8 Best Bushcraft Hatchets in 2024 | Small Hatchets for Chopping, Splitting, And Carving

Last Updated on 31/01/2024

Best Bushcraft Hatchets

In this guide to the best bushcraft hatchet, we share the most durable and well-made hatchets for bushcraft and long-term survival. You will learn about how the handle length and shape are crucial for certain bushcraft tasks and what makes different axe heads better than others.

The difference between a bushcraft hatchet or axe is kind of a gray area. It’s hard to pin down exactly when a bushcraft hatchet becomes an axe. The best explanation I have is that hatchets, or hand axes as they are also known, are single-handed chopping tools for smaller tasks that don’t require a full-length axe.

If I had to pick one tool that I could not live without when practicing bushcraft in the wild, it would either be a bushcraft hatchet/axe, a knife, or a water pot. The reason a bushcraft axe is so useful is that it is incredibly versatile for many different tasks. You can use it for firewood, shelter building, hunting, food prepping, carving, and if you keep it sharp enough, it can do most things that a knife can.

8 Best Bushcraft Hatchets

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet 13.50 Inch, Axe, 415

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  • LENGTH: 13.5 in / 34 cm
  • WEIGHT: 1.3 lbs / 600 g
  • MATERIALS: Ovako Recycled Swedish Steel Head (Rc hardness 57), Hickory Handle, Leather Sheath
  • BEST USES: Best All-Round Hatchet for Bushcraft

The Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet is the best bushcraft hatchet for any task. It is big enough to fell small trees, chop up piles of firewood, can be used for splitting, and is small enough for carving or more detailed work. Unless I need a big tree-felling axe, this is what I take on bushcraft trips 90% of the time.

Am I biased about this axe? Maybe. I own and love this axe, so I obviously like it. I am not associated with Gransfors, so I can say what I like, but I just love swinging this more than any other axe I own or have tested. I like sharpening it; I like the weight of it; I like the handle ergonomics; I like fastening it on my belt… I just like holding it. It’s my favorite bushcraft hatchet, and so it is what I can honestly recommend.

CHOPPING: The size of the hatchet is just big enough to chop down small trees and is ideal for processing smaller blacks of firewood. You can easily clean off the side twigs and branches of any small trees and chop the larger branches into neat lengths in just a few fell swoops. You can get the edge so sharp that it will slice paper which can be used for chopping most things you need for bushcraft. 

SPLITTING: Something I really like about the Wildlife Hatchet for bushcraft is that there is some meat on the back of the axe head. This does three things; it gives you more force with one hand, can be used as a hammer, or is perfect for buttoning into the wood for splitting. Because the axe head isn’t too bulky, there are better hatchets out there for splitting logs, but it certainly holds its own vs. other similar-sized models.

CARVING: When you need total control and precision handy work from your bushcraft hatchet, the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife can do it all. You can easily shift your hand up and down the handle for improved control or power. Carving rough timber down to a smooth finish is no problem using just the top half of the blade. Then you can hold the axe upside down and gauge out small holes or joints.

VERDICT: The Wildlife Hatchet from Gransfors Bruks is ideal for all bushcraft tasks I can think of, apart from felling and splitting large trees. It is the perfect size and shape to get maximum power on a one-handed swing as well as provide total control for more detailed work. This is a bushcraft hatchet you will own for life and is such a pleasure to use you’ll be looking for excuses to use it whenever you can.

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Helko Werk Rheinland Hatchet

1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Rheinland Hatchet - Made in Germany Camping Hatchet and Bushcraft Hatchet for Bushcraft, Backpacking, campfires and throwing hatchet, Handmade German Hatchet - Head 1.25 lbs, Handle 14 in. (11326)

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  • LENGTH: 14 in / 35 cm
  • WEIGHT: 1.75 lbs / 794 g
  • MATERIALS: C50 High Carbon Steel: 53-56 HRC Head, Grade A American Hickory Handle
  • BEST USES: Sharpest Hatchet for Bushcraft Carving

The 1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Rheinland is the best bushcraft hatchet for slicing, carving, and making clean cuts. The wide-bit design fans out to the edge of the blade to give you a larger striking surface than with a traditional bushcraft hatchet. The blade comes pre-sharpened, and because the angle of the taper is nice and gradual, you can keep it really sharp with almost any sharpening tool.

