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On the hunt for an ideal EDC/hiking folder.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by el gigantor, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. el gigantor

    el gigantor Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 5, 2015
    Hey all,

    I apologize in advance if I'm posting this in the wrong place. I'm new here.

    A quick rundown: I'm in the market for a quality EDC folding knife. I'm planning on doing a few week+ hikes in the mountains next year also, and this blade will be my go-to for heavy use out there as well.

    I've done a lot of research and have determined a few things. Firstly, fixed blades are better for wilderness adventure. The problem is, a fixed blade wouldn't work for me to carry every day in the city so a folder it is. Second, it seems like Cold Steel has struck a really great value/price balance so I've been focusing most of my attention on their line.

    I have large hands but am not considering anything sized XL thus far. The models I'm interested in are the Recon1 clip point, AK-47, and the Code 4 tanto. I realize that it comes down to personal preference and I'm not here to ask which of those three I should go for. I'm more interested in other quality knives by different makers in a similar price-point to those I mentioned. What would you carry if you were me?

    Any help is appreciated. I'm glad I found this community and I can see this new interest of mine becoming an addiction..
  2. DallasSTB

    DallasSTB Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 18, 2009
    Ontario RAT 1. Made in Taiwan, and outstanding quality for the money. I carried one for years with my boys on Scout trips.
  3. The cow

    The cow

    Jul 3, 2014
    Cost is a big factor here.
    What sort of "heavy use" are we talking about here? Usually that phrase equals "stupid tasks" in my book...and that means fixed blade. If you'd absolutely have to have a "hard use" folder, you better look at the big clunky Zero Tolerance 560/Hinderer/Strider

    +1 for the Ontario RAT and ESEE folder series great blade for a cheap price.
  4. Sonnydaze

    Sonnydaze Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 6, 2009
    This is the folder that I would carry on a trip like that. It isn't cheap, but it was designed as a "folding fixed blade."
    Spyderco TUFF in CPM-3V...a great blade-steel.
    It has been discontinued, but you have plenty of time to find one in the Exchange for about $200. There are a few available on the Web, but the "new" price is growing higher.
    I've had two of these.
    Perhaps I'd take a Spyderco Slysz Bowie as a second choice.
    Less expensive alternatives would be the Zero Tolerance 0350, the Cold Steel Ultimate Hunter, Cold Steel American Lawman.
  5. Nap


    Sep 9, 2015
    So, it sounds like you're set on a beefy folder. I'm not going to spend too much time telling you why this isn't the best choice for the kind of use you (briefly) describe, because in the end, if that's what you want, more power to you—there's absolutely nothing wrong with owning knives for cool factor alone.

    I will tell you that a knife doesn't need to be thick or heavy to do the vast majority (>99%) of jobs you'll ever encounter. In fact, the thicker the blade, the worse it is at slicing tasks, not to mention that it adds unnecessary weight to your pack (since you mention backpacking). Short of hammering it into a tree trunk—in which case you'll need more than a folder anyway—most "bushcraft" jobs are actually better handled by a thin, lightweight blade like a Mora; most urban EDC jobs can be handled by the already-mentioned Ontario RAT 1/2, a Kershaw Skyline/Blur, or a Spyderco Tenacious/Delica/Sage/Caly, all of which also serve well in the woods. If you want to go larger, the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 and Manix are both outstanding knives, with the Paramilitary 2 topping a lot of people's lists as "best blade ever, bar none."

    Going back to the Cold Steel products you've named, though, all three of them fall into the category of "tactical" folder. The blade shapes (clip point and tanto) all look cool, but they're all about stabbiness and won't work as well for getting real work done. Likewise, all of them are hollow ground, which isn't bad for EDC tasks, but won't serve you as well in the woods. (Again, for the vast majority of applications a knife is a knife, but since you asked...)

    If you look at the Cold Steel Voyager, you'll find that it's very similar to the Recon 1 and Code 4, but lacks the "tacticool" finishes and has a full flat grind on the blade. The black coating of the Recon 1 and AK-47 is going to start wearing off the first time you put it to serious use, and the Voyager's flat grind is just better for most tasks. The Voyager is also much less expensive than the other three. In this case, it's a matter of form versus function. Do you want to impress you friends by flicking out a blacked-out Recon 1, or do you want something that will perform better on your next camping trip?

    If cool factor and aggressive-feeling matter more, I'll definitely point you in the way of Zero Tolerance, Emerson, Strider, and the like. If your budget accommodates it, you can also just buy a Sebenza.

    For all this talk, you really should if at all possible handle a few in person—you may not like the extra-strong lockback of the Code 4, for instance—and ask more specific questions. Otherwise, you're basically stuck with a mix of our own personal favorite blades and broad generalities about knife philosophy.
  6. jfk1110

    jfk1110 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 9, 2013
    Look at DPX Gear folders with the Roto-lock. A folder will never be able to handle what a fixed will, however the DPX is a solid performer and would be my first choice for a knife that might be used and abused. Another plus is the knife can be waved open like an Emerson. I have the T3 & 2.0 models and both handle tasks I wouldn't do with other knives.
  7. Surfingringo

    Surfingringo Gold Member Gold Member

    May 25, 2013
    I was on here asking similar questions a few years ago and was talked into getting something a bit lighter and thinner than what I had in mind. I am thankful that I followed the sound advice I got here. There are lots of options for very tough knives that are not overbuilt. IMHO, you will likely get better performance out of something like a Spyderco Endura than the options you are considering. If you want something completely weather/corrosion proof then the Spyderco Salt line is worth looking at too.
  8. leghog


    Aug 10, 2013
  9. Chris "Anagarika"

    Chris "Anagarika"

    Mar 7, 2001
    Better steel: Endura VG10. Sabre ground for more tip strength. Better lock: Voyager Large Clop Point. Best price : SAK OHT (One Hand Trekker). You don't even have to baton, there's saw.
  10. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    My order for low to high would be one-handed trekker, Spydie endura or delica, benchmade 550hg.

