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SUL Camp Hatchet
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Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

SUL Camp Hatchet on 01/05/2010 12:02:08 MST Print View

If I am in the campfire building mood sometimes my pocket saw doesn't cut it. I have always wanted to build a SUL hatchet because even the lightest hatchets out there are a bit too heavy.

Would you carry a 4-8oz SUL packable backpacking/camp hatchet?

Head constructed of titanium
Handle constructed of carbon fiber.

Edited by Mountainfitter on 01/05/2010 12:04:49 MST.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Materials on 01/05/2010 12:11:28 MST Print View

I'm not sure a titanium head would last, and a carbon fiber handle sounds like a bad idea for cold weather. I would like a lighter solution though.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
machete on 01/05/2010 12:14:51 MST Print View

A machete can take the place of an hatchet much of the time
and be lighter. Also can cut snow blocks.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
Batoning on 01/05/2010 12:24:35 MST Print View

A good small fixed blade such as the Benchmade Nim Cub II or the Rat Cutlery Rat 3 can be used to split wood by batoning. The Nim Cub is the lightest at 3 ounces. Its much easyier to clean a fish with a fixed blade than with a tomohawk. Also great for slicing tomatoes and fingers. Ali

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: SUL Camp Hatchet on 01/05/2010 12:40:44 MST Print View

A very light hatchet wouldn't be very functional because the weight of the head is used to add to the force to chop or split the wood. It would likely have other flaws, like being weak or not holding an edge for very long.

How long do you plan to maintain a fire? If it's just a short one, or one for cooking, you're probably better off just using smaller diameter wood which can be sectioned by breaking. You could also baton a 3 oz/4 inch blade Mora knife, but a 6" folding/sliding saw would be more efficient. The same Mora knife could also be batoned to split smaller diameter wood if necessary due to moisture.

If you want or need a longer-burning fire, or if most of the dead wood is covered under snow, bring at least a 19" axe and a folding bucksaw. A 3/4-sized (26" or so) axe would be preferable for splitting wood on deep snow.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

hatchet on 01/05/2010 12:53:13 MST Print View

I have never carried a hatchet backpacking due to the weight but always carry one when I go car camping and nothing can split wood like a axe/hatchet. Sure it doesn't do a great job of filleting fish but thats what my pocket knife is for.

I have a bunch of carbon fiber and was thinking of other things to build.


martin cooperman
(martyc) - M

Locale: Industrial Midwest
Gransfors Bruks on 01/05/2010 14:48:07 MST Print View

You, of course, know of the Gransfors Bruks mini hatchet?

Gransfors Mini Belt Hatchet
"It's small, light and perfectly balanced. It can sharpen a pencil, slice a tomato paper thin, and shave the print right off this page. It will frizz sticks for tinder; cut fine kindling and split small logs. It will fillet a fish, skin a moose, tenderize a steak, turn your pancakes, spread jam and peanut butter; pound tent stakes and chop vegetables. And it will ride as lightly on your hip as the average hunting knife."
-Cliff Jacobson, Tactical Knives

With a quote like that, it is hard to resist adding the Gransfors Mini Hatchet to your outdoor gear.
Like all the Gransfors Bruks products, the "Mini Hatchet" is of highest quality and excellence. It weighs in at 11.03 oz, and is 10.25 inches in length

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Expensive! on 01/05/2010 15:01:31 MST Print View

Wow, nearly $150 for a Gransfors hatchet!?! For that price the hatchet and sheathe should be made out of fine Corinthian leather and rich mahogany.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

gransfor mini hatchet on 01/05/2010 15:15:42 MST Print View

Yeah I have seen the Gransfor mini hatchet and was thinking something similar but titanium for the head and carbon fiber for the handle. I figure it would weigh about 4oz.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
"SUL Camp Hatchet" on 01/05/2010 16:26:04 MST Print View

How much and when can you have them ready?

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
When it will be ready on 01/05/2010 16:55:43 MST Print View

I don't think a suitable hatchet with a carbon fiber handle and titanium head will ever be ready. The good thing about this combination is that they both have similar expansion ratios and weigh little. The problem with a composite is that you'll have to do elaborate and precise machining where the two materials meet so that it forms a strong joint. You'll also have to design it such that the head flexes gradually where it meets the carbon fiber to minimize the chance for stress fractures.

Then there's the issue of most carbon fiber resins/epoxies being brittle, especially when cold. It will also be impossible to optimize the carbon fiber unless you have millions in machinery and mucho expertise to orient the fibers in the direction where they're most needed. Finally, the edge of a titanium blade won't last long.

I'd rather see a ferrous head that's machined to save weight mated with a titanium handle. This would cost less and might actually be useful.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Re: SUL Camp Hatchet on 01/05/2010 17:00:15 MST Print View

I've liked the idea since I read Kephart's books.
8 oz head, $22.50
The A-23F has a 5 oz head, 8 oz total. $38

Horace Kephart "Camping and Woodcraft" talks about his light weight hatchet, 8 oz head. reviews some of these.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: When it will be ready on 01/05/2010 17:04:55 MST Print View

I have the Gerber Backpaxe (17 oz, the short version) and have purchased--and sold--the Gransfor Mini.

