Axe and Backpacking...

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by Texas Scout, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. Texas Scout

    Texas Scout Tracker

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    When you take an axe, what do you take?

    Examples:

    The old BSA Field Guides from the 60’s talk about packing a hatchet and a Boys Axe/Forest Axe

    Daniel Carter Beard has writings from the 20’ discuss setting up camp with both a hatchet and a boys axe.

    Many Woodcraft folk like the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe. (I prefer the Hults Bruk 850gr Aneby Hunters axe, but that is just me.)

    The last two backpacking trips our Troop has taken I packed a BSA hatchet. It was used to cut and drive stakes as well as assisting with fire duties as I like cooking over a fire.

    Am I the only crazy one that likes packing an Axe? LOL

    Duane
     
  2. Muskeg_Stomper

    Muskeg_Stomper Tiaga & Tundra Wanderer Supporter

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    It’s not just you. I value axes, hatchets, tomahawks, or a simple folding saw. What I decide to carry is actually determined by the purpose of the trip, how long I expect to stay at any one place, conditions I expect to face, terrain, amount of stuff carried, and how far I have to carry it.
     
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  3. Texas Scout

    Texas Scout Tracker

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    Oh, I get it!

    Wilderness survival I carry a Hatchet and a Boys Axe.

    General backpacking under 10 miles I carry the hatchet.

    And to expound on what you stated, it also changes what I don’t carry.

    Personally, I find I can do my cutting chore needs with a proper hatchet and a Case Large Traper folding knife.
     
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  4. ANFwoodsman

    ANFwoodsman Supporter Supporter

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    If Backpacking to make miles / cover distance, then generally no axe.

    If out for more of a camp focused/ bushcraft outing, then either the council tools or GB Ray Mears axe or modified CS pipe hawk.

    I weighed many of my go to axes for packing and weight factors in. Also season, weather, and need for fire.
     
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  5. FreudianSlip

    FreudianSlip Guide

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    I think a lot of it depends on pack weight, if I can get my pack weight down and don’t have to haul water then no problem. I’m definitely not hauling 10lbs of water and an axe.
     
  6. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    Boys axe, specifically my snow and nealley. Or my council tools woodcraft pack axe. Working on getting a park sun work hawk. Need a new handle for the S&N though. A large knife works pretty well too.
     
  7. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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  8. Juany118

    Juany118 Scout

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    I I am just hiking into a Basecamp situation I will bring an axe/hatchet. If I am going to moving regularly though I don't. The main reason I bring an axe/hatchet is to split wood. Since there are techniques to split wood using a folding saw, which I always do carry because they are lighter and more compact.

    Really the saw is my "go-to" tool, besides my knife.
     
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  9. Muskeg_Stomper

    Muskeg_Stomper Tiaga & Tundra Wanderer Supporter

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    The saw is a great option when you absolutely have to go light weight
     
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  10. Texas Scout

    Texas Scout Tracker

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    Well, it is a little bit more difficult to make tent stakes and drive them into the ground with a saw.

    I have a Gerber retracting saw. Love it. I also have a folding saw that Father gave me. I may start a new thread about saws as I am actually interested in getting a new one.
     
  11. Texas Scout

    Texas Scout Tracker

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    Your good.

    If I was going on a Philmont style hike, I would leave the axe at home. However, most of what I do is more Bushcraft. Humorously, I like carrying my Council Tools 24in Boys axe or my. Council Tools 26in Hudson Bay.
     
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  12. bikerector

    bikerector Tracker

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    I don't like hatchets, or anything really with less than about a 20" handle, so I usually have a hawk for lightweight or a hudson bay size axe. Boy's axe if I really think I'm going to do a lot of work, or just want to have it along. Usually the tomahawk is plenty though, combined with a saw and maybe a fixed blade for splitting if I feel the need, but usually I don't need to split much. Just drag the deadfall around and light it up after building the tinder bundle.
     
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  13. Don_Parsons

    Don_Parsons Tracker

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    I'm soon to trade in my light weigth Still axe for a Pacific Island machete / with sharping file for every thing...

    Yuppers,,, I seen them in action first hand,,, 22" to 24" long,,, they are the go to tool for bush craft all around the world...

    The trick is to get the thick steel one so a person can use the back side as a hammer,,, or use a rock to help pound it threw anything that stands in the way,,, they are boolit proof...

    A Pacific Island machete can darn near do everything a light weigth axe can do,,, where it really shines is opening up walking paths,,, gathering fire wood,,, making bush craft tools,,, and predator control """if""" its needed...

    I'll make my own and heat treat it over the years in fire pits and cold dunks in the frozen creeks the quench the iron,,, just enough so it's not too brittle...

