Whether used for splitting firewood or bringing down that shaky tree, an ax is a winter necessity. We found the best. To test them out, we took the axes out to the Catskill Mountains to clear white oak, paper birch, blue spruce, and white ash trees that had been felled by Hurricane Sandy. We then tested each ax's splitting ability, comparing the build, balance, and feel. Here are our favorites.
Fiskars X25 Ax
Thanks to its pin-straight, 28-inch handle, this ax is easy to aim. Mis-hits, however, sting. No matter: The head's wedge made quick work of splitting oak into firewood and almost never stuck. The ax is designed for splitting, though, so don't expect to clear-cut the backyard with it. [$50; fiskars.com]