My Favorite Knife

I've been remiss in my weekly Maine Guide Tips. This one doesn't fall into the category of backwoods folk wisdom (unless it's Swedish folk wisdom), but bear with me.

In my outdoor endeavors I'm an unapologetic gear junkie. I like tools and gadgets and have a weakness for buying stuff that promises much and delivers little. That means I buy a lot of overpriced crap.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is the Mora knife. These traditional Swedish-made knives are insanely inexpensive (you can pick one up new for less than $14 on eBay), probably because they seem cheap (in the sense of not well made). Moras usually have plastic grips and ugly plastic sheathes, for crying out loud. But their blades—which come in four varieties: carbon-steel, stainless, Triflex and laminated-steel —are just incredible. They're tough and hold an edge extremely well, and their design allows you to apply pressure with your thumb along the top, which is something you want in an all-purpose outdoors knife. The Swedes claim you can chop down a tree with a Mora, and while I've never attempted to fell a poplar with mine, I have subjected them to considerable abuse. And they've never let me down.

The more I've used my Moras, the more the brilliance of that plastic grip and sheath has dawned on me, too. Plastic is light and it doesn't rot (like leather) or corrode (like metal). Many of the styles allow you to attach a lanyard, too. Sure the plastic seems chintzy, and you'll never confuse a Mora clipper [like the one above] with a Laguiole, but for $14 you couldn't ask for a more dependable friend in the woods.

Even better, Moras are now distributed in the U.S. by a Maine company, which is sort of cool from a parochial standpoint.