Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a quick surf session or seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons. One day we may highlight an ultra-light stove and the next a set of handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace, so get outside and live it.
Blacksmiths are a dying breed — and we have modern consumerism and the advent of industrialization to thank for that. However, pockets of the profession still exist peppered throughout the United States and abroad, which allow for a small number of artisan blades to be crafted using a traditional hammer and anvil. Blacksmith Dylan Wanta is a prime example, one currently forging the black-flecked Haswell Survival Knife ($120) in partnership with Colorado’s Coalatree Organics.
Hand-forged outside of Salt Lake City using a bar of 1095 thigh-carbon steel, the Haswell Survival knife is anything but ordinary. Wanta cools each individual blade to room temperature before polishing it with Japanese water stones and finishing it on a Sheffield strope. The result is 4.5-inch blade that feels particularly hefty in the palm of your hand — one more apt for car camping than a backpacking given its size and 14-ounce weight. Nonetheless, each comes outfitted with its own rugged, hand-sewn leather sheath and hilted with a gorgeous handle crafted of either curly maple or walnut. An oil-sealed treatment works to bring out the natural color of the wooden handle, too, while giving each hilt a luxurious feel that’s often absent from your typical Swiss Army knife and the girth of modern blades.
A convenient lanyard hole, set of brass pins, and a Scandi ground edge round out the knife’s feature set, the latter of which adds to the blade’s longevity at the expense of some cutting ability. The entire process is fairly labor-intensive, and though it might leave the knife prone to minor imperfections, the traditional method also renders each blade unique and one of a kind. Now, if only Wanta had crafted more than 50 blades.
Check out Coalatree Organics online for more information, to make a purchase, or to browse the company’s fine selection of outdoor goods and sustainable apparel.