Something really special about this hatchet for bushcraft is the American hickory handle is hand selected and shaped to align with the natural grain of the wood. So where you see the concave and bends in the ergonomically shaped handle, that is also how the grain of the wood runs. This makes it incredibly strong and reliable.

CHOPPING: The Helko Rheinland hatchet is the best for chopping small bits of wood up to about 4 inches. For bushcraft, like making wooden stakes or cutting shelter poles to size, this hatchet makes quick work of it. I don’t think there is a better axe for delimbing the smaller branches of a tree.

SPLITTING: This hatchet might not be the best for splitting large bits of timber up for your fire because the blade is a little thinner than others. I wouldn’t be afraid to batton it with some wood, but I am not foolish enough to think this could split up a fully grown oak tree trunk.

CARVING: Carving (as well as chopping) is where the Rheinland hatchet shines. Because the head can be sharpened so finely, you can use it to carve really thin slices of wood like on a feather tinder stick, or you can remove lots of material in a short space of time. Another benefit of the wide blade head is that it has two very pointy corners for detailed carving.

VERDICT: The 1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Rheinland Hatchet is one of my favorites for a couple of reasons, including some I haven’t mentioned yet. First, the shape of the blade makes it so easy to store by hitting it into a piece of wood to keep it off the ground. Secondly, the edge is so sharp that I like using it to chop meat and vegetables instead of my knife (sometimes). The main reason to get this over a Gransfors or Hults Bruk hatchet is that this might just be the sharpest bushcraft hatchet.

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Hults Bruk Almike Hatchet

Hults Bruk Almike Small All Purpose Hatchet

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  • LENGTH: 16.1 in / 41 cm
  • WEIGHT: 1.75 lbs / 794 g
  • MATERIALS: Swedish Steel Head, Hickory Handle, Leather Sheath
  • BEST USES: Best Bushcraft Hatchet for Chopping Wood

The Hults Bruk Almike Hatchet is the largest bushcraft hatchet in this guide and is about as big as I would want to use with one hand. Anything larger than this will be too big and heavy for the smaller bushcraft tasks you might need the axe for. The handle has more of a curve on it than the Gransfors Wildlife Hatchet, and the head has a different profile which makes this a real thing of beauty.

CHOPPING: Because the handle is longer than most other bushcraft hatchet handles, those extra inches of leverage compound how much power you can get per swing when chopping wood. The heavier axe head also adds to this so that you can easily use this to chop down a medium-sized tree. Chopping power is a 10/10 for this bushcraft hatchet.

SPLITTING: Splitting wood is also made easier by the long handle and heavy axe head and allows you to tackle slightly larger blocks of wood than you might with a smaller hatchet. The back of the axe head is solid and certainly sturdy enough to use as a batton or splitting wedge on hardwood that maybe hast been seasoned for long enough. Even for splitting thinner kindling, the large head isn’t a problem but might not give you as much control as a smaller hatchet would.

CARVING: Carviing is probably this bushcraft hatchet’s weak point, although it is far from useful. The reason it isn’t the best for carving is that it is so large it can become heavy and cumbersome to use with one hand for extended periods of time. The blade edge can be made razor sharp, so that isn’t a problem, but for detailed carving, I would rather use anything else.

VERDICT: The Hults Bruk Almike Hatchet is an easy swinger and is able to bridge the gap between bushcraft hatchets and axes by sitting almost exactly on the border. It is comfortable to use with one hand, although it may lack the control of a small axe, but for chopping and splitting, using something like this will save you a bunch of time vs. the Gransfors Bruks Hand Hatchet, for example.

