Knives Illustrated

PORTABLE POWER

HATCHETS, TOMAHAWKS, MACHETES: NOTHING BEATS THESE HEAVY-DUTY, TAKE-ANYWHERE TOOLS

- BY STEVEN PAUL BARLOW

Hatchets, tomahawks, machetes: Nothing beats these heavy-duty, take-anywhere tools.

“HATCHETS, TOMAHAWKS, AND MACHETES ARE…MADE FOR CHOPPING WITH THE TYPES OF STEEL AND HEAT TREATMENTS THAT MAKE THEM RESILIENT TO LOTS OF POUNDING.”

Imight be a little close-minded on this, but I prefer to concentrat­e my knife usage on knife-type chores, such as cutting and slicing. When I need something chopped, I’d rather use a tool designed for chopping. So, more often than not, I have a hatchet, tomahawk, or machete with me when there’s such work to be done.

THREE-TOOL KIT

I know there’s lots of appeal to the idea of one do-it-all knife. I’ve fallen victim to this notion myself. And truth be told, I own several (OK, many) large knives. I’m all too familiar with the premise:

“What if you have only one knife with you?” That’s usually how these rumination­s begin, followed by the endorsemen­t of some large survival or bushcraft knife. More often these days, I usually answer that question with another:

“Why do you have only one knife with you?” I’ve never been blindfolde­d and dropped in the wilderness unexpected­ly. Woods wandering is something I can anticipate, and I pack the appropriat­e gear. Instead of one large knife, I prefer to carry a threetool kit that consists of a smaller knife, hatchet, and small folding saw. Too heavy, you say? My Outdoor Edge 7-inch Flip n’ Saw weighs 5.8 ounces; my Cold Steel Trail Hawk weighs 23.6 ounces; and my TOPS Skinat fixed blade knife weighs 8 ounces. So, my three tools weigh more than twice what my single Becker Combat Bowie weighs (just more than a pound.) You got me there.

But if weight is a significan­t concern for a particular outing, chances are I’m not going to bring the Becker Combat Bowie either, as much as I like it. I’ll limit myself to my Victorinox Hiker and skip happily down the trail. Try not to envision that. The point is that the saw blade on that little Swiss Army Knife can do many of the jobs I need done without all the sweaty hacking away at things. When I’m traveling light, I’ll carry light. When I anticipate work, I’ll bring the right tools.

WHY A HATCHET?

Batoning with a knife gives me a splitting headache. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. But most knives, with their thin, razor-sharp blades, aren’t built for the abuse. I don’t want to quickly dull my blade or ruin it altogether when I might need it for other important things far from civilizati­on. Hatchets, tomahawks, and machetes are usually made for chopping with the types of steel and heat treatments that make them resilient to lots of pounding.

And these tools are more efficient at chopping tasks. So, while I might expend more energy toting these tools initially, I can save a bit of time and energy when it comes to chopping if I have tools designed for that. Building a shelter or a travois, setting up a kettle hanger for the fire, and lightweigh­t splitting of firewood are all accomplish­ed more easily with a hatchet or ‘hawk. And as a bonus, I get a good pounding tool too, especially if it has a good hammer poll on the back side.

WOOD-HANDLED ‘HAWKS

Traditiona­l, wooden-handled tomahawks can be good choices for a number of reasons. Their heads are usually friction fit to the handles—the handles flare at the top and swinging a tomahawk

“…PICK UP A GOOD CHOPPING TOOL, PUT IT THROUGH SOME HARD WORK, AND YOU’LL FORGET ABOUT THE IF-I-ONLY-HAD-ONEKNIFE DEBATE, AT LEAST FOR A LITTLE WHILE.”

 ??  ?? Below: A good hatchet, such as this Case Winkler Pack Axe, can be an indispensa­ble workhorse around the camp and backyard. The sheath allows for multiple carry options on your person or on your pack.
Below: A good hatchet, such as this Case Winkler Pack Axe, can be an indispensa­ble workhorse around the camp and backyard. The sheath allows for multiple carry options on your person or on your pack.
 ??  ?? Right: A hatchet can prove invaluable around camp for a variety of chores that could quickly dull or ruin a knife blade.
Right: A hatchet can prove invaluable around camp for a variety of chores that could quickly dull or ruin a knife blade.
 ??  ?? Top: An advantage with a traditiona­l tomahawk is that the head can easily be removed so it can be used separately.
Top: An advantage with a traditiona­l tomahawk is that the head can easily be removed so it can be used separately.
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Because you’re more likely to take a portable chopper with you, having a good sheath becomes more important.
Above, Inset: Because you’re more likely to take a portable chopper with you, having a good sheath becomes more important.
 ??  ?? Top, Right: A couple of the author’s favorite traditiona­l tomahawks are the CRKT Woods Chogan T-hawk (left) and the Cold Steel Trail Hawk.
Above, Left, Inset:
Got zombies? The Cold Steel Axe Gang Hatchet is the very model Rick Grimes carried in The Walking
Dead television series. It works very well on wood too.
Top, Right: A couple of the author’s favorite traditiona­l tomahawks are the CRKT Woods Chogan T-hawk (left) and the Cold Steel Trail Hawk. Above, Left, Inset: Got zombies? The Cold Steel Axe Gang Hatchet is the very model Rick Grimes carried in The Walking Dead television series. It works very well on wood too.
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