Sep 23, 2009 at 1:59 pm #1239590
I know that this topic has bounced around in various threads about knives, but I am looking for a little more detailed feedback from those of you that regularly use wood stoves.
Using a wood stove as a sole source of heat for cooking certainly requires a innovative way of getting dry kindling in those really wet conditions. To me this means being able to split wood and carve out the inside to get the dry tinder to start a fire. I've also scraped off the bark layer to get to the dryer wood underneath in order to have better kindling to work with…
I just can't see my Victorinox Signature II Pocket Knife doing this and maybe not even my Gerber Clutch Multi-Tool. I certainly get nervous putting either of these to a piece of wood more than doing a little carving.
I know your opinions will vary greatly, but please give me a little more direction as to what is really necessary to realistically build a fire in really wet conditions and still remain ultralight.
Maybe a heavier knife isn't even the answer…Sep 23, 2009 at 2:09 pm #1530034
AG Russell featherlite for making feather sticks.
Frost Mora for baton applications and wood splitting. Also, makes feather sticks too.
I use these with my Bushbuddy. Haven't gone hungry yet. Most of the time I just take the AG Russell.
If you want a real bushcraft knife, the options are limitless. My favorite is my Carver (smaller version of the Skookum Bush Tool). You can order them here:
Carver:Sep 23, 2009 at 2:27 pm #1530038
In the interests of full disclosure, one of the main reasons I am interested in UL gear is to offset the steel I carry into the woods. . .
Although you can usually find dry fuel under the canopy of trees, there are times up here in the PNW when everything is wet, and soaked in quite a bit. When you are depending on dry fuel to cook, the ability to chop and split wood can be pretty important.
Since your main concern is harvesting dry enough wood to use a wood cookstove, as opposed to a warming campfire, I think a small fixed blade knife with a blade length of about 4", a solid tang and a flat spine would be best suited. You could probably get by with a lightweight folder for a while but batoning and chopping is pretty tough duty.
Another option would be an ultralight hatchet such as the Gransfors Bruks Mini. This is ideally suited to the task you specify but does not have the multi-use appeal of a fixed blade knife.
Moras are lightweight and inexpensive, but their stick tang can fail during this kind of use. (Many people do it all the time, but if you're counting on it, a better suited knife may be in order.)Sep 23, 2009 at 3:07 pm #1530045
@ramblerLocale: On the AT in VA
Here is a photo of the method and knife used to split kindling for your wood stove…a sure method way of getting a stove going in wet weather.
Here is were you can purchase the "Swedish Knife " with a wood handle.Sep 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm #1530046
>>Moras are lightweight and inexpensive, but their stick tang can fail during this kind of use.
Everyone always says this. I agree to an extent…in principle at least. But I have never heard of an actual report of a Mora failing due to lack of a full tang. I'm always tempted to take mine outside and deliberately thrash it to see how much abuse it'll take before breaking.
As much as a full tang knife I'd wager…
Moras are pretty bomber. And they only cost $10. Don't be afraid to use one.Sep 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm #1530049
@ramblerLocale: On the AT in VA
The knife in the above phot is indeed a Mora Knife, Swedish made, 8 1/2 long 4 1/4 blade., as seen in Dave's link.
it is a one piece knife with a handle. I do not see how this can fail. Even if the handle broke, one would still hold a one piece knife.Sep 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm #1530050
IMHO moras are the perfect backpacking fixed blade.
Light weight, inexpensive to buy and they get the job done.
Here are a couple vids from knife tests.Sep 23, 2009 at 3:33 pm #1530053
I've seen a number of Moras fail under hard use. At home, it is no biggie, because you're not counting on it. In the woods, you are out an important tool. If you go this way, proper technique and caution are important. This might be of interest:Sep 23, 2009 at 4:01 pm #1530059
As far as I know, people have only complained of the half tang moras breaking during batoning.
My stick tang is still going strong after 5 years of batoning.