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Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet

Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet

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  • LENGTH: 9.45 in / 24 cm
  • WEIGHT: 1.3 lbs / 590 g
  • MATERIALS: Ovako Recycled Swedish Steel Head (Rc hardness 57), Hickory Handle, Leather Sheath
  • BEST USES: Best Mini Hatchet For Bushcraft

The Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet is my favorite of the three mini hatchets smaller than 10 inches long. The forest axe design makes it easy to bite into a bit of wood when you are between using it. It also gives you a nice little curve at the bottom and a much flatter blade for the top two-thirds.

I like this sized hatchet for bushcraft like spoon carving and chopping up kindling inside the shelter. It is so small it will fit inside almost any backpack, and usefully, it will fit in many backpack outer pockets for easy access. If you prefer to wear your hatchet on your bushcraft belt instead of in our backpack, then this lightweight and compact design will get in your way less than any other.

CHOPPING: The Gransfors Hand Hatchet is really nice to use for smaller chopping tasks, but because the handle is so short, you need to be extra careful you don’t injure your knuckles when striking. The blade has a lovely shape to it for chopping up small bits of kindling, and despite the size, you can make a clean cut through small branches in one hit.

SPLITTING: You are limited to how thick of a log you can split with this hatchet (I have found it to be about 5.5 inches where it struggles), but you can batton the hell out of it on smaller logs. The woodsman-style blade is also easier to free if it gets jammed than a more wedge-shaped hatchet.

CARVING: If you aren’t just buying it for its compact size and weight, then you will most likely be looking for a hatchet for bushcraft carving. This is that hatchet. The short curved handle gives you the most control for all kinds of carving. Maybe you are making dowels or fixing two boards together with dovetail joints and need to do some tiny adjustments. With this bushcraft hatchet, you can make very gentle carvings as well as clean edges.

VERDICT: The Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet might be the pound-for-pound most useful bushcraft tool. The small size makes it perfect for keeping on your belt or in your backpack, and the head itself has amazing balance and a very sharp cutting edge. I would highly recommend this hatchet for bushcraft and survival on its own, but I also love it as a companion to a much bigger axe.

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Hultafors Ågelsjön Mini Hatchet

Hultafors AV08417600 Axe Auger Fan Mini Hatchet Outdoor Climbing

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  • LENGTH: 9.3 in / 23 cm
  • WEIGHT: 1.7 lbs / 775 g
  • MATERIALS: Swedish Steel Head, Hickory Handle, Leather Sheath
  • BEST USES: Best Mini Bushcraft Hatchet for Splitting Wood

The Hultafors Mini Hatchet is similar in size to the Gransfors Hand Hatchet. However, there is more weight to the head, and the blade is shaped with less of a curved edge on this one. The handle is made from beautiful hickory wood with the grain aligning to the ergonomic shape, which feels great in either hand and is very balanced to swing.

CHOPPING: Smaller hatchets like this are often a little bit more limited than the larger hatchets in that they can’t be swung as hard or chop through thicker branches so easily. However, because the head has a good amount of weight behind it (500g), you can really dig into some meatier tree trunks.

SPLITTING: I found the Hultafors Hatchet better for splitting logs than the Gransfors Hand Hatchet because it has more of a wedge shape, and the straighter edge encourages chopped logs to just split open with a single strike. You can batton it as much as you like without worrying about damaging the metal; just watch your fingers!

CARVING: The axe arrives with a very sharp edge and mirror-polished finish on the bevel and a natural unpolished rest of the head. Straight away, you will notice that it is great for light carving and shaving; however, it doesn’t make as good of a feather stick as the Gransfors I keep comparing this to.

