HULTS BRUK THE TARNABY
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
INITIAL REPORT - November 22, 2015
FIELD REPORT - February 01, 2016
LONG TERM REPORT - April 11, 2016
Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
155 lb (70.30 kg)
I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season, learning to be a four-season backpacker and year round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Hults Bruk
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: www.hultsbruk1697.se
MSRP: US $89.00
Listed Overall Weight: 2 lb 3.2 oz (1 kg)
Measured Overall Weight: 2 lb 4.2 oz (1.03 kg), including sheath
Listed Head Weight: 1 lb 4 oz (635 g)
Head: Solid Swedish Steel
Handle Length: 15 in (38 cm)
Handle: Solid American Hickory
The Tarnaby is listed as a "small, all-purpose hatchet for basic uses such as making kindling, doing light clearing and working in the garden."
- axe head is made of Swedish axe steel and hand-forged
- multi-struck steel to increase density for increased durability
- designed with a tempered zone to hold a sharp edge
- traditional leather sheath with Swedish decorative design
- shipped in unique storage box
- detailed users manual
The Tarnaby arrived packaged in a uniquely shaped cardboard box, seen in the picture above. The Tarnaby looks simple yet elegant. The leather sheath has a neat drawstring that wraps around the back of the axe head to secure it to the front edge. The handle has an attractive, ergonomic curve to it. The handle is well-finished and feels nice when gripped. The company name and logo are present on one side of the handle. A safety warning is present on the other side. At the end of the handle there is a hole, I assume for attaching a lanyard. The axe head has an even well-shaped profile. The edge is nicely finished and well sharpened. On one side of the head is the Hults Bruk logo, weight of the head and country of origin, Sweden. While the shape and edge of the Tarnaby are extremely consistent there are minor blemishes elsewhere on the axe head. These do not seem to be damage or manufacturing mistakes. But instead appear to be evidence of being handled during production. The Tarnaby looks, feels and even smells (scent of leather and oil) like a true woodsman's tool.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
A small informational booklet was attached to the handle. Inside is a history and cultural reference of the use of the axe and metal forging. This is followed by a brief history of Hults Bruk, which is a very old company founded in 1697. The craft of the Blacksmith and art of production from raw materials to finished tool is described.
Hult Bruk axes and hatchets are made to be put to hard use. A few things need to be done to keep it ready to do so reliably. After use the axe should be cleaned of dirt and moisture before covering with the sheath. The edge should be sharpened on a regular basis. Hults Bruk recommends using a wet sandstone for best results. Sharpening should be of the entire length and both sides of the edge. Attention should be paid to maintain the original shape of the edge.
The Tarnaby is intended to strike only wood. The Tarnaby should not be used like hammer to strike another tool. Nor should it be used like a wedge and struck by another tool.
If stored for long periods the axe head should be oiled or greased to prevent rust. Axes and hatchets should not be stored in very dry places. There is a risk of drying out the shaft and the axe head becoming loose during use.
The booklet also contains directions on how to re-handle an axe. There is a six step process each with a helpful illustration. And lastly since this thing is made to cut, there's safety information. But this is information that must be understood firsthand so I trust before swinging an axe all users read this on their own.
TRYING IT OUT
The Tarnaby made its debut in my backyard chopping up some branches the thickness of baseball bats. The Tarnaby is easy to swing almost hammer-like but with a much more forceful impact. It strikes solid and clean. These branches were short work for this hatchet. I really need more of a task to give myself a proper feel for what the Tarnaby is capable of. But thus far I can say the Tarnaby is sharp and solid.
The Tarnaby is finely crafted tool. It has almost an artistic look, with the combination of wood, steel and leather. It has a natural feel in the hand, comfortable and well balanced. While my hiking and backpacking does not include the use of a hatchet, rarely do I make a campfire. I am a trail maintainer and at least three times a year I am clearing trail and cutting downed trees. I am also starting to do more winter camping which is more inviting with a campfire. So in these two aspects the Tarnaby has great appeal, as I am always looking to improve and expand my skills outdoors.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Mt Cardigan Lodge - Alexandria, New Hampshire - two days, two nights, high temperature 40 F (4 C) low 20 F (-7 C) crisp and clear
Storrs Pond - Hanover, New Hampshire - one day and night, high temperature 50 F (10 C) low 40 (4 C) calm, clear and dry
Appalachian Trail - Pomfret, Vermont - trail maintenance day hike, temperature 45 F (7 C) and cloudy
Appalachian Trail - Hanover, New Hampshire - one day and night, high temperature 35 F (2 C) low 25 F (-4 C), breezy and damp after light rain
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
It has been really fun using the Tarnaby over the past two months. While it has all been chopping wood, it has been in a few different setting under different conditions. The Tarnaby was an effective tool in all situations.
