Preparation is the creed of outdoorsmen. The wilderness is harsh, sudden, and unforgiving of the careless and disrespectful. Forget this fact and it can spell disaster on the trail, especially in the backcountry. There’s no shortage of outdoor gear available to us, but there are certain items that every outdoors enthusiast should always have. Among these items are blades, and today we’ll take a look at the three blades everyone needs to make sure to have: an axe, a saw, and a knife.
A knife is best used for peeling and shaving sticks, not the heavy-duty work that’s best reserved for your saw and axe. Peeled sticks harden quickly and become tougher and lighter than sticks with the bark left on them. Furthermore, shaved sticks can be further shaped into tools, like spears, bows, and arrows. To peel a stick, hold one end and rest the other against a stump. Keeping your knife arm straight, stroke away from yourself by moving your shoulder and body, rather than bending your elbow. To shave wood, use the same technique, but slightly flex the wrist on your knife hand outward at the end of the stroke, tilting the blade so it raises a curl of wood from the stick. Repeat this process until you have a feather stick of fine wood curls for great tinder.
An ax will be your most versatile and critical tool in a survival situation. However, in the hands of the careless, it’s also the most dangerous. For this reason, it’s vital to never swing your axe until you’re sure that a mishit will strike the ground or a log, and not someone’s body. One of the most important skills you can learn with an axe is limbing a downed tree so the wood can be pieced into firewood blocks with your saw. One added bonus in this situation is the excellent shelter that pine limbs can be used to create. Chop limbs in the direction they grow, which is usually toward the top of the tree. To avoid injury, stand on the far side of the tree from the limbs you’re chopping and swing the axe away from your legs, using the trunk as a buffer. Be sure to make the cuts as flush as possible with the trunk.
Saws are the most fragile of the blades, but they’re also the safest. Nothing matches their speed and efficiency for bucking logs into blocks of firewood. With saws, the longer the stroke, the quicker the work, so make sure to choose the biggest saw you can comfortably carry. Let the weight of the saw do most of the work for you, and make sure to use the entire saw blade. One long stroke is worth three short ones and requires less effort. You can find models where the blade folds into the handle, which can be a big space saver.
There you have it; the Trinity of blades for an outdoorsman. A solid fixed blade knife, reliable axe, and sturdy saw can accomplish a variety of tasks on the trail and around the campsite, so add them to your gear arsenal if you haven’t already done so. You’ll be thankful you did if you find yourself in a survival emergency.