Choosing a wilderness survival knife is a subjective decision. Hopefully that decision is based on a careful weighing of criteria that remains constant regardless of terrain. First, the knife must be robust. Second, it should be well made—capable of holding a sharp edge but at the same time able to maintain that edge given rough treatment. Third, the knife must not be obtrusive; in other words, it should be neither unwieldy nor ponderous. At the same time the knife must not be so flimsy or insubstantial that it fails in the most common task a survival knife is called upon to perform which is chopping.
Lest our choice becomes burdened by an overabundance of subjectivity then remember that the survival knife should not be so specialized as to fail in the most important of all needs—universality. Said another way, the need to chop does not necessarily call for an axe nor does the luxury of making a wooden spoon dictate the need to carry only a crooked knife. In other words, the ideal survival knife must be a jack-of-all-trades. Specialized cutting tools will outperform the survival knife at specific tasks, but no knife can do all the things the ideal survival knife can do given multiple tasks.
Enter the Woods Roamer Survival Knife. Yes, I make these knives and I am partial. But long past 60 years of age and with over fifty of those years spent working in the woods or actually living in the woods I think I can accurately assess what performs best and what falls short. What you see pictured below is the third model in an evolutionary process that began about two years ago. I called the first model “the custom bush tool.” The second model was called “the survival parang” because of the design's similarities to the short machetes seen in parts of Malaysia. But when a host of emails referred to the knife as “the woods roamer knife” I decided that moniker was appropriate.
The knife’s dimensions are as follows:
Blade length: 10 inches
Cutting edge length: 8 ½ inches
Blade thickness: ¼ inch
Handle length: 6 inches
Overall length: 16 inches
The lazy S design incorporated into the knife’s shape vastly improves the knife’s chopping ability—especially when compared to a straight handled knife like the K-Bar or other large knives. This knife chops with the ease of a small axe but can slice and cut like a bushcraft knife. The blade’s rearward section near the handle is rounded to allow the knife to be easily choked and thus used for woodcarving tasks. The tang is substantial (much more so than the flimsy stick tangs seen on Malaysian parangs) but yet it does not disturb the knife’s overall balance like a full-tang large knife often does.
My two Woods Roamer knives: The top knife has a 10 inch blade and the bottom knife has an 8 ¼ inch blade. These are working knives, hand forged from 14 inch industrial files and intended for serious bushcraft and survival.
Many people have asked me to make them a knife so I’ve decided to build a batch and sell them on a first-come-first-served basis. As I complete a knife I will post the pictures of that knife and if you want it I’ll sell it to you. In other words, I won’t take orders for knives. I’ll build Woods Roamer Survival Knives as time permits and I should be able to produce a couple per month.
Here’s a video I posted on YouTube showing “The Woods Roamer Survival Knife.”