The knife that will do everything?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Pilsner, Feb 1, 2021.

  1. Pilsner

    Pilsner Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2017
    This may properly be better suited to the wilderness pages, and the moderators will judge if it should be moved! During this bloody pandemic, locked down in the inner city, I've been torturing myself by re-reading 'Woodcraft', by Nessmuk. It really got me thinking about that evergreen topic here on BF - 'if you could only take one knife etc'.

    Granted, it is mostly a fantasy topic, and most of us are happy to join in with the game, but Nessmuk got me thinking nonetheless. My favourite chapter in that classic book is Chapter VIII - A ten days' trip in the wilderness - going it alone. Here is how George W. Sears equipped himself:

    'One afternoon I carefully packed the knapsack and organized for a long woods tramp. I took little stock in that trail, or the three days' notion as to time. I made calculations on losing the trail the first day, and being out a full week. The outfit consisted of rifle, hatchet, compass, blanket-bag, knapsack and knife. For rations, one loaf of bread, two quarts of meal, two pounds of pork, one pound of sugar, with tea, salt etc., and a supply of jerked venison. One tin dish, twelve rounds of ammunition and the bullet-molds, filled the list, and did not make a heavy load.' [my bold]

    Sears, as well as being the pioneer of ultra-light camping, measured 5'3" and weighed 104lbs. I think the passage speaks for itself, and far more eloquently argues the point of preparation than I could ever do. Notice where his knife comes on that outfitting list?

    In the end, Nessmuk's trek across Michigan in the mid-19th century passed uneventfully, but it clearly had a profound effect on him, and he closes the chapter with these words:

    'Nothing but the exceptionally fine, dry weather rendered such a trip possible in a wilderness so cut up with swamps, lakes, marshes and streams. A week of steady rain or a premature snow storm - either likely enough at that season - would have been most disastrous; while a forest fire like that of '56, and later ones, would simply have proved fatal.

    Reader, if ever you are tempted to make a similar thoughtless, reckless trip - don't do it.
    ' [my bold]


  2. 91bravo

    91bravo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 2008
    WadeWilson, A.L., LG&M and 9 others like this.
  3. Monofletch

    Monofletch Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    I don’t know if I could limit myself to just one!!

    Maybe something 6-7” blade with a nice, roomy handle. Full flat grind. Oh, and an attitude!!!
    Reallybigmonkey1 and Pilsner like this.
  4. Ron Sabbagh

    Ron Sabbagh Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 15, 1999
    You know there is a knife design called a “Nessmuk”. It’s a modified skinner blade. I’m guessing it’s origins are tied to Nessmuk and his wilderness exploits.

  5. Pilsner

    Pilsner Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2017
    Indeed! Funnily enough, I've just penned a review of the Brisa Nessmuk in the reviews and testing forum! I think that is what made me re-visit his classic text.:)

    Like Kephart, his knife was part of a kit including a hatchet and pocket knife. I think Sears would have been the last person in the world to think that it would be a good idea to go it alone with only a knife!

  6. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    Notice that Sears had both hatchet and knife .

    So , that agrees with what I always say to the "one knife" question .

    Two is minimum . Something for chopping and a smaller , handier knife for fussier chores .

    If absolutely forced to choose , maybe some kind of hawk / hatchet could be made that would do most critical tasks to survive .

    But I'd be kind of cheating , because this "hawk" would have to have a small pointy knife-like spike . So really just a two-in-one tool.
    jfk1110, RayseM and Pilsner like this.
  7. Arathol

    Arathol Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    Well, obviously, the answer is either a Voyager in AUS10 or an SR1 Lite depending on what you read.
    Do try to keep up on such things.....[​IMG]
  8. Pilsner

    Pilsner Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2017
    I know! I’m so 19th century it’s painful!
    jbmonkey likes this.
  9. EngrSorenson

    EngrSorenson Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    I'm no survival expert, but if I had to bring only one edged tool with me on such a reckless endeavor, I'd probably be a simple, stout 3-4" fixed blade with enough edge retention to last 10 days of moderate use without sharpening. Small and light enough to be easily carried, but tough enough for light batoning if I had to and some abuse during emergency use. I'm going to assume that in a situation like you described that I'm not going to be spending much time making prolonged fires and hunkering down. Honestly I think of the hardcore hikers who through-hike the Appalachian trail- no fires, no camp stoves, no food that requires heating, iodine water treatments. you know... take the fun out of camping, and that's what we'd have.

