Two no frills camping trips in (yes, I’m a camping novice among novices), I’m now starting to get a feel for what I need on a camping trip and what I don’t.
As an uber novice, I made the mistake on my first trip of taking too much stuff and not using most of it. On my second trip, I got smarter, and left a bunch of the heavier tools at home. A 2.3lbs tri-fold shovel, a folding saw, and the larger of my two leatherman knives are now all left at home as i didn’t need them, nor see their value on the last two trips.
This simple, inexpensive, bowie knife is the one item I won’t leave behind.
Many knife and steel experts don’t have good things to say about this knife, and within their world of extreme experience, I’m sure they’re right.
But for the novice camper trying to learn new skills, this baby works hard, takes a beating, and keeps on working.
When gathering firewood, the folding saw was taken out a few times, but turned out to be very slow compared to this large bowie knife when used like a hatchet. The saw was certainly better at anything with a diameter of 6″, but for most branches under 6″, this hacked through just fine. so bye bye folding saw. When using the shovel, I hit roots and other miscellaneous objects that the shovel took extra effort to cut through. The knife just cut through the ground, and I could use my hands to dig the cutout dirt (mostly to bury waste. The shovel was more efficient at digging overall, but the 2.xlbs of weight wasn’t worth the value the folding shovel added. So, bye bye heavy shovel. Of course, I have a pocket sharpener I had to use on the bowie when hitting some rocks in the dirt, but sharpened right back out. For doing some light whittling to use as a guy-line stake cuz I broke one, this knife whittled just fine. and when digging out some roots, this knife acted like a crowbar without bending (obviously not a hardcore leverage tool, but good for little things), same goes for opening cans. After all that, the blade edge still looks brand new, with no chips along that blade edge. There were two bends along the blade edge, but the sharpener straightened them out, and even after two more days of use, it still looks smooth.
Since it’s large enough and heavy enough to use as a mediocre hatchet, small enough to do some finer whittling, hard enough to not bend and soft enough not to break during most leveraging activities, and good for just about everything in between, this knife has proven highly useful and much more multi-purpose than all my other tools.
Elite bowie knife this might not be, and it probably isn’t good enough for hardcore survivalists, or the guys who care about fighting with knives, but for all my experiments in camping so far (admittedly limited to a meazly two trips), this is a great compromise in steel between brittle and malleable, a great compromise in weight between a larger hatchet or machete and a finer whittling tool.
As far as the sheath is concerned, it’s cheap plastic surrounded by canvas and is little awkward, but has proven tough enough for my uses.
I dumped 10 lbs of equipment on my second trip (from close to 40lbs down to close to 30lbs). For my third test camping trip, I’ll drop another 5 lbs or so, but even then, this knife will stay with me.
One smaller note. I’ve read that rubbing the steel with a drop of oil keeps it from pitting over years of use. Since I take care of my firearms in the same way, this isn’t a big deal. But I have seen badly pitted stainless steel knives before, so you might considering adding a drop of oil on each side every month or so.
I dunno diddly about knives or steel, so my review ain’t worth a hill o’ beans when it comes to reviews, but from a layman’s view….
This knife looks pretty good, the steel is polished and fairly thick along the back. There’s some heft to it, though still surprisingly light considering it’s size and looks. I think the handle is not real wood, it might be, but if it were fake it would explain the lightness a little. there is a hole at the base of the handle which you can probably run a lanyard through, but that would also mean it’s not a full tang knife, which I’m given to understand is not a good thing. the pommel is brass. The balance point of the knife is about half an inch in front of the pommel. As a hacker, the heft makes it semi useful, though I imagine it’s not nearly as good as a higher-end bowie. I hacked a firewood log and average an inch of headway every 3.5 minutes (actually about a minute per inch in the beginning and about 5-6 minutes per inch near the middle on a 6 inch log). Not something I’d really want to do again, but doable in a pinch.
It’s not really sharp out of the box. It won’t slice straight through a US letter sheet like super sharp knives do, but the cut it does make (about halfway down the paper) is pretty clean.
It’s also not strong enough to use as a pry-bar, tho light prying should be no problem.
The sheath is nylon with a plastic insert. Nothing special, feels cheap, but seems functional.
Though I’m a layman, I imagine that as long as you’re somewhat careful in how the knife is used, it will fulfill many campsite duties and even some hacking duties as required. And for $20, can you ask for anything more?