Although I would not consider a hatchet or small axe a necessary part of any backpacking kit, it is definitely one of those tools that is nice to have around from time to time. For me, the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe seemed like a simple, American-made tool that would last me awhile and serve my present need. For $30, it seemed like a no-brainer. In my excitement, I accidentally bought two… Whoops. One will make a nice gift someday.
One of the best attributes of this axe is its simplicity. It is forged from a single piece of 1055 carbon steel. That is both its blessing and its curse though. Many axes and hatchets today use a wooden handle and an axe head with a central eye. When combined, the two components create an axe. The Estwing is nothing but a hunk of metal. What this allows are some minor design tweaks that you won’t find on most axes these days. Because the head does not have to accommodate a central eye, the head is thinner throughout, without much of a taper. While the head is thinner throughout, the blade itself is surprisingly thick. That thickness means that this axe does not cut as well as a traditional axe with a more drastic taper.
The thin head makes easy work of small tasks. It struggles with any size able work. You can achieve a sharp edge, but it won’t necessarily last.
In short, the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is a beautiful piece of leather-wrapped steel that can take a hell of a beating, but doesn’t necessarily do what it is meant for all that well.
If you are looking for another option in the hatchet department, I would definitely recommend the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet or the Hultafors Classic Trekking Axe. Once I have saved enough for either of these, expect a review.
The Bare Bones
Name: Estwing Sportsman’s Axe
Materials: 1055 Carbon Steel and Wrapped Leather
Get Your Own: Estwing Sportsman’s Axe