In the post-climatic era, having a campfire seems like a thing of the past for those of us who live in the deserts of the American Southwest or along the Pacific Coast. Some might think this means you don’t need a hatchet. I Disagree: As Gary Paulson demonstrated in the beloved classic young adult novel Hatchet, there are countless reasons to have a camping ax or hatchet on hand. Whether it’s chopping down wood to build a quick shelter, hammering tent pegs into hard ground, dressing game, or yes, breaking up wood like tinder and kindling, it are a wide range of purposes well served by a hatchet.
When I saw that Morakniv was selling a reasonably priced hatchet online, I immediately grabbed one. A Scandinavian company (its name comes from the town of Mora, Sweden) well known for selling survival and craft knives, the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax is a mid-range, inexpensive hatchet designed for light duty use. as a backpack – and, as we discovered during testing, not intended for intensive use.
Blade length: 4.3 inches
Weight: 17.92 ounces
Material: boron steel (head), polypropylene (handle)
Morakniv packs his hatchet in a gray cardboard and transparent plastic box. The packaging is nothing special. Again, the market for this hatchet is probably not buying the hatchet for its packaging but rather for its utility value.
Out of the box, Morakniv’s Outdoor Camp Ax has a surprisingly good upside. Most axes come with a blunt edge, probably to make them safer when displayed in stores. After all, who wants their precious 9-year-old to be all Jack Torrance on a window display — or his brother — in the neighborhood hardware store?
The Morakniv outdoor camping ax may be marketed as a “camp axe”, but it is definitely a hatchet, as it is too small to be wielded with two hands. The hatchet has a 12.68 inch long polymer plastic handle, within which sits the 4.53 inch wide boron steel alloy head. Morakniv put a small 3.5 inch cutting edge on his hatchet compared to full size hatchets which often have longer cutting edges. This reflects the intent that the ax is intended for light backpacking use.
The Morakniv outdoor camping ax is extremely light for a hatchet, coming in at just over a pound (17.64 ounces). The hatchet is available in two colors: hi-viz orange (Morakniv also offers the hi-viz orange as a bundle with its 2000 bushcraft knife for a reasonable price) or military green. The hatchet also comes with a leather sheath that only covers the cutting edge.
How we tested the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax
I’ve been using the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax for just over a year now, and on backpacking trips in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, I’ve found it ideal for setting up camp, helping me to hammering tent pegs into the hard ground of Rowe Mesa. . It is also ideal for removing branches from young trees for a makeshift lean-to post.
For the particular test in this review, I put the Outdoor Camp Ax against the Estwing Camper Axe. In terms of dimensions, the Estwing is 16 inches long, with a four inch long cutting face, or relatively comparable to the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Axe. I took both hatchets to Reilly Canyon in Trinidad Lake State Park, Colorado, where I timed how long it would take to cut a three-inch-by-one-inch channel in a log.
My timer running, I started hacking the log with the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Axe. The light ax initially struggled to bite into the log; Eventually I found the right angle and was able to cut the small channel in the wood, but it was clear that the hatchet was not meant for this kind of work. With the Morakniv, I was able to cut a canal in 2 minutes and 20 seconds. With the Estwing, a beaten hatchet that I rarely sharpened and used frequently, I was able to cut a channel in 1 minute and 24 seconds.
Why this substantial gap in time? Even though the Morakniv had a sharper edge than the Estwing, the extra four inches and heavier metal handle of the Estwing meant extra leverage for harder swings. Because the Morakniv’s handle was shorter, I think I was less willing to swing at full force and risk hitting myself with the ax head.
What we like about the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax
The hatchet is an example of good design resulting in reduced weight. Most camping hatchets weigh two pounds or more; the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax weighs just under half that weight. While higher weight means an ax or hatchet has a greater ability to cut through a piece of wood, lighter weight means it’s less of a pain when hiking.
