How to Find the Best Splitting Axe and Our Top 5 Picks (2022)

Gear Knives and Blades

If you want to split wood, you may be trying to find the best splitting axe. Splitting axes are ideal camping tools if you need materials for your wood stove, or if you want to build a campfire. 

But how can you find the best one? What kind of handle should you go for? What length should you choose? And how can you use them safely? We’ll answer all those questions and give you our top 5 picks.

The bottom line upfront: We like the Estwing 14-Inch Camper's Axe. It’s a handy little axe, and it works well. It can also be used to remove stubborn pegs from the ground when you’re trying to collapse your tent, which is a nice extra feature.

We also like:

We’ll be looking at:

  1. Comparison of the best splitting axes
  2. What a splitting axe is used for
  3. Our top picks, including their pros and cons and their key features
  4. Related frequently asked questions, including how to use a splitting axe safely
  5. Our final thoughts on the best splitting axes out there

Keep reading to find out more.

Best Splitting Axes Compared

Feature
Most Comfortable
Good All-Rounder
Best Wooden Axe
Most Durable
Best Short-Handled Axe
Model
Estwing Special Edition Camper's Axe
Husqvarna 24-Inch Steel Splitting Axe
Chopper Wooden Axe
CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk Axe
Estwing 14-Inch Camper's Axe
Campers Axe Special Edition
Husqvarna 24 in. Steel Splitting Axe with Fiberglass Handle
Chopper Wooden Axe - # 1 Splitting Maul Axe – Powerful Log Splitting Action – Spring Activated Levers Separate Wood – 6.25# Cast Iron Head – 32” Hickory Handle – Camping, Wood Stoves and Firewood
CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk Axe: RMJ T-Hawk Lightweight Outdoor Camping Axe with Hammerhead, Forged Carbon Steel Blade, and Hickory Wooden Handle 2730
Estwing EB-2SA Estwing 14" Black Camper’s Axe
Handle Material
Steel (with leather grip)
Fiberglass
Wood
Wood
Synthetic
Handle Length
26 inches (66.04 centimeters)
24 inches (60.96 centimeters)
32 inches (81.28 centimeters)
19.31 inches (49.04 centimeters)
14 inches (35.56 centimeters)
-
2,595 Reviews
133 Reviews
3 Reviews
4,150 Reviews
1,576 Reviews
Feature
Most Comfortable
Model
Estwing Special Edition Camper's Axe
Campers Axe Special Edition
Handle Material
Steel (with leather grip)
Handle Length
26 inches (66.04 centimeters)
-
2,595 Reviews
Feature
Good All-Rounder
Model
Husqvarna 24-Inch Steel Splitting Axe
Husqvarna 24 in. Steel Splitting Axe with Fiberglass Handle
Handle Material
Fiberglass
Handle Length
24 inches (60.96 centimeters)
133 Reviews
Feature
Best Wooden Axe
Model
Chopper Wooden Axe
Chopper Wooden Axe - # 1 Splitting Maul Axe – Powerful Log Splitting Action – Spring Activated Levers Separate Wood – 6.25# Cast Iron Head – 32” Hickory Handle – Camping, Wood Stoves and Firewood
Handle Material
Wood
Handle Length
32 inches (81.28 centimeters)
3 Reviews
Feature
Most Durable
Model
CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk Axe
CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk Axe: RMJ T-Hawk Lightweight Outdoor Camping Axe with Hammerhead, Forged Carbon Steel Blade, and Hickory Wooden Handle 2730
Handle Material
Wood
Handle Length
19.31 inches (49.04 centimeters)
4,150 Reviews
Feature
Best Short-Handled Axe
Model
Estwing 14-Inch Camper's Axe
Estwing EB-2SA Estwing 14" Black Camper’s Axe
Handle Material
Synthetic
Handle Length
14 inches (35.56 centimeters)
1,576 Reviews

What is a Splitting Axe?

Old axe isolated on white background. Used axe with wooden handle, horizontal image.

