An ax is a primitive tool essential for survival in wooded areas. With an axe, you can chop wood, start fires, construct shelter, and even defend yourself. But if you look for survival axes in online stores, you might be overwhelmed by the multitude of results. Some axes are even part of survival kits or multi-tools. However, it’s not advisable to rely on axes on kits, as they easily break and you might find them useless in the woods. A great survival axe is a good old simple axe.
The only problem for campers, adventurers and survivalists looking for a reliable survival axe is the number of options. While there are so many axes out there in the market, here are some of our best picks:
Gränsfors Bruks is one of Sweden’s remaining axe forges, which has been operating for more than 100 years. Their company continues to forge axes with the highest quality by hand, making their axes the luxury option. Their axes are forged using sophisticated techniques to ensure longevity and durability, making it heirloom material. Gränsfors Bruks Small Forest Axe is one of the most famous bushcrafting axes in the world.
This axe can fit comfortably in your hands. Its hickory handle supports the axe head well, making it unlikely to get caught on the brush. It can do more than hatchet, like limbing and felling trees. It’s great for carving and making feather sticks. It comes with a vegetable-tanned leather sheath and an original Gränsfors Axe Book. Since it’s a small axe, it’s not advisable to use it for splitting medium to large logs, and felling larger trees.
The Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is one of the most popular one-piece forged axes for camping in the market. Since the handle and head are forged in one piece, it’s rated as the most durable, longest-lasting striking tools available. It’s perfect for chopping logs, kindling, or splitting firewood, making it a perfect camping companion. Its genuine leather handle and drop forge single-piece design makes it very reliable. This axe has a long cutting surface with a mirror finish to resist corrosion and reduce friction.
The good thing about Estwing is that the company has been crafting axes in the US since 1923, so you can be assured of quality and great work. However, the leather handle has a varnish that needs to be taken off so it won’t crack and chip with use. If not removed, the grip will start to absorb water and moisture and cause the leather to rot. Sand the lacquer off with a 100-grit sandpaper and apply leather protectant.
Fiskars X15 Chopping Axe is one of the most lightweight, most durable and cheapest axes available. Unlike the Gransfors Bruks axe that has a classic appearance, this one is modern-looking. It has a forged, high-carbon steel head with a handle made from rubberized composite material. But though it looks unnatural, it thrives in a natural environment. Its axe head is designed for chopping and felling small to medium trees. The cheeks of the axe are thick enough to split logs without too much difficulty.
This axe has a perfect balance and power-to-weight ratio, which increases swing speed for power. It chops deeper with each swing to get work done faster. The rubberized handle is extremely durable, and it’s even stronger than steel when it comes to impacts. It’s also good at absorbing shocks, and it doesn’t get slippery when your hands become sweaty. The sheath is large and good for mounting the axe to your car or boat.
CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk is basically an axe with hammerhead. Usually, tomahawks are not considered as a survival tool, but this one is great at light tasks that can help you survive in the wilderness. The CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk is one of the best tomahawks for survival purposes.
Like most tomahawks, its head isn’t permanently attached to the handle, so you can replace its handle – something you cannot do with other types of axes. The handle can be used as a scraper when the head is not attached. Also, the poll of this axe is a hardened hammer, adding to its utility and handiness at the wilderness. This axe is great at chopping tasks, but it’s less effective at splitting wood. It’s the perfect axe, hammer and weapon combo to bring with you in the woods.
The Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife axe is a Swedish wood-handled hatchet. It’s a classic axe made from the company’s proprietary axe steel and American hickory handle. The hickory is harvested from responsibly-managed forests, and the steel is made from recycled scrap metal by Ovako, making it an environmentally responsible choice. It’s pretty light at one pound, making it comfortable to bring and use in the wilderness. The handle gives the user enough leverage to chop down small trees.
It differs with the Small Forest Axe because its top curves down a little bit. It’s a versatile tool that can be used for carving, splitting, limbing and more. It also comes with a vegetable-tanned leather sheath and the Gränsfors Axe Book.
Usually, combination tools are not that great. A separate axe and a separate saw usually works better than an axe-and-saw combo. Many are under-engineered and have weak points, while some have a poor quality saw, poor axe, or both. However, we can’t deny the convenience that combo tools can bring, especially in a survival situation. While there doesn’t seem to be a lot of great axe-and-saw combos in the market, the Schrade SCAXE9CP is a rare exception.
The axe works great for carving, limbing small trees, and light chopping tasks. The fully extending saw blade, which is stored in the handle of the axe, has aggressive teeth that are effective at cutting through branches. It includes a locking mechanism to keep the saw in the handle as you use the axe. When it’s unfolded, the saw locks in two positions: high and low.