Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More from Amazon

Today, Amazon is pushing Gerber's line of Bear Grylls survival products, the flagship of which is the "Ultimate Knife".

This is distinctly an outdoorsman's knife in the modern mold: thick-bladed, serrated, and stainless, with a pommel built for hammering. Its users expect it to be able to hack through branches and fell saplings (by hammering it through with a wooden baton). These aren't tasks that a knife excels at, and building one to survive them makes it less ideal for the kinds of things a knife does excel at. A knife wants to be thin and light, so that it can slice easily through soft material. But since the modern outdoorsman doesn't habitually carry the traditional hatchet or folding saw, the knife has to do it all. It's a tradeoff that makes sense when you have no intention of leaving the trail or spending the night, but want a single, light tool that will do everything in an emergency, and will otherwise stay out of your way.

But people who intentionally go into the wilderness are better served by a specialized knife paired with a specialized woodworker--whether a saw or a hatchet. American trappers and frontiersmen usually took to the woods carrying ordinary kitchen knives. The blades on these old workhorses are shockingly thin and flexible if you're accustomed to modern hunting knives, or even to some modern kitchen knives.

I've often thought that If I ever decide to leave this world to its own devices and live a much shorter life in the wilds of Alaska, I'd follow the old timers' lead by making a sheath for the carbon steel Old Hickory slicing knife in our knife block.

It looks like I'm not the only one who's had that idea:

From General interwebs

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