How to Find the Best Camp Axe for Survivalists

Have you ever been in the great outdoors and found yourself in need of a reliable camp axe to survive and thrive? A sharp, well-crafted camp axe can make all the difference when it comes to tackling tasks like chopping wood, carving, and even cooking. But how do you choose the right camp axe that suits your needs and preferences? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the factors to consider when selecting the perfect camp axe, discuss top recommendations, and share axe maintenance, safety tips, and DIY sharpening techniques.

By the end of this blog post, you’ll be well-equipped with the knowledge to find the best camp axe for survivalists and ensure that your trusty tool remains in peak condition for years to come.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose the right camp axe based on size, weight, head material and handle material for efficiency.

  • Regular cleaning, storage and maintenance are key to preserving the effectiveness of a camp axe.

  • Practice safety techniques like proper gripping & chopping plus use PPE when using an axe for optimal experience.

Choosing the Right Camp Axe

Gear love

When choosing the right camp axe, you should take into account factors like:

  • Size

  • Weight

  • Axe head material

  • Handle material

All of these elements contribute to a camp axe that aligns with your needs and preferences. A sharp axe not only makes tasks easier but also reduces the risk of accidents due to a dull axe slipping off the wood and causing unintended injuries. Maintaining the axe’s edge is crucial for both efficiency and safety.

Next, we’ll delve into the crucial considerations when picking out the perfect camp axe. We’ll tackle the importance of size and weight, evaluate the pros and cons of various axe head materials, and explore handle material options, providing all the information you need for an informed decision.

Size and Weight

In the selection process of a camp axe, size, and weight are pivotal considerations. The right size and weight will ensure that the axe is suitable for the user and the tasks it will be used for, such as chopping wood or carving. An axe that is too heavy or too light can lead to fatigue, reduced efficiency, and even potential injuries.

So, what is the ideal size and weight for a camp axe? Experts recommend that full-grown, 6-foot adults use a 28- to 31-inch handle for better handling. A 36-inch handle may be too big and cumbersome. The weight of a camp axe typically ranges from 1.25 to 2.4 pounds. To maintain the axe’s edge, use a coarse stone for initial sharpening.

Axe Head Material

Axe head material plays a significant role in determining the durability and sharpness of your camp axe. Some common materials used for axe heads include plain carbon steel, high carbon steel, and forged steel. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of strength, durability, and resistance to rust and corrosion.

For instance, plain carbon steel offers strength and durability but is susceptible to rusting and corrosion; high carbon steel is renowned for its strength and durability but is more costly than other materials.

Ultimately, the choice of axe head material will depend on your specific needs and preferences, as well as the tasks you plan to use the axe for.

Handle Material

The handle material of a camp axe is another essential factor to consider. Handle material options available include wood, fiberglass, and metal. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of durability, weight, and comfort.

Wood handles, for example, are made from wood fibers, which make them lightweight and ergonomic to use, offering a secure grip and an attractive appearance; fiberglass handles are known for their durability and resistance to wear and tear, as well as their lightweight composition and good grip; metal handles, on the other hand, are highly durable and can handle heavy usage, but they might be less comfortable for extended periods of use.

The choice of handle material will depend on your personal preferences and the specific tasks you plan to use the axe for.

Top Camp Axe Recommendations

Free axe image

Having discussed the crucial aspects to look for in a camp axe, let’s now review some top-rated camp axe recommendations. We’ve categorized our top picks into compact, medium-sized, and heavy-duty axes, each designed for specific tasks and user preferences. Whether you’re a backpacker in need of a lightweight tool or an experienced outdoorsman looking for a heavy-duty camp axe, we’ve got you covered.

In the next sections, we’ll present the highest-rated options for compact, medium-sized, and heavy-duty camp axes, guiding you towards finding the perfect tool for your outdoor adventures.

Compact Camp Axes

Compact camp axes are lightweight and easy to carry, making them ideal for backpacking and small tasks. Some top-rated compact camp axe options include the Hults Bruk Kisa, Fiskars X11, and Council Tool Boy’s Axe. These axes offer a balance of portability and power, with a small, lightweight design for portability and robust construction with a strong head and handle.

Despite their smaller size, compact camp axes still offer a versatile design for various tasks, a comfortable grip, and some models may feature a curved handle for enhanced control and efficiency. However, keep in mind that compact camp axes may not be as effective as larger axes and may not be suitable for more strenuous tasks, such as splitting substantial logs.

