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Backpacker Magazine – October 2010

Survival: In The Wild with...Only a Knife

Long before satellite beacons, humans thrived in the wild with the best technology available: a knife. And with that one tool and some basic knowledge, they fulfilled all life-sustaining needs.

by: The Backpacker Editors

Learn these basic knife skills and survive almost anything.
Learn these basic knife skills and survive almost anything.
Start a fire by using this simple technique.
Start a fire by using this simple technique.
Create two shelters with basic knife skills.
Create two shelters with basic knife skills.
The Swedish Mora Knife (Courtesy)
The Swedish Mora Knife (Courtesy)

Flagstaff, Arizona–based survival expert Tony Nester helps today’s tech-dependent humans get back to their primal roots with his popular “Knife Only” course. “A knifeless man is a lifeless man,” Nester says. Here is how to cut, slice, and pry your way out of any mess with these survival fundamentals.




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Survive by staying found! Pack a copy of "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon) and a compass! Before you go, be sure to calibrate your compass to the declination at the hiking trail. Go to: http://magnetic-declination.com Day-hikes can be the most dangerous because hikers usually carry minimal supplies never expecting to spend the night outdoors. The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. Learn to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. A compass doesn't need satellites, a signal, or batteries and works in all types of weather, day or night, but you need to know how to use it and "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon) makes learning how to use a compass easy. Learn how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. Anyone wanting to feel more confident about orienting ourselves outdoors can learn from this book. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart."

Trekking in Nepal
Mar 01, 2013

Acute Trek Pvt Ltd http://www.trekshimalaya.com an indoor outdoor trekking and tours operative takes you that further way to guarantee you has an unforgettable http://www.adventurestrekking.com adventure that you have been dream of. Whether you are looking for a quiet gateway, a memorable http://www.hikingsinnepal.blogspot.com outing with a family or an exciting nature adventure. We offer you with the best progressive information and itinerary leading focused and modified as per your requirements. Acute trek is an attempt to encourage Nepal to the exterior world while striving to defend an aged tradition as well as conserve the surroundings for generation to come.

Annapurna Trekking a moment for hiking acclimatizing in Manang A spiritual welcome gate in Chame, Manang Mount Dhaulagiri view from Muktinath. This is a "teahouse trek," meaning there are villages with lodges and restaurants to eat and stay in along the entire route. You are expected to eat breakfast and dinner in the same lodge where you are spending the night. Prices of rooms are seemingly inexpensive because of this (100-300Rs for a double) - lodge owners tend to make more money on the food and drinks they are selling you than on the room where you are sleeping. The amazing suspension bridge over Kali Gandaki River Enjoying the beautiful moments at Thorung La Pass at 5416mGhorepani Trek during winter Annapurna Trekking. Manang and Mustang are of the higher elevations and are predominantly Tibetan Buddhist. The Manang people are Gurung (not Tibetan descent) and are very proud of their unique cultural heritage and merging of lower land Gurung and Tibetan cultural influences. People of Mustang identify themselves a lot closer with Tibet and the Mustang region has actually been part of Tibet in history. The upper sub-alpine steppe environment harbors some of the rare snow leopards and blue sheep. Conservation area has 100 varieties of orchids and some of the richest temperate rhododendron forest in the world. For thousands of years people of diverse ethnic backgrounds have scratched a livelihood out of its steep hillsides. Other areas of the region protect bird species such as the multi-coloured Impeyan, kokla, blood pheasant amongst a multitude of other birds, butterflies, insects adventure trekking in Annapurna.

Everest Trekking offers you great chance to have unique experience. The Everest area is situated in eastern Nepal. It is protected by the Sagarmatha National Park, established in 1976 with an area of 1148 square kilometers. Mt Everest trekking route is justifiably the most famous of all trekking, mountain regions. We descend to the Imja Khola and continue to the villages of Pangboche, Pheriche before finally approaching the Khumbu Glacier. Located in eastern Nepal, the Everest region offers a wide range of trekking experiences. The park is largely composed of the rugged terrain, gorges of the high Himalayas. From the Everest Base Camp trek(listed as one of the ten best trips in the world) to treks in remote semi-wilderness areas, there is much to choose from. Khumbu is also the home of the legendary Sherpas. Altitude ranges from 2845 meters above sea level to the top of the world, Mt. Everest at 8848 meters. Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, which is known in Nepal as "Sagarmatha" the goddess mother of the world, has long been the greatest attraction for nature lovers, trekkers alike. Solukhumbu, the heartland of the Everest Region, an integral part of the Himalayan mystique, thus provides a welcome destination for these adventurer trekking in Everest.

Langtang Trekking is closer to Kathmandu and a little less populated than other trekking destinations in Nepal. Tamang ethnic group is major pioneer in Short Langtang trekking valley region. The lake is also sacred to Buddhists. Langtang trek can be done round the year. This High and isolated region is inhabited by Tamangs whose religious practices, language and dress are much more similar to those of Tibet than to the traditions of their cousins in the Middle Hills. Nepal Langtang hiking area is protected as a National park of Nepal and it has high numbers of white Himalayan peaks.Which take you to the Langtang valley that lies just south of the Tibetan Border. Slender Nepal Langtang trek valley is has touched to Tibet but the trek area is still far away from Tibetan Plateau. In Nepal Langtang Trekking you will explore the wonderful attractiveness of the land with its hurrying rivers and lush jungles. Langtang Trekking starts from the village of Dunche, walking on the open and fertile valley. Nepal's national flower, the Rhododendron looks amazing with the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and photo opportunities on this trekking are endless. Nepal Langtang trekking or hike offers you the chance to discover the villages, hiking small peaks and explore glaciers at contentedy low altitudes.The pristine Gompa at Kyanjin is set in midst of the Himalayas and the views from all directions are phenomenal adventure trekking in Langtang.

Peak Climbing in Nepal a total of 33 peaks of up to 6600 meters elevation, have been designated as Nepal Peak Climbing. Known as the Himalayan Kingdom, Nepal has 1310 mountains which are over 5648 meters to 8848m above sea level. This makes our country very popular for mountaineers. Title may propose that these peaks are easier to attempt than expedition peaks but this is not unavoidably true. Some, in fact, are technically very challenging and have foiled the efforts of some highly knowledgeable mountaineers. We shall willingly send you the rules and system of the Nepal Mountaineering association upon appeal. If you are interested venture into the snow and ice regions of the high Himalayas, please contact us for detailed information. Since 1978, the Nepal Mountaineering Association has had the authority to issue climbing permits for peaks. Climbing in Nepal is a charming dream for many mountain climbers, as peak climbing, first, became well-liked in Nepal when Mt. Everest was scale by Late Tenzing Norgey and Sir Edmond Hillary in 1953. These peaks has been entrust to the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) who issue permits and over see the rule of peak climb as a adventure trekking in Nepal.

