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The perfect lightweight backpacking folder - a knife in search of a problem

Discussion in 'Knives' started by aicolainen, Aug 19, 2020.

  1. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    In the very near future I’m off to my annual autumn mountain trip.
    As usual the plan is to go high and steep, unless weather dictates we retreat to a less ambitious backup plan.
    We’re not planning a full blown climbing trip, but some climbing is inevitable, so obvioulsy weight is an issue.

    update: image removed due to hot link restrictions
    -Our playground if everything goes as planned (picture borrowed by tinderangel.no)

    I’ve been playing around with the idea of a «perfect» hiking folder for the light and fast kind of trips where you don’t really know if you’ll need it or for what, but chances are you will. I’m typically not one to gravitate toward larger knives, but as one of the most typical scenarios I can forsee would be food prep, some blade length would be advantageous.
    This is obviously not super important, and mostly a solution in search of a problem, but for sake of discussion I thought I’d drop it here so anyone who finds the topic slightly interesting can join in and twist their brains around it.
    My ideal knife would be something like;
    • 3.5-4 inch cutting edge
    • light weight
    • easy open (one hand, opening hole is my preference for difficult conditions)
    • Very corrosion resistant (H1, LC200N or similar would be best, but anything that can sustain about a week of high humidity and total neglect is good enough)
    • secure in hand (grippy / high texture)
    • secure in pocket (accidents can be critical, a blade under spring tension in closed position might be preferable, i.e. back lock, axis lock or similar. Tip down could also be preferable. Good and secure clip)
    • affordable/good value (fair risk of loss)

    Knives I’m considering, none of them are exactly to preference, but fairly close:
    • Manly Peak One (50$, 14C28, 4oz, 3.7in BL, hole, G10, ambi clip (also available in D2/CPM154/S90V, but from what I understand about steels, 14C28 would be the better option for this application))
    update: image removed due to hot link restrictions
    • Cold Steel Air Lite (85$, AUS-10A, 3.2oz, 3.5in CL, thumb stud, G10, ambi clip)
    update: image removed due to hot link restrictions
    • Spyderco Pacific Salt 2 (101$, H1, 2.9oz, 3.39in CL, hole, FRN, 4-way clip)
    update: image removed due to hot link restrictions

    There’s really no clear winner to be declared from the specs alone. Any thoughts on these or other models with regards to my planned use?

    This will obviously not be settled in the time available befor my upcomming trip, but if I get some input now, maybe I’ll have something ready for my next adventure.
    That also means I need to use one of my existing folders and compromise heavily on some of the desired features for this trip.
    If I give the different features equal weight, I guess my 940-1 comes closest, but it is $272, actually domestic prices have skyrocketed lately to a NOK value equalent to about $500USD. I’ve almost never used it either, and being in pristine condition I’m slightly tempted to sell it instead of putting through hard use… what do you guys/girls think? Sacrifice my 940 in the name of (pseudo) science or sell it and secure my pension?

    *) all knife pictures borrowed from makers home page
     
    Last edited by aicolainen, Sep 18, 2020
    #1 aicolainen, Aug 19, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
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  2. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    I vote the Spyderco Pacific Salt. But then I'm a sucker for SE grinds; corrosion resistant steels; brightly colored handles when out in the 'wild', and Spyderco.

    Am Yisrael Chai!

    Moshe ben David
     
  3. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  4. Hangman
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Hangman Loaded Pockets

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    To me, the Pacific Salt would be the best option of those listed, there are times where that fully serrated blade will blow away pretty much every other blade.
     
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  5. CSG

    CSG Loaded Pockets

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    I would have suggested the Benchmade Griptilian, Bugout, or Presidio. FWIW, I own all three, live in Idaho, and have used all for various light to medium duty outdoor tasks. The Bugout 535BK-2 is the perfect backpacking knife. The other two are heavier duty. But if you were really smart, you'd get a fixed blade Mora for $10-15.
     
    Last edited by CSG, Aug 19, 2020
    #5 CSG, Aug 19, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
  6. ccwaters

    ccwaters Loaded Pockets

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    Skip the Air lite, the first one I had would not retain the tip of the blade within the butt of the handle some of the time. I did get a replacement which so far has been OK, but not something I'd 100% trust especially on a trip such as yours. The issue I had has its own thread in the Cold Steel subforum on Bladeforums, so it is not a one off issue.

    I like cold steel, just wouldn't suggest for your mentioned use. However considering your preferred blade length the CS Broken Skull might be worth a look 4 inch blade, thin grippy g10. Recon one is decent as well, much grippier, a little heavier and larger overall. Manly is a good choice, as well as the Spydie.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. kukla

    kukla Loaded Pockets

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    how comforting to know that people are in such a "situation" to have to make such a decision!
     
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  8. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    nice to see people joining in on the discussion!

    Like I said, this isn’t very serious, like I seriously want to get real suggestions and user experience and read what you think, but it’s not obvious that any of it would lead to a purchase. Just keep that in mind.

