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Thread: Survival knife v.s. Bushcraft knife

  1. #1
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    Post Survival knife v.s. Bushcraft knife

    Hello all!

    This title is a bit more of an eye catcher and may sound a bit over used but it isn't what you think. I understand some people have two light carry set-ups. One set-up being a bushcraft set-up which could include a 4" bushcraft knife, folding saw, or a small axe. The second being their survival set-up which could include a large 6"+ knife and maybe a saw or an axe.

    My question is this.....

    When do you carry each set-up and why? Why do you carry a survival knife set-up sometimes when going out?

    Please respond and I hope this creates some nice responses. Maybe clear some peoples heads about carrying "only 1" knife. This way they could evaluate their situation before assuming a single carry....

  2. #2
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    i carry an enzo trapper or a puukko (small knife) and an 8" leuku (large "bushcraft" knife) no saw or axe unless im building or have to chop up a 9" trees worth of firewood ect.
    no point in overburdening myself to be honest, i find i can do more than enough with the tools i carry.

  3. #3
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    I don't really think its a case of a two different & contrasting set-ups, more a preference. I doubt the same person would go out one day to enjoy & participate in the outdoors one day and then go and survive the next, but then there are the "bushcrafters" and then survivalists. What is a survival knife anyway?
    Choices & preference, ask 20 free thinkers on here their thoughts on choice of cutting tools and get 20 different answers, and then ask again in 6 months and it will often differ again.
    Some people change their opinion on choice of cutty things more often than their underwear

    My own choice is usually (sadly) dictated by how many people who do not know me I am likely to encounter which usually means a necker of some sort under my top layer or in a pocket and the inoffensive folding saw and given the choice I would have my modded CS trail hawk as well.
    I am however venturing into the world of large knives on friday when I pick up my new Ka bar johnson Zombie slayer.........
    Who knows what sort of can of worms that one could open!

  4. #4

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    I always carried my Spyderco BushcraftUK on my waist and Ka Bar BK2 in my bag in case the "survival" situation arise! Survival mode will automatically kick in whenever I am put in a distress situation.

  5. #5

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    SF, did you know the link in your sig has dropped and is now being squatted?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Si1entDave View Post
    SF, did you know the link in your sig has dropped and is now being squatted?
    yeah i ran out of money in my account to pay the host of the site, it will be back up and running as soon as possible.

  7. #7
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    i only carry one set up tho its evolved over the years and as a maker i do some times bring a new blade to try out

    in the old days before bushcraft a large locking Swiss army knife with saw and a large Kukri did every thing I needed

    now ive tryed the 4" Bushcraft thing and to be honest i dont use it even after designing my own blade i prefer to use a 3/4 scale version as a neck knife (so really a fixed replacement to the swiss army blade)

    i still use the Kukri but have forced myself to try an axe which to be honest never got used unless i remembered and used it for something i didn't need to so i sold it ( the Kukri doesn't get much Bush craft use)
    I dont do chopping of fire wood i just gather and burn shelter is a Hammock so best not to cu th trees down .

    One thing that is a step up is a bigger folding Saw and I did carry a Gerber one for a long time before bushcraft and its a big step up from the Swiss army knife (still a very useful saw for its size )
    now ive upgraded again mainly to collect larger bits for fire wood or carving to this

    can deal with 10" limbs with ease



    And i do carry and Axe but its a luxury heavy head GB carving axe for ...carving green wood

  8. #8
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    Just a medium sized blade for me tbh although a fairly hevy duty one. Along with a SAK ofcourse, though mainly for the other tools rather than the blade.

  9. #9

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    Generally my kit remains the same for any proper outing: I like a scaled down fixed blade with a thin, sharp slicing edge, and a big knife, along the lines of a Kukri is great. One of my all time favourite general purpose outdoors knives is my rubber handled Cold Steel Barong. Anyone who doesn't have one who regularly does a lot of outdoors stuff should at least check them out - they are discontinued as far as I know, but you can still find them now and then online.

