Survival Knife vs. Hatchet: Which One is Best?

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Last Updated on October 17, 2022 by admin_hunter

 If you’re heading out into the wilderness for a few days, you’ll want to make sure that you’re packing just the essentials. That way, you’re not carrying any more weight than you need to.

Wondering what the ultimate survival tool is? You will always find advocates for the survival knife over the hatchet and vice versa, and it’s easy to see why.

Both of them can be used for the same basic survival needs, in theory, so which one is better? We compared the survival knife and the hatchet to see which one will be of more use on your next trip.

Direct Comparison

Survival Knife

Functionality: More versatile

Skill level required: Not much

Energy required: More energy needed


Functionality: Less versatile

Skill level required: Requires skills

Energy required: Less energy needed

Survival Knife vs. Hatchet: Which One is Best?

Breaking It Down

Since both of these tools can be used to help you survive in the wild, with shelter building, fire starting, and hunting, we decided to compare them based on where their strengths lie in functionality. We also look into how much skill and energy is required to use these tools in order to survive.


Let’s start by looking at what each tool can be used for, where it performs particularly well, and where it’s failings lie in terms of function.

Survival Knife

The survival knife is without a doubt more versatile than a hatchet. It can be used for all of the same things that a hatchet is used for, plus it is capable of tasks that require a greater deal of accuracy and delicacy, such as skinning and gutting dinner, intricate carving, and making notches in wood to help start fires. The straight, slim, blade also comes in handy for reaching into hard to get places.


A hatchet is less versatile than a survival knife when it comes to handling small or delicate projects due to the shape of the head and blade. When it comes to building a shelter and making a fire, the hatchet will outperform a knife, hands-down, as well as when it comes to chopping and splitting wood. Depending on your survival situation, a hatchet will also be useful in breaking through ice to reach water.

Winner: Survival Knife

Skill Level Required

Another thing to consider when choosing the ultimate survival tool is how much skill it takes to use. If you can’t use it properly, then there really isn’t any point in having it along with you.

Survival Knife

There is some skill required to use a knife accurately, but more skill is needed about knowing what to do with it. Knowing the best way to chop wood with a knife or how to gut a fish, for example, is a skill, but executing it requires slightly less skill than other tools.


A hatchet, like an ax, can take some practice to make it work for you. Some people make splitting firewood look easy, but it takes a lot of practice to be that good, and to hit a tree in the same spot, over and over again.

Winner: Survival Knife

Survival Knife vs. Hatchet: Which One is Best?

Energy Required

The energy required to operate each tool is also vital, especially if you find yourself in a life or death situation. Conserving energy is important if there is very little to eat and drink.

Survival Knife

A great deal of energy will be required when using this knife for tasks such as chopping and splitting wood. Although you can use other tools to help you along, such as a rock to pound the knife through the wood to split it, you never know what you’ll have at hand in your survival environment.


With all of its weight situated at one end, a hatchet makes lighter work of large chopping tasks. As long as you have the skill to wield a hatchet, this tool will save you a lot of energy, and time.

Winner: Hatchet

Final Recount

Survival Knife: 2/3

Hatchet: 1/3

Pros and Cons

Survival Knife


  • More versatile
  • More suitable for intricate tasks


Requires more energy for large chopping tasks



  • Allows for faster chopping
  • Less energy when using it


  • Requires more skill to use
  • Less suited for intricate tasks


The survival knife won most categories in our survival knife vs. hatchet head-to-head, but despite this, our ultimate survival tool is still the hatchet.

If you have the skill to use a hatchet, many of the survival tasks you could be faced with in the wilderness will be more quickly completed with a hatchet. Getting a shelter over your head and building fire will be the first things you’ll want to do if ever you are stranded in the wild.

If you decide to invest in one, then be sure to practice using it for chopping wood, as well as in more delicate tasks, and keep the blade sharp at all times. Team your hatchet with a smaller survival knife, and you have the best of both worlds.