Hatchets vs Machetes: Applications & Trade Offs

Hatchets vs Machetes: Applications & Trade Offs

Want to learn more about the strengths, weaknesses, differences, and tradeoffs of using machetes and hatchets for common applications? You’ve come to the right place! Before we compare how hatchets and machetes match up performance-wise in different scenarios, let’s take a closer look at the makeup of each of these bladed tools. Hatchets in a Nutshell: Put simply, a hatchet is like a small ax you can hold with one hand, and it has one main purpose — chopping. The blunt side of a hatchet, opposite of the blade, can be used as a hammerhead if one is needed when a traditional hammer is not available. But the most common uses for a hatchet are to chop down small-to-midsize trees and to cut wood.  Machetes in a Nutshell: Machetes are more sword-like than hatchets, having a long, thin blade and even weight distribution. Known to be capable of tackling some of the same tasks as a hatchet and much more, machetes are extremely versatile bladed tools. They can cut wood, split logs, and even chop down small saplings when used properly. Machetes shine brightest when being used to clear away dense areas of brush and vegetation. 

How Hatchets & Machetes Compare in Common Applications

Now that you understand the primary use-cases of hatchets and machetes, let’s dive deeper and compare the tools side-by-side in some of their most common applications.

Routine Lawn Maintenance

Hatchets: Hatchets will likely only be used during yard work if you need to cut down small trees, or if a large tree limb falls on the property and you don’t have a chainsaw available to break it down into smaller pieces for removal. So, unless tree and limb removal are common tasks on your property, a hatchet won’t come in handy very often during routine lawn maintenance.  Machetes: Machetes are one of the best tools to keep on hand for routine lawn maintenance. From gardening and weed removal to cutting down thick, overgrown brush, you can find countless applications for a machete while performing routine lawn maintenance.  Learn why a Woodman’s Pal is the best machete for yard work If You Had to Choose One: Machetes definitely have the edge on this one (no pun intended). Lawn care has lots of dimensions, making the versatility of a machete invaluable for most yards.

Tree & Sapling Removal

Hatchets: Hatchets definitely have the upper hand when it comes to removing small trees that are a bit more mature than what you’d call a “sapling.” The added weight behind the blade of a hatchet more effectively chips away at thick tree trunks without risking serious damage. Machetes: If you’re dealing with lots of smaller saplings that can easily be bent sideways with a little push, a machete will be the more efficient chopping tool. It’s easier to swing and offers more reach, allowing you to exert minimal effort while chopping.  If You Had to Choose One: Your choice of tool depends strongly on the density of your property’s trees and saplings. A hatchet will be able to handle most small trees and saplings, so that’s your best bet if you really only have one choice. But you may exert extra effort at times.

Cutting & Splitting Wood

Hatchets: This is basically a home-field advantage for hatchets — it’s what they’re built to do. For larger trees or fallen limbs, a two-handed axe may be preferable, or better yet, a chainsaw. But as far as single-handed blades go, hatchets are the best tool for woodcutting in most cases.  Machetes: In some scenarios, cutting and splitting wood with a machete may actually be the most efficient option. When cutting firewood, for instance, the precision of a machete allows you to slice thinner pieces off of the logs to use as kindling in a campfire.  If You Had to Choose One: When cleaning up or removing wood from an area, hatchets have the upper hand. But when splitting wood for fires, machetes offer more precision. You can split faster with a hatchet, but machetes enable you to make the most of small amounts of wood.

Casual Camping

Hatchets: A hatchet will only come in handy if you are camping in an area where cutting trees and making fires are allowed, and you don’t plan to bring any pre-cut firewood. But even then, you may be able to get by with a machete, which will be useful in other camping situations. Machetes: Whether you’re splitting wood for a fire, clearing vegetation around the campsite, or cutting down dead tree branches near your tent, a finely-crafted machete such as a Woodman’s Pal can easily handle the task. Versatility and lightweight carrying are vital to any camping trip.  If You Had to Choose One: Machetes are the better choice for camping, hands down. You could argue that it would be useful to bring a hatchet, but the one purpose it would serve can be easily fulfilled by the much-more-versatile machete. 

Survival Situations

Hatchets: A hatchet sure would come in handy in a survival scenario, as it would allow you to cut and split wood for fires. But clearing brush is likely to be a major need in a woodland survival situation, and hatchets simply do not offer enough reach to do so efficiently. Not to mention, hatchets would be very awkward to use for general cutting if it were the only blade you had.  Machetes: When you hear the words “survival situation,” you probably envision someone trekking through the wilderness, cutting away dense brush with a machete as they seek rescue. There’s a good reason for that — machetes can be the difference between life and death in some survival situations. They cut just as efficiently as a knife, and if it came down to it, a machete could be used for self-defense in a wild animal attack.  If You Had to Choose One: Once again, machetes are the best option hands down. Hatchets simply do not offer the versatility needed for an outdoor survival scenario. 

Tackle Your Next Outdoor Task With a Woodman’s Pal

Whether you’re embarking on an outdoor adventure or dealing with tedious lawn maintenance, there’s no better blade to have on hand than a Woodman’s Pal machete. Order one today so you can be ready for your next up-close encounter with Mother Nature!
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