I’m getting ready to order the knives for the backpacks ie: for the family bug-out bags - here’s the email I sent out this evening.
I want to mention - a survival knife is your most important tool… hence most of my time was spent researching & investigating which are the best knives to suit a variety of situation in the cold-as-hell… Canadian wilderness. If you have questions about knives, why I chose the following, or where you can purchase knives for yourselves & your family - ask Google. Thanks.
Each backpack should have one high-quality full tang 4-5” blade, one (optional but highly recommended) med quality supplementary 4-5” blade, one saw (folding or collapsible), and a tool for chopping wood such as a small axe, machete or large (7-9” blade) survival knife (for batonning). You should not forgo quality when considering your choice - good quality doesn’t necessarily mean higher price. Weight is your biggest consideration, then safety (you can really hurt yourself with an axe & less so with a saw), and ease of use/maintenance of equipment. Stainless steel will not rust but nearly impossible to sharpen & will lose it’s edge very quickly. Carbon steel is cheap, sharpens easily & holds an edge very well, but can rust. In between you get triflex steel, Carbon V - which are higher quality carbon steels. Then you get powdered steel, VG10, as well as laminated steel, which is a hybrid (carbon + Stainless) - these are all higher quality steels that are rust proof. People love Mora’s laminated steel & Mora’s Triflex (carbon), they also rave about the Fallkniven laminated VG10 steel. People also love the Mora’s carbon blades because they are cheap & disposable. If you lose it - no biggie. For more on Mora steels - click here.
I suggest to start off with one of the following: a Mora from the Bushcraft collection such as the Triflex (high quality carbon steel) $31; Mora Forest or Force (high quality Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel - one of the best steels) $40; the just released Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife (Sandvik 12C27 steel blade w/ integrated firesteel & diamond sharpener) $(?); or Mora Classic Original 1 (wood handle with laminated steel blade - best Mora blade by far) $44; and finally last but not least - the Fallkniven F1 (VG-10 steel) $160. These are listed from the cheapest to most expensive. Please consider one of these as your primary 4-5” survival survival knife. Remember the Mora’s do not have a full tang blade hence the low cost, while the Fallkniven does, making a stronger more dependable survival knife. The Fallkniven is the most expensive but also the most rugged - with a thick blade good at splitting wood - but limited by it’s size being only a 4” blade. The Fallkniven is heralded as being the best blade, hands down, in it’s class; it comes in at $160 CAD. Mora makes a comparable knife w/ full tang blade - the Laplander - it costs $140.
Here’s a good overview of some Mora knives: http://willowhavenoutdoor.com/willowhaven-videos/mora-of-sweden-video-knife-review/
Now as a supplementary knife, I would suggest one of Mora’s dirt cheap Carbon steel blades - such as the Mora classic #1 @ $16 CAD; my first choice, the Mora #711 (carbon steel) @ $14; or the Mora Clipper - ranges btw $14-20. If you prefer stainless steel - then I suggest the Mora #746 (same as the #711). You can’t go wrong with any of these knives - they outperform knives that cost twice as much… sometimes more.
Next - we will need an axe, hatchet, large knife or machete for hacking, and a saw for large logs or live trees.
Best bushcraft axes are hand made by Gransfors Bruks, such as the Wildlife Hatchet - The hatchet has a 3” face and a 14” hickory handle and the head weighs 1 lb @ $123.
Some of the best Machetes include the Ka-bar or Ontario Machete - which are a good alternative to using an axe.
If you don’t want the weight of an axe or machete but still need a good wood splitting tool - then I would go for a heavy duty knife with a thick 7-9” blade like the Fallkniven A2 - $300; if you prefer a more manly American-army-style blade - then I would recommend the Coldsteel Trailmaster in SK5 steel @ $130; or the smaller the Cold Steel Recon Scout in SK5 @ $115 or in Carbon V steel (price varies); the Ontario Ranger Knives RD-9; Ontario RTAK II both around $125; or if you wanna spend big bucks & get the best - then look at the Busse - $400.
Note: you can opt to forgo this tool & use the smaller previously mentionned, Fallkniven F1 for batonning, but forget tackling large logs & expect to be exhausted & frustrated batonning with such a small blade. Note that since the Mora’s are not full tang, they are not recommended for batonning. If you’re concerned about weight then I would recommend substituting the F1 for the slightly larger Fallkniven A1 (in between the F1 & the A2) that would allow you to tackle larger pieces of lumber - but again you would supplement with a mid range Mora from the bushcraft series + a cheap Mora & a saw of some sort.
Finally, we need a saw - I recommend one of the two following options:
Heralded as the best bushcraft saw: Bahco- Lapplander Folding saw - $30, made in Sweden
Or a similar item - collapsible saw: Trail Blaze bucksaw - $30, made in Canada
Or the (fancy pants) Fast buck saw: http://www.fastbucksaw.com/about.html
So How do I choose?
Everyone who tests a Fallkniven blade is blown away by it’s performance & capability (check out Youtube). Hence my preference … & it doesn’t hurt that the Swedes don’t make shaudy merchandise.
SO WHAT’S MY BEST OPTION?
To me, your best options if, “Regardless of weight, I want the tools to get the job done”; would be: F1 (VG10 stainless) + cheap Mora (carbon) + Wildlife Hatchet + Saw
Best option if, regardless of weight I want the tools to get the job done but I don’t want to carry a hatchet; would be: F1 (VG10 stainless) + cheap Mora (carbon) + A2 (VG10 stainless) or Coldsteel Trailmaster + Saw
Best option for the weight conscious would be: good Mora (Sandvik 12C27 steel) + cheap Mora (carbon) + A1 (VG10 stainless) or Coldsteel Recon Scout + Saw
Best option for I have unlimited money to spend on the best tools avail, because I realize my life might depend on it, would be: F1 (VG10 stainless) + good Mora + cheap Mora (carbon) + Wildlife Hatchet + Saw
Did you get all that? ;)