If you didn’t know any better, you might think every knife is a “bushcraft” blade. In a time where marketing drives sales, it is essential to understand the attributes of an actual bushcraft knife.
By: Kevin Estela
There was a time when the knife industry and outdoors community were dominated by all things survival. When attached to a piece of gear, the term “survival” was used effectively as a marketing tool, even for equipment that barely qualified as an actual survival tool. Fast forward to recent history and the bushcraft craze. It seems like every knife is now a “bushcraft knife,” and again, some knives barely qualify as real wood-crafting bushcraft blades. Too many knife sellers use the bushcraft label solely for marketing. We’ll explore what a bushcraft knife is by looking at its attributes, instead of its label.
1. Comfort in Hand (Multiple Grips)
Bushcraft is about doing more with less and making what you need from natural resources. So, you can expect to use your knife regularly and for long periods. A good bushcraft knife has a handle you can hold onto in a carving grip without tiring out your hand. Smaller diameter knives and heavily textured handles don’t really work well in this category.
2. Woodcraft Use
Bushcraft knives need to be controllable. When creating tools, fine cuts may be necessary, and large bevels won’t cut through wood as cleanly as more precise grinds. Carving is about finesse, not brute strength, and a bushcraft knife blade should be easy to use on wood of different densities.
3. Ease of Sharpening
Use a blade long enough, and you will have to sharpen it. This either means going home and doing it there or, more realistically, sharpening your knife in the field with a portable, practical sharpening system. Long before super steels, simple 01, 1095, and other carbon steels were easily maintained with natural stones. Now, with more advanced metallurgy, better diamond stones may be necessary to keep a blade working sharp. A good bushcraft knife should be sharpened, stropped, and honed easily.