    Inexpensive, loads of cutting power, the grip is great in all holds and I use mine for everything from felling, limbing, splitting (no baton required ) and also, crucial to me, as a draw knife for roughing out longbows from green staves.

    It is easy to sharpen, holds its edge for a long time and I wouldn't part with mine so don't ask !



    It is one of the most versatile tools I know of.

    That isn't often socially acceptable though, and so some of the time at least a saw or small axe goes along instead.

    Despite being a big bloke I like small knives for most of my work and big knives for the rough and tumble stuff.

    Whatever works is OK in my book.

  10. #10
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    Xunil, you've just reminded me I've been craving to try a Barong for long time but have been resisting...


    ...I keep going back to oggle at the trad filipino ones.
    Hedgehog

  11. #11

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    I'm going to make a couple of calls tomorrow to see if I can source any remaining stock.

    I have a habit of buying two of anything I like (or that I think I'll like ) and the Cold Steel Barong is definitely one I'd like to ensure supply of, especially now that they are discontinued

    Mine's the budget one, not the silly-priced wooden handled one they did:



    Won't win any beauty contests but it sure can cut

    I particularly like the fact that it has a sharp point unlike most machetes, so I tend to really sharpen up the last couple of inches or so at the tip while the bulk of the edge is left for the heavy chopping and draw knife work. I've roughed out a lot of longbows with mine and all it has is some marks on the black coating to show for it.

    Now, to source a spare or two, juts in case...

    Last edited by Xunil; 24-03-2011 at 23:00. Reason: spooling orrors

  12. #12
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    to be honest I do carry a few shaps if i'm out for a wander- a 4" fixed bushcraft knife, a karesuando boar, a mora 120 carving knife incase I fancy a bit of a whittle, and now a spyderco ladybug on a bit of paracord I wear around my neck as well as a bahco laplander- between this lot I haven't found much that I cant cut, so in truth I've never found the need for a 'big' knife I doubt here in the UK you'd ever need one- its not like you're using a parang hacking through the jungle *cough cough*
    ''there are no such things as strangers, only friends I haven't yet met''

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3bears View Post
    ... I've never found the need for a 'big' knife I doubt here in the UK you'd ever need one- its not like you're using a parang hacking through the jungle *cough cough*
    Agreed, unless you happen to be harvesting longbow staves in numbers, helping your local estate woodsmen with their felling, limbing and general tidying of their land (in exchange for the right to harvest aforementioned longbow staves), or...

    For most outdoors trips I could comfortably get away with a 3" slipjoint folder and I suspect that goes for the vast majority of bushcrafters and yet here we all are, with all manner of cutting tools at our disposal, and with a ton of supporting arguments justifying preference.

    Some people need big knives for some tasks.

    Others don't.

    Some folks just like 'em. Strength to their arm.

    Before I bought an electric hedge trimmer I kept my garden in order with an old machete for many years, trimming the apple trees, the border hedge, the holly trees and so on. It made a laborious task relatively easy more times than I care to remember.

    Most Granfors axe owners that I have met rarely use their axe. Droves of folks in the UK buy them though and, for them, it's comforting to know that if they ever need to use it, they can. Comforting for Gransfors too I imagine...

    The condom principle: better to have and not to need than need and not to have.

    I tend to use big knives or smaller than the currently 'standard' bushcraft knife, or no knife at all.

    Ironic that bushcraft, if any of us actually did it in its purist sense, would have us using stone or flint blades and not the paraphernalia discussed here.

    For a leisure activity that alleges to have its roots buried in the mists of time and that regularly cites ancestral skills we seem to have 'progressed' it into a modern take on a slightly eccentric form of camping

    I hope we may all one day be forgiven our cutlery sins
    Last edited by Xunil; 25-03-2011 at 09:12.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xunil View Post
    Agreed, unless you happen to be harvesting longbow staves in numbers, helping your local estate woodsmen with their felling, limbing and general tidying of their land (in exchange for the right to harvest aforementioned longbow staves), or...

    For most outdoors trips I could comfortably get away with a 3" slipjoint folder and I suspect that goes for the vast majority of bushcrafters and yet here we all are, with all manner of cutting tools at our disposal, and with a ton of supporting arguments justifying preference.

