Heading out into the woods or hills for a camping adventure? Making sure you have the right gear on hand can transform your outing from a soggy slog to an enjoyable foray into nature. For campers in the UK, a quality camp axe and sturdy camping knife often prove to be two of the most useful and oft-used tools to pack for a reliable campsite experience.
In this guide, we’ll dive into the key features to look for in choosing the ideal camp axe and knife. We’ll provide specific recommendations on models that offer an ideal blend of performance, durability, and value. We’ll also cover vital safety tips and maintenance best practices to keep your gear in top shape.
Whether you’re a veteran outdoorsman or just starting out on your first bothy bagging trip, this guide aims to ensure you select and care for the right cutting tools to make your next camping quest safe, successful and utterly memorable. Let’s get started!
Pick the Perfect Camp Axe
When you’re out in the woods, a good camp axe allows you to chop firewood, drive tent stakes, and perform other essential tasks. For campers in the UK, the camp axe is an iconic piece of kit.
However, there are a variety of different camp axe styles to consider. Single bit axes have a flat blade on one side of the head, providing more control and swing accuracy. Double bit axes have a blade on each side, allowing for versatile swinging angles but poorer weight distribution. Hatchets have a shorter handle and more compact head for easy packing and limb clearing. Survival axes are lightweight with a pick opposite the blade to smash or pry.
For most UK campers’ needs, a good all-around choice is a medium-sized single bit axe with a long handle like the Fiskars X7 Hatchet or the Estwing E24a Camper’s Axe. Both offer excellent chopping power from brands known for quality and durability. For those on a budget, the Husqvarna Basic Camping Axe gets the job done without breaking the bank.
Camping Axe reviews
Fiskars X7 Hatchet
This lightweight hatchet weighs only 1.4 pounds, making it easy to carry in your pack. The blade is forged and heat-treated steel with a low-friction coating that keeps it sharp and reduces sticking. The FiberComp handle is virtually indestructible. It absorbs shock and vibration better than wood. The perfect choice for felling small trees or splitting logs.
Estwing E24a Camper’s Axe
A classic, solid steel axe with an unbreakable American hickory handle. The polished head and sharpened cutting edge makes chopping through wood easy. At 2 pounds, it has more heft than the Fiskars for heavy duty chopping. The shock reduction grip keeps blisters at bay. The nylon sheath protects the blade when not in use.
Husqvarna Basic Camp Axe
This budget-friendly axe still packs impressive performance. The carbon steel head and European hickory handle give you power and durability. At 1.98 pounds, it’s lighter than the Estwing but heavier than the Fiskars. It’s great for basic tasks like splitting kindling or driving stakes. The leather edge cover protects while transporting in your pack.
Camping Axe safety
When using any camp axe, safety should always be your first priority. Employ proper chopping techniques, keeping your body out of the swing path. Carry axes in a sheath or case when not in use. Wear sturdy boots and consider protective leg covers, gloves, and eyewear.
Here are some tips for safely using and handling a camp axe:
- Always keep both hands on the axe handle when swinging it. Use a firm, secure grip.
- Maintain a solid, balanced stance with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Stand off to the side of the target, not directly in front. Swing the axe straight across your body.
- Let the weight of the axe head do the work. Don’t overswing. Control each stroke.
- Eyes on the target at all times. Make sure your swing path is clear.
- Never throw or toss an axe. Move carefully with the blade covered.
- Sheathe or safely stow the axe when not actively chopping.
- Wear close-toed shoes and consider shin guards or chaps to protect legs.
- Use work gloves to prevent blisters and improve your grip.
- Safety goggles can protect eyes from wood chips and debris.
- Learn proper axe-sharpening techniques or have it professionally done.
- Inspect the axe before each use for any cracks, dents or loose parts.
- Store your axe properly indoors when finished using it.
Following basic axe safety guidelines will help ensure you remain injury free. With practice, your competence and confidence will grow. Always focus your full attention on the axe while swinging it. Stay alert and keep bystanders at a safe distance until the job is done.
