Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Knives > Axes and Tomahawks > Hults Bruk Tarnaby Hatchet > Test Report by Doug White

March 29, 2016



NAME: Doug White
EMAIL: bakpack215atyahoodotcom
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Boulder, Colorado, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 170 lb (77.10 kg)

Backpacking Background: I've been backpacking for several years. I have tested a lot of different systems to find what works the best for me. I pack as light as possible without sacrificing comfort and functionality. I enjoy backpacking in all kinds of weather including winter. I also do snowshoeing and year-round mountaineering. I backpack in the Rocky Mountains just below treeline most of the time. My trips are normally at least a few miles (5 km) or more. Anytime I can get out and enjoy the mountains, even for a day hike, I do.



Manufacturer: Hults Bruk
Manufacturer's Website:
The Tarnaby

MSRP: US$89.00
Listed Weight: 2.2 lb (998 g)
Listed Length: 15 in (38 cm)
Listed axe head weight: 1.25 lb (567 g)
Measured Weight (Including sheath): 2 lb 4 oz (1.02 kg)
Measured Length: 15.25 in (38.7 cm) x 6 in (15.2 cm)
Measured Thickness of axe head: 1 in (2.5 cm)
Other details: The Tarnaby is a Swedish-made hatchet designed for smaller wood work and processing kindling. Per the manufacturer website, Hults Bruk has been making axes in Sweden since 1697. The hatchet comes with an instruction booklet that also includes wonderful and intriguing information about the company's history including some color pictures. Also per their website, the hatchet's head is made from hand-forged steel and is struck multiple times for better edge-retention, and the handle is made from American Hickory and is treated with linseed oil. The hatchet also comes with a leather sheath. The hatchet comes with a uniquely-shaped storage box.
Packaging and Info Booklet


Let's start with the box. Although cardboard, it is uniquely shaped and rather appealing, in my opinion. Inside was the sheathed hatchet along with a small instruction booklet. The instruction booklet was informative and intriguing, containing information about the company's history, a little about how the axe heads are made, and even details about care, maintenance, repair, and sharpening instructions.

The hatchet itself is a beautiful piece of work and I am anxious to get out and test it. The steel head isn't perfect looking and even has some gouges. I can tell it was hand-forged. These visual imperfections make the tool more appealing to me with the feeling it was manufactured with quality. The head also has a Hults Bruk logo branded into it, and per the instruction booklet, this is done as the head is being forged. The weight of the head during swinging feels like a good weight for chopping power. The handle is also very visually appealing to me and has slight curves to it. The end of the handle has a hole in it for attaching a lanyard. The grip area is very comfortable in my hand and measures approximately 1.5 in (3.8 cm) x 1 in (2.5 cm). The handle is attached to the head with a thin wooden wedge and a circular metal keeper/punch to keep the wedge in place. The sheath is made from leather and has small metal rivets to keep the leather together. The rivets give it a very rustic look. The sheath is held on to the hatchet head with a leather rope that is woven through the main part of the sheath. This rope can be loosened or tightened with a simple pull.
Leather Sheath
Handle Wedge

I tried it out on about ten pieces of wood and it swings easily and splits wood easily in one swing.


I really want to test the durability of this hatchet. My testing environment is extreme and cold. In the winter, fire wood is a must. This should be a great testing environment to see if this hatchet holds up to the elements and the use. I also want to test how well the edge is held prior to sharpening and how often I have to sharpen it. At minimum I plan to build a fire in the snow that will sustain itself for hours using no other tools other than the hatchet. I also hope to do some small shelter building using nothing but the hatchet as well.


So far, the hatchet is very cosmetically appealing and feels well-built. I love everything about it so far and am really looking forward to getting out and testing this tool.

This concludes my Initial Report.