    For most use the handle shape is going to make more of a difference than anything else. I really like the benchmade handle, and the spydies are good too. trekker gets you other really useful outdoor features.

    I would start at the lower cost end, like one of the spydercos, or Vic, as you will really start to find your prefrences, and it sucks to drop a huge chunk of change (no idea what that number is for you, but anyway) then find out you hate a certain lock type, or that you want a full flat grind more than a sabre. And if you don't end up liking the knife, you can easily gift it, or pass it along. Not saying you cannot with the cold-steels but they are a little more taste specific. I'm a die-hard griptillian fan, but due to living in a country that they are less than legal for carry, I rely on a Vic rucksack for most of my woods wandering, and it does the job just fine. Plus if you want a fixed blade, a mora will also fit within your budget, and they are a very light, very solid option.
  11. TravisH

    TravisH Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 22, 2014
    There's a Recon 1 Clip Point on the Exchange rigght now ...

    Note: the Recon 1 at 5.3oz is too heavy for me to EDC 'in the city'. YMMV. And, at 4", violates some local laws, so check your's before purchasing.

    A Spyderco Military (4" 4.2oz), Paramilitary 2 (3.44" 3.75oz), Endura (3.75", 3.7oz Sabre Grind) would be good alternatives. As would Benchmade Griptilian.

    and WELCOME to the forums.
  12. red mag

    red mag

    Apr 12, 1999
    I'd go the SAK way.
    A Soldier 2008 for outdoors
    and something smaller (without the saw) for city carry.
    red mag
  13. Nap


    Sep 9, 2015
    Even better would be the Endura in ZDP-189, which has the added bonus of having a full flat grind. And British Racing Green scales.
  14. savage99


    Jan 3, 2014
    You can get a spyderco delica and a mora companion for around $80 probably less. And you would be well served with both knives I know I have been.
  15. bld522


    Feb 3, 2004
    I agree with savage99. Is there some way you could buy a fixed-blade for hiking/heavy use and a folder for city use? If you could, that would be my recommendation.
  16. Hacked


    Jun 1, 2010
    I second or third the idea of picking a folder for every day use and a Mora for time in the woods.

    The Companion is a good choice and one of the cheapest Moras available today. The 510 is another choice. It is a simpler knife without the rubber grip, and has a slightly longer tang extending nearly the entire length of the handle vs the 3/4 in the Companion. You would be very hard pressed to break on of these knives without just outright trying to do so.
  17. exmaxima


    Jan 30, 2006
    Especially the 550HG. It is a very solid knife, and a step up from the Spydies mentioned. I put Putnam scales on mine and it is a beast. An even stronger and more durable Spydie would be the Gayle Bradley.
  18. savage99


    Jan 3, 2014

    Just doo it
  19. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    As suggested by others, I personally would lean toward a Spyderco Endura, but I prefer the Delica for EDC (smaller blade). For hiking, I would consider those two, and a modest 4-6" fixed blade to carry with you. The Kabar Beckers come to mind, but the Moras are inexpensive and highly regarded as cutters. You could do far worse than a Mora Companion on your belt or in your pack in the wood/hiking.

    Week long hiking.... I'd go moderately light with a Victorinox swiss army knife such as a On-Handed Trekker (with the saw blade) plain edge and a Mora. I have no problems skipping the Mora entirely. You need to consider what you are likely to actually be cutting and the frequency. Probably not much and a SAK can handle all the normal kinds of things.
  20. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011
    This is my standard backpacking carry (although note, an Opinel #9 is pictured and I've since moved to an Opinel #10). On ultra lite trips, I only carry the PS4 Squirt.
    [​IMG]Outdoor Carry by Pinnah, on Flickr

    This is my standard EDC carry. Knife of choice in RFP. Micra in LFP. Not pictured in my pack is a full sized MT with pliers.
    [​IMG]Untitled by Pinnah, on Flickr

    I've got XL sized hands. I prefer a single blade knife with a blade in the 3" to 3.5" range. The Opinel 9 is a nice EDC size for me. The Opinel 10 gives a fuller hand filling hold. The Buck 500 Duke or the Case Sodbuster are other very common carries for me for EDC. The Buck Bucklite Max Large folder is another backpacking option for me.

    I prefer fine grain steels like Bucks 420HC and Opinel's Sandvik 12C27. They sharpen easily and are no-fuss. I also like a longer thinner blade not a wide nor thick blade. Easier for most cutting tasks and good for food prep.

    For backpacking, any reasonably light folder or super light fixed blade (Mora) will be fine. If you commit to learning no-impact/leave-no-trace camping practices, you can get by with just a mini-multi-tool.

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