Everest Base Camp Trek is a classic Himalayan trek with unbelievable views and rewards. The treks to Everest base camp pass through a set of small villages, allow you to get a feel for the area and its peoples. The picturesque opportunity is limitless thus enable you to incarcerate, relive your knowledge upon your revisit home. This also includes unbelievable views of south west face of the colossal Mt. Everest. Khumbu area is the home of Mt Everest 8848m the world highest mountain, as well as several other giant. The Everest Base Camp trek is a tough defy, not to be taken lightly with commonly well grade paths but some tougher sections along the Khumbu glacier. We also have the chance to ascend Kala Pattar (5648m) from where we can get some overwhelming views of the Himalayan giants which factually numb your senses with panting respect that beholds the eye, makes up for the lung-bursting climb that took you up there. Everest Base Camp Trek, Kalapattar. Inspiring views comprise Khumbu Glacier, Everest, Nuptse, alpine scrub, junipers of the Sherpa region, the pine forests, rhododendron flowers of the valleys. We always plan our Everest Base Camp Trek to allow sufficient time to ascend Kalapattar, the main screening point for Everest. Everest is one of the world most overwhelming sights, an Everest base camp wonderful escapade. The trek also includes the wonderful hike to Khumbu Glacier, home of Everest Base Camp, the ice fall. Most of our clients would agree that this is the highlight of their knowledge, a necessary ingredient to the adventure trekking.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek is the major peaks of the western portion of the great Annapurna Himalaya, Annapurna South, Annapurna Fang, Annapurna, Ganagapurna, Annapurna 3 and Machhapuchhare and including Annapurna first 8091 meters are arranged almost exactly in a circle about 10 miles in diameter with a deep glacier enclosed field at the center. Annapurna Base Camp is a high glacial basin lying north of Pokhara. This magnificent amphitheatre is called a "sanctuary" because of its natural serenity, beauty and the divine presence of the Hindu goddesses Annapurna and Gangapurna. From this glacier basin, known as the Annapurna base camp trek (Annapurna Sanctuary Trek), the Modi Khola way south in a narrow ravine fully 12 thousand ft. deep. This isolated cirque of peaks can only be approached by one route, a deep gorge that carves into the fortress of mountains between Machhapuchhre and Hiunchuli. Many of the peaks are over 7000m, including the famous twin-peaked Machapuchare, as well as Annapurna I and lll, Annapurna South, Gangapurna and Glacier Dome. Further south, the ravine opens up into a wide and fruitful valley, the domain of the Gurungs. The center and upper portions of Modi Khola offer some of the best short routes for trekking in Nepal and the valley is situated so that these treks can be easily joint with treks into the Kali Gandaki region to the west. The majestic scenery makes the trek to Annapurna Base Camp (4130m), commonly known as Annapurna Sanctuary, one of the most popular treks in Nepal. The middle and upper portions of Modi Khola offer some of the best short trekking routes in Nepal, and the valley is located so that these treks can be easily combined with treks into the Kali Gandaki region to the west. Mt. Annapurna, one of the most magnificent peaks in the world for the adventure trekking in the beginning.

Upper Mustang Trekking conjure up images of barren ochre scenery, remote other-worldliness, trekking begins from Jomsom to Kagbeni, the entry point of upper Mustang area. Mustang region was remote, forbidden to travellers until 1991. Trek to the kingdom of Mustang, lying behind the main mountain range is in the rain shadow area, out into the plateau, north of Jomsom, Pokhara. Follow the banks of Kaligandaki upstream to get to Lo-Mangthang, the capital of the Mustang. Mustang area is also known as the Last Forbidden Kingdom, since the region was restricted for outsiders until Nepal Government announce the opening of the restricted areas in October 1991. Its a objective appreciated in the imaginations of expert travelers, who prefer to accept a trip with a difference into the kind of lands which cannot be encountered anywhere else in the world. There is also strict control in obtaining a special permit from the department of colonization to protect their tradition from external authority as well as to protect their environment. In the capital of Lo-Manthang an old walled town, the local life goes on undisturbed and untouched as it has for centuries. The numerous gompas, prayers flags perform their eternal ritual. Trip into Mustang is bound to be one of self-realization inspired by the all-encompassing teaching of Tibetan Buddhism. Mustang is or the people of Mustang call themselves Lobas, they have their own King or Tribe leader, Jigme Palbar Bista. After Nepal was declared a republic in 2007, the Nepal Government took back the official identification of the Bista as the Mustangi King. Strong cold winds sweep through its narrow canyons, over its plains, attrition has left its mark in strange, magnificent rock formations. However, the people there still respect him as their King or tribe leader. Bista also grant spectators the trekkers upon request for the adventure trekking.

Helicopter Tour in Nepal provides you a chance to relax around the magnificence of scenery and Now in Nepal offers helicopter tour service in different beautiful spots which are ever best renowned in the world and knowledge exciting flying investigations of Nepal sprinkled goals from comfort of a helicopter around Mount Everest, Annapurna and Langtang Himalayan range. Nepal Helicopter Tour is getting day by day most popular alternative means of adventure journey in mountains and other remote destinations. Helicopter Service in Nepal have excellent reputations, customers satisfaction and proven records for dependable emergency and rescue flight operations, many types, categories of helicopters. The pilots are very skill professionals with thousands of flying hours skill in Nepal. The Himalayan range in the north has more than 100 peaks that are over 6000 meters, of which 8 summits are among the world's tallest, of course, the one and only Mt. Everest is not to be missed. Helicopter Tour in Nepal is admired selection for the mountain lovers who has undersized time period but wants to observe such massive Himalaya range with Helicopter Sightseeing tour in Nepal. To add more to your itinerary, you have the Kathmandu Valley with its ancient cities, temples and monasteries, and the Pokhara valley with its beautiful lake side town nestled in the lap of the Himalayas. The Nepal Helicopter tour is single option to observe the numerous dramatic mountain including mt. Everest (8848m.) within few hours and minutes. The Everest Helicopter Sightseeing Tour in Nepal is most liked flight tour. Visit to all these areas can be managed within a couple of days with out any obstacles like adventure trekking.

Adventure Trekking in the southern part of the Asia continent there lays a tiny rectangular kingdom squeezed between two hugely populated countries, China to the north and India to the south, this country is Nepal a world of its own. Adventure Trekking is a type of tourism, involving exploration or travel to remote, exotic and possibly hostile areas. Adventure Trekking in Nepal is rapidly growing in popularity, as tourists seek different kinds of vacations. The land of contrast is presumably the exact way to define the scenery of Nepal for you will find maximum world highest peaks high high up above the clouds determined for the gods above. Straight, active, attractive learning experience adventure Trekking in Nepal that engross the whole person, have real adventure. Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Daulagiri, Annapurna and many more are there for the offering for mountain-lovers, adventurers and travelers. According to the Nepal based trekking trade Association, adventure trekking may be any tourist movement, including two of the following three gears a physical activity, a cultural share or interaction and engagement with scenery. The interest in official adventure trek has also increased as more expert trekking websites emerge offering formerly niche locations, sports. Adventure trek activities, skill, usually involving close communication, within a group of expert adventure trekking organizer setting your marvelous plan in Nepal.

