If you’ve read my other reviews on camping knives, you know well that I don’t know much about them.
For me, a camping knife needs to be just sharp enough to do camping chores and be able to baton/split wood, and maybe do some occasional hacking and maybe just enough chopping so that I can snap a branch by stepping on it. Other than that, I don’t know or care much about the type of steel used, how well it holds an edge, etc. etc. Most camping knives fit that bill…
…so if you’re looking for a blade review about steel quality, holding an edge, combat, stop here, this review won’t help.
Other things I can talk about regarding camping knives since I’ve been heading out regularly, and things that have evolved for me over time include:
– Full tine. I get it now…full tine is a must.
– No serrated portion to the knife. A lot of hard core campers will disagree with me, and that’s okay. I’m sure they’re right and I’m wrong. But for me, serrated edges are much more trouble to maintain than they’re worth for the very basic chores I do.
– No weird notches. I’ve had two blades now with funky notches along the non-blade side of a single sided blade knife (e.g. belt cutting, etc.) this creates a weak point along the blade, and…it snaps. I kid you not…it really snaps….crazy, I know.
– 3/16″ is plenty thick enough for my uses, even splitting wood.
– solid finger guard to prevent slippage to the blade. Yeah, this is a biggy. For backpacking, anything I can do to avoid any injury is a big deal because even a small injury can become very dangerous very quickly. And when you’re 10 miles from your car and 20 miles from the nearest building that might have a first aid kit, even little injuries aren’t worth it. Every blade I take into the woods must have some kind of perpendicular guard or shape to prevent fingers sliding forward to the blade.
– removable handles. I have had only one situation where I wanted to attach a knife to a long stick, so I admit that this is a rare need, and you can tie a knife to a stick without taking the handles off. But being able to do so, splitting the end of a straight’ish branch a little, and inserting the thinner blade with handles removed and tying it all together….well…the difference in stability is noticeable.
– A good sheath….you know, even the cheapest plastic and canvas sheaths with a drain hole work just fine. I attach mine as close to a drop leg setup as possible, but it really doesn’t matter, they all work well.
The Esee 6 meets all these criteria, and then some.
But, the real reason I love this knife?
Drum roll please.
The micarta handles.
I don’t know much about handles, but I do know that the hard Glock plastic material, and some other plastics get slippery when wet. Again…injury = bad.
The micarta handles do not slip even when wet.
They feel like a very fine grain. almost like a surface made with sand, but not as abrasive and skin tearing. Somehow, this knife is reasonably smooth to the touch, but just rough enough that it doesn’t slip….It’s really rather incredible.
But just as importantly, micarta is lighter than I would have expected. Much lighter.
The other reason i like the Esee 6 is that, for my uses, I just recently discovered that 6 is the perfect blade length. I have a 9, 7, and 5, and all are great, but all have little disadvantages. The 6″ blade with the simple, abuse bearing lines along the blade and the back edge, means I can beat the crap out of this knife and it’ll keep on ticking.
One last interesting note. The sheath comes in two parts, the belt clip portion and the actual sheath. You can attach the belt clip portion to either side, but it screws on, so just note that once it’s on, you won’t want to switch the side while out in the field, so think about the rest of your setup and where you want your knife to be before attaching the clip to the sheath.
Of all the knives I’ve purchased as I continue to learn about backpacking, the Esee 6 is by far the most perfect fit.
Rock on Esee, I’m impressed.