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My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 7:12 am
by warrenss2
I used to have a Beck WSK (Wilderness Survival Knife), it looks alot like TOPS tracker but, IMHO, superior.

As I've gotten more used to going without more equipment I've found the WSK too heavy and awkward for both carrying and some chores around camp... I had to carry a Victorinox Swiss Army knife - the Rucksack - as a backup.

Pic of the Rucksack

I still carry the Rucksack, but for my primary knife I've gone with a RAT Cutlery RC-4... and it is great!

Plus since the price tag is not too horrible, about $100, and it's guaranteed for life, I'm not too terribly scared about loosing it. The WSK was over $450!!! :o

Light weight and strong.

I could see Gray Dog with one of these.

Re: My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:11 am
by macclint

Those Beck Trackers are going for over $1000 bucks now... I almost bought one for $300 back in '92, but I was a poor college student.

I have one of the TOPS versions, but I really need to get the edges re-profiled. They just don't cut well.

I carry a Rucksack with me everytime I go into the hills. Survival expert Ron Hood, who is a big blade man has stated if he was only going to take one knife (an unlikely occurrence) the Swiss Army Rucksack model is the one he would take.

Re: My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:27 pm
by Sage Blackthorn
I've always liked Swiss Army Knives (S.A.K.'s) since my older brother was an Eagle Scout when we lived in Colorado. I was lucky enough to be gifted with a black S.A.K. Work Champ by my girlfriend a number of years ago and it's gone on ever trip to the woods with me since I got it. At the time, it was the only S.A.K. I could find with the combination of tools I wanted, in the length I wanted. Looks like they have a few more options these days. I just wanted one with the wood/bone saw in the longest length blade available. I've tried using shorter saw blades and find them more difficult to work with.


Before that I used a Gerber 600-series Multi=Plier in combination with my ATAX Surtival Tool (another of Ron Hood's inventions). I grew to like the pliers themselves, and I liked being able to interchange the saw blades, but the main knife blade was always inadequate for doing fine cutting and carving work. That is where the Work Champ outshines the Gerber, though the Work Champ's pliers are good for small delicate work, they tend to fail at loosening larger nuts and bolts. Gerber Pliers Hood's Woods ATAX, made by TOPS Knives

And many, many years ago (when I was 18, I'll bee 34 next month), my favored camping blade was an Ontario Knive Co. Mil-Spec series "Marine SP-1", which I was very fond of until it was stolen about 6 years ago. It cost me maybe $25 at the time I got it from Sportsman's Guide. I've since replaced it with an equally cheap Cold Steel Bushman ( ), that ran me about $27 (including Shipping) from Chrystopher Nyerges's "School of Self-Reliance" (He's in Pasadena, I'm in Riverside. I like to buy local when I can get what I need).

Maybe it's just that I've gotten use to the traditional design of a fixed-blade knife, but I find for some tasks I prefer the Bushman over my ATAX just for ease of handling. Don't get me wrong, my ATAX is one hell of a tool and far out performs the lowly Bushman overall. There's just some things I'm more comfortable doing with the Bushman.

To round out my kit of cutting tools, I have 2 tomahawks. A Cold Steel Trail Hawk and Rifleman's Hawk. The Trail Hawk looks to be based on a Cherokee design. It's small and light weight, I find it's good for throwing at targets among other things. For heavier jobs, such as removing tree limbs and splitting kindling, I use the Rifleman's Hawk. It weight more, as so adds more force to each blow, whether it's driving in tent stakes or chopping wood. Cold Steel has recently made a hammer-poll hatchet they call the Trail Boss that looks like it might strike a good balance between the two hawks I carry now. I usually only carry the Rifleman on my frame pack for long hikes. The Trail Hawk slips in my equipment belt that holds my Gerber, S.A.K., ATAX, and Bushman, along with a canteen and small Butt Pack that clips to the rear of the web belt and contains my basic wilderness kit. Consequently, I also have a Cold Steel Boar Spear and one of their Willow Leaf Sabers (which they don't seem to be offering anymore). Not that I take the Boar Spear hiking, mind you. I have a red oak Bo Staff that I do take hiking with me however. I've tapered one end down to accept the socketed handle of my Bushman for use as a spear should the need arise.

Eventually, I'll be putting together a more primitive kit modeled after that of the colonial trappers, hunters and rifleman of the 1750's. 1 knife, 1 'hawk, flint and steel kit (which I have already), tin boiler and small folding iron skillet for my mess kit, wooden canteen of some type (I have my eye on an oak "Rumlet", but it's to expensive right now), Wool Blanket and oil cloth bedroll for cold months (go without most of the year in California), and of course every woodsman's pride and joy, a .50 caliber or better flintlock rifle (barrel length of 42 inches or longer) that I've been eyeing for months now over on [url]http:/[/url] I got my tinder box from Track last year. It's a derpcounterfeits of a Hudson's Bays Tobacco Box, brass with a convex lenx set in the lid used to focus sunlight for lightly a fire (or a pipe). It was part of a kit they offered with a fire steel, flint, and Tinder Tube for about $33. I also picked up a few things from, they carry the tin boiler and folding skillet I'm looking to get among other bits of primitive camp gear. And for my blanket, when I save up enough money, I'm going to Wilde Weavery ( ), which come recommended from Mark Baker, who writes the Pilgram's Jounry column for Muzzleloader Magazine.

