Knife and Tool Buyer’s Guide

From the pages of Camping Life Magazine Everyone who ventures into the outdoors for any amount of time should carry a good knife. It’s considered one of the “10 Essentials” and can be used for whittling fire starters from twigs, cutting rope and cord, slicing open packages of potato chips, and all of those other important needs for a sharp blade that present themselves in camp. BUCK New from the inventive minds at Buck is the Buck/Whittaker X-Tract Multi-Tool. Continuing the one-handed operation theme prevalent in the outdoor knife and tool industry, the X-Tract offers the tools you need for everyday adventure with one-handed access through the company’s patent-pending Button Lock Leverage System. With the push of the thumb, you have spring-loaded needle nose pliers with wire cutters, a can/bottle opener, Phillips and standard screwdrivers, and a goodly sized Buck blade. The X-Tract comes with a lanyard hole on one end so it can be tethered to you or your pack. MSRP: $50. Buck: 800/326-2825; WENGER After the successful introduction of the EVOlution Swiss Army Knife series in 2005 and EVO “S” series of locking blade knifes in 2006, Wenger is going one step further for 2007 with the EvoGrip Series. The new knives are highlighted by rubberized inlays on the handles that are made from a non-slip material with a soft finish. The end result is a knife handle with a better hand-grip surface for those times when you need to do some hard work with the blade or one of the tools. Seven new models are in the Swiss Army EvoGrip Series (Model 554 pictured) with different sizes and functions, including all the traditional Swiss Army tools and blade choices. MSRP: $34.95 to $64.95. Wenger: 800/431-2996; BENCHMADE The Rukus knife from Benchmade was a big hit last year, so for 2007, the company has rolled out the Mini-Rukus. The Mini, like its big brother, uses the Benchmade-exclusive AXIS mechanics providing smooth one–hand ambidextrous opening, and a two-part handle assembly offering the ability to change and customize the handle scales. Its 4.25-inch, utility drop-point blade is super-strong S30V steel, and blade options include satin or a black-coated finish with or without partial serrations. This is a sturdy, high-end knife that can handle big jobs. MSRP: $220. Benchmade: 800/800-7427; COLUMBIA RIVER Small, light, and easy to get to—that’s the Dogfish from Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT). A neck knife with style, the Dogfish offers a secure grip, lanyard hole, and a bottle opener. It’s cut from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel, then given a bevel-ground 2.25-inch modified Wharncliffe blade, and given a bead-blast finish and your choice of straight or straight/serrated edge. The Kydex sheath grips the knife securely for inverted carry and a neck chain is included—perfect for kayakers or canoeists, or those who just like to hike light. MSRP: $26.99. CRKT: 800/891-3100; KERSHAW The Outcast Bush Knife from Kershaw is good for chopping brush, twigs and branches, and can come in handy when making up kindling and smaller firewood for the night’s campfire. Its 10-inch blade is made from D2 tool steel with a black Teflon coating and is designed to chop through brush with ease. The injection-molded Santoprene handle is built to be comfortable for extended use, and is ridged to assure a secure grip. The Outcast comes with a Kydex sheath, snap-lock belt attachment and quick-release mechanism. MSRP: $119.95. Kershaw: 503/682-1966; LEATHERMAN Three new multi-tools from Leatherman—the Charge TTi (titanium handles) and the Charge AL and ALX (handles in 6061-T6 aluminum alloy instead of titanium)—come to market in 2007. These replace the Charge Ti and XTi multi-tools. The redesign included improved pliers that can take 133 percent more squeezing force. Our favorite of the trio is the AL (pictured). Aside from needle nose pliers/wire cutters and a 154CM stainless steel clip-point knife blade, the AL is loaded with good outdoor tools ranging from a bottle/can opener and scissors to a serrated-edge knife and saw. MSRP: $128 (AL). Leatherman: 800/847-8665; SHEFFIELD A camp saw is something you just about can’t do without. Believe me, when you have one, you find all kinds of ways to use it, and find yourself saying, “…wish I had brought along one of these before!” The Sportsman’s Folding Saw from Sheffield Manufacturing offers an ergonomic non-slip rubber-grip handle, belt pouch for easy portability, and a 7.5-inch hardened and tempered steel blade with sharp teeth. It folds in half using a backlock mechanism for convenience and safety. MSRP: $13.99. Sheffield: 800/457-0600; SPYDERCO Syderco’s C109 “S” CLIPIT is sturdy, looks cool, cuts like crazy, and is reasonably priced for a top-flight knife. This Colorado-based company manufactures the C109 “S” using MIM metal injection molded construction. The full flat ground 440C steel blade is shaped like a spider web, and the matching web-cut anodized aluminum handle features a hard-use-rated nested Compression Lock. The blade’s spine and choil feature a texturing that helps keep your thumb and index finger securely in place during use. Its blade is 2-7/16 inches long, the two-ounce knife’s open length is 5-15/16 inches long, and the tension wire pocket clip carries the knife closed tip up. MSRP: $89.95. Spyderco: 800/525-7770; VICTORINOX Among the dozens of Victoronix Swiss Army knives offered in 2007 is one of our favorites—the Sportsman. It features a “not too much, not too little, but just right” combination of blades and tools that make it useful without being bulky. The Sportsman measures approximately four inches long closed; and offers one large blade, a nail file with clipper, corkscrew, can opener with a small screwdriver head, bottle opener with a large screwdriver head, wire stripper, reamer, tweezers, toothpicks, and key ring attachment. MSRP: $21. Victorinox: 800/243-4045;