Gear Guy

F.A.S.T. Draw knife     Photo: courtesy, Gerber

Q:

How much should I spend on a good pocket knife?

I'd like to get a new pocket knife but recoil at the price tags I've recently witnessed. Is there a good reason to buy a $200 pocket knife? Scott Kingston, Ontario

A:I was initially going to chide you for making a less than satisfactory stab (pun intended) at irony, thinking that you thought we’d recoil in horror at the very idea of a “$200 pocket knife," when to really make sure we got the joke it would have been better to use wild exaggeration, as in, “I saw a pocket knife the other day that cost eleventy million dollars."

But you CAN spend $200 on a pocketknife. An example: The Buck Chipflint Skinner ($200; www.cabelas.com) features 420HC stainless steel—a steel that holds an edge and resists corrosion but is not so hard as to make it difficult to sharpen. And it has a buffalo-horn handle. I mean, good grief!

But look, what you’re buying is, to some extent, a fashion statement. You get a similar steel (chromium-and-carbon alloy 154CM stainless)—that’s what really matters—in Cabela’s Alpha Hunter knives, which are made by Buck and sell for $55 and up. Or there’s the very slick Kershaw Leek knife ($80; www.kershawknives.com), which has a folding blade and excellent steel. Or the Gerber F.A.S.T. Draw with a serrated blade ($40; www.gerberstore.com), also folding.

On the tool/knife front, there’s the always popular Swiss Army Camper ($27; www.rei.com), which is trim enough to fit comfortably in a pocket. And it has two blades, a small saw, can opener, reamer, and more. It’s extremely handy when you just want a knife for everyday tasks.

So—yeah, yeah—if you spend a lot more, you get a little spiffier knife. But there’s no reason to go over $80, almost regardless of what you want to do with the knife, whether it’s to gut an elk or open an envelope.

Get more advice from the Gear Guy as he picks this season’s top gifts in Away.com’s Holiday Gift Guide. You’ll probably find a few things to put on your own wish list, too.

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