Kathmandu Pokhra Tour is an exclusive tour package specially designed for all level travelers. Kathmandu Pokhara Tour package is effortless tour alternative for Nepal visitors. This tour package vacation the historically significant and ethnically rich capital (Kathmandu) of Nepal and the most stunning city of world by the nature, Pokhara. Mountain museum and world peace stupa are another charming of Pokhara tour. Package tour to Kathmandu Pokhara is design to discover highlighted areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara valley. Nepal is the country which is socially and geographically different that’s why we powerfully recommend you discover Nepal once in life time. It is hard to explore all Nepal in one Nepal tours trip in this way we design this trip to show you the highlights of Nepal especially in Kathmandu, Pokhara. Trekking to Annapurna base camp, Ghorepani, Jomsom, Mustang, Annapurna panorama, is area of starts from this city and escapade outdoor sports like paragliding, ultralight flights, boating, mountain biking, rafting begin from here. Kathmandu is city of temples, monasteries. After arrival in Nepal, Kathmandu Pokhara tour begin with sightseeing around Kathmandu valley with Kathmandu Dharbar Squire, Patan Dharbar Squire, Pashupatinath Temple, Money Temple, Boudhanath Stupa then we fly or drive to Pokhara. During this tour you will visit historical places, temples and deferential area of Kathmandu and fly or drive to Pokhara. Pokhara is believe as the paradise on earth. Attractive mountains from Pokhara city in the north side, clean, wide lakes close to hotel, green forest, welcoming, warm locals make your vacation more significant, some foreigner are adventure trekking in Annapurna.

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Scott
Feb 04, 2013

"It is incredibly difficult for a seasoned professional under impossibly perfect conditions to creata a fire using this technigue."

Not true. My scout troop does a survival campout every other fall, and they've made fire by friction many times. It's not easy, and requires a lot of prep and a lot of work and perserverance, but it can be done. It's probably my last-resort method, simply because of the amount of calories you burn doing it.

Also, yeah, you might not need a fire for cooking or warmth, but having a fire provides a psychological boost, and having the right attitude is often the deciding factor in whether or not one survives.

runbot
Feb 02, 2013

Remember Kirk & Spock never beamed down to a planet's surface without their PHASER & COMMUNICATOR! Personally, I ALWAYS carry a 5" foldout knife, lithium 123 flashlight, cell, celox packet, NAA .22 mini revolver, and on a neck chain, a $ 50 bill, tool logic firestarter/whistle and photon micro light. So light, you can always carry this stuff and never even think abouth it till you need them.

Jim Practical
Feb 02, 2013

URBAN MYTH - I love you guys at backpacker but you should stop perpetuating the urban myth of starting a fire with 2 sticks. It is incredibly difficult for a seasoned professional under impossibly perfect conditions to creata a fire using this technigue. Even using a string bow for rotation and a bearing pad on top of the rotating stick for extra pressure it is very difficult. There are videos of people trying this technique with an electric power drill and still not being able to start a fire!

Fire is actually a low priority for field survival for 1 or 2 days until rescue that us casual readers of your magazine should probably not waste the time, effort and frustration of attempting your nearly impossibly technigue.

I have survived a emergency February over night in the White Mtns and I never opened my knife once. But I would have quickly traded it for the 3 oz Mylar space blanket that saved my life!

meanolddog
Feb 02, 2013

Tired of Backpacker using stories as advertising and not real stories or a real transfer of information and look at all the Factory Reps who posted which just supports my comment

AZ Hiker
Feb 02, 2013

Short hikes can be the most dangerous because no matter how well they know the trail, many people never consider that they might end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors or waiting for medical help --and so they hike without the essentials. Felix! the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart (Amazon) teaches essential day-hiking skills, items to pack, how to navigate your way with and without a map or compass, and how to get rescued. Learn to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. A compass doesn't need batteries and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. This book is for all ages. Parents, friends, and children can learn together. It's a fast, easy read that could save your life and will definitely make your hike more safe and enjoyable!

Ian S.
Feb 01, 2013

When you're ready to upgrade to a more serious bushcraft knife, take a look at Koster Knives. Here's his website: www.kosterknives.com
He uses 3V steel and it is amazing. I have 5 of his knives already and am on the list for 2 more.

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HikeCyclePhoto
Nov 14, 2012

ESEE-4 and Mora Bushcraft Triflex are my main knives, pluse ESEE Izula (EDC), Cold Steel Pendleton Mini-Hunter, SAK Pioneer are in the mix. Also, my hiking pack has on it a 15-inch Sven Saw and an Estwing Sportsmen's ax.

Answer to previous post, a kukri does lots of things a small blade can't, but it can't perform the precision cutting that the Mora, Izula and Mini-Hunter can. Always carry at least two knives, and carry the most "go-to" model on you, in case you and your pack become separated.

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AverageAdventurer
Aug 28, 2012

Extrema Ratio Anyone?

Anonymous
Aug 03, 2012

The idea of not purifying water is a total fallacy. The former Commandant of Survival for the entire Navy is against it. Makes sense since one of his friends died on a weekend trip from not purifying.
Always use chemical purification or boil unless you have absolutely no way!
Even if you just get a little stomach virus the diarrhea and sweating that will likely result would dehydrate you all over again

jamalj
Aug 01, 2012

I like the kabar the most for myself. Works great and is only $40. http://bestmachete.net/what-are-the-best-survival-knives/ said it was good as well.

NW Bushman
Jun 26, 2012

A survival knife, it is said, is the one you have with you. This is true, however plan ahead & put a 8-9" fixed blade knife in your pack or pocket & you'll be equipped for a survival situation. Having said that, skills are far more important than the size, type, price of knife. A SAK or Leatherman will do most things a fixed blade knife can do in the hands of a skilled person. Folders do have their weaknesses tho. Knowledge & skills!

Andy
Jun 08, 2012

From 25 years in the service in the RMC SBS, the one knife I carry is a Kukri. A big knife can do everything little knife can, but not vise versa.

Justin Case
Apr 26, 2012

I like the ESEE knives, these are built by a guy who teaches a survival and escape school to civilians, LE, and military. I own the ESEE 6 which has a 6 inch blade and is made of 1095 steel. Perfect for batoning, hacking, chopping, etc. I spent the extra money on this, versus a becker, because it has a lifetime no questions asked warranty. It also comes with micarta scales and a great sheath.

Outdoor Scout Leader
Apr 08, 2012

Opinions on knives are as varied as the orifices at the base of our spine. Everyone has one and as long as it works when needed, no complaints. While the quality of knives vary, if you don't have the knowledge even the most expensive knife will be of little use.

Joe
Mar 28, 2012

I have seen quite a few comments about which knives are better, and to be honest, even the el cheapo knife from wally world is better than nothing, but that doesn't mean it'll help. I personally carry 3 knives with me out in the woods, only one is part of my every day carry set.

The first one, and the only one that makes it anywhere other than the sticks, is my $8 china made folder, and I don't care what people say, for what your gonna use a folder for, you do not need it to cost $90 and be made of 1095, all it's gonna do is cut tape, maybe some paracord if you get bored and a pizza box if you get really bored, and, it's cheap to replace.

The second is a Victorinox swiss army knife, it has scissors, a 2" blade, a 1" blade, an awl, a toothpick, pair of tweezers, bottle opener, can opener, 2 sizes of flat head drivers, a phillips head driver, and it's a nice bright red.

The third varies depending on where I go and what I can bring based on whether it's being modded or not, and the 2 options there are a Ka-Bar/Becker BK 2, which is a 5" drop point, 1/4" fixed blade knife made of 1095 CroVan (a variant of classic 1095), or it's younger brother, the new BK 16, which is also a drop point, although much thinner than the tank known as a BK 2, it's only a fraction of an inch shorter, both of them are beautiful bush crafting knives, and they only cost about $64-$65 shipped, the biggest difference in them, other than the size, is the sheath, which is why the BK 16 comes in at the same price as the BK 2, less knife, more sheath.

