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Henry Thomas
(hthomas) - MLife
Knives on 03/11/2013 07:28:35 MDT Print View

What have to people found to be the all purpose knife for UL backpacking?

Andrew Urlacher
(anarkhos) - M

Locale: Colorado, Wyoming
Re: Knives on 03/11/2013 07:41:50 MDT Print View

It depends on what the goals of your trip are, but for the most part I think the main consensus is a Victorinox Swiss Army Classic, and that's mostly for the scissors. Small blade for food prep is all you really need if thru hiking. Some get by with just a razor blade or small pair of mini-scissors, though I prefer something a little more robust for a marginal weight gain. With an item this small, functionality should trump weight.

For trips where I intend on making fires more often I usually take a Mora, they are the best valued fixed blade knife on the market, IMO. Pretty cheap and very durable.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Knives on 03/11/2013 07:56:52 MDT Print View

Spiderco Ladybug

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
+1 classic on 03/11/2013 08:15:57 MDT Print View

I carry this knife every day. For trail hiking it's fine. I also like the Leatherman Squirt.

I have several other knives of a variety of sizes but most of them are overkill for trail hiking.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 03/11/2013 17:57:10 MDT.

Elijah Ziemann
(MrBlondyable) - F
Re: Knives on 03/11/2013 08:32:45 MDT Print View

It all depends on your capability/weight ratio. If you want a light knife for minor utilities, I'd say the Victorinox Cadet. If you need something for food prep, maybe some wittling for making tent stakes out of sticks in camp, a Spyderco Junior. If you want a knife for food prep, utilities, making kindling, or batoning branches from trees, or if you just prefer a fixed blade, I'd recommend a Kershaw Skyline FB or a Mora of some sort. If you want a knife with the capability to baton through 6" wide logs, the lightest I could find is the Buck Hoodlum. Hope this helps.

Jan S
Opinel No 7 on 03/11/2013 08:40:21 MDT Print View

Have used it for years and it's awesome. Not up to forest stuff though if you want to prepare fires. But a great knife if you want to actually cook (as in chop vegetables, meat, put butter on bread). Light enough too.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re on 03/11/2013 11:27:37 MDT Print View

Ladybug H1, .6 ounces

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
SAK on 03/11/2013 11:38:04 MDT Print View

I've split a lot of 1-1.5” thick sticks into 4-8 pieces to make dry kindling with a standard 3.5” Victorinox swiss army knife. It weighs 3 oz and is plenty strong.

The blade works good for buttering bread, cutting noodles so they are easier to eat with a spork, slicing up apples to eat with peanut butter, etc.

The saw is useful if you are planning to cook over fires regularly, since you can cut wrist sized sticks for fuel into fire sized lengths without hurting your foot by stomping on them.

I also like the scissors on the 3.5” knife better than the tiny scissors on the 1.5” knife and much better than the scissors on my leatherman micra. (which are too thick for trimming skin flaps / old blisters).

My Opinel #6 weighs 1 oz, and has a better tip shape for buttering bread or cutting against a bowl bottom - but is not strong enough for splitting wood on a frequent basis, and gets very hard to open after I wash food off the blade since the joint swells (I soaked out in oil, but it didn't make much difference).

I also like how the stainless Opinel blades don't get tarnish onto my food. The high carbon blade does stay sharp a little longer though.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Knives on 03/11/2013 12:19:22 MDT Print View

SAK Classic. And in 6 weeks, they'll be legal for carry on.

It's nice when UL overlaps with EDC. I've got 3 more flights today with a 4-hour layover in Anchorage so there's a thermarest in my bag. Much more comfortable than a departure lounge chair.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Knives on 03/11/2013 12:24:28 MDT Print View

"SAK Classic. And in 6 weeks, they'll be legal for carry on."

That's what Ted Stevens thought, also. Where did that get him on his last flight?


Jan S
Re: SAK on 03/11/2013 12:29:20 MDT Print View

"and gets very hard to open after I wash food off the blade since the joint swells"

Yeah, they tend to do that. I've been told by someone who lived in France for some time, that you grab them at the metal ring, blade downwards and just knock the end on something hard. That drives the blade out. Because every time you do that a bit of wood is shaved off after a while you can soak the knife for days and it won't swell enough anymore to lock the blade – which also means it tends to open extremely easy.

Edited by karl-ton on 03/11/2013 12:30:34 MDT.

Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Spyderco ... on 03/11/2013 13:39:05 MDT Print View

A knife is the most valuable tool you can bring into the backcountry, with ingenuity and knowledge, it'll get you through some tough times.

A multi-tool would offer the most utility, but I often find that I don't really need all the tools one affords unless I'm riding a bike or using backcountry skis where adjustments and repairs are frequent.

I would recommend using a Spyderco "Paramilitary 2" or its larger brother the "Military". It's a stout, lightweight knife with a strong lock and high-end blade steel [CPM S35VN]. It'll cut your salami and also carry you through a survival situation. Most little SAKs are fine for food prep, but not much more, plus only the larger ones [which are heavier anyway] have locking blades and they're pretty weak locks. The Paramilitary 2 is scalpel-sharp straight out of the box.

The Paramilitary 2 weighs-in at 3.75 oz/ 106g. That's extremely light for a knife of this quality and capability. Spyderco also has one of the best warranties in the business.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Knives on 03/11/2013 14:40:13 MDT Print View

Bob: Ted Stevens survived one more airplane crash than I have. But also (much later) one less than he needed to.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Knives on 03/11/2013 14:50:01 MDT Print View

David: It only takes one.

