The Bushcraft trend carving out a niche for itself in the survivalist industry is based on the idea that anyone has the ability to survive in the thick of the perilous backcountry. If they have enough equipment and technology while stuck among the perils of the wilderness there is very little to overcome on the way to salvation. However, only a few are properly equipped to thrive and live comfortably in their new environment. These individuals, trained in a variety of survival techniques ranging from military survival training and modern wilderness tactics to classic Native American survival practices, have the aptitude to live contentedly off of what Mother Nature throws their way. And they usually do so with whatever is found in nature and with tools like an axe, knife, and/or a mix of simple implements that can easily be carried over a variety of terrains. In order to competently achieve the Bushcraft mentality, one must start with the proper knife. But which one? Since it is usually the only knife being carried, it must be nearly indestructible, ready to handle any task and stand up to the constant abuse a multi-purpose knife will undergo in the field.
Benchmade created just such a knife to meet the challenges of a Bushcraft lifestyle: the 162 Bushcrafter. It is Benchmade’s first foray into the Bushcraft world. Designed by avid outdoorsman and knife designer, Shane Sibert, this knife is modeled after his own custom-made Bushcraft knife, the Cascadia Bushcrafter. As a full-tang knife it is heavy, robust and has the potential to stand up to years of wear and tear without the worry of damaging it. The green handle scales (grips) are molded G-10 held in place by three flared titanium tubes that provide great lashing points to turn the knife into a spear, a machete or perhaps a pruning pole to reach fruits or nuts on high branches. The hole at the pommel end is perfect to attach a lanyard. Thumb divots are added for support when the knife is turned laterally for slashing. At the pommel the handle swells out again, making it easier to hold onto when using the knife like a hatchet. The spine lacks any jimping, which would increase stability during fine cutting.
The drop-point blade is extremely tough, easy to sharpen and chip resistant. It is milled from a solid billet of CPM S30V stainless steel, one of the best metals for making high quality knives, which makes this knife strong enough to handle a variety of survival tasks from batoning firewood to fine carving and kindling making. Some have criticized this knife for not having the scandi grind found on traditional Bushcraft knives (scandi grinds are simple grinds that are easy to sharpen), but the 4.4-inch cutting edge is a high grind with a secondary bevel added. This, according to Sibert, “increases edge strength over a scandi grind, while still being super sharp.”
It arrives with an attractive, brushed full-grain buckskin leather sheath with a loop intended to house a firesteel. The knife itself is held in place with a matching leather strap and snap, which is protected from the blade by a hard plastic insert. The chromed ring on the back of the sheath can be used to dangle the knife from your belt, pack or harness, while the riveted loop can affix to your belt. Due to the sheath’s design, the Bushcrafter rides high on the belt, which may get in the way of more athletic users.
Overall, this is a great knife with untold abilities. Benchmade set aside the gimmicks found on many survival knives — especially in the Bushcraft market — and decided to produce a solid knife using high-quality materials and a unique and original design. The clean, smooth lines and well-thought-out ergonomics display a hint of sexy mixed with the healthy dose of confidence and self-reliance found in the Bushcraft mentality. It is also available as the 162-1 Bushcrafter with a coyote tan handle and black Kydex sheath.
Model: 162 Bushcrafter
Overall Length: 9.20 inches
Weight: 7.72 ounces
Blade Length: 4.43 inches
Blade Thickness: 0.164 inches
Handle Thickness: 0.920 inches
Blade Material: S30V Stainless Steel
Blade Hardness: 58-60
Blade Style: High Ground Drop-Point
Sheath Material: Buckskin Leather
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the February 2015 print issue of American Survival Guide.