Now, all that being said, I just told you every knife I own, all of them are great at what they do, but out of all 4, the only 2 I would trust in any sort of survival situation are the Beckers. Yes you can baton with a folder, but there is no need to baton wood that's only 3" wide, heck, my wrist is that big, and the only ones that would not break or bend while batoning would be the Beckers.

Now, I know a lot of people don't like batoning for one reason or another, but the Beckers are also zero-sabre ground, even though they say flat (flat ground versions are on there way though, Ka-Bar got a new laser etch machine, so now they don't need the flat area to mark them), from the factory so they are easier to maintain because you only have one bevel instead of two.

Ok, that's my rant, if you have a personal issue with it then learn to deal with it, my rants are based on my opinion and the facts I gather, nothing more.

Your's in Scouting,
Joseph - Life Scout.

dave
Mar 01, 2012

be sure to practice the recommended skills before you go out-experts who demonstrate great looking ways to build a shelter or make a fire have done those things over and over-practice, practice, practice. You can have the best equipment, but it is useless if you don't know how to use it. Learn how to correctly sharpen a knife or you will be sorry about the results.

J
Feb 28, 2012

Are you people for real? Check the header on this page- its Backpacker.com. If you venture further than a mile from your vehicle, you don't carry K-bars, screwdriver- filled Swiss Army crap, or anything else designed for newbs, scouts, or the profoundly apocalyse- ready. At best, a single, quality blade that you can open with one hand. At worst, a tiny multi-tool. I don't care how many knives you may have- if you have your sh*t together, you only need one

J
Feb 28, 2012

Are you people for real? Check the header on this page- its Backpacker.com. If you venture further than a mile from your vehicle, you don't carry K-bars, screwdriver- filled Swiss Army crap, or anything else designed for newbs, scouts, or the profoundly apocalyse- ready. At best, a single, quality blade that you can open with one hand. At worst, a tiny multi-tool. I don't care how many knives you may have- if you have your sh*t together, you only need one

Camproughingit
Feb 26, 2012

Using the rocks from the fire for heat is a good trick but don't give in to the temptation to use those nice smooth river rocks you find in the river or creek bed. Rocks that have been immersed in water can hold moisture inside that when heated can expand causing them to crack, split, or even burst creating a potential hazzard.

IL_Scouter
Feb 26, 2012

I can certainly say I've had more than my fair share of cutlery over the years. The 3 that stand out (and that I still carry) is my USMC K-Bar. Big, heavy, gets things done, bult like a tank, holds an edge like nothing else. The downside is that it's a sheath knife, something the BSA frowns on, and its size. The other sheath knife I've been using for about 10 years in the field (not with the Scouts unfortunately) is a Mora. Cody Lundin has made this model pretty popular again. Great edge on it and super lightweight. My general "go-to" for daily use as well as backpacking trips is the Swiss Army Classic. That little thing weighs nothing and stays sharp pretty well. Typically I just cut sticks to make "fuzz sticks", trim threads, cut 550 cord, and other general housekeeping tasks with it. It never let me down and I barely know it's there. Your mileage may vary :)

Anon
Feb 26, 2012

Benchmade model 581 BK. Great folder, excellent steel and the axis-assist is just icing on the cake. My go to for just about everything

meanolddog
Feb 26, 2012

What can I say, I have over 50 knives in a box here near my desk. From my 1960's Boy Scout Knife to my Marine Corps issued K-Bar. But there are four that I reach for over and over again. #1 is my Victorinox Classic with it three blades. Next is the Victorinox Work Champ which if it only had a magnifying glass and a Fish Scaler would be perfect. I have written to Victorinox about that but heard nothing back. Most importantly, It has a locking blade with slip proof handle, Pliers, Saw, File, Can opener two sizes of Philip Heads, etc. It has less tools than the famous but heavy regular Big Champ. I've used it to fix a couple of stoves on the trail as well as fishing reels and bicycle issues.. On Occasion I carry a Dozier Survial Knife which is a bit smaller than a K-Bar. And lastly my now 30 year old Buck Folder purchased at the Buck plant in El Cajon before the Demoncrats drove them out of the State, which has skinned out many an animal and fish as well as cut wood for supports to hiking sticks and has a nice thick blade whose back is perfect for striking with a flint stick and it just feels good in my hand. Most modern knives I find to be, well, pretty and stealthy looing and bad looking but they just don't stand up to the rigors of the trail and years of use like the four I mentioned have all of which are older than 15 years.

bushcraft bill
Feb 25, 2012

old hickory butchers knife . cheap great quality strong used for decades !

bushcraft bill
Feb 25, 2012

old hickory butchers knife . cheap great quality strong used for decades !

bushcraft bill
Feb 25, 2012

old hickory butchers knife . cheap great quality strong used for decades !

bushcraft bill
Feb 25, 2012

old hickory butchers knife . cheap great quality strong used for decades !

don/cda7420
Feb 24, 2012

i have found any knife is useful if you use it personally i make my own so i know what i have is good for what i use it for most people cant do this so look around for a good review and also the price carbon steel blade with full tang is best easy to sharpen but rust learn how to use it safely

tom whisenhunt
Feb 24, 2012

Just a little comment. Mora knives are not "full tang", they are called either "hidden tang, or "through tang" or something indicating the blade steel extends up into the handle. A "full tang" knife has metal that extends to the full profile of the handle. In other words, your hand comes in contact with the metal all the way around the handle.

ken
Feb 24, 2012

Best knife I have is my old scuba diving knife... sturdy, wide blade so I can dig a cathole with it, holds an edge and nicest thing is the end of the handle is a flat 1 1/8`` inch oval of metal which lets me pound stakes or even small nails with it... bought it back in the 1970`s... for $15.

Asa Foley
Feb 24, 2012

In the 60s I just carried a Swiss Army and was fine. Over the years I have carried many big working knives that I have liked allot. Now that I am old and weight matters, I am back to a Swiss Army Fireman folder and it works great without the weight. I still have a drawer full of expensive big knives that will some day be handed down to my son and daughter for their back woods trips.

Ken
Feb 24, 2012

Want to start a fire but the wood is damp...

Squirt some Purel hand sanitizer or any hand sanitizer on it... it`s minimum 62% alcohol in a gel base -- so it sticks and burns slow -- with a blue flame... enough time to hopefully give you the time to build on it...

bigsilk
Feb 24, 2012

Aside from the knife, a mention was made of fire, that Vaseline soaked cotton balls OR a butane lighter work. Not one without the other. You can't light wet wood with a butane lighter, nor a Vaseline-soaked cotton ball with a mag/flint starter. They work only together. Believe it.

As for my knives? A Victorinox Swiss Army Champion Plus in the pack/tent and my trusty J. Russell 35-243 I keep at my belt on the trail. The first does everything okay, the other does one thing quite well.

Both are shave-sharp, and I can use them both blindfolded.