    Some people need big knives for some tasks.

    Others don't.

    Some folks just like 'em. Strength to their arm.

    Before I bought an electric hedge trimmer I kept my garden in order with an old machete for many years, trimming the apple trees, the border hedge, the holly trees and so on. It made a laborious task relatively easy more times than I care to remember.

    Most Granfors axe owners that I have met rarely use their axe. Droves of folks in the UK buy them though and, for them, it's comforting to know that if they ever need to use it, they can. Comforting for Gransfors too I imagine...

    The condom principle: better to have and not to need than need and not to have.

    I tend to use big knives or smaller than the currently 'standard' bushcraft knife, or no knife at all.

    Ironic that bushcraft, if any of us actually did it in its purist sense, would have us using stone or flint blades and not the paraphernalia discussed here.

    For a leisure activity that alleges to have its roots buried in the mists of time and that regularly cites ancestral skills we seem to have 'progressed' it into a modern take on a slightly eccentric form of camping

    I hope we may all one day be forgiven our cutlery sins
    Too be honest I like every bit of what you said. I think that is what I really love. I know I won't really need an axe but if it is cold and I want larger logs for a fire it is nice to know it is in my pack.
    I think the problem for some if not most people that start bushcraft, including myself, is that we get hung-up on the knife aspect. And we think of survival situations (or light carry and just using the knife) and how well the knife will perform, but what if you don't have a firesteel? Or wood is too damp to make a bowdrill. HELLOOOOO FLINT AND STEEL. It isn't something I am familiar with but in any situation it is better to know how to use it and not have to use it, rather than need to use it and not know how to :P

    I also relate the tools in my pack that way. I don't need a saw but it is better to know how to use it properly and know some tricks with it rather than to not know. Same can be said for my axe or any other tool. I wouldn't have guessed how to split logs with a saw until forums and videos. But even though bushcraft is a leisure activity and we don't carry primative tools all of the time there is nothing stopping you from making them during a trip while resting around a fire. And I think that is what makes bushcraft and the relaxation that can come with it so great. You don't always use fire for warmth but time to think and practice more of the primative skills you haven't learned yet. I find when I purposly make it harder on myself to make a shelter and a fire while using little-to-no tools is a good thing, but once I have already done it a few times I find it to be a waste of opportunity. While using the tools to make the job go by faster and having more of that leisure time around a fire I can practice skills I wouldn't normally have the time to do on a normal hike or day trip. It is a decent way to multi-task.

  15. #15

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    Don't get me started on firesteels.

    I can't for the life of me understand why they have become so synonymous with bushcraft at the expense of the actual methods our ancestors practiced (the materials for which are, more often than not, readily available).

    Even worse, the firesteel has become such a fully integrated item of kit it is now 'standard issue' to have a knife sheath made with a loop for one.

    Firesteel sparks are hotter and there are far more of them than a flint and steel with charcloth, never mind the bow and hand drill. For such a fundamental skill as firelighting I think firesteels should be banned from all bushcraft courses until AFTER bow and hand drill, or (even easier) the fire plough, have been taught.

    Thomas J. Elpel's "Three Days at the River - with nothing but our bare hands" should be standard fodder for anyone claiming any interest at all in bushcraft. It is as humbling as it is eye-opening.

    No, I don't expect folks to go hardcore with little or no practice or experience, but I don't realistically buy into the kit-driven ethic of bushcraft either, which places itself at the opposite pole.

    Firesteels - handy to have, and about as bushcrafty as an iPhone

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xunil View Post
    Don't get me started on firesteels.

    I can't for the life of me understand why they have become so synonymous with bushcraft at the expense of the actual methods our ancestors practiced (the materials for which are, more often than not, readily available).

    Even worse, the firesteel has become such a fully integrated item of kit it is now 'standard issue' to have a knife sheath made with a loop for one.

