In the axe world, the mighty felling axe is king. A perfectly crafted, razor sharp cutting tool for bringing down huge trees in a matter of minutes. The carpenters axe is designed to be a workhorse for woodworking and the splitting axe or maul takes care of our firewood.
There is an axe for everything from chopping, splitting, honing, hewing, carving… hell, even throwing! Hatchets are, of course, a more compact version of these type of axes and can do similar jobs but on a smaller scale. The average length of a hatchet is around 14 inches, short but capable and handy when in a pinch.
Enter the mini hatchet. These babies are anywhere under 12 inches in length which begs the question: What is a mini hatchet used for? Certainly not felling trees.
What is a mini hatchet used for?
Mini hatchets are an extremely capable and practical tool, and they have their place in the world of axes too. They are small enough to just live in your pack and not worry about when out on the trail. Great for carving, kindling, small chopping tasks around the campsite and general bushcraft duties.
You may already have a the perfect axe for felling or splitting the big stuff, but have you tried choking up on your full-sized forest axe for some fine detail work? Or packed your Boys axe for hiking and found it’s still a bit cumbersome? Even an average sized hatchet can be a burden when space and weight is an issue.
Sure, you can grab your bushknife or machete but you need something light with a little bit more chopping action. A quality mini hatchet can provide the same versatility as a knife. They can be used for chopping down small trees and branches for harvesting firewood or shelter material, or performing small splitting jobs that a knife would struggle with.
Are mini hatchets and hatchets the same thing?
A hatchet has an approximate length of 14 inches making it a handy cutting tool for situations where a full sized axe would be cumbersome or unnecessary, but where there is still a requirement for light to moderate work such as limbing branches, building shelters and general camp duties.
Anything under 12 inches can be classed as a Mini hatchet. A good quality one pretty much takes up the mantle of a bush knife with added chopping function. The lack of any decent leverage due to the reduced length renders it incapable of chopping down trees obviously. But with a thin sharp edge on your mini hatchet you’d be surprised how effective these things can be at chopping wood.
Are mini hatchets supposed to be sharp?
Hell yeah! These little puppies are a straight contender for a bush knife with the added advantage of being able to chop as well as cut. A dull mini hatchet has only one thing left to offer – banging in tent stakes! Pass the hammer…
Which mini hatchet is best?
After some extensive research of mini hatchets, I’ve short-listed my top 5 best mini hatchets on the market today. All these hatchets are around 10 inches long, are hugely popular and sell by the thousands… All of these are worthy tools in their own right, but some are more versatile than others. Lets see what the fuss is about.
(The links below will take you to Amazon if you want to check full specifications or purchase one of these fantastic mini hatchets)
It should be no surprise that this mini hatchet comes top of the list. Gransfors Bruk is widely known as the best axe manufacturer in the world. Their mini hatchet is made with the same attention to detail and quality as any Gransfors Bruk axe.
This is the finest mini hatchet you can buy. Small enough to carry in a pack or on your belt when backpacking, camping or hiking (10 and 3/4 inches long, 13 ounces). Regardless of its size, the Gransfors Bruk mini hatchet can chop trees or branches up to 3″ in diameter due to its wicked sharpness. Choking right up on the handle allows you to use it for any job you would use a knife for.
The workmanship is second to none and although by FAR the most expensive mini hatchet on this list, it will last a lifetime.
Check out full details and current price of the Gransfors Bruk Mini Hatchet
As is expected of an expertly made Swedish hatchet, the head is hand-forged high quality steel and the handle is beautifully shaped hickory. Of a similar standard to the previous hatchet, the Hults Bruk Jonaker hatchet is pricey but the payoff is a hatchet that will perform well above its stature.
Perfect for bushcraft and fire prep, the Hults Bruk Jonaker hatchet is expertly balanced and sharp as a razor straight out of the box. Can be used for anything from shaving feather sticks to dressing small game. This hatchet is a very close second to the Gransfors mini hatchet – A beautiful little axe.
Check out full details and current price of the Hults Bruk Jonaker Hatchet
This little hatchet is really impressive for the size. Made by Fiskars for Gerber and you can tell by the design it is modelled after the Fiskars X Series range of axes, which is a good thing. The Gerber 9-inch hatchet is a sturdy little beast. The fiberglass-reinforced polymer handle is almost indestructible. While the edge profile lends well to small splitting tasks as well as chopping and carving. But its chopping capabilities are somewhat limited due to the tiny handle so be careful when swinging!
Check out full details and current price of the Gerber 9-Inch Hatchet
This lightweight, easily packable, compact hatchet has been a huge hit for Gerber tools. The rubberized grip with finger grooves make it great for precision work and the tall blade grind is razor sharp making it ideal for shaving and trimming branches.
If a knife doesn’t quite give you enough power for clearing brush and stripping or chopping small to medium sized branches, the Gerber Pack hatchet could be the answer. Capable of chopping ankle-thick logs with a bit of assistance from a hefty log hammered against the poll, this mini hatchet is an all-rounder.
Check out full details and current price of the Gerber Pack Hatchet
ESEE is made in the USA and this baby punches well above its weight (20.5 ounces). With a 3 inch cutting edge and a sure-grip handle, it’s surprisingly solid for such a light hatchet.
Designed for fine to light work, the ESEE can handle branches up to 2.5 inches thick with ease. It makes short work of camp duties such as kindling firewood and fashioning campfire tripods etc. My only reservation with this mini hatchet is the price. It’s almost as expensive as the Gransfors Bruk mini hatchet, and that one towers over the ESEE in many ways I’m sorry to say. But nevertheless, the ESEE is a fine mini hatchet in it’s own right.
Check out full details and current price of the ESEE Knives JG Bushcraft Axe
Gransfors Bruk and Hults Bruk always make fine axes. They are what’s known as heirloom pieces because they can be handed down to your sons (or daughters!) after a lifetime of service. That’s why they’re more expensive than the others on this list. However, all of these mini hatchets are made to a high standard and have earned their place in the big wide world of axes.
Please comment below with any suggestions you may have on how to improve this article or ask me anything you like. I’d be happy to help!