Hatchet on a tree stump

Best Hatchet for Bug-Out Bag in 2021

Hatchets are great tools for your bug-out bag because they have so many uses.  A hatchet can be used to chop firewood, cut trees, and even hew wood to make a flat surface to sit on.  In an emergency, a hatchet can be thrown as a weapon for self-defense or hunting purposes.  The thing that differentiates a hatchet from an axe is a hatchet can be used as a hammer while an axe cannot.

Things to consider before buying a hatchet

If you ask any outdoor enthusiast or survivalist what to look for in a hatchet, each person will give a different answer.  This is one category of tool where there is no universally accepted best-of list.  There is no single best answer as it is all preferences.  The main difference among hatchets is the handle material.

One-Piece Steel

One-piece steel hatchets mean the entire hatchet from blade to handle is made from a single piece of steel.  There is no question that a steel-handled hatchet is durable.  In fact, the hatchet will likely last for centuries.  The drawback is one-piece steel hatchets are extremely heavy.  It is not something you will want to carry backpacking.  But if you are looking for durability, a steel handle is the way to go without question.

Wood-Handle

Wood handled hatchets are the classic type of hatchet.  These have been around since hatchets were invented.  These are traditional style and very durable, but the wood handle is not something you should leave in the elements.

Fiberglass-Handle

Fiberglass handled hatchets are a newer technology and are a good choice.  These handles are durable and light.  They will hold up to abuse.  Some fiberglass handled hatchets include additional functionality like holding a small saw.  This makes the hatchet into a more functional multi-tool.

Top Pick

Off Grid Tools Survival Axe Ultimate Outdoor Multitool-Hatchet Hammer Saw

For an emergency kit, I really like the Off Grid Tools Survival Axe because it is very much a multi-tool.  This is the hatchet I have in my bug-out bag because I think this is the ultimate survival axe.

Features & Benefits

The Off Grid Tools Survival Axe is not only an axe, but also a hammer and a saw among other things.  This hatchet can be used as a wrench in certain situations as it has hex sockets for 10mm, 11mm, 13mm, and 15mm hex heads.  It also includes a hardened steel glass breaker and seat belt cutter along with a nail remover, and bottle opener.

This hatchet is only 11.5 inches long and weighs in at 1.6 pounds.  It fits well in my go-bag but is heavy enough to do the job it is intended for which is chopping.

The hatchet head is made from 420 stainless steel which makes it strong and rust resistant.  Stainless steel is slightly difficult to sharpen, but a hatchet does not need to be razor sharp.  It is more important for the hatchet head to be strong to take the repeated chopping it is designed for.

The feature that I was most impressed with was the foldable and replaceable saw blade integrated into the handle.  This is the same saw blade that I have in my reciprocating saw in the garage which will cut through anything.

This axe is small enough to fit in the glove compartment of a car in case of emergency and induces the tools to be able to escape a burning vehicle if it comes to it.  Or it could be used to rescue someone from a burning or sinking car.

The handle is made from some sort of composite material, likely fiberglass.  It feels great in the hand.  The weight is distributed appropriately to make chopping an easy chore.  Most impressive to me is that the head is full tang which means the part of the head that connects to the handles runs through the entire handle rather than stopping a few inches in.  This feature significantly improves the durability of the axe and there are few worries the head will fly off while chopping.

What do owners say

Don’t take my word for it.  I also searched the Internet to find out what people who have used this knife for some time have to say about it. 

Pros:  The feature people love about this hatchet is it is truly a multi-tool and a great camp tool.

Cons:  This hatchet is not sharp out of the box, but is easily sharpened.  After using this hatchet for a period of time, some owners say the hatchet is not great at any one thing but considering it is a multi-tool, the combination of features make an acceptable tradeoff.

Runners-Up:

Estwing Sportsman’s Axe

The Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is one of the most durable tools you will ever own.  For an axe that will get frequent use, this is the hatchet I would own.

Features & Benefits

This hatchet is made in the United States and fully forged 1055 steel.  This means the entire tool, from axe head through the handle is one piece of steel.  This makes the axe extremely durable and long lasting.

The axe is 14 inches long from the bottom of the handle to the top of the blade.  The hatchet weighs in at around 1.9 pounds.

The handle is wrapped in leather which not only provides a nice look but makes it comfortable in the hand and helps it to not slip.

The hatchet comes with a nylon sheath to not only protect the blade but also to protect people from getting cut.  This hatchet comes extremely sharp from the factory.

What do owners say

Pros:  Owners say this is a very solid axe and can definitely chop wood for years.  Users say it is a great tent stake hammer, but to leave the sheath on as a safety measure to prevent getting cut while swinging the axe.

Cons:  Some owners don’t like the varnish on the handle and take it into their own hands to sand off the varnish with 100 grit sandpaper and then applying oil.

Schrade SCAXE10

The Schrade SCAXE is another great hatchet with a great slip resistant handle.

Features & Benefits

This hatchet has a large 3.6 inch cutting edge made of stainless steel.  The tang runs nearly the full length of the handle which is more than sufficient to ensure the head stays on.

The axe is fully sharpened from the factory and ready to use.

The length of the hatchet is 11.1 inches from the bottom of the handle to the top of the head.  And the axe weighs in at 1 pound 6 ounces.

The handle is wrapped in rubber and is very slip resistant which is an important safety feature when swinging an axe.

The Schrade hatchet comes with a thermoplastic sheath that will easily attach to your belt.  The sheath will protect the blade from damage while in storage as well as protecting the user from being cut.

Conclusion

For the purposes of my bug-out bag, I like the Off Grid Tools Survival Axe because of the multi functions built in.  I am willing to trade off a bit of performance for a tool that provides extra functionality for my bug-out bag.  I make this tradeoff because I actually hope my survival kit is never used.

For a hatchet that will get more frequent use camping regularly, I recommend the Estwing Sportsman Axe because this is a durable, top-of the line axe.  I love the fact that it is a durable, one-piece steel axe.  This is an axe that will never fail you and will be functional the rest of your life.