How to Choose the Best Survival Axe

survival axeIs the survival axe on your list of must-have gear?

When it was first developed by Native American Indians, the hatchet axe had a wooden handle and a head made of stone.

Over time, updates to this primitive design have made axes and hatchets much more efficient and useful tools for survival situations. Still, like any tool, a survival axe can turn out to be a burden if you pick the wrong one.

To help you avoid that mistake, I’ve put together a brief guide on how to select the perfect survival axe to add to your bug out bag.

How to Choose the Best Survival Axe

There’s only so much a person can carry with them in a bug out bag, which means you have to justify every single piece of survival gear you include.

To some, an axe is an extraneous piece of equipment to carry especially if you already have a survival knife.

And while it is true that you can do a lot of the same things an axe can using a survival knife; the fact remains that a knife simply can’t compare to the sheer chopping power of a high-quality axe.

If your survival depends on chopping down a tree, you’ll need an axe (unless you happen to have a chainsaw nearby when SHTF).

Check out the videos below to see how axes are used to construct houses and build canoes. The ability to do this kind of work is invaluable for long-term survival.

So, if you’re on board with using a survival axe, it’s time to learn how to pick out the best one.

Different Types of Axes


The hatchet is a small axe that can be carried on a belt or stored in a bug out bag due to its size and weight.

Hatchets are great for smaller chopping jobs like cutting kindling and limbing trees.  In an emergency, you can use a hatchet or a tomahawk for self-defense. Smaller axes tend to be better for this since you can throw them with greater accuracy.

Felling Axe

As the name suggests, a felling axe is made to cut down trees. As such, felling axes are bigger and heavier than hatchets.

Splitting Maul

A splitting maul is a combination of a hammer and an axe and is used for splitting logs. Splitting mauls have relatively dull blades which keeps them from sticking in logs.

The narrow focus of the splitting maul makes it ideal for one job, but overall, it’s not a very practical choice for a survival axe.

Forest Axe

The forest axe attempts to combine the portability of a hatchet with the tree chopping ability of the felling axe.

It can’t truly compare to a full-sized felling axe, but it is capable of cutting down smaller trees.

When it comes to survival and picking the gear the goes into a bug out bag, many people stick with the hatchet due to it being the smallest and lightest type of survival axe.

However, your situation may require the ability to chop down larger trees or split logs, in which case the hatchet wouldn’t be the best pick.

Still, choosing the right tool for the right job requires an understanding of what makes each axe unique. Use this info to pick the best type for your survival kit.

Qualities to Look for in a Good Survival Axe

Solid Grip – Any axe you pick is bound to get a little wet during use. This could be because of humidity, rain, snow, or simply sweaty palms. No matter the cause, you need an axe with a good grip that won’t slip out of your hands.  Look for handles made out of non-slippery material like wood or rubber.

Balance – A good axe will have a proper balance between the fail and the head. An imbalanced axe will make any work you do more difficult.

Sharpness – Like with balance, having a sharp blade on your axe will make the work you do much easier. Keeping your axe sharp depends on the materials used in the blade and the jobs it performs. For example, using a felling axe to split logs with wear the blade down more quickly.

Personally, I wouldn’t ever replace my knife with a survival axe, but in a SHTF situation, my preference would be to have both tools on hand.


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