VERDICT: The Hultafors Mini Hatchet is a lovely little hatchet for all kinds of bushcraft duties and especially splitting firewood. The hickory handle is one of my favorites on a small bushcraft hatchet, and the whole thing looks incredible from an aesthetic viewpoint. If you get one of these, you will not be disappointed, but personally, I would rather get the Gransfors Mini Hatchet.

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Husqvarna Bushcraft Hatchet

Husqvarna 13 in. Wooden Handle Hatchet

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  • LENGTH: 13 in / 33 cm
  • WEIGHT: 1.32 lbs / 600 g
  • MATERIALS: Swedish Steel Head, Hickory Handle, Leather Sheath
  • BEST USES: Best Budget Bushcraft Hatchet

The Husqvarna 13-inch Wooden Handle Hatchet is the best value-for-money option in this guide. It features the same Swedish steel and American hickory handle as other, more expensive bushcraft hatchets, so why is it so much cheaper? Having compared it to the other hatchets and axes I have paid hundreds of dollars for, I can only assume that it is the fact that it is less finished than others. What do I mean by that? Well, the edge isn’t as sharp, the bevel doesn’t seem to have been finished by hand, and the handle needs a bit of sandpaper to make it smooth.

But, once these issues have been addressed with a sharpening stone and sandpaper, there is very little that sets the more expensive hatchets apart. The weight and size are perfect for most bushcraft tasks and ideal for one-handed swinging. Husqvarna has a very good reputation for gardening and arborist tools, of which this 13-inch bushcraft hatchet would be a key component in any toolbox.

CHOPPING: The Husqvarna hatchet is designed for chopping small branches, lopping small trees, and general arbor work around the garden. This makes it the perfect chopper for small jobs around camp, as well as bigger jobs like replenishing the wood store. The edge gets a decent bite to remove large chunks of material when chopping thicker logs, but it needed a lot of sharpening out of the box to get it this way. 

SPLITTING: Because the profile of the axe is of a traditional wedge shape without any flares on the blade, it makes splitting logs and firewood more effortless than with a wider and thinner head. You can use a hammer on the back without worry, and the steel holds up well to being hit very hard. I wouldn’t try and split a cedar tree trunk with one, but for smaller trees and logs, it will rip its way through them in no time.

CARVING: Carving is definitely the biggest weakness of this bushcraft hatchet because the head is more wedge-shaped with less of a gradual taper than others. It needs a lot of sharpening to get a sharp edge that holds, but once you do, it can be used for rough carving with no problem.

VERDICT: The Husqvarna 13 in. Wooden Handle Hatchet is great for someone just getting into bushcraft who wants a decent tool but doesn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars just yet. It will rip through endless amounts of chopping and splitting, although it needs to be extensively sharpened to be an effective carver. Ideal for all the grunt work, and it works as a throwing axe too.

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Estwing Camping Hatchet

Estwing Sportsman's Axe - 14" Camping Hatchet with Forged Steel Construction & Genuine Leather Grip - E24A

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  • LENGTH: 14 in /  35 cm
  • WEIGHT: 1.86 lbs / 843 g
  • MATERIALS: American Steel Head and Shaft
  • BEST USES: Best Hatchet with Metal Handle

The Estwing Camping Hatchet is made from a single piece of steel and features the same neck design as you see on their hammers. It is incredibly strong and, in fact, is the best bushcraft hatchet to use as a hammer tool as well. If you are worried about the head coming loose or snapping the handle, then a metal shaft like this might solve your worries.

The downside of such a strong tool is that it is heavier than a wooden-handled hatchet, and if something ever did happen to the handle, you can’t repair it, which isn’t good in a survival situation.

CHOPPING: The Estwing Camping Hatchet is a true workhorse and is an efficient chopper thanks to the power you can get from the extra weight. Whether you are chopping down trees, chopping up branches, or chopping back shrubs, the sharp edge of this hatchet gives a clean cut so long as you keep it sharp.

