When autumn rolls around, it’s time to watch more TV in camp, backpacker TV that is. This is the time of year when I start carrying a folding saw and bushcraft style knife on my overnight backpacking trips to cut firewood and split it into smaller pieces using a technique called batoning. Primitive fire ritual? Yeah, maybe, but when the sun goes down at 4:15 PM, there’s nothing better than sitting around a fire with friends and sipping firewater.
While I’m not a bushcraft or primitive skills expert like Paul Kirtley, who I do recommend you check out, I do like to practice my fire-making and survival skills, especially how to make build and start a fire with wet or frozen wood. One of the most important tools you need to build a fire like this is a fixed blade bushcraft-style knife.
Morakniv is a knife manufacturer known for their high quality, low-cost bushcraft and carving knives. I already own a few including the Morakniv Companion, the Classic, Bushcraft Black, and a Bushcraft Orange, which has a blaze orange handle that is easy to spot when you drop it on the ground. Priced between $15 and $40, they’re sharp and reliable. All of these knives are partial tang knives, meaning that the non-blade end of the knife terminates part-way down the handle and not in the butt. Partial tang knives are considered less durable than full tang knives for heavy bushcraft tasks such as batoning and chopping, to de-limb trees and branches.
The Morakniv Garberg bushcraft knife is the company’s first full tang knife, which means the steel blank used to make the knife runs all the way from front point to the butt end of the handle, which you should be able to see above. While this makes the stainless steel Garberg stronger, it also makes it my heaviest Morakniv, weighing 9.6 ounces (272 g) and 9 inches (229mm) in length.
Full tang fixed length bushcraft knives are all the rage because they’re considered more durable, but I wouldn’t buy the Garberg for that reason alone: I think the durability of Morakniv’s partial tangs is perfectly sufficient and you’d be hard-pressed to break one with normal use.
Where the Garberg shines over Morakniv’s other bushcraft knives is in batoning because it has a thicker blade (3.2mm) that’s 4.3 inches (109mm) long. This knife goes through wood like butter because the thicker blade acts like a wedge, forcing the wood fibers apart.
While the Garberg’s heavier weight also makes it a decent chopper, the width of the blade makes it more difficult to use for feathersticking, where you shave thin curled strips of wood from a branch to make it easier to ignite, while trying to keep their base attached. I have a much easier time making thin feathersticks with my Morakniv Companion, which has a much thinner (2.5 mm) blade.
As you’d expect, the Garberg has a flat ground spine on top of the blade which makes it easy to use with a fire steel, something I always carry with me on trips since it’s such a reliable way to start a stove or solid fuel cube.
I’m also a big fan of the Garberg’s handsome black leather sheath which has a rear belt loop and button snap. Most of Morakniv’s other knives are only available with a plastic Kydex sheath, which many people like, but I loathe because it is so unnatural. A MOLLE multi-mount system that includes a Polymide sheath is also available if you need that kind of attachment system.
Priced under $100, the Morakniv Garberg is a bomber knife if you want to experiment with adding some bushcraft skills to your backpacking and camping experience. I usually carry a 1.0 ounce Swiss-army classic with me on my regular three-season backpacking trips, but when the nights get long and the weather cold, I do carry a bushcraft knife and folding saw in my pack to help pass the time around a campfire.
Disclosure: Morakniv gave me a sample Garberg for this review and I’ve also purchased a few of my own.
Written 2016. Updated 2018.
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