2006 Knife & Tool Guide
From the dawn of man, knives and other sharpened hand tools in one form or another have figured prominently in our lives. Used for scraping, slicing, sawing, splitting and a dozen other applications, these basic tools evolved through the millennia into the dazzling display of modern steel-bladed implements now available for these purposes. The following is a sampling of some of the knives and tools you can find in outdoor stores today.
Getting back to basics, Victorinox recently updated its Swiss Army One Hand Trekker ($42). Issued to every German Army soldier, the One Hand Trekker with 12 functions features olive drab handles and the German Army insignia. This modern, ergonomic version offers function and practicality; as well as a can/bottle opener, wood saw, three screwdrivers, large knife blade, reamer and key ring.
The new ergonomically designed SwissTool Spirit multitool and Voyager Lite multitool are also notable camper’s aids from Victorinox. The SwissTool Spirit ($75) is light and easy to use, offering 26 tools/functions in a single, compact device that allows tools to be opened from the outside without opening the pliers. Nearly as loaded with tools as the Spirit, the Voyager Lite ($96) comes with a flashlight and a digital alarm clock, providing campers with light at night and a morning wake-up call. 800/442-2706; swissarmy.com.
The new Buck Bantam Series of lockback folding knives from Buck Knives is lightweight, yet rugged. The largest of the three (Model 286BHW) weighs only 3.2 ounces; but the stainless steel, drop-point blade is 3 5/8-inches long and the knife opens up to a full 8 3/4-inches in length. In between is the Model 285BLW with a 31/8-inch blade and the Model 284BBW with a blade length of 2 3/4-inches. The thermoplastic handles are textured for a firm grip and have contoured finger grooves and grip ridges for easier and safer handling. Suggested retail price are $24, $20 and $15, respectively.
Back in living color are the Buck Camp Axe ($38) and Folding Saw ($23). Thousands of owners have sung the praises of the two fine camp tools from Buck, but Buck also heard, “I wish it were easier to find when I set it down in some brush.” Well, now you can get the venerable Camp Axe and Folding Saw with bright yellow or vivid red handles. Don’t worry, you can still get them in black. 800/326-2825; buckknives.com.
Coast Cutlery offers a new kitchen tool set: the Exchange Blade Cook Set ($39.99). The company’s seven-implement kit is made up of a selection of the most useful and convenient kitchen blades and accessories that can be interchanged using the comfort-grip handles. Included are a cook’s, fillet and boning blades; a spatula; serving spoon; two-pronged cook’s fork; a saw blade; the two handles; and a nylon carry case.
The company also offers its Titanium Folding Knife and the Multi-Function Pocket Tool with Butane Lighter. The Titanium Folding Knife ($22.99) is a real lightweight beauty with a titanium-coated 440C stainless steel blade with partial serration and a durable graphite handle. With a built-in, refillable butane lighter, the Multi-Function Pocket Tool ($29.99) offers a collection of useful tools. 800/426-5858; coastcutlery.com.
About the hottest blade coming out of Columbia River Knife & Tool this year is the M-16 EDC (Every Day Carry) knife ($44.99) and while not new, it is now offered with a Zytel InterFrame, making it more affordable, yet still feature packed. The company’s rigid InterFrame structure is made up of texturted Zytel (fiberglass-filled nylon) handle sides, dual 420J2 stainless steel liners, and Zytel back spacers. The 3-inch AUS 4 high-carbon stainless steel blade pivots on Teflon bearings; and it offers blade-locking and quick-opening systems, dual thumb studs and a removable clip.
Also of great interest are the Koji Hara Ichi and Side Hawg. The Ichi ($49.99) is a smartly designed, 2.5-inch modified drop point pen blade folder with assisted opening that’s styled by Koji Hara, an award-winning Japanese knifemaker known for carving the handles into a terraced landscape he calls his “Air-Step” design. The Side Hawg 2 ($29.99) is an unusual creature designed by Mike Franklin, another award-winning custom knifemaker. It’s a single-side outdoor knife with a clip-on sheath plate and a carabiner lanyard. Three versions of the Side Hawg are available, but all are compact enough to carry in a pants, coat, vest or PFD pocket. 800/891-3100; crkt.com.
The award-winning Ken Onion-designed, Chive knife is now available in a cracked-dry-mud pattern made exclusively for Jeep fans. Highlight-ing the Chive’s 1-15/16-inch, 420HC stainless steel blade and assisted-opening system, the Model 1600JEEP features the Jeep “Cracked Mud” image and logo on its anodized aluminum handle. Suggested retail is $59.95.
Kershaw Knives also offers a set of kitchen tools and a multitool for the busy camper. The Camp Tool Trader ($74.75) provides a kitchen full of interchangeable tools, including knives for slicing, dicing and carving, and a large chef’s spoon, camp spatula and chef’s fork. The A100C Multi-Tool ($99.95) comes with a 3-inch, partially serrated knife, and a complement of tools. 800/325-2891; kershawknives.com.
