Hatchets and axes are both very useful tools for outdoor work, but they’re not as similar as they might look. Despite the fact that they appear to have the same function, you couldn’t do a hatchet’s work with an ax and vice versa.
When it comes to hatchets vs. axes, axes are much better for chopping large logs of wood, whereas hatches are better for smaller obstacles. The portability and compact nature of a hatchet make it better for backpacking, while the power and force produced by an ax make it better for log chopping.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn about the following information:
- All of the differences between hatches and axes
- Which one you should choose
- The best hatchet and ax on the market
What Are the Differences Between Hatches and Axes?
Hatches and axes have blades that look the same, but they function entirely differently. Most hatchet tasks, such as creating traps or cutting through dense forests, would take far too much time with an ax. On the other hand, chopping through an 8-inch log with a hatchet would take too much force.
Let’s examine the pros, cons, and differences between the two tools:
Pros of Axes
- Axes allow you to produce an incredible amount of force from a single swing. You can quickly slice through a thick tree log if you know what you’re doing. They’re also much better for cutting through doors if you need to exit during an emergency, something that’d be rather challenging with a hatchet.
- The head of an ax is usually much heavier than a hatchet, making it even stronger. Since you can buy axes with heavier heads than the next, you can gauge how much force you want to produce with each swing. With proper technique, there’s no doubting the effectiveness of a heavy ax.
- Since axes have longer handles than hatches, you can have more control over each motion. You’ll have room for both of your hands to get an accurate swing, while also getting the added benefit of sliding down further for more power. Longer handles should be used if you have longer arms.
Cons of Axes
- Axes are much heavier than hatchets. Lugging an ax around isn’t always easy, and it’s nearly impossible if you want to go backpacking. You’ll only be able to use it around your home or if you drive it elsewhere.
- Axes are usually more expensive than a hatchet, even if they have fewer features. The reason is that they use more metal and wood. You’ll sacrifice nail pullers, pommels, and more for a more powerful swing. This may or may not be a disadvantage for you.
Pros of Hatchets
- The compact size of a hatchet makes it ideal for backpacking, hiking, camping, and other long outdoor trips. You couldn’t carry an ax in your backpack, but hatchets are the perfect size for such adventures.
- Hatchets often come with multiple features that expand its possible uses. For example, you could remove nails, hammer them back in, and hang your hatchet by its loops. None of those features are usually found on an ax.
- Being able to use only one hand as you do with a hatchet is much more convenient. You can quickly slice through sticks and bushes in front of you. Hardly any energy is consumed during the process, unlike the exhausting motion of using an ax repeatedly.
Cons of Hatchets
- Since they’re lightweight and small, you won’t be able to slice through huge logs with a hatchet. They’re not designed for heavyweight tasks, so you’ll be limited in what you can take on when you’re using it.
- Hatches only have enough space for one hand, so you won’t get as much control as you would if you were using an ax. You also can’t perform the same sliding motion to optimize the downward force.
My Recommended Hatchet
If you want a multipurpose hatchet that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, then you’re in luck. We currently recommend this well-made survival hatchet (Click to see Amazon listing). It is loaded with heavy-duty materials, high-quality construction, and several features. In my opinion, after giving this hatchet a try, you won’t want to reach for another one any time soon.
The carbon steel blade on this hatchet is made for slicing through sticks, bushes, fish, animal skin, and more. You can create traps as well. Whether you’re camping or hunting, this hatchet will come in handy multiple times during your trip. Latch it up with a carabiner and carry it outside of your backpack or throw it in the sheathe and carry it by your waist. It is also compact enough to fit in a bug out bag.
Speaking of the sheathe, it’s made fairly robust and is serviceable for a stock item. You can store your hatchet inside without dulling the blade or cutting through the nylon. It’ll be completely safe until you need to use it again. With a simple rotation, you can pull the hatchet out whenever you want. You may want to buy an upgraded sheathe, which is always an option.
The additional features of this hatchet include an ergonomic handle, a sharpened pommel, a nail puller, and hanging loops to latch it on a rope or carabiner. All in all, this hatchet is budget-friendly and incredibly well-made.
- Includes sheath for storage purposes
- Pre-sharpened 3-inch carbon steel blade
- Comfortable, lightweight, ergonomic handle
- Comes with a handful of special features
My Recommended Ax
On the other hand, choosing an ax is an excellent decision if you want to cut down small trees or gather firewood. My current favorite ax (Click to see Amazon listing) is definitely the best bang for your buck. Coming from a well-trusted company that continues to produce consistent quality throughout their products, you won’t find a better option.
The smooth handle of this ax makes it easy for you to slide your hand down when you use it. Place your dominant hand at the base of the blade and your off-hand on the bottom of the handle. As you swing downward, slide your dominant hand down the handle to meet your off-hand.
There’s also a small hole at the bottom of the ax, making it easy for you to string it up on a tree or fence post when you’re not using it. Slide it off and get to work in no time. The head is more lightweight than many models, so you’ll be able to carry it without much effort, unlike most other bulky axes.
While this ax is a good length, you can choose from a plethora of other sizes. For example, the manufacturer also offers axes in the low 20’s up to around 30 inches. Just keep in mind that their products may change over time, so availability may be different currently than the time of this review. Every size has a specific purpose, so make sure you look at the details before you make your final decision.
- Comes with a high-quality, smooth hickory handle
- Lightweight ax head
- Made by one of the most well-known brands
- Perfect size for wood chopping and firewood collecting
Hatchets and axes are both very useful tools. Size, power, and weight are the three main differences. Before you buy either of them, consider writing down a list of your needs, so you know what to look for. You may find that you’d be better off with a survival knife or machete.
Here’s a quick recap of the post:
- Hatchets are better for small sticks and bushes, whereas axes are better for thick logs.
- If you’re camping, hiking, or backpacking, choose a hatchet.
- If you want more control while chopping, always pick an ax.
- Axes are heavier than hatchets, but they provide more power.
- The head of an ax and a hatchet are often shaped slightly differently.
For more, check out Is It Legal To Carry A Hatchet? | Circumstances Matter.
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!