Considering the variety of knives on the market and the number of companies selling outdoor knives it can be extremely difficult to know what to buy. But if you are going to be outdoors know that a good, sturdy knife is an essential tool.
Many people, especially those who are fairly new to outdoor adventure, make one of two serious mistakes. Either they omit knives from their tool lists or they undervalue the importance of knives when they shop for them. Experience will quickly teach these people that outdoors a knife is a dear friend.
You don’t have to learn the hard way. You can get a quick lesson now and then get a good knife so that you can be prepared for your outings.
Knives can become quite an investment, especially if you plan to engage in an array of outdoor activities and find yourself needing a set. Therefore, it’s best to know what you are buying so that you can spend your money wisely. Three important considerations in knife purchasing are style, grasp and blade.
There are two primary styles of knives—fixed blade and folding blade. A fixed blade knife is one where the handle and blade are connected without flexibility like a kitchen knife. A folding knife is one that where the blade folds to shorten the length as with a pocket knife.
The benefit of fixed knives is that you can pull them out and use them immediately. You don’t have to fiddle with blade locks or broken mechanisms that prevent the knife from unfolding. The downside to a fixed knife is that it’s not compact like a folding knife and therefore not as convenient to carry or as safe in situations where you have children to consider.
Unfortunately, knives are not really one size fits all. This means that family members may find it necessary to have their own knives because grip and comfort are very important. This is not only to make using the knife most pleasurable but also for safety.
Remember that outdoor knives can be, and usually should be, very sharp. Without proper grasp this essential tool can become a vicious foe. There are a lot of scarred individuals who can testify to that.
Once you make sure the knife fits your hand and is not too heavy, it is time to begin considering the blade. Carbon steel blades are easier to sharpen than stainless steel blades but they require more care. Some steel blades are covered with titanium nitride to enhance their hardness and the ease of sharpening. They may be a bit more expensive than those made of stainless steel but the extra expense is worth considering.
If you are really looking to invest you may want to consider a knife with a ZD-189 blade. This is technology with three metals interspersed on hardened steel. Many outdoorsmen swear that these are the best blades on Earth. That reputation reflects in the price tag.
Choosing Types of Knives
Knives are not only for hunters and fishers. But if these activities are on your list, there are some additional considerations you need to make when shopping.
For example, if you plan to fish and eat your catch a campsite, you will likely need a fillet knife, which has a thin blade that allows it to easily slice along a fish’s backbone. You will also need a knife that is rust resistant if you will be salt water fishing.
If you are hunting, you may want a bowie knife, a general use hunting tool, with a blood grove or you may decide that your money is best spent on a skinning and gutting combo knife.
But what if you are buying the knife as a gift or you need to use a single knife for multiple purposes.
In these cases, it is best to shop for versatility. You may want to get something like a Swiss army knife that has a number of valuable features or you may go for something more basic.
However, when you are not exactly sure of the purpose for the knife, it is advisable to consider one with a 5-inch blade. It will be long enough for many jobs but not too long to discourage use for others.
Consider the Rockwell C rating of the knife if it is available. This tells you how hard the blade’s metal is. A blade with a low C rating will be soft and a blade with a high C rating will be hard. A blade in the mid to upper 50’s is ideal for various jobs.
Remember that the teeth of a serrated blade give it more cutting power. In some instances this may be necessary and in others it may be a hindrance. For the sake of multi-purpose uses consider a partially serrated blade so that you get two cutting surfaces in one.
Finally, despite the times and the convenience, avoid ordering knives online when possible unless you are familiar with the brand and experienced in purchasing knives. If you are relatively new or just beginning to take your knife collection seriously, in-store purchases are always best.