When you’re camping or spending time in the outdoors, being prepared is essential. Without the comforts of civilization, you need the right equipment to make life easier. While a camp axe is great for chopping firewood, it has an impressive range of extra tricks up its sleeve. Keep reading to get our ultimate list of uses for a camp axe.  

11 handy uses for a camp axe  

A camp axe is excellent for chopping wood and hammering in tent stakes at the camp site. They’re versatile tools with a range of extra uses like shelter making, sculpting, chopping meat, hacking ice, and more.

1. Hammering stuff

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

Don’t go too crazy bashing hard objects though; the poll isn’t usually made with hardened steel so excessive hammering could 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

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

3. Kindling and tinder

Once you have your firewood sorted, chopping smaller bits will make starting the fire easier. If the axe’s blade is sharp, slice off fine shavings to make tinder. This is useful if you don’t have paper or fire starters to get a blaze started.

Go no flint, matches, or lighter? If you’re in survival mode, you can 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 has the potential to damage the blade, so only do it if you’re desperate.

4. Shaving

Have you left your razor at home? If you prefer the clean-cut look then a camp axe will do the trick. It’ll need 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 the creative type, 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 your hand at 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 you’re at the campsite or back home in the yard, a camp axe is great for trimming branches. It’s light and used with one hand, making high-up swinging easy.

8. Light reflection

Hopefully, you never need this, but it’s nice to know your axe can be used to reflect an SOS signal in emergencies. Although older axes won’t offer much help, newer tools and well-maintained axes 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 be the difference between being found and getting passed unseen.    

9. Defense

Like getting lost in the woods, having to defend yourself with a camp axe isn’t a scenario you’re likely to need. But a solid camp axe provides some peace of mind if you need to fend off a wild animal or a human with the wrong intentions.

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, you’ll find camp axes take care of the toughest sections. Lopping through persistent gristle, bone, and sinew is much easier with an axe.

For fishing trips, your camping axe can be used to scale and fillet if it’s nice and sharp. Take care with your fingers and use precise cuts to avoid messing up that delicious fish.  

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

11. Ice hacking

Ice fishermen find augers useful for drilling through 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 up solid, hard to shovel ice that’s built up on paths or the driveway.     

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

Tips for safely using a camp axe

To reduce the chance of injury to yourself or others at the campsite, follow these simple safety tips.

  • Maintain a sharp blade and keep the bit in top condition. Dull blades 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 good distance away from people in case it slips out of your hand while swinging.

Alternatives to a camp axe when you’re out camping

If you don’t want to carry an axe on your next camping trip, you could take a mallet to help with knocking in tent stakes. A pocketknife is much easier to carry than an axe and can do some tasks an axe can. Finally, a foldable saw is a lightweight option for chopping branches to use on fires.

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. Take the ideas from the list on this page and the investment you make into a camp axe will be returned in one holiday.

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