SPLITTING: There is no issue with its splitting abilities; however, I much prefer a wooden handle for this job. This is because the impact of each strike travels down the shaft into your hand and up your arm much more than a wooden handle. So when you try and split hardwood, and it doesn’t open up a clean split, you can easily sprain a muscle or rattle up an old wrist injury.

CARVING: You can carve with this just like any other bushcraft hatchet, but because of the signature Estwing neck design, you can’t slide your hand up for a lighter tough. So long as you keep the edge sharp, you can chip away at structural joints for a tight fit or make some fine shavings to start a fire with.

VERDICT: The Estwing Camping Hatchet is not for me, but many bushcrafters like the fact it is one solid piece. It is probably the safety hatchet to use as a hammer, too, so if you are building a winter shelter, it isn’t a bad hatchet to keep on your tool belt.

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Gerber Gear Bushcraft Hatchet

Gerber Gear Bushcraft Hatchet, Coyote Brown 31-003783

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  • LENGTH: 16 in / 40 cm
  • WEIGHT: 2.4 lbs / 1088 g
  • MATERIALS: Carbon Steel Head, Glass-Filled Nylon with Rubber Overmold
  • BEST USES: Best Survival Hatchet

The Gerber Gear Bushcraft Hatchet breaks my rule for not recommending tools for bushcraft that have plastic components. The reason I do think this is worth a look is that it is designed specifically for bushcraft. The watertight compartment inside the handle keeps survival items like paracords, fire lighters, or anything else you might want and doesn’t detract from the hatchet’s main duties of copping, splitting, and carving wood.

You can keep a few matches or a lighter as well as some paracord, fishing line, and any other small tool you can fit inside. I also like to keep a $20 bill in there just in case I ever need it. The handle has a nice grip so that it doesn’t ever slip in your hand and is also unaffected by rain no matter how long it is soaked.

CHOPPING: The edge comes pre-sharpened and is a surprisingly good chopper thanks to the 16-inch long handle and wide hatchet head. To use it as a chopper, you really need to sharpen it often, as I don’t think the steel is quite as hard as on other hatchets. This means it sharpens easily and gets very sharp but also dulls quickly and is prone to delamination. I’ve never used this on anything other than wood, so I can’t say how durable the edge is in that sense.

SPLITTINGIt has a weird shape, the head that has these wedge-shaped flares on either side that I can only assume was made for the task of log splitting. And they work too. When you crack into a hard log, the shape of the blade, more often than not, will split it open in one. The only issue is that because it is a plastic composite handle, I wouldn’t want to risk battening it because if it breaks, there’s no fixing it.

CARVING: I don’t think this is a great hatchet for Carvin,  v to be honest. The flares are designed for splitting, which kind of makes it a bit clumsy, and the weight feels a little top heavy to attempt much detailed work. If you keep it sharp enough though, you will have no issue creating feather sticks and building camp furniture.

VERDICT: The Gerber Gear Bushcraft Hatchet is a cool tool to have in a survival situation. The hatchet is not as light as you might expect, but it does feel very strong. If you want a long-lasting bushcraft hatchet, I would get one of the other more traditional options with a replaceable handle, but if you are a fan of gadgets and want a hatchet to use for firewood mostly, give this a go.

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 Hatchet for Bushcraft

Bushcraft Hatchets Vs Axes: What’s the Difference?

A bushcraft hatchet is basically a small axe that you use with just one hand for tasks around camp that are beyond a bushcraft knife’s capabilities. Axes are designed to be used with both hands for felling big trees and splitting full-on tree trunks. Hatchets are used for cutting, chopping, carving, and light splitting, among many other things, and are much more of a multitool.

The difference between a hatchet and an axe is a bit of a grey area, although here is where I would say the line lies: A hatchet is a small, single-handed axe (shorter than 16 inches, lighter than 2 lbs) designed for light duties and heavy usage. Anything bigger than this, and you may as well go for a full-sized axe and have a saw as the companion tool.