    Firesteel sparks are hotter and there are far more of them than a flint and steel with charcloth, never mind the bow and hand drill. For such a fundamental skill as firelighting I think firesteels should be banned from all bushcraft courses until AFTER bow and hand drill, or (even easier) the fire plough, have been taught.

    Thomas J. Elpel's "Three Days at the River - with nothing but our bare hands" should be standard fodder for anyone claiming any interest at all in bushcraft. It is as humbling as it is eye-opening.

    No, I don't expect folks to go hardcore with little or no practice or experience, but I don't realistically buy into the kit-driven ethic of bushcraft either, which places itself at the opposite pole.

    Firesteels - handy to have, and about as bushcrafty as an iPhone
    although I fully understand............

    I like Firesteels though but will make a point of getting to grips with the friction thing now!

    I have an aquaintance who is now a self proclaimed "bushcrafter" (Kit monster) and now everywhere he goes he takes his new bergan and anything that's cool or trendy within these circles is in it or strapped on it.
    A full pack and an empty head and doubtful any of it will ever see "the bush"
    Kit driven? without a doubt but it makes them happy!

  17. #17
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    Well I wouldn't always say being kit driven is a bad thing. As it was said before, it is better to have and not need rather than need and not have. But some people are different. I find my most important time is when I am around the fire because that seems to be the only time I can get my friend to stay still lol. He isn't very into the idea of making fire in a traditional way because it takes to long and he seems to be in a rush all of the time. So I find when I am around the fire and I have made it fast with my tools, than I can practice making fire in other ways and just put it out as soon as it seems decent.

    I am buying these new items from bensbackwoods:
    -Wetterlings wildlife hatchet -----(I will use it sometimes although not all of the time. More of a luxury item and to begin learning)
    -LMF army firesteel
    -Frost Mora Crooked Knife
    -Opinel NO 8 ------(For collection mainly)
    -Zebra Billycan 10cm -------(Mainly use during colder days, but always nice to have)
    -Grand Trunk Ultra Light Travel Hammock (I won't always use since my forest isn't meant for full-on camping, but maybe on long biking treks)
    -Laplander Folding Saw
    -JRE Field Strop ------(Just to have since I cannot find a place near me that sells decent leather)
    -Lansky Puck Dual Grit Sharpener

    All should cost only around and aprox. of $200 Canadian. What do you guys think? Good deal?
    I know I am a bit of a kit hungry person but I am still young and have spare money. I'd also rather make one order rather than many different orders to save on S&H taxes. I also have an Enzo Trapper for my bushcraft knife and a RAT-rc4 for my day hike knife when I bring hardly anything but a knife.

    Most of these items are a big upgrade from my older tools. My old axe was dull and heavier than the wetterlings, saw is better than the gerber, and everything else is mainly additional kit to try out or to always use.

    Thanks for the great responses!

  18. #18

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    I'm all for the fun factor and I'd rather see the kit-driven folks out and about that not out at all.

    The entire bushcraft thing has become its own ironic oxymoron in so many ways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xunil View Post
    I'm all for the fun factor and I'd rather see the kit-driven folks out and about that not out at all.

    The entire bushcraft thing has become its own ironic oxymoron in so many ways.
    I understand what you mean though. It really is a bit more than people see it as. Most people don't begin doing it because they want to strive off of what nature can provide them and get a little bit more in touch with it, but they'd rather just chop stuff and make fires. (Guilty as charged for falsely joining although I soon changed my attitude =P)
    I think it is getting a bit more confused with camping more than anything. People like the luxury items during camping and just care to get out and there is nothing wrong with that but for hardcore bushcrafters they'd rather gain full knowledge of how things work. Almost like a Chef and a Cook. Some like to cook and they call themselves chefs but they aren't really "Chefs"...

  20. #20
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    people should be out doors doing what they enjoy how they enjoy it as long as it doesn't wreck the environment or others experience of it

    but obviously the only true old school way to light fire is to wait for lighening strike

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by FGYT View Post
    the only true old school way to light fire is to wait for lighening strike
    I prefer to use lava

  22. #22

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    Some great fodder for thought here.

