Fiskars X5 Long-Term Review: My Go-To Pack Axe

Fiskars X5 stuck in a stump in the woods

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 a lightweight and compact axe, that’s still efficient at both chopping and kindling splitting. This makes 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.

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.

Fiskars X5 sitting on a hiking pack on the ground
My well worn Fiskars 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

Fiskars X5
Length9″ (22.8cm)
Total Weight (inc. sheath)1.35 lbs (610g)
Head Weight1lb
Cutting edge2.65″

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.

Fiskars X5 and Gerber Pack Axe Head Width
Gerber Pack Axe Left – Fiskars X5 Right

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 handle

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 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.

Chopping with the X5

Fiskars X5 and a chopped log in the snow
Well-worn X5 during chopping test – 5″ Diameter Log

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 and pops out large chips of wood, and the wedge design won’t get stuck.

Splitting with the X5

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.

Fiskars x5 splitting firewood
One-hit split with the Fiskars X5

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 loo.

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 is a better budget hatchet

Lexivon V9 hatchet chopping log

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.

I was expecting this to be trash like most of the other axes at this price point – but it performs pretty darn well. See full review.

Lexivon V9 hatchet chopping log

Please comment below If I missed something or if you have any questions. I do my best to respond to everyone.

About the author:

Jim of in the woods with axe

About the author:

I’m also on Instagram: @axeandtool

Jim of in the woods with axe


  1. Hey Jim, congrats on your amazing full review of the Fiskars X5. I recently bought one and used it for the first time last week, but noticed that the black coating is wearing out pretty quickly, and also the edge got some dents pretty fast, just bu cutting wood. Do you have any comments on why could this have happened?

    1. Here are a couple thoughts, hope this helps:
      1. The coating on any axe will scrape off with use, it just happens. The Fiskars coating is pretty good, but I have had some wear quicker than others (not sure why). Most start to wear after only one or two serious uses. My X5 looks far better than it has any right to, but most of my others Fiskars axes have the coating partially worn away.

      2. The dents in the blade could be a few things, but some wood is just really hard – especially if its dead/dried/seasoned.
      – Dead wood can be hard on a sharp edge, and the flat grind edge of the Fiskars can be a little more brittle.
      – Knots can also be very hard on a blade, even if it’s green wood.
      – Finally, if the blade landed in the dirt, grit and pebbles can cause damage.

      So, both of these are totally normal wear and tear an axe. I do have a post about Fiskars Care, it was one of my first, so I have been meaning to go back and update it – but it might help as well.

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