Camping Axe maintenance
To keep your camp axe performing at its best, maintain a sharp blade, clean handle, and coat metal parts in oil to prevent rust. Inspect for any cracks or damage before each use. Proper storage in a dry place is also important.
Here are some tips for properly maintaining your camp axe:
- Sharpen the blade regularly using a file or sharpening stone. A sharp blade is safer and requires less force to cut efficiently.
- Clean the axe head after each use with a cloth to remove sap, resin or dirt. Dry thoroughly.
- Apply a light coating of oil to the head and other metal components to prevent rusting. Wipe off any excess.
- Sand down and refinish the axe handle occasionally to remove splinters and grime while restoring smoothness.
- Inspect the handle for any cracks or looseness where it attaches to the head. Replace if compromised.
- Check that axe head is firmly attached and tighten/replace if loose.
- Examine blade for chips or nicks. File down blemishes to restore a clean edge.
- Replace any missing or damaged axe sheath/cover to protect the blade when not in use.
- Store indoors in a dry, room temperature area out of direct sunlight and away from humidity.
- Consider using a honing guide for consistent sharpening angles. Seek professional help for blade damage.
- Wipe off any dirt, sap or moisture after every use to keep the axe in good condition.
Proper axe maintenance will extend the life of your tool significantly while allowing it to function safely and efficiently. Taking good care of your camp axe will ensure it’s ready to help you handle any woodsy task.
Choosing a Reliable Camping Knife
A sturdy, sharp camping knife is a must-have for outdoor enthusiasts in the UK. You’ll use it frequently when camping for everything from preparing ingredients to cutting rope. Folding knives work well for packing light, while fixed blade knives offer durability for heavy duty use. For general campsite tasks, a versatile medium-sized fixed blade knife like the Morakniv Companion is recommended.
The carbon steel blade will stay sharp and is less prone to breaking than stainless steel. The patterned high-friction grip makes the knife safe and easy to handle even in wet conditions. For a folding knife option, the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife provides an array of tools like a can opener and screwdriver in a compact case.
Camp knife reviews
Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Knife
This rugged fixed blade knife delivers exceptional sharpness and durability at an unbeatable price. The carbon steel blade holds its edge extremely well and is paired with an ergonomic grip for control and safety. At 4.1oz and 8.6in long, it’s perfectly sized for campsite tasks. The plastic sheath protects the blade when not in use.
Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
The iconic versatile tool with all its implements folded into a compact red case. The stainless steel blade tackles most tasks but is more prone to breaking than carbon steel. With tweezers, toothpick, scissors, and screwdriver, this multi-functional knife is ready for any campsite situation.
Opinel No. 8 Folding camping Knife
A classic wooden-handled carbon steel knife that takes a great edge perfect for basic camping jobs. At 3.5oz and 8.5in long when open, it packs easily but lacks some safety features. The Virobloc safety ring minimizes risk when folded. Great value for a budget-friendly camp knife.
Safety for camping knives
When using a knife at your campsite, safety should always be the top priority. Employ secure grips, proper cutting techniques, and give the blade your full focus whenever handling. Store knives in protective sheaths when not in use. Keep them in a safe, separate area of your pack during transport.
Camp Knife Safety Tips:
- Maintain control of the handle and blade at all times. Proper grip reduces risk of slips.
- Cut or slice away from your body using steady, even pressure. Don’t whittle or chop towards yourself.
- Use a cutting surface like a wooden board or log. Cutting in midair is unstable.
- Keep knife sharp to avoid excessive force that can cause slips or breaks.
- Wear gloves to protect hands and improve grip security.
- Clean blades after each use and store in a dry, room temperature area.
- Inspect for damage and test sharpness prior to each trip.
- Replace worn sheaths and handles that compromise safety.
- Learn proper sharpening techniques to maintain a safe blade.
- Ensure adequate space between you and others when using a knife.
