that buying the best-rated bushcraft axe can be challenging indeed. The term "best" is susceptible to perception (needs and wants of the user). We firmly believe our reviews can aid you in your search.

Therefore, to know what is the most suitable one for you, consider the following factors, and you'll ride high in the glory of the survivor.

Newbie or Veteran

The first consideration you need to make is whether you're accustomed to an axe or not. While experts know the proper gripping techniques and they can effortlessly chop or carve wood, fledglings find it excruciating! If you're a fresher in the realm of forest adventures, the suggestion is to purchase long handle axes.

A ¾ or full-length axe is comparatively easier to use. Beginners may also opt for the best tomahawk bushcraft as their more comfortable to use. Most newbies make the mistake of purchasing a mid-size or small hatchet. Using this requires more endurance, and for someone who has the wrong swinging technique, this can be exhausting.

So, until you master and hone your skills, stay away from small axe or hatchet. Although a full-length axe will add more pounds to your backpack, it's a much safer and convenient overall option. Therefore, we would narrow the best bushcraft axe size down to around 15 inches.

The Appropriate Size

Depending on the task you're going to perform outdoors, you need to have the proper equipment. The section above already discusses the proper size requirement for both newbies and veterans. So, we'll keep it brief here.

  • Long Axe = More Power

The longer the handle, the easier it is to generate force. Your bad technique or inexperience with the equipment won't have much bearing if you're using a full-length axe.

  • Short Axe = Portable

Some of these are so small in height that you can attach them on your belt and effortlessly carry it. They're excellent tools for camping and light woodwork. The mobility allows one to move around narrow tracks and places. Thus, purchasing the best camp axe will make sure the portability a newbie might require. This equation will help you determine which one is the best axe for you.

The Correct Type

Knowing what kind of equipment, you need for various purposes is another essential consideration. All axes are not the same. They come in different shapes, designs, and are not suitable for all tasks.

Well, a good bushcraft gear will offer you some versatility, but the extent will be limited. Let's look at the different types and designs. This list will give you a clear understanding of what axe design is suitable for which task.

Felling Axe

The kind of axe you see on the back of a Lumberjack! This tool is the best solution for chopping down massive trees. However, their performance is less than optimal when it comes to splitting logs.

With a standard 28-32" handle size and a head weighing around 3-3.5 pounds, these axes pack a hell of a punch! The longer handle allows for extensive use of force while the light head gives you speedy chopping.

Hatchet

If you want to know about the best bushcraft small axe, then hatchet would take the trophy there. It's a lightweight tool that you can carry effortlessly. Moreover, the small handle enables you to use it with one hand only.

It has half the head weight compared to a felling axe (1 or 1.5 pounds). As their lightweight, you cannot perform heavy-duty tasks like felling or log splitting.

Splitting Axe

As the name suggests, the ideal function for these tools is splitting massive logs. They're heavier and longer compared to the other two categories mentioned earlier. The handle length is around 32-36," and the head weighs approximately 4.5 to 7 lbs.

More so, these axes contain broader bevels. This feature allows smooth cuts through sturdy logs without any unnecessary energy expenditure.

Double Bit Axe

Why buy two when one can do? Well, this tool is a combination of the splitting and felling axe. While one head is suitable for splitting, the other head allows you to fell large or small trees smoothly.

They're heavyweight and not suitable for beginners or people with poor upper body strength. Experts with excellent skills can maneuver this axe. The considerable weight makes this tool better suited for woodwork than bushcrafting.

Forest Axe

Forest axes are capable of chopping trees while being lightweight. Although they're heavier than hatchets, they weigh less than felling and splitting axes. These are the go-to tools for people who intend to explore the wilderness.

Hence, this is not ideal for professional woodworking. The standard handle length is around 19 to 24 inches, and it weighs approximately 2.5 lbs.

Head and Handle (Your Bread and Butter)

Understanding the different axe types will give you the basic knowledge about the head and handle of an axe. However, to select the top-rated bushcraft axe, you need to dive into the details.

  • Head (thick or thin)

For standard wood cutting, our recommendation is to opt for thin heads. Why? Because pointy heads can apply force into a precise location, making it ideal for wood cutting. All the energy goes toward a narrow surface, which allows powerful cuts.

In contrast, broader heads are better for splitting. The wider bevel enables comfortable splitting as it separates and disjoints the log from the center.

  • Material (wood or metal)

You can't go wrong here if you follow a simple rule of thumb. Choose a wooden handle when it comes to any long-handle axes (felling, splitting). Conversely, you can opt for metal when it comes to small-handle axes (hatchets, forest).

Wooden handles are incredible at absorbing shock, and easily changeable when push comes to shove. They provide the tool with a classic and elegant look. Our expert suggestion would be to opt for products featuring the American hickory handle.

Metal handles are not the best at shock absorption. It requires careful execution and technique to ensure efficiency without injuring yourself. Steer clear from hollow handles as the backlash can damage your muscle significantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the ideal axe handle length?

It depends. How and what you're going to use it for actually determines the ideal length. Here is an easy to follow list:

  • For shaping: 19-22 inch
  • For camping: 20-26 inch
  • For felling and splitting: 28-31 inch.
2. What type of axe is suitable for outdoor camping?

Our suggestion for short trips is the forest axe or hatches. They're comfortable to use and mobile. However, longer excursions would require taking tools capable of heavy-duty workload. You can learn more by reading this whole article. It will help you understand more about compatibility between particular equipment’s design and the task suitable for it.

3. What is a Michigan axe?

Michigan axe is also called the double bit axe. It's considerably heavy, and people with significant upper body strength are qualified to use it. The axe has two heads, one for chopping and another for splitting wood.

4. How do I sharpen my axe head?

There are various methods to hone your axe's head. There are several products you can use for maintenance. The primary objects you'll need for axe sharpening are:

  • Sharpening 10-inch file
  • Clamps or Bench Vice

There are numerous methods out there for sharpening, but ideally, you can sharpen your axe with a file. Do it correctly, and you can comfortably retain the sharpness of your axe.

5. What is the best bushcraft axe for beginners?

This statement may seem contradictory, but the best option for newbies would be full-length axes. Despite their weight, it's easier to operate, and lack of technique has a minimum effect on performance. However, for short excursions, our recommendation would be hatchets because they're lightweight and efficient.

Final Thoughts

We hope our article was informative and helpful for you. By now, you understand that the term "best" largely depends on your preferences and requirements. Knowing the purpose of the tool is vital when it comes to choosing an axe.

If you're a beginner, we would recommend choosing the Husqvarna Wooden Multi-Purpose Axe among other bushcraft axes. It's a versatile tool that can be in incredible addition to your bushcraft gear pack. The budget-friendly axe can deliver stellar performance while not breaking your bank.

You can scroll through the article again if you feel like you've missed any critical information. We wish you happy shopping!

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