There's something to be said for a company that makes tools that look as good as they function. Let's face it, many of today's camp axes, as functional as they are, leave a lot to be desired as far as the aesthetic of the blade and handle. The Hults Bruk Almike Hatchet is a major exception to that rule. This classic-looking hatchet features a gorgeous American hickory handle and a simple yet refined axe head that's razor sharp straight out of the package. We recently got the chance to try this hatchet out and came away very impressed by what this Swedish axe maker has accomplished. For splitting wood, felling small trees, making kindling, light yard work, and simple camp chores, there may be no better camp axe on the market.
It's not often you come across a tool that has an old-school look yet feels better balanced than the latest in plastics and metals that other manufacturers are using. The Hults Bruk Almike is a little on the pricey side, but there's a lot to like about this axe that makes it worth the price. This is our experience with the beautiful and refined Hults Bruk Almike hatchet.
Specs and Construction
Being a guy who's usually more interested in function over form, it's not often I see a tool as aesthetically pleasing as the Hults Bruk Almike. The handle length is 16 inches and, as we already mentioned, is made from American hickory. Hults Bruk protects the handle with linseed oil, which adds a beautiful sheen to it. It's surprising how balanced the axe feels in the hand for such a simple design. We suspect a lot of that is due to the craftsmanship of the axe, but also the great design of the axe head itself.
Hults Bruk is a very old company. They were founded in Sweden in 1697 and have been making axes and hammers all this time. According to the company website, there are only around 20 people on staff who are making the axes. Hults Bruk includes lots of photos of their production process in their marketing materials, and it is some impressive stuff. There are lots of genuine photos of blacksmiths using old-school forges and techniques to make each one into the ultimate camping hatchet by hand.
Of course, the handmade construction shows up in the $169 price tag. However, after holding it in my hand and splitting some logs with it, that's underpriced for something as well made as this axe. It has a 2.876-inch cutting edge that effortlessly cleaves through logs like they were butter. Hults Bruk doesn't specify exactly what type of steel is being used other than it being solid Swedish steel. All the same, I can confirm it is high quality. The overall weight is only 1.75 pounds with only one pound of that being the head weight. It makes the axe almost feel like an extension of you hands while using it.
Using and Sharpening the Hults Bruk
While I'm not sure what kind of steel they used for this axe, after my testing there is no doubt in my mind you won't need to sharpen as much as you might a traditional camp axe. The head holds that edge perfectly. I only did some light touch ups to the edge. If you are doing some standard light clearing and bushcraft with it, you can probably expect the blade edge to go even longer. This is one mighty little axe! In fact, I'll probably just end up giving my other axes to my folks for their camper. I won't need those anymore. This axe is that good. Whether you are a casual camping enthusiast or a dedicated practice of wilderness survival techniques, the Almike is up for the task at hand.
For standard wood splitting, I don't think I've ever had an easier time with that chore. This is one of those tools that's a pleasure to use. That means less time getting things ready in camp and more time relaxing by the fire. I also used the axe for a little light trimming work around my property and it made those tasks extremely easy too. It's not often, if ever, that I take any joy out of these types of work, but the Hults Bruk is an exception to the rule in almost every way possible. I didn't even mention the nice leather sheath they include to protect the blade when not in use.
Another thing worthy of praise from Hults Bruk is their extensive care and maintenance guides for the axe. There's a small booklet attached to each new one, but they also put their care guide online. It's a nice, appreciated touch in a time where most companies could care less about what happens with their product after it has been sold. Hults Bruk not only gives extensive instructions for sharpening your blade for specific uses, but also for the replacement of the handle if needed. They even make storage recommendations to prolong the life of the tool. This is helpful information for anyone new to camping or an axe of this caliber. We salute Hults Bruk for caring enough to take the time to produce and make it easily available without calling some corporate customer service line. That type of commitment to quality is hard to find in any company these days, especially in the outdoor industry.
The bottom line is this is the finest camp axe I've ever used and it's not even close. I'm simply blown away by the quality of Hults Bruk axes. If you're tired of cheap camp axes that only last a few seasons, the Hults Bruk is the way to go. See the Hults Bruk website for more information.
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