By John Fenna
The new Helle “Mandra” is a useful little neck knife, designed, developed and tested with “Survivorman” Les Stroud over an expedition in the Carpathian Mountains and is named after one of the mountains, the name being Romanian for “proud”.
Coming in a neat leather sheath that has a twin sewn welted seam, plus a plastic liner to stop the blade cutting the leather, a simple but effective press stud-closed security strap and a belt loop, the Mandra is light and small enough for a neck carry if you add an appropriately long neck thing.
The full tang construction knife has a Scandi ground drop point blade some 66mm long, 30mm max width and is made from 2.5mm thick triple laminate stainless steel. The steel is a laminate of high carbon allow steel unique to Helle that takes and holds a superb edge between two layers of tougher (18/8) stainless steel protecting the harder core from breakage and corrosion, and while the outer steel took some marks during testing, the core/cutting edge took no damage, neither chipping or rolling.
The handle is made from con toured slabs of curly birch (disappointingly lacking in much figuring on the test sample) with black vulcanised fibre liners with two brass tube fittings, one about 2mm and the other “lanyard” tube about 8mm diam.
Measuring about 80mm long, 18mm thick and 29mm max width, the handle offers a 3-finger hold which proved surprisingly comfortable in a variety of grips and over a wide range of tasks. Overall, the Mandra weighs about 70g.
Over the test period I used the knife extensively for everything from food preparation to carving woods, both seasoned and green, and found it proved very useful for all but the heavier bushcraft type tasks where a larger knife (perhaps the Helle Temagami – also designed with Les Stroud) would be more appropriate.
Needing only stropping to return the edge to razor sharpness, the Helle Mandra Neck Knife has proved more useful than I anticipated, is light, compact and comfortable to use and costs around £134.95.
For more information visit www.whitbyandco.co.uk