Ric
Feb 24, 2012

Travis mentioned his $600 Tom Brown Tacker knife noting you get what you pay for! I would add that sometimes you get less than you pay for and $600 for a knife is probably such a case.. The good news is if you look for these knives now they are available from many sources from half to one third of that outragous price! I would also that to dismiss absolutely everything made in China as always junk is increasingly becoming a false notion as it was 50-60 years ago regarding products manufactured in Japan.

Bawb
Feb 24, 2012

I was always under the impression that only the expensive Mora knives were full tang and the $20-$50 were not.

James
Jan 04, 2012

I live and work in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I have a fishing vest in both trucks I take to work. Both vesta are filled with the same survival, first aid and fire starting gear. If I leave the truck I put on the vest - you can't use your gear if you don't have it with you.

SEAN
Dec 22, 2011

les stroud uses a leatherman wave

John
Nov 11, 2011

I have found the standard Ka-bar G.I. knife to be the most practical for my field use. Why? It is affordable, of good steel (1095), constructed with full, albeit tapered, tang; the handle requires no screws (this is important in my view), the blade is heavy enough to baton well and still hold an edge - and can be sharpened easily in the field. No, it's not a whiz-bang knife and does weigh more than a popsicle stick, but it can be had for $50 and is made in America. Yeah, I discriminate at that level for sure.
I have lots of knives but the Ka-bar is what goes with me into the deep, off-trail boonies. Yes, I am a lightweight backpacker. But I don't try to obtain weight savings by running with insufficient tools. And I don't spend more on a piece of gear than is absolutely necessary.

HYOH.

John

Joe Puckett
Nov 03, 2011

Can't beat the USAF pilot's survival knife (stay with a good brand such as Ontario, K-Bar, etc.) Mine, made by Camillus, is more than 30 years old and still as rough, tough & ready as the day I bought it. Carried it as a Navy grunt doc with the Marines, eschewing the issued K-Bar. Back it up with my trusty Victorinox Tinker and I'm good to go in any situation requiring a good blade.

JungleDoctor
Oct 27, 2011

I've been in the jungles of the Amazon, rescue missions to Haiti, etc. I carry a KA-BAR BK-7 combat knife which also comes with a smaller utility knife. It would be the one knife I would carry anywhere in the world.

Ceekay1
Oct 15, 2011

A lot of the aforementioned knives are good some even great. However like many of you I believe that youget what you pay for, so I will never own or carry a cheap, made in China knife. To me a good all-around knife needs to have a blade that is long enough atleast 5 in.), and thick enough (3/16), and have a full tang. The best knife I own, and the one I would take over any other is my Entrek. Ray Ennis makes a serious knife capable of anything you can throw at it. 100% USA made quality, with an awesome warranty!

Clay
Oct 11, 2011

I 100% agree with the Russell line of knives, they are made strong and on the boat knife for example the blade leads your knuckles which I feel is tremendously valuable in a survival knife.

Also I now refuse to buy a Gerber product now that they have Bear Grylis attached to their products. He is a fake, has been shown to be a fake and I would hate to rely on anything from him.

Cheers

Dead Guy #1
Oct 11, 2011

I died yesterday

Dead Guy #1
Oct 11, 2011

I died yesterday

Travis
Oct 09, 2011

I began my outdoor interests and love when I was eleven with the Boy Scouts. I am over 40 now and continue to go into the wilderness every chance I get. Like several other readers I have had several knives. But, I have found you get what you pay for. About six years ago I bought a Tom Brown Tracker I. It costs about $600.00 but, with the money we spend on our equipment to keep us alive, comfortable and safe this price is well worth it. I was taught years ago to never go without a knife because it is the best tool you can have. This knife also comes with a fire starter and reaaly does have a full tang. Great quality steel and holds an edge forever. Heavy duty and can even be used as a hammer.

John W. Safranek
Oct 09, 2011

Rob Bayley's knife, the ORIGINAL 'Bear Grylls' knife, does NOT have 'a hollow handle that is welded to the handle' as reader/commenter 'Doug' (above) states in his post, nor is it made from 'cheap steel.' The original Bayley knife is truly a quality knife, even if viewed as over-priced by many. Doug's post clearly refers to the 'Gerber' knife (as he states), which now carries the title 'Bear Grylls.' This Chinese-made knife may very well be as he describes.

Anyone who pays $24.95 for a knife, or purchases a 'Chinese-made' knife (including one with a Sweedish-sounding logo) for survival will need to be very talented indeed. When the knife quickly breaks under typical field conditions, they will have to either creatively 'reshape' the broken parts into functional cutting tools, and/or fashion a new knife by napping some flint. Perhaps there will soon be another Backpacker article entitled, "How to Make a Survival Situation Worse."

A knife is a tool, but the 'brain' of the 'tool-maker,' wielded by a HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS, should be able to discern and critically evaluate quality, as in Doug's relevant post. I am a Swiss-trained Watchmaker, and use quality tools every day, in my hand and in my shop, to perform incredibly minute tasks. Believe me when I tell you, when you hold and use a superbly-made, quality tool you will KNOW this - both kinesthetically and proprioceptively (look these words up if you don't know them).

You can find such a knife (used), if you are lucky, on Ebay or at a trade mart, or you can have one custom made. Either way, choose wisely what you will rely on, and use your best 'tool,' your Homo Sapiens Sapiens brain, to see past your own worst internal enemy (EGO), and your own worst external enemy - the marketing hype of ANY 'TV Show,' web-based 'how-to' article, or 'Chinese-made' anything.

That second 'SAPIENS' part will work if you will get out of its way.

James
Oct 09, 2011

It is stupid to have all these other knife threads as the article is about the Mora. I just want to correct an error on BPM part. The handle on the Mora shown CAN break if abused. The tang is a hidden tang as as such several of the modern Mora line ONLY have a 1/3 or 1/2 length tang, not a full tang. BPM needs to do their own research as their readers know more about many of the products than they do.

Doug
Oct 09, 2011

The reason anyone who knows anything about knives will ridicule the Bear Grylles knives is that they have a hollow handle that is welded or otherwise attached to the blade but is not part of the same piece of steel so it is just waiting to break off at exactly the wrong time. Also it is made from cheap steel that won't keep an edge. (Actually, as far as I know all Gerber knives are made from low end steel - 440A - although they do seem to treat it well to get at least somewhat acceptable performance from that steel. 440A is not to be confused with 440C which is pretty good steel though not really top end.)

What you need in a knife is good steel (there are trade-offs regarding what that means but there are steels that are much better overall than others) and a full or at least 3/4 tang (in a fixed blade). (Tang is the extension of the blade that is inside the handle.) In a knife large enough for some heavy work you want some kind of shield to keep your hand from slipping on the blade (classic Moras, leatherman and swiss army all lack that) and you want the knife to be light and small enough that you actually have it with you when you need it. Not only do people vary in their preferences, individuals will take different knives under different conditions. I usually take the orange leatherman (forget the name) for the useful tools and to have a smaller more controllable blade, and either a Spiderco Endura folder (4" blade, less than 4 oz) or a Benchmade Rant fixed blade, which is quite similar to the legendary Fallkniven S1 at a much lower price. (Fallkniven uses an expensive multi-steel laminate which is probably not really necessary given the high quality steels and processes that are currently available.)

