Gear Review: Tops Knives Shango Survival Knife Kit

A tough knife and a fire starter all in one.
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A tough knife and a fire starter all in one.

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