I think people overestimate the need for a full tang knife. If you're careful about what you baton, ie. don't try and baton through a knot in hardwood, you'll be fine.
Oh but wait… only novices carry knives. Aren't we all meant to be using razor blades now? :)Sep 23, 2009 at 4:35 pm #1530067
@billyboosterLocale: So Cal
i take the label off my razor blades and soak them in a mixture of baking soda and vinegar for three minutes. I super glue two together and then weave a hollowed out half toothbrush handle to the non blade edge. You can chop a tree down with it AND it only weighs 0.9 oz – a bit of a weight penalty but it's worth it ;)Sep 23, 2009 at 4:45 pm #1530071
@herman666Locale: Northern Virginia
I cook exclusively with my home made stove see:
Backpacking wood stoves use twigs. Your Victorinox should be
up to the task of peeling the bark off a few twigs to get things started when the wood is wet. I know this because I use a Victorinox Sportsman. I'm not enamored of the non-locking blade, but it's got the best mix of tools for me. I don't leave home without it.Sep 23, 2009 at 4:50 pm #1530075
I've found an even lighter option than a razor blade is to just stay at home and look at pictures of people carrying heavy packs.
You can't get any lighter than that!Sep 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm #1530076
@billyboosterLocale: So Cal
ok jokes aside, i use a victorinox 400 blade deal, weighs too much but can open any animal or can or tree you put in front of it. Small wood, lots of it, seems to be the secret….Sep 23, 2009 at 5:57 pm #1530099
I think a Mora would work fine. I use a leatherman Wave and have no problems. I know that it goes against the backpacking light credo somewhat, but I also carry a quart sized ziplock bag full of wood pellets just in case the weather gets nasty. One hand full of pellets will run my stove for 30 min. with no need to re-fuel. Plenty of time to get the cooking done for a small group.Sep 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm #1530172
After watching Noss's tests on YouTube, I'm less wary of using a Mora in this capacity. As to the question as to where a Mora might fail, on the ones I've seen, either the steel failed right where it met the handle, or the handle failed, and the tang broke free. I'll look around for the pictures.
I did want to the comment about the stove using lots of skinny wood. The point is when wood is wet -really wet, simply peeling off the bark won't get you down to dry fuel. That's where that ability to chop and split thicker branches down to skinny wood for the stove comes in. There may be times when you may have to get to the heart of a 3" piece of wood before you find what you need.
Of course, having fatwood or some similar accelerant will sometimes allow you to get by with less than perfectly dry wood.Sep 24, 2009 at 12:29 am #1530178
@erdferkelLocale: S. California
For batonning, splitting I wouldn't hesitate to use this knife, it's solid all the way through the handle. My only complaint is that the handle is small and thin, but it's light (or lighter than an F-1 anyway.) Mentioned in this thread:
UL pocketknife – what blade do you carry?Sep 24, 2009 at 12:49 am #1530181
@fre49Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
I still really like this knife,
i havent worked on the sheath yet, this knife is small i keep in in my pants pocket so a small solid cover of zytel or plastic should do for the blade, and i should be able to save at least 0.5 oz
but if i only need a knife for my wood stove my opinel n°6 / 26g/0.9 oz is all i carry.
after trying a bit i found the ladybug a bit too small for this even if for some on the forum the ladybug is huge :)Sep 24, 2009 at 2:14 am #1530185
I'm suprised nobody has mentioned the plastic or rubber compound handled moras. They are considerably sturdier than the red wood handled variety and the handle is permanently affixed to the blade. Also, for those who like to personalize stuff, you can scrap/trash the handle on a mora and rehandle it to your taste. Regards.Sep 24, 2009 at 2:24 am #1530186
@maynard76Locale: New England
I suspect that more often than not people who report Moras failing are abusing their knives. Ive seen videos of people "testing" their knives by trying to chop down a tree and all kinds of ridiculous stuff. Not the right tool for the job. Knives shouldn't be used to split anything more than say, wrist thick logs any thing more and you need an axe.
