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  • Camp knife.

    I really enjoy reading david petzal articles on things other than rifles. His article on camp knifes peaked my interest. I like a good excuse for buying a good knife. I just wonder if it’s really worth it. I don’t camp I glamp in a camper but my grandkids love picking up firewood. But I feel a hatchet or small axe is a better tool. I have thought of taking my cordless sawzall. Anyways thoughts and feedback.

  • #2
    My "camp knife" is the Case I carry everyday in my pocket.


    • #3
      A link to Petzal's article:
      The 4 Best Camp Knives You Can Buy | Field & Stream (

      Milldawg, I don't camp as much now but like most of us here have spent time using different bladed tools in the woods. Here's my thoughts based on mostly Alabama experience:

      For firewood at camp, it's hard to beat a saw and axe. The saw can be as simple as one of the folding models or sophisticated as your sawzall. When car camping, I prefer a large bow saw and would consider an electric chainsaw if the site had power. When backpacking, I use a folding Sven-Saw (15"). The battery powered sawzall sounds like a great idea for car / RV camping.

      I'm not a fan of hatchets but will split with them if nothing larger is available. My favorite axe is a full-size double-bit that I used just a couple days ago. It's my go-to for cleanup work at the hunting lease and I've used it even to pry embedded sticks from the ground at food plots. For serious splitting I use a maul.

      It never crosses my mind to use a large "camp knife" for splitting wood. A hatchet or axe is much better for the task with blade shapes that split wood easier and quicker compared to that of a knife. I know someone's FOS whenever they promote using a knife to process firewood. Petzal is either an idiot or just trying to write copy to sell his friends' long blades. Just wait, in a few months he'll probably generate another article pushing expensive axes as needed equipment.

      Petzal is just plain wrong about what the old-timers carried. Kephart's main knife had a 5-inch blade. He also had a folder for smaller camp tasks. Here's Kephart's words from his book, CAMPING AND WOODCRAFT. "A woodsman should carry a hatchet, and he should be as critical in selecting it as in buying a gun. The notion that a heavy hunting knife can do the work of a hatchet is a delusion. When it comes to cleaving carcasses, chopping kindling, blazing thick-barked trees, driving tent pegs or trap stakes, and keeping up a bivouac fire, the knife never was made that will compare with a good tomahawk... For years I used knives of my own design, because there was nothing on the market that met my notion of what a sensible, practical sheath knife should be.”

      The Original Kephart Examined – Knife Magazine

      For hacking trails, it's hard to beat a machete. I've used them to drop trees and cut firewood but it always seems like more work than just using saws and axes. Notice how many whacks it took Petzal to cut through a 6-inch birch using large knives, 53 to 91 strokes... I rest my case.

      But, there's a place for long-bladed knives in my activities and I often carry one. The primary purpose is to finish wounded deer and pigs. The secondary purpose is to hack through light briars. Through trial and error, I've settled on a minimum of 4-inch blade for stabbing to the heart but at least 6-inch is better (that's what she said). I've carried and used the pictured knives below, the top has an 8.75 inch blade and the bottom is 6-inch.

      Click image for larger version  Name:	Long Blades for hunting.jpg Views:	0 Size:	99.3 KB ID:	771933

      There's nothing wrong with wanting or getting a new knife. My advice though is to ignore anything Petzal says on the matter and stay away from 'camp knives'.
      Last edited by PigHunter; 05-18-2021, 04:48 PM.


      • #4
        I agree with Pighunter. I also disagree with the idea in the article about using big knives for small things -- I see the point about the converse, that small knives can't do big things; and technically, yeah, you could clean a brookie or shave a callus off your foot with the same big knife you use to hack trails and cut wood -- but seriously, who's going to head out with a Bowie or big old butcher knife but not carry a regular pocketknife? Or rather, why not still carry the little knife even if you do want to take the big knife?

        I've mentioned "batoning" with a knife myself before on here, but it's nothing I do or would do regularly. I've done it when I wasn't planning on fire-building and so didn't haven't an axe or saw, then decided to build a fire after all for whatever reason. Even then, it was more of a lark. Plenty easy to build a fire in woodlands without cutting anything at all.

        I have a Swedish Hultafors camp axe, the Hudson Bay style, bigger than a hatchet but not by much, enough though to have the good heft of an axe. Razor sharp brand-new (about a $100, half the price but comparable quality to a Gransfors Bruks) and has held it well. Also a little 15-inch folding saw I got from the Campmor catalog for $9.99. Used it plenty over the past five or six years and it's held up fine.

        Petzal is the first guy I'd go to if I was shopping for a rifle, but I've seldom agreed with his snobbish views on cutlery. I always believed him when he said (so many times over the years!) that he's not a shill for any companies, but in the knife articles I still get the sense he's not writing from his own experience, at least not often.
        Last edited by MattM37; 05-18-2021, 07:26 PM.


