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Backpacker Magazine – August 2010

Gear Review: Tops Knives Shango Survival Knife Kit

A tough knife and a fire starter all in one.

by: Steve Howe

Tops Knives Shango Survival Knife Kit (Courtesy Photo)
Tops Knives Shango Survival Knife Kit (Courtesy Photo)

We like to say our testers know gear so well they could make their own. And now they have. This fixed-blade knife—a multitool, firestarter, and rescue signal all in one—was designed by Backpacker.com gear tester Joe Flowers. The 2.75-inch, stainless-steel blade is thick enough to use as a pry, and you can maintain its sharp edge with the included sharpener.

The magnesium-and-steel firestarter is one of the best we’ve tested; a 10-year-old Scout was able to light a fire. Use the blade to flake off some magnesium (included) and the butt-end scraping edge to produce a spray of sparks from the steel striker. (See it in action at backpacker.com/shango.) The Shango comes with a slotted handle (for lashing), plastic sheath, mini-biner, neck loop, and whistle. Downside: The flat handle needs cord wrapping (not included) for comfort during high-pressure cutting or prying. $119; 6.2 oz.; topsknives.com

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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
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Hmm...
Mar 25, 2013

MountainWarrior,

I hope you have the Sandvik 12c20 version- Gerber is using inferior steels lately. Also, a Stainless Mora Heavy Duty is pretty much the same knife for $20... so I could never justify buying a "Gerbage"...

Star Star Star Star Star
Hmm...
Mar 25, 2013

MountainWarrior,

I hope you have the Sandvik 12c20 version- Gerber is using inferior steels lately. Also, a Stainless Mora Heavy Duty is pretty much the same knife for $20... so I could never justify buying a "Gerbage"...

Steve S.
Aug 13, 2012

I have a wide variety of knives. I collect them for their beauty and their usefulness. I have had sixty dollar knives that couldn't cut warm butter and ten dollar knives that are exceptionally sharp. Some are just for their beauty. I carry on my belt (when I am not working in my office environment a Helle Viking knife. It is a great knife. I just purchased a Mora Bushcraft knife which I have started putting through its paces. So far it has performed exemplary. I make sure that I never find myself in a situation where I don't have a blade. I keep a small folder in my "never leave home without me" pouch. I have not been a boy scout for a very long time, but the motto be prepared has always struck me as a good way to live my life.

As for the tops knife listed above, there are a number of web sites that have demonstrations on how to tie paracord for an attractive use of the cordage on the handle. I have large hands, and I often use paracord to make a knife handle fit better in my hand.

As for the cost, never buy direct from the manufacturer. Their prices are artificially high in an effort to get the consumer to use an authorized dealer. That is how the manufacturer stays in business. I don't begrudge them that. I buy a lot of items from Amazon. I have a subscription to Amazon prime, and with most of my items I receive them within two days of placing the order.

Boodan
Apr 08, 2012

Yea IRS an expensive knife and I'm not cheap I'm just realistic. The knife isn't worth it. So keep your comments to yourself little ballads bitch.

Joseph M.
Mar 29, 2012

$119 from the manufacturer for that knife is not unreasonable, as a matter of fact, it's a down right bargain compared to some.

For me, a knife is an investment, not a toy, and I invest everything I have into any decent knife I purchase, everything including my own life. That's because a knife is a tool, and for me it's more of a survival tool than anything, even if the only think that says survival on my resume is Boy Scouts, which is what I am, a Boy Scout nearing his Eagle with a love for the woods, knives, fire, and survival skills beyond pitching a tent or carrying a backpack.

When I buy a knife that costs more than $10 (lowest you can buy a quality knife for, i.e. Mora), I do research for weeks on how the knife performs, what it's made of, even the secret to the manufacturers/designers heat treatment if I can find it, and then I talk to people who own the knife in question, sometimes people trust the knife so much they will loan it out to help me make my choice. If you want to learn everything you can about a knife, it's designer, the current manufacturer, and anything else, ask people who know. A good place to do this is bladeforums.com, they have some of the nicest, most helpful and most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to knives, and some of the designers even chime in.

Bottom line, don't knock it till you try it, and I guarantee that $119 is the MSRP, not what you'll pay if you look for a lower price. My bet is you can find it for under $50 brand new from a dealer.

Joey
Mar 12, 2012

If you can't affort it and you are just mad because you found out that you couldn't pay for it with food stamps then just keep your mouth shut. You get what you pay for and TOPS knives are worth the money. I dare say that the ones complaining have only some "Boy Scout" survival on their resume. Great work on the knife Joe. Keep up the good work Backpacker.com!

Joey
Mar 12, 2012

If you can't affort it and you are just mad because you found out that you couldn't pay for it with food stamps then just keep your mouth shut. You get what you pay for and TOPS knives are worth the money. I dare say that the ones complaining have only some "Boy Scout" survival on their resume. Great work on the knife Joe. Keep up the good work Backpacker.com!

Ed
Nov 28, 2011

Ya really have to say its pricey. Here is one that not only gives you a fire startewr but water filter and para cord. check out the knife kit at the bottom of the page at http://www.rockymountainsurvival.com/Survival_Kits.html Much nicer setup at half the money.

Steve C.
Jul 11, 2011

Ok guys, yes it is expensive. But manufacturing a product for public sale involves more than grabbing a piece of metal from your shed and scraping it against a rock.

If this knife is a good buy based on quality, then the actual knife owners themselves will be the best sales force ever, because there is something about a superior quality knife that people love to look at, talk about, hold, use and show off.

Sandy
Jul 08, 2011

Crying over spending $100 for a knife? If I put money into anything to do with survival, it would certainly be a knife. While I have some decent, sharp Mora knives that cost under $20, I also have a knife and its smaller companion that cost near $300. What would I take with me into a survival situation, given the choice? Hands down, the $300 pair of knives. To each his own.

JCH
Jul 06, 2011

I was looking for a more expensive lite knife and I bot a Cold Steel that weights 2.7oz. and cost $20 bucks and has won the a award from Field and Stream in 2010 the Pendleton Lite Hunter.

Jay
Jul 05, 2011

wow there are a lot of broke readers out there...that's why they read backpacker online rather that get a subscription...That price is from the manufacturer, dealer costs are considerably less. I'm a TOPS fan for life. Its just money that you end up spending anyway.

Eric
Apr 30, 2011

It may be a nice knife,but I have what I need for considerably less money. Becker BK-7, and a variety of Mora knives, plus a few multitools.

SgtGrunt0311
Jan 20, 2011

Is it self sharpening too!??? lol

Anonymous
Nov 29, 2010

Don't be retards its around $75 from dealers.

WayneB.
Nov 16, 2010

Seriously Joe, $119? I realize that you have to recoup your R&D, but not off of every knife. A bead chain and plastic sheath to boot! Cut the price in half, throw in the para-cord for the handle wrap and neckcord and put it in a Kydex sheath. You won't get rich off of the first two, but you'll sell ten times as many.

JD
Oct 15, 2010

Some cheap people on this string. You'wish you paid $119 dollars when your cheap Wal Mart knife breaks and your stuck out in the middle of nowhere. TOPS makes great knives!

Matt
Sep 30, 2010

The only reason you can price this knife soooo high is because there is a market for it. Blame it on the idiots who will actually buy this knife for $119!!! What is your motive here, to help people with an innovative idea or to rip enough suckers off so you can pay for your "over priced" car and add to the problem? Get real...

Ed
Sep 06, 2010

I love backpacker.com but,

$119?!?! Get real!!!

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