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What knife do you carry backpacking?
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Matt DeWitt
(tritan) - F

Locale: Midwest
Gerber knifes on 12/16/2009 18:38:33 MST Print View

AO FAST 3.0Basic Serrated Edge

these too look nice. Both by Gerber first one coming 2010.

John Fry
(m6amba) - F
Buck 327 CF on 12/17/2009 02:17:32 MST Print View

for years, I carried way too way too many, large knives on hiking trips.
I used to carry 3-4, just cause I could, now I carry 2

This knife was purchased on a whim, and I have found myself using it so much that I am thinking about getting another, in case I break this one! (the handle is not carbon fiber, its metal)
Buck 327 CF

on my last 2 night trip, my buddy carried some monster of a survival knife, and I carried this, he was able to whittle a stick with his, and cut chunks off the block of cheese he brought (yes he used it to cut the
meanwhile I was able to cut some cord, slice my dinner, whittle a stick, spread my chicken salad on crackers, take out a splinter, and cut a fraying shoelace.....the Buck 327 is fairly heavy for its size, outweighs my Kershaw Skyline by an ounce, but its shorter, feels sturdier in my hand, and just as sharp.

I am never without a knife of some sort, as long as i am dressed...typically i carry a CRKT m16 of some sort, i have 3 different kinds, 95% of the time, its the m16-13z, the other 5% its an m16-01k.
from the time i was 15 till i was 24 i carried a Buck Odyssey 2, serrated, LOVED that knife, did everything with it, cut bandages, dressed squirrels, deer, cut food, whittled, cut fabrics/duct tape, bailer twine, cut sticks for shelters as a teenager, fuzz sticks for fire starting, used it with my flint to start fires, cut hoses for my car, removed a treble hook from my aunt's leg, even carried it in my tux pocket at my wedding, but one day my best friend got a CRKT M16, and when i got to use it, it was all over, the old Buck is now in the knife drawer, and it's either the M16's or the Buck 327 for everything, and the 327 for hiking, backed up by a kershaw leek, or an old buck rubber handled fixed blade that weighs 3oz. and is sharp enough to shave with

Edited by m6amba on 12/17/2009 02:21:32 MST.

Benjamin Crowley
(benajah) - F

Locale: West, now
Re: RE: What knife do you carry backpacking? on 12/17/2009 09:09:30 MST Print View

I think this is the most sensible thing Ive read on this thread.
If you go 20 miles into the jungle in Amazonia without a machete, knife, shotgun, and hammock you are crazy.
If you fall and break a leg on the AT in the Smokies, just wait 20 minutes and someone will come along and rescue you.
Its all about where you are going, the conditions, remoteness, etc.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Hikin' knives on 12/19/2009 11:27:12 MST Print View

IMHO, a hiking knife should:

Prep food
Make repairs
Make a fire
Improvise shelter

In about that order.

A good folding knife should have a comfortable handle, a good locking mechanism, an alloy that will hold an edge, a pocket clip, a lanyard hole, and can be opened with one hand. I don't care for serrated blades, unless it will be used for cutting rope.

Given that list, my choice is a Benchmade Griptilian. It just works, and I carry it every day.

Blade Length: 3.45"
Blade Thickness: 0.115"
Blade Material: 154CM Stainless Steel
Blade Hardness: 58-60HRC
Blade Style: 551 Modified Drop-Point; Ambidextrous Thumb-Studs;
Weight: 3.25oz.
Clip: Black, Reversible, Tip-Up
Lock Mechanism: AXIS
Overall Length: 8.07"
Closed Length: 4.62"

Benchmade Griptilan knife

My preferences in a fixed blade knife: comfortable non-slip handle, flat-ground stainless plain-edged blade under 5", lanyard hole, simple sheath with good retention features.

The Griptilian was designed by Mel Pardue and I just got another of his designs made by Benchmade, a fixed blade Rant model. It is as much knife as I would ever want to carry. It is a very simple strong design and would serve for any survival-oriented tasks like batoning (hitting it with a stick for splitting wood), cleaning game, etc. It is definately on the heavy side for UL consideration.

Blade Length: 4.50"
Blade Thickness: 0.175"
Blade Material: 440C Stainless Steel
Blade Hardness: 58-60HRC
Blade Style: Drop-Point
Weight: 5.90oz.
Clip: No Clip; Sheath Included
Lock Mechanism: Fixed
Overall Length: 9.13"
Closed Length: 9.13"
Sheath Material: Black Leather; Snap-Over Closure with Belt-Loop Carry

Benchmade Rant knife

Now, these are my personal references and I have to admit that they lean to the heavier side. If I were going to recommend a basic knife for UL hiking, the Victorinox Hiker has a great feature set. Any of the Mora knives would work for a fixed blade. If you want something light and cheap for food prep and repairs, the Victorinox paring knives are excellent.

Other knives I own and like:

Mora 2010
Victorinox paring knife
Victorinox Classic
Victorinox Hiker
Leatherman Micra
Leatherman Skeletool CX

Edited by dwambaugh on 12/19/2009 11:31:26 MST.

James Patsalides
( - MLife

Locale: New England
What knife do you carry backpacking? on 12/19/2009 11:42:21 MST Print View

I carry a Stanley mini box cutter in my pocket with my bic mini. Plastic with a tiny box cutter blade. Sharp as anything. 0.2oz. Doesn't get any more SUL than that! Most often I only use it to cut string or little useless pieces of fabric off my gear. I guess if I needed something bigger to fight wild animals or something, I'd have to use my box cutter to whittle a spear out of a nice branch... ;-)

Oh, yeah, forgot to mention... it cost $0.69 last time I was in Home Depot.

Edited by on 12/19/2009 11:43:19 MST.

mark vasko
(vaskma) - F

Locale: Central Ohio
"What knife do you carry backpacking" on 12/19/2009 15:00:49 MST Print View

I do not carry a knife. I carry folding scissors. Far more useful.

Joseph Morrison
(sjdm4211) - F

Locale: Smokies
scissors and box cutters. on 12/19/2009 16:24:44 MST Print View

Forget about the emergency reasons for carrying a knife, what can you do with scissors that you cannot do with a knife that makes it far more useful? I couldn't imagine they would be any good for food prep unless food prep means cutting the top off the Mountain house package. :) Field repair can be done successfully with a knife just as well as with scissors.

Box cutters are just that, box cutters. They can only make shallow cuts, usually well under an inch. The Gerber UL LST and the Spyderco Ladybug have a 2" locking blade and are the same weight as your box cutter. They are too small for me but a little knife is better than no knife IMO.


Pete O
(Shouse) - F

Locale: TX
benchmade ftw on 12/19/2009 21:46:30 MST Print View

I love benchmades.

mark vasko
(vaskma) - F

Locale: Central Ohio
Scissors? Knife? or Box Cutter? on 12/21/2009 09:49:21 MST Print View

Sorry Josephe, I disagree. Scissors do everything I need when it comes to cutting. I prefer to travel carry-on and prefer to go through security without a full body cavity search. My folding scissors make it through every time. Mini box cutters and knifes do not. Scissors are great for cutting toe and finger nails, blister repair, bandages, food packages, cloth, tent lines, etc. However, if you like full body cavity searches, stay with box cutters and knifes it works every time.

My folding scissors weigh 200 grains, fold down to 1 1/4 inches, and do not look like scissors when folded.

Joseph Morrison
(sjdm4211) - F

Locale: Smokies
Re: Scissors? Knife? or Box Cutter? on 12/21/2009 11:35:42 MST Print View

No, I do not like full body cavity searches. Thats a strange remark but whatever.

I wouldn't let something like airline regualtions determine what I would carry on a backpacking trip. You could send a knife and other banned items to a post office near where you will be backpacking beforehand. Make sure to include a tracking number so you know it will make it there and ask them to hold the package for you.

But if scissors work for you thats fine. I just can't see that they would be more useful.


j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: Re: Scissors? Knife? or Box Cutter? on 12/21/2009 11:49:09 MST Print View

Yes, weird. You can check any knife in your checked luggage, no problem. I just read the airline regulations on folding scissors, it is scandalous!

"Most cutting instruments, including carpet knives and box cutters (and spare blades), any device with a folding or retractable blade, ice picks, straight razors, and metal scissors with pointed tips. Small scissors with a cutting edge less than four inches (10 cm) and small tools such as pliers and screwdrivers that are less than seven inches (18 cm) in length are allowed in the cabin."

A folding scissors with a 3.9" blade could be easily pulled apart and do some damage, 2 blades instead of one!

Juston Taul

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Re: Re: "What knife do you carry backpacking?" on 12/21/2009 13:19:00 MST Print View

>>>Eeeeyewwww Ali, thanks for the graphics. You may have hit on the newest and coolest in SUUUUL fashion-chop off a limb to reduce total skin-out weight!<<<

I laughed a good bit at this.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: "What knife do you carry backpacking?" on 01/03/2010 16:08:17 MST Print View

My personal choice has been the CRKT M16-10KZ. It tips the scale at 2.3 ounces. The scales are zytel and the blade is AUS4 stainless with a black coating. The design of the blade is a partially serrated, tanto style. It has the "Auto Lawks" blade locking system which fixes the blade in an open position for safety. It does not however make it a fixed blade knife that can be folded closed. It is simply a folder with a better than average blade locking mechanism.

There are some tasks that are just better suited to a full tang, fixed blade knife. I have not seen many fixed blade knives other than the 100 mm blade, wooden handled, Mora that could be considered ultralight. I became interested enough to purchase one and check it out after reading "98.6 Degrees" by Cody Lundin. In his book he describes what I believe to be a Mora knife.

The 100 mm Mora weighs 2.75 ounces including its plastic sheath. That is ultralight enough in my book. It is a rat tail tang, (Thank you Joseph Morrison) high carbon steel, fixed blade that is razor sharp. The tip of the blade is like the point of a needle. There is no finger guard to seperate your index finger from the blade should you lose your grip. The wooden handle with its cup shaped metal ferrule at the blade handle juncture reminds me of a putty knife. That is OK by me though since a putty knife is a tool and so is this very servicable knife.

Combination tools like the Leatherman Micra and the SAK Classic cannot be overlooked as ultralight alternatives. The 1.8 ounce Micra has 10 functions and the 1.3 ounce SAK Classic has 6 functions by my personal count. The cutting edge of the Micra's knife blade is approximately 1/8 inch longer. The actual length of the straight portion of the cutting edge on both appears to be exactly the same. In my opinion this makes their knife functions equal. Both are quite sharp from the factory.

The Micra's 4 functions that the Classic lacks are a bottle opener, philips screwdriver, 4.5 inch "ruler" and tiny flat blade screwdriver. The tiny flat driver is still just barely too wide to be used on my eyeglasses. It could be easily worked down to a useable size for eyeglass repair. But if you need glasses and aren't carrying a spare pair the tiny screw is effectively invisible anyhow. I don't encounter that many philips screws on the trail. I also don't carry glass bottles in need of an opener. Many compasses have much more useable and transparent "rulers" incorporated into the straight edge of their bases.

I carry a set of splinter pickers (tweezers) in my first aid kit. Both the Classic and the Micra have tweezers. The Micra's are heavier duty and exhibit a stronger grip but are not as easily employed as the Classic's set as they are permanently attached to the handle section of the scissors. Spring action scissors are another common function of the Classic and Micra. Those of the Micra are @ 1/3 larger. The scissors on both are reasonably sharp. In my opinion the scissors on the Micra would be more useful.

Some of those posting on this thread say they find scissors
as useful as a small folding knife. My personal set were purchased at Walgreens in the cosmetics aisle. They are stainless, 4 inches long overall, 1/8" thick with 1 3/8" of very sharp cutting edge and weigh @ .6 of an ounce. Packing these pointed tip scissors is challenging but as a side function the pointed tips can be used as an awl should the need arise. Does this mean that these scissors should be considered as a multi-tool? :-) :-)

If anyone is interested they are manufactured by Revlon and marketed on a carded blister pack as a "brow set". The scissors came with an eyebrow brush that I promptly gave to my loving wife after opening the blister pack. The blister pack card has the model/part number of 1046-07 in the upper left hand corner of the blister packaged card.

On my next outing, to satisfy my own curiosity, I will forego carrying my CRKT M16-10KZ for the 1.05 ounce heavier combination of the 100 mm Mora and the Revlon scissors. The total combinaton will weigh 3.35 ounces which is still lighter than four of the fixed blades alone in this thread.

Party On ! 2010


Edited by Newton on 01/03/2010 19:51:36 MST.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Micra vs Vic Classic on 01/03/2010 16:53:55 MST Print View

I ran some experiments with the Micra & Vic Classic:

I use scissors for the following tasks (listed in order of most frequently done to least frequently done):
1 opening packaging (only if I need a straight cut in order to roll the top down for re-sealing the bag)
2 cutting off hangnails
3 trimming ripped cuticles
4 trimming loose skin at the edges of cuts or blisters
5 trimming my finger & toe nails
6 cutting a hole in the middle of moleskin or blister pad
7 rounding the edges of moleskin, duct tape, tent/pad patches
8 trimming line to length - with a clean edge for melting
9 trim threads & seam protrusions on new gear
10 trimming fabric to length on things I'm altering

I use the blade to open most food packaging since it's easier to clean than the scissors, for food prep & eating, to cut line to length, and to make wood shavings & feather sticks to start fires.

Suprisingly, I found the Micra scissors would NOT do tasks 2-6 & 9 since the edges cross / overlap at the tip too much. The Victorinox classic sized scissors would do tasks 1, 8, & 10 but no where nearly as easily as the micra's scissors.

I found both ~1.5 inch blades were too short for most food prep &/or eating. I also found the Micra's blade is significantly sharper than the Vic Classic's - but I suspect it's because the edge is only sharpened on 1 side (so the edge angle is significantly narrower). Even with the narrow edge angle, the Micra's blade holds up to making wood shavings noticeably longer than the Vic classics - plus the handle is noticeably bigger / easier to grip.

I also found the Vic Classic's tweezers worked significantly better. The "attached to the handle" aspect of the Micra didn't get in the way, but the narrow tips and flexier steel didn't work as well as the Vic tweezers.

Edited by JohnG10 on 01/03/2010 16:56:35 MST.

Joseph Morrison
(sjdm4211) - F

Locale: Smokies
Re: Re: "What knife do you carry backpacking?" on 01/03/2010 17:05:42 MST Print View


The Moras are not full tang, they have a rat tail tang. Here is an example of a rat tail tang mora:
rat tail tang

On a full tang knife the tang is visble between the handle slabs all the way around the handle. Here is an example of a full tang blade minus the very bottom:
full tang blade

Regardless, a rat tail tang is stronger than any folder.
Hope this helps.


Edited by sjdm4211 on 01/03/2010 17:07:58 MST.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
Frost/Mora & full tang on 01/03/2010 18:51:18 MST Print View

There are some that are full tang, for example all the "lapplander" models are. But I don't think any of the lower priced models are full tang - the lapplander models are usually over $100.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Moras are not full tang on 01/03/2010 19:39:28 MST Print View


I stand corrected and appreciate the input. A picture is worth a thousand words and yours explain eloquently the differences between full and rat tail tangs.

I missed the obvious difference. In his book, "98.6 Degrees", on page 176 it says, "Full tang means the metal of the blade runs clear up into the handle, imparting great strength and control."

After going back and re-reading the section where he describes his knife choice, on pages 174 - 177, he never actually describes his personal knife as a Mora. He also never actually describes the Mora as a full tang knife. After looking intently I don't even see where he ever actually names Mora as a knife manufacturer.

The illustration on page 175 shows a "Mora like" knife with what appears to be Premier in an oval of sorts with the letter number designation H114 over the word SWEDEN in block letters. This is confirmed by the picture in the color section on page C-2. On Cody Lundin's website he offers for sale Swedish Knives! (Their exclamation point not mine.) If you scroll over the picture of the Swedish Knives to enlarge it you can read MORA plainly on the rubber handled version on the right. In the same picture you can see what appears to be a crown and crossed oars and the word MORA on the plastic sheath of the center wooden handled knife.

The Mora that I own has these same markings.

My best guess is that his knife is the ancestor/older brother of the 100 mm Mora that I own. Simply said I assumed a fact not supported by the text, illustrations or pictures in his book. Moreover it appears to me now that the definition of a full tang knife in Cody Lundin's book is in error.

But a Mora in the 100 mm size with the red wooden handle and the "rat tail tang" (Thank you Joseph) fits his description of his knife choice pretty well.

All this said I believe my Mora knife to be a very servicable choice for ultralight hiking.

Thank you again Joseph for your input and pictures that illustrate your point so well. I intend to correct my original post so as not to confuse anyone else in the same way that I was confused.

Party On ! 2010


Edited by Newton on 01/03/2010 20:27:37 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Tang, schmang on 01/03/2010 19:45:08 MST Print View

The full/partial tang doesn't mean a thing if you are using the knife for general purpose cutting, whittling or food prep. I tried removing the molded plastic handle from a Mora and it wasn't easy. Obviously, a full tang knife is going to be stronger, but unless you are using the knife for a climbing hold or a pry bar, you'll never know the difference.

Full tang designs lend themselves to mounting slab-style scales (handles) on a knife and attaching a pommel (the metal chunk on the end), but that is pointless on a knife designed for maximum utility at lowest cost with a molded plastic handle.

Joseph Morrison
(sjdm4211) - F

Locale: Smokies
Re: Re: Moras are not full tang on 01/03/2010 20:40:06 MST Print View


All the knives in Lundin's book are Moras. They are called Mora knives after the town where they are manufactured, Mora, Sweden. Premier is just a brand name. On his website the two knives pictured are Mora of Sweden knives. The wood handled one is likely the #2 or #2 1/2 Mora and the rubber handled one is the Craftline All Around.

Here is a link to the best place to purchase a Mora and many other scandi knives on the web as well as a lot of info:

I think a Mora is a fine choice for backpacking and outdoor use in general. I own several.

BTW I wouldn't let something like misnaming a knife construction lead you away from Cody Lundins books. He is very knowledgable. 98.6 degrees is one of my favorite books.


John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Tang, schmang on 01/03/2010 20:46:39 MST Print View


We're in agreement on all points.

I got exactly what I was looking for in the Mora. It has the best combination of strength, size, lightness and low cost that I have found to date.

I also got an education from Joseph that cleared up some confusion on my part.

Party On ! 2010