With plenty of heft and ample head weight for a small hatchet, the Husqvarna Hatchet is a simple but effective tool for mixed camp use as well as other bushcraft-style tasks. It’s certainly compact enough to stow in a pack, if a little heavy, but some backpackers might still opt to take it in to the backcountry. It's ideal for car and canoe camping, though.
Supplied with edge guard
Wedge-shaped, all-steel head
Steel seems softer than some rivals
Shorter handle than some rivals
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Husqvarna Hatchet: first impressions
This is a very traditional-looking hatchet, with a carbon steel head forged in Germany fitted to a chunky ash handle. Inspecting the eye reveals it has been hafted using a standard wooden wedge, secured with an additional metal ring. The workmanship of our test sample wasn’t the neatest, with a few little gaps between the handle and head, but the wedge itself was well centred. The head was solid, with no wiggle.
• List price: $39 / £31.49
• Weight: 855g / 1lb 14oz
• Blade length: 10.5cm/4in
• Overall length: 36cm/14in
• Head: Forged carbon steel
• Handle: Ash
• Edge protector: Black PU leatherette
The head itself weighs 600g or about 1lb 5oz, and most of that weight is placed directly in front of the handle. This means the head has a smaller poll or butt than most comparable hatchets, but wider cheeks and therefore a thicker, wedge-shaped profile that works very well for splitting.
The bit has a single bevel cutting edge and came reasonably sharp from the factory but sharpens easily. The rest of the head is finished in a grey coating with a lacquer over the top that ought to provide some protection from corrosion.
The ash handle is sanded but otherwise unfinished save for an orange-painted upper section, intended for better visibility. Our test sample had nice grain orientation, though disappointingly a small knot in the wood, right at the throat. In terms of shape, it has large shoulders for added strength and heft, and a pronounced palm swell at the butt end for a secure and comfortable grip. There’s no lanyard hole, but it would be easy to drill one.
It’s supplied with a simple edge protector made from PU leatherette, which is stitched and riveted together. It’s finished with a rubber Husqvarna logo patch and elastic webbing to secure it to the axe.
Husqvarna Hatchet: in the field
This feels like a sturdy, no nonsense hatchet and proved itself as such on camp, as well as in the garden. The broad wedge-shaped bit makes it one of the best camping axes for splitting small logs cleanly, without getting stuck. It works just as well for chopping sticks and kindling thanks to plenty of head weight and a pronounced palm swell that enables an easy chopping stroke.
The handle is comfortable to use, and the natural, unvarnished wood also absorbs palm sweat, ensuring a good grip. It is quite a chunky shaft, which suits larger hands, though of course you could easily slim it down or reshape it with a rasp and some sanding sheets.
The Husqvarna hatchet also performed well when trimming or snedding branches. The handle is about the right length for easy one-handed use, and it feels well-balanced overall.
The large head cutaway also enables you to choke up for more precise carving work too, which is great for camp bushcraft projects like making spoon blanks, though the hefty shoulders are a bit thick to remain comfortable for extended periods, especially if you have smaller hands. Again, it would be easy enough to reshape it for added comfort if desired.
I did think the cutting edge lost its sharpness a little quicker than other axes, suggesting the steel is slightly softer than some rivals. Maybe the hardening or heat-treating process isn’t quite as good as other manufacturers'? The hatchet also ended up with a small chip in the edge on test, after working through some particularly knotty wood. Fortunately, it was easy to restore a keen edge with nothing more than a file and a circular whetstone.
And all in all, for the price, this is a solid hatchet that, with a little regular TLC, ought to see the user through many years of good service.
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An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.