3. A good knife is the most important tool in your kit.

Cutting tools is the first of the 5 Cs. Having the right tools in your kit and a proper knowledge of how to use and maintain them can mean the difference between a comfortable, enjoyable trip and a difficult—even dangerous—one.

The most important tool in the outdoorsman’s kit is a belt knife.  A four-and-a-half to six-inch blade is the best of both worlds: large enough to handle firewood and hardier tasks and small enough for carving. Steel is you best bet because it’s durable and can start a fire when struck with quartz. Some steel knives are coated to prevent corrosion, but this reduces the blade’s spark-generating capacity. With proper care, you won’t need to worry about rust. Your knife will take a beating in the wild; so a quality blade is a worthy investment.

The jackknife, handsaw, and small axe are also useful tools to bring, but their necessity will be determined by your purposes in the bush.

To maintain your knife properly,  make sure to use a bandana or kerchief to keep it from getting damp, and use a lubricant to prohibit rust. Olive oil is useful because it prevents contamination if you’re using it for food preparation. If your belt knife is not involved in cooking, then any machine oil or petroleum-base product is fine. 

For the sheath, consider leather (soaked in olive oil or coated with beeswax to ensure water resistance) or Kydex, a synthetic thermoplastic. It’s basically indestructible, but it’s hard to remove trapped debris, which could scrape the blade.

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