Sometimes thought of as the multitool company, Leatherman threw out a curve ball by bringing to market the e306x folding knife. Folders are a totally new venture for Leatherman, but the e306x is really cool and contains a 2.8-inch straight-edge blade (a combo blade comes on the e307x model), locking carabiner/bottle opener and bit driver and holder with three double-ended bits. The knife weighs just 4.2 ounces and is 6.7 inches long when open. Its machined aluminum handle features glass-reinforced nylon inserts and stainless steel bolsters. Suggested retail: $110 with 7-piece bit kit.
The company wasn’t sleeping when it came to multitools, though. The new Core ($76) is an updated version of (and will replace) the Super Tool 200, and is the first Leatherman multitool to feature hollow-ground screwdrivers in standard professional sizes. The Blast ($62) has been around for a while, but is one of the company’s best sellers — it has all the good tools in a smaller package with a contoured handle. 800/847-8665; leatherman.com.
Sheffield enters 2006 with some priced-to-move new blades. Chief among them is the Lockback Knife with LED ($15.99). The lighted Lockback enables users to see the cutting surface in any light and offers a partially serrated, 3-inch blade in a 4-inch ABS handle. Suggested retail is $15.99.
Also new are the 14-in-1 Deluxe Hammer Multi-Tool ($14.99) and Quick Change Lockback Utility Knife ($15.99). A hammer, two types of pliers and a variety of screwdrivers and blades are included in the Deluxe Hammer Multi-Tool — like having a toolbox in the palm of your hand. The Utility Knife is an on-the-go product that’s equipped with five replacement blades conveniently stored in its handle. 800/457-0600; sheffield-tools.com.
Bad-ass fairly describes the SOG Trident Folder ($96). This knife features the company’s new locking blade release system, super-textured grip handles and reversible pocket clip. The Trident’s 3.75-inch, AUS 8 stainless steel blade comes in satin straight edge, half-serrated TiNi, or half-serrated TigerStripe. What’s cool is the cutting groove in the handle that allows the user to slice through cord or fishing line without opening the knife.
The PowerLock S60 multitool and Field Pup knife are also worth mentioning. Featuring SOG’s compound-leverage design, the PowerLock ($98) is claimed to generate twice the wire cutting or gripping force with the same hand pressure as competitors’ multitools. It features 10 locking implements and has ruler scales on its handles. The Field Pup ($60) offers a comfortable Kraton handle and a full-tang blade, in a medium-sized package. A good choice for campers. 888/764-2378 (SOG-BEST);sogknives.com.
The Byrd line of knives from Spyderco offers quality blades at an easy-to-reach price. A favorite of ours from this group is the Crow. This handy folder has a 2 13/16-inch, hollow-ground, black titanium carbonitride coated blade; right-hand, tip-up/down steel clip; and an adjustable pivot pin. At 3.5-ounces, the Crow is lightweight and easily carried in a pant or shirt pocket. Suggested retail is $27.95.
From the Spyderco collection of premium knives and accessories comes the Navigator II Clipit ($99.95) knife and the Tri-Angle Sharpmaker ($74.95) sharpening kit. The Navigator II is a stainless steel, compact (3.25 inches closed) pocketknife with a single, but wide blade for aggressive cutting. Spyderco’s Tri-Angle Sharpmaker provides a carry case that converts to a work stand, with guide rods and two different grades of triangular sharpening stones that can put a new edge on any blade in your pocket. 800/525-7770; spyderco.com.
New from Wenger are six more pocket knifes/tools added to the already well-received Evo line of its Swiss Army Knifes. Our favorite new blade from this group is the Evo S52 ($60.95) because it includes a double-cut wood saw, a 2.5-inch locking main blade and a full range of tools. It’s easy to grip, with a handle that’s ergonomically contoured.
New as well are the Evo S557 and the Large Mountain Bike Tool. The Evo S557 ($64.95) offers ergonomic handles, a 2.5-inch locking main blade and many of the same implements as the Evo S52. The Large Mountain Bike ($91.95) has a good assortment of typical blades and tools, but also includes a chain-rivet setter, spoke-adjustment tool, universal wrench, 5mm allen wrench and 10mm hex key. 800/267-3577; wengerna.com.
The Fast Draw from Gerber Legendary Blades was a big hit with outdoorsmen, but customers were asking for a smaller, easier-to-handle version. For 2006, Gerber answers with its Mini Fast Draw ($31.99). It uses the same patented F.A.S.T. technology spring-assisted opening as its big brother, but with a 2 3/4-inch 440 A stainless steel blade in either a fine edge or partially serrated. Either way, the knife sports a dual thumb stud for left- or right-hand opening. The side safety lock prevents accidental opening, and releases the blade so it can be closed and folded back into the handle.
Taking some of the best features of its other tools, Gerber designed the Freehand Multi-Plier ($119.99) to be the toughest multitool on the market. It offers one-handed opening, 12 outboard tools, a V-cut design hardened wire cutter, 3-inch fine-edge blade, 3-inch serrated-edge blade, and the Saf. T. Plus component tool locking system to keep everything in place for safe and easy handling. 800/950-6161; gerberblades.com.