Backpacking/Survival Knife

6:25 p.m. on December 17, 2011 (EST)
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I have two knives that I routinely take with me, one is a SOG SEAL Pup, and the other a Marble Plainsman. Both are fixed blade knives made of different grades of tool steel. Outside of general use such as cutting open packaging etc I typically use my knives every trip for batoning wood for campfire, preparing wood for my woodgas stove, and gutting and preparing fish and or small game depending on the season.

I like the two knives I have, however I am always looking on ways to reduce my pack weight. Those knives with their sheaths way about 8-9oz. The SOG is 7.8 with the sheath, and the marble is 8.0 with the sheath.

I am looking for a very light weight, high quality fixed blade knife made out of a high quality tool steel or 1095 high carbon steel.

I have been looking at the ESEE Izula knife, weighs 2 oz( ) and seems to be a very high quality and versatile knife based off what I have read about it and some video reviews I have seen. With the sheath it would be somewhere around 2.5-3 ounces I imagine. My plan would be to wrap the handle in paracord(which I already carry, so would not be adding any more weight)

Does anyone have the ESEE Izula? Or does anyone have a recommendation of something similar?

I am not interested in anything over 3oz or so. I am also not interested in anything made with stainless steel as it doesn't hold its edge long enough.

8:20 p.m. on December 17, 2011 (EST)
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I have about a dozen custom bush-hunting knives and my preference are knives made from S30V, by Gene Ingram and/or Charlie May of Mississippi. These guys both make superb knives and they also offer the skeleton handles as seen on some of the Eezee knives. I don't care for this type, but, that is just me, others do.

My favourite carry knife for serious wilderness uses is a S30V "OSKI" by Charlie, green canvas micart scales and 4" blade. This takes an edge that one could perform surgery with and holds it very well, but, is very rust-resistant, an important issue here in wet BC.

It is larger and heavier than what you are looking for, but, he also makes smaller specimens of the same design, I have one called "The CowKiller" and it is one fine little blade.

There are many other fine makers in the US, "BladeForums" is an excellent source for makers and so is "24Hr.Campfire" forums, knives section. Knives of this level of functional quality are not inexpensive, but, they work the way they are supposed to and last seemingly all of one's life.

Google some of the above and see what you think.

9:14 p.m. on December 17, 2011 (EST)
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Dewey, it definitely is a small world. It's funny that you mention Gene and Charlie. I know both of these gentlemen personally. I am from MS, and my parents still live there. My dad is a metal worker in the MS craftsmans guild with them. I agree that they do make some very fine knives, albeit a little pricier then I am looking to spend. And also heavier than I am looking for.

Glad to hear you are supporting Mississippi craftsmen! Keep it up!

9:57 p.m. on December 17, 2011 (EST)
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Your going to laugh but I am using the SP8 Machete from Ontario knives. It 1095 carbon steel and made in the USA. Full tang of course.

It's my axe and knife for many uses but I still take my leatherman wave. I guess I am tool heavy.

10:15 p.m. on December 17, 2011 (EST)
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bark river little creek? fits the weight constraint and has a tool steel blade, A-2.  expensive knives, but worth it in my experience.  nice scales once you rough them up a little with very fine grit emory paper.  i have one of the mid-sized ones, the gameskeeper.  a favorite.   

10:29 p.m. on December 17, 2011 (EST)
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I know this is not what you are looking for, but this is what I take with me:

It's high carbon stainless steal, .94oz, the only thing is that its not full tang, depending on what kind of work you are going to use it for might not suit your needs.  I mostly use it to cut oranges, food, and small things around camp, but I can get this knife sharp enough to skin animals, cut rope and open cans and containers. If you are concerned about the knife keeping its edge, might consider bringing a small fine sharpening stone and run the blade through it a few times when its not cutting as well as you need it. The handle is rather small and its getting worn out faster than I would like, but the blade is superb for its size. Will you take only one knife or two like before?
Another thing you might consider is bringing a multi-tool,  I carry this one:

It's only 5.75 oz, very well built, comes ultra sharp, carry in my belt and can't even tell its there sometimes. Other times I carry this one:

Which looks rougher and much uglier than the swiss army one  so it doesn't make me as guilty to use as the nice Victorinox =P. You can remove the bits and accessories it comes with to bring the weigh down too.


10:59 p.m. on December 17, 2011 (EST)
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Guess I should have been a little clearer in my original post. I only take one knife with me, in the winter I also carry a small multitool for traction gear repairs.

