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Favorite Axe for Winter Camping

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  • Favorite Axe for Winter Camping

    I recently picked up a Council Tool Boy’s Axe with a 28” handle, I think it should be a good balance between weight/size and usability. What does everybody else like to use on a trip? What specific features do you look for when selecting an axe for winter camping?

  • #2
    I use an older Fiskars 28" splitting axe (actual splitting axe). It isn't too heavy, works great at splitting up firewood. I got it on a clearance discount at a local Home Depot years ago. For my winter camping wood processing needs, I use a combination of tools. I am a believer of using the tool for a given task. So I use a splitting axe to split wood. I use a saw to cross cut wood. I also use a set of gear driven loppers for processing the small diameter stuff (1.5" down to about 1/2"). The stuff you can't easily break over your knee. It's pretty quick and quite safe.

    As for specific axe features, I look for one that is specifically designed to split. I don't use my axe to chop. You want one with a handle long enough to be comfortable to use and an axe head weight light enough to get the job done, but not so heavy that it is cumbersome to use. So no 6 or 8 pound splitting mauls for my trips.

    As with everything, it is a matter a preference and what you are comfortable using.

    Cheers

    Brian

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    • #3
      The axe I have is a replica 17th/18th century French axe that I use in my living history programs. It was made by a blacksmith friend of mine who has worked in major museums on the east coast so I know his work is historically accurate in construction and style. Honestly, it doesn't look all that different than what most folks carry but I like the backstory to it and enjoy using it. The only thing I had to learn was to warm the blade a bit before using it in cold temperatures. My friend suggested burning a small piece of birch bark on the blade to warm it up. If it's cold, a good blow will chip the metal; one of the drawbacks to traditional & historically accurate construction I guess.

      That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

      snapper

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      • #4
        The axe I have is a replica 17th/18th century French axe that I use in my living history programs. It was made by a blacksmith friend of mine who has worked in major museums on the east coast so I know his work is historically accurate in construction and style. Honestly, it doesn't look all that different than what most folks carry but I like the backstory to it and enjoy using it. The only thing I had to learn was to warm the blade a bit before using it in cold temperatures. My friend suggested burning a small piece of birch bark on the blade to warm it up. If it's cold, a good blow will chip the metal; one of the drawbacks to traditional & historically accurate construction I guess.
        That's awesome snapper! A big part of my life (and something that largely informs my philosophy on winter camping) is late 18th/early 19th century living history... PM sent

        As for axes I'll second using reproductions (or originals if brave enough!) of time-tested designs from past centuries. Always something to learn when exploring older tool designs, I find.

        My go-to these days is an old (but restored and sharp) Jersey pattern head on a ~36" handle.

        Specific features I look for are: 1) razor sharp edge, 2) head weight to handle length ratio (balance in use), 3) Good fit between head and handle (not loose...). Other details too, but maybe those are the main things.
        Last edited by Azettek; 09-18-2020, 12:33 AM.

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        • #5
          For splitting wood. I have not found a better tool than a 36" fiskars splitting axe. for all other tasks, it's up to the user and how you like to camp. For me a big knife > a small axe.

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          • #6
            I went years only using a hatchet and a few years ago I decided to upgrade to a smaller axe. After reading a lot of reviews I decided to go with the Hults Bruk Akka Axe and I feel it has preformed very well. It was a bit expensive but I'm hoping if I take care of it I won't have to purchase another in my lifetime.

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            • #7
              I'm still using my dad's old 3 1/2lb Canadian Tire axe (made by Sandvik in the 60's) with a 28" handle-* that thing has been used and abused for over 50 years and still holds a razor edge.
              it's comforting to know that if the handle ever breaks or wears out, I can whittle a new one in 1/2 hour

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              • #8
                About 5 years ago I purchased a Husqvarna axe. It is stamped hand forged and made in Sweden. 26" hickory handle. As I recall it was around the $80 CAD mark from Avos marine here in Winnipeg. It has served me well, however it is a bit light for some log splitting duties. My biggest complaint is the safety warning printed on the handle. Other than that it looks great, similar to some of the other more expensive brands.

                I also carry the Fiskars brush axe as well. It is an amazing tool for clearing limbs and trail maintenance. Can't recommend the brush axe enough.

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                • #9
                  I've used a GB Small Forest Axe for canoe trips but I wanted something a little heavier to process wood for the stove. Finally nabbed a Ray Mears Wilderness axe this summer, and I can't wait to put it to the test!

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                  • #10
                    I prefer a boys style are, but have to many probably. Most recently I have been using this older Norland I refurbished.

                    LL
                    Attached Files

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                    • #11
                      I really like my Hults Bruk Kisa axe with a 2 lb head and 26” handle. I’m a smidge fond of it because Hults named the model after the town my grandfather Karl was born and raised in.

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                      • #12
                        For years, I used an old Hudson's Bay pattern axe that belonged to my grandfather. Unfortunately, it was stolen eight, or ten years ago. I bought an Estwing, long handled campers axe to replace it and I've been happy with it. I wouldn't want to cut large trees, or split large chunks with it, but for a general camping axe, it works well and I don't have to worry about a loose head, or broken haft.

                        Bob

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                        • #13
                          For many years prospectors in Canada have relied on the Oxhead axe made by Iltis. The high grade special steel used is flexible, allowing continuous use in cold weather. The steel has a particularly high edge retention and is easy to file to a razor sharp edge. Most prospectors wouldn't think of using anything but an Oxhead. When staking claims the axe is used all day for blazing trees, clearing brush, carving claim posts out of standing trees and when back in camp, for cutting and splitting firewood for the wood stove.

                          I came across this story about the end of bush claim staking, which is happening in more and more Canadian provinces. The axes in the photos and video are Oxheads.

                          https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thund...kman-1.4478670

                          Although in some ways the trend towards not actually staking claims in the bush makes sense, it was a great way to make a living and I really miss it.

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