    I do lots of hiking-- some near home, some farther from roads. My day pack/survival pack contains a Mora Bushcraft Triflex, a 15-inch Sven Saw (a really great tool for quickly converting branches into firewood or shelter components, and an small Estwing ax (great for splitting wood to get a dry surface for fires. Also in the pack at the moment is a Cold Steel Pendleton Mini-Hunter, as a back-up for the Mora. I'm not a guy who has to use a knife for everything. I can break lots of smaller wood with my hands and feet. However, it's nice to know that should I spend an unplanned (or, better yet, impulsively planned) night or two in the woods, I'll have some help. Also in the pack is a Swedish fire steel, strike-anywhere matches, a lighter, and (please forgive me for all of this) dryer lint.

    If I need shelter, I'll figure it out.

    Yes, we humans get hooked on having all of the best tools to weigh us down, and maybe don't use our brains enough.

    If for some reason, I want to cut weight, I'll replace the ax with my ESEE-4, but the saw will always be there, as well as at least two knives. Funny thing, or not, but the tool I most often use is not a knife (though I'd never be without one or two), but a small LED flashlight. That (with spare batteries) is always with me.

    Cheers to all of you. Enjoy the outdoors, protect it, and keep voting for those whose policies protect our health and our natural heritage.

  23. #23
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    Hi. For me small is beautiful. I rarely need more blade than my SAK climber that Ive carried and used fro the past twenty years. As for fire and steel, why bother when you can use a bic! If its wet there is always lighter fuel. If its a survival situation you need fire fast, your life depends on it. No time to mess about if you need heat.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushnoob View Post
    ...I think it is getting a bit more confused with camping more than anything. People like the luxury items during camping and just care to get out and there is nothing wrong with that but for hardcore bushcrafters they'd rather gain full knowledge of how things work. Almost like a Chef and a Cook. Some like to cook and they call themselves chefs but they aren't really "Chefs"...
    -A "Cook" is someone who gets paid poorly to cook what you want to eat and he has to be very good at that.

    -A "Chef" is someone who gets paid very well to cook (or direct others to cook) what he wanys you to eat and he doesn't neccessarily have to be any good at it, just able to convince you he knows better than you.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by santaman2000 View Post
    -A "Cook" is someone who gets paid poorly to cook what you want to eat and he has to be very good at that.

    -A "Chef" is someone who gets paid very well to cook (or direct others to cook) what he wanys you to eat and he doesn't neccessarily have to be any good at it, just able to convince you he knows better than you.
    Excellent!!!!!!

  26. #26
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    I carry a pocketknife of some type on every trip, but mainly because I carry a pockeyknife everywhere anyway. I have since I was about 7 or 8 years old. I usually vary my other knives according to what I'll doing. If freshwater fishing, I have a 6" fillet knife (but it's usually in my tackle box rather than being worn) If saltwater fishing, it's a larger 9" filleting knife. For a general purpose trip into the wilds, I'll be wearing a larger folder such as a Buck 110 or a 2 blade Case trapper with 3 & 1/2 inch blades. For longer trips or if hunting I'll have a medium (about 5" 0r 6" blade) fixed blade knife and likely a machete or hatchet.

    As for "survival" knives, I think the current trend is smaller rather than larger; extremely small to be precise. Think of blades (usually without handle scales attached) that will fit into a survival kit which in turn will fit into a pocket.

  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xunil View Post
    Don't get me started on firesteels.

    I can't for the life of me understand why they have become so synonymous with bushcraft at the expense of the actual methods our ancestors practiced (the materials for which are, more often than not, readily available).

    Even worse, the firesteel has become such a fully integrated item of kit it is now 'standard issue' to have a knife sheath made with a loop for one.

    Firesteel sparks are hotter and there are far more of them than a flint and steel with charcloth, never mind the bow and hand drill. For such a fundamental skill as firelighting I think firesteels should be banned from all bushcraft courses until AFTER bow and hand drill, or (even easier) the fire plough, have been taught.

    Thomas J. Elpel's "Three Days at the River - with nothing but our bare hands" should be standard fodder for anyone claiming any interest at all in bushcraft. It is as humbling as it is eye-opening.