I will look into everything suggested thus far.

11:35 p.m. on December 17, 2011 (EST)
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I second the suggestion to look at custom makers. I had Ray Laconico make this one for me, specifically for backpacking:
It is a 4" blade of 5/32" O1, with a fairly thick bloodwood handle.  The knife weighs 4.27 oz.  You could get one lighter by using 1/8" stock, a lighter wood (or G10/Micarta), thinner handle, shorter blade, etc.  Ray uses 1095, O1, A2, and D2, as well as some stainless steels like CPM-154 and S35VN.  The blades are perfect grinds, and they perform.  I have done a good amount of batoning with knives from Ray.

12:49 p.m. on December 18, 2011 (EST)
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Pretty proud of those knives, $$$

8:43 p.m. on December 18, 2011 (EST)
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on the $$$ - my knife of choice for hiking and climbing, forever, was the opinel #12.  cheap and simple, folder with a soft wood handle, metal collar to "lock" the blade in place.  excellent carbon steel blades, basically the same as 1095.  hard, stays sharp forever, requires some care (rubbing with mineral oil) because like all non-stainless high carbon steels, it corrodes with exposure to moisture.  weighs 3 or 4 ounces, i'm guessing.  i used to carry a small swiss army knife for other tasks - opening cans, small screwdriver, that sort of thing

i stopped using them.  i busted a few knife tips, for one thing.  for another, the wood handles tend to swell when wet, making it hard to open and close the knife.  to make matters worse, the locking ring is less than secure, resulted in a fairly serious slash across my thumb during a trip.  i carry the scar to this day.  the swiss army knife blades didn't lock at all, and got sufficiently gunked up that it also became very hard to use.

i say this not to disparage the brands, i still think they make excellent folding/utility knives.  but to some degree, you get what you pay for.  it is worth spending a little more money on a good locking mechanism - something better than a lockback or non-locking blade (for a folding knife) and good construction  (blade steel & grind, scales for a fixed knife).  a good knife, sharpened occasionally and maintained, will last for years.  long enough that spending more won't make much of a difference in the long run.    

10:36 p.m. on December 18, 2011 (EST)
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Custom made Bowie(on the right)& Kershaw 1005 servival knife(on the left). The bowie is full tang, 9 in blade, 14 in knife.  I hardly ever take the custom bowie with me except on short hikes.  Why?  I because it makes me feel good but it does not serve enough purposes and is not as much of a survival knife as the Kershaw.  I do Take the the Kershaw 1005 survivle knife with me on backpacking and car/motorcydle trips.  Thailand will not let me carry it with me as it will land me in a Thai prison and we'll try to avoid that at all costs.


The case is nice as it lets one carrry it in a number of ways as well as holding a lot of other gear besides jsut the knife.  I have owned this knife for 30+ years.  I prefer to carry it attached to outside of my right leg for easy access.  There is a belt loop on the back of the case and a tie at the bottom.



All of the items are are contained within the Case/sheath except for the round tube that fits in the tang of the knife which will be seen in the next  picture. Pictured are the sheath , knife, a set of wonderful survival cards that are attatched at the top and swivel so that htey can be read without taking them apart as well as being water proof.  They include informantion such as but are not limited to intrenational emergency signals, gerneral fauna in the desert,turnrdra, tropics.  climbing inregards to knots, first aid, hunting using avaliable items inclucding fishing and fishing traps.  Dressing game, general knots.edibale plants, fast food, (not Mc D's) making eqiptment out of avaliable items (such as a stick, rope, rock to make a hammer), how to pack things without a pack, how to make shelters, how to collect water, making fire, oreintinint ones self, ground-air-body signals, etc.  A Brunton compass with a detailed compass fact sheet.  I added the waterproof  boot lace at the bottom of the sheath as well as the strap with the snaplock buckle to hold it to my leg.  I also added a mirror and my old boyscout compass.  All thats left is the round tube that fits in the shank/tang of the knife along with the cap. 




Inside the tang/shank is a plastic tub that containts fishing line, fishing hooks, fishing weights, a wire draw saw, water proof matches, waterproof wick.



Kershaw blade 6 3/4 in. , 13 in total length. Note the off setting pointed cutting teeth on the saw. All the other "survival knives" if seen have in line flat top teeth that look cool but don't saw at all.   These teeth will saw thru wood and bone. 


