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Exploring Bushcraft Axes: A Comparative Study of Hultafors and Council Tool

Bushcraft, the art of thriving and surviving in the wilderness using only natural resources and skills, has seen a resurgence in recent years. Central to this craft is the humble yet indispensable tool - the bushcraft axe. In this post, we delve into the world of bushcraft axes, with a particular focus on those crafted by Hultafors in Sweden and Council Tool in the USA. We'll explore the various styles of axes, their applications in bushcraft and woodcraft, and shed light on notable outdoors personalities who rely on these tools, including the venerable Ray Mears.

Understanding Bushcraft Axes

Evolution of the Axe

Axes have been pivotal tools for human survival for millennia. From the Stone Age to the modern era, axes have undergone significant evolution in design and function. In bushcraft, where every ounce of weight and every inch of space in a backpack can make all the difference, axes have become refined to serve specific purposes efficiently.

Anatomy of a Bushcraft Axe

A bushcraft axe typically consists of several key components:

  1. Head: The metal blade of the axe, usually made from high-carbon steel, forged for durability and sharpness retention.
  2. Bit: The cutting edge of the axe head, where the blade meets the wood.
  3. Haft: The handle of the axe, traditionally crafted from hardwood like hickory or ash, providing a sturdy grip and shock absorption.
  4. Poll: The back end of the axe head, often used for tasks like hammering or pounding.
  5. Sheath: A protective covering for the blade, ensuring safety during transport and storage.

Styles of Bushcraft Axes

1. Hatchet

A small, one-handed axe with a short handle, perfect for tasks requiring precision and portability. Hatchets are ideal for tasks like carving, splitting small pieces of wood, and light chopping.

2. Forest Axe

Slightly larger than a hatchet, the forest axe features a longer handle for increased leverage and chopping power. It's versatile, suitable for felling small trees, limbing, and processing firewood.

3. Splitting Maul

A heavy, wedge-shaped axe designed specifically for splitting logs along the grain. With its broad head and hefty weight, splitting mauls excel at breaking down larger pieces of wood for fuel.

4. Double-bit Axe

Featuring two cutting edges on opposite sides of the head, double-bit axes offer versatility in the field. One edge may be sharpened for cutting, while the other can be reserved for tasks like splitting or shaping wood.

Hultafors: Crafting Excellence from Sweden

Hultafors, with its roots dating back to 1697, embodies centuries of Swedish craftsmanship and ingenuity. Specializing in premium hand tools for forestry, construction, and outdoor pursuits, Hultafors has garnered a reputation for producing high-quality axes tailored to the needs of bushcraft enthusiasts.

Notable Hultafors Axes

1. Hultafors Hultan Trekking Axe

Compact and lightweight, the Hultafors Hultan Axe is a popular choice for backpackers and wilderness explorers. Its versatile design makes it suitable for a range of tasks, from camp chores to light wood processing. You can see the excellent Hultan here

2. Hultafors Aby Forest Axe

Crafted for the rigours of forest work, the Aby Forest Axe combines a slim profile with a powerful chopping head. Its long handle provides ample leverage, making it efficient for felling small trees and splitting logs. You can read more on the Aby here

3. Hultafors Ekelund Hunting Axe

Designed with hunters and outdoorsmen in mind, the Ekelund Hunting Axe offers precision and reliability in the field. Its finely balanced head and ergonomic handle make it adept at skinning game, processing meat, and crafting improvised shelters. Explore the Ekelund here

Ray Mears

Renowned bushcraft expert Ray Mears has long been an advocate for Scandinavian axes. With their robust construction and dependable performance, Hultafors axes align perfectly with his ethos of self-reliance and respect for nature. Whether teaching survival skills or filming in remote wilderness settings, Mears trusts his axes to deliver the performance he needs.

Council Tool: American Craftsmanship at Its Finest

Founded in 1886, Council Tool has been a stalwart of American tool manufacturing for over a century. Situated in the heart of North Carolina, Council Tool prides itself on producing top-quality axes and other hand tools for forestry, firefighting, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Notable Council Tool Axes

1. Council Tool Wood-Craft Pack Axe

Tailored for bushcraft and woodcraft applications, the Wood-Craft Pack Axe is a compact yet formidable tool. It is available with a 24" or 19" handle striking a balance between portability and chopping power, making it an ideal companion for extended wilderness trips. Read more on this incredible tool here

2. Council Tool Hudson Bay Axe

Inspired by the axes used by fur traders in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Hudson Bay Axe is a versatile tool for bushcraft and camping. Its compact size and lightweight design make it well-suited for tasks like carving, limbing, and processing small game.

3. Council Tool Velvicut Premium Axes

Crafted with premium materials and meticulous attention to detail, the Velvicut series represents the pinnacle of Council Tool's axe craftsmanship. From the Hudson Bay to the Michigan pattern, each Velvicut axe is a testament to American ingenuity and heritage.


In the realm of bushcraft, where self-reliance and skill are paramount, the choice of axe can make all the difference. Hultafors and Council Tool stand as paragons of craftsmanship, each offering a diverse range of axes tailored to the needs of outdoor enthusiasts. From the rugged forests of Sweden to the untamed wilderness of North America, these axes embody the spirit of exploration and adventure. Hultafors and Council Tool axes continue to inspire a new generation of bushcraft practitioners to embrace the wild with confidence and reverence.