Pretty much everyone takes some sort of blade with them into the wilderness. It’s just common sense, there are so many reasons you might need one. The thing is, most people don’t realize just how many types of tools they have to choose from these days. Today, we’ll look at each of the options and help you decide how to stay on the cutting edge.
An axe is the most classic way to cut and split wood. I’m sure I don’t need to describe them to you. You can pick one up at your local hardware store or Walmart for anything from $20 and up. They are big, powerful and effective for preparing firewood.
Really useful for stacking that woodpile in your backyard, but maybe not as useful in the woods. It’s rare to find wood large enough to really need an axe when you’re in the wilderness. That is, unless you plan on felling trees. However, freshly fallen wood doesn’t burn well. Wood usually has to cure for months or years before it will burn right. It can be handy to carry an axe in your car for the sake of being prepared, but they don’t make great backcountry tools. Far too big.
If you want an axe while you’re camping but don’t want to carry the whole thing, a hatchet is a great option. A hatchet is a miniature axe and can get most of the same jobs done. They can split firewood, albeit with a little more effort and technique than an axe. Hatchets can also make quick work of kindling or chop bigger logs into pieces.
They might not be as powerful as a full size axe. You’ll probably have to work a little harder to get the job done. But a hatchet easily straps to the side of your pack and can go out with you wherever you go. Although, I still don’t recommend one for backpacking.
Here’s where things get interesting. You’ve probably used lots of axes and hatchets in your day, but the tomahawk is little known. It has enjoyed relative obscurity for several decades. However, tomahawks are making a comeback in tactical and survivalist circles, and for good reason.
A tomahawk combines all the power and mechanical force of an axe with the lightweight design of a hatchet. They are longer than hatchets with thin, usually straighter handles. Tomahawks derive their power from the leverage they allow you to create.
If you haven’t used one of these things yet, you have to check them out. I would take a good tomahawk over an axe or hatchet any day. They are light enough to take in the woods and strong enough to do most backyard jobs as well. Unless you break trees down for a living, you probably don’t need any more than this.
Fixed blade knives
Axe designs are great, but the real bread and butter of any hiker or camper’s kit is a good fixed blade knife. They are far lighter and more versatile. You can split wood for your fire and make your sandwiches with the same tool. An axe definitely doesn’t make sandwiches.
Knives are also better for making kindling, creating DIY tools, and easy carry. The reason a fixed blade is so important is strength. With a fixed blade, you can hammer cut, or baton cut wood and achieve the same results as a hatchet or tomahawk with just a little extra time and technique.
If you want a really big, beastly blade, look into Bowie knives. They are some of the biggest, most savage knives on the market and fall just short of machetes. However, there are lots of good smaller options out there too.
When you think of pocket knives, you probably think of swiss army knives with ten tools all packed into one little red case.
Those are great, and there are a ton of varieties of pocket knife out there to meet all different needs. If you want an every purpose blade like the famous Swiss army knife, I suggest looking into multitools. They are strong, compact and will never fail you.
However, if you just want a small blade that you can easily carry in your pocket, check out EDC knives. EDC stands for ‘every day carry’ and has become very popular in the last decade. There is a vast and knowledgeable community of EDC experts that swear by the right tools readily at hand anywhere you are.
An EDC knife isn’t just great when you’re on an adventure, it can come in handy in your everyday life. You might need it at work, home, or the park for little things like opening boxes or cutting ropes.
Which blade’s best?
So which ones will you collect and carry with you in the woods? That will depend on what you find yourself doing most often.
If you’re a car camper, you might want the bigger blades on the list. If you usually only outfit yourself with boots and a backpack, maybe all you need is a good knife to take along. Or hey, maybe you just love sharp things and want one of each. Heck, why not get two.
There are so many types of blades to choose from and a multitude of brands that make each. Do some more research, read some reviews and go to your local outdoors store to hold a couple of options in your hands. With some time and experience, you will come to know exactly which blade is best for you.
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