When is an axe not an axe? the editor asks
An axe, or a hatchet? Call it what you like, this bit of kit does the job
Just when you think you’ve seen everything, something new can come along, and this neat tool from Gerber is like nothing I’ve seen before. The Back Paxe II is, in essence, a tiny axe, which comes with a hard, carrying case so that it can be carried in your rucksack without any danger of cutting the contents, or hurting you if you fell on it. Gerber describe it as ‘a hatchet’, which is a word I’ve heard, but didn’t really understand. The dictionary defines it as an axe to be used with just one hand, so that makes sense then.
The build quality felt impressive from the box, and knowing that it’s made in Finland, by Fiskars, I wasn’t surprised. It’s 9” long overall, and weighs just over a pound, so clearly you’re not going to be getting a lot of energy into the swing. However, it was seriously sharp and uses hardened (55HRC), forged, Scandinavian steel to make its 2.7” edge. I’ve learned more about highquality axes in recent years, through the bush-craft movement, and now know that a well-designed, truly sharp, small axe will outperform a big, heavy, blunt one, every time.
The shaft is made from glass-filled nylon, which is close to indestructible, and because it’s moulded around the blade, I can’t foresee any issues with loosening. It’s also shock absorbing. There’s slight texturing on the surface and it flares wide at the base adding security to your grip and reducing the need to grip too tightly, which should help to minimise fatigue.
At first I thought that the carrying case was just for display in the shop, but it’s not. I can see that it’s very safe, but I thought it was a bit too bulky. If it were mine, I’d saw off the carry loop and trim all the other unnecessary parts so that I was left with just the part that contains the head. An innovation that I haven’t seen before is the head being coated with PTFE, to help it slide in when cutting, and reduce the chance of it sticking when deeply embedded.
Cutting performance in the field was everything I’d hoped for; slicing through 2” limbs in just a few strokes. The handle was a touch slippery, but wearing a work glove helped, which is what I would usually do for longer jobs, anyway. This is a great hide-making tool, and fantastic for camping trips when an open fire needs to be built. It’s also very reasonably priced for such a high-quality tool. A well-built bargain, it has to be said.
“Cutting performance in the field was
everything I’d hoped for”
Above: There’s a lot of cutting power in that small tool
Below: The protective carrying case is rather bulky