    No, I don't expect folks to go hardcore with little or no practice or experience, but I don't realistically buy into the kit-driven ethic of bushcraft either, which places itself at the opposite pole.

    Firesteels - handy to have, and about as bushcrafty as an iPhone
    YES! 100% of what you said!

  28. #28
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    Because for lots Bushcraft isnt not about reenactment, but about making use of the most practicle tools for the job, while still maintaining the knowledge and skills of the history, yes a lighter will work but not when its empty or broken, matches the same a ferro rod will work even if snapped, I have used feather sticks and a fire plough in South America, but the best method by far was using a lighter and a thick strip of rubber both stored in a plastic ziplock, I really enjoy using a flint and steel or pyrites but I would not take it when i go for a trundle, just like I take a gas stove to cook on some times, Fair enough don't buy into the kit thing but get lost in the romance either

  29. #29
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    About the kit thing, and the magpie acquisition of sharps and so on - I count myself very guilty on that one, but only for the last year or so.
    For twenty years I used the same kit - rubber poncho, '58 pattern sleeping bag, army mat, a heavy steel mug that was, I guess, the precursor to the crusader, and the inevitable hexi, or if I wasn't going to be out too long, a little gas coleman. No gore-tex, because it hadn't been invented (or issued) when I started out - those horrible nylon waterproofs which slicked up with sweat on the inside - brrr!

    The only sharp I took was a SAK, and I was fine. It wasn't until I became aware of Ray Mears to be honest, and then, fatally, this very site, that I began to consciously lust after various bits of kit. So out goes the old rubber poncho (which weighed a ton, admittedly), and in came a DD tarp. Our went the issue mat, in came a thermarest. The steel mug was retired, replaced by a zebra billy and hobo stove for which I carry meths, or use as nature intended.

    Perhaps most dramatically, the SAK was cast aside and a succession of sharps took its place. First a Mora, of course. Then I had the opportunity to buy a Shing Bushcrafter from a member here, and jumped at it. I had now succumbed to full-blown kit-monster syndrome. The old Berghaus Roc went into the attic (couldn't bear to sell it - it's been all over the world with me for decades). In came a Karrimor sabre 45. I acquired a Lance Ockenden necker through a chance trade - again, from a member here. And finally, I bought an axe - not a Granfors, just a cheap (but very effective) Bahco - oh and a Laplander saw, too.

    I rarely get to the woods, though I camp out on average one night a week. I live by the sea, and so camp out on a deserted headland a couple of miles from home. There are no trees, so if i want to whittle I have to bring my own wood. Most of the time therefore, the only sharps I carry are a No8 Opinel, for food prep, and the Ockenden necker, because it's small, and just feels so great to use.

    About once every three months, I get to camp out in real, deciduous woodland, and when that happens the Shing and the axe are what get used most. I like to fiddle about making camp furniture, and the axe is great for getting things started, while the Shing is the best all around blade I possess, as well as being a thing of sheer beauty - it brightens me up just to look at it.

    So I don't regret the kit-monstering. The stuff I've gathered together lately is quality, and will do me a long time - it also, to put it bluntly, does the job far better than the old gear i'd been shlepping around for so many years.
    Last edited by Corfe; 29-08-2012 at 10:56. Reason: Needed paragraphs!

  30. #30
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    I don't own what I would consider a survival knife, I have a set of three knives I use for chopping, cutting and food prep.

    To me a survival knife should be able to help to defend me from an attack, to chisel through breeze block, to chop, cut and slice through anything I throw at it and to be almost impossible to destroy.

    In short, to me, one set of skills (bushcraft) is not an evolution of another set (survival) but is more the difference between a combat sport and a martial art. One is to just get the job done without limits in any environment, the other is to perform in a specific arena. Of course there is overlap but that's a whole other thread.

    I do keep toying with getting a BK2 and having a play with something I would consider a good survival knife starting point. My knives could be pushed into a survival situation and would probably be ok but while well made, they use natural materials and the steel is unforgiving of damage.
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