Whenever summer and spring approach we begin to enter some of the best camping months. The weather is warm and nice, it rarely rains and the scenery is always beautiful. So like always most people grab a bag, fill it up with a tent, food, and other items to begin their escape from the modern world.
Of course we can then ask, should we bring an axe? And if we do, which kind would be the best for our needs? This is not like throwing axes or wood chopping axes where if we get the wrong one we just have to deal with it or face a financial issue, but in important or serious situations when camping, a good or bad axe can have drastic implications on yourself and others safety.
I will personally recommend one axe for this article which you can see at the bottom, however I do highly suggest that you read the entire article. I am a firm believer in safety and making sure that the first choice is the right choice. Because of this I will not be judging the axe on certain superfluous topics such as aesthetics and how pretty it is. While it is nice to see them I feel that this element is meaningless when discussing camping goods and equipment.
The first topic we will be looking for is the size and the weight of our axe. This is going to be the most important measurement initially as we should always ‘assume the best, prepare for the worst’. I mean this in that, in a best case scenario we should not have to use our axe for anything other than creative needs. However in the worst case we will need to use it alot.
This means that we want something that we can casually carry in our backpack most of the time that will not cause a huge hindrance. Just from that we want to look for something that measures less than three feet in length. If everything works out we will have something that can fit inside our backpack or be strapped on to it without us being weighed down.
The weight of the axe itself is a subjective. A person that lifts weights weekly might find a heavy axe to be a light burden. While someone that jogs everyday or does very little weight based training might find the lightest of axes to be taxing on the back and spine when they are carried.
Combine this factor with something that needs to be well made, versatile and strong and it can get a bit troublesome to find the right camping axe for your needs. Like previously said, weight is subjective, however my recommendation will make it so that all able adults can carry this axe around without having it be too trouble or a burden.
Weight is important when we are camping. We want something that is able to be carried around without much trouble. While carrying just an axe might be easy, adding other things to this can make our carry bag heavier and more of a problem as it can add a lot of stuff. Because of this we want our axe to be able to multitask as different tools.
What kind of tools? Is something that you need to ask, with an axe head itself we already have something sharp which can count as a knife or any sharp utensil. However there are specialized axe heads which have edges on the inside or cut inside of the blade heal itself that allows someone to use the axe as a makeshift wrench.
A can opener is also something that is important to make sure that you can open up your can of rations. Other things might be a type of peeler or shaver to help smooth out wood that you need for protection or to shave and prepare tinder for a comfortable campfire.
A Lot of this utility sounds like something for more extreme camping or backpacking that involves long periods out in the wood or a wrong step taking and saving to survive in the wilderness for a long period of time. However having so many different options in one axe allows you to save time when you are in a more casual environment such as when you are home.
This would give you a chance to accomplish more tasks in the garage or out in the garden without having to carry a large toolbox every time when you need to make a few small changes. Reducing the amount of tools you need for a project makes it more fun and more enjoyable for yourself!
While a sharp blade head is always important whether you are camping or idly throwing them are a wood throwing bar. A sharp camping blade is going to be much more important. When you are at home and you make a bad swing or a mistake, it is much easier to correct it. If you are camping with your friends and your blade is not sharp enough to cut wood down for a fire, it can mean issues with survival or an annoying hour long trip to a nearby camping store to ask if they have any remaining supplies, which ruins the fun and immersion fo your camping experience. Make sure to know how to sharpen an axe before you head out.
If you bring an older axe I would suggest that you clean it and maintain its usefulness regardless if it needs to be sharpened. Rust plays a big factor especially with older axes. Having all your tools ready to go from the start can mean a lot of time saved and a more enjoyable experience when you are on your trek.
When camping for longer periods of time it is imperative that you get something that can last a long period of time. Whether that means having to keep it inside of your bag for the whole trip because you did not need it or those short bursts when you ceen to tighten a bolt inside of your car or camping gear.
When camping you should know what the weather is going to be like for your trip, most people will pick the long stretch of when it does not rain, to avoid mold, bad footing or just a lousy day out. Even if we have the best plans laid out we should always prepare for the worst. Going out in december? Expect snow? Spring or summer? Rain is always possible.
Because of this we should always ‘prepare for the worst, assume the best’. We want an axe that can handle the worst conditions, meaning that it can slip and fall down a hill or go into a river for a few meters and not have enough damage to deem it worthless.
What Should Our Camping Axe be Able to do?
Once we have an idea of what qualities we need in our camping axe we should ask what tasks it should be used for. Obviously it is not a good fork for eating and I would strongly suggest you do not use it when you think you need a shave, however we should consider that it is a viable option for most of the difficult or physically needed tasks when camping.
Because we have a sharp axe it should be able to shave off unneeded fur and scales off of animals that we hunt. A Lot of people that camp typically go hunting and you might want to enjoy the fruits of your labor at the moment.
