HULTAFORS EXPEDITION KNIFE
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
August 15, 2017
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Steven M. Kidd
5' 9" (1.75 m)
185 lb (83.90 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover from 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Hultafors Expedition Knife|
Manufacturer: Hultafors of Sweden
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.hultafors.com/
Listed Weight: 4.2 oz (120 g)
Measured Weight: 3.8 oz (108 g)
Measured Sheath Weight: 1.4 oz (40 g)
Combined Weight: 5.2 oz (148 g)
Manufacturer Provided Specifications w/in the Margin of Error
Blade Length: 3.6 in (93 mm)
Blade Thickness: 0.12 in (3 mm)
Handle Length: 4.52 in (115 mm)
Blade Material: Carbon Steel
The Hultafors Expedition Knife is a new "Bushcraft" knife added to the company's lineup of fixed blade products. It was designed in Sweden and manufactured in Taiwan. The blade uses Japanese carbon steel and offers a scandi grind (Scandinavian). The blade has rust and corrosion protection due to an electrophoretic (EPD) coating and is hardened to 58-60 HRC, which means it falls between these two numbers on the Rockwell scale for blade hardness. The knife's tang is 3.2 in (81 mm) long. This means that steel in the blade continues just over 70% into the handle.
The knife offers a grind spine (unsharpened edge) designed to be used with a fire starter (not provided) and the blade also has a 2 in (50 mm) scale etched into the EPD coating.
The sheath is hardened polypropylene with a 0.5 oz (14 g) textile belt loop for wearing with belts up to 3 in (76 mm) wide. This removable textile loop also has a small elasticized pocket for storing a fire starter should I choose to acquire one. If removed via a metal button the sheath may be worn alone with a belt that measures up to 1.75 in (44 mm).
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & SUMMARY
The Hultafors knife appears to be well designed and quality made "Bushcraft" type knife. It can be used for multiple purposes in the backcountry to include cutting, batoning wood, etc.
I find the knife aesthetically pleasing to look at and the muted colors have a nice blending for backcountry use. If I were to drop the knife, however, it could blend into its surroundings. The textured handle is comfortable to grip and fits well in my hand. The knuckle protection appears adequate for protection in the event my hand was to slip during operation.
The knife arrived with a well sharpened blade, so I'm quite pleased here, and I'm interested to see how long the blade will hold its edge and how easy it will be to re-sharpen the knife when needed. Historically I've sharpened my own knives and had them professionally sharpened as well. I tend to send out my more expensive blades for professional work. I personally do not put the Expedition in the realm of what I personally refer to as an "expensive blade".
I have two key observations that I hope to concentrate on during while reporting on the knife. A Bushcraft knife doesn't have to be some huge foot long weapon one would see in a war movie, and I believe this knife easily fits categorically into the uses I would need it for over the series. However, the knife weighs less than half as much as my primary fixed blade backcountry knife. I look at this two ways: 1) Yeah...I'm cutting pack weight!, and 2) Will it perform up to my expectations for batoning, hard use, etc.? This is why I perform these reports...to answer those questions.
Secondly, my other key observation is that the knife does not offer a full tang. I historically have chosen a knife with both a wider and full blade/tang for durability purposes. Will this knife hold up to abuse, prying, etc.? Again, time will tell.
The sheath is lightweight, protective and all I could ask for in that it offers multiple options for wearing. Honestly, when I'm wearing a pack I prefer not to have a fixed blade on the side of my hip, so I will likely will attach the knife and sheath to my backpacks shoulder harness via some kind of a MOLLE-type or similar system.
I'm excited to get the knife in the woods and see how it works!
Fit & Feel
Lack of a full Tang
Roses and Thorns:
The knife's weight...I hope this series clarifies whether it is a rose or a thorn!
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
|Knife Attached to Shoulder Harness|
6 - 9 April, 2017; Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Kentucky and Tennessee. A four-day/three-night outing with a half dozen hammock camping buddies covering 35 mi (56 km) on the North-South Trail that runs through this peninsula that was created when the TVA damned the Tennessee and Cumberland River thus creating Lakes Kentucky and Barkley. Elevations averaged between 400 - 600 ft (122 - 183 m) and temperatures dropped to as low as 40 F (4.5 C) at night and went as high as 75 F (24 C) on afternoon. It was dry and sunny every day.
