Tomahawk or Hatchet for Camping: Which is Best?

Tomahawk or Hatchet for Camping

If you chop wood while outdoors, such as preparing firewood, cutting through bushes, making shelter, or for any other reason, then you should think about picking up a hatchet if you haven’t already.

Hatchets, axes, or tomahawks make splitting and chopping wood a breeze. Don’t struggle with a knife, or however else you’re getting by. Axes are small investments that pay off big when it comes to getting woodwork done.

It doesn’t need to be a difficult choice either. I reviewed four of the best backpacking axes here. So check out that post for powerful, lightweight, backpacking axes that deserve a place in your backpack.

As for understanding the difference between a tomahawk or hatchet for camping uses, I’ve put together everything you need to  know in this article:

What Is a Hatchet?

A hatchet is a small ax with a short handle and an axe head. It’s designed to be used with one hand and can be easily carried on your person or in a backpack.

Typical uses include splitting or chopping wood to make a fire, making shelter, chopping up food, hacking through foliage, and many other outdoor uses.

What Is a Tomahawk?

What Is a Tomahawk

Tomahawks are single handed axes that were general purpose tools used by Native Americans, and today are still used by military personnel and outdoors folks.

Tomahawks are very versatile and useful tools outdoors for chopping and cutting things. They’re long, straight handles make them easy to generate force, and they tuck away easily in backpacks.

Difference between a Tomahawk and a Hatchet?

The main differentiations between a hatchet and a tomahawk is that tomahawks have straight handles, they are hafted at the bottom as opposed to the top, and they have longer handles in proportion to the head.

Tomahawks were designed to be weapons as well as tools. So the longer handle and smaller head mean they were able to be thrown at predators, or enemies and do some serious damage.

Hatchets come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, different heads can perform different cuts, but essentially they are designed to chop and split wood.

As such they are weighted to give a good swing, they have shorter handles, and their heads are designed to split wood. You won’t do well using them as a throwing axe, but then that’s not something that’s going to be necessary.

Tomahawk or Hatchet for Camping – Which is Better?

I’ve explained the main differences above, and as you can probably guess a hatchet is a better choice for most outdoors activities due to being designed to chop wood which is going to be your main purpose.

Tomahawks are also useful camping items however, and I do know that some people that prefer them.

Their lighter heads and longer handles make them much easier to swing. If you know you’re only going to need to chop thin pieces of wood and not need much force then you might prefer one.

Tomahawks are also easier to re-haft and repair outdoors too. Generally speaking, they are also lighter, although you can buy hatchets or tomahawks of varying weights if you look around so this isn’t a reason one way or another.

The bottom line is that it’s going to come down to personal preference and what you want to use them for.

The feel of an ax and a tomahawk is very different, yet the results are similar. Unless that is you’re chopping into trees or large piece of wood.

For general outdoors uses either will do a good job for you. If you want to save on weight and have a tool you can swing easily, why not pick up a tomahawk, but you can’t go wrong with a good hatchet.

Here is a video demonstrating both an axe and a tomahawk in action splitting wood, see what you think:



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