Long-Term Gerber 9-inch Hatchet Review: It’s Awesome
The Gerber 9-inch hatchet is a lightweight and compact axe that is highly efficient at both chopping and splitting kindling, despite its size. It is efficient, durable, requires little maintenance, and is reasonably priced.
I have carried this hatchet (or its identical twin the Fiskars X5) backpacking, and on day hikes for years (despite owning much more “premium” options) and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a portable hand hatchet for outdoor adventures.
Gerber is owned by Fiskars, and the Gerber 9-inch hatchet is made by Fiskars, and identical to the Fiskars X5 in every way (except color). So you have your choice of black or orange – or just go with whatever is cheaper.
These axes are my go-to, and recommendation to anyone who needs an awesome pack axe. Both on are amazon to compare: Gerber 9 or Fiskars X5.
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What the Gerber 9 is for
The Gerber 9-inch hatchet is not meant to be a typical hatchet for starting fires at home or when car camping. It’s designed to be taken on outdoor adventures like backpacking or hiking in remote areas where you might need a small axe or hatchet, especially for emergencies. People can get lost or injured in these situations, and having an axe can be a life-saving tool.
I have another article on why I always bring an axe backpacking.
I would always choose this axe over the “ultra-light” options like the Gerber Pack Hatchet. In the end, it actually weighs almost the same and is nowhere near as effective. I have a full comparison here if you want to know more.
Design of the Gerber 9
|Total Weight (inc. sheath)||1.35 lbs (610g)|
The Gerber 9 has a compact, but efficient 1lb head. The short wedge shape focuses the force, and the flat-ground edge comes decently sharp. So it works surprisingly well for both chopping and splitting. It effectively removes large chips when chopping and separates wood quickly when splitting.
The head of the X5 comes with a black Teflon-like coating that offers rust protection initially, but it will wear off with frequent use (which is fine).
The composite handle is short, hollow, and incredibly lightweight. It feels comfortable in the hand and can be held it close to the head for optimal leverage and length or grip it by the very end for maximum reach.
The flared hook at the end of the handle ensures a secure grip, preventing the axe from slipping. However, it is smaller than those found on other models, allowing for a grip around it and extending your reach.
One of the key advantages of Gerber’s composite design is its exceptional durability and resistance to weather. It is a low-maintenance alternative to a wooden-handled hatchet.
Over time, the blade of the axe may become dull, and it may begin to rust once the coating wears off. However, this is typical for any axe, and regular sharpening and oiling of the head with WD40 will suffice to address these issues.
Durable and weatherproof
The composite handle is incredibly robust and will not break, particularly in the case of this smaller model. Whether the Gerber axe gets wet, cold, hot, or frozen, the handle will not loosen, and it won’t require any sanding or oiling.
While the handle can become slippery and cold in rainy or winter conditions, the smooth surface is beneficial. Many other pack axes have bumps and nubs that provide extra grip but can cause painful hot spots with prolonged use.
Smart Sheath Design
I really like the design of the Gerber (Fiskars) sheath. It is lightweight and can be operated single-handedly, and its open design allows for rapid drying by allowing water and moisture to flow out easily.
This design enables the axe to be attached directly to your belt or pack, and the axe can quickly pop out from the side, without risking damage to your gear or injury from trying to force the hatchet into place. I would usually never attach an axe directly to my pack or belt by the sheath – other than this one (but I still usually don’t).
Since I often use this as my go-to bag axe, I purchased a leather sheath that further reduces the footprint and weight of the axe.
Performance of the Gerber 9
I have extensively tested this little axe and it has consistently exceeded my expectations.
In emergency situations, the majority of tasks requiring an axe involve chopping, such as gathering firewood, constructing a shelter, or maybe even crafting other tools.
The Gerber 9 cuts deeply, easily removing large chips of wood, and its wedge design ensures that it won’t become stuck. You can quickly and effectively chop through logs and trees up to 5-6 inches wide (which is probably over-kill), and make quick work of smaller branches easily.
Splitting campsite kindling is also a breeze with the Gerber. Its stout blade efficiently separates wood, without getting stuck.
However, there are a few drawbacks when using such a compact axe for splitting compared to a full-size option.
At first, there will be a fear of scraping your knuckles during use, and it never really goes away (even though I have never had it happen). So you may not “give it your all”.
Additionally, if the wood is not split fully on the first strike, the short length of the axe makes it challenging to pry the wood apart. The Gerber simply does not provide as much leverage as the 14″ version.
Carving & Bushcraft
The cutting edge of the Gerber axe has a flat-ground design with a minimal curve, which is ideal for shaping sticks and creating notches for bushcraft projects. However, it may not be the best choice for fine carving or shaving small tinder due to its head design. While it can be used for rough shaping of more complex items, it is not intended for carving detailed work.
Alternatives to the Gerber 9
While I highly recommend the Gerber 9 inch hatchet (amazon) or the identical Fiskars X5 (amazon), there are a couple of alternatives you can look at.
The Gerber Gator
There is also the Gerber Gator that looks very similar but is made in Thailand. The quality is not as good as the Fiskars or Standard Gerber models, and it comes with an inferior nylon sheath. For the price difference, I would go with the Gerber 9-inch hatchet.
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/Gerber 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 Gerber, 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 Gerber 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 crap websites, so I set out to build a reliable one myself.
Jim B. – Owner, Creator