I camp and overland constantly, so I’ve tested my fair share of quality knives. But my hands-down, all-time favorite is the Selby Folsom Full Size, which I think is the best outdoor knife money can buy.
Made in small batches in California by Brian Selby, the knives come sharp but are easy to sharpen thanks to an ultrahigh-quality A2 steel blade that’s double tempered to a Rockwell hardness of 60–61 HRC. (For the layman, most knives only have a hardness of 57-59 HRC.) The blade itself is four inches, and that’s matched with a four-inch textured handle and thumb notch, so you get incredible purchase on the knife and can slice through everything from raw meat to tree limbs with full confidence. At the same time, the Folsom isn’t so big that you feel ridiculous pulling it out to break down a box.
Before the Folsom, I only carried flipper knives, because they folded down nicely and fit in my pocket. The Folsom does not fit in my pocket, but every knife comes standard with a svelte Kydex or carbon-pattern sheath and a quick clip on the outside that neatly attaches to a belt. It took me awhile to get used to reaching for my knife on the outside of my jeans, but after a couple of weeks, it was second nature. (I usually wear the knife at three o’clock, near my hip.) For those of you worried about looking like Crocodile Dundee, don’t worry: the Folsom is still small enough that it easily hides under your untucked shirt.
Because Selby builds every knife himself, they have that handmade look and are truly beautiful. The shape of the blade, the matte-black blade finish, and the color choices for the handle (simple colors like coyote brown and hunter orange) make the Folsom something you’re happy to pull out at camp and show off.
Nearly $200 is a lot for a knife, but as I’m keen on saying, a big investment like this always pays off. You’ll have a knife that will be with you for years, if not decades, and you’ll find so many uses for the Folsom that $200 will eventually start to feel like a bargain.