The first time in the field with the Tarnaby the family and I stayed at Mt. Cardigan lodge. First day we hiked 8 mi (13 km) with a group up the mountain, where it was windy and much colder. I carried the Tarnaby in my day pack with no intention of using it. I just wanted to see if I would notice the extra weight. At a pack weight of about 10 lb (4.5 kg) I did not notice any difference. In the evening I used the Tarnaby to help split firewood for kindling to start a bonfire. The Tarnaby swiftly and uniformly split with every strike.
The next time I made a quick dash into the woods near home. We are having a mild winter in New Hampshire this year with very little snow. At the time of this overnight no snow had fallen yet. I packed a minimal kit of tarp, ground sheet, sleeping bag, snacks, water, matches and the Tarnaby. I hiked about 4 mi (6 km) and found a neat spot sheltered by a large rock. I hung my tarp and went about gathering wood. This was much different from splitting uniform firewood. Preparing small to medium size downed branches required many different angled swings. Also branches from different types of trees as well as the age of the wood all played into the amount of effort required. I was able to process the wood to pieces about as thick as a pencil to start a fire. And up to a thickness of about my arm to keep it going into the night.
I help to maintain a section of trail in my area. On my end of season walk-thru I found a tree across the trail. The tree was approximately 6 in (15 cm) in diameter. I thought it might be a bit much for a hatchet. But the rest of the trail needed little work so I gave it a go. It was slow going, I took several breaks and my arm was sore after. But in the end the Tarnaby helped me clear the trail of the tree. After this I felt very comfortable and accurate in my strikes with the Tarnaby. Checking over the Tarnaby at home before storing it the edge showed some dulled spots. This was the first signs of wear I had noticed. I sharpened it per the instructions and brought a nice fine edge back.
My last time out with the Tarnaby during this phase of testing the temperature fell below freezing overnight. Still no snow but the ground was damp from rain. I wanted to get out to see if I could get a fire going with damp wood that would be hot enough to help keep me warm. I packed a similar kit as on my first camp out except I swapped out the tarp for a tent. I hiked about 6 mi (10 km) stopping with enough light left to set up camp and gather wood. I had a similar experience using the Tarnaby as my first camp out. There were two differences, the wood being wet made my hands dirty and I was much more confident and efficient with the Tarnaby. It was a lot of work but I was able to make and keep a warm fire going.
The Tarnaby has been fun to use. It has help further my outdoor skill which has been a great experience. The Tarnaby is a solid, strong tool for cutting and splitting wood. It has felt comfortable and natural in my hand with every use. A hatchet is not an item that initially comes to mind when I think of backpacking. However the Tarnaby has complimented my outings nicely. And I always enjoy a good campfire especially in colder weather. I can see the Tarnaby's potential in my outdoor adventures.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Storrs Pond - Hanover, New Hampshire - one day and night, high temperature 60 F (15.5 C) low 35 (1.6 C) calm, clear and dry
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My final outing with the Tarnaby was again to a nearby recreational area. It was a short hike of 6 miles (10 km) to a lean-to shelter. Some of the less traveled trails took a minor beating between ice and wind storms. Lucky for the trail and myself the Tarnaby was close at hand. The Tarnaby helped to quickly tidy things up. I experimented with the Tarnaby packed inside or strapped to the outside of a small overnight pack between various stops. Both worked well, a slight edge to being strapped outside when stopping for trail work.
Once at the shelter I processed some smaller pieces of wood to start a fire. There were plenty of larger pieces left over from a previous fire to last through the night. The additional weight penalty of carrying the Tarnaby is well worth the payoff of a comforting fire at night.
The Tarnaby has performed very well for me during this test series. It has withstood all that I have put it through. In the end its quality of materials and craftsmanship remains top notch. Every strike with the Tarnaby remains solid and true. There is no movement between the handle and the ax head. The ax head has held its shape. I have sharpened it once quickly and easily returning its very sharp edge.
The Tarnaby has brought a surprisingly refreshing aspect to my backpacking, the campfire. It has been something I have only done when car camping. But gathering, chopping, building and maintaining a fire in semi-remote and secluded places has been an enjoyable experience. I knew from the start of this test series the Tarnaby would be very compatible with car camping and trail maintenance. However I was not sure how it would fit in with backpacking. Now I can see its value on very cold nights or on shorter trips where moving fast or big miles are not a concern.
This concludes my Long-Term Report. Thanks and tack to BackpackGearTest.org and Hults Bruk for the opportunity to try out the Tarnaby hatchet.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
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