Reviewed by: Alex Johansen. Modeled by: Carolina.

Experienced hikers, hunters, and pack campers obsess about shaving pack weight. After walking all day, every pound on the back feels like ten – easy trails transcend into a slow grind.

The Gerber Pack Hatchet is a portable, lightweight tool that’s super-easy to carry. Outdoor adventurers may be excited by its compact size, but does this design sacrifice performance? We tested the Gerber Pack Hatchet to find out if size matters and to highlight the good and bad.

Overview of the Gerber Pack Hatchet

The Gerber Pack Hatchet is one of the lightest on the market. Weighing just over 20 ounces and measuring 9.5″ in length, you’ll barely know it’s there. Hang it on a backpack, slip it inside the pack, slide it into a glove box, or mount it on your belt.

This tool is handy for basic camping tasks and hunting. It will also appeal to survivalists and hikers needing a bush-craft tool when the unexpected occurs in the middle of nowhere.

The Pack Hatchet’s full tang handle provides a solid design that won’t come apart on impact. Hardened steel protrudes from the end of the handle, which can be used for hammering tent stakes.

Finger grooves allow users to hold the hatchet close to the blade in a choke-up hold. That makes it easy to deliver small, accurate swings commonly used in woodwork projects and carving.

Infographic showing Gerber Pack Hatchet data
Dashboard stats of the Gerber.

How does the Gerber Pack Hatchet perform?

We tested this hatchet on various camping tasks to see how it performed. Making kindling was easy work, and the finger notches close to the blade helped with shaving tinder.

Thinning branches off trees was a cinch. It’s light and easy to swing in awkward places, like when you’re pruning trees.

Although we’ve read mixed reviews about blade sharpness, ours had a decent edge direct from the store. But we think some will still want to sharpen it before use.

  • Chopping: Whether you’re building a shelter or chopping wood for the fire, the pack hatchet isn’t ideal. It lacks the weight and length needed to make leveraged, powerful swings. After close to 100 swings, we hadn’t made much impact on chopping through a small log. Even smaller pieces of wood are a chore, so look at alternatives like the Fiskars X7 or Gerber 17.5″ Freescape for much more chopping power.
  • Splitting: This hatchet will split straight, knot-free firewood so long as it’s pre-split. Even the smallest rounds are a tedious struggle compared to a regular camp hatchet. If you need to split more than a few pieces of wood, consider the Fiskars X11 hatchet.

In the outdoors, an animal attack could happen at any time. While axes can be unwieldy, the Gerber Pack Hatchet is super-easy to swing. It will provide useful defense and also doubles as a throwing axe. But let’s get real; your odds against a bear won’t be high using this weapon.

Anglers will find processing fish easy, and hunters can use it for small and medium-sized game.

A vertical collage showing the axe held at different angles
Various shots of the Gerber Pack Hatchet.

Features

  • Quality stainless steel construction
  • Full tang design for a steady swing
  • Easy grip rubber overmold on the handle
  • Ergonomically designed choke-up grip
  • Tall blade grind for a sharp edge
  • Lanyard hole allows easy hanging
  • Sheath with holes for attaching to belt
  • Limited lifetime warranty
A Gerber Pack Hatchet on white background with features labeled.
A full tang, multi-featured tool.

Parts of the Gerber Pack Hatchet

This tool has some helpful features that set it apart from the competition. Let’s look at its components along with some pros and cons.

Axe head

The pack hatchet’s head is made from stainless steel and is corrosion-resistant. It sports a nice-looking stonewashed finish and has a sleek-looking blade measuring 3.5″ with a thin, wide edge. Although not razor-sharp, it is capable of chopping straight “out of the box.”

Closeup of the Pack Hatchet's blade.
The bit will cut straight from the store.

Unlike most hatchets that have a poll for hammering, this tool is too thin. While not a perfect solution, hammering with the end of the handle is possible. It’s solid, so you won’t see steel mushrooming, but this shape isn’t optimal for hammering. Smacking in wooden tent pegs are possible, but anything more could be a stretch.

Closeup showing how the poll of a Gerber Pack Hatchet is made.
The poll is too thin for hammering.

A deep beard provides plenty of choke behind the cutting edge. We found the hatchet comfortable in hand and easy to make precise cuts. Fashioning a spear or spoon is possible if you’ve got the DIY skills to make them.

The lightweight design of the Gerber Pack Hatchet is a huge benefit, but it is also the tool’s Achilles heel. Weight is an instrumental part of force; combined with gravity, it helps the blade cut and force its way through wood fibers.

But the Pack Hatchet has little weight, so all the work falls into the hands of the person swinging it. Even small logs require repeated swinging and a lot of muscle action to chop and split. For that reason, if there’s any way to pack a regular hatchet, then you should do it.