There are knives specialized for this but in an emergency or if you do not want to carry a large amount of things, a sharp axe can do this for you. It is also nice to keep the sharp blade head thin to remove the scales of fish as to insure that we have all of the meat possible.
We will also want our axe to be able to handle wood splitting. Camping involves campfires, this is to stave off predators and to warn other humans of where you are located. I like to keep my Everstryke match on me for just those occasions. While we know of a good wood splitting axe it also assumes a lot of great conditions, being that we have a stable location, and a non-emergent need for the wood. When it comes to wood chopping outdoors, there is a chance that you need to remove the bark off of your tinder as well, it might be extremely wet and soaked so that will need to be shaven off.
Our axe should be able to function as a few small tools to make repairs on items. This is why when we talked about versatility I brought up the concept of small wrench holes inside the blade head. This is not a rare quality to have on camping axes as you will not have the luxury of your garage with you all the time.
A large felling axe is not suitable for camping as it is pretty cumbersome. If you think you need one as part of your gear however, one i’d recommend is the Gransfors American Felling Axe – Check it out review here.
What Should We Not Use Our Axe For?
Self defense is also important and this might be a good tool to use. However, I will strongly warn you that there are tools and survival tricks to avoid confrontation with wild animals. If your first reaction when seeing a large bear is to pull out your axe, then there are several problems from the beginning of your encounter. If you are camping for an extended period of time or maybe going on a hike through your country it might be a good idea to take a class or two on what you should be prepared for. This is important to ensure that your time is not only safe but also enjoyable.
Our axe is also not made for throwing constantly. I have recommended throwing axes in the past and have found great and cheap ones that can do the job for you, when you are camping and you have only one axe, your only option should not be to throw it.
When you are with friends and several hundred miles away from anything close to a hotel or civilization you should not enjoy the idea of having a little axe throwing competition. This can cause a large amount of wear and tear on your axe in a short amount of time, especially if it has a wooden or a loose handle.
Our axe of choice, the one I would recommend is a bit of a two part. I did some research on several kinds of axes and found them to be lacking in one quality or another. The ones that had all the versatility we needed came with a cheaper material or lacked any real durability. The strong, well made axes lacked the ability to do something small like open up a can of beans! THat is when I found a specialized axe head that was made specifically for camping.
The Klax axe head is the one thing I would recommend while camping. An axe head itself means that we will have to get a handle for it. But that also means we can buy a specialized tool that is used for camping. What is great about this axe head is that even without a handle it can serve a lot of functionality to our camping trip. It can cut, it can shave, it can even act as a pseudo wrench.
The creators of this axe knew i could use a plethora of handles, and they also made their own:
This handle was made exclusively for the intent of using it with the Klax Axe head. The handle itself is well made, capable of doing its job, a strong handle, water resistant and great to have as an emergency tool. I got mine when the price was lowered, check the current price on Amazon here.
Why Not Other Axes?
One search on google or amazon for camping axes and you can find a large amount of them that are a fraction of the price and say that the can offer everything listed above ‘and more’! However I believe this to be false. Several other axes have shown to have a history of shady quality and worksmanship. Being able to engrave your gave on an axe sounds great for surival; people would know who own it and if they are somewhat close. But it only leads to more problems since the axe was not good enough to carry around in the first place.
This is an unorthodox option, but the reviews say this is a good handy axe head. Another option is to forge your own axe head. Something like this is a good alternative to have if you are looking fora multi use axe.
An axe with a handle and blade made out of synthetic materials might be a bit more durable from time to time, however once the handle breaks it will be near impossible to find the materials needed to reconstruct the axe. A nylon axe will work better in a short period of time, but fixing it or replacing parts of it during an emergency is a futile effort.
Because of this I wanted to select an axe that was made with a wooden handle. Wood can be easily replaced in a forest since there is wood everywhere. A makeshift emergency handle might not be the best but it is better than having no axe at all.
The axehead I chose gave me confidence that it can work in any emergency. It is small enough to have in a pocket or a bag to carry around with and if there is not handle that can work with it at the moment it can still function properly and do a great job of helping you while camping until suitable handle is found and placed in.
Overall, when we are camping we need to be safe. We want to make sure that everything we bring gives us some form of utility and can be used over and over without having to worry about it breaking completely.
That is why you need to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck, when out in the woods you should never be sitting there wet and soaking in the rain, wishing you had spent a few extra dollars on something with quality.
We want an axe that can ‘do it all for a period of time’. If a small tool like our axe could last forever and be used with efficiency every time then there would be no need for any other tool, however when we are camping we must understand that some things are naturally going to be harder, it is going to be more inconvenient and strangely there is a certain romance to that.
That is why we camp. That is why I suggested a tool that can do it all without creating an additional burden for any user.
Some axe brands to consider for a high quality craftsmanship axe are Gransfors Bruks and Hults Bruk.
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