Tuesday, January 30, 2018

One Year, Three Blades

I'm not normally one for "challenges," since they all seem contrived and really don't show much truth. However, I do like to take on challenges to my skills, to test the bounds of what I'm able to do and learn where I need to push and learn. One way I want to challenge myself this year is streamlining some of the tools I carry in the outdoors.

When I have my truck and trailer, my capacity for gear is nearly limitless. When I'm out with only what I can carry on my back, space is at a premium and pounds make pain. If I can eliminate five pounds, that's a huge savings on my knees and back, and will make me much happier and more relaxed.

One of the areas where I noticed that I have the tendency to pack way too many things is bladed implements. I'm not talking strictly about knives, even though those are the first bladed item folks think of; instead, if I'm camping with my truck I likely have an axe or hatchet, a saw, shovel, and a couple knives at a bare minimum. They all serve a purpose and do it well, but they still add up to a huge pile of stuff.

Looking at the tasks I have to accomplish in the sticks, I think I can cut that pile down to just three tools. I won't have the perfect tool for every task, but I'll have a tool that will handle anything that comes up, with only a minimal loss of utility.  I'll go into these tools in great detail in the coming weeks, but here's the Cliff's Notes overview  for now.

It will come as no surprise that I'm defaulting to my Mora, but I'll first perform a few modifications on it that I'll detail in a future article. I also plan on replacing my 3.6" version with either the 4" or 5.8" variant, due to my preferences for a longer blade.


I can replace the axe, hatchet, and saw with my SOG machete. It weighs about as much as the hatchet, tucks away more cleanly in my pack, and does the job of all three fairly well, as well as a few "big knife" jobs that the hatchet can't do as well. Giving up the hatchet means I lose a decent hammering tool, but I can use wooden batons for most hammering jobs. The trade-off is an easy call to make for me.


Foraging Knife
For Christmas, Erin got me a foraging knife, and it's kind of the lynchpin of this whole exercise. While it's called a knife, that name is pretty misleading. It's more of a fixed-blade e-tool, or a tactical combat trowel. I'll post a full review soon, but the short summary is that it's a handy digging tool, root wrecker, and otherwise packable earthmover. It's got me excited to show you a couple backwoods tricks I haven't broken out yet.


I look forward to testing the capability of myself and my slimmed-down blade set this year. Knowing what you can do with what you have is a powerful thing.


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