Updated: Mar 2
All serious adventurers know that a camp axe or a large bushcraft knife (sometimes both) are critical for any deep journey into the bush. Anyone that has had to carry either knows what a pain in the A$$ it is to lug them around.
When it comes to lightweight camping, the goal is to carry minimal gear with maximum function. With this as my focus, I’ve spent the better part of my adult life systematically stripping down my pack, reducing weight and improving functionality where I could. Easy enough for a tent or a sleeping bag, where innovations in materials and design have led to some major weight saving break-throughs.
Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing a primary chopper, like the wheel, it seems there is little room for innovation. They are big and heavy because they need to be in order to properly fulfill their intended function.
So what is a minimalist bushcrafter to do if they wish to continue to reduce their pack when the most important tool(s) they carry are also the largest and the heaviest?... You triage... You make the hard choice... Large knife or camp axe?
If you are anything like me, you will understand how difficult a decision this is to make. Dispensing of either is reminiscent of the film "Sophie's Choice," wherein she is tasked with choosing between her children. Unable to come to a definitive conclusion, I did what any reasonable person would do, I consorted the wisdom of the internet. What I discovered was shocking to say the least.
In all of the edged tool forums and discussion boards around the globe, there are few topics that are as hotly contested as the ideological war between the "big chopping knife ” vs “camp axe.” Much like the Democratic and Republican parties of this country, both have their place and function and both certainly have their legions of supporters who are willing to savagely defend the supremacy of their choice. As I quietly watched this debate rage on for years, it occurred to me that there is an inherent flaw in the debate due to certain beliefs surrounding knives/axes that have remained unchallenged for eons.
The debate between big knife and small axe is currently predicated upon the notion that knives and axes, in their current configurations, represent an evolutionary pinnacle of design upon which little improvement (if any) can be made. The aforementioned "configuration" consisting primarily of an in-line blade extending proximally from a handle (knife,) or chopping head attached to a lever arm (axe.)
As a result of this longstanding, albeit misguided, adherence to a stunted ideology regarding blade/axe design, there has been little to no design evolution in this particular sector of the survival gear market since the first stone blades and axes emerged on the scene tens of thousands of years ago.
However, what if there was a middle road offering an undiscovered third option?... What if there was one tool that could boast the functional versatility of a knife, and the awesome chopping power of an axe, with none of the dead weight of either?... Well, that would be a formidable tool indeed... It was this question that set me on a 5-year odyssey that would ultimately lead to the discovery of the Axxis. My “ah-ha” moment occurred when I began to consider the shared origin of both the knife and the axe. Before these two tools diverged into separate evolutionary paths, they shared a common progenitor. This ancestor was the stone-age hand axe.
Often made out of flint, they could be chipped to produce razor-sharp edges for slicing and cutting, or they could be lashed to wooden hafts in order to make axes. Prehistoric man, in his ignorance it would seem, stumbled upon genius with the perfected simplicity of the stone hand axe. With a single tool he could skin, chop, and process game, as well as fell and split timber for shelter construction and fire.
With this as a starting point I began to see ways that modern technology could be used to improve upon this stone age design while simultaneously reducing the complexity and weight of the average outdoorsman's primary chopper. However, discovery is often a messy process and I definitely got my hands sticky on this one. In order to find something new, I first had to let go of everything I had been taught, about how knives and axes are supposed to look and function. Far easier said than done. The “unrefined” nature of some of my earlier designs and prototypes reflect my struggles as I endeavored to escape the gravity of traditional blade ideology.
Not having come from a traditional blade design background, nor being a trained blade smith/blacksmith myself, it was easier for me to consider design possibilities that may have otherwise been difficult to see. Furthermore, since I lack a shop of my own, and have no preference or loyalty toward any one type of blade production style/technique, I was far less limited when it came to considering the design and manufacturing possibilities. And, eventually, perseverance paid off. The Axxis came to me and the rest, as they say, is history.
Boasting all the functional versatility of a large bush knife, and the awesome chopping power of an axe, with none of the dead weight of either. Outdoor minimalists rejoice! For the first time ever there is finally a solution – the Axxis hand axe.