Medium-sized Camp Axes

brown hatchet on log
Photo by Tyler Lastovich on

Medium-sized camp axes offer a balance between portability and chopping power, making them suitable for a variety of tasks. The Hults Bruk Akka is the optimal choice for medium-sized camping. These axes usually feature:

  • Head and hickory handle construction

  • Compact size for portability

  • Versatility for multiple uses

  • High carbon steel head for durability

  • Balanced weight distribution

Medium-sized camp axes are advantageous due to their lightweight and portability, making them suitable for camping and backpacking. Additionally, they are highly versatile, capable of performing a range of tasks from chopping wood to splitting logs. However, like compact camp axes, medium-sized camp axes may not be suitable for more strenuous tasks, such as splitting large logs.

Heavy-duty Camp Axes


Heavy-duty camp axes are designed for more demanding tasks, such as splitting large logs and felling trees. The Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet and the Estwing E45A are highly recommended for heavy-duty camping. These axes tend to be larger and heavier than other types of camp axes due to their design for more strenuous tasks.

Heavy-duty camp axes usually have axe heads constructed of steel or other robust metals, and feature handles made of wood, fiberglass, or other durable materials. If you find yourself regularly tackling demanding tasks in the great outdoors, a heavy-duty camp axe may be the ideal tool for you.

Axe Maintenance and Care

An axe in a log
An axe in a log by Markus Spiske is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

For maintaining your camp axe in good condition and ensuring its optimal performance, effective maintenance and care are vital. Regular cleaning, proper storage, and handle maintenance can significantly prolong the lifespan of your camp axe and maintain its efficiency. After all, a well-maintained camp axe is not only safer to use but also more effective.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll delve into appropriate methods for cleaning and storing your camp axe, along with tips to maintain the handle, ensuring the longevity and reliability of your tool.

Cleaning and Storage

Cleaning and storage of a camp axe involve removing dirt and debris, drying the axe head, and applying a protective coating to prevent rust and corrosion. To clean a camp axe, it is recommended to avoid using water or soap. Instead, use oil and wire wool to eliminate any rust, and then wipe the axe clean with a cloth or towel. WD-40 can also be used to remove dirt and rust from the axe head.

After cleaning, ensure the axe head is thoroughly dried by wiping it down with a dry cloth or towel. To protect the axe head from rust and corrosion, apply a thin layer of oil or wax.

Finally, store the axe in a dry area, free from moisture and humidity, to prevent rust and other damage.

Handle Maintenance

Handle maintenance is essential in prolonging the lifespan of your camp axe. Regularly inspect the handle for signs of damage, such as cracks or rough spots. If you detect any rough spots on the handle, sand them down to maintain a comfortable and secure grip.

To further extend the life of the camp axe handle, apply a protective finish, such as linseed oil, tung oil, or honing oil, which will help preserve the wood and prevent it from drying out or cracking.

By maintaining the handle, you can ensure your camp axe remains a reliable and efficient tool for all your outdoor adventures.

Safety Tips for Using a Camp Axe

Safety Glasses (goggles)

Regardless of your experience level with using a camp axe, prioritizing safety is always paramount. Accidents can happen, and a sharp axe can cause severe injuries if not handled correctly. It’s essential to follow proper gripping techniques, chopping and splitting techniques, and wear personal protective equipment to minimize the risk of injury.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll share essential safety tips for using a camp axe. These will include the correct gripping technique, chopping and splitting methods, and the significance of wearing personal protective equipment, all aimed at ensuring your safety and enhancing your experience.

Proper Gripping Technique

a man holds an old worn axe
Photo by Kaboompics .com on

Proper gripping technique is crucial when using a camp axe to maintain control throughout the swing and prevent accidents. To grip a camp axe correctly, follow these steps:

  1. Hold the handle with both hands, one near the head and one near the end of the handle.

  2. Ensure your hands and fingers are kept away from the blade.

  3. Maintain a firm grip on the handle throughout the swing.

Gripping the axe too firmly can result in fatigue and stress, leading to an inaccurate swing and the possibility of injury. Always maintain a comfortable and secure grip on the handle, adjusting your grip as necessary to avoid overexertion and maintain control throughout the circular motion of the swing. Ensuring the correct angle of your swing will also contribute to its effectiveness and safety.

Chopping and Splitting Techniques

a man chopping wood in a winter forest
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

Proper chopping and splitting techniques are essential for efficient and safe use of the camp axe. When chopping with a camp axe, use a consistent and measured motion, ensuring that hands and fingers remain clear of the blade. When splitting, use a wedge to initiate a crack in the wood before using the axe, again keeping hands and fingers away from the blade.

By practicing proper chopping and splitting techniques, you can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries while using your camp axe. Remember to always follow safety guidelines and never swing the axe when feeling fatigued or in low-light conditions.

Personal Protective Equipment

a man chopping the tree using axe
Photo by Marina Bakhmutchenko on Don’t be this guy!

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential when using a camp axe to minimize the risk of injury. Some examples of essential PPE include:

  • Gloves: Protects your hands from splinters and helps maintain a secure grip on the axe handle.