Axe handle

The handle of a Gerber Pack Hatchet is light, compact, and comfortable in hand. It is full tang, meaning the head extends down the handle. This feature is excellent for balance and provides a robust tool that holds the handle and head together securely.

Zoomed in image of the Gerber Pack Hatchet's haft (handle).
The rubber overmold is durable and comfortable.

We found the rubber grip easy to hold in a range of positions. Water didn’t make the handle slippery, a useful feature in rain-prone areas.

The Pack Hatchet does a reasonable job of absorbing vibration on impact. However, the hollow Gerber Freescape handles do a much better job of reducing shock.

  • The handle is available in two colors, coyote brown or flat sage. The coyote brown option has a black head, while sage has a silver head.
  • The knob of the handle has a convenient lanyard hole. Tie it to your pack when you’re on the move, or easily hang it in the toolshed when not in use.
  • A notch sticks out of the knob, offering added safety. It won’t come flying out of the hand mid-swing.

Some won’t appreciate the materials used to make this handle. It’s not wood, so thinning, sanding, and varnishing the tool isn’t possible.

Protective sheath

The hatchet blade is protected by a nylon sheath and stops people from accidentally cutting themselves. Hunters and hikers can attach the sheathed hatchet to their belts, and they’ll barely notice the extra weight.

Holding the Pack Hatchet with the black nylon sheath attached.
The sheath gives protection but is hard to remove.

While any protective cover is better than nothing, the Gerber Pack Hatchet’s sheath is a big disappointment. Unlike the user-friendly plastic Fiskars sheath, this cover is difficult to remove or re-attach. It creates a potential safety hazard, having to fiddle with a covering that’s next to a sharp blade.

Remember to dry the head before putting it away. Moisture may not rust this head, but it will encourage mold.

Strengths

  • Easy to carry on packs or belts.
  • Takes up minimal storage space.
  • Lightweight tool that’s comfortable in hand.
  • Sharp blade for chopping and carving.
  • Full tang blade made from durable materials.

Weaknesses

  • Some cheaper hatchets perform better.
  • Simple chopping jobs are hard work.
  • Poor quality protective sheath.
Full vertical shot of a woman holding the Gerber Pack Hatchet in front of her and smiling at the camera.
A useful tool when packing light is priority one.

Commonly asked questions

What is the best alternative to the Gerber Pack Hatchet?

The Fiskars X7 is a better option than the Gerber Pack Hatchet for those needing more chopping power. If you have more space, check out our Gerber 23.5″ Freescape review. It’s a great choice for anyone that wants an axe with the ability to chop bigger wood. For the ultimate space-saver, consider a folding saw if you only want to cut through wood.

Does this hatchet have a blade protector?

The Gerber Pack Hatchet has a button-up nylon sheath that covers the head completely. This cover also comes with belt loops for easy carrying.

Where is this tool made?

The Gerber Pack Hatchet is designed and engineered in the United States, but this tool is made in China.

Does the axe head double as a hammer?

The back of the axe has a narrow spine, making it difficult to hammer objects. However, the end of the handle is solid and can be used for small hammering jobs.

Can I cut vegetables with this tool?

This tool will easily cut vegetables but isn’t made with food-safe steel. It is okay for chopping up meat and fish, but you’ll need to cook it before eating.

Is this hatchet good for splitting firewood?

We do not recommend using the Gerber Pack Hatchet for splitting wood unless it’s been pre-split and is knot-free with a straight grain. Its short handle and thin, light head make simple splitting tasks difficult.

How do I sharpen the Gerber Pack Hatchet?

Sharpen the Pack Hatchet like you would an axe, using sandpaper, files, or an electric tool. There are also blade sharpeners that make sharpening much more straightforward.

The Pack Hatchet held vertically in front of the body with the protective cover attached.
A final shot of this tool in its cover.

Specifications

AttributeImperialMetric
Total length9.46” 24cm
Axe blade length3.5” 8.9cm
Total weight20.8 oz 0.59kg
  • Handle Material: Rubber overmold handle
  • Blade Construction: Stainless steel

Watch a quick video

Should I buy a Gerber Pack Hatchet?

The Gerber Pack Hatchet will appeal to the minimalist who appreciates modern-looking tools. Outdoor enthusiasts that need to get to a location without the help of wheels will love how light it is.

It is an exciting discovery when you find a hatchet that weighs a little over a pound. But tools are all about tradeoffs, and featherweight axes sacrifice plenty of power. For this reason, you’d only buy this tool where a light load is essential. Car campers and those traveling short distances on foot will be much better served with a low-cost hatchet.

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