*Note this is nopt a UL item*

1:02 a.m. on December 19, 2011 (EST)
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Yes, it takes some $$$.  But you get what you pay for.  And customs like mine can be had for less than $200, which is what you will pay for some of the other factory blades out there that are not as well made, and you can have them made to your exact specifications rather than just taking what is available off the shelf.

4:40 a.m. on December 19, 2011 (EST)
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Mine was only $100+/- (I think, I'd have to go back and check).  It was thirty years ago but still.  Shouln't cost that much for a pig sticker. I'ts all about what works for you .

11:40 a.m. on December 19, 2011 (EST)
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Why would I pay 200+ for a knife? Yes custom made knives are great, they are high quality, durable, and beautiful. However, I am looking for a 'beater' so to speak. I need something light weight, durable, and functional only.

I agree you get what you pay for to some extent. But you also have to know what your looking for. in this case a 40-100$ knife made of a quality high carbon steel is all I need because I don't need to pay for beauty and a hand forged blade.

i can get the ESEE Izula for 43$ shipped right now while it is on sale. it meets all my criteria, but I was just looking to see if anyone had anything similar to recommend. large Bowie and traditional survival knives are nice but not what I need, folders have their place as well but not for me in this situation.

3:12 p.m. on December 19, 2011 (EST)
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Pretty basic – I don’t fuss over this type of gear.  Vitorinox two blade model equipted with four or five accessory tools is my standard.  If fishing additionally I bring a 6” lightweight full tang fillet knife (from REI).  If fresh food cooking sometimes I bring a 6” lightweight full tang French knife (purchased at local grocery store).  Add thin plastic sheet style cutting surface to kit so nothing gets needlessly dulled or damaged.  The Victorinox was a little pricy ($35) because of brand, but the other knives cost only about $6 per.  Everything is nice and sharp.


11:01 p.m. on December 19, 2011 (EST)
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My knife of choice:

Victorinox Cybertool 34


Targeted at computer guys like me. It has a short ball point pen in it. The pen was orginally called a DIP switch setter, no mention that it was a pen.  

11:39 p.m. on December 19, 2011 (EST)
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Well, it seems I hit a raw nerve with that suggestion.  I saw that the lower price options were covered with other suggestions (such as the Esee Izula) so I put in my two cents worth in case you were interested in higher quality.  The OP asked for suggestions for a high quality fixed blade with no mention of price range.  There are many on this forum who think nothing of putting down a lot of cash for top quality backpacking gear, so I didn't want to limit the suggestions based on a preconceived notion of what you might want to spend.  If that is not your cup of tea, then by all means get what works for you.  But criticism of the suggestion is not a way to engender future discussions.

I have heard good things about Esee knives, they offer good performance for the price.

11:41 p.m. on December 19, 2011 (EST)
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I would add that cutting performance in the Esee knives is much better with the uncoated blades.  Coated blades have significantly more friction and take more force to cut the same things.

11:48 a.m. on December 20, 2011 (EST)
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I have a Leatherman Wave and I have a custom knife with a 5.5 inch blade:


2:54 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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I ended up going with the Kabar Becker Necker BK11 knife. Was able to get it on ebay with micarta handles for 29.99. I don't care what anyone says, that's a heck of a deal!

The BK11 is 6 3/4 inches with a blade length of 3 1/4in, drop point, full flat grind, 15 degree edge angle, 1095 cro-van steel HRC 56-58. Has a bottle opener on the hilt, also tested it and it works as a makeshift can opener as well. Comes with a molded black plastic injected glass filled nylon sheath(similar to kydex). And made in the USA. Weight with sheath is 2.5oz. Weight with micarta handles is 2.9oz.

This knife fit my needs perfectly, and I couldn't argue with the price.


3:01 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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For $30 I would have jumped on it too. Do they have any more lol?

4:54 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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I think it was an xmas special. They still have the knife up on sale at 29.99, just no micarta handle included. Knife is usually 50ish retail.

5:07 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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Good deal, thanks for the heads up.

11:12 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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I'm not one to worry too much about shaving grams, but with knives, I do consider it more than I do elsewhere.  I'm looking to upgrade from my Opinel.  These are the two I like the most.  Now, do I need a rubber handle or not?  Really, that is the only significant consideration for my use.

Mora Clipper 840 (carbon) = 2.6oz or 73.70grams

Kabar Becker Necker BK11 = 2.5oz or 68.04grams

April 22, 2018
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