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Reviews > Cook Gear > Utensils > Gerber Freescape Camp Kitchen Knife > Test Report by Michael Pearl

GERBER FREESCAPE CAMP KITCHE KNIFE
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - April 26, 2015
FIELD REPORT - July 27, 2015
LONG TERM REPORT - October 01, 2015

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Pearl
EMAIL: mikepearl36ATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 41
LOCATION: Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)

I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season, learning to be a four season backpacker and year round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

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Manufacturer: Gerber Gear
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: www.gerbergear.com
MSRP: US $53.00

Listed Weight: 6.5 oz (184 g)
Measured Weight: 6.1 oz (174 g), Sheath 1.1 oz (32 g), Combined 7.3 oz (208 g)

Listed Overall Length: 9.1 in (23 cm)
Listed Blade Length: 3.8 in (9.7 cm)
Measured Length confirms listed

Features;
7Cr17MoV steel
Full tang construction
Full fine edge blade
Santoku inspired blade
Textured rubber grip
Dishwasher safe
Lanyard hole
Sheath with belt loop

Lifetime Warranty *in North America only*
Product is warranted to be free of defects in materials and workmanship for as long as original consumer owns the product.

Designed and engineered in Oregon, USA
Made in China

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

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The Freescape arrived attractively but frustratingly packaged in the dreaded (by me) blister pack. If the Freescape were the first and only knife I owned I would have awful time removing it from the packaging.

The Freescape is a nice looking knife and has a good feel when in hand. It looks and feels solid. All materials and construction appear to be of good quality. The thumb grip and finger notch are well positioned. The grip has a good texture and feels secure when held.

The sheath has a hard plastic lining were it meets the blade. This is a neat feature as I have had other knives quickly cut a sheath to disrepair. The other side of the sheath is slightly padded. The knife is secured in the sheath by a hook and loop strap that passes through a plastic ring.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The Freescape does not come with any instructions. The nearest to it is the obligatory caution warning of a cut hazard of sharp blades and improper use. No fault of Gerbers but I am always torn between humor and insult when seeing these warnings.

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TRYING IT OUT

I haven't been on the trail with the Freescape yet. But the day I received it I cut up some apples to snack on. The blade sliced smoothly on all cuts. The knife felt well balanced and controlled. The Santoku style made cutting various sized slices neat and easy. I found out later that this is exactly what the Santoku style blade is designed to accomplish. The word Santoku refers to three cutting task of slicing, dicing and mincing. The blade and handle are meant to work in harmony. This is made possible by matching blade width and height to weight of the blade tang and handle. After use the blade cleaned nicely with water and a wipe of a towel. The Freescape moves in and out of the sheath easy enough. The hook and loop closure requires some attention when closing. I find passing the strap through the plastic ring unusual. It requires a threading a needle type finger movement.

SUMMARY

The Gerber Freescape camp kitchen knife is well designed and constructed. It has a nice well balanced feel in my hand. I like the full tang construction for strength and durability. The Santoku blade makes cutting feel natural. I think this knife has the potential to make camp cooking a little more homey.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Mt Cannon, North and South Kinsman, Franconia, New Hampshire - total of 15 mi (24 km) for two days, from 1520 to 4330 ft (463 to 1319 m). Day one saw 80 F (27 C), cloudy and breezy, overnight thunderstorm and 55 F (13 C). Day two was around 65 F (18 C) with on and off showers. Pack weight 30 lbs (13.6 kg).

Lonesome Lake and Mt Cannon, Franconia, New Hampshire - total of 9 mi (14.5 km) for two days, from 1520 to 4330 ft (463 to 1320 m). Day one was 72 F (22 C) calm and clear. Day two was 85 F (29 C) and humid. Pack weight 20 lbs (9 kg).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 1On the two trips with the Freescape I have prepared three meals. This test has definitely inspired me to take my backcountry cooking up a notch. I usually eat instant or already made meals on one night trips. If out for two or more nights I eat dehydrated (at home) meals. The Freescape is definitely more knife than I ever go backpacking with. Though when car camping with my family we do pack a kitchen knife. We will cut up chicken and veggies for salads and watermelon for snacks. I felt the need to do more than just cutting open a wrapper with the Freescape on my backpack trips.

Lunch on the trail is most often a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made at home. On multiple days out after the PB&J I turn to various snack bars and trail mix. On the first trip out I wanted something quick and easy that still required some knife work. I settled on sausage and cheese sandwiches. I packed a summer sausage and hard cheese that didn't need refrigeration. I also found dense calorie rich Bavarian bread that was not sliced. This was heavy brick like loaf that I only took half of with me. In the field the Freescape handled all three superbly although the bread was a little bit crumbly. Lunch was delicious and filling. It felt rather luxurious, a glass of wine would have made it a complete dining experience. The Freescape cut all three items of different consistencies nicely. I was able to make controlled thin slices IMAGE 2even through the bread. I used my Sea to Summit collapsible bowl as a cutting board. Then I ate off the wax paper used to package the sausage and cheese. The photos to the left are my lunch food items before and after prep using the Freescape. The other set of photos are the before and after prep dinner food items. While lunch was very good these last two photos bring back memories almost a good as those of the three peaks I climb that day.



