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There is absolutely nothing more refreshing than leaving behind the rat race of city life and the tedium of a long work week in the office for a weekend adventure in the wilderness. From finding that perfect camping spot on a cliff looking longingly towards the setting sun, lounging lazily by a peaceful river as you wait for the mountain trout to bite your line promising a delectable dinner of smoked fish, or hiking madly through thick forest to burn off all of that extra, pent up energy, getting into the wilderness is soothing for the soul, calming for the mind, and a great way to reconnect with what´s truly important in life.

For those of us who aren´t content to simply hit a day hike before begrudgingly returning to the monotony of our urban existence, backpacking offers the best way to get outdoors and stay outdoors; at least until Monday morning rolls around. To truly enjoy your backpacking adventures, however, you need to have the right gear. A quality sleeping bag and good tent will offer you a home away from home, no matter where you head.

In this part of our blog we look at the top backpacking gear on the market today. We also offer hints and suggestions for those hard cord lightweight backpackers who want to get closest to nature. From the best ultralight backpack to the top backpacking axes so that you cut your own firewood in the wilderness, we have suggestions that will make any backpacking adventure truly unforgettable.

Top 5 Secrets to Become a (Successful) Ultralight Backpacker

For backpackers, the feeling of taking off a super heavy pack after hours on the trail is the supreme bliss. Your whole body feels lighter and the cool breeze begins to gently evaporate the sweat that is dripping down your back. After a few days of hiking, however, that feeling of bliss slowly disappears as you immediately fall to the ground in exhaustion after escaping the weight of a huge pack.

Most people who are new to the world of backpacking tend to bring way more than they actually need. The thought of spending several days out in the wilderness without a refrigerator, central heating system, or a Wal-Mart nearby usually leads to a pack that is upwards of 70 pounds filled with obscure kitchen utensils, extra clothes, and a whole assortment of knives and other weapons to protect yourself while on the trail.

After a few hikes, however, most backpackers tend to realize that the majority of the stuff they´ve taken in the past ends up shifting to the bottom of the pack and never actually makes it out of their pack. You don´t need your nifty (but heavy) espresso maker when the lightweight pot you´ve been using for all your cooking needs does the trick. As the amount of stuff in your bag diminishes, your back and shoulders thank you and you soon find that even after a twenty mile day, you feel fresher and more energized.

For hikers and backpackers who dislike having to carry around a monster pack that needs to be lifted up onto your shoulders with the help of two volunteers, you might be ready to take the next step to ultralight backpacking which will allow you to pack in the miles without feeling dog-tired by the time you make it to your campsite. Below we explain the fundamentals of ultralight backpacking and offer a few tips to become an expert “ultralighter.”

What is Ultralight Backpacking?

Though there are no “official” definitions for what it means to be an ultralight backpacker, the idea is pretty simple: reduce the amount of weight in your pack as much as safely possible. Safety is key here, because while you could head out to the wilderness with nothing more than a pack of matches and a knife, ultralight backpacking still ensures that people will have the needed gear to feed and shelter themselves while on the trail.

Most people accept that “light” backpacking is achieved anytime a pack is under 20 pounds (10 kilos). Ultralight backpacking is more extreme as packs must be at or below 10 pounds (5 kilos). While several people might claim to have invented the ultralight philosophy, the practice can be traced back to indigenous people and scouts who headed out into the wilderness of their territories on several day long hunting trips with nothing more than the clothes on their back and their simple hunting weapons.

More recently, Grandma Gatewood gained fame when she thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail with nothing more than a duffel bag with nothing more than an army blanket, a plastic sheet, and an umbrella. Not a day goes by without the hundreds of companies that make up the hiking and backpacking industry throwing at us yet another product that is deemed as indispensable for life on the trail. Ultralight backpacking casts doubt on the true necessity of so many different items that quickly lead to a 50 pound pack and instead carefully scrutinizes the pros and cons of every item that eventually does make it into the pack.

Hone Your Skills to Lessen Dependence on Gear

Part of becoming a skilled ultralight backpacker depends on one´s ability to sharpen their wilderness survival skills and their intimate knowledge of the natural world around them. For people without much in depth knowledge and skill, reliance on heavy duty gear is a must. For example, when headed out for a three day hike in late autumn, you probably will be tempted to carry a strong tent and an extra heavy sleeping bag. If, however, you knew how to build a simple structure that protected you from the elements while efficiently capturing and storing the heat of a fire, you could easily make do without the tent and heavy sleeping bag.

Reduce the Weight of Each Item

One of the benefits of the burgeoning backpacking supplies industry is that companies are always competing against one another to try and lower the weight of essential items you will want to carry with you. From ultralight cooking pots to sturdy backpacks that weigh in at less than a pound, you will want to do your research to find which pieces of essential gear will save you an ounce or two.

