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Backpacker Magazine – June 2012

Survival Lab Knife Test--The Final Cut

Can your keychain knife hack through rope? Wood? Bone? Didn’t think so. We tested 14 packable blades to find the toughest, most versatile survival tool for hikers.

by: Ted Alvarez

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fine Edge (Photo by: Ben Fullerton)
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fine Edge (Photo by: Ben Fullerton)
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fine Edge (Photo by: Ben Fullerton)
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fine Edge (Photo by: Ben Fullerton)
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife (Photo by: Ben Fullerton)
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife (Photo by: Ben Fullerton)
Tec X Inceptra (Photo by: Ben Fullerton)
Tec X Inceptra (Photo by: Ben Fullerton)

Knife Skills: Sharpen up
Blade too dull to skin a squirrel? Need to start a fire? Use these techniques to keep an edge and make tinder.

Skill: Sharpening in the field
Worth it? Yes. A dull knife blade is both ineffective and dangerous.
Difficulty: You’ll master it in two tries.
Do it: No whetstone? Find a flat, smooth, palm-size rock (river stones are ideal) and lubricate it with spit. Set your blade at a 15-degree angle and apply gentle pressure while passing the sharp part along the stone, blade first, in a smooth arc (about 20 times per side). Focus on the middle third of the blade.
Perfect it: Remove burs by pulling the knife (flat, spine first) across your pant leg.

Skill: Carve a feather stick
Worth it? Yes, for light-up-anywhere tinder
Difficulty: Awkward at first, but the learning curve rewards quickly.
Do it: Kneel and brace an arm-length stick of juniper or pine between your chest and the ground. Grab your knife with both hands and push the blade along the stick in long strokes, peeling curls of wood. Rotate the stick so tendrils collect on all sides and whittle progressively finer slivers. Ideal spark-catchers are paper-thin.
Perfect it: Keep a shallow angle and tilt the point up or down to spiral curls precisely.

Take a Seat Standing while carving is a recipe for a bloody cut. Safer: Sit, rest your arm on your knee, and aim the blade away from your body.

Drop Dead Ted Videos DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME Learn about our test rationale and watch Ted go ninja on logs, slice up a backcountry meal, and show serious lapses in judgment Click Here.

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5

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Reader Rating: -


Star Star
Aug 09, 2014

I disagree with many of the choices on this list. The Ghost Banshee should definitely be on here.

Star Star Star Star Star
Aug 04, 2014

May 26, 2014

Yikes. No no no. Read proper ones here <a href=""></a>

May 26, 2014

This is bad. Just read the site for the best info.

May 11, 2014

Your reviews are a joke, and you should be ashamed of being such sell-outs to your advertisers. Your stock is plummeting.

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Stephen in Eastern TN
Dec 11, 2013

Nothing Bear Grylls is "the best selling survival..." ANYthing in the world. This is why I no longer subscribe,you cater WAY too much to your advertisers....worthless article :(

Oct 20, 2013

Review your testers ,I have watched you guys start to sink in certain areas ,one of the reasons I don't subscribe anymore after being a loyal reader for over 25 years

Oct 20, 2013

You highly rate garbage knives then hit me up for a subscription


Star Star Star Star Star
Oct 19, 2013

I have owned this knife for over a year.i LOVE it its never lost it edge, i use the firestill all the time at home for cookout fires.This is the best knife i have ever owned and iv had a bunch,best part is it cost under $50.

Star Star Star Star Star
Jun 05, 2013

Mora. End of story.

Star Star Star Star Star
Jun 05, 2013

Mora. End of story.

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Mar 31, 2013

Under 100$ survival knives to concider :

(at least 5" long and good non-stainless steel)

(preferably servicable and easily field sharpen)

(must be full tang, sorry no Mora on my list, but these are great knives if you dont require full tang. I do.)

Buck 119 (my choice. timeless)
Condor Bushlore (Small buisness going big)
Condor Bushcraft Basic 5"(best $-performance ratio)
Cold Steel SRK (homerun from CS)
Becker BK2 (if you dont know these, get out)
Becker BK7
Ka-Bar Fighting (of course. timeless as well)
Schrade SCHF9 (steel ? but price is great)
SOG Force (a thick beast. Tank to go)
Ontario Rat 7 (1095 steel. Great choice. Awesome)
Bokker VoxRold (China.Red flag but great reviews)
Scrap Yard SYKCO 511 (check out this knife guys)

All these knives cost between 30$ to 100$.

The Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is a entry level knife aimed at kids who like gadgets and cool stuff sub par compared to all blades above. Its the best selling knife world wide, thanks to their very effective marketing team, the Gerber global presence in every sport stores in occident and the numerous paid "reviews" in the major magazines and websites.

You just been "Grylled". Congratulation.

Mar 25, 2013

Try using what the Pro's that go into harms way every day use. Look for an NSN on the label, that means that someone else has tested it with their life on the line. Don't overlook Ontario.

Mar 19, 2013

Oh my ...

Very bad advice$ your desk chairman listened at, BP mag. I hope you guys read the comments here and copied/pasted some to your bosse$ because they will destroy your magazine in no time.

Bear Grylls ? Ok, put it on the list somewhere and cash the check. But try to look like you know some of your stuff with a solid top 3. And specify a price range.

Under 50$ - Buck 119 (period)
Under 100$ - BK2/KOA Bushcamp/Vox Rold/SOG Force
Under 200$ - Several choices. My pick: RC-6
Over 200$ - ++choices.Mine: BRKT Magnum Fox River

Bear Grylls Survival toy ?? Unless Gerber pay me, it wont be on my list ...

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Feb 24, 2013

Horrible choices and even worse example of the worst articles ever written

Feb 02, 2013

I hated the Bear Grylls blade, worst blade purchase I've ever made.

Feb 01, 2013

Wow backpacker mag with all your resources and clout you got to be kidding when you do a knife review and dont even mention ESEE knives let alone pick one up to test it.......That's crazy.......I am a complete outdoorsman and would not think about hikeing my Highlands in N.J. without my ESEE 3,4 or my IZULA......Come on backpacker gerber bear griyls knife are u kidding me

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