Over the last few months I have been considering purchasing a knife. Not just any knife, I am determined to get the perfect one. Or as close as perfect it can be. Sounded like a simple task. I want a solid “all rounder camp knife”. I am no “bushcrafter” by any means.
I admit I do like to sit at the fireside in camp and whittle a stick or two. Even dabble with walking sticks.
I just started on another trudge companion that I came across while on a walkabout. A really nice piece of wood that as soon as I saw it I knew would make a great hiking pole. I started cleaning it up using my trusty Browning belt knife. (The first real belt knife I got to take camping with me.) I love the handle on this knife and have found that it really saves my hand when whittling away.
Unfortunately I noticed it was a little dull. So I sharpened it. Well not quite. I totally botched that and made a mess of the blade. I was horrified. I have over the years skimmed through a lot of articles and videos etc. On how to sharpen a knife. My fault for not paying attention. Skimming is no way to learn or so I found out the hard way.
AND THAT STARTED MY QUEST FOR THE PERFECT KNIFE !
I started my research in earnest. No more skimming, I know better now. Well the horror.
I started my search the easy way. If in doubt GOOGLE IT. I then realized I need to search for what I want. So I typed in “Camp knives”……..WRONG, Then Bush knife……WRONG. Hmmm I soon realised I have a small dilemma here. Do I know what constitutes a good knife, One that I really want. To cut to the chase I eventually ended up typing “WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CAMP KNIFE AND A BUSHCRAFT KNIFE” And that’s when things got VERY interesting.
The amount of information that came at me was almost overwhelming. I spent time reading what people, including some well known names in the real knife circles, consider a bushcraft knife and a Camp knife.. I could not find 5 people as a group who agreed as what constitutes a good Camp vs Bushcraft knife, besides the fact the bush craft knife is typically smaller than a Camp knife. Ha!. Even I knew that. (From my previous skimming.)
The best advice I found, came from a website I came across in my apparently very general search question.
I quote “ The perfect knife for any person considering a knife purchase, will be determined by many factors, the biggest (factor) being what tasks you personally want the knife to do for you.”
And that is soooooo true. There is no perfect Bushcraft Knife, no Camp Knife or even Survival Knife. The closest anybody will come, is the one that performs all the tasks you need it to do.
Camp Knife, A generally larger, heavy knife and sturdy blade. Used for more robust tasks around the camp. ( This is my current camp knife , Knives of Alaska Bush Camp knife)
As most of you who have followed my sometimes wondering scribbling, know I am a list guy. So as not to disappoint, I made a list of what I need the knife for. Then expanded to find out more regarding knives in general and blades more specific.
I found out there are different blades, made up of the grinds used to get the right edge for the right task.
Then there is material used in the making of the blade, whether D2 steel, stainless etc. etc.. And joy how to maintain your knife, including…YES. Sharpening a blade. And don’t forget the handle, The Sheath and so it goes.
Below is my list of wants and what I thought was relevant research information I found for the list.
There is the basics of my personal wants for a knife. The wants are not in any particular order, although there is a priority of wants for me. Mostly cost. I have a limited budget. The easy solution would be to go to a reputable knife maker and have them design the perfect knife for me. Unfortunately my research showed the cost for a custom knife would be very prohibitive. So it’s the hard way. I looked into each want and determined the best want for each item in the list. Then I searched for the closest match I could find.
So let’s see what happened and the things I learnt about knives in general.
Although I constantly work on a budget , This was particularly hard to ascertain. My thoughts on this were that this was the knife of knives for me. It will be hardy and hopefully give me a lifetime of use. Does this justify the expense. Just how much is this worth to me and do I exceed my typical budget.
A tough question and that brought about just how much am I willing to sacrifice in my budget for this. The important factor in my budget and making a purchase, Is I have to have the cash. I do not use credit for this type of purchase. What that means is finding the knife , The cost of the said knife and then saving from my budgeted money until I can purchase the knife with cash.
