1 / GERBER DOWNRANGE TOMAHAWK // R6 060
Three tools in one makes for exceptionally good value. The head has a cutting edge and a hammer head welded on the other side; the cut-out area is moulded to serve as the handle for the pry-tool on the end of the tang. Forged from heat-treated highcarbon steel, this tomahawk will last a long time and the nifty sheath clips on to almost any gear.
2 / WETTERLINGS SPLITTING AXE // R2 125
This is probably what you were expecting when we said ‘axes’. Splitting axes are the most common form of domestic axe and are very well designed for chopping up firewood. You want the force of the swing to get the wedge to split the fibres of the wood along the grain – an axe doesn’t technically ‘cut’ through wood. Go for a good wooden handle to help with the shock.
3 / ESEE 5 TACTICAL KNIFE // R3 000+
The middle child of the range still benefits from the US SERE (specialised Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training for US military and Department of Defense contractors) instructor development and full-tang construction. Use it to split smaller pieces of wood ( see below) or to feather larger pieces to get the fire going quicker. It also works well with a ferrous rod.
4 / COLD STEEL SPECIAL FORCES SHOVEL // R695
Much like the knife on this list, this isn’t an axe. To be fair, this isn’t a particularly good spade either because it lacks a dramatic dirt-scooping curve. But the blade is sharpened all around the useful bit of the spade, which is great for cutting through roots or using it as an impromptu throwing knife. A 2 mm medium carbon steel blade and hardwood handle make this a useful tool to have in your outdoor arsenal.
5 / WETTERLINGS AMERICAN FOREST AXE // R2 020
This tall boy is, in essence, a splitting axe with a long handle for extra leverage. Tree-felling axe heads typically weigh in at around 1.5 kg and should be wielded in similar fashion to a splitting axe. You want to make a downward ‘V’ and should aim for a 45˚ chop on either side of the tree trunk. This model has a high-strength Swedish steel head and hickory handle.
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