A splitting axe is used for chopping wood. It’s sharp enough to cut across wood fibers. The bit cuts into the wood, and the blade slips in to create a cut. The eye of the axe head separates the wood.

A splitting axe is a handy camping essential, as it will allow you to create firewood on the go. They come in various sizes and handle lengths.

What to Look For in a Splitting Axe

Here are a few things to look for in a good splitting axe:

Handle Length

brown handle carving axe in hand

Splitting axes come in different handle lengths.

Long handle length

A longer handle will give you good leverage, allowing for a better, deeper cut. If you hate it when an axe gets stuck into the wood halfway, this is a good advantage.

Short handle length

Shorter handles are easier to pack if you want to take them camping. Plus, they have the benefit of greater precision.

Most splitting axes come with a handle length of 26-32 inches (66.04-81.28 centimeters), although more portable versions can be as short as 14 inches (35.56 centimeters).

Handle Material

Tree stump with axe and cut firewood outdoors, space for text

Axes tend to be made from one of three materials: synthetic, wood, or metal.

Synthetic

Synthetic handles have the advantage of better shock absorption. This will reduce the impact of each strike on your whole body. They’re durable, so you can expect them to last for a long time.

However, they have one key disadvantage. It’s prohibitively difficult to replace an axe head if the handle breaks, which means you’ll probably end up having to replace the whole thing, wasting a good axe head.

Wood

Wooden handles don’t have the same shock absorption properties as synthetic handles. However, they’re pretty straightforward to replace if they break, which is an advantage, especially if you love to take care of your tools so they will last a lifetime.

Metal

Stainless steel handles tend to be lightweight, but they can lack durability. They’re also less comfortable to use in very cold temperatures.

Blade Material

Tree stump with axe outdoors, closeup. Space for text

Look for a sharp steel blade, preferably with a powder coating to prevent rust from forming. This will help the axe to last longer. Axe blades can last a long time if you take care of them, so go for the best quality you can get.

Extra Features

Carving axe with black leather sheath on table

Some splitting axes come with a hole in the handle, allowing you to hang it safely out of the way. You can also find splitting axes with a protective cover for the blade area. This is useful to keep yourself and others safe. If your axe doesn’t come with this, you can buy an axe sheath separately.

Top 5 Splitting Axes

Let’s take a look at our top 5 splitting axes. We’ll look at their key features, and give you our honest opinion on their pros and cons, so you can find the best splitting axe for your particular needs.

1. Estwing Special Edition Camper’s Axe – Most Comfortable

Campers Axe Special Edition

Key Features

  • Handle Material: Steel (with leather grip)
  • Handle Length: 26 inches/66.04 centimeters
  • Case/Sheath Included: Yes

The Estwing Special Edition Camper's Axe is a steel-handled splitting axe that feels super comfortable to use. Thanks to the leather grip, it will feel nice to hold while still being very strong and durable. The downside of this is that you won’t be able to replace the axe handle, but it should last for a long time anyway.

The axe head is made from American steel. It is drop-forged and tempered, a manufacturing process that improves durability and strength. The leather grip is hand-sanded and lacquered, so it looks great, too.

It comes with a nylon sheath, which is also of high quality, to protect you from the sharp blade and keep the axe safe when not in use.

Pros

  • Durable
  • The leather and steel handle is comfortable but strong
  • Comes with a strong nylon sheath
  • Drop-forged and tempered for increased durability
  • 100% made in the USA

Cons

  • The axe handle can’t be separated from the axe head for replacement.
Check Price

2. Husqvarna 24-Inch Steel Splitting Axe – Good All-Rounder

Husqvarna 24 in. Steel Splitting Axe with Fiberglass Handle

Key Features

  • Handle Material: Fiberglass
  • Handle Length: 24 inches/60.96 centimeters
  • Case/Sheath Included: No

The Husqvarna 24-Inch Steel Splitting Axe is a good all-rounder. It has a fiberglass composite handle with a stainless steel component to protect the handle and increase durability.

