The Belt Knife is a very important tool to many outdoorsmen and rightly so. It allows you easy access to a cutting tool and, as its name suggests, it should always be at your side. It may be the only tool you are left with in the event of losing everything else (because it is attached to your belt). As Dave Canterbury says: “Unless someone steals your pants” you should still have that knife.
The Belt Knife needs to be able to accomplish a wide range of tasks in passable fashion and for that reason it needs to meet certain criteria.
Requirements of a Good Belt Knife
A 4-6 inch blade length will allow you to process and split fairly large diameter pieces of wood for your fire and for any other woodcrafting projects.
Full tang construction ensures that your knife is durable enough to withstand tasks such as batoning.
High carbon steel enables you to sharpen your knife in the field with relative ease. A carbon steel blade also allows you to drive hot sparks off of the spine of the knife with stones like quartz, flint and chert to ignite marginal tinders such as char cloth.
Finally, a 90 degree spine is useful in the processing of bark and wood fibers for making cordage and tinder bundles in fire making, as well as striking a fire steel.
What Can You Do With a Belt Knife?
In the event of losing everything and only being left with your belt knife, your knife needs to be able to accomplish several tasks in passable fashion. It needs to be able to
- Split wood by means of batoning
- Carve and shape wood
- Process meat with your knife
- Make holes and concavities in wood and bark
- Cross cut the grain of wood when cutting down a small tree (see video below)
If your knife has a 90 degree spine then it is even more useful. You can use the sharp spine to strip the rough cuts you have made on your work peace to smooth everything out. You can also use it to strike your Ferro rod.
My Belt Knife
My personal belt knife if the Morakniv Garberg. It was designed to be the outdoorsman’s best friend. It is (in my opinion) the best knife on the market for its price.
I have used my Garberg for splitting wood, carving, skinning, and even cutting down a small tree and much more. I use this knife most of the time when outdoors and while there is no perfect knife for everything, I do believe it is the best knife. I’ve found for most things it meets all the criteria of a good belt knife. These are the reasons why I chose the Garberg for my belt knife.
Related articles: How I became the South African Ambassador for Morakniv
What belt knife do you use? Would you say it is an absolute necessity to have on you at all times?