  • Safety glasses: Shields your eyes from flying wood chips.

  • Sturdy footwear: Protects your feet from any potential hazards.

In addition to wearing PPE, always ensure that you have a safe working area when using a camp axe. Establish a safety perimeter, and store the axe in a cover or sheath when not in use. By following these safety tips, you can use your camp axe with confidence and enjoy a safe and rewarding outdoor experience.

DIY Axe Sharpening Techniques

A well-sharpened and properly maintained camp axe doesn’t just enhance safety but also boosts efficiency. There are several DIY axe sharpening techniques you can use to maintain a sharp and efficient cutting edge on your camp axe. These techniques include using a file, whetstone, and stropping to create a razor-sharp edge that will make your camp tasks easier and more enjoyable.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll explore various DIY axe sharpening techniques, complete with step-by-step instructions to help you maintain your camp axe in peak condition, ready to tackle any task.

Sharpening with a File

Sharpening a camp axe with a file is a common and effective technique for shaping and refining the cutting edge of the axe blade. To sharpen an axe with a file, you’ll need a bastard mill file, which is the optimal choice for sharpening axes. The recommended length for a file used to sharpen an axe is between 8 and 12 inches (or 200 and 300 mm).

To start sharpening, follow these steps:

  1. Clamp the axe to a table or workbench to secure it.

  2. Clean the axe head and file to remove any dirt or debris.

  3. Following the existing bevel, use consistent strokes with the file to shape and refine the cutting edge.

  4. Start filing one side of the axe, progressing from one tip to the other.

  5. Repeat the process on the other side, ensuring that you maintain a consistent angle throughout the process.

Sharpening with a Whetstone

Sharpening with a whetstone is another effective technique to maintain a sharp edge on your camp axe. A whetstone is a sharpening stone. It can be used to sharpen an axe edge to a level that it can be used for shaving. To sharpen an axe with a whetstone, you’ll need a coarse and fine grit stone to remove nicks and refine the edge.

Before sharpening, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the axe head.

  2. Lubricate the whetstone with a light oil.

  3. Place the axe on the coarse side of the whetstone, maintaining a consistent angle of approximately 30 degrees per side.

  4. Use circular motions to sharpen the axe, ensuring that the entire edge is sharpened evenly.

After the coarse side, repeat the process on the fine side of the fine stone whetstone to refine and polish the edge.

Stropping for a Polished Edge

Stropping is a technique that involves using a leather strop or belt to remove any remaining imperfections and create a razor-sharp edge on the camp axe. This technique is particularly useful for achieving a polished edge that ensures smooth and efficient cutting.

To strop a camp axe, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the axe head.

  2. Prepare a suede strop coated in chromium oxide followed by plain leather.

  3. Hold the strop in one hand and the axe in the other, with the cutting edge facing away from the strop.

  4. Stroke the cutting edge along the strop, moving away from the blade.

  5. Repeat this process several times on each side of the cutting edge until the desired sharpness is achieved.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve covered the essential factors to consider when choosing the right camp axe, provided top recommendations, and shared valuable tips on axe maintenance, safety, and DIY sharpening techniques. By understanding the importance of size, weight, axe head material, and handle material, you can select the perfect camp axe that meets your needs and preferences.

With proper care and maintenance, your camp axe will remain a reliable and efficient tool for all your outdoor adventures. By following the safety tips and DIY sharpening techniques discussed in this guide, you can ensure your camp axe stays in top condition, allowing you to conquer any task with confidence and ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the proper way to sharpen an axe?

To sharpen an axe, first, check for damage and remove them by securing it to a vise or table with clamps. Utilize a sharpening stone, working from a coarse side to a fine side, using the same number of strokes on each side of the axe. This will create a sharp edge.

What can I use at home to sharpen an axe?

At home, you can use a grinder, file, sharpening stone, or even coarse-grit sandpaper to sharpen an axe blade. You can also take your axe to a professional sharpener for a more precise edge.

What angle do you sharpen an axe?

The proper angle to sharpen an axe is between 35 and 40 degrees, with 10-12 degree angles on either side of the bit. Avoid sharpening on a bench grinder as it may affect the temper of the axe.

What factors should I consider when choosing a camp axe?

When selecting a camp axe, look for one that is the right size and weight for your needs, with an axe head made of quality material and a handle suitable to the task. Investing in a quality axe will ensure maximum performance.

How can I maintain my camp axe to keep it in good condition?

To maintain your camp axe in good condition, ensure regular cleaning, proper storage, and handle maintenance. Cleaning your axe should be done after each use. Use a damp cloth to wipe away dirt and debris. Proper storage is also important. Store your axe in a dry place

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