When you need to cut down a tree, split a log, or prepare some firewood, you want to get a hold of an axe. These useful hand tools are centuries old, and give us the power to move through wood with our bare hands.
This comes from the design of the axe, with a long handle letting you magnify your own force, and a durable, sharp head that transfers the energy from your swing. If you’re looking to do any forestry work, you really want to make sure you’re purchasing a quality axe.
Estwing is an all-American manufacturer of comfortable, versatile axes that will get any cutting job done. For nearly a century, this brand has been innovating and pushing the boundary for axes and cutting tools.
In this Estwing Camper’s Axe review, we’ll be taking a look at one of their most durable, usable tools. The Camper’s axe comes in 2 sizes, and has a sturdy construction, all at an unbelievable price. We’ll look at how this axe has such quality without breaking the bank.
A Quick Look
This axe is sturdy, and depending on what size you get it in, can be incredibly versatile. You have a 26 inch option for chopping down small trees, limbing, and splitting logs. And you also have a 16 inch version to use as a hatchet for camping, backpacking, hunting, and other jobs that require a smaller blade.
This axe is made of pure American steel, and is shaped to get the ideal swing for each cut. Plus, Estwing has patented a special, shock resistant grip for maximum comfort and usability. But where this tool really excels is the price. You can’t find many axes this comfortable for this little money.
The drawback comes with quality. It’s affordable, sturdy, and comfortable, but it doesn’t have that premium feel that you find in companies like Gransfors Bruks. The 26 inch option is pretty light weight, while the 16 inch option doesn’t have the same proportions, making them both lack that powerful handling.
- Total Weight: 3.44 pounds and 2.4 pounds
- Length with handle: 26 and 16 inches
- Handle: Steel with shock reduction grip
- Steel: American Forged Steel
- Country of origin: United States
- Price: $35-$40 (Check 26 inch price here and 16 inch price here)
Estwing was founded and is still located in Rockford, Illinois, near Chicago. The company launched under the Estwing family and is still owned by the family. The brand prides itself on their durable, comfortable tools that have a sleek and elegant look to them.
What’s nice about this brand is that it isn’t some huge conglomerate. Companies like Husqvarna and Collins are really just names that are placed on the tool. But Estwing designs, manufactures, and distributes every tool with their name on it, giving them that close-to-home feel.
The company has always focused on hand tools like hammers and axes, and have always occupied the affordable segment of the market. In 2001, they really hit it big with the invention of a highly shock absorbent material that they now use on the handles on all of their striking tools, like their Camper’s Axe.
The head of an axe is the primary place where the energy transfers from your swing to the wood. It’s what does the cutting, and you need a hard, sharp, study bit to really get a good cut in. Fortunately, this axe delivers.
The Estwing Camper’s axe has a durable head made of forged steel with a 4 inch blade. This combination of material, shape, and weight are vital to what makes this tool as usable as it is. The brand also uses smart design choices to make sure that costs stay down without compromising on quality.
Whether you get the 16 inch or the 26 inch variant, this axe is made of pure American forged steel. Each one is made by hand, and Estwing relies on a highly streamlined process to make sure that the axes come out with a sturdy build without costing as much as an artisan tool.
Forged steel is the best option for an axe. You see forged steel in higher end products than tempered or moulded steel. It requires a human touch, so you know that you’re not getting something thrown together by an automatic machine.
The steel on this axe isn’t as hard as what you’d find from companies like Council Tools or Helko. This means you’ll spend a bit more time axe sharpening, but it’s necessary if you want an axe that’s as affordable as this one.
Normally you see brands discussing how much the head of their axe weighs, but that’s not the case here. That’s because normally the bit and the handle are separate pieces that are then fixed together, but this axe is actually all one piece. So there’s not really a distinct section of this axe that is the head.
Depending on which option you go for, this axe will weigh either 3.44 or 2.4 pounds, which is pretty light. That means that, while you’ll have no problem getting the force into each swing, you may not get the same impact you would out of a 4 pound axe.