- Never throw or toss a knife around the campsite.
Following basic knife safety guidelines requires minimal effort but protects against severe injuries. Treat every knife with care and give it the respect a sharp blade deserves.
Camping knife maintenance
Caring for your camping knife properly is important to keep it in optimal, safe condition. With regular maintenance and inspection, a quality camping knife can last for years of outdoor use. Always clean, dry, and oil the blade after each trip to prevent corrosion. Hone and sharpen the edge to reduce the risk of slips, breaks or accidental damage.
Here are some tips for properly maintaining your camping knife:
- Sharpen the blade regularly with a stone or sharpener to keep the edge fine and prevent unnecessary force when cutting.
- Clean the knife after each use, wiping away any sap, food debris, or dirt on the blade, handle, and sheath.
- Dry the knife thoroughly after cleaning before storing, especially the blade and any crevices prone to moisture build-up.
- Apply a light coating of oil to the metal parts of the knife to prevent rusting. Wipe away any excess.
- Inspect the full knife for any cracks, chips, or other damage before each trip.
- Replace handles if they become loose or cracked. Switch out dull sheaths as well.
- Consider using a honing steel or leather strop for quick blade edge touching-ups between full sharpening.
- For major chips or damage, seek professional sharpening help to properly restore the edge.
- Store in a dry, room temperature spot out of direct sunlight and away from humidity.
- Some fixed blade knives allow handle removal for cleaning and oiling the tang.
Properly maintaining your camping knife will significantly extend its usable life while keeping it operating safely and efficiently. Taking good care of a quality knife will make it a trusted companion for all your camping meal preps, crafts, and tasks.
Laws to Know Before Buying an Axe or Knife in the UK
When selecting an axe or knife for camping and bushcraft activities in the UK, it’s important to be aware of the legal restrictions around blade length and carrying.
For axes, there are no explicit UK laws restricting their sale, ownership or carrying. However, any tool including an axe could be considered an “offensive weapon” if carried in public without good reason. Transport your axe securely wrapped or sheathed.
For knives, UK law prohibits carrying a locking knife with a blade longer than 3 inches (7.62 cm) in public without good reason. Folding non-locking knives under 3 inches are generally allowed. Consider a SAK Classic SD or Opinel No.6 for public carry.
Fixed blade knives and longer locking knives can be legally owned but are only meant for use on private property like a campsite. Always store appropriately for transport.
Be sensible – don’t carry anything explicitly for self-defence. Only bring tools suited to legitimate use. Follow all carrying and transport laws. With reasonable precautions, you can legally own and use quality axes and knives to enjoy the great outdoors in the UK. Learn more here on the direct gov website on Knife law.
Overview – Camping knife and Axe’s UK
A sturdy camp axe and sharp camping knife are integral tools for many outdoor activities like bush crafting, survival training, and recreational camping. With so many options available, it can be daunting to select the right models suited to your needs and budget. This guide has aimed to cut through the clutter by highlighting key features to look for and providing specific recommendations on axes and knives that deliver an ideal blend of performance, durability and value for money based on real-world testing.
However, no piece of gear can fully substitute for developing core competencies and exercising sound judgement. Before wielding any sharp implement, take the time to educate yourself on proper safety, handling and maintenance protocol. Start small and build your skills progressively. Focus on environmentally-responsible practices like using established fire rings and following leave no trace principles when collecting fuel. Most importantly, avoid unnecessary risks and know when to abort an activity if conditions turn hazardous.
The gear recommendations and advice in this guide should provide a helpful starting point. But the outdoors can be unpredictable. Success and enjoyment ultimately rely on your willingness to learn, prepare properly, exercise caution and respect nature. With the right knowledge and approach, your camp axe and knife will become treasured companions on memorable bushcraft adventures lasting for years to come. The path begins with a single step – now get out there and start safely making your own trail!
Enjoy this article? why not read our article on the best camping tables to complete your next adventure?