How Does a Pocket Chainsaw Compare to a Hatchet?

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So, you’re going out into the woods, want to cut some wood for your needs when you are camping. Which is better for you, a hatchet or pocket chainsaw? How does a pocket chainsaw compare to a hatchet?

Pocket Chainsaw vs. Hatchet – A Side-by-Side Comparison

We wanted to do a side-by-side comparison with pocket chainsaws and hatches. We will be looking at some of the most important aspects that are going to make a difference to you.


So, one of the most important points to keep in mind has to do with overall portability. One of the reasons you are using a small hatchet or a compact pocket chainsaw is because they are both fairly portable. However, which one of these is more portable? Is either a hatched or pocket chainsaw more portable than the other? We would say so.

Hatchets tend to not be all that large or heavy, and yes, they do usually come with a pouch of sorts, although it will only cover the hatchet head. With a hatchet, there is really nothing that can be compacted or folded down more than it already is. A good hatchet is going to come with a certain weight. While they are not super heavy, good ones won’t be super lightweight.

On the other hand, pocket chainsaws are much lighter. Moreover, they have a chain that can be bundled up into a small package, and everything, including the loop handles. can be stored neatly in a small pouch that can be attached to a backpack or even to your pants. Therefore, when it comes down to it, a pocket chainsaw is much more portable and ideal for transportation than a hatchet. They are lighter and way more compact.

Size of Job That Can be Performed

Something else which you need to think about is what you will be using the hatchet or pocket chainsaw for. Now, hatchets usually only come in one standard size, with not all that much deviation from that size, so that is one thing to keep in mind. On the other hand, pocket chainsaws can be as short as 20 inches or as long as 48 inches, so there are several options available.

What you also need to think about is the size of job you want to complete with the item in question. On one hand, your average hatchet is only intended for smaller jobs, things like splitting small pieces of wood, de-branching larger branches and tree stems, and maybe even for cutting down a really small tree. However, other than that, a hatchet really cannot cut down full trees or saw apart full logs. You’d be working on it forever.

When it comes to the pocket chainsaw, the shorter options will only be ideal for sawing smaller logs and trees, but remember that there are also much longer options to go with. If you plan on sawing a part a large log or tree stem, a good 4-foot pocket chainsaw is what you will need. The point here is that you can complete some pretty large sawing jobs with a pocket chainsaw, jobs which hatchets just cannot handle.

Speed and Accuracy

The next point of consideration is the speed at which you can get through a log or piece of wood with either of these tools. A hatched will eventually get you through any piece of wood, but that slow and repetitive swinging can get very tiring, plus you usually end up taking out small chunks only. Plus, there is the issue that with a hatchet, you have to strike in the right place every single time. If you don’t hit your mark, you are simply wasting time and energy. No, hatchets are not the fastest option around.

That being said, if you are looking for speed and accuracy, it is most likely the pocket chainsaw that you will want to go with. For one, with a pocket chainsaw, once you have that initial cut made along the diameter, there is no aiming involved. The chain will simply guide itself, so there’s no missing the mark and wasting time. Moreover, unlike with a hatched, with a pocket chainsaw, every single movement you make, that back and forth motion, works to cut the wood. This is unlike with a hatchet, where only the downstroke actually cuts. Simply put, a pocket chainsaw is much faster and more accurate to use.

Size and Job Restrictions

Above we discussed how pocket chainsaws can generally handle much larger logs than hatchets, at least if you plan on sawing it apart in a decent amount of time. If you have a very large log, a pocket chainsaw is only so long, and will only be able to handle up to a certain size. While pocket chainsaws are better than hatchets for large jobs, there is a certain limit here.

Because a hatchet is not constrained by a chain, or in other words, a maximum length, you can technically work on massive pieces of wood with a hatchet. Sure, it will take forever to complete, but you are not hindered by the length of the chain.

There is also the fact that pocket chainsaws are meant for one thing only — sawing apart tree stems and logs. However, a good hatchet can do so much more. With a hatchet, you can cut firewood, kill fish, defend yourself in the event of an emergency, and even use it as a hammer.


There you have it — the 4 main differences between a hatchet and a pocket chainsaw. The bottom line is that if you need something to cut through good-size logs fast and with accuracy, plus ease, it’s a pocket chainsaw you want to go for. However, hatchets have more tasks they can be used for.

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