    A cutting tool is necessary, but I don't think I'd be bringing a machete.
    Reallybigmonkey1 and Pilsner like this.
  10. Hal


    Feb 26, 1999
    Roughing it for me anymore means I have to use an outside walkway to go from the room to the cocktail lounge..... ;)
    jc57, tomsch, stevekolt and 9 others like this.
  11. Hanne762


    Dec 27, 2020
    Pilot's survival knife. Has a stone in the sheath, rock solid, sawback that actually somewhat works, fairly compact.
  12. kobold


    Aug 23, 2020
    Something like a Bravo 1.25 LT or a Tundra.
  13. Pilsner

    Pilsner Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2017
    Yes, I share your thinking. I doubt Sears himself would have considered going without his hatchet etc. The account is fascinating. He seems to have been most concerned during that trip by the chance that he might incur the displeasure of ‘local Indians’. The route was 60 miles as the crow flies, but he writes that for every five miles of progress, there was an average of an additional fifteen miles spent in forced detours around natural obstacles.

    He fired 3 shots in 10 days and took 3 deer. By the time he reached the logging camp, he had all but run out of food! They don’t make many like him anymore.
  14. EngrSorenson

    EngrSorenson Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    thats remarkable. I’m only mildly acquainted with his adventures, but he seems every bit the “real deal” people talk about. I can’t believe on a 60 mile hike he was taking deer and processing them... much less three of them! That seems like so much effort. He must not have been harvesting the whole animal- I would guess a single deer could last longer than 3 days.

    I like the nessmuk trio concept- with the trio you could make a decent camp. I just wonder if it’s the way to go if you’re trying to trek long distances.
    Pilsner likes this.
  15. MarkN86


    Sep 3, 2012
    I'm no expert on the matter, but I live in the in the middle of the woods so I have plenty of room to practice outdoors skills. I've tried a lot of the things that people suggest on the internet and half the time it seems to make things more complicated than they need to be. I think there's room for both a knife and a hatchet, and both are valuable in different situations.

    With some exceptions, you can't exactly burn green wood very well, so most live standing wood is generally poor for campfires. You'll want to find a fallen log that is dried but not quite rotten yet. Some people like folding saws, they can cut quickly but they have drawbacks and they can't split wood. A knife is great for small stuff, if you have plenty of small deadfall that can be easily broken and sized they can fill the need well, but if you need to cut seasoned wood across the grain you won't have much fun. For bigger pieces, the momentum and concentrated force a hatchet or axe gives you uses less energy and they are less prone to failure, especially in dry hardwood.
  16. Velitrius

    Velitrius Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 3, 2000
    DAMN! But that's one beautiful piece of work.

    I use the Fisk designed White River Sendero Pack knife which is similar shape, and would definitely take it on a reckless endeavour.

    It won't do everything, thus the hatchet would go too.

    DMG, jfk1110, Ron Sabbagh and 3 others like this.
  17. craytab


    Jan 26, 2012
    One of these would work.

  18. LEGION 12

    LEGION 12 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 8, 2009
    A manly knife of course . :)
    Pilsner likes this.
  19. EngrSorenson

    EngrSorenson Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    @craytab is that the Ka-bar/Becker kephart? She’s a beaut. That’s a knife I could get behind, especially for the price.
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  20. craytab


    Jan 26, 2012
    It is indeed. With aftermarket kabar micarta scales.
    Henry Beige, Pilsner and TheEdge01 like this.

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