I'm not one to bring a lot with me camping. I have a core set of gear that comes with me on every trip such as the stove, a water purifier, a tent and a sleeping pad. When deciding what else to pack I've always discredited 'accessories' such as multi-tools as I've lost track of the number of camping trips I've been on and not once have I ever wished I brought one along.
The more trips I go one however, the more resourceful I want to be. Perhaps packing less (or at least more efficiently), or making better use of my gear while growing my skills. One tool that I've often considered is a trusty knife, but I had a few requirements when looking for one and the Helle Utvær (Named for the westernmost group of islands where Norway meets the North Sea) checked off each of these...
I didn't want a knife who's mechanics could potentially break when I needed it most, or fold up at an inconvenient time. The backcountry isn't the place to add potential chances of injury. This knife has a full tang ensuring strength throughout.
The 3mm thick Utvær blade constructed from Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel was just the right size to assist around the campsite. There are no serrations, making it easier to sharpen and it is corrosion resistant.
Each to their own, especially when comparing the thousands of knives on the market but I found this knife with a curly birch handle to look just fantastic. Better yet, it feels comfortable in my hand as well, not creating any uncomfortable pressure points when using it.
Handy for work around the campsite
The Scandi's flat grind makes short work on chores and prep work for the fire.
The 11.45 cm birch handle is secured to the knife using two rivets that also allow for running small rope or a leather strap through it. The wood is waterproof through Oil-impregnation and doesn't feel glossy or slippery, even when wet.
One feature I really enjoy is the back end of the knife where Helle has let part of the full tang knife hang over the edge. It doesn't get in your way and is very versatile. You could use it to chip away at something, crush up small tree litter to prep it for a fire, or in even more drastic situations such as opening a can of food, or breaking a window. My primary use has been in combination with a magnesium rod to start a fire in which it has been very effective and doesn't mar up the knife in the slightest. I now carry these two items on me at all times on hikes and when camping in case of emergency.
I think this is a perfect little bushcraft knife. The tip is strong and I don't envision it snapping it off while the rest of the blade holds its edge well. The Utvær has a Scandinavian grind meaning it is incredibly sharp and quite effortless to work with.
The leather sheath fits nicely on a belt and has enough play in the attached strap to bend out of the way when working on your hands and knees. The knife slides easily in and out of it, and has just enough friction that it wouldn't fall out on its own. So far it has stayed pretty firm, so I'm curious how it will age and what that will mean with keeping the knife fixed in place. I will be sure to wax it occasionally to keep it in the best condition.
The Helle Utvær comes in a beautiful tube with instructions on how to sharpen it. There is also a nice cleaning cloth which is a good reminder to always clean your knife after using it, and it will surely last you for a lifetime. Especially a well made knife such as this.
It was well worth the investment for a knife such as this. If you are looking for a knife with similar features as I was, I would highly recommend the Helle Utvær! From Winter Camping to Summer backcountry trips this knife will always be by my side.