A knife is one of the most practical tools you can take tramping – it can be used to prepare meals, fix equipment and even cut wood for an emergency fire.
With an ergonomic design to naturally fit your hand, even block-like multi-tools are comfortable to grip tightly. When using a knife or multi-tool with other tools, the tools not in use should not protrude into the hand. Some handles also offer a textured surface for non-slip grip.
It’s common for the main blade to be accessed with one-hand – just use your thumb to slide it out of the handle.
Serrated versus plain blades
Use a straight-edged blade for accurate and clean cuts – perfect for slicing anything from rope to cheese. Serrated blades are designed for more vigorous cutting and for tackling tougher materials, sometimes even wood. A single blade that combines a plain and serrated edge provides the best of both worlds.
Most folding blades, especially those that can be opened one-handed, will lock into position so they can’t accidentally fold onto your fingers when pressure is applied in the wrong direction.
It may be possible to unlock and close the blade single-handed – as is the case with the commonly-used liner lock mechanism. This is easy to operate with your thumb when the knife is held in a natural grip.
The more tools your chosen model has, the heavier it will be. If you’re buying for your tramping trips, choose a model that has fewer functions. If you want a multi-tool to complement your toolbox, then it’s a case of the more the merrier.
Cared for properly, your chosen knife can last a lifetime. Keep it clean – use a damp cloth (for more stubborn sticky substances use a mild mix of detergent and water or even mineral turps). Keep it dry – especially after cleaning. Keep it lubricated – if you use your knife to prepare food, use cooking oil as opposed to a commercial lubricant. If your knife is exposed to salt water, clean, dry and lubricate it as soon as possible.
Use a whetstone, rod or specific sharpening kit. Serrated blades should only be sharpened on the edged side and a specific tool may be required to maintain the curvature of the serrations.
Leatherman Signal $299.99
Survival tool with 19 functions including needlenose and regular pliers, replaceable wire cutters, awl, can opener, bit driver, combo blade and saw. Made in the USA from stainless steel. 25-year warranty. 213g. www.leatherman.co.nz
Deejo Tattoo Terra Incognita Blue Beech Wood $99
With a 9.5cm blade made from 420 stainless steel with matte finish, secure liner lock system decorated with fine laser engraving, belt clip, solid beechwood handle. 37g. www.bobo.co.nz
Leatherman Wingman $139.99
14 tools including spring-action regular and needlenose pliers, screwdrivers, wood/metal file, bottle opener, can opener, one-handed deployment of outside-accessible locking 420HC combo knife blade and scissors, belt clip. Made in the USA. 25-year warranty. 198g. www.leatherman.co.nz
Leatherman Skeletool $189.99
Clip-on multi-tool with pliers, locking combo knife, wire cutters, carabiner clip/bottle opener, large bit driver for the included screwdriver and other bits. Stainless steel with 6061-T6 aluminium handle insert. Made in the USA. 25-year warranty. 142g. www.leatherman.co.nz
Morakniv Kansbol $89.99
Swedish made with 12C27 stainless steel for enhanced strength and long-lasting sharpness. Profiled for precision and the spine is ground for use with a fire starter. Knife and sheath designed to be ambidextrous. www.ampro.co.nz
Victorinox Huntsman $74.99
The Victorinox officer's knife with 15 functions. Includes scissors, blades, wood-saw, corkscrew, screwdrivers, wire stripper, toothpick, tweezers, parcel hook and bottle/can openers. 97g. www.ampro.co.nz
Leatherman K4 $219.99
Magnetic architecture and with nine tools in one, including knife, spring-action scissors, package opener, Philips and flathead screwdrivers and bottle opener. All tools are accessible with one hand from outside the tool. Made in the USA. 25-year warranty. 156g. www.leatherman.co.nz
Opinel 7VRI Trekking Colorama $36.99
French-made knife with a range of colourful handles for a unique personal touch, and features a lanyard. Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel blade. www.ampro.co.nz
Victorinox Soldier $99.99
The latest standard-issue Swiss Army Knife to many armed forces around the world. 10 functions including a large one-handed opening blade, with grippy two-component scales. 131g. www.ampro.co.nz
Leatherman T4 $149.99
12 tools including 420HC knife, spring-action scissors, extra small, small, medium and Philips screwdriver. Magnetic architecture, single-hand use with haptic feedback. Made in the USA. 25-year warranty. 121g. www.leatherman.co.nz
Baladeo Rescue Knife $79
420 stainless steel half-serrated blade, liner lock system, one-handed opening and closing, three functions: knife, belt cutter and window breaker. Stainless steel handle in red, black, carbon fibre or olive wood. www.bobo.co.nz