They ought to name an airport after him or something.


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: Re: Re: Knives on 03/11/2013 14:55:10 MDT Print View

the Classic w/ scissors and tweezers is a pretty good choice, if you like a little more knife and can get by w/o the other bits the Spyderco Ladybug is relatively sturdy for such a small knife, it comes w/ a pretty good factory edge as well

if you want an even more robust knife, something that will hold up to a pretty good shellacking- the ESEE Izula @ 2.0 oz is pretty tough to beat- afaik they also have the best warranty of any production knife

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Knives on 03/11/2013 16:00:55 MDT Print View

Though more costly, I am a big fan of the Bark River Ultralight Bushcrafter at 2.7oz. I find it to have a more comfortable handle than the Izula and a bit longer blade. And like ESEE, you can't beat the BRK warranty.

Edited by BER on 03/11/2013 16:15:41 MDT.

James Walton

Locale: south
Knifes on 03/11/2013 16:10:35 MDT Print View

I second the motion for the EESE Izula 2.0. For me the knife is a bit more than just something to cut open a salami bag with. This knife holds an edge, you can baton for firewood with ease, cut that bag of salami, make tent pegs with it (I left a peg in the ground once when leaving camp-but I am sure no one here has done that except for me!), I can make snares, Ive skinned deer with this little knife, etc..... The knife I carry is a tool for not only the daily miniscule chores but also to handle the things I did not know I would encounter. Be prepared.ESEE Izula II

Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
+1 for the ESEE Izula2 on 03/11/2013 18:07:00 MDT Print View

I was going to recommend this knife too. It's a stout little fixed blade with no potential points of weakness. It'll do everything you need it to do and perform well in an emergency situation too.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Knives on 03/11/2013 19:10:46 MDT Print View

I'm with BER on this one - Bark River makes very nice knives, and the Ultralight Bushcraft is an excellent, lightweight knife. They also make several small neck knives, also light weight. But frankly, my favorite light Barkie is the Liten Bror, a small "bushcraft" knife a bit larger (and heavier) than the Ultralight. The steel used in all three of these knives is CPM 3V, which will keep an excellent edge through many miles of regular use.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Knives on 03/11/2013 20:07:06 MDT Print View

Knives have so many features and functions, as well as social connotations and there are many that are useful on the trail. It's much like choosing a pack or other gear and you want it to work for trip in mind, with cost, quality, weight and function all adding up to a choice. Do have some sort of serviceable cutting tool with you when leave the pavement; something like a single edge razor blade doesn't cut it for me ;)

What isn't needed is some massive Rambo chopper. You want a knife that can be used to prepare food, trim line or clean a trout. In an emergency, a knife can help to get to dry wood and make fuzz sticks and tinder to start a fire. You can use a small saw for starting cuts to snap off a branch or cut small branches for shelter-making. Batoning can be done with a fixed blade to split wood for fire making. I don't think much of batoning with smaller knives as a general practice. Bigger cutting jobs are better accomplished with a folding saw rather than a large knife, or a small ax or hatchet.

My personal leaning is a 3"-3/5" folding knife with a stout rust-resistant blade, a good locking system and a pocket clip. I carry a simple little Benchmade Mini Pika every day and I would feel just fine hiking with it. I do normally take a Benchmade Griptilian with a plain edge (non-serrated) blade.

Other knives I own and have used:

Moras. I currently have a Mora Robust (which I wrote up at I have used other Moras and prefer something with a slip resistant handle, which is where the more traditional wooden-handled Moras are weak, IMHO. I wish they made the Robust in stainless. The 4" blade is as much knife as I can imagine carrying. The Mora Craftline and Companion knives are similar and very useful. Moras are really inexpensive, simple and light for fixed blade knives. They will take an amazing amount of abuse. You can baton with one if you had to and the blade profile is great for food prep, repairs and bushcraft style woodworking. If you want a fixed blade, spend $15 on a Mora and don't look back.

Victorinox Little Vickie. This is really a paring knife with a razor sharp 3.5" serrated stainless blade and a simple slip sheath. They are tough enough that commercial fisherman use them for repairing nets, so they will do gear repairs with no issues. If you want a food prep and fishing knife, this is it. The design is far easier to keep clean and safe around food. They are inexpensive (~$10) and weigh one ounce total. There are a number of other paring knives with slip sheaths, that fit the same niche as the Little Vickie, like KAI, and Kuhn Rikon.

Opinel. I have owned a couple over the years. I have relegated them to a "picnic" knife for car trips and camping. My major falling out is having the wooden handle swell from moisture. and becoming near impossible to open. Many swear by them. They are like a folding Mora in some regards-- inexpensive, dead simple and perfectly useable cutting qualities. There have been some problems with the US distributor for Opinel and the factory lately, making them a little harder to find.

Swiss Army knives. I prefer the 111m frame models with locking blades and/or a saw. I'd love to see a 111mm frame Victorinox with a one-hand opening blade, a saw, scissors, and an awl. I carry a Victorinox Classic everyday and there's one on the "survival keychain" that I carry in my pants pocket when hiking. I like the Farmer and Hiker models for smaller non-locking versions. I have a Wenger Handyman that has the tools I really like: blade, saw, scissors and awl. The Victorinox Fieldmaster and Huntsman are about as multi-layer as I would want to carry on the trail.Knives

Edited by dwambaugh on 03/11/2013 20:10:12 MDT.