Cousin Josh

What to Look For When Buying an Axe

by Cousin Josh - 10 years old

An axe is an essential piece of gear for anyone who is going to spend time in the backcountry.  A proper axe is an investment.  If well cared for it will last for many years.  

Josh with his favourite piece of gear - the  Gränsfors  Bruk Small Forest Axe

Josh with his favourite piece of gear - the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe

A good axe should have a solid steel head.  A solid steel head will hold up to years of heavy use.  The axe head should be secured into the handle through the axe eye with a steel wedge.

There are now some axes where the fibreglass handle is moulded around the head (see below).  These axes tend to be a bit less expensive and the head should not loosen over time.  A drawback with these axes is if they break in the wilderness you can't really fix them.

The axe handle should fit comfortably in your hand.  Make sure you can grip the handle firmly and that the end knob is large enough to keep the handle from slipping out of your hand.  The handle can be made of fibreglass or wood.  An axe with a fibreglass handle will often be lighter than one with a wooden handle.  A wooden handle is easier to replace and is more environmentally friendly.  If the handle is made out of wood make sure that the wood was dried before it was turned.  This way the handle won't shrink and come loose from the head. 

While a good axe might be expensive, it is worth the money because it will last longer.  My favourite axe is my Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe.  It costs about $129 CAD and can be purchased at Lee Valley Tools or Canadian Outdoor Equipment

image from Gransfors Bruk

image from Gransfors Bruk

If you are looking for a less expensive option, my younger cousins and Uncle Dave tested out the Fiskars X7 14" Hatchet this summer and it performed well.  It's under $40 and you can get it at Home Depot.  Or you could get the Gerber Sport Axe II which has a more compact cover.  These axes are made by the same company and are pretty much the same except for the colour, cover, and logo.  These are good axes for kids (and adults) because the bright colours make them easy to find if they get left on the ground and they are lightweight (the handle is hollow).

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To find out more about different types of axes and how to use them you can check out the Gränsfors Bruk Axe Book.


Swedish FireKnife Review (by Cousin Josh: Age 10)

Josh reviews Light My Fire's Swedish FireKnife

The Swedish FireKnife is made by Mora and Light My Fire. This fixed blade knife has a comfy black rubber handle with Swedish fire steel in the pommel. The rubber handle prevents the knife from slipping out of your hand when you are working with it. The knife’s stainless steel blade is sharpened to a 30-degree angle. The knife comes with a plastic sheath that has a drainage hole in the bottom. The sheath has a sturdy belt clip that stays in place.  The knife comes is a variety of colours. The bright colours are good for younger kids who tend to forget where they set down their knives.

The Swedish FireKnife is useful in the camp kitchen.  It can cut meat and produce and is easy to clean. The sharp blade is also good for scraping bark to make fire tinder.  The steel can then be used to create sparks to light the tinder. To create the sparks you scrape the back of the knife blade along the fire steel. The fire steel also allows you to light gas stoves. This economically priced knife ($29-35 range) is good for any bushman and is available at MEC, Lee Valley Tools, REI, and Adventure Guide, or directly from Light My Fire.