Think About Your Feet

When considering weight, most hikers and backpackers only think about what they are carrying on their back. However, the weight of what you´re wearing on your feet is another fundamental concern of the ultralighter. Instead of opting for those bulky hiking boots that when wet might feel like you´re dragging two rocks along the path, a lighter pair of hiking shoes will significantly reduce your overall weight and even go a long way in making your pack feel lighter as well.

Several Functions for Each Piece of Gear

For ultralight backpackers, the idea of carrying along an extra pair of mittens or gloves when you have a clean pair of wool socks buried at the bottom of your bag is nonsense. One of the essential elements of ultralight backpacking is getting as many functions or uses out of each piece of gear that you bring along. For example, a poncho for rainy weather can also double as a ground cover for your tent, tarp, or other sleeping arrangement. A camping hammock likewise is a good way to keep your bag dry during wet weather. Just don´t try to use your shoe laces for dental floss.

Reduce Your Kitchen Weight

If you have foregone the extra pair of clothes and the heavy tent but your pack is still a couple pounds over the 10 pound threshold, you might want to look at what you´re carrying as kitchen. Those pots, pans, stoves, and silverware quickly add on the pounds, and one of the best ways to reduce weight is to forego the stove all together and opt instead for no-cook meals. You can always bring along the infamous “billycan” which is a single cook pot that you can use to boil up a soup made from the edible plants and morel mushrooms you´ve collected along the trail over an open fire.

Safety over that Magical Number

While most all traditional hikers and backpackers would agree that we really don't need half the stuff we carry on our backs, there is a limit to how light you can go. You should never sacrifice your personal safety just to enjoy a lighter pack. If you´re headed out for a weekend jaunt in the woods and the forecast calls for the possibility of snowstorms, you might want to bring along that heavy duty sleeping bag, even if it pushes your pack up to 15 pounds. By following these five simple pieces of advice, however, you should be able to drastically reduce the weight of your backpack and continue to hone your wilderness survival skills as your lack of gear will put you closer in contact with the natural world around you.

Best Cheap Backpacking Axe

Outdoor enthusiasts surely know how useful an axe can be in the wild. However, it can also be a pain if you are not able to choose correctly. To help you search for the right one, here is our recommended best cheap backpacking axe that will give a good value for your money.

Our Top Picks At A Glance:

MTech USA Camping Axe

This axe is only low in price, not in performance. It is designed with a two-tone blade and rugged black handle that withstands long-term use. Its overall size of 11 inches and a weight of 14.6 ounces makes it the best axe for backpackers out there.

Compact and easy to transport, this is also perfect for camping enthusiasts. The other end of the axe can also be used as a hammer, making it a dual-purpose camping gear. It's really the best one for your buck.

  • Features 440 stainless steel grade that offers exceptional hardness and edge retention

  • Rubberized handle for a good grip even when wet

  • Comes with nylon sheath to cover blade

MTech USA Camping Axe, Two-Tone Blade, Black Rubberized Handle, 11-Inch Overall

WatchFire Camper's Hatchet

This 10-inch hatchet is perfect for bargain hunters. It's one of the best camping axes in the market today. It might be cheap, but it performs like a high-end product.

The rugged looking axe is all black and made of premium quality stainless steel for deeper cuts. This axe is lightweight, so it's suitable for backpacking and the perfect gear for your camping trips. The sheath that comes with it has a belt loop making it easier to carry anywhere you need it.

  • Features skid proof handle that’s comfortable to use 

  • Ultra sharp blade that stays sharp for a long time

  • Comes with sheath

WatchFire-Camper-Hatchet

Elk Ridge ER-272 Axe

This axe is an economical choice, but you’ll love it more for its features apart from its price. Measuring 8 inches overall, the Elk Ridge was field tested to ensure superior performance. With a razor sharp blade, this is suitable from cutting off small branches to chopping some wood blocks. 

  • Designed with rough black stainless steel blade that resists rust
  • Has a thick cord wrapped handle
  • Includes nylon sheath
  • Made using high quality materials
Elk-Ridge-ER-272-Axe

Few Factors to Consider

Getting a cheaper axe doesn't mean you have to compromise on quality and durability. Take a look at a few factors to consider when looking for an axe that is cheap in price, but not in value.

Durability

It's important to check if the axe is made using high quality materials. Making sure the materials are of good quality is also an assurance that the axe is durable and will last you long.

​Handiness

Checkout if the handle is comfortable and gives you no trouble when using the axe. Look for axes that feature skid proof handles.

Size

When backpacking, every ounce counts. Check the overall size and weight of the axe before purchasing one.

Conclusion

Truly there are a lot of cheap but durable axes in the market today. We hope this guide helped you get one that has the best value for your money.

Related Content

Looking for the best lightweight axe? Check this out.

Best Lightweight Backpacking Axe

A high quality backpacking axe can get the job done and help you survive in the wild. Let not the wealth of choices confuse you. Here’s our list of the best lightweight backpacking axe that every avid camper should know.

