A camp axe is excellent for chopping firewood, but this tool isn’t a one-trick pony. We’ve pulled together some handy uses for this versatile tool. Keep reading to get our ultimate list of uses for a camp axe. Jump down to number four for our favorite use.

11 handy uses for a camp axe  

A camp axe is useful for chopping wood and hammering in tent stakes at the campsite. It is also great for making shelter, sculpting, chopping meat, and hacking ice.

1. Hammering stuff

The poll of the axe is on the head, opposite the blade. This section is usually flat, making it ideal for banging tent pegs into hard ground. It’s also great for knocking out dents and driving hammock stakes into a tree.

Setting up tent pegs in the outdoors
Close-up of Girl hands fastens a tent for camping pegs

Use caution when bashing hard objects; the poll isn’t usually made with hardened steel, so too much impact may cause damage or loosen the handle.

Did you know? The poll of the axe is also called the butt. Don’t believe us? Check out our resource on the main parts of an axe.

2. Wood chopping

A sharp axe is recommended if you love a good fire for keeping warm and toasting marshmallows. Instead of hunting around for deadwood that’s an appropriate size, get chopping instead. Partially fallen branches and large pieces of dead wood can easily be cut to size.  

A hatchet partially chopping a log

3. Kindling and tinder

After collecting firewood, the next step is chopping smaller bits to help start the fire. If the axe’s blade is sharp, slice off fine shavings to make tinder. This fire starter is helpful if you need paper or store-bought fire starters to get a blaze started.

Go no flint, matches, or lighter? In survival mode, use the axe’s blade as a makeshift flint. Striking it with a hard rock can make a spark to get the fire started. This life-saving skill has the potential to damage the blade, so only do it if you’re in a pinch.

A man chopping kindling for a fire with a hatchet

4. Shaving

Camp axes make the ideal substitute if you forget to pack a razor and prefer the clean-cut look. The bit needs to be razor-sharp, and you’ll need to be extra careful.

Lumberjacks have been using axes as backup razors for many years, but they probably didn’t get the stares you’ll get from fellow campmates when they see you in the act.

5. Shelter building

An impromptu shelter could save your life if you get stuck outdoors without a tent or cabin. A camp axe makes light work of lopping down branches which you can fashion into a lean-to or tepee. 

6. Woodwork

If you’re creative, put an axe to work during downtime around camp. Find a chunk of wood and start crafting whatever comes into your head.

Spears, toys, and cutlery can all be carved using an axe. Try fletching, the ancient art of making bows and arrows. With precision cuts required, you’ll need a sharp bit, patience, and a keen respect for your fingers.

7. Branch trimming

Whether at the campsite or back home in the yard, a camp axe is invaluable for trimming branches. Its light construction makes high up, one-handed swinging easy. Unlike cumbersome full-size axes, a camp axe makes work in confined spaces more straightforward.

8. Light reflection

It’s comforting to know camp axes can reflect an SOS signal in emergencies. Although older axes will offer little help, newer and well-maintained tools will allow you to get the attention of searchers up above.

To create a signal, start by cleaning the axe with a clean rag or your shirt. Then angle the axe head in the sun’s direction, making slow movements until you see a flash. This simple trick could save your life in the wilderness.   

9. Defense

A sharp camp axe provides peace of mind if you need to fend off a wild animal or a human with the wrong intentions.

We recommend learning basic survival skills if you’re heading into territory with predatory animals. Small axes don’t offer much help when facing off a grizzly.

10. Meat preparation

If you’ve managed to shoot or snare wild game, it’ll need to be processed. While a good-quality hunting knife is useful, camp axes take care of the toughest sections. Lopping through gristle, bone, and sinew is much easier with an axe.

Sharp camping axes are ideal for scaling and filleting fish on a fishing trip. Take care of your fingers and use precise cuts to avoid damaging the fillets.

Once you’re back home, keep using the axe to process poultry the quick and easy way.

11. Ice hacking

Ice fishermen find augers helpful in drilling through the ice to get to the fish. If you don’t have one, a camp axe will work if you’re in a pinch. On warm days, you can also hack out a few slabs of ice and create a makeshift cooler for your catch. That’ll keep them perfectly fresh until you head back to camp.

Once you’re back home, the camp axe will keep on giving. Use it to chop solid, hard-to-shovel ice built up on paths or the driveway.    

A house covered in snow requiring a hatchet to break up the ice

Related reading:
What are double-bit axes used for?
What is a hatchet used for?

Tips for safely using a camp axe

Follow these simple safety tips to reduce the chance of injury to yourself and others at the campsite.

  • Maintain a sharp blade and keep the bit in top condition. Dull edges make simple tasks difficult and increase the chance of injury from recoil.
  • Always maintain a firm grip on the axe and ensure you’re standing on stable ground, free from roots, rocks, and other debris.
  • Don’t leave a camp axe lying around the campsite. It’s more like to get damaged or cause injury to kids and pets. Instead, store it away safely with a sheath protecting the blade.
  • Chop wood a reasonable distance from people in case it slips while swinging.

Alternatives to a camp axe when you’re out camping

To avoid carrying an axe on your next camping trip, consider taking a mallet to help knock in tent stakes. Pocket knives are much lighter and can perform tasks around the camp, like whittling tent stakes. A foldable saw is invaluable for chopping branches and easily fits into a pack.

Tip: Check out how to carry an axe for more advice.

A vertical collage of various axes being used in camping situations

Summing up

A camping axe is a multi-purpose tool that makes light work of many camp side chores. Felling small trees and bushes, chopping firewood, and hammering are some common uses, but that’s not all. With these ideas, you’ll recoup your investment into a camp axe in one holiday.

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