Camillus SK Mountain Ultimate Survival Knife Review

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Les Stroud is best known for his TV show Survivorman (a show in which he survives in the wilderness for up to 10 days at a time by using survival skills and knowledge, and very little food, water or equipment). He has partnered with Camillus to produce the SK Mountain Ultimate Survival Knife (and others).

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I’ve been testing the SK Mountain Ultimate Survival Knife for the past month and have really come to see it as two separate products – the knife and the sheath.

The knife is a standard 4-3/4″ drop point blade with about 1.5″ of serration by the handle. 440 steel – what the knife is made of – is a low-cost, high grade of cutlery steel. The knife has a heavy, balanced feel most likely because of the full tang – a rare addition to knives these days. It has a comfortable fit even in my small hand, probably due to the rubber backing on the handle and inclusion of a finger grip (a lovely shade of lime green to match the sheath and make it easily findable in the wilderness). The knife was factory sharp and capably split a larger log into smaller pieces for a fire. Predictably, it started to lose its edge when I used it to whittle a small stick into kindling (most knives do). The ceramic knife sharpener was nice to have, and actually does appear to work, but the knife will need more than the provided sharpener to return its blade to original sharpness.

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And then there’s the sheath. It’s very telling when you go to the Camillus website, and watch Les Stroud talking about this knife – notice that he focuses solely on talking about the knife, without any mention of the sheath, aside from the flint.

The sheath contains a collection of gadgets that might be most useful in a situation where you may be lost in the wilderness without your pack. Unfortunately the price point of the knife doesn’t allow for any of the survival items to be of good quality. The flint throws a nice spark, equivalent to most other flints, but the paracord included looks pretty thin compared with actual “550 cord” (minimum breaking strength of 550 lbs) – so it probably has a breaking strength of about 100 lbs (a.k.a. type I paracord). When we tested the whistle against a normal emergency whistle, the sound was thin and didn’t carry very far. Probably the worst was the flashlight – not only was it difficult to line up the three watch batteries in the prescribed order, but the flashlight also arrived in non-working condition.

For those of you with young teenagers who are interested in honing survival skills, this is potentially a great gift – it’s a low cost knife and tools that they can actually practice on (and lose or break), and learn from. We’ve dubbed it “My First Survival Knife”.

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Pros

– knife feels good in hand

– knife has full tang

– survival items are secure (held down by knife handle)

 

Cons

– rubber on knife handle is starting to peel up

– flashlight non-functional from the start; also, batteries are difficult to insert correctly.

– whistle not loud enough (compared with an actual whistle)

– paracord is only about 100 lb strength and only 10 ft long

– compartment not waterproof

– trail map pocket is in a weird place (probably will get wet)

– knife feels heavy

 

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Tech Specs

Manufacturer: Camillus

Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.camillusknives.com/

Date Available: Now

MSRP: $57.99

Listed Weight: 15.2 oz

Actual Weight: 15 oz

Sheath includes: integrated ceramic sharpener, 10 ft paracord, LED flashlight, emergency whistle, flint fire starter, S.O.S. signal mirror, storage compartment, trail map mesh pocket

Skye is a hobbyist photographer who fell in with the wrong crowd. A few years ago she was invited on her first car camping trip which was so enjoyable that before she knew it she was hiking more, camping regularly, and occasionally backpacking. She now spends her time obsessing over what magical combination of equipment would enable her to more easily achieve all of the above. Her favorite part about camping has always been toasted marshmallows, experimenting with a new s'mores combination, and coming home to that first shower.

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