    To each their own on what works for us in our travels,,, of course I have options to change things up or down when its needed...

    Don
     
  14. Haggis

    Haggis Bushmaster

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    A fella sure don’t need much if any axe in good weather, and a folding saw is more benefit in very cold weather,,, still, I’ll likely have a very light hatchet in warm weather when walking, and something like a GB small forest axe in winter, or when canoe camping, or car camping. A fella can find a long list of reasons o carry and use a tool he enjoys,,, next fella gets along in the same weather, in the same bush, living the same way, and without the tool at all,,, can’t even think of a use for it. Both fellas getting along fine...
     
  15. Metaldog

    Metaldog Just chasing my tail... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Whenever I venture out, this usually tags along with me. Cold Steel pipe hawk. When backpacking, it is strapped to the side of my pack. When weather is bad, I remove the head and pack the head and haft into the pack to keep it dry. It has been an extremely reliable hawk, that gets sharpened after each use. Sharp enough to cleanly cut through a 2" thick sapling with one fast & forceful strike. Normal use may take 4-5 strikes to cut through, but I cannot complain one bit about it.

    The "pipe" is actually a solid poll which works well for driving stakes, crushing walnuts, or cracking skulls. :eek:
    I didn't care for the factory set screw, so that got tossed into the spare parts bin. I also swapped out the original 22" hickory handle for a 19" ash handle from www.househandle.com. The handle is wrapped in bat tape for ball bats. The whole handle was then given a couple of liberal coats of beeswax & linseed oil to seal against the elements, and provide a better grip. Also coated the head with beeswax.

    IMG_0002.jpg

    The one feature of a hawk that I really like is the ability to remove the handle. By itself, the head (when sharp) can be used for fine detail work, and even rough carving. I've even use the head (without the handle) to make feather sticks and curls that are every bit as nice as what can be made with a knife. :)
     
  16. NORKALNIMROD

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    Not the best chopper, but my favorite, an H&B hawk. I’ve carried it for over 30 years. I’m a bit partial too it now. It has a twin also.

    NORKAL
     
  17. the_dude

    the_dude Supporter Supporter

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    Unless I'm out felling timber for firewood, (which I honestly havent done in years), or harvesting materials for crafts, I generally have no use for an axe. But I looooooove axes, so I generally carry something with anytime I'm in the woods for any length of time.

    Nowadays its a wetterlings fine foresters axe, but in the past its been a rotating cast of characters.

    0811191742b~2.jpg
     
  18. Duncsquatch

    Duncsquatch Heed the call. Supporter

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    Recent trip to New England made me appreciate having a larger axe, all the wood over there is Maple, Ash or Oak. Where I live almost all the wood is soft so all I need is a hatchet most of the time.
     
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  19. fuzz stick

    fuzz stick Tracker

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    Depends on how cold it is as well as how remote the area. Some places they take a dim view of felling trees.

    If really cold and well off the beaten path, I automatically take a full size axe. It's worth every ounce. If conditions are otherwise, a smaller axe or folding saw will do.
     
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  20. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    [​IMG]Mini Hatchet Feathers by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    There's also the little one for times I want some sort of axe but not a lot of weight.

    And of course times I don't bring one at all, it just depends on the trip and my intentions.
     
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  21. DuctTape

    DuctTape Scout

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    Depends on the trip. Axes, hatchets, and saws become more useful the longer one stays at a campsite. In general, when backpacking my in camp time is so short those tools would not get used. A small fire for cooking can still be made with wood broken by hand, or "fed into fire". I just returned from a 2-week canoe trip in Canada during which we cooked over a fire exclusively. Even with rain storms we never wanted for a woods tool for firewood processing. Time spent processing wood cuts into fishing time.
     
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  22. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Another machete fan here :cool:...I won't pack an axe or hatchet at all, unless I'm going out specifically to harvest wood. A machete is just more versatile IMO, particularly as a camp kitchen tool.
     
  23. MAD Punty

    MAD Punty Supporter Supporter

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    Rule of thumb for me is that if I'm staying overnight, I bring an axe...a budget Husqvarna for me...till I upgrade.

    I have a nice little hatchet, one of those old drop forged Wetterlings, but to be honest...I never use it. My axe and my Skrama cover pretty much anything the hatchet might do. It kind of makes me sad, because it was my first and only "restoration project"..I rehandled it and sharpened it myself, and was very proud of myself....and now I never use it. :confused:
     
  24. petey091

    petey091 Scout

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    Never have taken an axe backpacking because I try to go as light as possible. Since you mentioned the BSA, at one time Philmont issued each ranger an axe to take on the trail. I believe they issued old forest service axes.
     