I tested the hatchet on three separate trips in the Rocky Mountains, including two overnight trips. The tests were all performed in colder weather with temperatures ranging from 30 F (-1 C) to -5 F (-20 C) and at elevations ranging from 7000 ft (2134 m) to 11000 ft (3353 m). All of the tests were shorter trips ranging from 2 miles (3.2 km) to 6 miles (9.6 km) for the round trip length. Two trips had snow falling and one trip was beautiful and sunny. All tests were performed below tree-line. The day trip required snow shoes as the snow was about 48 in (122 cm) in depth.
Testing Environment
Testing Environment


This hatchet was fun to test. Regardless of its actual weight, I didn't really notice a difference carrying it in my pack. I generally carry about 15 lbs (6.8 kg) for my base pack weight. It sure looks and feels good while using it. As all tests were performed in the snow, the method I used for processing wood was to split the pieces down very small to expose the inner dry wood. I have found that small, dry, and sharp pieces of wood start fires in the snow much faster. So I used a saw to cut sections of log, then I used the hatchet to split the sections. I did use the hatchet to chop down one small tree instead of using the saw, but it proved to be much more work and used more calories. Truthfully, while splitting, I found the hatchet to have a difficult time splitting logs with a diameter larger than 3 in (7.6 cm). It felt to me like the handle wasn't long enough to really get a good swing to split those kind of logs. It did great with small kindling and smaller log splitting. Also in deep snow, it was difficult to stand the log up and also was difficult to keep the log from going into the snow when you hit it. I have dealt with this in the past, so I like to set up a small platform of sectioned logs in the snow and then use that as my base for wood processing. Even with all of the work that I have done with it, the head's edge is still very sharp and hasn't needed to be sharpened yet. I haven't noticed any rust on the hatchet head either. The handle is still very smooth and free of splinters and still has a good feel to it.
Building A Fire


As cool-looking as this hatchet is, so far, I do not feel like it is the right tool for me to bring backpacking. I have become accustomed to using a large survival knife for wood processing for many years. During my time testing this hatchet, it seems like it is a little more work to use for a backpacking application, especially in winter conditions. I feel this would be a great summer car-camping tool or even for small woodwork at home. I will continue to test it with as much of an open mind as I can and maybe the next couple of months will prove different. With that being said, I feel for small kindling projects, the hatchet does what it is suppose to do.


I will continue to test this hatchet during backpacking trips. I hope to use the hatchet for more applications with less snow or even on dry ground. So far my testing has been done in only snowy conditions. I also still would like to use the hatchet for some shelter-building if time permits.



I used this hatchet on two more trips since my field review for several hours on each trip. Both trips were in the Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado around 9000 ft (2740 m) elevation. The ground was well snow-covered on both trips. The first trip was an overnight camp and the second trip was getting wood ready for a camp date ahead of time. The temperatures were mild for winter being around 30-35 F (-1 to 2 C) on both trips.


The hatchet performed about the same as reported in the field review. It is a great tool for small wood work but doesn't do as well for larger work in my opinion. The hatchet also worked well for breaking branches an limbs off of logs. One thing that did surprise me about this hatchet was its ability to maintain a good edge. I still have not had to sharpen it. It has been used on softer woods though in my environment. It has only been used on Aspen and Pine. The head is still tight on the handle and the hatchet is still in great working shape. I did get to use this hatchet to split wood on some dry ground near melted snow patches, and it is much easier to work with as opposed to splitting wood on top of deeper snow. I did not have the time to build a shelter, and truthfully, it would have been a lot of work with just the hatchet.


In my testing, I have found this to be a great hatchet for small work. In the environment that I tested the hatchet in, it really didn't seem like the ideal wood tool for me. In the winter, I need a lot of wood and need it fast if I'm building a fire. I have found that in the winter, the most efficient way to get fire fast is by splitting the wood so the dry middle section can be used. With this hatchet, it takes a lot of work to do that. In my experience, this hatchet isn't ideal for that. In the summer, this may be a completely different experience. So for a backpacking application, this isn't the tool for me. As far as the quality of the product, it is outstanding. It didn't break or get damaged even under heavy wood cutting in cold conditions. The blade edge stayed sharp as well.


Truthfully for me, this will probably not be a part of my normal backpacking gear in the future. This may be a great hatchet to carry in the car for summer camp site use for my current setup.

This concludes my Long Term Report.

Thank you Hults Bruk and for the opportunity to test this hatchet.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Hults Bruk gear
Read more gear reviews by Doug White

Reviews > Knives > Axes and Tomahawks > Hults Bruk Tarnaby Hatchet > Test Report by Doug White

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

All material on this site is the exclusive property of
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson