Having a reliable axe is extremely important whether you’re a weekend warrior who occasionally goes camping or an avid survivalist. Axes are one of the most useful, multi-purpose tools that an outdoorsman or woman can have in their arsenal.
Yes, axes are multipurpose tools. The best bushcraft axe should be effective at chopping and cutting wood, but it should be useful in other ways as well. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best bushcraft axes and what it takes to be considered among them. By the end, you’ll be equipped to choose which is the best bushcraft axe for you.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Bushcraft Axe for You
What You Plan to Cut
The first thing you should think about when deciding which axe to purchase is what you plan to use it for most. Considerations for choosing an axe to chop wood around your home are different than choosing the right bushcraft ax. Bushcraft refers to skills and tools that you would use to survive in the wilderness. Therefore, to be the best bushcraft axe, it needs to be useful for more than simply chopping down a tree.
The best bushcraft axe should be extremely durable, sharp, and low maintenance since you won’t always have the proper accessories with you. It should be able to cut anything from small pieces of wood to a rope to a fishing line to larger logs.
Where You Plan to Go
Since you’re looking specifically for a bushcraft ax, you’ll likely be taking it on hiking or camping trips. You don’t want an overly heavy ax, but you want one that will get the job done. It’s important to think about portability and how difficult it will be to carry your axe as you’re trekking through the forest. You also don’t want a bushcraft axe that’s going to break apart in the middle of no-mans-land when you depend on it.
The Multi-Use Tool
One of the biggest issues that survivalists, hikers, and campers of all kinds run into is not having enough room to carry everything. For that reason, it’s essential that you choose an axe that has multiple uses and can do more than just chop wood. It should have a head that you can use as a hammer, and it should also be light enough to yield as a weapon in self-defense.
The Size of the Axe
In the same way that bulk and portability are important, the overall size of the axe is equally important. Most high-quality bushcraft axes are extremely durable but are made of materials that are lightweight. From the handle to the head, the best bushcraft axe shouldn’t weigh more than several pounds at most.
The Type of the Axe
There are three basic types of bushcraft axes.
Hatchets are smaller than axes and are typically only useful for light chopping, cutting kindling, and easy portability. However, if you don’t anticipate having to fall large trees or build a shelter from scratch, a hatchet is usually all you need.
- Small Axes
Small axes are a slight step up from hatchets in both weight and length. Because they’re slightly longer and heavier, small axes are better for felling small trees or building a shelter. They’re slightly more versatile than hatchets, but they’re also a little tougher to transport with ease. Small axes are usually the best bushcraft axe of choice for survivalists who plan to spend extensive time in the woods.
- Felling Axes
As the name indicates, felling axes are ideal for heavier chopping, including trees and large logs. These are usually 24 to 30 inches in length and are more heavy-duty than small axes and hatchets. However, it’s important to consider whether or not you have room for a felling axe or want to lug one around with you.
While they certainly aren’t overly heavy, they’re definitely less convenient for hiking compared to hatchets and small axes. Wrist injuries are more likely to happen with these larger axes as well, so keep ergonomics in mind as you use one of these giants.
Overall Best Bushcraft Axe
1. Hults Bruk Aneby
If you’re looking for the overall best bushcraft axe, the Hults Bruk Aneby is hard to beat. It’s the perfect size of being slightly larger than a hatchet, being small enough to easily transport, and large enough to perform heavy chopping jobs. It’s an all-around bombshell of a bushcraft axe!
The total weight of this bad boy is just under three pounds at 2.75, and it measures 22 inches long. It fits the bill perfectly as a multi-use bushcraft axe that’s easy to transport, lightweight, durable, and extremely sharp. The Hults Bruk Aneby axe is what all other bushcraft axes strive to be but usually fall short of thanks to the quality of the material they use.
These best bushcraft axes are hand-crafted and hand-forged out of Swedish carbon steel and feature a 3.5-inch blade that is heat-treated for longevity. Few axe blades will keep an edge as sharp for as long as the Hults Bruk Aneby axe. The blade is also uniquely shaped so that it’s perfect for felling large trees or cutting up smaller pieces of kindling.
- The handle and the head are each made of highly durable and high-quality materials.
- Very lightweight and easy to carry on extended hikes into the woods
- While it’s lightweight, it’s also heavy enough to handle most chopping jobs
- The handle consists of solid American hickory wood
- It’s a bit on the pricey end, but it’s well worth the cost if you can afford it.
Best Bushcraft Axe with a Short Handle
2. Grandsfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
The Grandsfors Bruks Small Forest Axe is about as close to a hatchet as an axe can get. At a shade under 20 inches long, it definitely toes the line between the two. However, it makes for one of the best bushcraft axes because it’s large enough to handle medium to heavy chopping but small enough to be easily transportable. You can use one or two hands to swing this bad boy, making it extremely versatile.
The Grandsfors is a Swedish product that brings to mind the image of a Viking swinging it in battle. Grandfors is one of the most reputable and well-known names in the axe industry, and the Bruks Small Forest Axe definitely lives up to that reputation. The head is high-quality carbon steel that stays sharper for longer than most other axes.
The handle is made of strong and durable Grade A hickory wood, and the combined weight is two pounds, with the head weighing in at 1.5 pounds and the handle at .5 pounds.