  25. Texas Scout

    Texas Scout Tracker

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    We are all at different levels and have different purposes!!

    The majority of my backpacking is with BSA activities. While high adventure is 14 years of age and up, backingpacking at the Troop level is 10-11 years of age and up.

    I rarely hike of 7-8 miles in one day and I know I carry too much gear in my 35lb pack. LOL.

    But when you have opportunities to hurdle when your taking care of Scouts, ya, you get the idea.

    (Yes, I let my Scouts fail. But I don’t let my younger Scouts fall as hard as the older ones.)
     
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  26. Flint_2016

    Flint_2016 Rusty Hobbyist

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    I bring my only ax,a Hultafors Hunting ax.It's 20" long,it isn't a felling axe. In a pinch, yes it can drop a small tree but it is more of a camp, limbing, butchering, pruning, quartering game, type of axe. It's not made for splitting either.2 lb head,,Also it's hand forged.Hultafors is one of the oldest ax makers in the world.
    hultafors ax (5).JPG hultafors ax (12).JPG
    https://www.lamnia.com/en/p/5430/tools/hultafors-hunting-axe-classic
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
  27. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    Guys, what's a boy's axe? Is it just a scaled down felling axe?

    Is a GB Scandinavian Forest axe considered a boy's axe?
     
  28. bikerector

    bikerector Tracker

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    Sort of. Generally speaking, a 2 to 3 lb head with 24-28" handle. 2.25 lb is the "standard" but there are some outside of that range. I think a forest axe tends to be that 18" to 24" handle range, similar to a hudson bay axe, though the hudson bay has a specific head shape with the short eye, and is 1.5# to 2.25 #, 1.75lb being the typical head weight.

    A felling axe is something like 3-5lb head and 30-36" handle.

    These are generalizations and I'm not committed that the head sizes are right, but it's kind of those ballparks. The felling axe especially may be big as I'm not sure what equate a splitting axe until you hit a splitting maul, as I would hate to fell a tree with some of the really beastly axes like the council tool 5 or 6 lb daytons even though the description calls it a felling axe.
     
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  29. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    DSCN4473.JPG This is a boy scout hatchet.
    an boys ax is longer, 2/3rds that of a full size ax and the head only slightly bigger than a hatchet .
    Too many variations to be specific. Boys vary in size and skill so shoud the tool .
    A girls ax is made of flowers, and long stem roses .
     
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  30. FreudianSlip

    FreudianSlip Guide

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    Pretty much the standard is a 2.25 lb head on a 28in handle.
     
  31. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    Great, thanks for the response.

    The GB Scandinavian Forest axe is 25.2" and has a 2 lb head, so I guess it it kinda fits as a boy's axe (or close to it).
     
  32. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    Its a 1.75 lbs head just FYI
     
  33. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    I just saw that on different site and was going to make the correction. Thank you for the accuracy.

    So ... I guess the the GB Forest axe is not in the boy's axe category.
     
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  34. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    Its a much less common weight. I'd call it a camp axe but it's an axe regardless. TrueTemper actually sold an axe in their boys axe line with a 1.25 head so you could call it a boys axe.

    When I think boys axe I think 2.25 lbs head on about a 27" handle (after hanging) and while it's a very useful tool I wouldn't bother taking one backpacking.
     
  35. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    What was motivation for or the original function of the boy's axe size? Was it a felling axe for smaller individuals? Or for average guys, but perhaps they had more walking distance to cover?
     
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  36. fuzz stick

    fuzz stick Tracker

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    I believe it was just what the name implied. Years ago axe work was common and an everyday tool for not only men but many a woman used one just as well. Nearly any boy 12 years of age and up was using an axe and since a large one was too much for him to handle, a smaller axe was available to allow him to work well with it.
     
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  37. bikerector

    bikerector Tracker

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    It's kin of the "all-purpose" size. Decent at felling or splitting fair sized logs. Really good at limbing. Much easier to carry around than a full-size felling or splitting axe. IMO, if you could only have one axe, that's the axe size to have. But, why only have one axe?

    In one of the big name book's about forestry tools, something along the lines of "an experienced axeman could get all manner of task done with a boy's axe, and rarely needed anything different." I suppose it would be like the buschraft knife of the axe world, good at many things, excels at a few, if you could only have (but again, why limit it to one other than for funsees or it's all the budget allows).
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
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  38. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    @bikerector, I ordered the GB Scandinavian Forest axe a couple of days ago when in Gear Deals it appeared for $118 shipped. There is a professional lumberman on YouTube who said if he could only have one axe it would be that one, because he could use it for everything from larger knife work in camp to felling sizable trees (and he drops a pretty damn big one using it!), and everything in between.
     
