Whether you’re camping or out for a bushcraft trip, an axe is a necessary tool to have when out in nature. Most experienced outdoor enthusiasts prefer to have an axe and a smaller knife than one larger knife for everything. However, axes are quite difficult to carry on your pack, especially if they’re not attached properly.
When attaching an axe to your backpack, you’ll need to be careful not to snag it on anything. Since it has a heavy blade, you’ll need to ensure it is protected and safe to handle. Additionally, when attaching an ax to your backpack, you’ll need to ensure it doesn’t move about or dangle, which could result in injury or the loss of your tool.
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Properly Attaching an Axe to Your Backpack
An axe is a must-have tool if you’re planning a serious wild camping trip where you’ll need to source your own firewood and plan on doing some basic bushcraft projects. Before talking about how to attach your axe to your backpack, you’ll need to know whether you need your axe so close at hand in the first place. Here are some of the main reasons why you’d want to attach an axe to your backpack:
- You do a lot of bushcraft and you need a sturdy tool close by
- You are going through rough bushy terrain and you need to clear your path through it
- Gathering wood is your priority while hiding and you want to have a tool for that close at hand
- Your axe is bulky and big, and it would only damage the things inside your pack
- There is no room in your backpack for an axe, but you’d still like to have one on the trail
Should I Carry My Axe Inside My Backpack?
Most axe-wielding campers prefer to have their tool close to hand when in the wild. This doesn’t mean that you absolutely must attach your axe to your pack. You can place the axe in your pack, if you prefer to carry your tool in this manner. However, there are a few things you should consider before doing so. For example, if you have a lot of breakables items inside your pack, placing an axe close to them could have bad results. Likewise, if you don’t protect the blade well enough, the axe can cut up your pack from the inside.
Finally, such a tool is bulky and cumbersome. This means you’ll need to rearrange the things in your pack to accommodate it. Most campers believe that it’s just not worth it. Especially if you need to take out your axe while hiking and chop some wood.
Use MOLLE Straps to Attach Your Axe to a Pack
One of the easiest ways you can make sure your axe doesn’t move about once attached to your pack is to thread it through Molle straps on your pack. Make sure the axe head is attached to the top of the pack. This way you’ll prevent the axe from slipping out of the loops and falling out. You wouldn’t want to start setting up for the night and to realize that you’ve dropped your axe somewhere on the trail.
Additionally, when using your backpack’s Molle straps to attach any tool, make sure it is well balanced on your pack. This primarily means that the axe’s weight should be distributed along the middle of the pack. This will give you better balance overall as well as making your pack easier to carry.
Alternatively, you can place your axe on either side of the backpack, but you’ll need to make sure that there’s some type of counterweight on the opposite side, like a spade, or your water bottle. Ideally, the counterweight should be the same weight as the axe. Since there’s little chance you’ll find something that’s the exact same weight as your axe, you’ll want to pick items that are as close to it as possible.
DIY Axe Holder
If you can’t run your axe through straps on you backpack (or you simply don’t want to), there are other ways you can employ your pack’s webbing to secure tools to it. You can make your own axe holder using a variety of materials available to you in shops, as well as nature. The most common materials people use for making axe holders are leather, webbing, and paracord. However, if you need to secure your axe to a pack while in out in nature, you can use any naturally available cordage or other alternatives to paracord. Just make sure that the materials you use are durable enough to support the weight of your axe.
No matter what you use to make your axe holder, it will require a few things to be functional.
- A loop that will hold the axe head
- A way to secure this loop to the pack
- Another loop to prevent the axe knob from dangling and throwing you off balance
In some cases, you might not need to have the third item on the list. For example, if you have used thick leather to make the axe head holder which will prevent the axe from moving about. However, the safest way to secure the axe is to use two points to tie it off – one at the top and one at the bottom of the tool.
Side Mount Your Axe to Your Pack
If your pack doesn’t have straps and you don’t feel like making your own axe holder, you can still mount your axe on your backpack.
All you need is a water bottle pocket on the side of your pack. Just put the axe knob (bottom part of the handle) inside that pocket, as you would a bottle. After that, you just need a way to control the axe head and prevent it from falling. For this, you can use the side compression straps on your backpack. If you don’t have any, you might need to secure the axe head in a different manner. You can tie a length of paracord around your pack or to one of the other straps on your backpack.
Whatever method you choose, ensure that the axe head is secured firmly and that it doesn’t dangle or move about.
Since this is where most of the weight of the axe lies, it is crucial to prevent it from getting out of position, as this can lead to serious injury and the loss of a valuable tool.
Attach Your Axe to Your Sleeping Bag Straps
If all else fails, you can loop your axe handle through the straps on the bottom of your backpack. These straps are usually meant for holding a sleeping bag, or attaching one to the, However, some campers prefer to keep their shelter building gear inside their pack to avoid exposing it to punctures or weather.
While this method of attaching an axe to a backpack is easy to do, it is not really suggested for various reasons.
If the axe is longer than the width of your pack, it might snag onto bushes and other vegetation. Also, since the bottom straps of your pack are made to hold thicker items, it will take a lot of work to firmly secure the axe using them. Finally, carrying an axe horizontally will cause disbalance in your pack since the axe head is much heavier than the knob.
Axe Safety Tips in the Wild
If you’ve decided to bring an axe with you into the wild, you should know how to properly maintain and use it. Here are some basic tips that will al
- Always keep the protection on the head of the axe.
- Never allow your axe to dangle while attached to your backpack.
- Always use more than one cord to tie off your axe.
- The axe head should go on top, preferably turned toward the pack, with the blade always turned away from you.
- When chopping wood, keep all body parts at a safe distance from the log you’re working on.
- If your axe gets stuck in a piece of wood, you should hit the but of the axe on a stump instead of trying to pull the axe out.
- If the axe is really stuck, make wedges out of wood and hammer them with your knife into the crack made by the axe, to spread it out and retrieve your tool.
- Always swing your axe over your head with your legs spread wide. This way if the axe bounces it will go through your legs without hitting you.
- Clean and sharpen your axe after every use to prevent rust and damage to the blade.
Carrying just a single multitool when backpacking might work for ultralight campers, but many outdoor enthusiasts consider that a true woodsman needs an axe. It has so many applications and makes processing firewood a piece of cake. Whether you decide to carry an axe with you when out in the wild will depend on your tool preferences and what kind of trip you’re planning. But, if you do decide to take an axe with you, now you’ll know how to properly attach it to your pack and how to safely use it in the wild.