IMAGE 3One of my favorite backpacking meals is chicken burrito. In the past I have prepped everything at home and wrapped all the ingredients up cold in camp. I have also dehydrated at home and rehydrated in the field for a hot version which is much better than cold. This time around I packed in all raw ingredients, minus the chicken which was replaced with dehydrated refried beans. I chopped half of a green pepper and onion and a clove of garlic. Again all cutting was done on my Sea to Summit collapsible bowl. The only difficult part was the small cutting board and large amount of veggies. I had a few pieces of summer sausage leftover from lunch. I diced them up and warmed them in the pot. This made for just enough oil to saute the veggies. I sliced a handful of cherry tomatoes and cheese. All this went onto a tortilla on top of the refried beans and some Cholula. So I guess I ended up with refried bean fajitas. This was by far the best backcountry burrito I have ever had!

IMAGE 4The third meal prepared using the Freescape was on the last trip. We only had handle lunch, as we stayed in a remote lodge that provided breakfast and dinner. The lunch menu was less extravagant as we had the kids in tow. We cut up some apples for snack. This was followed by tuna sandwiches topped with cheese, tomato and cucumbers. As expected the Freescape sliced through fruit and vegetable swiftly. What I hadn't planned for was removing the tuna from the pouch it was packaged in and spreading it on the bread. However, the Freescape was just the right length to reach the bottom of the pouch and wide enough to hold a good lump of tuna to easily spread it over the bread.

SUMMARY

The Freescape is like two knives in one. It looks and feels like a rugged camp knife. It handles and cuts like a kitchen knife. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to prep the amount of food I did in such limited conditions. The Freescape cleaned up after each use in the field with a wipe of wax paper or paper napkin. I really like the Santoku blade. It makes cutting and chopping feel natural. The blade has remains very sharp and free of defect. The Freescape is more knife than I would ever need on a backpacking trip. On these shorter trips it has added to the in camp experience and raised the level of enjoyment. I think the Freescape will find its most suitable use car camping with family. I am looking forward to just such a trip during the next phase of testing.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Appalachian Trail, Vermont - total of 40 mi (64 km) for two and half days, from 1200 to 2600 ft (360 to 790 m). Temperatures ranged from a high of 87 F (30 C) and sunny to an overnight low of 55 F (13 C) and foggy. Pack weight 30 lbs (13 kg).

Spruce and South Spruce Mountain, Jackson, New Hampshire - total of 2.5 mi (4 km) for two days and two nights, from 1000 to 2200 ft (304 to 670 m). Both days were in the around 65 F (18 C) clear and calm. Both nights were around 40 F (4 C) and crisp. Pack weight 10 lbs (4.5 kg).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

On the AT (Appalachian Trail) I had four meals to prepare, breakfast and dinner each two times. These were all dehydrated meals so prep was minimal at best. The Freescape saw very little use, cutting open one store brought meal and one pack of oatmeal, which I could have ripped by hand. So not much to say here, the Freescape was way more knife than necessary. My knife usage in backpacking situations is extremely basic. I cut open food packaging, tape and/or skin for blister/injury and maybe some cordage.

Sadly the family car camping trip was rained out by violent thunderstorms. I was still able to use the Freescape in a group outing though. I attended an off trail map and compass workshop with about twenty others through an area outing club. We stayed in a cabin and had three meals there of which I help prepare two. The Freescape saw some action chopping three heads of broccoli, three pints of mushrooms, two pints of cherry tomatoes, a head of garlic, three wedges of cheese and slicing two trays of lasagna.

The Freescape breezed through the vast heaps of food effortlessly. The Freescape was right at home in this setting making task enjoyable. This is a real kitchen tool made outdoor friendly. After the trip I ran the Freescape through the dishwasher. It came out perfectly clean and blemish free. After looking it over I cut up the last apple of the test series, the blade still held its sharp, clean edge. The sheath has held up nicely as well with only minor discoloration from handling.

SUMMARY

The Gerber Freescape is a well designed, nicely balanced, comfortable to handle and very sharp camp knife. While it is bigger and heavier than I would use for backpacking, it is perfect for car and/or cabin camping. The Freescape will make nice addition to my cook kit on all my car and cabin based adventures.

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This concludes my Long-Term Report. I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Gerber Outdoor for the opportunity to participate in this test series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

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