by Christopher Wood
From as far back as 3100 BCE there is evidence that the outdoors man carried cutting tools. Otzi had a copper bladed axe , a flint dagger, and had arrows that had flint tips. Today we have a large selection of cutting tools.
- A good fixed blade knife is a must for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. When looking for a fixed blade knife that will be your primary knife there are a few things to consider. Let me start out by saying there is no reason to take your belt knife to chop with. The question you need to ask yourself is what are you trying to get out of the knife.For a good all around knife look for the following.
- The knife should be full tang.
- I feel that 1/8" is the minimum thickness for a knife, 3/16" would be better for a beginner.
- The knife should have between a 5" and a 6" blade. The blade being 5" - 6" is needed because that is the size of good strong shelter material.
- The knife should be high carbon steel so it is easy to sharpen in the field, and you can always use a stone to make sparks off the spine if you need to.
- The knife should have a sharp 90 degree spine so you can use it to strike a ferro rod, this will aid in fore starting. The reason you use the spine is because you never want to sacrifice the cutting edge.
- There are exceptions to the things you are looking for. For a skinning knife I would say go with High carbon steel, that has a 3"- 4.5" blade, is full tang, and has a 90 degree spine. For a carving knife I would say you can go with either carbon or stainless steel and it does not need to be full tang. You can carry a folding knife as a back up to a full tang knife, I like having a Swiss army knife or a multi tool because of the smaller saw blade and range of other tools on them.
- Axes fall into three categories. Belt axes, pack axes, and full size axes. Any of them can be single or double bit.
- Belt axes are simply lighter axes than a pack axe on a short handle about 13" to 14" making it longer than a hatchet but smaller than a pack axe. The primary difference between a tomahawk and an axe is the way the handle is designed. The weight would be between 1 and 2 lbs.
- Pack axes are on a longer handle 14" to 24" and would weigh in between 1 and 3 pounds.
- Full sizes axes would have a handle 24" and over the head could weigh 1.25 lbs and up.
- Hatches generally have a handle under 13" and a light head. weighing about 1 pound
- Tomahawks are similar to a belt axe but the head can be removed because it is a friction fit. The head on most is under 1 pound but can be removed from the handle and used as a more versatile tool.
- A folding saw with a blade between 5" and 14" would be a good choice. It folds into a small package but makes processing wood a lot faster. I like the blade to be about 7"
- A take down buck saw is a great option. The blade should be between 18" and 26" I like a 24" because it is large enough to process large material but packs into a relative small space.
- A bow saw is a good choice as well, with a blade between 20" and 28" the only down fall is pack-ability.