When it’s time to go hiking, some people are really obsessive about the items they pack. Things such as a sleeping bag, commando knife, ground pad and so much more will not miss out on the list. But even for those that pack more reasonably will spend some considerable time to determine the items to bring on the trail. There seems to be one item, nonetheless, that oftentimes gets overlooked, while it could be one of the most essential items to have on the hiking trip. These are hiking axes and hatchets.

Most people can’t really count the number of times they have had to chop up medium or small trees and logs. Sometimes it was for clearing obstacles to help them get home during their adventures in the outdoors. If you were really looking for a perfect way to ignite an argument among ardent lovers of pursuing outdoors, is by bringing up the question of the better tool to carry between an axe and a hatchet. Some people carry both, but when you cannot, which one would you carry? And that gets us to the subject matter of this article.

Hatchet or Axe for Survival?

Before delving further into the discussion, it would help to understand the difference between the two items. While they seem quite similar and some people use them interchangeably, that is not the case. Each of them is different and opposite for different tasks.

The Axe

This tool has two major parts; the head and handle sometimes known as haft. The head of the axe has numerous parts that contribute to how it balances and cuts. They are typically designed to be used with both hands, by leveraging on kinetic energy to offer extra force to the cutting edge. They are suited to felling trees, splitting up huge chunks of wood and quickly strip bark. By reducing on the handle, you can use it one-handed like a hatchet. However, it will be lacking in balance and make you tire quickly. When going for hiking, however be sure to get the smaller versions that have shorter handles of between 19” and 22”. This makes them easy to be strapped on the outside of your hiking pack.

The Hatchet

While this may look like an axe that has been scaled down, it’s actually a totally different tool. The short handle gives less power at the cutting edge. Nonetheless, it allows for use in tighter spaces, where an axe will be difficult to get the right backswing. It is pretty clear that a hatchet is meant for use with one hand. When it comes to felling smaller trees that measure up to 3” diameters, and shaving the barks, a hatchet can be quite effective. They can also split up both soft and hardwoods provided they are not too large. Due to their small size, they are particularly ideal for working in tight places. You may want to use to chop through any bone and are handy for using as a hammer or anything that needs hammering. If you want to make your travois, fashion cooking pyramid frames or build temporary shelters and tent stakes, you will find the hatchet quite ideal for pursuing outdoors.

To properly determine the best tool between an axe and a hatchet, it will actually depend on the needs of the outdoor enthusiast. Where do you intend to visit? What structures will you be fashioning? Asking these questions will help you establish the best tool to bring among the two. But when you are uncertain and you have the capacity to accommodate both tools, why not bring them on the hiking trip just in case you get different uses for each?