Hatchets are useful in a survival situation

Many survivalists would claim that the knife is the most important tool you can have in a survival situation. There’s no denying that the knife is certainly very versatile and useful, but there’s one other tool that’s arguably even more versatile. That tool is the hatchet.

Truth be told, both a knife and a hatchet equally belong in any survival kit. They both fulfill a purpose and you will find them both to be extremely practical and helpful. So it’s not like that you should choose between a knife and a hatchet. Rather, you need to include a hatchet in addition to your knife.



Here are five ways you can use a hatchet in a survival situation:

Defensive Weapon


This is probably the most obvious use for a hatchet, right? A hatchet will also definitely be a more effective up close defensive weapon than a knife. The reason why is because it can inflict more damage against a hungry predator.

Granted, you’ll also want to have a long range weapon so you can keep an attacker or predator at a distance (such as a bow or a firearm). Even a spear would make for a great weapon so you can keep an attacker at bay.



But if you have no choice but to fight up close, hacking away with your hatchet will definitely deliver devastating blows to your opponent. Even though tomahawks are more suited for self-defense and hatchets are more suited for utilitarian purposes, a hatchet can still be used for either.



Most hatchets have a solid metal piece on the opposite side of a blade that will serve as an excellent hammer. A hammer will serve you a wide variety of purposes in a survival situation: hammering stakes into the ground, hammering nails to help build a shelter, or even as a defensive tool if you need it to be.



Furthermore, having a hatchet with a hammer on the opposite side of the blade means you don’t have to carry a separate hammer with you. Many survival experts believe that a hammer and some nails are important to have in a survival kit, so by selecting a hatchet with a hammered end you essentially have two tools in one for added convenience.

Fire Starter


A hatchet is a truly excellent tool to have for when you need to get a fire going. There are two primary reasons why. The first reason is that you can use your hatchet to chop firewood that you can use as fuel for your fire.

But the other reason is that you can actually use your hatchet as a fire starter. By striking the blade of the hatchet against rocks, you can create sparks that can land in your tinder and kindling. Gently blow on the sparks to convert them into a flame.



If there’s a downfall to this method, it’s that it can easily dull the blade for your hatchet. For this reason, treat this method as a backup fire starting method rather than a primary method.

Fashion Splints

Leg splints – Wellcome Library, London – CC BY 4.0
Leg splints – Wellcome Library, London – CC BY 4.0


Whenever you suffer a fractured limb out in the wilderness, the most important thing you can do (after staying calm and stabilizing yourself) is to fashion a splint for your limb. The best way to fashion a splint is to take a piece of wood and chop it up into two smaller and thinner pieces that are roughly the length of your limb.

Use paracord or vine to tie the splints to either side of the limb to help stabilize it and calm down the pain. The hatchet will certainly be a better tool than a knife for chopping your splints to your desired length and size.

Ice Cutter

Breaking up ice – Author: Owen Lin – CC BY 2.0
Breaking up ice – Author: Owen Lin – CC BY 2.0

In a winter survival situation, a hatchet is an excellent tool to use for chopping and cutting ice. You may need to chop through ice to build a shelter, to get a smaller piece of ice that you can use to reflect sunlight to create a fire, or if you’ve fallen into a frozen lake and need to find a way out quickly.


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nick-oetken is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival