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UL Trail knife
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Jim Wood
Re: UL Trail knife on 03/27/2007 09:43:17 MDT Print View

By far the most valuable tool I've ever carried is a pair of children's scissors like those shown below (blunt tipped, so I can't hurt myself). Perfect for opening bags, cutting cord, first aid, etc. Probably not much good for skinning animals, but great for almost everything else. And they weigh only about 0.5 ounce.

Edited by jwood on 03/27/2007 11:00:01 MDT.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
UL Knife = Children's Scissors on 03/27/2007 10:24:46 MDT Print View

Well... Jim... I can honestly say that's not a solution I ever thought of, or ever saw coming. Would work though, plenty of handle for leverage (if you need it) when scissoring and pretty bomb proof (aka kid proof).

Oh, and something for the guy who likes razors...POCKET STRAIGHT RAZOR

Edited by jdmitch on 03/27/2007 10:26:31 MDT.

James Pitts
(jjpitts) - F

Locale: Midwest US
Re: Re: UL Trail knife on 03/27/2007 10:52:15 MDT Print View

I use the scissors on my Leatherman Mirca... but the smallest/lightest pair of scissors I have found was the little pair that came in a sewing kit from a hotel i stayed at. These were VERY small and light... not much good for skinning animals either, but good for cutting thread, packets of foil, gauze, moleskin, etc.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: UL Trail knife on 03/28/2007 12:03:29 MDT Print View

I know this has been posted before but these folks make some great and inexpensive knives.

I currently carry an Opinel folder that is made of pearwood and carbon steel. Holds a great edge and can be sharpened enough to shave. Locks open with the barrel locking mechanism. Feels great in the hand and is only 2.5oz. Its also nice to use something more "old world" than high tech.

Dylan Skola
(phageghost) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Carbon folder on 03/28/2007 12:15:26 MDT Print View

While I've heard that some of the newer stainless is getting there, I guess I've yet to encounter it. Still prefer the joy of cutting with a nicely-sharpened carbon steel blade.

Tommy Clapp

Locale: GSM Area
Scissors on 03/28/2007 20:47:58 MDT Print View


I don't think I would have thought of that... basically covers all of your needs and you can pick your color!

I may have to give that a try.


(gnosticjon) - F

Locale: Wasatch Mountains
UL Knife on 04/30/2007 01:15:36 MDT Print View

Please pardon the tardiness of my post. I have found the Boker Infinity to be durable, reliable and relatively light. The ceramic blade promises years of razor sharp cutting. One must take note that ceramic blades may shatter if dropped onto rocks or other unforgiving surfaces. Additionally, the blade does not lend itself to slicing certain types of food items, although ceramic blades are generally promoted as inherently anti-microbial. I could not say for sure, but it appears the blade is not prone to rust and the manufacturer claims years of use prior to renewed sharpening. I have used the knife for a variety of cutting purposes on both short and extended expeditions and have found it completely satisfactory thus far. Though pricey, it may be worth a look.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Switched knives on 04/30/2007 06:06:52 MDT Print View

I recently stopped carring my Leatherman Juice Xe6 at 7oz and switched to the Spyderco Delica with a serrated edge at 1.5oz. I found that, so far, I've yet to use anything but the blade or serrated blade on the Leatherman.Spyderco Delica with serrated edge

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Re: Switched knives on 04/30/2007 09:53:12 MDT Print View

I carry a Benchmade 530 (with the serrated blade). It's a 3.25" blade and weighs only 1.75 ounces. It's a great knife!

Edited by mn-backpacker on 04/30/2007 09:54:04 MDT.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Swiss Army Minichamp on 04/30/2007 13:25:33 MDT Print View

It's true that the swiss army knife approach often leaves you carrying various weird tools that you don't or only rarely use, but I nevertheless carry a Swiss Army Minichamp II,

54 grams, 1.9 oz. While I like a longer blade in theory, in practice I very rarely need one --- about a 2" blade will cut most things I want just as well as a longer one. This model indeed has things I don't want, but it's pretty small and light for something that offers not only a blade but a scissors and tweezers. I can cut my big toenails (if soaked first) with those scissors, and the nail file actually comes in handy to then finish off the toenails --- something useful on a longer trip.

For a really long trip, I want a can opener of some sort (resupply in local stores, repackage can contents), but that can be in a bounce box rather than carried on my back.

I disagree that a knife blade is as good as scissors; scissors offer more control in various situations, whether cutting moleskin, field repairs of gear, trimming facial hair so bears don't smell too much of my food on me at night ...

The ideal backpacking knife for me would lose a couple of the blades on this one (cuticle pusher ...) and add a fid and a little can opener, for about the same overall size and weight.

Sam .
(samurai) - F

Locale: NEPA
Re: Re: Re: UL Trail knife on 04/30/2007 18:53:47 MDT Print View

Just an FYI.

I saw D2 tool steel mentioned in this thread. Fine grade. Holds an edge like nothing else.

Down side. Will snap and break long before it bends. Could shatter if dropped or struck. While a bent blade is dangerous, a broken blade is useless. It's an excepted fact that D2 can only be effectively sharpened with diamond hones. Diamonds are not readily available in my neck of the woods.


Edited by samurai on 04/30/2007 18:56:44 MDT.

Joshua Burt

Locale: The Smokies
Only diamond hones? on 04/30/2007 21:52:30 MDT Print View

About D2.....
I know many people like to use diamond hones on D2 steel, especially course stones that leave a toothier slicing edge. However, D2 can be sharpened using ceramic rods (Spyderco Sharpmaker), oil or waterstones, and even wet-dry sandpaper. The custom knife-maker, Bob Dozier, uses D2 steel in many of his knives with a convex ground edge. Most collectors recommend sharpening his knives using wet-dry sandpaper mounted on a mouse pad.

This leaves alot of options for field sharpening almost any steel knife.

Sam .
(samurai) - F

Locale: NEPA
Re: Only Diamond Hones on 05/01/2007 17:29:36 MDT Print View

I should have stated KABAR says:
Knives made with D2 steel require diamond or ceramic sharpeners.

I do own D2 blades. The trick steel is, I quote "CPM 3V, which at HRC 58/60 provides impact toughness approaching that of S7, while still offering wear resistance higher than D2." There's a few knives out there with 3V. It's a better option than D2.

Edited by samurai on 05/01/2007 17:55:48 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: UL Trail knife on 05/01/2007 19:03:48 MDT Print View

Knives I like:

Victorinox Trekker: heavy compared to most ultralight gear, BUT, on the survival side, a very handy tool. It has a 3.5" locking blade, a saw, can opener, bottle opener, large flat locking screwdriver, awl, and phillips head, as well as the usual tweezers and toothpick. The price is good too-- $25-$35 Ebay or on-line vendors. Victorinox makes another large frame model, the Outrider that has a similar tool set with the addition of scissors, weighs more and and costs more like $35, and is harder to find.

Swiss Army knives in general are cheap and you can find just about any combination of tools you want. A blade, awl, and scissors top my list of wants for field repairs. The little Victorinox Classic is a great grooming tool and fine for small repairs, but, as with the Leatherman Micra, I would pair it with a larger fixed blade for all round coverage. The Classic works great on a neck lanyard too.

I found when looking at knife options, and geting hung up on scissors, I could add a pair of Fiskars embroidery scissors for less than an ounce. And I got them at a flea market for $2. They have far more utility than any multi-tool scissors.

Frosts of Sweden and Eriksson mora knives. Fixed blade Swedish work knives that are dirt cheap and light-- about 3.5oz with sheath for a 4" stainless mora and I paid a whopping $7.90 for it at a commercial fishing supply. The Mora 2000 is a larger and more expensive model if you have Rambo stirrings and want a bigger knife.

Buck Hartsook. This is a tiny neck knife (it is worn on a neck lanyard). 0.5oz without the sheath, S30V steel, about $30. This is a perfect tool to have with you all the time, on a lanyard with a micro LED light, a firesteel and a backup keychain compass. It's about the size of your forefinger and I think it is the ultimate ultralight dilettante's knife. Yes, I have one :)

There is a long tradition of neck knives for outdoorsmen and the tradition continues. They tend to be small and light and meant for utility. That's a prefect criteria for ultralight hiking. I mentioned the Buck Hartsook, but it's a little small. AG Russell sells a knife called a Woodswalker (see that is basically a heavy duty paring knive. It is 1.2oz and sells for just $20 with a Kydex sheath and neck chain. Becker Knife and Tool designs were being produced by Camillus, who just went bankrupt. They made a neck knife called a Becker Necker that is a perfect knife for hiking. You can still find a few for sale. Columbia River Knife and Tool offers a couple neck knife models. They are inexpensive, but the steel is inferior. I would buy a Swiss Army knife first.

Boker Subcom and Trance. These two knives were both designed by Chad Los Banos and share look and feel. Reasonably light, great utility and low cost. I carry the Trance as my everyday pocket knife. They have a good flat profile and good quality stainless steel.

Multi-tools have their uses. The Leatherman Micra is a great tool and has good horsepower for the weight, but I see it as an accessory to a larger knife if really heading into the backcountry alone. A Micra and a mora make a perfect pair. From the Micra and other small multi's, the weight jumps up to about 6oz (Gerber 400) and there are others that break the 12oz mark. I can hear those with a 5 pound base weight screaming outrage at the mention of a 12oz tool :)

If you want a really big cheap knife that can be abused without guilt, the Cold Steel Bushman is the one to get. It has a handle like a shovel socket and can be turned into a spear. Destruction tests prove it to be tougher than some $300 tool steel Rambo monster knives. It can be used to baton firewood and shelter poles in a survival situation. This is a knife you can dig a hole with and then sharpen it with a smooth stone! Not an ultralight, but light for its size.

Paring knives. If you want a good cheap lightweight knife, you may need to go no further than your kitchen. Paring knives have blades in the 3"-3.5" range and can be found in stainless and carbon steel. Finding or making a sheath will be the biggest challenge. Victorinox makes a stainless steel serrated paring knife that is used by commercial fishermen for a utility knife. The cost about $3 and weigh less than an ounce. The blades are thin and flexible, so they aren't a good heavy cutting knife, but they will shure take care of your camp chores-- add a Victorinox Classic or a Micra and go. They come with a plastic envelope that is adequate if you carry it in your cook kit or you can buy cordura or kydex belt sheaths for them too.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
SUL knife on 05/01/2007 19:28:01 MDT Print View

The only bladed tool I use on SUL trips (and indeed, most trips) is a Wenger Esquire w/ an aircore leash---21 g.(3/4 oz.) 1 3/4" main blade and much better scissors than can be found on the Victornoix Swiss Army knives. I don't mind having the nail cleaner for backcountry grooming, either.

I generally have no need for a large bladed knife on the backpacks and climbs I take, w/ the exception of group trips where a longer blade is useful for group cooking. It's amazing the amount of woodcraft that can be done w/ such a small blade. Scissors, as was said by someone earlier, are invaluable for field repair, 1st Aid and goatee trimming---we want to keep going and we want to look pretty.

I have used somewhat larger bladed knives in the past----my faves being the Gerber LST and the Columbia River Knives P.E.C.K.

Edited by kdesign on 05/01/2007 19:41:25 MDT.

Sam .
(samurai) - F

Locale: NEPA
Re: UL Trail Knife on 05/01/2007 19:38:20 MDT Print View

Dale spoke of paring knives.

I have the LL Bean Trout Knife. It's kinda a cross between a fillet knife and a paring knife. Pretty darn sturdy and has a really nice leather sheath. The knife just slides into the sheath with no retention strap.. but seems to stay seated well. Has a 4 inch blade and a rosewood handle. Very classy!

Not a survival knife, but a good non-threatening utility blade. AND LL Bean will stand behind it forever!

LL Bean Trout Knife

Sam .
(samurai) - F

Locale: NEPA
Re: Victorinox Trekker on 05/01/2007 19:55:25 MDT Print View

I keep a Victorinox Trekker in my Jeep. I like the locking blade AND saw. Hard to find a locking saw.

It's always seemed like the blade was ungainly long for it's thickness. It's not that long, just feels odd to me. That being said, it's cut up bushels of lime and opened a warehouse of Coronas!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: UL Trail Knife on 05/01/2007 21:07:19 MDT Print View

Sam wrote: " have the LL Bean Trout Knife. It's kinda a cross between a fillet knife and a paring knife. Pretty darn sturdy and has a really nice leather sheath. The knife just slides into the sheath with no retention strap.. but seems to stay seated well. Has a 4 inch blade and a rosewood handle. Very classy!

Not a survival knife, but a good non-threatening utility blade. AND LL Bean will stand behind it forever!"

If you are in a survival situation and that is the knife you have, it is a survival knife :) The rest of the tool is between your ears!

There's not a thing wrong with that knife, provided it is used within the design parameters. It would be fine for repairs, making fuzz sticks, cooking chores, peeling roots and tubers, and cleaning fish or small game-- just exactly what it was made for. Many, many traditional knives were carried in a simple sheath like the LL Bean. Unless you are jumping out of airplanes, it is fine. Those with a guard or other protuberences were kept in place with a leather thong and toggle. You could drill the handle and add a lanyard to do the same.

IMHO, the whole "big knife" thing is based around losing your gear and the need to adapt natural materials for shelter, fire, hunting tools, etc. A 4"-ish flat bladed knife is about all that is needed-- one like the Doug Ritter designs and the Benchmade Griptilian line. A folding saw would probably be of more use than a 7"-9" knife. I have a Gerber saw that slides into its own handle that weighs just 3.5oz. If you want to carry a lighter knife, it could be supplanted by a wire saw for emergency/survival use. BCB carries the best I've found (

I forgot to mention that I tape a couple razor blades in shipping tape and add them to my emergency kits.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Also the whistle on 05/01/2007 21:20:07 MDT Print View

"And while I am rummaging through my little stuff trimming weight... what about a little plastic trail whistle? is it really a needed pack item... honestly around her(southeast) I wouldn't mind being "lost" for a few days."

It might be less appealing if you were injured, etc. The book says, "Thou shalt have thy signaling devices on thy person, ALWAYS." It's just too easy, too light, too cheap not to do it. A little ACR whistle could be offset by trimming one excess strap.

Read accounts of people who became wilderness statistics. They all broke the rules-- no essentials, and no one knew where they went or when they were due back. A handful of the right items can keep you alive until help comes. If you want to cut weight, buy some lighter underwear!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Light Knives on 05/02/2007 12:09:04 MDT Print View

America is presently in its "Golden Age of Knifemaking".
Wealthy people all over the world buy high ticket American made custom knives.

That said, as an American, I buy some very nice custom or semi-custom knives when I can. I also buy American production knives because they are well made ane well designed.
Gerber, Buck, and many other very good American knives can be had for not a lot of money starting with a neat little $29. Gerber stainless LST lockblade up to a nice $70. self-opener Spec Ops knife or others of its type.
I guess it depends on what you think you'll encounter. Canoeing in Canada I'd take at least a 3" lockblade as well as My Spyderco blunt point life vest knife for emergency use on the river.
For UL backpacking it would be my Gerber LST.