Our Top Picks At A Glance:

Estwing E44A 16-Inch Camper's Axe-All Steel with Shock Reduction Grip

A camp axe as popular as this one is definitely the best bang for your buck. The US made axe will exceed your expectations for it is excellent for hunting, camping and farm use. It is designed with a forged steel head and the brand’s very own shock reduction grip that reduce up to 70% of shock.

  • The 4-inch cutting edge makes faster, deeper cuts and easy chopping

  • Comes with a heavy duty nylon sheath

  • Lightweight but tough

Estwing E44A 16-Inch Camper's Axe-All Steel with Shock Reduction Grip

Schrade SCAXE2 Survival Hatchet Black Handle

Weighing only 1.37 pounds, this survival hatchet is ideal for outdoor use. It is built with a fire starter, making it such an awesome find.

  • Ergonomic handle with rubber grip for safe, accurate cuts

  • Includes a sheath to protect the blade and allow belt-carry

  • Built with a fire starter

Schrade SCAXE2 Survival Hatchet Black Handle

MTech USA Camping Axe

This compact and lightweight backpacking axe is excellent for camping enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. It is built with a two-tone blade with rubberized handle for a good grip.

  • Features strong and durable 440 stainless steel blade

  • Has rubber handle for comfortable grip

  • Includes a black nylon sheath

MTech USA Camping Axe

Related Article:

Best Backpacking Axe Under $50

A good hatchet does not have to be overpriced. A well designed but inexpensive axe can split firewood just like a high-priced one. Below is our recommended three best backpacking axe under $50 so you don’t have to break bank to find a good one.

Our Top Picks At A Glance:

Estwing E24A 14-Inch Sportsman's Axe with Leather Grip & Nylon Sheath

This world famous backpacking axe is the best bang for your buck. No wonder it is used by outdoorsmen everywhere, for the head and handle are forged as one. The fully polished axe boasts unmatched temper and balance making it a must have for campers and outdoorsman alike.

  • Features 3 ¼-inch cutting edge for easy cutting

  • Has sanded, lacquered genuine leather grip

  • Comes with a handsome rugged nylon sheath

Estwing E24A 14-Inch Sportsman's Axe with Leather Grip & Nylon Sheath

GERBER Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

You get a good value for your money in this premium survival hatchet that boasts sturdiness in a slim profile. It is compact and has a small but powerful blade. Don’t let the size of this axe fool you, for it can chop way beyond its weight class.

  • The 3.5-inch blade makes precise cuts

  • Ergonomic, designed with non-slip rubber grip for secure handling even when wet

  • Features double duty head as the back can be used for other camping tasks

GERBER Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet

Gerber Gator Combo Axe II [22-41420]

Another backpacking axe from Gerber is well worth the price. The compact, all-conditions hatchet is fit for any kind of outdoor adventurer. It is built with a longer handle for greater striking force and covered in gator texture for a better grip.

  • Lightweight but strong fibreglass-filled nylon handle

  • Has 3-inch forged head for superior edge retention

  • Comes with ballistic nylon sheath

Gerber Gator Combo Axe II [22-41420]

Hungry For More Content?

Check out this Best Backpacking Axe review.

Best Backpacking Axe

Axes are a useful tool in the wild. With the wealth of choices, it could be quite confusing to pick just one. After careful research, we’ve come up with the top three best backpacking axe to help narrow down your choices.

Our Top Picks At A Glance:

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

Fiskars X15 Chopping Axe

You get a good value for your money in this all-purpose X-series axe. It offers excellent weight distribution, superior blade geometry, very sharp edge and unbreakable design for the best performance

  • Bites deep when chopping

  • Designed with a more controllable 23 ½-inch handle that’s easy to swing

  • The hardened steel blade cuts sharp, strongly holds edge and chews quickly

Fiskars X15 Chopping Axe

Estwing E24A 14-Inch Sportsman’s Axe

The US-made axe is awesome for the price. It is the choice of many outdoorsmen throughout the world. The fully polished head and handle are forged in one piece, offering unmatched balance and temper.

  • Has sanded and lacquered authentic leather grip for a lovely finish.

  • Features tempered 3 ¼-inch cutting edge for fuss-free cutting

  • Built with high-quality American steel

Estwing E24A 14-Inch Sportsman’s Axe

SOG Tactical Tomahawk Axe

With this axe you get a multipurpose tool for excavation, extraction, breaching operations, obstacle removal and utility operations at a very affordable price. Constructed with 420 stainless steel and a sleek black finish, the 2.75-inch blade is built to resist corrosion and damage ensuring ultra strong performance.

  • The polymer handle has heavy duty bolts and steel ferrule that prevents splitting.

  • Ergonomic design for precise cuts and comfortable use

  • Has a blunt edge for hammering and chiselled edge for extraction

SOG Tactical Tomahawk Axe

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Click this review to help you choose the best cheap backpacking axe.