Camp axe vs. hatchet – Which one to bring on a camping trip?

When collecting and chopping firewood, you must decide which is the best tool, a camp axe vs. hatchet.

Axes and hatchets have been among the many tools introduced to camps for years because of their numerous applications. However, inexperienced campers have been puzzling over the differences between the camping axe, hatchet, and saw. We discuss camp axe vs. hatchet to compare the two regarding gathering firewood.

You could be wondering whether you can finally get your eyes on that axe of your dreams or if a hatchet would be more appropriate if you want to make impressive campfires. To assist you in deciding which tool you need for a successful fire, we explore the debate of a camp axe vs. hatchet in this article.

What is a camping axe?

What is a hatchet head?
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Camping axes are portable tools made of light wood and sturdy bronze or iron blades that campers frequently use. This axe is unsuitable for hard lifting, chopping thick ropes, or other demanding tasks. As a result, it excels in cutting, piercing, trimming lower branches, and other tasks that might arise while camping.

Benefits of camping axes

1. A camp axe’s swing is longer. This enables you to split larger chunks of wood and provide more leverage. Additionally, it makes them better suited to cutting up fallen timber.

2. An axe often has a heavier head than a hatchet in addition to the longer swing. It has more weight, which provides momentum as it hits the wood. In many cases, splitting wood requires minimal effort because the pendulum effect takes care of everything.

3. Anything that involves throwing a sharp, heavy piece of metal or wood through the air could be hazardous. Axes demand a two-handed grip, which makes swinging at the wood you’re splitting safer and more accurate.

What is a hatchet head?

What is a hatchet head?
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A hatchet is a type of axe, but a tiny one with a short handle and steelhead. Usually, this is for one-handed use. Hatchet is steel and wood, with a hammerhead on one end and a sharp blade on the opposite side.

Hatchets are best used for splitting or chopping small branches. Hatchets are small and convenient to use, especially on mountainsides. Additionally, it is easy to move around with and quick for the backswing.

Benefits of hatchet

1. Hatchets are more effective in cramped spaces and need less swing. This is also the best option if you need to work alongside others because you can easily control your safe area instead of using a big axe.

2. Hatchets are lighter and easier to take on camping than a wood-splitting axe. A hatchet is much more appropriate than a camping axe if you intend to stroll through camps or if there is a limited amount of room.

3. When deciding what to pack for a camping trip, you’re much more likely to bring something multipurpose than anything with a single use. On the back of the axe head, hatchets frequently have a hammerhead. Since they can be used as multiple tools, you won’t need to carry as much equipment for cutting wood.

4. When you go camping, the wood you want to gather is typically already about the appropriate size to burn. It would be best if you frequently had a tool to break down your sawn wood into small enough chunks to burn easily as kindling. A smaller axe, such as a hatchet, is more suited to breaking smaller logs.

Camp axe vs. hatchet: what is the difference?

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A typical camping axe is steel with a double-beveled edge and a long hardwood grip. Axes are frequently employed to split huge logs and gather enough firewood for the evening. The axe head can cut through thick trunks, but their swing length implies they are not as efficient as a saw in chopping fallen timber.

The hatchet is more manageable and made to be held in one hand. These are also called “hand axe,” and while they sometimes resemble the larger axe, they are increasingly constructed with plastic handles to reduce weight. A hatchet will frequently feature a flattened section for light chopping, increasing its utility.

Striking power

The main differences lie in the striking power and striking purposes of camping. The camping axe’s extra weight makes it a little more difficult to carry, but it also comes down harder, making it more suited to cutting through large logs and larger volumes of wood.

On the other hand, the camping hatchet doesn’t have as much force behind each swing, making it more suited for splitting tiny bits of kindling and not a great fit for larger pieces of wood. You’ll become more exhausted if you cut a lot of wood.

The camping axe thus dominates in this contest if you anticipate a lot of larger logs or intend to camp for a long period and will be required to do a lot of chopping. Hatchet shafts should work if you only want to remove a few minor branches.

Ease of use

The next point to discuss is the ease of use of the two tools. The camping axe is longer and heavier than other axes, so using two hands to hold it gives you greater control and accuracy.

Additionally, even though the camping axe is heavier, once you swing, it comes down more effortlessly, requiring less effort. The hatchet weighs much less and requires a gentler motion when cutting.

The amount of space you have is another factor influencing how simple it is to use these two. Because of the axe’s long wooden handle, you need a good amount of space around you to swing it effectively.

As a result, if you’re camping with many other adults and kids or chopping in a dense forest with close-packed trees, the axe will be more challenging to swing. This decision may also depend on where you’re going because the hatchet is simpler to use in confined spaces.


And last, there’s the issue of versatility. The camping axe only has one task, and it excels at it: chopping large amounts of wood. It doesn’t serve any other purpose besides that.

For hammering in steel tent stakes, pounding dents out of your camping pans, smashing things open, and anything else, you might need a little blunt force. The hatchet includes a flat edge on the other side of the head that can also be used as a hammer, making it a multi-tool that can be used for various tasks.

Camp axe vs. hatchet: the verdict

Axe vs hatchet: the verdict
Photo credit: Unsplash

Camp axe or hatchet is a matter of why and where you will use the tools. Consider where and how long you will likely be camping before deciding between the two options. Additionally, you should consider the type of wood available nearby and the purpose for which you will use the campfire.

Axes will be more practical for you if you plan to go camping for an extended period and need larger pieces of wood. Large pieces and hardwoods take more swinging to generate the proper power, making camping axes better suited for these tasks. If you are car camping, good axes are very useful.

You probably don’t need to get the biggest, heaviest axe in the hardware store. An axe is anything with a handle longer than 12 inches. An axe 12 to 24 inches is typically more than sufficient for camping. This length provides ample room for both hands on the handle and enough swinging power to split even hardwoods.

A hatchet is frequently a preferable option if you have to travel far to get to your camp. In these circumstances, the hatchet’s lightweight construction and small body are great advantages because it makes it simple to stow it on or inside your pack.

When backpacking, your fire is often small and used more for warmth than cooking or longevity. In this situation, the wood you cut is used for kindling or reaching moist logs’ centers. The hatchet is ideal for tiny wood-burning stoves since it can be used one-handedly and splits smaller logs.

About Antonio

I’m Antonio, a passionate traveler, and outdoor lover who’s running this website. I started this site to share my passion for camping, traveling, and bikepacking.