When bound for a real camp, take along with you a real axe. Never take an axe which is too large and heavy for you to swing with comfort. It is also best to avoid an axe which is too light, as with such a tool you must use too much labor to cut the wood. You should select your own axe according to your strength. Pick up the axe, go through the motions of chopping and see if it feels right, if its balance suits you; hold up the axe and sight along the top of the handle as you would along the barrel of a gun to see that your handle is not warped.
Axes may be had of weight and size to suit one's taste. In New England they use short-handled axes which are not popular in the woods. The axe handles should be well seasoned, second growth hickory; a 1/4 axe has a 19-inch handle and weighs two pounds. A 1/2 axe has a 24-inch handle and weighs two and a half pounds. A 3/4 axe has a 28-inch handle and weighs three pounds. A full axe has a 36-inch handle and weighs five pounds.
Probably the best axe for camp work, when you must carry the axe on your back, is one with a 30-inch second growth hickory handle, weight about two and three-quarter pounds, or somewhere between two and three pounds. A fight axe of this kind will cut readily and effectively provided it has a slender bit; that is, that it does not sheer off too bluntly towards the cutting edge. When you look at the top of such an axe and it appears slender and not bulky, it will cut well and can be wielded by a boy and is not too light for a man (Fig. 322).
Fig. 321 shows the long-handled Hudson Bay axe used much in the North country. It is made after the tomahawk form to save weight, but the blade is broad, you notice, to give a wide cutting edge. The trouble with this axe is that it is too light for satisfactory work. Fig. 323 shows a belt axe of a modified tomahawk shape, only three of which are in existence; one was in the possession of the late Colonel Roosevelt, one in the possession of a famous English author, and one in the possession of the writer. These axes were made for the gentlemen to whom they were presented by the President of a great tool works; they are made of the best gray steel and are beautiful tools. Fig. 324 is an ordinary belt axe practically the same as those used by the Boy Scouts. When it was proposed to arm the Boy Scouts with guns, the writer put in strenuous objections and suggested belt axes in place of guns; the matter of costume and arms was finally referred to him as a committee of one. The uniform was planned after that of the Scouts of the Boy Pioneers of America, and the belt axe adopted is the same as that carried by the Scouts of the Sons of Daniel Boone, which axes are modelled after Daniel Boone's own tomahawk. Fig. 325 is a very heavy axe.