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Camp knife vs. Tomohawk


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I've been using one of my tomahawks for awhile now. I made it for camping so it needed to be light and tough. I chop with it every chance I get, but I've never used a camp knife before. If you guys could take a 4-6" blade belt knife and either a light tomahawk or camp knife into the woods for a week, which would it be? I've put this through some some pretty tough scenarios, but I know a camp knife could puncure drums and cans and throw as well. Thanks.

Edited by Andrew Hardesty
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I'm not really an expert on survival, but I would think a good hawk is the more versatile of the tools. Especially if you can also have another 4" knife.

 

I'd go with a hawk or hatchet to go along with the belt knife.

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I like a camp knife in the field...mine is a little (9" blade) Malaysian-styled parang that I made for myself. I often pair it with a slipjoint pocketknife. More versatile tool than a hatchet/hawk, at least in the environments I hike in, and (important to hypoglycemic and food-obsessed types like myself :D ) better for food-prep tasks in camp. Can't spread peanut butter with a 'hawk that easily... :P

 

Oddly, I find 4-5" blades (as in a "normal" bushcraft knife) a particularly awkward size to use, but I'm generally pretty eccentric in my choice of tools anyway.

Edited by Orien M
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I think the question should be... chopper or slicer?

 

I have to go with chopper, with a good sharp chopper you can make any tool you need. Say, if you needed a butter knife to spread PB on toast you could always find a maple branch and fashion a butter knife with a chopper (both knives and axes). With a slicer it's better to save that edge rather than use it for cutting wood for a survival situation.

 

My two cents...

-Gabriel

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Interesting ideas from everyone. With a camp knife, how much of a convex grind can you apply before it becomes purely chopper and not a slicer? I think I actually ground my hawk a little too straight and thin behind the edge because it bites deep into the wood and likes to stick instead of split. Thank you all.

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If i had to choose one or the other id always choose a well made camp knife- Generally speaking they are a tad lighter and not cumbersome to carry like the head heavy axe. I pack light so having a multi function tool fits my needs perfectly. Can affix to a pole for a makeshift spear- cut chop prep food clean game-- perfect

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This discussion reminded me that location does matter.

 

Our friends in the northern climates of North America would never be caught out in the woods without a camp axe. There, wood is plentiful in tree form, and fire is important for heating. In more arid places, I could see a knife being more useful since wood is usually more in brush form, and fire is more for cooking so less fuel is used.

 

Shelter would also be made from local materials. If you need to use logs, best o have an axe. If you are using banana leaves, best to have a knife.

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From a general perspective, Brian has hit the nail on the head, I think. Looking at tropical climes, I don't imagine a whole lot of dry, hard wood that needs to be chopped. I do however think that tall, wrist-thick, flexible saplings are commonly hacked and whacked and a knife is just better suited for that.

 

Camping is pretty much the only physical activity I do besides smithing, and although I used to do a lot more of it before I started working full time, I still march off into the woods for a few days and go backpacking. I also use only my own stuff (gives me an excuse to keep making more :P). If i brought out something I didnt like, I made something a bit different that better suited my preference. I found tomahawks/hand axes a tad too light, and the through handle didnt give me the security to really chop fully. Same went for a large knife, just in reverse. In order to be long and heavy enough to do some serious chopping, I found it a pain to do anything else. Again, this just applies to myself, and the climate I go camping in.

I finally settled on a 1.25-1.5lb short axe and a small patch knife. The axe is just long enough to fit from my wrist to my arm pit and the knife has a 3" blade or so.

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I may forget any of my knives, but I ALWAYS remember my 'hawk. Reason being, my wife usually has at least one of her knives, and also has something stashed away in the camping bucket (A 5 gal. bucket with a lid, filled with dishes, spatulas, TP--very important!, and silverware.) She has a hatchet in there as well, but it feels awkward to me, and I avoid using it.

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Interesting ideas from everyone. With a camp knife, how much of a convex grind can you apply before it becomes purely chopper and not a slicer? I think I actually ground my hawk a little too straight and thin behind the edge because it bites deep into the wood and likes to stick instead of split. Thank you all.

 

Probably everyone has their own idea of a "good" geometry...personally I like a fairly thin (1/8" or so) blade with a full convex. My li'l parang slices and chops quite well (and sees a lot of use in the kitchen! B) ).

 

I see a lot of real thick camp knives (1/4") and have made a few myself, but find them too thick to slice with, and actually often too heavy overall to get a nice fast swing going. Heavy and clunky makes for poor performance, IMHO.

Edited by Orien M
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  • 2 weeks later...

If i had to choose one or the other id always choose a well made camp knife- Generally speaking they are a tad lighter and not cumbersome to carry like the head heavy axe. I pack light so having a multi function tool fits my needs perfectly. Can affix to a pole for a makeshift spear- cut chop prep food clean game-- perfect

 

 

He's not talking about an axe, but a tomahawk. Different beast altogether.

 

I take a hawk. The versatility factor is huge. If the handle breaks, make another from a branch or sapling. Need and adz? Lash it to a forked branch and chop to your heart's content. You can even use it in place of a knife if need be. In my opinion, a camp knife belongs in cutting competitions not the woods. But that's just me.

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