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Neck knives are not something that most people consider to be outdoor knives; however, their smaller size can make them very handy around the camp site, where a large fixed blade knife may be too cumbersome. I was given my first neck knife, a Minimalist made by custom knife maker Alan Folts, and have been quite pleased with it. Since adding this neck knife to my stable of knives, it has seen considerable use around the house, and it goes on every Boy Scout and Cub Scout camping trip I take with my sons.
The blade is 2″ long, and looks like a cross between a drop point and a small chef knife in blade shape. The blade is highly polished with a bead blasted finish along a small portion of the spine and finger choil.
The handle is a little longer than the blade, with deep finger cutouts for the first three fingers. A small fobbed lanyard gives the pinky finger something to wrap around. The handle scales are made of black micarta, which ensures it will stand up to rugged use. G10 is also available as a handle material, and it is nearly indestructible.
The knife snaps into the Kydex neck sheath with authority, and the sheath holds the knife very firmly. Grasping the knife by the handle and giving a slight push with the thumb on the sheath will easily release the knife for use. The lanyard comes with a compression spring lock to adjust the length.
Using the knife is a dream! It isn’t a 4″ hunting knife, though, so don’t try to use it as one. Whittling wood for kindling and making fuzz sticks is a breeze, as the natural orientation of the knife to the wood puts your thumb along the spine in direct line with the force of your push cut, making it more effective. The knife can even be used with the index finger along the spine and the handle in the hollow of your palm for very controlled cuts with very, very little chance of the knife slipping from your grip. Opening bags of deer feed, cutting rope for a lean-to, paracord for a clothes line, skinning a rabbit, etc. don’t require a huge hunting knife, and the Minimalist comes in very handy for such tasks. In a pinch, you could even use it to help with skinning a deer. I tried it out this year on a deer, and while the blade is really too short to be the primary skinning knife, it acquitted itself quite nicely.
Currently, Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT), has licensed Alan’s Minimalist with several different blade configurations. CRKT’s steel is not up to my picky standards, but it will take a sharp edge easily and resharpens easily as well. For the average camper/hunter who doesn’t want to spend long periods of time sharpening a knife, this steel will work very well. For those with more stringent steel standards like me (OK, I’m a steel snob), you can easily order one from Alan in a wide variety of steels that will suit your purpose, from ATS-34, to CPM-154CM, to CPM-3V or s30v, and others.
What I like:
Just read above! I never thought about neck knives until I was given one, and now I won’t go camping without one.
What I don’t like:
The mirror finish on this knife can scratch. I’ve never been a fan of mirror finishes for this reason. Fortunately, you can order one from Alan without a mirror finish if you wish, and the CRKT version does not have a mirror finish, either.
If you are looking for something simple to carry while camping, hiking, and hunting, a neck knife is a handy tool to have. It goes on every outdoors trip I take, and I’ve even started to carry it in place of a pocket knife at times. I can’t recommend Alan Folt’s Minimalist enough!
Manufacturer’s Specs for the Minimalist knife:
- Blade Material: CPM 154 C
- Handles: Black Paper Micart
- Hardware: Stainless Stee
- Blade Length: 2 inches
- Blade Finish: Polished & Blasted Two-Tone
- Stock Thickness: 3/21 inch