Gear Guide | Choosing The Right Knife For Your Outdoor Adventure In The UK
Looking to get a knife for your outdoor adventures? Be sure to read this first.
Buying an outdoorsy knife if you don't know what you're doing can be tricky. You might end up buying a spoon, or a fork, or some sort of pine-handled spatula. No? OK. That was a really bad joke. For obvious reasons, purchasing a knife is serious business. Get the right knife and you'll have a useful tool for your roamings in the wild. Buy the wrong knife and you'll have a superfluous bit of kit that weighs you down, brings nothing useful to your trip, and scares those around you. Think: do you really need a barbed machete for a couple of days camping in Wales? Probably not.
So, what should you look for when buying a knife for use in the UK? What should you consider? How big does it need to be? What sort of stuff do you need to use it for? And so on, and so forth.
Here are some things an outdoor knife can be used for:
- Fire Making
- Food Preparation
- First Aid Tool
- Opening Beers
Is Knife Size Important?
That cheeky old saying that people 50 and above use on a daily basis, the one that goes "It's not how big it is, it's what you do with it that counts", doesn't really apply to outdoor knives. When it comes to items such as this, its ability to completely the task set is largely dependent on how big or small the knife is (as well as, of course, the experience of the person wielding it).
A knife that's too small will be unable to chop down trees, or be driven through thick wood. While, at the other end of the scale, a knife that's too big will be useless for tasks that require a precise and delicate approach.
Depending on who you ask, and how passionate they are about adventure knives, you're likely to get very different answers to the recommended size question. Some say a top of knife to bottom of handle length between six and ten inches is the most versatile (with blade length around the three to five inches mark). This size, it's reckoned, can hold up well to a variety of different tasks without being cumbersome. That said, we'd recommend you really think about whether you need a knife that big for your adventure as there are smaller knives that might be more appropriate for UK-based stuff.
Fixed or Folding?
There's a lot to be said for both types of knives here. A fixed knife is arguably more durable than a folder, as a joint of any kind is seen by some experts as being a potential weak spot.
Coming at it from a different angle though, it's clear that a folding knife has a number of benefits. The main ones being that it's far more practical in terms of storage and transportation. Kershaw, you'll be pleased to know, offer a wide variety of knives; both fixed and folding.
'Full Tang' knives are seen by some as being the be-all and end-all of the adventure knife. The argument goes that because the blade and handle are constructed from one continuous piece of metal, full tangs are stronger and more robust than half tang or rat-tail pang knives.
Over periods of time, partial tang knives can loosen under the heavy stresses that occur during high stress activities This loosening will, in the long run, leave you with a knife that's difficult, and potentially dangerous, to use.
One way to easily spot a full tang knife, although it apparently doesn't apply to all knife products, is to turn the knife on its side and look to see whether the handle has exposed metal sandwiched between the two opposing sides of the handle. Metal sandwich = full tang.
It goes without saying that you want an adventure knife that's got a bit of versatility to it; one that can provide you with solutions to whatever challenges come your way. Take the Kershaw Shuffle, for example. It has a short and stubby blade so ticks the standard knife box, but it also has a bottle opener (for when you want to kick back with a beer) and a flathead screwdriver (for when you, presumably, want to put together some flatpack furniture). Little touches like the built in pocket clip are easy to love, and go to show that a decent outdoors knife isn't just about how sharp the blade is.
If you're trekking around for days at a time, with a heavy backpack hanging from your shoulders, you want to minimise additional weight where possible. Walking about in the woods with three axes, two machetes, and a samurai sword might make you look like a countryside Rambo (cool) but it will also mean your kit's overall weight is far above what it should be (not cool). Something to consider when buying an outdoor knife is how much it weighs.
The Fraxion, which is the result of a collaboration between Kershaw and Danish toolmaker Anso, brings together a strong stainless steel blade with a G-10 handle that has carbon fibre overlays. The knife is very light, weighing in at just 53g. Oh, and before we forget, it also has a clip so that you can attach it to your pocket. As you've probably already noticed, we're a sucker for a feature like that.