Carrying a knife when you’re outdoors is a no-brainer. And carrying an outdoor fixed blade knife is an indicator that sweet experience has taught you how to be an outdoor boss. When you’re running your adventures hard and fast, the right fixed blade knife cuts down on weight and eliminates the chances of your knife failing when you’re off the beaten path.
Small Design, Big Purpose…
Folding knives are great– until you get stuck in a downpour, traipse through the mud and crawl up a canyon only to find your knife opens with a gritty crunch. Fewer moving parts mean more confidence in hand. The right fixed blade knife can cut down on weight and moving parts, plus add strength to the build of the knife. They won’t fold up on you, and there isn’t a pivot to get dirty. Moreover, blade play and lockup are non-issues.
Perhaps more importantly, fixed blade designs offers more strength and dependability for tasks that involve piercing, prying and pulling. They are also a perfect option for creating splinters for the self-evident fire, prepping camp food and accomplishing tasks along the trail – all without weighing you down and holding you back. In other words, if things suddenly go sideways, a fixed blade knife is the tool that you want to have on hand.
And yet, what’s true for backpackers and speed hikers, is that the larger size and weight of most traditional fixed blades and bushcraft styles can make them awkward to carry, while also adding unwanted weight to your fast and light set-up. Which leads us to an outdoor truism: If there is any obstacle to you wearing your knife all the time, you won’t wear it all the time. That means you run the risk of not having your most important tool when you need it most.
So we set our team to the task of finding a selection of fixed blade knives that perfectly fit the needs of those whose primary time on the trail is spent hiking, trekking and backpacking. The result is six beautiful and dependable knives that prove big things come in small packages. Whether you pack these as your knife of choice, or a back-up to your larger fixed blade option, these blades carry as easy as a folder and perform like a dream.
Continuing a tradition of handcrafting knives designed and tested in the outdoors, Helle’s latest full tang knife is a collaborative work with with world renowned survival expert, Les Stroud of Survivorman. Measuring in at 5.85” overall with a 2.72” blade, the Mândra was designed and tested in the raw and rugged natural setting of Romania during filming of the latest Les Stroud Survivorman film project.
Every part of this knife is dialed in, all the way down to how you carry it. Featuring a stout, full bellied blade forged of Helle’s triple laminated stainless steel this full tang knife proves the axiom that big things come in small packages. The blade is sharper than most razors in your manscaping kit, and comes with a full grain leather sheath with a securing strap and snap rivet. And because it’s a Helle, it is as beautiful as it is functional so you can spend a lifetime putting it through the paces, and trust that it will show up time and again without fail.
It’s been said ‘it is to our own detriment that we underestimate the might of small things’. Towards those ends, the Gnome from Böker Knives will captivate you with its compact design and mighty performance. A product of the partnership with Böker and famed designer Jesper Voxnaes, the Gnome offers a beautiful design in a space friendly design that is virtually unparalleled. Measuring in a 4” overall and tipping the scales at a scant two ounces, there’s never a reason to be without the Gnome.
While the Gnome won’t be handling any batoning duties, the sharp 440-C steel blade is still worthy of tackling smaller tasks associated with trail life. And despite its diminutive design, the Gnome still fits firmly in the hand. The index finger sits in the large choil, with the thumb on the spine and the second finger gripping the rear body of the handle. It’s an ingenuitive design that offers impressive control whether you’re prepping dinner or cutting paracord down to size. The contoured green canvas Micarta scales add to the comfortable grip, while the bright red fiber layers add add an attractive contrast.
Originally designed from the Finnish sami knife, used by the Laplanders for all their hunting and bushcraft tasks. These knives have traditionally been flat ground, single or double sided, with a “zero-ground” edge ground to the edge. It occurred to TOPS that a good idea is still a good idea in a smaller package.
The result? A svelt dynamo that has all of the right ingredients to keep you self-reliant in the wilds. Measuring in at an overall length of 6.13”, the Mini Scandi 2.5 sports a modified Scandi grind giving this blade an eager attitude ready to rip through your entire camp chore list like a breeze. The robust 1095 carbon steel was chosen for its strength, hardness and easy ability to maintain in the field.
But this knife isn’t just snarl and grit. It has an attractive side too. Look closer at the handle texture. A gorgeous green and black G10 handle not only rests easy in the hand, but is easy on the eyes as well. TOPS Knives also offers the Mini Scandi with the option of black linen micarta or tan canvas micarta. When you’re ready to venture out, the kydex sheath and neck chain keep it easily at the ready. At the end of the day, you’ll be impressed with how something so compact can come up so big.
Mark Hazen is a knife maker and metalworker in Monroe, N.C., who has been crafting beautiful and functional blades for more than forty years. Part of the Hazen Sportsman Line, the Peregrine beautifully demonstrates the type of functional design that results from a pedigree that is both proven and prodigious. The stout satin blade is forged from 154CM which was chosen over the standard 12C27 because it offers greater corrosion resistance and solid edge retention.
Featuring a 3 1/16″ cutting edge, the Peregrine goes back and forth between an all-purpose utility tool and stylish statement. On one hand it has the sophisticated lines that have made Mark Hazen famous. On the other hand, this knife is a tenacious performer ready and willing to bite into whatever task is at hand. All the while, an ergonomically designed handle with exceptionally grippy micarta fits so well in the hand you’ll start to think it was custom made just for you. A thumb ramp provides enhanced cutting control for greater precision with less fatigue.
On the rare occasions this knife isn’t in use, the Peregrine sits at the ready in the included (and stunning) black leather sheath. Hunters, hikers, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts alike will enjoy the comfort of the horizontal carry. And did we mention the entire package is all backed by a lifetime guarantee?
With an overall length of 7 ⅜ inches, the Brave is the largest knife on our list. But weighing in around 4oz, this knife is a the perfect combination of “small enough to carry daily” and “big enough to do whatever I need it to.”A scaled down version of the brand’s wildly popular Cherokee model, the Brave is every bit as functional, just a bit more portable.
This gem is fast in the hand and as functional as it is beautiful. It has impressive ergonomics for repetitive use with minimal strain, great balance for excellent maneuverability and a strong, razor-sharp D2 steel blade — qualities that combine to make your field work faster and safer, thereby reducing your risk. Despite the larger overall size, the Brave sits deep in the included leather sheath allowing the overall package to ride unobtrusively on your belt. And because it’s from Smith and Sons, you get the added bonus of free sharpening for life.
Using sticks and stones is one way to get things done around camp, but the TOPS Knives Baja 3.0 is a lot more efficient. The result of simple design and fine execution, the Baja 3.0 features lines that are simple yet effective. A small and lightweight knife which provides surprising comfort and control thanks to the full-tang 1095 RC 56-58 steel blade aided by jimping on the spine and its grooved green canvas Micarta scales, which offer excellent traction in most circumstances.
The three inch blade coupled with plenty of belly (deeply curved slicing surface) can adequately handle a wide variety of tasks, such as fashioning wooden implements, building fire and shelter, or taking an animal apart. A Coyote Tan Coating on the blade also offer a distinctively tactical aesthetic that will stoke your sense of adventure.