In the end, I guess it's not so much the tools a woodsman carries, as it is the skill of the woodsman him/herself that matters. We all settle into our own ways of relating to the land, using what it offers us or insulating ourselves from it. Sometimes it's by choice, carrying a certain tool makes camp life easier. Sometimes it's not our choice, as when we have to carry propane stoves and lanterns and fuel cylinders because ground fires are prohibited where we are. Still, I always relish the chance to cook over a campfire rather than be forced to use a propane stove whenever I have the change.

Re: My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:00 pm
by warrenss2
The RC-4 & SAK Rucksack are for my woodland adventures.

I work with computers (yes... I'm a Geek... note the capital "G") so I carry the SAK Multi-Tool.


I love the comfortable feel it gives my hand. Other pluses: ALL of the non-plier tools can be opened WITHOUT opening the pliers section... and they ALL LOCK into position. Mine also comes with an alan-wrench driver/sockets that fits into the sheath.

I've tried Leatherman's tool and supertool, and SOG's Paratool. But for me... the Swisstool beats them all. IMHO.

I'm not a knife collector, but I like to do research before I get something.

I like the finger groves on the RC-4... Just enough to keep my hand/fingers from slipping down on the blade if my hands are a little numb from cold. Cut finger tendons + survival situation = BAD NEWS!!!

Oh ya... I keep this in my pocket for box opening or when I need a quick blade.
A Benchmade 710... got it when they first came out (about 10 years ago)... based on a good review from Equipped To Survive (


Sage, you'd probably weigh a ton and a half if you ever carry all that at one time! :o :)

I going to start learning Flint Knapping soon so I'd be able to make my own spear/arrow/ax/knives in the woods.

macclint wrote - "I have one of the TOPS versions, but I really need to get the edges re-profiled. They just don't cut well."

This is another reason why I got rid of my WSK. You'd have to carry a special sharpener (telescoping diamond rod?) to keep it sharp. That's also why I'm against serrated edge knives. I rather be able to pick up a smooth river rock, sharpen the blade, and wha-la! Ready to go!

Re: My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:16 am
by Sage Blackthorn
warrenss2 wrote:
Sage, you'd probably weigh a ton and a half if you ever carry all that at one time! :o :)

Na', I just weighed the full rig with both tomahawks, full buttpack, filled 1 quart canteen with nesting steel canteen cup, ATAX, Bushman, S.A.K., and Gerber. It's only about 8 lbs all together. Of course that doesn't include my one-man Bivy Tent or my tarp shelter. The bivy-tent is nice when the mosquitoes are a problem, but it's heavier than the tarp. I've carried heavier loads into the woods by far. Heck my frame pack weighs more than that empty. I use to routinely hike around Angelus Oaks with an 80 lb. pack. 2 liter Camel-bak, single mantel propane lantern, single burner propane stove, couple fuel cylinders, tent, mattress pad, sleeping bag, 5 quarts of water in 3 canteens, PUR "Guide" water filter. There's a steep patch of trail we go down, so I usually have a rappelling harness/carabiner/figure-8 descender rig I use. My brother-in-law usually has the climbing rope. Add the 8 lbs of my "Light Weight" kit to that, and food for a weekend. Sometimes I'll take a book or to with me. I've been enjoying "Journal of A Trapper" by Osbourne Russel lately. Other times I'll try out some of the projects in Earth Knack, or one of the vol's of The Book of Buckskinning, A Pilgram's Journey, Survival Skills of Primitive California, or the Society of Primitive Technology anthologies I have. I had considered bringing the portable DVD player and all my Woodsmaster and Cave Cooking DVDS in hardside CD wallet so teach my nephew a few things, but I don't have a solar charger and my nephew has lost interest in all things wilderness related these days.

The primitive kit I want to put together will probably weigh more than 8 lbs with the canvas oil cloth and wool blanket, then I'll have to figure on how much the cornmeal/parched corn, jerky, and muscavado sugar are going to weigh. Mr. Baker writes that he's packed 3 lbs of cured slab bacon on a period trek before. I'm hoping to keep it all under 25 lbs including the bedroll, spare moccassins and socks, knife and tomahawk, mess kit, fire kit, and trail rations. The rifle and shooting set-up I want, of course, will add more weight. I'll be carrying at least 1 lb of black powder, a couple lbs of lead/round balls, bullet mold, lead ladle, spare flints, shooting patches, shooting tools and accessories (lock cover for foul weather, for example). Figure a properly out-fitted longhunter is looking at probably 50-60 lbs of camp gear and shooting equipment and still expecting to be able to provide most of his food from hunting, fishing (oops, forgot to add in some forged iron fish hooks and other period fishing tackle), and foraging. If I'm going to be packing in all my food needs, that's gonna be even more weight to carry. Out here, we're not allowed ground fires, so it's conceivable that I'd also have to pack in the previously mentioned stove, lantern and propane or risk being fined/jailed for violating various laws. The alternative being that I would be unable to cook my food.