    Regarding suggestions and input so far, I’ll just cover them quickly without citation;
    • Pacific Salt 2, I had a PS1 and sold it. Don’t remember exactly why, but there might be something there. Cutting edge is a wee bit on the short.
    • Manix 2 LW, is one I overlooked. Gets it quite right on many of my preferences, but cutting edge isn’t all that impressive. Still a bit intrigued, but mostly out of curiosity since I’ve never owned a Manix.
    • Bugout, I have it and it’s one of my favorites for EDC. Admittedly the CF elite version is probably a step up from the base model in some regards, but I’ve easily resisted the urge to upgrade. There isn’t anything really wrong with the Bugout for this application, it’s just the sum of minor shortcomings like slightly short cutting edge, not the easiest to manipulate with gloves and/or frozen fingers, corrosion resistance of S30V is supposedly a bit meeh although somewhat mitigated by coating. I would easily take the Bugout in a pinch and feel well equiped, but we’re after perfection here ;-)
    • Griptilian (or the Houge Ritter version), is one I overlooked as well. Never tried a full size, so that could be interesting. Even though the Grip can be had with spydie hole, lower weight and less money, I’d probably go the Ritter route. Just seems like a very able knife. Pun intended ;-)
    • Presido, doesn’t really hit the nail on the head on much of anything.
    • Mora, surely does a lot of things right, but it fails miserably on being a perfect folding knife ;-)
    • Cold Steel, thanks for the input on the Air Lite, CC. Now the reason I considered it in the first place is because it is fairly close to fitting the bill, as well as being the first CS folder I consider un-tactical enough to be suitable for any of my use. So in a way it might have been a way to justify adding a CS folder to my collection :) Don’t feel like your other suggestions are quite there. I do like them for other reasons though.
     
  9. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    I have carried a lot of knives for a lot of reasons over the years and I also used to switch up what I carried a lot both for fun and experimenting and of course also to sort of justify my buying too many different knives to count in the first place and wanting to give all of them a fighting chance to make the cut in my pockets!

    I am not sure I would go camping anywhere with just a single knife though and will always have at least 2 with me at all times and this is part of the reasoning behind me carrying the toughest but lightest knife that I can most of the time.

    I don't know of a knife that better fits this need than the LW Manix and honestly this is the knife that has stopped me from switching up the EDC for a few years now and I can't imagine a better reason to apply this experience to me camping either?

    I will also probably have a MT with me with another blade as they are just too handy to leave behind or at least I always seem to find a use whether I really need to or not?

    Then I would likely also have a Delica in the other pocket for the same reasons as the Manix.

    One of them will have a serrated edge.

    I have yet to find anything as light and tough as the Spydies with FRN Scales,they are a lot tougher than they seem when you work them.

    I would probably also not take a new knife,I want something that I know I can count on.

    YMMV .
     
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  10. jag-engr
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    jag-engr Semper Bufo!
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    When I think of a "backpacking knife", I don't think of a folding knife. I would select a good, lightweight fixed blade knife and carry it either on your belt or, my preference, as a neck knife. It will work better for most tasks and no one is offended by a small fixed blade while backpacking.

    On a separate note, while I love Spydercos Salt knives, that level of corrosion resistance is overkill for a backpacking trip. If you opt to go with a folding knife, I'd suggest a Delica or Endura in lieu of the Salt (possibly waved for very quick access).
     
  11. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    ^^^ This!
    As I touched upon in another thread, I'm trying to keep things more aligned with reality. I'll be selling off quite a few knives that I bought mostly for the novelty of their designs or because of their status as staples in the EDC community - a point of reference you might say.
    I still like knives though, so I won't be depriving myself too much from the joy of finding and testing out suitable knives for different tasks.

    Don't worry. I'm here on EDCF, so there's a reasonable chance my preparedness level is slightly above average.
    Camping/hiking/backpacking activity for me covers a wide array of comfort-, risk-, intensity and exposure levels. So the gear I bring along for backpacking is always a compromise between effort, probability, utility and safety.
    Last year I went on a "ultra" lightweight, long distance hike in high altitude. For the first time in my life I decided to only bring a SAK. I really had to work with my preparedness reflexes as I felt very naked with the Cadet as my only knife and multitool, but when you cut the handle of your toothbrush to save weight, you really have to think twice about that second knife and nice to have tools. It worked out very well. So well in fact that it made me realize that Leathermans had taken an undeserved position in my packing philosophy, but more on that later.
    Now, if the case was that I was dependent on hunting and/or fishing for my food supply, I would think totally different about type of knife, And probably have more than one.
    For shorter or less intensive trips, where comfort and relaxing is the main focus, I typically have 2-3 knives suited for different tasks.

    So, like I tried, unsuccessfully maybe, to get across initially, is that I'm looking for a folding knife that can handle most tasks from cutting bread or rope, gutting fish or whatever, to bring along on the trips where you might not expect to do any of that, but still be able to if you must.
    It will typically be long or hard trips where there is much focus on weight. The knife might be the only blade or part of a more comprehensive tool system, but that's not very important. The general idea of the thread is to throw around some ideas on good capable folding knives that mainly conforms to the preferences specified.
    I've used the Spydiechef quite a bit as a general purpose folder, but it is a bit heavy, cost a bit much and I've had the blade open in my pocket a few times. But it does the job very well.
    Neck knives isn't for me. Got to be a folder for this specific use case.

