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With Longer Days Comes Shorter Axes

A Summer Backpacker's Guide to Firewood

As the days stretch and warmth permeates the air, backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts find themselves adapting to the changing seasons. One age-old saying that resonates with experienced campers is, "With longer days comes shorter axes." This seemingly simple phrase encapsulates a wealth of outdoor wisdom, particularly relevant to those venturing into the backcountry during the summer months.



The Seasonal Shift
Summer's arrival brings a decreased need for firewood. The extended daylight hours and milder temperatures mean less time huddled around a roaring fire for warmth. This shift allows backpackers to reassess their gear, focusing on lighter, more portable options.
GERBER BUSHCRAFT HATCHET (GRAY) - Axeman.ca
Enter the Hatchet
With the reduced firewood requirements, many opt for a lighter axe or, more commonly, a hatchet. These compact tools are ideal for gathering and processing smaller pieces of wood, which are often sufficient for summer campfires. The lightness of a hatchet can make a significant difference when every ounce counts on long treks into the wilderness.

The Weight Factor
In the backcountry, where every gram matters, switching from a full-sized axe to a hatchet can be a game-changer. This weight reduction allows hikers to cover more ground with less fatigue, opening up possibilities for exploring further into remote areas.

Hidden Dangers
However, the convenience of a hatchet comes with its own set of risks. Their small size can lead to a false sense of security, causing users to underestimate their potential danger. The shorter handle of a hatchet means that if a swing misses its target, the blade is more likely to strike the user. This risk is compounded by the fact that many backpackers venture far beyond the quick reach of first responders.

Safety First
Given these risks, it's crucial to approach hatchet use with caution and proper technique. Here are some quick tips for safe hatchet use:

1. Always maintain a firm grip and proper stance.
2. Keep your free hand well away from the striking area.
3. Use a chopping block or stump to stabilize wood when splitting.
4. Wear protective gear, including gloves and closed-toe shoes.
5. Keep your hatchet sharp – a dull blade is more likely to glance off the wood.
Åby Forest Axe, 700g Premium - Axeman.ca
Mastering the Stump Technique
For those needing to split larger pieces of wood, the stump technique can be highly effective and safer than free-hand splitting. Here's a brief guide:

1. Find a flat, sturdy stump as your chopping surface.
2. Place your wood upright on the stump.
3. Begin with gentle taps to create an initial split.
4. Gradually increase force as the split widens.
5. Use the weight of the hatchet, letting it do most of the work.

Embracing the Summer Spirit
While the saying "With longer days comes shorter axes" highlights the practical aspects of summer camping, it also embodies the spirit of the season. It's about lightening our load, both literally and figuratively, as we embrace the freedom and exploration that summer brings.

As you plan your next summer backcountry adventure, consider the wisdom in this old saying. Pack light, stay safe, and remember that sometimes, less truly is more. The shorter axe you carry might just lead you to longer journeys and greater discoveries in the beautiful wilderness that awaits.

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