Ultimately, however, a dull ax or hatchet is a dangerous ax or hatchet. Morakniv’s boron steel alloy head not only features a sharp edge, the alloy also maintains that edge. I found it was also easy to maintain this edge with a belt sharpener.
The polymer plastic handle is ergonomic and has not yet generated blisters during use. I really didn’t have high expectations for the handle, so it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. My low expectations came from the weight of the handle. I suspect a shock-absorbing wooden handle would be better for long-term use, like when I’m starting to pick up ropes for the winter. However, if I’m camping and just need some kindling or want to get the branches out of the wood, this hatchet is more than enough. Is this the kind of hatchet I would use for a bushcraft trip? Probably not. That being said, the three season sleeping bag I use would not be suitable for Annapurna, but it still comes with me on trips to the local mountains.
What we don’t like about the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax
I found the handle of the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax a little short for my liking, even for a one-handed tool. I would rather be able to choke on a 16 inch long handle than be unable to gain some safe distance on a 12 inch long handle. This was especially true in situations where I used the hatchet while standing. Even with a good squatting ax position, I found the ax to get awfully close to my crotch – and femoral artery – on some swings. Also, due to the lightweight nature of the hatchet, it seemed more difficult to control and direct the force to the desired point of impact.
Chances are there’s better cover for the hatchet. Morakniv includes a black leather cover that only protects the edge of the hatchet and closes with a snap button. The cover is adequate, but I would consider buying a cover that protects the other items in my bag from the entire ax head. It’s obviously not a dealbreaker, as there are plenty of aftermarket hatchet covers, like this one from Hide & Drink.
Concerns about the Outdoor Camp Ax’s handle length, hatchet weight, and small coverage aside, the Morakniv is the right size to slip into an internal frame pack or strap to a bag. on the back of bushcraft. The ergonomic handle design speaks well for the Morakniv design team. The same goes for the ready-to-use sharp ax head. While I don’t consider the Morakniv the right size for a few hours of scavenging or splitting firewood, it does suffice on the trail.
Morakniv Outdoor Camping Ax FAQ
Q. How much does the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax cost?
A: Amazon lists the hatchet for $53.60. The Outdoor Camp Ax is also part of a bundle with the Morakniv 2000 which, while hard to find, is good value at $85.15.
Q. What is the best usage scenario for the Outdoor camping ax Morakniv?
A: The outdoor camping ax is intended for light use, perhaps hammering tent pegs into the ground or chopping tinder and kindling. It would probably be nightmarish to use it to split logs or chop down trees.
Q. Does the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax comes with sheath or carrying case?
A: Yes, Morakniv includes a leather snap cover that only protects the tip of the ax head.
Q. Does the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Ax easy to open?
A: Unless you struggle with snaps, it’s a breeze.
Q. What are the alternatives to the Morakniv Outdoor Camp Axe?
A: The Estwing Camper’s Ax ($72.01) is a sturdier, albeit heavier, alternative to the Outdoor Camp Ax. Condor Tool and Knife offers the Scout Hatchet for $50.56, but its 10.25-inch handle is even shorter than the Outdoor Camp Axe. If money (and maybe common sense) is no obstacle for you, Hults Bruk is a Swedish brand of high-quality axes, probably owned exclusively by hipsters who reside in Portland. Their 16-inch Almike hatchet is said to be comparable to the Outdoor Camp Axe, and only costs $169.00. For that price, you might as well get a chainsaw. The Almike comes with a case because it makes sense.
Q. What is the difference between a hatchet and an axe?
A: A hatchet is generally intended to be used with one hand; an ax is intended for use with a two-handed grip. Consequently, Morakniv inadvertently mislabeled his hatchet by calling it an outdoor camp axe. This shouldn’t drive me crazy, but it does.
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Todd Brogowski served in the military as a human intelligence collector. Originally from New Jersey, he currently works as a freelance photojournalist and crime reporter in Colorado and New Mexico. Previously, he worked in the Pacific Northwest as a fraud investigator and examiner.
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