    Again, this is mainly a mind exercise for anyone who find the topic interesting to droodle away and widen our horizon and maybe trigger some new ideas. There are no stupid suggestions :)
     
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  12. Boy SureFire

    Boy SureFire May The Bridges I Burn Light The Way

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    I never had much luck getting the Delica Wave to deploy reliable, but the Endura has always been a favorite. It's a good blade size even for larger food prep tasks, and I think also still within reasonable size to use around civilized folk without creating alarm.
     
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  13. jag-engr
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    jag-engr Semper Bufo!
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    I appreciate your input. I have been thinking of buying a factory-waved Delica, but I will try to handle one in person before buying based on your experience.

    I had a waved Endura once, but I didn't care for the balance of the knife. I currently have a Delica and a Salt 2, but neither are waved. I have done a zip-tie wave on the Delica on occasion, though, and it works for me.
     
  14. Boy SureFire

    Boy SureFire May The Bridges I Burn Light The Way

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    Your experience might be better, but for me it just seemed like the lighter blade didn't have enough momentum to fully open. I bought both new from the forum store many moons ago, and in practice the Delica always took a very harsh pull to deploy. Spyderco now has the mid sized Endela as a Wave that's just under 3", so maybe give that a look too.
     
  15. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    I honestly can't remember why I sold my Pacific Salt. I know my justification for buying it back then was pretty much similar to the one I've described above. It might have been that I found the blade a little too beefy for food prep, or the sheepsfoot not too suitable for working with fish. I wish I did remember, it would have been a valuable input for this process.

    About the wave, I'm not a fan. In theory at least. I have never tried one, so there's that. I'm never in a hurry when opening a knife, I just want a very predictable and reliable operation, and for knives that sees real use in a wide range of conditions, I've not found a better combination than a spydiehole and backlock. It works every time, no matter if I'm wearing gloves or my dexterity is totally ruined by fingers frozen stiff. So the Emmerson wave, for me, just comes across as unnecessarily tactical and not very optically pleasing.
    It's a much of the same deal with neck knives. Actually, I recently heard that neck knives have a very long history here in Scandinavia, might even be their origin for all I know, but now a days they're pretty much extinct as a user knife. So wearing one would probably attract more attention than I'm comfortable with, but in the end, my main reason for not trying out the concept is that it appears to be unpractical and uncomfortable. MMV.
     
  16. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    About blade steels.

    I have not done systematic testing on corrosion resistance, so I don't have any clue where to draw the line between enough and not enough.
    The thing I love about LC200N and H1 is the peace of mind it brings. Especially LC200N is so well balanced, that for my use I don't feel like I'm giving up anything to get that additional level of corrosion resistance. I can't really say that H1 has let me down either, but that also has to do with me so far only using for tasks the steel handles well.

    Going below LC200N in regards to corrosion resistance, I use Knife steel nerds list as a point of reference on what to expect, but exactly how far down I can go is hard to predict.

    When we have nice weather, which isn't all to often, the air is reasonably dry. However we do have our fair share of rain, snow and sleet. And then there is the body sweat. I think it's safe to say that when hiking/backpacking/outdoorsing(?) my pocket knife is exposed to some degree of moisture pretty much all of the time.

    I usually don't backpack in salty environments, but occasionally will take a hike along the coast somewhere or throw my tent in the kayak, so all though it doesn't have to be within the scope of my "perfect lightweight backpacking folder", it's certainly a possibility it will see that type of use.
     
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  17. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    @aicolainen: I have both LC200N and H1 blades from Spyderco. To be honest, none of my use cases probably 'demand' these steels, but I like having them for 'wetter' days.

    A couple of things in favor of the LC200N over the H1; you're probably already up on this, but here goes. (1)the H1 is known to have less edge retention, particularly on PE blades; everything I've read suggests that for the SE blades, the additional 'work' that goes into the SE grind toughens up the steel and thence gives better edge retention on H1. (2) Spyderco seem to be on a trend with their LC200N knives, wherein not only the blade steel is corrosion resistant, but also related hardware: screws, liners, I think (not sure) even the clip. I've read reviews of the LC200N SpydieChef and the Native Salt which uses LC200N for instance which point these changes out. I believe even the detent balls on such have been upgraded to ceramic rather than garden variety steel, all in the interest of corrosion resistance...

    Can't wait to see what you ultimately decide to do!

    Am Yisrael Chai!

    Moshe ben David
     
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  18. Loadout

    Loadout Loaded Pockets

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    Spydie in H1 or LC200N.
     
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  19. jag-engr
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    jag-engr Semper Bufo!
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    How have I not heard of this?! I need to handle one of those soon!
     
  20. BigGreenTick

    BigGreenTick Loaded Pockets

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    Affordable lightweight folder primarily for food prep?

    Opinel #9 or #10
     
    #20 BigGreenTick, Aug 26, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
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