Knives We’re Digging

Damn, the Olympic Peninsula is wet. We were recently out on the Washington coast with no readily dry wood for (perceivably) miles because, you know, it’s a rain forest right next to an ocean. Trying to get a fire going there can be, well, trying. That’s not to say there isn’t any dry wood, but sometimes you’ve got to work for it. Hopefully you brought a trusty knife.

For me, the most common task performed with my camp knife is wood processing, so when all the wood around is soaked, I get right to splitting in hopes of finding some dry heartwood to make a feather stick. From heavy batoning to fine shaving, here are a few knives that are up to the task.

Iron Forest Knives

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The Jack Multi-tool. Photo courtesy of Iron Forest Knives.
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The Jack Multi-tool has lashing points that allow you fix it a number of ways to poles for increased cutting capacity. Photo courtesy of Iron Forest Knives.

Something new is on the horizon from Iron Forest Knives. The Jack Multi-tool is an attempt to answer the age-old knife, hatchet, saw debate by combining those things into one grab and go unit. While it’s technically a knife with a saw component, Iron Forest is advertising the lashing points as a means to use the knife as a hatchet.  I think using the front cutting edge as a chisel and using a large baton would yield as much or more force as lashing the knife to a stick and using it as a hatchet, but that’s not the point.

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The Jack Multi-tool used with the saw adapter. Photo courtesy of Iron Forest Knives.

Specs. include a .1875″ thick full tang, a 6″ main cutting edge, and 1.975″ secondary edge out front. The 440c stainless steel is hardened to 58Rc and it comes with a kydex sheath and a saw blade in an aluminum guard–the total package weighs in at one pound. This is an innovative design and could be the real deal for those looking to carry a pack saw. Crowd funding at it’s finest–the Kickstarter launch is right around the corner.

Habilis Bush Tools

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The Habilis S.R.T. in Charcoal G10 scales. Photo courtesy of Habilis Bush Tools.

The Self Reliance Tool from Habilis is a serious piece of steel. At 15oz, 11.75″, and .1875″ thick, the SRT can make quick work of your camp chores.  The choil upfront gives a big knife like this better control for all your finer work and the continuous curved cutting edge slices and shaves like a dream. The SRT throws a healthy spark off your ferro rod thanks to the 1095 high carbon steel hardened at 57-59 Rc and the striker notch on the spine. Other bush-friendly features include the bow drill socket in the G10 scales, the dog bone pommel from hammering/scraping, and that beautiful cutout one the spine for landing your baton strikes.

For those looking for a slightly more nimble option, the original Bush Tool is a smaller knife in the same pattern as the SRT and equally adept at setting up your campsite.

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The Habilis Bush Tool in Tiger G10 scales. Photo courtesy of Habilis Bush Tools.

DPx Gear

Dangerous Places Extreme Gear has garnered a lot of attention in the past. Mostly because the founder, Robert Young Pelton, is one of the better respected adventurers of our generation.  Read up on his adventures here and here. It makes sense that an endeavor in designing knives would follow a storied career as a journalist in some of the worlds most dangerous places.  The result are a few useful blades, the original DPx H.E.S.T. and the larger H.E.F.T. 6 Woodsman.

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The DPx H.E.S.T. original. Photo courtesy of DPx Gear.

The DPx Hostile Environment Survival Tool was Pelton’s original project to create a useful, everyday, beat-to-hell-and-back knife. It’s a stout 1095 high carbon steel knife with a 5mm full tang and a 3.13″ cutting edge.  While it’s definitely geared toward survival and evasion with features like a wire breaker and pry bar, it excels as a field knife for tasks like wood and game processing. It’s easy too carry too at 7.63″ overall and only 4.4 ounces. Bonus: the HEST is produced by the famed Rowen Manufacturing in Idaho Falls, ID.

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The DPx H.E.F.T. 6 Woodsman. Photo courtesy of DPx Gear.

The Hostile Environment Field Tool is a little more my speed with a 5.75″  cutting edge made out of a higher performing Sleipner steel hardened to 60Rc.  The H.E.F.T. features a .19″ thick spine and a total length of 11.22″ giving you plenty of room for a comfortable grip. There’s a small thumb ramp with jimping for extra control for your close work and a bottle opener on the bottom that you can use for scrapping tasks. This one’s a little light to be much of a chopper, but you can baton it to smithereens thanks to the Sleipner steel.  Made by Lionsteel, one of my favorite manufactures, out of Maniago, Italy.

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