Carrying a knife is one of the prerequisites to Bushcraft and proper survival. However, everyone gets caught up with what knife is the best ‘all purpose’ blade. While many live by the ‘one is none and two is one’ rule there are others who swear one knife is all they demand. That’s great, but I’m here to shake things up a little bit.  

Multiple Knives:  

The pros:  

I have found multiple knives to be the best option for me. Why? Well, for starters I hate sharpening my knives. The more blades I have available the less likely I am to require serious sharpening at any given time. This allows me to utilize each blade to its specific, peak performance at all times.  

This multiple knife carry also means that I constantly have a backup for the tasks at hand. Lose my pack? Not to worry, I have a backup. It may not be the best tool for the job, but it will get the job done.  

It also means that in small groups with ill-equipped friends I can lend a knife and get twice the amount of work done. My camp tasks will still get done while someone is batoning firewood or making a pot holder.  

The most important pro, in my opinion, is that I will always have a plethora of grinds and edge styles to accommodate my needs. Soft wood may be gathered around a lot of hard wood. It wouldn’t be prudent to use a weaker steel on a hardwood when a high carbon blade is readily available.  

The cons:  

These pros aren’t without some serious caveats. One of the biggest being cost of goods. One high-quality knife can cost several hundred dollars. It may be tempting to get several low-quality knives to always have options availably, but that does not mean they will perform the necessary task to the same ability.  

Maintenance is also an issue. Sure, there is less sharpening needed but multiple high-carbon blades means oil, inspection and routine sharpening for shorter lengths of time. Depending on the grind of the knife, you may need to have several types or styles of sharpening stones along with the skills and knowledge to use them properly.  

One of the most critical factors is weight. For anyone overly conscious of even 1 ounce of weight, this is not the option for them. Steel weighs a lot and multiple knives mean that the weight is compounded with every knife added.    

 

What is Recommended:

Heavy Duty Knife:  

The ESEE PR4 is a small, yet versatile heavy-duty knife.

The heavy-duty knife is predominantly a high carbon steel or super rugged construction. Often, it’s not carried if there is a hatchet or tomahawk available as other edged tools can complete the same tasks with less effort. It’s my personal opinion that this type of knife is considered to be what most people would use if they could only take one blade. Batoning, limbing, stake making, and other intensive tasks are well suited for this type of blade.  



Camp Knife:  

Terra Forge makes a great 3 inch Puukko knife perfect for fine tasks and feathersticks.

What tasks are routinely performed inside a camp? Well, light duty woodwork and fire prep are the most routine tasks performed inside a camp. There isn’t a need to create large stakes but carving out tools, utensils, traps, and fire-prep are well in the wheelhouse of this design. For me, I prefer a scandi-grind for these types of tasks.  

Small Working Knife:  

The CRKT SIWI knife can be affixed to a belt, pack, or looped and hung around the neck. This small knife is the perfect backup.

Again, this would be an optional knife. A small working knife is a welcome addition. It adds minimal weight and can be carried on the belt or neck in case of emergency. Let’s say you go out to pee in the middle of the night and lose track of your camp. You still have something with you at all times during any kind of emergency. These can also be great EDG fixed blade knives.  



Pocket Knife:  

The TOPS Knives MSF4.0 (Mini Scandi Folder) proves that even a folding knife can perform necessary camp tasks.

This type of knife is often overlooked during Bushcraft or survival situations. Instinctively we all think of folding knives as less durable and less capable than fixed blade knives. While this may be true, they can still perform most of the same tasks equally or even better than fixed blade knives. Again, it’s an easy EDC option that always stays with you, no matter the circumstance.


 

The Multitool:  

Even ESEE provides a small Victorinox multi-tool in their survival kits.

A must have! A multitool usually has a blade, scissors, pliers, and small saw which can help with small tasks. Imagine fishing without pliers or trying to remove a splinter with a small knife. Any multitool can perform a plethora of tasks moderately well, but never perfectly as a dedicated tool. Regardless, the usability of these types of tools are extremely high. Any type of multitool is also a smart idea for dedicated food prep, as to not spread germs or disease. Anything from a Victorinox to a Leatherman can fit in.



Recommended Set-ups: 

With a chopper or saw: 

If you’re carrying a hatchet or tomahawk you have loads of options. 

  • Tomahawk/hatchet 
  • Heavy Duty Knife (Optional) 
  • Camp Knife 
  • Small Working Knife (Optional) 
  • Pocket Knife (Optional but Recommended) 
  • Multitool 

If you have a saw and not a chopping tool wood processing changes. 

  • Saw 
  • Heavy Duty Knife 
  • Camp Knife (Optional but Recommended) 
  • Small Working Knife (Optional) 
  • Pocket Knife (Optional) 
  • Multitool 

No chopper or saw: 

  • Heavy Duty Knife 
  • Camp Knife 
  • Small Working Knife (Optional) 
  • Pocket Knife (Optional) 
  • Multitool 

When weight is an issue: 

  • Heavy Duty Knife 
  • Pocket Knife 
  • Multitool 

Conclusion: 

Ultimately, any knife setup is up to the specific user. Everyone will have their own reasons for doing things their way. Regardless, having a proper setup is not just important but instrumental to both a successful trip into the bush but also a safe one. Despite any personal opinions on knife carry into the bush, the more options available means the more situations you can overcome. During a SHTF scenario you will know you are more than adequately prepared.

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