Unboxing the ETCH, an axe designed for back-country self-rescue

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/08/21/axed-and-answered.html

I don’t claim that bad stuff happens to me more often than others - it’s more that I find more ways to happen to bad stuff. I actually found a way to get severe hypothermia in 105°F heat.

Someone like that is just going to embed this thing into his shin.


That’ll be a corner off his totin chip.



You get a corner off yer totin’ chip for chippin’ toes.

Knew a scout who planted a hatchet in the top of his foot the day he got his chip, which meant a trip out of camp and to the ER. When he got back they seized his chip and burned it in front of him. “Fair enough.”


an integrated mechanical advantage device (4:1)

What on earth does that mean? It can be used as a lever?

Act now and receive physics at no extra charge!!*

(*just pay additional shipping, handling, and convenience fees for each applied simple machine force element included.)

Archimedes raves: “Two thumbs up! With the included lever or pulley, I can lift even more thumbs up!!!”


It means that it’s designed to be used as a lever, yes. Unlike a stick (also a lever), it has a rope cleat and because it’s made out of 83K PSI tensile strength aluminum, it can support at least one thousand pounds of payload. There’s a video on our FB page that shows how we pulled a 1000 pound Kubota tractor drive train with it. If you want to see how it works, I suggest you take a look.


DUDE! We weren’t planning on doing body embedding until v3.

Seriously. Thanks for blowing our lead. That’s just great.


When in the back-country I have never encountered anything that needed chopping. I can’t think of a single use I would have for an axe.

Uhm. Really?

Where is your back country? What do you do there?

Now in BC. I walk and camp. Take some photos.

1 Like

Are you a birder? Where in BC?

If you are dealing with fully groomed trails and roads and don’t need to forage for firewood then I can totally see why an axe is something you don’t need on those trips.

Here in Cle Elum we were still running into trail obstructions on public trails in August (it was a rough winter!). Having a tool that makes those trails usable has been pretty handy.

1 Like

Yeah, I’ll admit I’m not the most diligent trail clearer. I’ll drag stuff off where I can, but otherwise go over/under/around. I’ve never had a problem find enough firewood without an axe. I tend to cook with a stove so often don’t build a fire at all.


Welcome to BoingBoing!


Yeah, we aren’t cooking over wood as a general rule. But we do like it when we buy shitty roadside wood and need to shrink it down.

I really like having the capability of dealing with just about any kind of wood on hand. One nice side effect of having a hardened poll is that you can use an ETCH as a wedge - if you are trying to split really big crap, or stuff that has lots of knots or that’s really pitchy, you can put the ETCH into the log and then just wail on the hammer face and treat it as wedge.

It’s hardened, unlike 99% of the axes out there, it can take it.

I’ve been here since before the FIRST VelvetBlue kerfluffle.

Unfortunately BoingBoing keeps forgetting I exist and I wind up having to login with a new ID.


No worries. I’ve just become that guy who says hello to everyone who just registered. Makes me laugh, if not everyone else.


It’s better for there to be a “that guy” who runs the risk of offending veterans than to just let the new people wallow.


Uuuhhh. Your not supposed to strike a hardened steel tool against a hardened steel tool. It can spall, sending hot slivers of metal into delicate areas (eyes, balls). Or even crack. Hard = brittle. I’ve had it happen.

Proper wedges and splitting mauls, meant to be hit on the base or pall are specifically not hardened for the reason. Those that are are hardened on the cutting face and less or not hardened on the pall. A softer striking surface is far safer (and often more durable) provided you file off any mushrooming metal when you go about your maintenance.

It’s perfectly fine to use that hardened pall to wail on a wedge or other softer steel tool, or vice versa. But you shouldn’t be using a hardened striking tool to do so. And anything other than a hardened striking tool is unlikely to hit it in a way that it would have to “take”.


If you’re burning bought wood, you’re talking car camping. I can see that that would be a circumstance where an axe might be handy. But I don’t do that. The suggested use of the axe in the article was for self-rescue. That implies being far from your pickup.

It’s AR400. It’s not “hardened”, it’s toughened. It can take it.

1 Like