Do You Need a Hatchet for Bushcraft?

Yes, you need a hatchet for daily bushcraft tasks as well as for more recreational purposes.

In terms of the tools you need to practice bushcraft, the hatchet is right up there in the top three. Because fire, shelter building, and woodcraft are such big parts of bushcraft, a hatchet becomes an indispensable tool when you are in the woods. Something else you need along with your hatchet is the knowledge and means to maintain its sharp edge, but more on that further down.

Here is a short list of some of the everyday jobs I use a bushcraft hatchet for:

  • Gathering Firewood
  • Processing Firewood
  • Creating Kindling and Tinder
  • Shelter Building
  • Trail Blazing
  • Furniture Building
  • Making Wooden Pegs
  • Spoon and Bowl Carving
  • Cooking
  • Hunting
  • Protection

Of course, you will find yourself using your hatchet for other things, too, but these are the most common.

Small Hand Axe for Bushcraft

Guide to The Best Hatchets for Bushcraft and Survival

I strongly advise that you try out both a small bushcraft hatchet (below 10 inches long) and then a regular 13-16 inch long hatchet to get an idea of what works best for you. Give it a swing. Does it feel balanced?

Once you know what size feels right for your arm, you can choose between the different head and blade shapes to optimize for the types of bushcraft you what to do. Here are some of the features and specifications we used to find out which bushcraft hatchet was best for survival:

Handle Length

The handle length of a bushcraft hatchet plays a significant role in leverage and force when trying to cut through as much wood as possible. Short handles are easier to maneuver but offer less force, while long handles offer more power but are harder to control. With a long-handled hatchet, you can usually slide your hand up closer to the head for more control, but the opposite cant be done for a short-handled bushcraft hatchet.

The other consideration is that a longer handle is harder to pack on the inside of a bag.

Handle Shape

Handle shape is way more important than most people realize. It can help make your life easier or hold you back and create problems like injuries or arm fatigue. Handle shapes affect the comfort and grip of the hatchet and can feel different for different people depending on their hand size. A well-contoured, slightly curved handle can provide better grip and control, reducing hand fatigue during long bushcraft tasks.

Many of the best bushcraft hatchets and hand axes use American hickory for the handle for its strength and durability. They are hand-selected for the grain pattern and often hand-carved to run in parallel to the grain for the strongest possible shaft. Have a look at the Hultafors mini hatchet. For example, the circular knots in the wood sit perfectly on the curves, which helps to maximize your power.

Head Weight

The weight of the hatchet head directly impacts its chopping power, with a heavier head delivering more force and a lighter head being more nimble. Heavy axe heads can be challenging to handle, especially for extended periods, and often require a longer handle to have any kind of balance. Once the head weight crosses two pounds, I think you should be looking at longer-handled bushcraft axes instead.

Head and Blade Shape

The head and blade shape are essential in determining the hatchet’s effectiveness in various tasks. A wedge-shaped flat blade is excellent for splitting, a wide curved blade is better for chopping, while a narrow, sharp blade is more suited for detailed carving work. I recommend that if you want a hatchet that can do all three, then get a Gransfors. 

Blade Size

Blade size can affect both the precision of your work and the effort required to chop through a pile of freshly collected firewood. Smaller blades offer more control for intricate tasks, while larger blades can cut through larger pieces of wood more easily. Hatchets are typically quite small but there is a variety of wide and narrow hatchets to choose from.

bushcraft hatchet with swedish steel and hickory handle


For bushcraft hatchets, more than any other type of hatchet, I think the handle should be made from wood. This is so that if it ever breaks when you are out in the wilderness, you can simply make a new one until you have the chance to replace it. Hickory has proven to be the best wood for bushcraft hatchet handles, and even hatchets made in Sweden use American Hickory as their preferred material.

