Friday, November 19, 2010

The Neck Knife

     My post today is about my recommended knife carrying system while in the bush; the neck knife.  I would like to explain in a bit more detail what this system is, and why I use and suggest it.

     The neck knife most likely came from Scandinavian countries.  They often wear their knives around the chest area by either using a necklace attached to the sheath or by placing the sheath on a button near the top of their overalls.  Many traditional Scandinavian countries had this button placed on their clothing just for this purpose.  The reason they place the knife there is so they could get to the knife quickly and efficiently if they fell into frozen water.  They could then use the knife to help pull them out of the ice by sticking it into the harder ice around them or by chipping through the ice to escape.

      The Scandinavians must have quickly realized the benefits of keeping their knives around the neck because many of the Scandinavian knife companies like Mora, and Roselli make many of their 3 and 4 inch blades exceptionally light.  Some weighing in at barely 3 ounces, with the sheath!  Most of these knives are made of either a hardened carbon steel, or stainless steel.  I prefer carbon steel as I’ve explained in my past post about knives here.  If you live near the beach, or often use your knife in salt water, then I might suggest stainless steel as it will be more resistant to rust.

     These days, many outdoor guru’s, and survivalist’s use a neck knife for slightly different reasons, though it would still help if you fell into a frozen body of water.  Mainly it is worn around the neck for convince, but there is much more to it than that and I would like to go over some of the benefits here;
  • Conveniently located - Why search around in your pocket or under your shirt/jacket when you can place the knife on the outside of your clothing.
  • Can be concealed easily – Great for New Yorker’s, even if you’re upstate, as knives are perceived as dangerous, and mainly used by criminals in this part of the country.  It’s still easily accessible if under your clothing, more so then a belt knife anyway.  I mean in the bush by the way, don't walk around the city streets with a knife under your shirt, it will most likely be considered illegal because it has a pointed tip.
  • Can be accessed by one hand – Because the knife is light, you can use one hand to pull it from the sheath. 
  • Knife is on you at all times – If you change clothing, you can leave the knife on and not forget it in the process.  Belt knives have to be removed if you change pants or belts. 
  • Wear whatever pants or shorts you want – You no longer have to wear a pair of pants with pockets, or a belt.  You can also wear light shorts because you no longer have to worry about attaching the knife to your belt. 
     There are many neck knives on the market right now, and more and more companies seem to be jumping on the wagon (which is not a bad thing.)  I use and suggest one of the variations of carbon steel Mora for use as a neck knife.  The 4 inch S-2 is the perfect blend of size, weight, and function in my opinion.  It is also durable, and since it is polished can be used as a signaling devise similar to a mirror if lost in the bush.

      You can turn your neck knife into a bit of a survival necklace if you don't mind a little bit of added weight.  I prefer what minimalist survivalist Cody Lundin does and make the knife sheath a mini kit.  The idea is to always have a knife, signaling devise, way of starting a fire, and container all close at hand easily accessible in an emergency.  He suggests wrapping a lighter on the bottom of the sheath with duck tape, as well as a non-lubricated condom.  The duck tape can then be reused if need be.  You make the necklace out of 550 paracord, which allows you to have cordage as well.  Last you can attach a whistle to the paracord as you should always have a whistle around your neck while in the bush anyway.  You can attach a compass as well, I prefer to use a separate compass around my neck so the metal from the knife does not interfere with the compass's reading.  You can also substitute a fire steel, for the lighter as it will be much more reliable, and add a small LED light.  Below is a picture of what mine looks like when worn, as well as what it looks like up close and some Amazon links to make your mini kit.  *Author's Edit* I have upgraded my neck knife a bit and added a cut piece of bicycle inner tube to hold the lighter in place.  Inner tubes make excellent emergency tinder as once lit, they will burn hot for a minute or two.  I've also added a foil wrapped iodine pill that can be used to purify a liter of water in a pinch.  I still wrap the condom with duct tape.  So now I have a knife kit that allows me to make fire with good waterproof tinder, purify water, water container, signaling device, cord, and has about 20 inches of multifunctional duct tape.

Here are a few links to YouTube of a few different variations on neck knives:




Jack said...

I love my mora. I only have one at the moment but plan on picking a couple more of them up. I'm not a real fan of the sheath, however. Fits a little too loosely for me, and the clip on it isn't the best. I am looking for someone who can make a good kydex sheath for mine so I can wear and use it in a more traditional fashion. Mostly my mora goes with me on business trips in my checked baggage and travel EDC kit.

JV said...

I agree that the plastic sheath the Mora's come with are a bit cheap. You can find some versions that come with a leather sheath, and the bushcraft series comes with a better quality plastic swivel sheath. Making your own kydex sheath is not that hard, and there are a bunch of vids on YouTube that could help you. Kydex is cheap, durable, and allows the blade to breath so it is worth looking into. I don't mind the plastic one myself, but I might look into making a kydex sheath just to see if I like it. Thanks for the comments, and thanks for reading!