Piolet
Oct 09, 2011

Several comments:
Since I was about 13, I've owned a DH Russell #1 Original Canadian Belt Knife and despite my constant efforts to find something better for general use, I keep coming back to this knife (there are various models, and the one I have currently is the stainless blade, stag handle, flat grind version). I used it in the Scouts, then in the Army, and subsequently in the rest of my outdoors life. It's reasonably priced, and does everything but very heavy chopping very well (I've done everything from "camp chores," to skinning/butchering a wild boar with this knife). Available through dealers associated with Grohmann knives (Grohmannknives.com).

I also have a Mora knife, and this knife is quite similar to the DH Russell in general utility, and very sturdy and useful. It's cheaper than the DH Russell, and there's no reason not to pick this knife as your companion.

I also have a stag handled Randall Mod 26 Pathfinder, that is very similar in blade proportions to the DH Russell and the Mora. It's an absolutely great knife, and completely dependable, but frankly the price and the wait to get one makes it a luxury item. If you're focused on simply dependability and reliability, go with the DH Russell (did I mention I'm prone to the DH Russell #1?) or the Mora.

If you have the need for a somewhat bigger and more "impressive" knife, I highly recommend the Chris Reeve Knives Green Beret Model in 5.5" or their Pacific 6" model. Both are outstanding knives, but just a bit more bulky and heavy than either the DH Russell or the Mora.

When it comes to a knife for bushwhacking and general heavy chopping, for most of my adult life I've been using a Gurkha Khukri that I was issued in the army in South East Asia. It's suburb for general chopping and anything for which you require a substantial and heavy knife. The obvious downside is the weight and bulkiness (so I leave it home, unless I know I'll absolutely need it.) If you're interested in a Khukri, I'd recommend the knives from Himalayan Imports (himalayan-imports.com). They're extremely robust and well finished, and I've found the folks at the company to be reasonable to deal with.

Jason
Oct 08, 2011

I am sure big time knife enthusiasts will ridicule me but I have been carrying a Gerber Bear Grylles ultimate survival knife and a Gerber Octane multitool on my backpacking trips. I wanted a fixed blade and for $40 it comes with a firesteel, whistle and sharpener you can't beat it


Joe
Oct 08, 2011

As a guide, thru hiker and bushcrafter I agree the mora is the best tool to have in the wilderness hands down. Ihave hiked over 6000 miles and guided over a 1000 guest in the wilderness and no knife can carve a bow drill better than my mora. I love my cold steel bushman and some other knives but the mora is the one that ends up in my kit when I head to the high country. Wildernessrocks@gmail.com

bill
Oct 08, 2011

a knife saved my life in vietnam, i never go anywhere without one!!!!!

Whiskey
Oct 07, 2011

The Mora is wonderful, but if I am only going to have one knife, it needs to be my ESEE 5. Its heavy, but it will handle everything the Mora can, and I can also use to to chop with. It even has a bowdrill pivot in the handle.

Anonymous
Oct 07, 2011

The old adage of best survival knife is the one you have with you, So if you always have your ... e.g. swiss army ... in your pocket, then that may very well be the one knife you have when the unexpected occurs. So, learn to use it and keep it sharp.

ROBERT
Oct 07, 2011

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:
For those of you questioning how this article relates to back packing, think about this ---
Do you ALWAYS stay within your camp site when you set up your tent?
What if you walk away, even a few steps, and break a leg and can't get back to your camp site?
Extreme? .... Not really.
Even when day hiking with a group, and in a familiar area, I routinely wear a military "canteen" [utility] belt. On that belt are a couple of M-16 ammo pouches and at least a 1qt canteen. One ammo pouch carries a personal first aid kit, and the other carries a survival kit. On the belt or in my pocket is a SHARP knife.
It's just too easy to run into unexpected trouble! Most times it is very minor; once in a while it is not.
Don't dismiss this article. You might just need it some time. [And the paper can always be used to start a fire, or used for a wipe..... <|;^) ]

AZ Hiker
Oct 07, 2011

A good knife is essential and so is packing at least 3 ways to start a fire. A good resource for knowing what to pack just incase that afternoon hike turns into an overnight adventure is this book available on Amazon: Felix the Sugarglider Be Safe. Hike Smart. In addition to survival items (for your vehicle and your backpack) and how to use them, this book teaches finding direction using a map and compass, without a map or compass, and by using the sun and stars. It also teaches how to pay more attention to your surroundings so you dont get lost. This book is for adults and children of adults who want to keep their parents safe on roadtrips and on the trail;-)

Alex
Oct 07, 2011

Victorinox Swiss Army Hiker for everyday and, for real outdoors, SOG Seal Pup.

Jason W.
Oct 07, 2011

The Leatherman (any Leatherman) is the only knife you'll ever need.

Fred Martin
Oct 07, 2011

Best time proven all around survival knife on the planet
Marine KA-BAR For Back Packing, Hunting, and General Survival under all extreme circumstances

KA-BAR, The Legend
On December 9, 1942, after the start of World War II, KA-BAR submitted a fighting knife to the United States Marine Corps in hopes that it would become general issue to that branch of the military. Working in conjunction with the Marine Quartermaster Department a design was devised and soon production was under way on a new and improved fighting / utility knife for the Marines. As the war escalated, the demand for these knives was so great that the KA-BAR factory alone could not keep up. The government assigned several knife companies to create similar knives as supplemental pieces for those serving the War. KA-BAR’s wartime production totaled more than 1 million. The KA-BAR knives became so well recognized for their quality and so abundant in number that “Kabar” became the name by which many referred to this knife pattern, regardless of whether the knife was manufactured at the KA-BAR facility.

These knives were depended upon to perform daily tasks such as pounding tent stakes, driving nails, opening ration cans and digging foxholes, not to mention defending lives.

Growing so in popularity and earning only the greatest respect, the KA-BAR was adopted by not only the Marines, but also the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Underwater Demolition Teams. Years after World War II, many KA-BARS were unofficially reactivated in the Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom conflicts.

SteveP
Oct 07, 2011

You might want to point out that acorns contain high levels of tannic acid, and must be boiled before eating them. A very bad bellyache will result if you eat them raw!

mr.tumnes
Sep 12, 2011

i fell off a cliff broke 17 bones and a compound break in my lift forearm... and lost my favorite kife. bad day :(

meanolddog
Jul 30, 2011

I own about 34 different knives in various shapes and sizes. My favorite for Backpacking, as in a nothing spectacular walk in the woods I take my Victorinox Swiss Classic. For extended trips with fishing invovled I carry the Victorinox Work Champ, I've repaired a number of bulky stoves, Fishing reels, Eyeglasses and Packs with this one. If I'm going cross Country; Mountain or Desert, I did carry a K-Bar QuarterMaster which I just replaced with a K-Bar Bull Dozier #1275, on Hunting Trips I carry a Randall Huntsman I bought in 1968, but for all around every day type trip nothing beats the two Victorninox knives like the Classic and the "Work Champ" which is different than the regular "Champ". The Work Champ has a "locking main Blade" especially needed when cleaning gunky Trout, Wood Saw, Metal File, Pliers which work! Scissors, Philips Head large & Small, Cork Screw, Toothpick Twezzers, Reamer, etc. If it had a Magnifying Glass and a Dehooker it would be perfect.. For Fire I carry three ways on every trip. WaterProof Match Safe, Magnifying glass, and one of those Magnesium Shave bars. And if I have the time, I can make one of the Phillipino Friction tubes to get a spark..That's something you all should look into..Some guy makes and sells them on eBay for as much as $60. and they only cost pennies to make..

luke
Jul 22, 2011

You should always carry a knife while in the wilds I carry
Two a small drop point and probably the best all around
Ever made the marine kbar

GearHeadGuy
Jun 10, 2011

To answer Sarah's question. It's possible to get a fire going in under 5 minutes with a bow drill, if you've practiced alot. It took me years (thats right years) to learn how to light a fire with a bow drill, but once you know how you'll never be without a way to start a fire.
My advice is to start with the bow drill then, once you've got that move on to trying the hand drill (the method in the article). Bow drill will require a shorter, thicker spindle (about 6in. long & 1in. diameter), a bow (about arm's length), a piece of cord (I use para cord), & a small piece of wood that can be used as a socket to apply pressure to the drill.

