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Reviews > Knives > Fixed Blade > Gerber Back-Up > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Gerber Guardian Back-Up, fixed blade knife
By Raymond Estrella
November 13, 2005


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

The Product

Manufacturer: Gerber Legendary Blades (A division of Fiskar)
Web site:
Product: Guardian Back Up, fixed blade knife
Year manufactured: 2005.
MSRP: Not listed on web site.
Weight listed: 3 oz (84 g)
Actual weight 3.1 oz (87 g)
Overall length listed: 7.28” (182 mm)
Actual length: 7.32” (183 mm)
Blade length listed: 3.41” (85 mm)
Actual length: 3.45” (87 mm)
Knife alone weight: 1.8 oz (50.4 g)
Sheath alone weight: 1.3 oz (36.4 g)

It comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty

Product Description

The Guardian Back-Up (hereafter referred to as the Guardian, or the knife) is a double sided fixed blade knife. Here is a picture of the knife and sheath.


The blade is made of High Carbon Stainless steel, and has been blackened to make it non-reflective. Indeed the only shiny part of the knife is the sharpened edges on either side of the blade. It is a “3/4 tang blade”, meaning that the blade continues three-quarters of the way to the end of the handle. With the use of a magnet I was able to verify that this is the case. On one side of the blade is the Gerber logo, and the words Portland OR beneath it. All are in gold lettering.

The blade came in a very sharp state, and I have not had to sharpen it yet. I have cut freeze-dried food packages, cheese, salami, summer sausage, and moleskin with it. I have made tinder, and shaved wood with it. I have cut rope, accessory cord, and webbing with it. A couple of times I threw it into a tree trunk. (We were bored). It has held up very well.

The black handle is constructed of “glass filled nylon” covered with “Santoprene”. It feels to be almost as soft as rubber, but more durable. It does not get slippery, even with wet hands. It has held up very well also. There are some scratches in the sheath, but no marks of any kind on the handle.

The sheath is constructed from black molded plastic. It has the Gerber logo molded into the front of it, and a metal clip on the back. The clip can be used as a traditional belt loop, a boot sheath, or an inverted hanging sheath. (More on that later.) On either side of the sheath are two sliding tabs. The tabs lock onto grooves on the side of the sheath. By sliding the tabs up towards the open end of the sheath, it tightens the hold of the sheath on the knife blade. This holds it more securely and necessitates more force to pull the knife out of the sheath. By sliding the tabs down towards the closed end of the sheath, it loosens the hold on the blade, allowing it to come out easier.

At the very end of the sheath is a small lanyard hole measuring 3/16” (4 mm) across.

Field Conditions

I got the Guardian on April 20, 2005. Since receiving it I have taken it on every hike except a trip to Mount Shasta. I have logged 373 miles (597 km) with this knife on my backpack. I have hiked from 400’ (120 m) to over 14000’ (4200 m) elevations, in temps ranging from over 100 F (38 C) by the Kern River, and down to 17 F (-8 C) on the John Muir Trail. I have encountered extreme desert conditions, snow and rain in the Sierra’s, and beautiful days in Southern California. I have been from as far south as Palm Springs, to as far north as Tuolumne Meadows, in California.


I started using this knife for a couple of reasons. First was its low weight. It is a lot of knife for such a light package. But my main reason was the carrying options. While I am not afraid of our California animals, a couple of mountain lion attacks caught my attention this year because the animals attacked adults, and did not want to break off the attack even when hit with rocks and sticks by other people. I always carry a knife. Usually a Gerber E-Z Out Skeleton. But I started thinking about the Tekna whitewater knife that I use when rafting or kayaking. It hangs with the handle down, from my whitewater vest, allowing it to be drawn with either hand. Because it is double edged, it is always ready to cut no matter how you draw it. But it is heavy, and is hard to sharpen, and to keep sharp.

When I saw that the Guardian could hang inverted and be adjusted to easily draw with either hand, I figured my search was over. I slide the sheath clip on to the cross strap on my backpack’s left shoulder strap. This allows me to remove it with no difficulty whatsoever. Here is a picture of it on a Mountainsmith pack.

On pack

It has never come out inadvertently. I have used it on four different backpacks, all with the same good results. It stays on the pack most of the time, and therefore takes its share of scrapes when I lean it against rocks or it falls on the ground. It stays out when it rains, and once took a dunking in a river. The blade shows no sign of rust. But the clip on the sheath is showing some slight discoloration where it touches my shoulder strap. I am sure that is from my sweat soaking through the strap.

I am very happy with this knife. It will continue be my main knife unless I have to use another as part of a gear test. In fact I would probably carry both just to have the “any handed” capability of the Guardian. Here is a picture of it in use in the Sierra’s

on JMT

Pros: Light weight, very good blade, multiple carrying options.

Cons: care must be taken to remember that it is double edged. Not as safe as a single edged knife

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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