The country of Sweden is world renown for the durability and quality construction of their hand tools, especially their axes, and knives. In fact some Swedish manufactures have been in existence since the late 17th century when America was still a colony of the British. The northern reaches of the country routinely see temperatures as low as -30*F in the winter, so when I see a knife like the one we are reviewing today that is designed and tested in the Swedish Arctic, I know it’s a serious knife that can take a beating and still perform. Today we have been fortunate enough to be sent the Morakniv Garberg, a fixed blade knife that is built with serious bushcraft in mind.
I live in Alaska, and the climate here is roughly the same as Sweden, so I have first-hand experience when it comes to understanding the effects of the cold on gear. I also know how important a good fixed blade can be while hiking, camping or hunting. When I was offered the knife to review I will admit I knew very little about Morakniv aside from its Swedish and that the pile of Swedish axes I have is made of some of the toughest materials on earth and hold an edge a remarkably long time. The Garberg by Morakniv is built strong, and simple and works incredibly well, think of it as a Volvo of the knife world. It may not shock you with being overly stylish or graceful with lots of glamour, but it is simple and it just flat out works all the time. Before we go too far let’s look at the Garberg knife and break it down by the numbers and specifications.
Place of Manufacture: Nusnas, Sweden
Overall Length: 9.0″ (229 mm)
Blade Length: 4.3″ (109 mm)
Blade Thickness: 0.13″ (3.2 mm)
Blade Material: Stainless Steel (Sandvik 14C28N)
Handle Material: Textured Polymer
Overall Weight: 9.6 Oz (272 grams)
- Black Leather
- Polymer Multi-Mount
Price: $78.20 on Amazon
My first impressions of the Morakniv Garberg are that I’m very impressed with its robustness and quality. I will quickly break down my first interactions with the knife. The box is the usual cardboard and has the knifes specifications printed on the sides. The other sides of the packaging have a few pictures of the knife and sheath as well as a small Swedish flag, pretty much what I expected. Opening the box and getting my hands on the knife itself was the overall goal. The sheath was the first thing I encountered after opening the box.
My test knife came with the standard black leather sheath, which at first glance is unremarkable. I spent a few minutes going over the sheath which is a smooth black leather but is much thicker than I was expecting. The sticking around the edges is also black and very well done, no frays or mistakes can be seen. The belt loop and closure snap are held on by rivets which were also deep black. The sheath appears to be ready to provide a lifetime of use with no fanfare. Simplicity equals durability it would seem.
This is where a knife really can shine, the handle. If a knife displaces its weight unevenly over the length of the handle it can make the knife uncomfortable to use or cumbersome. This is not the case with the Morakniv Garberg, the Swedes have designed this knife to have a handle that is thick, but not too thick, and smooth but not slippery. It’s a careful tightrope to walk when making a knife handle. The knife is heavy at 9.6 ounces and feels like the weight is mostly on the handle but not overly heavy on the back end. The black polymer handle is textured to allow the user a better gripping surface during wet conditions, which this knife will most assuredly experience. Overall the polymer handle fits well and works even very well even in small hobbit hands like I have.
The blade is the very essence of the blade, and with this one, the Swedes have done it about as perfect as you can get in a bushcraft fixed blade. A full-length stainless steel blade allows this blade to chop, hack and slice through just about anything a woodsman man needs. The spine of the Garberg is square ground so that when the need arises the user can use it as a striker to make a fire. The 0.13″ thick blade may not sound very thick to some readers but I used this knife and another log to split 3″ round birch logs for kindling for my wood stove. It did this and didn’t show any signs of wear or even scraping.
After splitting some birch I did a quick session with the knife and performed some basic woodsman functions that many users would expect to be able to do with it. I started with a little more batoning of smaller pieces of wood and moved onto some feathering techniques on the now smaller chunks of Birch and Spruce. During each test the knife just kept chugging along through the wood, nothing really seemed to bother it. The two kinds of wood I had to test the knife on are the ones that I frequently use for campfires and my wood stove in my house. Being that I only had softwoods to use, I was wondering how much the knife would dig into the woods instead of splitting. I found out it really didn’t matter, wood is wood to a large extent.
The final test I performed was the fire starter test, and yes I can report that the Sandvik 14C28N blade when used with a fire starter, does make a generous about of sparks. I wasn’t sure how that part of the testing would work because, to be honest when I make a fire I’m a gasoline and match sorta guy. Even with minimal fire starting skills and a decent fire starter I was able to start my pile of kindling on fire in my backyard on a rather wet January day here in South-central Alaska.
In the end, readers want to know a few simple things about gear, Will it Work ?, and Is it worth the money? The Morakniv Garberg will work as hard and as long as you need it to, with no problems. The materials and craftsmanship that are put into this knife are more than worth the asking price of roughly $78 at the time of this article. If you camp, hunt, fish or just like to tool around in the woods this knife should be on your belt or in your pack, period. The fact it features a full-length stainless steel tang means that this knife can also be used to pry wood apart without fear of snapping or warping. Nothing is unbreakable but this knife certainly is close to that, and if you do break it there is a lifetime warranty that comes with it. I can say that the Morakniv Garberg will be in my personal hiking gear and professional deployment gear from now on. This is the latest in a long line of Morakniv products we have reviewed, check around the site and see what our other reviewers think of Morakniv. The popular opinion is that they are built tough enough for almost any situation, from the Arctic to the Tropics, they simply perform like a champ.