Check out the article on wikipedia, its fairly acurate. Also make sure your fireboard & spindle are the same type of wood.

Good Luck!!

bushcraftsam
Apr 23, 2011

I always have a folding knife or two about my person and I wouldn't dream of heading into any rural area without a good fixed blade of 4-5 inches and a compass.

As to being within easy walking distance to shelter, etc. I live in the N.C. Piedmont and thirty years ago, while hunting on forested family land in Anson County, in the last hours of daylight, I came down with a very sudden and intense fever. I became disoriented in the woods and soon found I was quite lost, an embarrassing and potently deadly situation, as the temperature dropped from the balmy fifties toward the twenties.

Wearing only a light cotton jacket and ball cap, no gloves or scarf, I had tried for a couple of hours to find my way out of the hilly terrain I was in, to a road or neighboring farm house but as the sun dropped below the unseen horizon, I realized I was stuck for the night. Using the Swiss Army Knife with saw that I had carried since my days in the army as a medic, I cut branches from small evergreens and made a 'bed' under a sheltering spruce tree, which provided a thick layer of fallen needles to aid in keeping me off the ground. I took several asprins with the last of my water and crawled into the pile to wait out the dark. I lit no fire, even though I had a working zippo in my pocket, because I feared starting a wildfire and all I wanted to do was get warm and sleep.

I spent the night and a good part of the next morning under that tree, more passed out than sleeping, sweating out whatever bug had taken me down so quickly. By about noon, I felt good enough to try to move out and by two o'clock I found a road by following the right-of-way of some large power lines that ran through the farm I had wandered onto. It was only another hour or so until I walked back to where I had left my car and safety. By the next day, I felt completely recovered, with no sign of fever or other illness.

My point is, even in areas you feel completely safe in, THINGS HAPPEN and you may not be able to leave the area whenever you like so don't let obstinate pride keep you from carrying the proper tools into whatever place you might have a fancy to visit. They may just save your life or the life of someone with you.

bushcraftsam
Apr 23, 2011

I always have a folding knife or two about my person and I wouldn't dream of heading into any rural area without a good fixed blade of 4-5 inches and a compass.

As to being within easy walking distance to shelter, etc. I live in the N.C. Piedmont and thirty years ago, while hunting on forested family land in Anson County, in the last hours of daylight, I came down with a very sudden and intense fever. I became disoriented in the woods and soon found I was quite lost, an embarrassing and potently deadly situation, as the temperature dropped from the balmy fifties toward the twenties.

Wearing only a light cotton jacket and ball cap, no gloves or scarf, I had tried for a couple of hours to find my way out of the hilly terrain I was in, to a road or neighboring farm house but as the sun dropped below the unseen horizon, I realized I was stuck for the night. Using the Swiss Army Knife with saw that I had carried since my days in the army as a medic, I cut branches from small evergreens and made a 'bed' under a sheltering spruce tree, which provided a thick layer of fallen needles to aid in keeping me off the ground. I took several asprins with the last of my water and crawled into the pile to wait out the dark. I lit no fire, even though I had a working zippo in my pocket, because I feared starting a wildfire and all I wanted to do was get warm and sleep.

I spent the night and a good part of the next morning under that tree, more passed out than sleeping, sweating out whatever bug had taken me down so quickly. By about noon, I felt good enough to try to move out and by two o'clock I found a road by following the right-of-way of some large power lines that ran through the farm I had wandered onto. It was only another hour or so until I walked back to where I had left my car and safety. By the next day, I felt completely recovered, with no sign of fever or other illness.

My point is, even in areas you feel completely safe in, THINGS HAPPEN and you may not be able to leave the area whenever you like so don't let obstinate pride keep you from carrying the proper tools into whatever place you might have a fancy to visit. They may just save your life or the life of someone with you.

SoCalXD
Jan 20, 2011

Any knife over a 5" blade makes a better chopping and splitting tool than a utility cutting tool, and I find little need for a chopping tool in the South West. I prefer a 3.5"-4" folder, as they are a heck of a lot easier to carry and the blade length allows for greater tip and edge control over a longer blade. Kershaw and SOG are my preference for lower cost factory blades, with the Kershaw Blur SV30 drop point being my all time fave... fast opening, SOLID lockup, great feel and great steel.

If you are going into the field, make sure and carry a fire and first-aid kit as well. Trying to start a fire at sunset after traveling over hill & dale in an emergency situation with low tech SUCKS! Trying to stop bleeding or secure a laceration with cauterization SUCKS as well!

Shane
Jan 15, 2011

My knife of choice is either a heavy duty ( and expensive) four inch folder, or a full hidden tang 7-inch knife. The bigger knife will easily chop down firewood and shelter material, and would do very well as a self defense tool. The smaller one will also do pretty well, but lacks the heft.
Check out some very well made knives at cold steel.com.
A word of warning though, the Cold Steel knives are not nearly as inexpensive as the Frosts knives - for the most part.

BushSniper
Nov 29, 2010

Arguing about a good survival/outdoor knife is like a Christian trying to convert and Athiest. It just goes round after round. My advice would be to pick one that fits your needs and take it out on camping/hiking/backpacking trips and see how it suits you and fits your needs in real life outdoor adventures. I have a Gerber survival knife but I cant say that I really use it. I use my Leatherman multi-tool all the time though, its a great outdoor/survival tool. And if some hill jack decided I have a pertty mouth (as states in an earlier post), then I guess I will have to rinse his mouth out with my 45 Long Colt that is well worth its extra weight when trekking around my home wilderness in Alaska.

Tony Corgliano
Nov 19, 2010

It's always interesting to read an EXPERTS take on a knife to be used as a wlderness survival tool. Most people are armchair experts. I live in Alaska and actually do live in the wilderness. I would hate to be caught in the bush with a 3.5 inch thin bladed knife and use it to build shelters and such. No thanks.I prefer something a bit more substaintial.

Protected Survivor
Nov 19, 2010

You will wish you had a good knife out on the trail when some unwashed, chapped lipped, missing tooth hill jack who is checking out his weed patch decides you have a "purty" mouth.

-Joe Flowers
Nov 16, 2010

If anyone here is going to attempt a hand drill rather than a bow drill, clap your hands together both before and after you do it. Clapping them really hard gets blood close to the skin and helps prevent blisters

Larry the Hiker Guy
Nov 16, 2010

My 2 cents..

