Legally I have to write a disclosure here, I purchased the Condor Kephart and did not receive anything in exchange for the following review.
It should be common knowledge by now, I have a serious steel addiction. My dad has built knives for most of my life, I also built a few and own several dozen at any given moment. When it comes to useful tools I am a firm believer in having a good knife around always! The Kephart by Condor Knife & Tool is one of my personal favorites when it comes to daily use. Originally it was designed by Horace Kephart author of Camping and Woodcraft one of the amazing books I own in print (and will be reviewing for you all soon).
It was during his time spent in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina that he wrote Camping and Woodcraft and designed the Kephart blade. Around 3 years ago I read an article on this particular blade type and being an avid collector and user of good steel, decided to do some searching for one. Now it should be noted that I firmly believe in the value of a good blade, specifically the Morakniv line of knives. However, I am always looking for other blades that may fit different or similar roles and the Kephart is a blade that can do that!
Horace Kephart wrote. “A camper has use for a common-sense sheath-knife, sometimes for dressing big game, but oftener for such homely work as cutting sticks, slicing bacon, and frying “spuds.” On this I agree, it is rare that we will do more than the basic tasks with a knife and in fact, we are far more likely to engage in basic camp tasks for which this blade type is exquisitely designed. Horace goes on to say, “For such purposes, a rather thin, broad pointed blade is required, and it need not be over four or five inches long. Nothing is gained by a longer blade, and it would be in one’s way every time he sat down.”¹ I agree firmly with this as well, for general daily tasks a knife is better when it is thinner and not more than 5” in length. As with all blades, this is a purpose built knife. It is not built to be a military blade or fighting knife. The Condor Knife & Tool did an amazing job with their version!
Here are the specifications for the Condor Kephart blade,
- 1075 flat ground spear point carbon steel blade
- a total length of 9 inches with a blade sitting at 4.5 inches this allows for a large handle
- full tang and 1/8th inch wide it is 1 inch deep allowing for solid skinning ability
- mine came with a hardwood grip and the typical well made leather sheath that Condor Knife & Tool supplies with their camp knives!
- As with most Condor knives, it has a blued blade which helps prevent rust (though you should clean and oil it after use)
As with all Condor Knife & Tool blades I own it needs a little sharpening but is sharp (just not my preferred shaving sharp) from the factory. It has a good temper and retains an edge with general use. I enjoy the leather sheaths because I can use them to strop the blade lengthening the time between sharpening.
Testing included basic kitchen tasks and camp tasks as well as some more advanced approaches such as batoning for those who believe a knife should fill the role of camp ax. While I prefer to have a true camp ax or hatchet available, I appreciate the desire to consolidate tools and can easily do this with logs up through 3” in diameter. It easily split cured Mesquite which as the 4th or 5th hardest wood in the United States and will quickly show the weakness of a blade or tool. It excelled at slicing and dicing as well as skinning tasks while maintaining a working edge through much of the work. I will say that for some tasks I definitely prefer my Morakniv and the mora grind, it is finer and easier to use for in close fillet work and kitchen tasks. This being said, I was still able to use the Condor Kephart quite well for all of the above. I would put its strength and durability as on par with the Morakniv Craftline HD or Companion HD or Morakniv Kansbol or the Morakniv Bushcraft knives (all of which I own and LOVE).
This knife is a definite addition as a style and from Condor Knife and Tool as well! Highly recommended two thumbs up and definitely 4 stars! As I said in my Amazon review the only reason I gave it 4 stars over 5 is that it needed a better edge from the factory. This is a simple easily fixed item and per laws, in many countries and states, they cannot ship sharp blades anyhow! What we get in Arizona may be completely different than what you can get in New York or New Jersey. If you are looking for a solid camping blade this one does the trick!
Free the mind and the body will follow
¹ Kephart, H. (1988). Camping and Woodcraft: A handbook for vacation campers and for travelers in the wilderness. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.
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