- Extremely lightweight and durable
- Very versatile and serves multiple uses
- Easy to carry from place to place or on an extended hiking trip
- The head is hand-forged and very high-quality
- It comes with a leather sheath for safe and easy transportation
- On the pricey end of axes at over $200
- Not quite big or heavy enough for overly heavy chopping
Best Budget Bushcraft Axe
3. CRKT Woods Forged Carbon Steel Axe
Few axes look as sleek or as menacing as the CRKT Woods Forged Carbon Steel Axe. Despite its relatively affordable price, this best bushcraft axe is an excellent option when it comes to bushcraft axes. It serves multiple purposes, including using it as a hammer or weapon. It’s also very lightweight and easy to carry from place to place.
This axe features a unique design in which the axe head is slightly below the top of the handle. The back of the head is also flattened to make it more useful as a hammer, which adds to its value as one of the best bushcraft axes. The handle consists of Tennessee hickory wood, and the head is made out of carbon steel. This type of steel is great for axes because it helps them retain a sharper edge for longer, and it requires fewer sharpenings.
- At just under 20 inches in length and two pounds in weight, this is one of the most portable and lightweight axes on this list.
- Made of durable and relatively high-quality material
- Excellent for multiple uses and extended trips
- Very budget-friendly
- While it’s made of durable materials, they aren’t as durable as some of the other options on this list.
- Because of the unique design, the axe head is susceptible to moving and even flying off the handle.
Other Best Bushcraft Axes
4. Snow and Nealy Hudson Bay Axe
If you value longevity and durability in a bushcraft axe, the Hudson Bay Axe from Snow and Nealy is a doozy. This is one of the best bushcraft axes because it’s meant to last your lifetime and your children’s lifetime. The axe comes with tons of great qualities, including lightweight, portability, durability, and a custom leather sheath to keep it sharp and protected.
Adding to its lightweight design and handling is that the entire axe weighs only 1.75 pounds even though it’s 24 inches long. While this is a definite advantage if you’re looking to do hiking and camping with the axe, it’s somewhat of a drawback for heavy chopping. The head simply isn’t heavy enough to perform excessive work with.
- Very lightweight and easy to carry
- Durable head and handle made of steel and wood
- Designed to last and retain its sharp edge
- The best bushcraft axe if you value reliability and durability
- Too lightweight for heavy chopping and wood splitting
- The wooden handle has a liqueur finish which makes it very slippery when wet
5. Husqvarna Wooden Curved Carpenter Axe
When it comes to the great outdoors and the tools often associated with it, few brands are as well-known as Husqvarna. While they’re typically famous for mowers, weed-eaters, lawnmowers, and tractors, they also produce a great line of hatchets and best bushcraft axes. Chief among them is the Wooden Curved Carpenter Axe, explicitly designed for its usefulness and handiness.
The handle is made of high-quality hickory wood, and the head is hand-forged Swedish steel. While many of their products are now made overseas in China, the axes are still made in Sweden. The Carpenter Axe is 20 inches long and weighs three pounds, making it portable but heavy enough for tough cutting.
This axe is ideal for bushcrafters looking to build a quality shelter rather than using their axe as a weapon. The back of the head is flat and makes for an excellent hammer when needed. If the 20-inch axe is too small for you, Husqvarna also sells a 26-inch version with a similar weight. The larger axe is better for heavy chopping, but it’s also more unwieldy than the 20-inch Carpenters axe.
- Lightweight and easy to carry from one place to another
- Very durable and long-lasting, especially for the affordable price
- Perfect for multiple uses such as chopping wood or building a lasting shelter
- Sometimes considered the value version of other Swedish axes
- The 20-inch axe is better for felling large trees but it’s also bulkier and longer
6. Council Tool Woodcraft Pack
While they aren’t quite as well-known as Husqvarna or Grundfors, Council Tool produces several high-quality best bushcraft axes. Thanks to its lightweight design and durability, the Council Tool Woodcraft Pack Axe is chief among them. It’s meant to be used for multiple purposes, including felling trees or shaping wood for a shelter.
The head’s unique design is strategically crafted to put the most weight on the point of impact but to retain a sharp edge and reduce friction. It’s also small and maneuverable enough to split kindling wood and perform finer tasks.
The handle is made of hickory wood, and the head is made of hand-forged steel. This axe is 20 inches long and weighs a total of 3.81 pounds. The heavier weight makes it slightly harder to carry around, making it more effective for more serious chopping jobs. There’s definitely some give and take with this axe, but it still makes for an excellent bushcraft tool.
Council Tool also produces several other of the best bushcraft axes, including the Hudson Bay 24 inch and the Boys Axe 24 inch. These are slightly longer and bulkier, but they’re also better for heavier chopping.
- Made of high-quality wood and steel
- Very durable and retains a sharp edge for long periods of time
- Heavy enough to fell larger trees but small enough to carry easily
- Despite its short length, it’s slightly heavier than most of the other axes on this list.
- Its weight makes it harder to swing accurately with one hand when using it as a hammer
Wrapping Up the Best Bushcraft Axe
For the weekend hiker or occasional camper, bushcraft axes aren’t viewed with the same importance and respect that they once were. Most jobs that used to fall to axes can now be done with a knife, hatchet, or handsaw. However, a quality bushcraft axe is an absolute necessity for survivalists and avid outdoorsmen and women.