You’re off for a backpacking trip. Say, you’re up to follow some river in Lapland, or to fish a couple of remote Alpine lakes. In your pocket, of course, a trusty SAK, maybe a Rucksack or a Rangergrip if you ask me. But if you’re out to camp in the woods, it’s really nice to have a sturdier blade, something that will allow wood processing. If there’s something I like out there, it’s carving wood at night around the campfire. Maybe a spoon, or some pegs for your tarp, a stick to cook a sausage… anything that will let me play with a knife.
In the knife world, Mora of Sweden, more precisely Morakniv, enjoys an unparalleled reputation. The Swedish firm produces very large quantities tested and true cutting tools with a quality/price ratio second to none. The design is what you would expect from Sweden: function, then function and more function. You’ll be hard pressed to find frills and frivolous compromises to sheer aesthetics. They’re just tools.
Mine is a Companion Heavy Duty, in carbon steel. The handle is made of a sturdy composite with a ruberry coating. Excellent grip in every possible way of holding it, you can trust it won’t sleep even with wet hands. The blade… Anyone who used a Mora once will know what I’m talking about. Ridiculously sharp. The steel is from Sandvik, a respectable giant in the business, and the heat treatment is flawless. 3,2mm thick, with a scandi grind, perfect to bite into wood, you get a razorsharp knife with some serious strength.
Now, it’s not a full tang build, so you may have doubts about that. If you have, I recommend you watch that video, where the wonderful nutjobs at Dutch Bushcraft Knives try and fail to destroy a Robust (another design, very close to the HD). It’ll give you an idea of the kind of nonsense a Mora can take without dying. Obviously, mine wasn’t even remotely exposed to that kind of idiocy, and just stays the way it’s supposed to after a good deal of use.
But what is really incredible with this knife is that you’ll get a Companion HD for smoething like 17€50 in France (€19 on Mora’s website). The standard version (2mm blade) will be yours for $13! Clearly, this is just the perfect knife for a first fixed blade, and for many it’s just the perfect knife period.
Faults? Well, not much. The sheath may not look sexy to you. It’s very efficient tough, holds the knife well, it’s light and profiled so it’s an easy cary on you or in your pack. Also, the blade’s back is not sharp enough to strike a spark on ferrocerium rods or to scrape birch bark, if you care about such things. As winter nights are long and I have a perfect alibi (my son’s recent passion for everything bushcraft), I had a little fun with my Companion. I forced a patina with hot cider vinegar, filed the back into sharpness, put a good length of bungee cord on the sheath and plenty of ranger’s bands (aka inner tube slices). In particular, if you put one on top of the belt loop, your knife will stay in no matter what. Neat. I seriously doubt I’ll ever find myself in a survival situation, but it’s fun and looks awesome. At least for me.