The axe has a strong, sharp axe head with a non-stick coating to reduce friction while cutting. It splits wood with ease and can be used as a hammer when used with regular splitting wedges (but no steel wedges).

It doesn’t come with any extras, which is a downside. While it has a hole in the handle for hanging on a hook, it doesn’t have a sheath or a case. It does come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defaults, so you’ll be protected if there is a fault in the manufacturing stage.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Strong handle
  • Sharp axe head with non-stick coating
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a sheath or case
Check Price

3. Chopper Wooden Axe – Best Wooden Axe

Chopper Wooden Axe - # 1 Splitting Maul Axe – Powerful Log Splitting Action – Spring Activated Levers Separate Wood – 6.25# Cast Iron Head – 32” Hickory Handle – Camping, Wood Stoves and Firewood

Key Features

  • Handle Material: Wood
  • Handle Length: 32 inches/81.28 centimeters
  • Case/Sheath Included: No

The Chopper Wooden Axe is a great axe if you prefer a wooden handle. The handle is a whopping 32 inches (81.28 centimeters), long enough for you to get a good swing, although it may not be suitable for shorter people. The handle is made from hickory and ergonomically designed to feel comfortable to use.

The axe head is strong, made from cast iron, with a sharp blade. It’s designed to reduce the chances of the axe getting stuck. The blade begins the splitting process, and then spring-activated levers force outwards to split the wood. It’s a fairly explosive process, so if you do go for this one, you’ll need to make sure no one is standing near you! The spring levers reset on their own, so it’s fairly easy to use.

It doesn’t come with a sheath or a case. They offer a 30-day guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with how it works.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Strong ergonomic handle
  • Sharp blade
  • Automatically splits wood using spring-activated levers
  • Offers a 30-day guarantee

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a sheath or case
  • Spring-lever action may not suit everyone
Check Price

4. CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk Axe – Most Durable

CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk Axe: RMJ T-Hawk Lightweight Outdoor Camping Axe with Hammerhead, Forged Carbon Steel Blade, and Hickory Wooden Handle 2730

Key Features

  • Handle Material: Wood
  • Handle Length: 19.31 inches (49.04 centimeters)
  • Case/Sheath Included: No

The CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk Axe is a tough, durable axe, and it should last for a long time. It has a shorter handle at 19.31 inches (49.04 centimeters), which is good for increasing accuracy. It’s made from hickory wood, sealed with a lacquer coat for a little extra durability.

The axe head is made from carbon steel, hot-forged into a strong head that can deal with most types of wood with ease. It also has a hammerhead, which is a useful extra for pounding in nails and stakes.

It doesn’t come with a sheath, although you can buy a leather one specifically designed for it: CRKT T-Hawk Leather Sheath. You’ll probably want to invest in this as the axe head is so sharp, but this bumps up the cost. It has a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.

Pros

  • Durable, lacquer-coated handle
  • Ideal if you want super-accurate cuts
  • Sharp carbon steel blade
  • Includes hammerhead
  • Has a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a sheath or case
Check Price

5. Estwing 14-Inch Camper’s Axe – Best Short-Handled Axe

Estwing EB-2SA Estwing 14' Black Camper’s Axe

Key Features

  • Handle Material: Wood
  • Handle Length: 14 inches (35.56 centimeters)
  • Case/Sheath Included: Yes

The Estwing 14-Inch Camper's Axe is a tough little axe, ideal if you prefer a short-handled axe. The handle is made from synthetic materials, with a comfortable, durable grip that can reduce vibration by up to 70%. It feels comfortable to hold.

The axe head is made from strong American steel, hand-polished and sharpened, and drop-forged (a forging process designed to create strong, durable tools). It’s a super-strong axe head, ideal for dealing with most types of wood, and it has a unique triangular divot designed to pull up tent stakes, making it the perfect camping companion.

