Helle Utvaer – Best Bushcraft Knife
With today’s knife scene over-saturated with aggressive, black, deadly looking tactical designs; it’s nothing short of refreshing to see a blade crafted in the traditional Scandinavian way. Since 1932, Helle has been creating exceptional blades for the outdoorsman. Whether it be processing firewood, skinning game, or preparing table fare, the best bushcraft knife must be ready to handle anything. There are specialized knives for more specific purposes but for doing it all, I choose the Helle Utvaer.
Steel: Sandvik 12C27 Stainless
Created with the harsh Norwegian climate in mind, nearly all of Helle’s knife are produced with Sandvik 12C27 Stainless Steel. I’m a fan of this steel for many reasons, but to sum it all up: it performs like a super-steel at a bargain price. There’s a reason the famous Mora knife gained so much popularity with its affordable price tag and legendary performance. That’s because it’s made with Sandvik 12C27. This exceptionally pure blend of steel can take and hold a beautiful edge with ease, accept a mirror polish, and accept the kind of beating and hard-use of comparable carbon steels. All while offering the corrosion resistance to thrive in the salty Norweigan coast.
Blade: True Scandinavian Grind
However, the Helle Utvaer does not come with a bargain price tag. This sturdy blade comes with a perfectly balanced full-tang construction. Matched with a beefy 3mm width, it’s well suited to batoning and processing through the thickest of logs. Scandinavian ground blades are crafted with wood carving and processing in mind, and this 4-inch blade moves through material like butter. All while remaining legal to carry in most nations.
The pommel crusher is equipped with a sharp 90-degree edge for producing a magnificent spark off a ferro-rod, scraping fine shavings of fatwood or birch bark, or blasting through a window in an emergency. The blade spine itself is not a perfect 90-degree edge, but has been ground slightly to increase comfort and maneuverability during the finest of carving tasks. Nevertheless, it strikes a phenomenal spark from a ferrocerium rod. The ultra-satin polished blade may be used as a signaling mirror, but it ultimately increases the already impressive corrosion resistance. I’ve sliced and processed acidic fruits and veggies, and left the grimy blade to marinate in it’s leather sheath for days in order to test its resolve. The results? not a single rust spot, and the same hair-popping edge I left it with.
Handle: Oil-Impregnated Curly Birch
With blades designed with corrosion resistance in mind being paired with composite handles, the Helle Utvaer remains true to the Scandinavian style with traditional oil-impregnated curly birch, used for hundreds of years for knife scales due to its incredible beauty and durability. Although slightly polished and oil-impregnated, the handle retains a positive grip to ensure functionality in damp or slippery conditions. The 4.5-inch handle is contoured beautifully to accept a variety of palm sizes but remains most comfortable in medium to large sized hands. While some may prefer smoother, more rounded shapes the the Utvaer is curved to ensure maximum control and security. Handle scales are attached with peened, hollow tubes giving two potential lashing points for a spear if needed.
Helle Utvaer – Built To Be Used
Overall, I expect this knife to be around long after I’m gone. In fact, I plan to hand it down to my son someday. While it may be the best bushcraft knife, it is also truly beautiful enough to be put on display as a family heirloom for generations to come. However despite its beauty I hope it fulfills the purpose for which it was built, true to the Helle motto, not built to be an ornament… built to be used.