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Gear Guy

Any ideas for a versatile fixed-blade knife?

I'm looking for a versatile fixed-blade knife to carry in all sorts of weather and activities. I will be using it mostly as a cp tool but do a lot of lightweight backpacking. I can't seem to find one that's light, durable, sturdy, and priced at around $25 to $50. Any ideas? Josh Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A: These days, the vast majority of knives are of the folding variety. But there are some good fixed-blade models. One is Buck's Woodsman, a classic small-blade knife that weighs 2.5 ounces and has a four-inch blade. It's $58, though, which is just out of your range ( The Buck Diamondback 4.25 sports a simpler handle and goes for $30, so that might be worth a look. Kershaw's Kaper ($60, is also a fixed blade, but is of a fairly specialized design for dressing game so may not be useful for you. Lastly, the Gerber Gator ($45, has a beefy four-inch blade available in a variety of configurations—serrated, non-serrated, or with a gut hook point.

Chimney Rock

Buck, Kershaw, and Gerber, of course, are rather traditional knife makers. For something a little different, check out Columbia Sportswear's Chimney Rock ($40, 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, 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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Filed To: Knives
Lead Photo: courtesy, Columbia Sportswear