Buck, Kershaw, and Gerber, of course, are rather traditional knife makers. For something a little different, check out Columbia Sportswear's Chimney Rock ($40, www.columbia.com). It's a fixed-blade knife with a four-inch blade that has a very interesting "skeletonized" design, meaning the handle has been drilled out in several places to reduce weight. It also has a sheath with several attachment options, including hanging it via a carabiner.
Anyway, all these knives are light, well-made tools that should have you covered. But how about just getting a multi-tool? After all, these all have a knife blade, plus lots of really handy things such as screwdriver points and pliers. Not as good in the knife function as a purpose-built knife, of course, but adequate. Leatherman's good ol' Blast ($50, www.leatherman.com) is very hard to beat.
Read "Life Savers" from the September '04 issue of Outside for the latest in next-generation blades.
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