2 - 4 June, 2017: South Cumberland State Park, the Fiery Gizzard Trail near Sequatchie, Tennessee. This was a three-day/two-night outing with my wife and two children to the Small Wilds area. The hike covered a 6 mi (10 km) stretch covering a six-mile stretch with a relatively consistent 1700 ft (518 m) elevation, save when we entered the Gulch or went to the base of Foster Falls for a swim in the natural fall pool. Temperatures dropped to 61 F (16 C) at night and were as high as 86 (30 C) during the day. It sprinkled a little on the third day, but was dry and clear for the majority of the weekend.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
To date I've been thoroughly impressed with the Expedition knife. I've used it on multiple occasions to open boxes, but only cutting the packing tape down the center. Cutting cardboard is a surefire way to dull a blade quickly! I'll save that for a razor or a box cutter. I've also carried the knife on two backpacking outings.
|Batoning for Fire Starter|
The blade has held a sharp edge even after using on five evenings to baton wood for kindling. The lightweight nature, compared to my other bushcraft knives, has been of no concern at all. It performed very well. Nor has the lack of a full tang. I'm pretty impressed with this economic little lightweight blade. The electrophoretic (EPD) coating has definitely taken a beating, but I'd expect that to happen when really using a knife like this in the field! Running the blade through 1 to 2 in (2.5 - 5.0 cm) sticks repeatedly and keeping a sharp edge impressed me.
After several months of using the knife and multiple outings I continue to be impressed with the craftsmanship, fit and feel of the knife. I've yet to find a need to re-sharpen the blade after decent use. I even used it to puncture an empty isobutane canister at the end of a recent outing to prep for recycle and it went through effortlessly and caused no dulling. My initial concerns are currently at bay.
|Well Used but Sharp Blade|
The only thorn I've found is that it isn't the easiest to attach to several of my packs. The image at the beginning of the field report show it attached to a pack with a sewn attachment loop and some paracord and a cinch cord. It worked well on this pack, but I have a few packs with lighter weight shoulder harnesses and the paracord/cinch cord method slipped repeatedly. I'm merely used to a MOLLE system. Save that, I'm extremely happy.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
16 - 18 June, 2017: Boxwell Scout Reservation, Gallatin, Tennessee. This was a three-day/two-night Cub Scout Resident Camp outing with my Bear Scout. We worked on advancement through fun activities like hiking, swimming, boating, fishing and more. We slept in Scout platform tents on vintage cots. Temperatures were as high at 90 F (32 C) during the day and dropped to around 75 F (24 C) in the evenings. It was sunny and humid and hot during the days! (I had the knife in my go-to gear kit and instinctively carried it on this trip. Upon arriving I self-policed and recalled fixed blade knives such as this are not allowed in the BSA, so I never used it on this trip.)
1 - 3 July, 2017: Smith Mountain Lake, Moneta, Virginia. This was a three-day/two-night island camping (glamping) adventure near my brother's lake home. There was some coming and going from the island with days spent on the lake motoring about and swimming and evenings spent hammock camping at night. Evening temperatures averaged around 75 F (24 C).
28 - 31 July, 2017; Green River, in and near Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky. This was a three-day/two-night kayaking trip covering 30 mi (48 km). Temperatures we as low as 58 F (14 C) in the evenings and almost 90 F (32 C) in the day. It was beautiful and sunny in the day and crisp at night. We hammock camped on islands and banks along the river.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD & SUMMARY
I continued the carry and use the Hultafors Expedition knife on several more distinct trips during the Long-Term portion of the test series. One trip it was not sanctioned, so kept it stowed away, but I did use it extensively to baton wood on the islands on which I was camping. Both these outings involved kayaks or boats, so I was also able to carry a larger saw and cut much larger logs than I would on a typical backpacking outing. Thus I definitely needed the knife to create fire starter.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
I continue to have positive feedback on the knife. I personally find it to be a nice product for the price. I've yet to need to sharpen it, but I did in the essence of testing. It was plenty sharp, but took a new edge quite easily.
My initial concern was the lack of a full tang, but that hasn't been an issue. I've also used it to pry items and test its strength. It didn't bow or snap, so it appears strong enough for me. I would certainly recommend this product to anyone looking for a quality knife on a budget.
In summary I will certainly keep this knife in my gear kit for certain trips. I will likely alter the sheath in a manner to better attach to my packs now that the series is over. I own another knife that is both heavier and quite a bit more expensive that will likely return as my primary trail knife, but I will use the Hultafors when and if I really need to save some weight in my backpack. I've actually already moved the knife to my kayaking kit! I keep separate setups for differing types of outing and this has already gone into a waterproof case so that I don't end up on a river outing without a good survival knife.
This concludes my test series on the Expedition knife. I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Hultafors for the opportunity to test the Expedition Knife.
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