The obvious answer is, I need to know the pricing for what I want. That means looking into the other wants first!. This is new for me. Typically I have a pretty good Idea of the cost of something I intend to purchase. This was different. The range of pricing on knives is huge. From about $15 to the very high $300.00 and above. Way out of my budget. So it’s off to the races to see what the rest of the list research decides.
This was one of the more simple wants to figure out. Simply typing in “What is a camp knife” into both Google and Bing and looking through the results. Well kind of. There were many responses, as expected for all my searches, but I could not really be more specific than that. As the other wants will do that for me.
A camp Knife.
This was the most common answer I came across.
“A camp knife is simply an all-purpose knife that’s built bigger and heavier than a standard hunting knife. A proper camp knife should have a blade no shorter than 8 inches and no longer than 10 is just about ideal. ” For me It should have weight, and “heft” to perform camp duties. These include, chopping, food preparation and fire making duties. It must be sturdy enough to take some serious abuse when prepping for camp. Therein is the conundrum with regard to bush craft duties.
A Bushcraft knife
A typical description.
“A knife suitable for bushcraft must be sturdy, well made. Be designed with an emphasis on wood carving (both in handle and blade configuration). Ideally, the knife will also be of full tang construction. Scandinavian style knives with a single edge bevel and large, comfortable handles have become the standard. The single edge bevel, or Scandi-grind, is ideally suited for carving and performs beautifully for any other cutting job as well. In addition, this edge is incredibly easy to sharpen both at home and in the field. With no secondary bevel, the entire blade edge is laid flat on the stone to restore a shaving edge.”
Bushcraft knife also called a wilderness knife, is a popular style knife because it can repeatedly perform multiple tasks like dressing game, cutting tree limbs, rope, and fishing line or even some carving. Knife blades should be 3 ½ to 6 inches in length, longer blades are not recommended.
As you can see there is a huge difference between them. Namely Blade length. The handle for me is a given. I if it does not feel right in my stubby hand then it is of no use to me. I simply will not use it. A comfortable handle is one of my “No compromise options”
It seems a bush craft knife offers the most options here. Because I have a True “camp knife” already (Bush Camp from Knives of Alaska). I think a that’s the way to go. Trying to find a perfect combination is virtually impossible.
Keeping in mind the blade requirement’s for a bush craft knife as being shorter, Scandi grind etc. I started looking. Although I had not abandoned my list, its importance had diminished.
After a few weeks of Random searches looking at ALOT of Bush craft knifes . I found one that I liked.
It is the CONDOR TOOL AND KNIFE BUSHLORE.
Why this knife? Well looking at the list lets see how close it comes.
8. Price range (Amazon) $50.00 to $60.00. Close to my budget
1. Can do camp duties and Bush craft duties. (Sturdy enough for most camp duties)
2. Full tang, That it is
3. Blade length is a little long for bush craft and just short of a typical Camp knife
4. Scandi Grind, well suited for bush craft but a little delicate for heavy camp duties
5. Maintenance is fairly straight forward. Oiling and the Scandi grind is one of the easiest grids to maintain. ( He says…..)
6. Size. A little big for bush craft and a touch small for camp duties
7. Handle and grip, surprisingly comfortable in my stubby hands, grip is plain and solid.
So There you go. All things considered it met a lot of my criteria, Not perfect but close enough. For me it will be a tool for personal amusement, Used to pass the time on a camp, whittling and basic carving is my main intention for this cutter. Certainly in a pinch, a camp knife and survival tool. Which is the description it is given by the manufacturer.
For those who want to know more here is my review on my YouTube channel.
Is it my perfect knife, only time will tell. probably not, I tend to change my priorities as I go. But for the near future is looks just the ticket for my needs.
Although a frustrating task to undertake, it proved to be informative for me as far as improving my knowledge of Knives in general. Learning about Blade types and uses was very informative. Now I find when looking at knives I have a better understanding of what I see and why the specific style of blade is chosen for the particular knife.
Remember Knowledge is a survival skill. Knowing the type of knife needed for a particular task is a survival skill
Stay safe this winter
The Novice Survivalist