selection of bushcraft and survival knives

Your knife is your life

I never understand it when people ask me if they can borrow my knife… where’s yours! Lending someone your knife is quite possibly the easiest way to lose a friend, as when it is returned, it has an edge that could be described more as a ragged saw than a finely tuned cutting edge.

For someone who works with a knife everyday, a super sharp edge is something that is held dear. We only sharpen a knife once in its life, we then spend the rest of the life of the edge honing it.  We are in constant pursuit of cutlery nirvana – an edge that is scary sharp.

A Japanese proverb ittô-ryôdan ni suruto slice with one sword stroke.

So why is the humble knife so important to us?

Well it is a transformational tool within the world of survival. Imagine the cheapest butter knife, now imagine it in the hands of our hunter gatherer ancestors thousands of years ago. They would be utterly blown away by its capabilities, flexibility and strength.

Knives give us the ability to process food, make tools, open our sarnies and the big one, MAKE FIRE. We can do all of this with a rock and our hands, this ability of our ancestors is why we are alive today, however, steel gives us speed and allows for much less technique.

Day to day I always have a Swiss Army knife in my pocket. However in my pack I carry a much larger full tang knife. Now I don’t have a red bandana and my last name is not Rambo (I wish it was!)! My knife has a blade roughly 4 fingers long, has a continuous curvature of the blade, it is made from 4mm thick steel and is almost unbreakable. It has a Scandinavian grind and can be kept super sharp with basic tools. These are the characteristics I look for in a blade for survival. It is also a rough interpretation of the views of the survival guru “Mors Kochanski”. If you are unaware of the name, Google him, he is incredibly knowledgeable and a bona fide legend.

So no, it’s not John J Rambo’s big ol chopper. That’s for the movies, this is for work.

For me it is a fire maker. It allows me the ability to access dry wood in foul weather, something we have a fair bit of in Cumbria. It allows me to baton or split material, gather and scrape tinders such as birch bark, scrape a ferrocerium rod to give me ignition and also, when needed, in an emergency, the ability to fell small trees.
I have used it to process a whole deer and also to carve a spoon. It is truly a universal tool and without it life would be very difficult indeed.

“You’re only as sharp as your knife”

You MUST have the ability to keep your edge sharp. A dull knife is a dangerous knife, it requires much more force to be used, it is unpredictable and will not perform when it is needed. It tells me a lot about a person when I see the state of their tools.

I carry a Falkniven CC4, it is a top notch field sharpener and is mainly used for touching up axes, however, it will put a mighty good edge on any cutting tool. Sharpening is a huge subject I may well cover in later blogs and is something that takes a fair while to master. Luckily I have learnt from some very knowledgeable folk.

falkniven cc4 sharpening stone

Lastly, “your knife is your life”. NEVER lay it down, NEVER leave it anywhere, ALWAYS know where it is. Without it you’re back to bashing rocks!

A solid first blade

As a beginner’s knife I would recommend the Morakniv Bushcraft Black, it is very affordable, very strong and has many characteristics I like. In fact it is the knife I teach with and the knife my partner carries.
So no excuses, get on a course and learn how to use it, without it your back in the stone age, with it, you can survive and thrive.