I carry a Vaseline soaked cotton balls (carefully melt Vaseline on low heat in a pot, add just enough cotton balls to soa up the Vaseline, then individually wrap each ball in a square of aliminium foil)and Sparkie firestarter which can be used with only one hand, or even your mouth if both hands are incapacitated (try that with a butane lighter or flint and steel).

If caught without either, I can start a fire with a bow drill in under 30 seconds (after assembling the drill, bow and fireboard). Practice at home first, this is not a skill you want to learn in an emergency.

I also carry a K-Bar Becker Necker. Less than 3oz, and I wrap 10 ft of reflective Kelty Triptease Lightline around the handle openings, which help me find it if I drop it in the dark and useful in a survival situation.

You can also use the knife to make a small X-shaped slit in one of the Vaseline balls, pull out a tuft of cotton, and light to use as a makeshift candle.

Roarmeister
Nov 12, 2010

Starting a fire from a fireboard and spindle may be a "simple" technique to you but in reality it can be a complex thing to master. From getting the right type of woods, to the right shape of the tip to the length of the spindle, how you brace yourself, learning how to culture a flame from a few embers, etc. I've done it but it wasn't easy and that was under ideal conditions.

inyourbackyard
Nov 07, 2010

maybe i should watch the video 1st but i dont think i need to, to talk about the merits of carrying a knife(and the last thing i use a knife for is striking a spark, not only will you have a heck of a time getting it right but alot of places the right type of rock lets say flint, or sometype of quartz even pyrite.

But what about touching a 9v battery to steel wool? ive started many a fire useing just those two things and moisture dosnt really matter too much.

If your carrrying a "pair of heavy duty scissors"(scissors are just 2 knives hooked at the blade) in any survival situation you'd probably end up taking them apart getting 2 knives, the only problem with scissors is the metal used to make them is made only with the idea that there will be no pressure coming form the scissors as you cut fabric or what have you. so i can take my knife and a rock and cut down a tree with a 5 inch diameter its going to take some time but my knife can withstand the repeated hits of the rock or being thrown at fish(great feeling and great dinner when i successfully stuck a fish with a thrown knife.) Scissors just dont match up to the amount of usage a knife has.

just this summer i was out bouldering and while downclimbing a hold broke off and i broke my ancle only falling a few feet but my right foot landed in a hole between some rocks i had a 3 mile hike out and i was only with a chick who couldnt really help me, if i wouldnt have had a knife how would i have cut down small trees and made crutches it was still hell hiking out but i would have been crawling if i only have a pair of heavy duty scissors.
i could list a hundred different uses you will find for a knife on the trail. and when i say knife im not talking about the $10 one you buy from the store, knives are just like everything else you pretty much get what you paid for. if you expect any semblance of a sharp edge you need to spend a little bit a cash id say 1st tier is 30-50. i dont count cheapo knives as a catagory just because they dull and break so easily.

i have a question about butane lighters what altitude do they stop working? i always have matches too but since i live in the blue mt the AT is literally in my back yard so i have only done eastern camping trips we dont have to worry about bear oddly enough the coyote and bob cat population has seem to have risen as well as the mountain lion i have seen all in the last year a mt lion is pretty amazing seeing this huge cat prance around

buy a good knife you'll need it!

steve
Nov 06, 2010

just remember,two of the tallest buildings in america were brought down be small metal blades!

Jeff Matthews
Nov 06, 2010

Only a fool would go into the woods without a blade, or not knowing how to use one. The most important single tool you can carry. I love the Mora, and all Scandi blades in general. Perfect steel for fire starting.

Babettezz
Nov 06, 2010

A knive is ridiculous as a ten essential to backpackers as you carry your shelter and warmth and unless you need to slice cheese a knive is silly. Having said that, the 'knive' zealotry is so entrenched in otherwise smart people, that I'll bet everyone will disagree with me but I challenge you to tell me what you use a knife for when backpacking. I do believe in a heavy duty scissors tho. Cheers

Bartholomew Brown
Nov 06, 2010

I don't see what any of these techniques have to do with a knife.

sc0rpi0n
Nov 06, 2010

Great article! It's always interesting to see what folks are using in the "one knife" discussion/debate. The Mora is a good blade, but I tend to carry a little bigger when I head into the bush. I've blogged about my blades of choice (Gerber BMF, Buck 184, others) and the accouterment I prefer to bring along with my blade if space allows. If you're interested, check it out:

http://mcpgearblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/how-to-personal-survival-kit-creation.html

http://mcpgearblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/gear-gerber-bmf-long-term-test.html

dropkick
Nov 06, 2010

I always have a knife, I'm never without one. I've always considered it a daily necessity.

But then I grew up in farm country, and except for my time in the Army, and a few years spent working down South, I've never lived further than a couple hours walk from a National or State Forest (I'm from Montana).

And just as the Boy Scouts taught me, I can start a fire by sparking my knife blade, or with a bow-drill (much easier, faster and more efficent than rotating the drill by hand).

However, I carry at least 2 Bic lighters every time I go into the woods. They're much faster and easier than using friction to start a fire. And they work even if they're wet.

As far as using my knife in a Flint and Steel combo, that's my last option, as finding a rock that will work can often be difficult, if not impossible, and if I carry one for this use, I might as well be carrying my lighters.


Preston
Nov 05, 2010

In response to Sara's question, it often takes a very long time to get an ember going, even up to 40 minutes, an hour, or more. Even when it doesn't take this long, you will still get a pretty good workout.

Sara M,
Nov 05, 2010

Just how long should it take to create an ember using the spindle and fireboard method? (Or even the hot ash for that matter?) My 9 y/o son and I tried this yesterday with no success after reading the article in the magazine. Help! I have to impress him somehow. :)

Jason W.
Nov 05, 2010

Resist the temptation to use nice, round river rock for your foot warmer. They retain water which can cause the rock to crack and explode when heated by the fire.

Joe Flowers
Nov 05, 2010

Moras are also pretty light too. The hidden tang on this one does not go to the back. The wooden handle has a complete hidden tang (that means that the metal goes all the way to the back of the handle).

That particular model pictures weighs 3.8 ounces.
The more common 4 inch wood handled model weighs 2.7 ouces, and is the one you see on Dual Survival worn by Cody Lundin

TNTimberWolf
Oct 25, 2010

Good to see someone going back to the basics. If I might inject one thing about the fire drill. Make a blunt round end instead of a pencil point one. More surface to surface contact makes more friction and so more heat faster.
Lookin' forward to seeing more 'back to basics' in the future.

Old_Bushcrafter
Oct 22, 2010

Thanks, BPM. It's refreshing to see this article. For the most part, very nicely done. I'd add that these skills (particularly fire by friction) require a lot of practice to get right. They may be simple, but are anything but easy. The ferrocerium spark rod is a great idea, but learn to use it first...just the same as any outdoor skill.
The football size rocks hold their heat longer than the softball sized ones most people try...bigger is better. Excellent tip about saving energy by fasting, not forraging. The giant bed/nest dimensions are spot on. Nicely done all round.
The only real error I saw (the Frosts Mora is NOT a full tang knife) is trivial and can be easily overlooked.
Oh, and one last thing. If you live in the Rocky Mountains like me, you'll quickly find out that butane lighters don't want to work at altitude. Stick with the spark rod and lifeboat matches.
Thanks again --

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