Part 1 of 2

Different knives are for different purposes, so peeling potatoes is not as easy with a Leatherman as it is with a paring knife. If your budget allows it, I think a person who hunts and fishes needs three knives.

The angler can do a better job filleting fish with a knife for that purpose. The blade should be flexible and still have enough backbone to cut through the ribs. It must be sharp enough to then slice out the ribs on that side, all in one piece. A person lucky enough to catch salmon or other larger fish will need a similar knife, but stiffer with a longer blade. These knives are usually very sharp when new and can be re-sharpened with a number of inexpensive sharpeners. These factory made knives vary in price from a low around $15 to a high of about $100.  Hand-made knives are much more costly but their quality (staying sharp) and appearance is impressive.

The hunter needs a general purpose knife for routine tasks around camp and on the trail. Any prying, rope cutting, whittling, potato peeling, etc. is done with this knife. This knife is carried in a sheath or pocket where it is readily available. The second knife carried by a hunter has a narrower function as it is only taken out for use when game is to be processed. It is best carried in the pack where it is less likely to be used for chores around camp which will eventually make it dull. The need for a camp knife can be filled with a “multi-tool” such as Leatherman, Gerber or SOG. They are tough, well-made and have the ability to do many tasks with the variety of blades and tools. There are cheap copies of these available, but they are low-quality and the user can injure themselves when these break under pressure.

Other single or two-bladed folding or fixed blade knives are not as versatile as multi-tools, but they are the traditional camp knife and have proven their worth over time. Many modern folding knives have a lock piece to keep the blade from folding up under pressure, but these should not be depended on when the knife was cheap to start with.

Modern knives are designed to appeal to the user. They are supposedly shaped to fit the hand, have holes or pins on the back of the blade for one-handed opening, gut hooks and replaceable various shaped blades. All of these options attract the inexperienced buyer by appearance, not by quality or durability. Up to an extreme point, the hardness of the steel in a blade makes for a better knife as the hard steel holds its edge longer, though it is also harder to re-sharpen. Cheaper knives have softer steel, which doesn’t hold an edge well but is simpler to re-sharpen.

Knives can usually be described as “you get what you pay for.” My advice is to only look at knives made by reputable companies, avoid gimmicks and spend a little more money than you originally planned. Quality and dependability are worth a few extra dollars.