Anyway, anything less than 80 lbs will be heaven by comparison :D

Re: My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:12 am
by Storm Crow
Up until I got out of college and was pulling my own paycheck, I owned only one knife, a Schrade stockman three-bladed pocketknife that my Dad gave me around the time I turned 10.

Once I started making my own money, I started buying knives and other items of interest, mostly from Cold Steel. At the moment, I own:

From Cold Steel:
1. ODA, their version of a Randall Model 1 knife done in stainless. Good knife, until the tip snapped off. The whole line of combat knives in stainless disappeared soon after, making me think I was not the only one who experienced that. I wish they would bring them back as carbon steel blades. I reground the tip and still use it.
2. Carbon V Trail Master. Feels good in the hand, and did better splitting firewood on a cross-country trip than our hatchet.
3. Carbon V Gurkha Kukri. Nice. Good chopper.
4. Bushman. They had them on sale at Christmas 3 for $30. I already had one, so I got myself another to keep in my toolbox and gave the other two to friends. Useful knife, if a bit light when trying to chop heavier stuff. My brother commented that it felt more like a farming implement than most knives.
5. Brooklyn Smasher. A solid polypropylene baseball bat. Tough plastic with some flex to it.
6. Vietnam Tomahawk. Throws and sticks *very* well. I like its spike beter than the American Tomahawk Company's version. Handle broke after a while and I have yet to replace it (typical wooden handle behavior).
7. Special Forces Shovel - *Very* nice! Has a machete-like edge ground on it. It is great to keep in the pickup and take out to the junkyard. We used it to clear young mesquite trees out of the way when my friend bought a 1955 Buick Special and we had to push it by hand a ways before we could get it to the pathway and could use a comealong to load it on the trailer.
8. Latin machete -Typical machete. Nothing special.
9. Kudu - Knockoff of the Okapi cheap locking folder sold in Africa. I bought one for my mom to use out in the garden.
10. Big Bore blowgun - Great fun! Doubles as a walking stick, accurate, shoots a surprisingly long distance, comes with a variety of darts. I just got in a shipment of minibroadhead darts and razor tip broadheads. I have only done target shooting so far, but with the razor tips I may go hunting.
11. Jungle Dart and Delta Dart - Plastic self-defense stabby things. Makes hard-to-sew-up wounds, very cheap. Bought one each for my girlfriend for when she's walking to her car after class (she also has pepper spray, but I wanted her to have more-lethal options if an attacker is not stopped).

Non-Cold Steel
1. ATC VTAC - Tactical version of the Peter LaGana Vietnam Tomahawk. Slight variation from the Cold Steel version, with an almost indestructable handle that *will not let the head walk*. Which is good, because that is the death-knell of a wooden handle.
2. Ka-Bar U.S. Army knife - Same as the USMC fighting knife, but with an army logo on the sheath. Very good all around utility and fighting knife.

So, I might be a little overboard. Most of them I bought more because I wanted to see how they were made and how they felt in the hand, but all of them have proven useful. And they were all cheap enough that a poor boy could get them!

The one that I carry with me every day, though, is still the old Schrade. A very good knife.

Re: My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:55 pm
by warrenss2
My taste in knives has always run to the simple, tried, but true variety.

The Ontario Air Force Survival knife.

The Kabar USMC knife.

Non-serrated edges only for easy blade dressing. Handguard protecting the hand from slipping up on the blade during use (and preventing an adversary's blade from sliding down onto your hand/fingers). Cheap and easy to replace if lost or broken.

Face it. Sometimes you may have to use the knife in weapon mode too. Make it more practical than purtie (that last sentence should be said with a huge southern draw).

The lack of handguard on my RC-4 was a major concern for me, but I figure I'd just have to NOT do any blade parries if in a combat* situation. (But the adversary's arm, bleed out spots, would be fair game in that case.)
*Combat = Fighting for your life. Kill or be killed situation.

I'm glad I got the RC-4. Very satisfied.

Now all I need is a good 'hawk. (nudge, nudge... wink, wink, Storm Crow) :D

Re: My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:34 am
by Storm Crow
Hello, just a nudge to Warren to see if he had gotten my PM last Wednesday...

Re: My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:43 am
by warrenss2
I spent Labor Day week doing some primitive camping... well... I did the primitive stuff... my wife does the tent, sleeping bag, brings own food, etc...

I put my knife through the tests... and it does GOOD.

I wore the knife scout fashion on my "survival fannypack". You get many carrying option with the sheath...


Very nice knife.

Re: My New Knife for in the Woods

PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:25 am
by curlylocks
Why does your pic doesn't show up in my browser? Is my browser has the problem or the attaching of the pic?