With a fiberglass hatchet handle or solid steel (like the Estwing), if it breaks, that’s it. You can’t fix it, and you have to spend the rest of your bushcraft trip surviving without one.

The steel used for the head of the hatchet is most often high-carbon steel. The forging process is arguably more important, and the proof is in the pudding. Hand-forged hatchets made from high-carbon steel are the strongest and most reliable over time. The better the blade material and forging process, the sharper your blade will stay and the longer it will last.


Out-of-the-box sharpness and edge retention are important factors for efficient cutting and carving. A dull hatchet requires more effort to use and can be more dangerous due to the increased likelihood of slipping or deflecting. If your hatchet doesn’t come pre-sharpened, then you may have to do a fair amount of grinding and stropping to create the edge you need. It’s better to get one that is sharp from the get-go.


Chopping is another one of a bushcraft hatchet’s most important jobs. Good chopping performance relies on a combination of balanced head weight, blade sharpness, blade sharpness, and handle design. If chopping is the priority for you, then a 13-14 inch handle with a wide curved blade, like the Hults Bruk Almike Hatchet, will work best.


You might not realize it before you buy a hatchet for bushcraft, but splitting firewood becomes one of the most common tasks you perform on a daily basis. A hatchet with a heavier head and broader blade is usually more effective at splitting logs. Battening the back of your hatchet as a splitting wedge becomes common practice, so pay attention to how much “meat” there is on the back of the head.

Longer-handled hatchets are safer than the mini type because you can keep your hand further back from the blade and chopping block. I can’t count the number of times I have hit my knuckles on the wood I am trying to chop using a short single-hand axe. They are also less likely to miss and swing into your legs if you are splitting wood from a crouched position.


Carving tasks require a sharp, well-shaped blade and a comfortable handle. This enables detailed work for making utensils, traps, or other bushcraft items. This is where the mini hatchets excel because they offer the most control and often have nice light heads for small but precise strikes as well as taking thin shavings off like a knife would.

sharpening a bushcraft hatchet with a stone

Sharpening a Bushcraft Hatchet

Sharpening your hatchet is an essential part of its maintenance. Not only does it make chopping, carving, and splitting wood easier, but it also prolongs the life of your tool and increases safety during use.

What Tools Can You Use?

There are several tools you can use to sharpen a camp hatchet, including a mill file, a sharpening stone (also known as a whetstone), a honing guide, and a strop. These tools vary in their use, from reshaping the edge with the mill file to refining it with the sharpening stone and polishing it with a strop.

What Is the Process? 5 Steps for a Sharp Hatchet

Here is the 5 step process I use to sharpen and maintain my bushcraft hatchets:

  1. Start by clamping the hatchet securely and putting on some gloves.
  2. Using the mill file, follow the existing bevel of the hatchet, pushing the file away from your body. Do this until you’ve reshaped the edge on both sides.
  3. Next, wet your sharpening stone with water or oil. Start with the coarser grit side of the stone, again following the bevel of the hatchet. After several strokes, you’ll start to develop a burr on the edge. Flip to the finer grit side of the stone and repeat the process.
  4. Then switch to the other side of the blade and repeat step 3.
  5. Finally, polish the edge using a strop for a razor-sharp finish.

How Often Should You Sharpen a Bushcraft Hatchet?

The right answer is, as often as it needs doing. The better question would be, how do you know if your axe needs sharpening? To which the answer would be to check it carefully with your thumb. If it feels blunt, then it most certainly is. If you aren’t sure, see if it will bite into a sheet of paper or thin cardboard. If not, then give it a quick sharpening, then test it again. If there is an improvement, then give it a full sharpening to restore it to its best.

As a rule of thumb, a hatchet used frequently for tasks like chopping or splitting should be sharpened every few outings. The sharper you keep it, the better.


We hope you found the best bushcraft hatchet you were looking for and, at the very least, have a better understanding of bushcraft hatchets and hand axes.

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Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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