March 10, 2017
By David Hart
Guns may have won the west, but the journey through the Appalachian Mountains, across the Mississippi and over the Great Plains wouldn't have been possible without tools. Some simply made life a little easier for America's pioneers. Others served a vital purpose.
Knives in particular were just as important to a 19th century explorer as his trusty rifle. They still are.
Remember that time you realized you left your knife in camp as you stood over a deer, an elk or an antelope? Yeah, you need a blade every time you set foot in the woods. Other tools may not save your bacon, but they can sure come in handy when you least expect a situation to arise.
A few are simply nothing more than a convenience, a helpful device that makes a job like skinning an elk a little easier.
No self-respecting man would be caught dead without a pocketknife, unless, of course, he's going through airport security. Carry one on a regular basis and you'd be surprised at how often a small folding knife comes in handy. Buck's two-blade Trapper
pocketknife is the perfect all-purpose, carry-everywhere tool.
It comes with a spey and clip blade. Both are 2 5/8-inches. The textured black plastic handle is as handsome as the knife is practical. Even better, it's backed by Buck's Forever Warranty, which guarantees workmanship and materials for life.
Cabela's Guide Series Zipper Knife
Made by Buck, Cabela's Zipper Knife
is solid, strong and functional. The fixed 4 1/8-inch partially-serrated blade will cut through the toughest hide and the gut hook will help you field-dress any big game animal in no time. The textured, rubberized handle provides a sure grip in the worst conditions and the S30V steel blade holds an edge right through the field-dressing process.
It's not only a high-quality tool, it looks good, too, thanks to a titanium-nitride coating on the blade and a brass butt and finger guard. It comes with a durable nylon sheath and weighs 6.6 ounces. The overall length is 8 ½ inches.
Columbia River Knife and Tool Free Range Hunter
Designed by custom knife maker and long-time Alaska guide Russ Kommer, the Free Range Hunter
is a high-quality, no-frills, folding hunting knife at an affordable price.
It comes with a satin finish 3.75-inch blade, an ergonomic soft-grip handle and a reinforced nylon sheath. The locking blade includes a gut hook and a hollow-ground smooth blade. It weighs in at an ultra-light 4.5 ounces.
GATCO Scepter 2.0 Serration and Knife Sharpener
What good is a knife if it isn't sharp? GATCO's Scepter 2.0
allows you to keep your blades razor sharp in the field and at home. The light and compact tool is about the size of a ballpoint pen and is the perfect addition to any hunter, hiker or fisherman's gear bag.
The all-in-one sharpener includes a tungsten carbide V sharpener on the handle, plus a removable tapered diamond rod for serrated blades that also has a fish hook groove. The Scepter 2.0 also comes with a magnesium fire starter rod for emergencies.
Gerber Vital Skin & Gut Knife
It's all fun and games until you pull the trigger. That's when the work begins. Gerber's Vital Skin and Gut Knife
makes that work a little easier, thanks to a contoured blade that can peel the skin off the toughest critter and a razor-sharp gut hook that slices through the abdomen with ease.
Even better, the ergonomic rubber over-mold handle is black and blaze orange. Keeping track of your tools as you dress your game has never been easier. It weighs just 4.6 ounces and is 5.5 inches overall. It comes with a sheath.
Hooyman Ratchet Pruner
One little branch can mean the difference between turkey and no turkey. Thanks to Hooyman's Ratchet Pruner
, one little tool can take care of that little branch. The Ratchet Pruner is actually two tools in one — a pruner and a locking hand saw built into the pruner for larger branches. The tool is built entirely from aluminum and hardened steel for a lifetime of serious use in the woods. It also comes with an adjustable hand strap for a sure grip.
Leatherman Charge TTI
Sometimes, a knife won't solve your problems. Thankfully, Leatherman's Charge TTI
comes with a variety of tools (19 in all) you don't know you need until you need them. It will help you fix just about everything that could break on the range or in the field.
It not only comes with a 2.9-inch knife blade, the Charge TTI includes screwdrivers, scissors, a gut hook, pliers, a saw, even a bottle opener for the post-hunt celebration. You'll still have to find and shoot your own deer, of course. It weighs 8.2 ounces and is 4 inches when closed.
Outdoor Edge Wild-Pak
Do-it-yourselfers will find plenty to like in Outdoor Edge's Wild-Pak
, a field-to-table tool kit that is perfect for field dressing and butchering all your game. The eight-piece kit includes a skinning knife/gut hook combination, full-tang caping knife, boning knife, saw, carbide sharpener and rib spreader.
It also comes with disposable game cleaning gloves. The non-slip rubberized tool handles are bright orange so you'll never lose track of them as you work on your kill. The kit comes in a hard-sided case and weighs just 2.6 pounds.
Schrade Tactical Hatchet
Every woodsman needs a hatchet, but Schrade's Tactical Hatchet
doesn't just chop wood. This compact full tang tool also serves as a pry bar. The razor-sharp blade is 3.1 inches, the total length is 12.8 inches and the overall weight is just 1.56 pounds, making this the perfect carry tool for hunters, trappers and anyone else who ventures off the beaten path.
The contoured nylon fiber handle comes with a comfortable grip and the frame is a quarter-inch thick for heavy-duty use. It also comes with a pointed spike on the back of the axe head and a nylon sheath that includes belt loops.
SOG Revolver 2.0 Hunt
Field dress a deer without switching tools? Sure, thanks to SOG's Revolver 2.0 Hunt
. The swing-blade knife includes a compact 3.2-inch clip blade and a saw/gut hook combination that changes with a quick, effortless flip. The SOG Revolver includes a black leather sheath, a black and blaze orange rubber over-mold handle and a stainless steel blade. A removable sharpening tool is built into the handle.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.