        • #5
          For camping I always stuff a bow saw somewhere it won't cut into anything valuable. They're light cheap, non technical, and you can supply a camp with fuel, from too thick to break, to a foot or more. When temps drop below 0 the wood stove is hungry all the time.Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_1943.jpg Views:	0 Size:	2.68 MB ID:	771941
          I've been backpacking in places where everyone carries a knife, and that's all they had for everything from cleaning a song bird to chopping wood to if need be self defence. It's a leaf spring welded onto a rounded handle then hardened. About the heft of a heavy hatchet but seeing as one is chopping close to the handle it's pretty accurate. Cheez-itz box is the sheath. They call it the long knife, and use it for most kinds of woodworking around the house too, flat of the blade or the back good for cracking nuts or bones, crushing things while cooking. I think they cost around $2 at the dry market. Probably not on Petzl's list.


          • #6
            This thread has me thinking about the fixed-blade knives I always wanted but never talked myself into buying. Here's a few:

            Fallkniven... S1 Forest Knife
            Bark River... Bravo 1
            Ontario Knife Company... RAT-3
            ESEE... 3P

            Alas, there's too many good knives in my collection already and no legitimate reason to get another.


            • #7
              As a kid, I thought if it wasn't "Bowie" sized, it wasn't a "hunting knife".
              Years of watching my dad and grampa gut, skin and quarter deer with a simple two blade Case and any idea of a hunting knife with more than about 3" of blade went out the window.
              If I ever go "tent" camping again, I do have a Ka-Bar (plastic handle) "Paratrooper" that I'd probably take.

              A "Cruiser" double bit axe is great for a camp or short backpacking trip.

              Boy, I'd like to be able to backpack again!

              Not too old.
              Too crippled. LOL!


              • #8
                Bubba, most backpackers are not going to add the weight of an axe to their load. I certainly didn't and won't if ever backpacking again. That's where the folding bow saw comes into use. I've never had to split wood to burn when camping, preferring to use deadfall as much as possible or just cook on a stove. The most I will carry is a full-sized machete which weighs about as much as a hatchet.

                But overnight canoeing allows the luxury of carrying a full-sized axe... or charcoal.
                Last edited by PigHunter; 05-18-2021, 05:00 PM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by PigHunter View Post
                  Bubba, most backpackers are not going to add the weight of an axe to their load. I certainly didn't and won't if ever backpacking again. That's where the folding bow saw comes into use. I've never had to split wood to burn when camping, preferring to use deadfall as much as possible or just cook on a stove. The most I will carry is a full-sized machete which weighs about as much as a hatchet.

                  But overnight canoeing allows the luxury of carrying a full-sized axe... or charcoal.
                  Our canoe trecks in the Adirondacks we used a Grumman 19' Trapper. 2,000 lb capacity I believe. In Ohio I have an Otasca double ender that is so wide in the middle seat can sit 2 side by side. Everybody paddles in that boat. Click image for larger version

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ID:	771956 Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    pighunter, a "cruiser" or "cedar" axe only weighs 2 to 2.5 pounds.
                    Used to keep one on my ATV and in my vehicle. Come in mighty handy.


                    • #11
                      Camping by canoe we usually had a hatchet. Also, to hasten a good fire we started carrying in some good, fast burning dimension lumber pieces. Worked great getting the stuff on the forest floor to get going.


                      • #12
                        We all have our fetishes. Some guys own a dozen pairs of the highest quality(price) boots, others have tackle boxes loaded with an uncountable number of baits, maybe a wall of rods & reels to match. Maybe optics are your thing and your binos & scopes draw a gasp when others see the price tag. We all have a "thing". DEP is a knife groupie. Could be worse. Does anyone here blindly follow his teachings? Do you use DEP (or PB) as THE trump card in camp debates?


                        • #13
                          Have any of you used or purchased a "scotch eyed augur"?


                          • #14
                            Milldawg, I went to the Winkler Knives web site to take a look. The Highland Hunter is my favorite listed. With a 4.75-inch blade it wouldn't be too long for most hunting tasks. It can be ordered as a knife / hatchet combo.
                            WK Highland Hunter – Winkler Knives

                            What are you looking for in a new knife?


                            • #15
                              Don’t really need a new knife. I have plenty. But now that I’m older and a little wiser. I want heirloom quality items to pass to my children and grandchildren. But I don’t need to break the bank. I owna couple of okc I bought a rat2 for my pack. And I bought the 25 dollar folder for edc when I’m not working and I like it a lot. This is more of a want not a need. I appreciate all the feed back and perspective. I’m one for efficiency time is the one thing I can’t buy or make more of. I need tools that make the most of my time.




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