Cold Steel Trail Hawk vs. Fiskars X11 vs. Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe Comparison


Today we’re beginning a series on what I will be calling “Bug Out Bag Essentials”.  This series will cover what I consider to be the essential items necessary for any bug out bag as well as provide recommendations at various price points.

Everyone is different when it comes to assembling a bug out bag.  Some actively use their equipment for camping, hiking and canoe trips and can justify investing in costly equipment that will hold up to lots of abuse.  Others may simply want a bug out bag they can stick in their closet or car and use only in the case of emergency.  This individual is likely to want quality equipment at a more reasonable price.

For that reason we’ve come up with three “levels” which cover various price points and I will be providing equipment recommendations for each.

Let’s begin with the beginner level.

Beginner: Cold Steel Trail Hawk

If you’re a beginner, on a budget or looking for an item to use only in emergency situations you likely fall under the category of an “Enthusiast”. If this sounds like you I recommend the Cold Steel Trail Hawk. Technically classified as a Tomahawk and not an axe this tool is a great, budget friendly option that is extremely versatile.

At under $25 it’s very affordable and with a few modifications outlined in my full review it can become a very serviceable tool.  Though not made to chop down large trees or split thick pieces of wood the Trail Hawk will handle moderate wood splitting and limbing needs.  The head can separate from the handle making fine carving tasks possible as well as allowing one to simply carry the head into the woods and fashion a handle.  Its hammer pole works great for pounding in stakes and it makes a very functional weapon in case it’s needed for self-defence.

Read the full review…

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Cold Steel Trail Hawk

Steel: 1055 Carbon Steel

Handle: Hickory

Length: 22”

Weight: 23.6 onces

Price: $20-25

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Enthusiast: Fiskars X11

If you find yourself venturing out on some day trips, giving your gear semi-regular workouts or simply have a budget to invest in a higher quality tool you’re probably at the enthusiast level.  If this sounds like you, the Fiskars X11 is a great option for an axe.

In my review I cover the main reasons why I recommend this axe but I’ll also cover a few here.  This axe is made for splitting and will separate logs better than any of the other axes on this list.  Paired with a good saw you’ll be able to process large amounts of firewood easily.  Its fiber comp handle and insert-molded head are both rock solid; in fact the handle itself is claimed to be harder than steel.  It’s also backed by a lifetime warranty which means if by some freak accident it does break you can rest easy knowing Fiskars will happily replace it.

Read the full review…

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Fiskars X11

Steel: Medium Carbon Steel

Handle: Fiber-Comp

Length: 17”

Weight: 35.2 ounces

Price: $30-35

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Expert: Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe

Finally, if you’re someone who routinely goes out on multi-day trips, constantly practices with their tools or has a large budget for quality items you’re likely in the “expert” category.  If this sounds like you the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe is one of the best axes money can buy.

Hand forged in Sweden from high-quality carbon steel every axe is marked with the initials of the blacksmith who forged it.  Designed to be an all-situations tool it won’t split wood as easily as the Fiskars X11 but will still process thick pieces.  Where it really excels is felling and limbing trees where its thin head profile can really bite into wood.  I’d also like to mention that it comes razor sharp out of the box, and that’s no exaggeration.  I was able to shave hair off my arms the morning I got it and with proper maintenance have no problem keeping it hair popping sharp.

Read the full review…

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Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe

Steel: Swedish Carbon Steel

Handle: Hickory

Length: 19”

Weight: 32 ounces

Price: $125-150

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