When the average person thinks about what a “survival” knife would look like, one conjures up images of large “Rambo” style blades with saw backs and gimmicky storage compartments or even grappling hooks. Seriously, grappling hooks! Unless you’re Adam West or Burt Ward as Batman and Robin scurrying up a wall, let’s go ahead and take this option off the table before we start. The point is, these are mostly images from what people see in movies dreamed up by Hollywood prop masters to capture an audience’s attention. These style blades are put into mass production because fan boys buy them as fast as they can be made with no intention other than to wave them around online in hopes of gaining some sort of odd “credibility” for owning one.
For those who have ever truly hiked miles carrying gear, you will know ounces become pounds quickly. Likewise, for anyone who has done time in the woods camping or bushcrafting, you realize a smaller knife is far more useful in everyday chores than a large bowie. Real outdoorsmen know the value of a good quality, small blade.
As a huge proponent of seeking out local talent around my home in Jacksonville, Florida, I discovered Two Rivers Knife Co, founded by an avid outdoorsman, John Galeani earlier this year. Over the following few weeks, I had the pleasure of getting to know John and find out more about the custom knives he makes. It didn’t take long to see John was clearly cut from the same cloth as those men I trust to know what’s really needed for survival in the wild. Whether its building blades and listening to the feedback from the diehard end users or making his way through mountain trails on vacation in western North Carolina bushcrafting, John continually studies the needs of survival and works it into the knives he creates.
Last month I had the good fortune of receiving a blade for review from them. Immediately, as I viewed it, I was pleased at the knife design that arrived. To the untrained eye, the knife wasn’t shiny, high polished or a safe queen. To those who know what a real bushcrafting knife should be, the everyday carry (EDC) knife John sent was beautiful! Everything about its brushed forge finished high carbon 1084 steel blade and oil finished walnut handle screamed “Let’s get to work!”. Measuring approximately 8“ overall length with a 3.5“ razor sharp blade, the knife fit my hand perfectly. The stainless steel pins were smooth as glass, inset into the scales perfectly to the point I could not feel them at all when handling the knife. The knife was housed in a simple, no-frills Kydex sheath that allowed a quick draw of the blade while still retaining it well when being carried and even shaken upside down.
As a longtime fan of both bushcrafting and pioneer firearms such as black powder rifles, my first thought on the EDC was it was very similar to the classic patch knife that is very popular in those circles. Although the Two Rivers blade was a slightly larger than a traditional patch knife used for cutting the patch used as wadding for the lead ammo used in black powder rifles, both knives were meant to be used for every day utility task such as peeling apples, cutting meat, making traps etc.
Too add to the frontier effect, I reached out to the skilled craftsmen at Northwest Traders for one of their beautiful leather neck sheaths. While I liked the Kydex sheath that arrived with the Two Rivers knife and it performed well on the belt, I do like a neck carry option for a utility blade. When it comes to period correct sheaths, Northwest Traders is well known for their beautiful work. Just handling this knife and sheath made me eager to get to our semi-famous training grounds affectionally known as “The Swamp”.
Much to my delight, it was only a matter of days before I could get out to the bushcrafting area of our training grounds to put the Two Rivers knife through the paces. I started with a bit of feathering sticks for future fire starters. The handle gave me a good purchase on the knife to control the short strokes without skipping away from the stick. The razor-sharp edge provided by Atavistic Edgeworks, who does all the finial sharpening on blades produced by John’s company, did great in holding a crisp cutting surface throughout the day. I then used a bit of thumb pressure on the reverse side of a few sticks to cut a few “U” and “V” shaped notches typically used for traps and tools. Again, the edge held up well with a good amount of sharpness remaining.
As one of the key factors in bushcrafting, I decided to see how the Two Rivers knife would handle cutting cordage. Having a good amount of cordage and an efficient way of cutting it can mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation. I decided to take 10’ of the ever popular 550 paracord and cut it into small 6” – 8” sections and then slice an apple. I’m happy to say, the edge held up well as I made small loops and ties out of my length of cord. The apple ended up well sliced and delicious!
As I mentioned in the opening of the article, people may quickly conjure up imagines of large knives when discussing bushcraft knives. A reason for this is because of the use of some field knives used for chopping small trees down for tent poles, wind breaks, and such. Even those who do carry a large knife into the woods almost certainly carry a knife the size of our test blade for the finer tasks. My personal choice is to always have a knife such as the Two Rivers blade and carry a small camp axe to perform axe-type tasks.
Retailing for $150 – $175 depending on handle material, the everyday carry bushcraft knife by Two Rivers Knife Co is a fine example of what a handmade fixed blade knife should be. The clean lines, strong blade edge and comfortable grips made for a real pleasure in testing for this review. In the realm of custom knives, Two Rivers Knife Co blades are a great value for the quality and performance the end user gets from each knife purchased. To wrap up this review, I not only highly recommend Two Rivers Knife Co knives to serious bushcraft enthusiasts, I am proud to have been as a local business in my area. To learn more about the custom knives produced by this company check them out on Instagram ( @tworiversknifeco) Facebook or visit them at www.tworiversknifeco.com.