The 16 inch option is a hatchet, designed for 1 handed use. So you’ll be fine with the weight here. In fact, this is pretty heavy for a hatchet, so be careful when you swing. The risk of injury is higher with a heavier hatchet.
Both options have the same shape for the head. It’s a pretty standard shape, with a 4 inch curved blade. This will get you a swift, clean cut, but is not optimized for cutting against or with the grain of wood. It’s just an all-around useful tool.
Handles are important for maximizing comfort, grip, and usability for an axe. It’s where you interact with the tool most, and you want to make sure that it’s balanced properly. Typically, you see wooden or synthetic handles, but this axe is pretty unique.
The Estwing Camper’s Axe is actually one piece, so you have a solid forged steel handle. This is an interesting choice that is then enhanced by the special shock-resistant grip. This material is part of what separates Estwing from the competition.
Stainless steel is not a common choice for an axe handle, and with good reason. It doesn’t absorb any shock, so when you hit the wood, it’s going to hurt your hands. Wood is a great option because it’s flexible yet sturdy. And brands like Fiskars use artificial handles to absorb the impact.
What Estwing has that other brands don’t is their shock absorbent grips. This special material takes all of the energy from the swing and prevents it from hurting you. This way, they can more affordably manufacture their axes to be in one piece without worrying about usability.
The fact that the handle isn’t separate from the head is part of what makes this axe so affordable. It may not be the first choice you would see in a higher end tool, but it makes this axe much more durable than the price would suggest.
Length is the only thing that changes when you look at these two axe options. The 26 inch version is clearly meant to be a versatile chopping axe for small jobs, and is designed for 2 handed use.
The 16 inch version is a medium sized hatchet, meant to be used like a bushcraft axe or a survival hatchet. This choice is much lighter and is easy to transport, but has limited potential for larger tasks.
It’s up to you to decide which option you want. But the smaller choice is only marginally more affordable than the larger one. So you may get more use out of going with the 26 inch option, since it can do a wider range of cuts.
What the Estwing Camper’s Axe Is Best For
The Estwing Camper’s axe is not meant for professional woodcutters. As the name suggests, it’s meant for recreational outdoor use. Either option is great to take out into the woods and chop yourself some firewood. But you won’t be building a cabin with these things.
The 16 inch option may be better for long range backpacking trips, but if you don’t need the light weight, your best bet is to go with the 26 inch one. It has a wider range of usability, and only costs a few dollars more.
- Highly affordable
- One-of-a-kind shock resistant grip
- Lackluster craftsmanship
- Not as well balanced as other tools
- You’ll probably have to spend a lot of time sharpening
How Does it Compare?
If you want an axe, but need some better quality, then you’ll have to look around a bit more. Fortunately, you have plenty of choices when it comes to getting a top-of-the-line axe that will do a professional cutting job.
If you’re considering the 16 inch option, you’ll want to find a hatchet from another brand. The Husqvarna Carpenter’s axe is a great, sturdy option that has some precision capabilities, and isn’t much more expensive.
If you want a premium hatchet, turn to Gransfors Bruks. Either their Wildlife Hatchet or their Small Foresting Axe will do the trick. These are premium tools that have a much steeper price, but are geared towards professionals.
If you want a higher quality alternative to the 26 inch model, you can use the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest axe. This premium tool is the same length, but is packed with master craftsmanship. If you want to go all in for a chopping axe, check out their American Felling Axe. This 36 inch axe is the best cutting tool for any foresting job.
Should You Get the Estwing Camper’s Axe?
The Estwing Camper’s Axe is designed to bring a sturdy tool to a more budget-conscious market. If you just want to go out into the woods and chop yourself some firewood, there’s no reason to get a high end axe, so turn to the Camper’s Axe.
If you’re a professional forester or competition wood cutter, this axe is definitely not for you. It has limited capacity for those heavier jobs, so look to one of the alternatives.
Estwing has been making reliable tools for almost 100 years, and they continue to innovate today. From their pure American products to their revolutionary shock absorbent grip, this brand has really pushed what you should expect from an axe for this price.
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