You need a knife with a Scandinavian grind a.k.a flat grind. Good for wood carving and easy to hand sharpen. Also avoid folding knives as they are by nature weaker because of the joint and could fail or close on you. Moras fit the bill. Plus they aren't precious so you can use them like a tool without fear of getting them dirty or breaking them.
Ive gotten big chips in one of my Moras and I would have been real bummed if it was an expensive knife. I was able to take a file to it and it looks like new. I would prefer to reserve the more expensive knives for cleaning fish and lighter work.Sep 24, 2009 at 4:08 am #1530191
@swearingenLocale: Portland, Oregon
On my last trip I carried my Sog Seal Pup Elite for the very purpose you describe. A very nice knife, but at 9ozs including sheath it's a bit heavy. Since then I bought a Sog Field Pup. This knife weighs under 4ozs on my scale, has a 4 inch blade, full tang, decent steel. The handle is grippy and the knife is very well balanced. I haven't batoned any wood with it yet but I have no doubt that it is up to the task. The nylon sheath weighs about 3oz, but I haven't yet trimmed off the pocket and extra straps. I'm going to try to get a leather sheath for it first. At about $35 I think it's a great knife and a great value.
GSep 24, 2009 at 5:09 am #1530196
Jolly Green GiantParticipant
The Sog Field Pup is a great knife which has remained quietly sitting on a shelf since I bought it as I've honestly never needed to bring it. In the winter, the Mora's do okay with wood and at all oher times a little Swiss Army Classic does the job. If I were in a "survival" situation, then I'd definitely want something heartier like the pup, but fortunately I've never been in that position.Sep 24, 2009 at 5:37 am #1530198
>>You need a knife with a Scandinavian grind a.k.a flat grind. Good for wood carving and easy to hand sharpen.
Agreed, but do take note that a lot of Moras have a secondary bevel. In other words, they arent traditional Scandi grinds. You can take the secondary bevel off with a good set of stones though, then you'll have a true flat grind that is easier to maintain while out hiking.Sep 24, 2009 at 5:40 am #1530199
@herman666Locale: Northern Virginia
"There may be times when you may have to get to the heart of a 3" piece of wood before you find what you need."
This may be true if you pull your wood out of a lake or stream but it is simply not the case for the forest floor. Find a fallen branch, break off a piece that's about as big around as your little finger, and not in direct contact with the ground. I don't care how long it's been raining, you'll find dry enough wood not too far under the bark.Sep 24, 2009 at 7:32 am #1530226
"This may be true if you pull your wood out of a lake or stream but it is simply not the case for the forest floor."
I'm guessing you haven't been in the Pacific Northwest in winter. Starting a fire in the coastal mountains there during winter, after several months of rain, is a bit more of a challenge than you think! "Soggy" doesn't begin to describe it!
Living in Oregon is what first convinced me to always carry a non-wood stove!Sep 24, 2009 at 8:24 am #1530254
Wow! Lot's of opinions on this!! In addition to using a wood stove, I definitely like to have my fires in the fire pits provided in the areas that I like to hike in… so this has been helpful.
I definitely like the fixed blade option although realistically I could get by with less. I like the price tag on them and after watching the youtube video, more than adequate for durability.
So, the next question is which one? To get a Mora knife is like saying, "go get a gm vehicle". I looked at the ragnar site and there are too many to choose from. I do have pretty big hands (long anyway), so I would tend to lean toward the larger handle series like the Modern Mora #711 or Craftsmen 740. I like the idea of the triflex Craftsmen 780 as well, seems like a pretty sturdy blade. The handles on the Craftsmen don't seem to be as sturdy and not as good of grip as the Modern Mora, but they do weigh less. I think if the Craftsmen 740 was not an orange handle, I would jump all over it.
Little help from you Mora users??
Thanks for all your input!!
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