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  39. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    They are also called a 3/4 axe or Pulp wood axe. I think the term boys axe just refers to them being smaller than your typical axe. Typical mocho man BS that I don't worry about. If you use an axe regularly a 3 lbs + head will be easier to swing, for the casual user a boys axe is a great option, and something smaller if you're packing it in with the rest of your kit in my experience.
     
  40. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    @MJGEGB, thanks for all of your fine responses.
     
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  41. bikerector

    bikerector Tracker

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    The GB forest axe is basically a boy's axe in use. The length of handle will lend it well to bigger tasks. If I remember right, the GB axes run thinner in the cheeks so they tend to bite deeper and are less good at splitting. The thinner cheeks probably accounts for much of the weight loss over a standard boy's axe. But, forest axes pretty much have the same utility of a boy's axe, I feel like it's just more of a European term where I think most boy's axes are American patterns.

    The GB is supposed to be a fantastic axe, but I've never had one myself. They're a little too pricey for me when I look at them and I am reasonably pleased with some of the rinaldi's I've tried from Baryonyx. I also have a snow and Neally hudson bay that I re-handle with a longer handle that kind of fills that roll for me.
     
  42. WhisperInThePine

    WhisperInThePine Wubba lubba dub dub Supporter

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    I hardly carry a hatchet or axe anymore when moving across distances. In my area, fire wood is very easy to find. Ponderosa self prunes, so I can easily find dead dry wood off the ground and still on the trees. Dead spruce and fir lower branches are well covered by the upper branches and can be plucked easily. On my 4 day backcountry hunting trip in October, I carried my Bahco, a fixed blade, and my SAK. I had a fire every night with minimal work.

    For static camps though, I like having a hatchet for wood processing. My fires are typically larger and I use larger pieces. I also use the opportunities to keep my axe skills up.
     
  43. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    A GB Outdoor Axe 95% of the time. I know many will say an axe or hatchet doesn’t justify the weight when hiking distances, especially here in the Southeast, but I carry it on a belt loop and absolutely don’t notice the weight. In fact, I find myself reaching down unconsciously to make sure it’s there.

    For more static outings, the Ray Mears Wilderness Axe is a joy to use.

    Reasons I take the Outdoor Axe:
    • I don’t live in the Great White North but I do live in a freezing rainforest, and sometimes need to process a goodly amount of wood. I prefer an axe to a saw for this.
    • It frees me from packing a trowel. I have yet to find a trowel or shovel that doesn’t weigh as much or more than the Outdoor Axe that can reliably get through the roots and rocks of the Appalachian terrain I frequent. I do much better knocking out a digging stick with the OA and pounding it with the axe’s poll.
    • It frees me to take any knife I want. With the OA for heavy work, I can get along fine with a light, thin blade... something like the Mora 125th carried as a neck knife.
    • It’s handy to have a hammer.
    Yes, it weighs all of 1 lb 5 oz on my belt. But it’s also filling in for — replacing really — a shovel, hammer, saw, and heavy chopper. So, I figure its effective weight is about negative fourteen ounces.
     
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  44. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    LOL ... brilliant.
     
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  45. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    @BradGad, you use your axe as a shovel?
     
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  46. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    That rednecky area between Baltimore and Philly.
    Depending on the trip, route, length of time out, difficulty, and means of transportation, I carry anything from no hatchet to a Vaughn mini, Norlund 14" hatchet, GB SFA, to a Norlund 24" ax. I have 36" craftsman, but don't take it camping. On the saw side, I go up from nothing to a Bahco Laplander, Fiskar's wooden pruning saw, Silky Pocket Boy, 24" take-down bucksaw, to a full sized 32" or 36" bow saw.

    My normal tools are the Silky and the Norlund Hatchet.
     
  47. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    No... I use my axe to make a digging stick, and use *that* for a shovel... and use the axe to pound the stick.
     
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  48. Cascadian

    Cascadian Guide

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    Ah! That makes more sense. :)

    For a while there I was seriously reconsidering how the Universe works.
     
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  49. doallthingswell

    doallthingswell Tracker

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    No pics ‍♂️

    But I carry a super thin bitted roofing hatchet (companion brand) with an 18" hammer style handle and I love it.

    The flat bit is easy to edge up, tho i rarely need to.

    Light, cuts great, fits inside my bag.
     
  50. beacon

    beacon Simul justus et peccator Supporter Bushclass I

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    If the hike will be leisurely or short, or if it's going to be cold enough that I'll want a substantial fire, then the Wetterlings LHA comes with along.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    For trips like the one coming next, I'll leave it home because:
    • Low mileage
    • Leisurely exploring pace
    • No fires allowed
     

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