It comes with a strong nylon sheath, perfectly designed to fit, which is great from a safety perspective. It is fully made in the USA, which is a nice bonus. While it looks great, the paint can start to chip away after a few uses.

Pros

  • Durable short-handled axe
  • Designed to reduce vibration
  • Feels comfortable to hold
  • A strong, drop-forged axe head
  • Includes triangular divot for pulling up tent stakes
  • Comes with a nylon sheath
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Paint may start to wear away after a few uses
Check Price

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we settle on a winner, here are some commonly asked questions about splitting axes:

What’s the difference between a splitting maul and a splitting axe?

Maul and Splitting Axe Cut into an Old Tree Stump

There’s a key difference between a splitting maul and a splitting axe. A splitting maul has more of a blunt head and is designed to split wood by putting pressure on the wood fibers, forcing them apart.

The good thing about splitting mauls is they are less likely to get stuck in the wood, which can be annoying. The downside is it takes more energy to use them compared to using a splitting axe.

How can I replace the handle of my wooden splitting axe?

Axe with wooden handle in a man's hand in the forest

There are a few steps to this process:

  1. Firstly, you’ll need to remove the handle. You can do this by drilling into the handle through the hole in the axe, inserting a metal wedge, and using a hammer to pop it out. You can also use a chisel to bash it out instead or saw off the handle and hammer out the part of the handle that is still inside the head.
  2. Next, you’ll need to clean the eye of the axe head. Remove any splinters of wood from the previous handle using a chisel until nothing remains inside.
  3. Then, you’ll need to mark the kerf. The kerf is another word for the wedge inside the handle. Most handles come with a kerf already. Use a pencil to trace a line around the handle where the kerf ends.
  4. The next step is to try to fit the handle. Push it in, then tap it in gently with a piece of wood. Do this gently to start with, and don’t use a metal hammer (this can damage the new handle).
  5. Next, strike in the handle. This will require some force, using a piece of blunt wood. Don’t be tempted to use a steel hammer, as this could cause damage.
  6. Then, you can saw off the protruding wedge, keeping a few millimeters.
  7. Lastly, you can tighten it with glue. This will help to hold it all together. Just follow the instructions on the packaging, leaving it to harden thoroughly before use.

Here is a tutorial if you would like a visual guide to how this works.

How can I sharpen my splitting axe?

Asian man sharpening axe on a grinder

You may need to sharpen your axe from time to time. This takes a few steps but is well worth it. Just make sure to follow any safety guidelines, as it does involve using other tools.

Check out this guide from Home Built Workshop for full, step-by-step instructions, including what you’ll need to get going.

What do I need to know to stay safe when using a splitting axe?

Farmer with big axe splitting beech logs

Splitting wood can be pretty relaxing, but there are a few things you need to do to use an axe safely:

  1. Wear protective eyewear, like the Virtua 3M Safety Glasses to protect your eyes from flying wood
  2. Use safety gloves to protect your hands
  3. Set up your wood safely on the chopping block. Make sure the chopping block is on a level surface.
  4. Make sure nobody is standing behind you, and instruct everyone to stand back as you work.
  5. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your dominant hand near the head of the axe, and your non-dominant hand at the base. Let your dominant hand slide down towards your other hand as you strike the wood.
  6. Lastly, make sure you burn wood safely. Follow these 10 tips to prevent wildfires to ensure you don’t cause damage from your campfire.

The Winner Is …

An new modern axe tool on wood

If we had to pick one, we’d go for the Estwing 14-Inch Camper's Axe. It’s compact but strong, and you can put it in your backpack safely thanks to the nylon sheath included with it. You can use it to remove stubborn pegs, which is a handy tool you’ll probably need at some point.

If you want something different, try the Chopper Wooden Axe. The spring-activated levers force the wood apart, making splitting wood very simple to do (although the result can be explosive).

We also like the Estwing Special Edition Camper's Axe. Thanks to the leather grip, it feels comfortable to hold while being durable enough to last for a long time.

We hope this has helped to find the best splitting axe for you!