The Gransfor Mini has to have the worst performance-to-cost ratio of any hatchet on the market! That aside, its weight is poorly distributed, the handle is too heavy. There's simply not enough mass there for it to be a useful tool to split wood, although it works well for hacking branches off of stumps, but then again, so does your foot, or the Benchmade Nim Cub knife with a baton.

Slicing tomatoes, spreading peanut butter, yes, it probably does OK for stuff like that.

The Backpaxe is heavy by comparison - 17 oz - but I can also split 4 to 8 inch pine with it, which I could never do with the Gransfor Mini. The Backpaxe center of mass is all in the head -- the handle is a very light poly handle. You won't get lighter with carbon fiber or titanium, and the weight in the head is important for performance.

What I'd rather see for a small hatchet is something CHEAP because carbon fiber handles are going to break. So, a nice heavy ferrous head (7 oz would be fine, with a 3 inch blade (the hammer head would be essential) coupled to a 1 oz poly handle to make a half pound hatchet that would be a fine performer for small wood.

At some point though, we probably have to admit that using a hatchet is more therapeutic than practical, even for those of us that cook with wood on small fires, Bushbuddies, or titanium Shepherd's stoves. I find a hatchet practical for the latter, and more aesthetic for the former. But i still take one on short trips.

Edited by ryan on 01/05/2010 17:06:45 MST.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: SUL Camp Hatchet on 01/05/2010 17:05:37 MST Print View

To build on what Ali and Andy said, although it's a cool idea, it doesn't make much sense. The mass of the axe/hatchet is a large part of what makes it a useful tool. If you want to split wood, batoning a fixed-blade knife will get you a more versatile, lighter-weight, more functional option. Have you ever split wood w/a light axe? It stinks. And my experiences were w/the Gerber series, which were at least 4 times heavier than you're talking about. For anything other than ideal wood, I ended up batoning the hatchet, anyway. I think you can come up with some more functional uses for your spare carbon fiber...

Jeff K
(jeff.k) - F

Locale: New York
Adding Weight to head of Hatchet on 01/05/2010 17:17:23 MST Print View

I wonder if it would be possible and practical to have a light headed hatchet and then add ballast to the head it by filling it up with water, sand, etc. Therefore you would have the weight when you want it, but you could empty it out when you didn't.

Joseph Morrison
(sjdm4211) - F

Locale: Smokies
"SUL Camp Hatchet" on 01/05/2010 17:21:07 MST Print View

The thing about a hatchet is the smaller it is the less useful it is. I have handled the GB Mini and I have to say it is nothing but a toy. Cool, but just a toy. The smallest hatchet I have used that I still feel is useful weighs 2 lbs., which is the Wetterlings Small hunting axe.

Either carry the weight of a real hatchet or learn to do without. I suggest the later.

Titanium? At this time there isn't the technology to make titanium hard enough for such tools. Mission knives makes the hardest Ti right now and I feel it is too soft. It is nothing but a gimmick IMO.

Carbon fiber doesn't have a whole lot of impact resistance, I wouldn't trust it to be a hatchet handle.


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: SUL Camp Hatchet on 01/05/2010 17:23:51 MST Print View

"I think you can come up with some more functional uses for your spare carbon fiber..."

I'm sure I'm the only one who would love this (I tend to think a bit differently about things.....), but one of the pieces of my Army gear I actually loved (or at least the functionality of it) was my entrenching tool. That thing could do so much! But it was (is) so darn heavy! One of its most useful functions -- orient the blade at a right angle to the shaft and tighten the, well, tightening ring. Hack out the hole. Now put the bottom of the shaft on the ground, with the blade still at a right angle to the shaft (and parallel to the ground), and sit on it to do your business. You could read a magazine in (relative) comfort in the middle of the woods while doing what you need to do without worrying too much about your trousers. Make that lightweight and you'd have one customer! Probably only one, though! ;-)

Ed Tyanich
(runsmtns) - F - M
Gransfors on 01/05/2010 17:40:43 MST Print View

My experience is much different than Ryan's with the Gransfors Mini. I have used one for 5 years and have split many larger rounds of wood. I also had a Gerber Backpax and disliked the feel of it. It was very club like and the handle too short for my likes. I sold it in short order.

The next larger Gerber has the same head as the Backpaxe with a longer handle. It weighs very little more and is a much better tool for splitting than the Backpaxe in my experience.

It just goes to show that different people like different things.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
I like the general idea on 01/05/2010 17:51:37 MST Print View

I haven't said anything bad about a lack of weight. It's a trade off. My concern is that the thing would be EXTREMELY expensive to be reliable....or it would be expensive and quickly fail. Now with different materials it might work. It may be challenging to chop wood with, but at least a hammer head on the back would still drive you could reenact a few Mel Gibson scenes.

JR Redding
(GrinchMT) - F
Re: SUL Camp Hatchet on 01/05/2010 20:10:36 MST Print View

We've carried the Gerber on our winter trips and for field dressing during Deer and Elk season. It does a nice job for a 17oz hatchet. 2 Years ago though I will admit I broke a handle at Lava Lake on a 10 inch Lodgepole.