This little hatchet isn’t meant for every scenario, but it quickly became one of my favorites and has remained so for years.
The Fiskars X5 is lightweight, compact, and yet still efficient at both chopping tasks and kindling splitting – making it a near-perfect axe for outdoor activities that take you off the beaten path when size and weight are critical.
This hatchet has been my go-to for backpacking and hikes for a couple of years now (even though I own more expensive options). On top of performing well – it’s durable, requires little maintenance, and comes at a very affordable price point.
The X5 is my first recommendation for anyone looking for a hand hatchet to toss in a pack or take on adventures. You can find it on amazon.
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What the X5 is for
Small hatchets like the X5 are not meant to act as your standard kindling hatchet at home or at the campsite (although it could). They are designed for being carried outdoors away from civilization, where it can be smart to bring a small axe or hatchet. Whether it’s backpacking or even just day hiking – people get lost or hurt all the time, and an axe can be a life-saving tool in an emergency (more on that here).
The whole thing only weighs 1.3 lbs and performs way better than many “ultra-light” pack axes (which actually weigh almost the same). So if size and weight are important factors, it’s hard to beat the X5.
I also bought a leather sheath that makes the footprint even smaller and manages to drop the weight even further.
Design of the X5
|Total Weight (inc. sheath)||1.35 lbs (610g)|
The compact but “full-weight” head concentrates the force, and the flat-ground edge comes sharp and cuts well. I have been impressed with the wedge design for chopping and splitting, and I have used this hatchet extensively for both. The wedge pushes chips out and spreads wood apart quickly.
The head comes coated in a black Teflon-like coating, which does an excellent job of initial rust protection, but it will wear off with use (but it’s not an issue).
The short handle is hollow, very light, and made of Fiskars “FiberComp” (a proprietary fiberglass-like material). It’s comfortable in hand and well-shaped if you choke up right under the head or hold by just the very end to maximize the leverage and length.
It can be a little slick and cold and the rain or winter, but the smooth surface is actually a good thing. Lots of other “pack axes” have bumps and nubs that add grip, but make for painful hot spots when you use the tool.
The flared hook at the end locks your hand in place so the axe won’t slip, but it’s smaller than other models so you can hold a grip around it and extend your reach.
Durable and weatherproof
One of the core benefits of Fiskars composite design is that it is incredibly durable and weather-proof, and low maintenance compared to a wood handle. The composite handle won’t break (especially on this little model). X5 can get wet, cold, hot, or frozen, and the handle won’t come loose, or need sanding and oiling.
The blade will dull with time and it can rust once the coating starts to wear off. But that’s just part of owning any axe. Just sharpen and oil the head with WD40 as needed.
Fiskars Smart Sheath Design
The Fiskars sheath design is really smart as it is super light, can be operated one-handed, and is very open for letting water and moisture flow out and dry quickly.
Most other sheaths that have the slots for a belt or strap are designed so the axe drops in from the top – which is a total pain to use. With the Fiskars design, the axe easily pops out from the side with little chance of damaging your gear or cutting yourself trying to stuff the hatchet in awkwardly.
Performance of the X5
I have put this little axe through the wringer and it has always impressed me.
Most tasks you would need this axe for in an emergency involve chopping. Whether it’s for gathering firewood, building shelter, or crafting some other tool.
The X5 can effectively and quickly chop through logs and trees up to 5-6” wide. This is pushing it beyond any tasks you would normally need, but it’s nice to know.
It chops deep, pops out large chips of wood, and the wedge design won’t get stuck.
Splitting campsite kindling is also pretty easy with the X5. The shout blade means the wood gets pushed apart quickly, and the head doesn’t get too stuck.
There are a couple of downsides to splitting with the X5 compared to a full-size option. Like, you will never swing without a little bit of fear you are going to scrape your knuckles (even though I never have). It just feels close.
And if you don’t split fully on the first strike, it’s hard to use the short axe to pry the wood apart. You just don’t have as much leverage as you would with the X7.
Carving & Bushcraft
The flat-ground cutting edge is sharp and has a very small curve, making it pretty good for cutting notches and shaping sticks for larger bushcraft work.
The head design is not great for fine carving, or shaving small tinder. It can make do for rough shaping more complicated things – but it’s not made for carving details.
Three alternatives to the X5
While I highly recommend the Fiskars X5 (amazon), there are a couple of alternatives you can look at as well. But, oddly enough two of them are also made by Fiskars.
The Gerber 9-inch Hatchet
Gerber is owned by Fiskars, and they actually sell the exact same axe under the Gerber brand, but in Black. So, if the X5 sounds good, but you don’t like the bright orange look – check out the Gerber 9, you can find it on amazon.
Note: There is also the Gerber Gator that looks very similar, but is made in Thailand. The quality is not the same as the Fiskars or Standard Gerber models.
The Fiskars A5 vs X5
For some reason, Fiskars also offers a black version of this axe called the A5. The A5 and X5 are identical other than the A5 sometimes comes with the larger/older sheaths (but you seem to be able to get them with either). The A5 is not available in all regions.
Lexivon V9 is a budget X5
I like this axe WAY more than I was expecting to. The compact Lexivon V9 is essentially a knock-off Fiskars X5 that is around half the price (see on amazon).
I was expecting this to be trash like most of the other axes at this price point – but it performs pretty darn well. It has a similar head shape and actually manages to weigh slightly less. I don’t think the steel is as good as Fiskars, and the finish is noticeably lower quality – but it works.
The larger models of Lexivon have issues – and I wouldn’t recommend them. But in this size and role, I think it could be considered (Although I would still take the Fiskars first).
If I missed something or you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below. I do my best to respond to everyone.
About the author:
I’m just a guy who likes axes – as a tool, the craft of restoring them, and the history. I got tired of only finding crappy websites, so I set out to build a better one myself.
Jim Bell. – Owner, Creator