Gear Review: Hultafors Aby Forest Axe
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Overview: I've always wanted a camp axe. Something I could use around the cabin, on camping trips, and even keep in the truck "just in case". I especially wanted one for my hunt this past November in Montana. Because of the unknown nature of that hunt I was searching for a tool that could help process fire wood and also be a resource if needed in a survival situation. One that would be sturdy enough for chopping and splitting, but portable if I did decide to bring it along on a bivy-style hunt. After a lot of research, the Aby was an obvious choice.
The Aby is hand forged and made from Swedish quality steel in the forge at Hults Bruk. The HB forging tradition goes as far back as 1697, and the steel head is struck 40-60 times to increase density and durability. This axe is named after Åby, the nearest village to Hults Bruk, where many of the workers lived in the middle of the 20th century.
It is a beautiful hybrid between a hatchet and a full axe with many types of uses. It features a straighter edge and grinding, plus a finger notch below the head for increased precision. The long, thin, ergonomic handle minimizes the weight, at the same time giving you surprising force when striking. This axe is well-suited for shelter building, chopping, splitting and carving as well as other precision work. It comes with a full lifetime warranty on the axe head and retails for $170
What I like: had a chance to test the Abby camping over the summer, on my hunting trip to Montana this fall and at the cabin over the past month. Here is what I found.
First, you can immediately notice the quality of the Hultafors craftsmanship, especially in the Swedish steel axe head and the premium leather sheath.
Second, both the light weight and the smaller size make this axe extremely portable and easy to carry/transport. It's not a burden on the backpack and doesn't take much room in back of the truck.
Last, the blade on the Aby is extremely sharp, overperforming its small size and making short work of camp projects including chopping, splitting and even felling a few trees on the larger side. It also features a finger notch below the head for precision-type work like carving, though I have yet to use it in that manner.
What I don’t like: When you purchase the Aby, you need to set the right expectations. This is neither a splitting axe nor a felling axe. It is light, small and short-handled, more similar to a larger general-purpose hatchet. With those expectations in mind, there's not much to dislike about it.
My only real complaint lies with the axe handle. Compared to the head and leather sheath, the wood handle felt a little cheap, unrefined and a bit too light for my taste, although it performed well in the field.
If you are in the market for a true splitting axe, you'd do well to consider this one: https://www.hultafors.com/products/axes/H0252-hult-splitting-axe/160446, For a true felling axe I would consider this option: https://www.hultafors.com/products/axes/H0293-qvarfot-felling-axe/160444
Perfect for: The Aby is the perfect compact, general-purpose camp and/or bushcraft axe for chopping, limbing, carving and light-duty felling and splitting. It's also handy to keep in the back of the truck for emergency situations and simple trail clearing. It is ultralight and portable enough to not be burdensome, while still sturdy and large enough to provide the leverage for most any task.
Stars: 4 out of 5
Learn more: https://www.hultafors.com/products/axes/H0253-aby-forest-axe/160449