Hatchet or Knife?

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Forum topic by Mike posted 04-22-2013 09:31 PM 1423 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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406 posts in 2714 days

04-22-2013 09:31 PM

Well this might sound crazy to some of you, but here it is. I am picking up and just driving across the US since there isn’t any reason to stay where I am since there is no work. I’ll be camping in the backwoods in a lot of National parks for the fun of it. Here is my question; other than a tree saw which I might be bringing, what do you think I should bring? Would a hatchet be more useful than a knife (the multi tool is already coming but the blade is terrible)? Is there something I should be considering too?



-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

21 replies so far

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2081 days

#1 posted 04-22-2013 09:40 PM

I would take both, they are not that big.

-- Joel

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Bill White

4950 posts in 3988 days

#2 posted 04-22-2013 09:47 PM

And sharpen everything well. Wassamater with the multi-tool?


View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2998 days

#3 posted 04-22-2013 09:49 PM

Going to be stealth camping?
A small bow saw, spare blade, knife and hatchet would all be very useful.
Nylon cord and duct tape are also very handy to have.

View muleskinner's profile (online now)


897 posts in 2464 days

#4 posted 04-22-2013 10:00 PM

If by “camping in the backwoods” you mean you’ll be packing in to your campsite then leave the hatchet. Extra weight you don’t need, a lot of national parks restrict campfires, where there is adequate fuel for a backcountry fire dead branches are easily broken by hand and make a satisfactory fire. Even a small hatchet is too much weight given it’s usefulness in national park backcountry. I’ve gotten by for 40 years with just a 3” folding knife.

If car camping, take an ax.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View Mike's profile


406 posts in 2714 days

#5 posted 04-22-2013 10:02 PM

I’ll be packing in and out for the most part. I’ll be most likely driving to the trail heads. Yellowstone will be the first stop.

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

View TerryDowning's profile


1077 posts in 2145 days

#6 posted 04-22-2013 10:24 PM

if you’re packing skip the hatchet. muleskinner said it best.
a 3” locking folder with a smooth blade or a good multi-tool are much better options.
don’t forget something to sharpen with.

-- - Terry

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2034 days

#7 posted 04-22-2013 10:35 PM

Hmmmm, a small camper’s hatchet will lay flat on the rear floorboard of your car and take up very little room. Why not just throw one back there… “Just in case”

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3675 days

#8 posted 04-22-2013 11:17 PM

A Mora fixed blade knife will set you back about $20. It
is a superior little laminated carbon steel knife from Sweden
which takes and holds a superior edge and is very
tough to break.

While you can split kindling with a Mora or a robust
folding knife, a hatchet is the right tool for the job.

View muleskinner's profile (online now)


897 posts in 2464 days

#9 posted 04-23-2013 12:10 AM

Mike, considering your #5, a hatchet is dead weight.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2313 days

#10 posted 04-23-2013 12:37 AM

I’d personally have a fixed blade knife and a small axe.

-- John, BC, Canada

View S4S's profile


2118 posts in 2708 days

#11 posted 04-23-2013 01:36 AM

You might also need a .357 in case you are bothered by a grizzly bear , and… ,even more important ,

plenty of t.p. and a good latrine shovel .


View BigYin's profile


418 posts in 2443 days

#12 posted 04-23-2013 05:17 AM

-a good quality 4 or 5 inch knife (loren is right about the Mora brand)
-a sharpener for knife & hatchet
-a good 1 pound hatchet with steel shank one piece forging
-a good pair of side cutting pliers
-water purification tablets
If your only going to take a knife take a Ka-Bar and get a Kydex molded sheeth ($15-$18) for it to protect the blade and you from the blade

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3112 days

#13 posted 04-23-2013 02:50 PM

If you are asking these questions, it sounds as though you have not been camping very much, if at all. There
should be some area near you that allows camping. I would do some practice camping before you set off into
the wild blue yonder. A backpack stove will give you enough heat to cook meals. Primus is an old standby. I
have an old small Coleman (discontinued) that burns unleaded gas-readily available now- and this will eliminate
the need for a cookfire. It is and will continue to be cold in Yellowstone and other parks for a while. We
can get mountain storms in July, so you will need good clothing that can handle temps from -10 to 70 or more.
this will add some weight, REI and other scources can give you some info on camping. If you are going to
build a fire in the backcountry, you will need a shovel to clear the duff-burnable leaves, etc- from the fire pit
area or find a rocky area for your fire. A good folding steel camp shovel with a sharpened edge is a wonderful
tool and can substitute as a hatchet. You will need a good tent or a tarp with good grommets and rope.
plus a good sleeping bag. Once again do some practice camping. Being in the backcounty with no experience
and the wrong weather can be fatal. The wrong type of campfire can be trouble. The is an old saying,
The white man builds a big fire and stands far away, the Indian builds a small fire and sets close. I have done
lots of camping with my boys and others, done right it is wonderful, done wrong as McManus says it is “A
fine and pleasant misery.”

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View JohnChung's profile


410 posts in 2102 days

#14 posted 04-23-2013 04:22 PM

I am not sure to what extend do you want to live outdoors. But hiking will weigh you down with an axe. If you just need to cut branches I would suggest you bring a foldable saw instead.

View muleskinner's profile (online now)


897 posts in 2464 days

#15 posted 04-24-2013 02:52 AM

Mount Ferry and Ferry Basin

Picture for Mike

-- Visualize whirled peas

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