Somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina there is a guy that is putting out probably the finest axes known to man. Yes, I know that people will argue that Gränsford Bruk makes the greatest axes and they are truly fantastic works of art but Hoffman in my opinion puts out a superior product. Product is probably a horrible word to use.. work of art is more like it.
I have been around a lot of axes and hatchets in my life and used quite a few of them but this past week I was able to see a Hoffman and a Gränsford Bruk in person. I am looking to purchase a new small backpacking hatchet so I went looking for someone that had them. After seeing them side by side they are both truly fantastic works of art. But.. Hoffman just had a feeling of a superior hatchet and the fit and finish and attention to detail are absolutely second to none. So now I have to wait until December 23rd and rush to get on the Hoffman site to hopefully get one of the few Mini Campers he lists at 7:00 PM. I hear they go incredibly fast. Wish me luck..
Liam releases a different model every Monday at 7PM EST on his website in limited quantity up to a maximum of 10. This will be my first time to try and get one of his axes and if I don’t make it in time it looks like I may have to wait months until the Mini Camper is available again. That should tell you how much people want a Hoffman axe.
Now that I have found my backpacking/camping axe I thought to myself.. I am going to do a search on the web of “Best Backpacking Axes”. I did and the results were astonishing to say the least and it made me think about the way I do my previews and reviews on this page. I read article after article after article.. and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading. It wasn’t just one article or review it was EVERY SINGLE ONE I READ. I have to tell you I am proud of the way I do my reviews and reading these articles solidified that. I am going to give you one example of “Best Backpacking Axes”. Here we go.
I read the article and thought to myself.. is this guy for real? How is he saying these 6 axes are the BEST axes out there for backpacking. Then I scrolled down the the tiny tiny print at the bottom of his page and this is what it said “****** is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.” Now his article makes total sense. He’s getting paid to give you an opinion that is so far from impartial it isn’t funny.
When I think of “THE BEST” I think these are actually the best. And when I think of the best I think of superior quality, workmanship and performance. Here are some descriptions he listed in his reviews of “THE BEST” backpacking axes. (1) Made In One Piece (2) Axe And Multi-Tool Combo (3) Lacquered Leather Grip (4) Potential To Chip After A Couple Of Hard Uses (5) Difficult to get good chopping power (6) Composite Handle (7) Edge Can Chip After A Few Uses (8) Dulls quickly and requires frequent sharpening. Honestly how can a person write a review of “THE BEST” of anything and have all those descriptions. I’ll tell you.. BECAUSE THEY ARE GETTING PAID TO SEND YOU TO AMAZON…
How I handle things.. I DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT get paid from anyone for advertising or part of a program where I get paid to give an opinion. Why?? Because it clouds your judgement and that doesn’t make for an impartial review. Ok Rant is over..
Maybe I am a gear snob but I do appreciate hand crafted quality gear and Liam Hoffman and his team does put out some incredible axes.
I do want to give you a feeling for what Liam is about and where he comes from. Below is what Liam has on his About Us page.
Growing up in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina I was accustomed to playing outside in the woods and creeks, opening up my mind to creativity. I have always been very hands-on and creative. I would make paper dye with wild violets and mold bowls from clay dug out of the creek banks. My mother and her family are very artistic and creative with design. My father is a hard working farmer. I believe I have both these attributes, and that when these traits are combined they fit perfectly the description of a blacksmith: hard work mixed with creative spirit.
I began blacksmithing in the fall of 2008 at the age of thirteen, starting out with nothing but a pit fire and a trailer hitch for an anvil. Over the last several years I’ve worked my way up by purchasing new equipment one machine at a time and learning about the craft and science of moving steel. My parents have been extremely supportive in helping me pursue my passion. They gave me a push start by building a small brake drum forge for my fourteenth birthday. My dad took on the project of building my small 200 square foot shop over a two-year period. Once this foundation was established, I had my business well under way before graduating from high school.
I always get asked how and why I got started in blacksmithing at the age I did. One might think that I saw a blacksmith at a local fair or read about it in school and ran home to try it out. There was no conscious reason why I started, it’s just called being a 13 year old boy. There is nothing else to it. Once I started heating up and hammering on steel, I knew it felt right. Only afterward did I discover what I was doing was called blacksmithing. Today I’m twenty-three years old with 10 years of experience, author of my book FORGED a Guide to Becoming a Blacksmith, and I’ve had the pleasure to teach private lessons to students from as far away as Australia. In June of 2016, I traveled NYC to appear on History Channel’s Forged in Fire. There, I forged a Kora sword and became the youngest to win Forged in Fire against ABS Master Bladesmith, Josh Smith.
I believe that high school hindered me in a way since I discovered my vocation at such a young age. Getting an education is imperative, but at the same time it felt nearly obsolete for me and it’s becoming more apparent every day how this traditional schooling isn’t working for so many folks with an aptitude for trades. I was already working 35 hours a week after school and on weekends, making both school and work life challenging. Add to that several years in Boy Scouts, achieving Eagle Scout at seventeen. I truly believe in hard work for building character. The secret to success is passion and hard work, of which I’m fortunate to have plenty for blacksmithing. Our goal today is to create a tool that your great grandfather would call quality. Made by people, not machines. We’re creating legacy tools to be passed down generation to generation.
What that tells me is Liam is passionate about what he does and his axes are hands down in my opinion the best out there. So if you want a axe that is quality look up Liam Hoffman and get in line for one of his works of art. If you want cheap rubbish axe head over to Amazon and pick one up for $19.99.
As I always say with any hand crafted gear I post about – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Liam hands down makes the greatest axe out there.