• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Best survival knife? We take another look at the L.T. Wright Genesis

560 400 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Some knives you want to keep and use, no matter how many others you might have.

The L.T. Wright Genesis is one of those. In a moment of weakness, I sold my first one, regretted it immediately, and just had to get another. Here is why.

by Leon Pantenburg

This review is my opinion. I did not get a free knife, and neither L.T. Wright nor Knivesshipfree had any input into this post.

I re-sell some review knives to partially fund the costs of operating the Survival Common Sense website. It’s always painful. I don’t want to get rid of any of them.

The Genesis can handle all extremes of temperature.

And I didn’t really intend to sell my Genesis. (Read the original review.) But an active young scoutmaster, my friend Matt Banton, was looking for a good knife to use teaching scouts wilderness skills. We discussed what he needed, and  for his purposes, a Genesis was perfect.

Matt and I go way back. He earned his Eagle Scout rank from Troop 18 in Bend, OR, where I was a very active volunteer for 17 years. His brother is also an Eagle Scout. Matt is carrying on the family tradition by being a scoutmaster at his son’s troop, and we’ve been on several scout activities together.  IMHO, a scout leader must have excellent tools to introduce kids to the outdoors. If a beginner is handicapped by a crappy tool that is hard to use, success in any activity will be limited. I knew any knife Matt carried would also be used by a lot of young scouts.

So Matt got a screaming, you-can’t-beat-this,  one-of-a-kind, only-for-a-hard-working-scoutmaster’s deal. It fit his knife budget, and even though I was delighted where the knife went, I had immediate regrets. So I ordered another, just like Matt’s.

Then I found out Matt’s son Wyatt really wanted a Genesis like his dad’s. So I sold that knife to Wyatt at a price a young scout could afford while not cutting too deeply into his summer camp fund. Then I ordered myself another Genesis.

Carleigh Fairchild, genesis

Carleigh Fairchild survived for 86 days in Patagonia on  “Alone” Season 3. She relied on a Genesis.

The Genesis, IMHO, is one of the best knives on the market. I’m not the only one who relies on the Kephart-style Genesis. So far there have been several Geneses on the survival show “Alone,” including one used by Carleigh Fairchild.

The Kephart knife was designed by legendary outdoorsman and educator Horace Kephart. Here is his description:

“Its blade and handle are each 4-1/4 inches long, the blade being 1 inch wide, 1/8 inch thick on the back, broad pointed, and continued through the handle as a hasp and riveted to it. It is tempered hard enough to cut green hardwood sticks, but soft enough so that when it strikes a knot or bone it will, if anything, turn rather than nick; then a whetstone soon puts it in order.”

“The handle of this knife is of oval cross-section, long enough to give a good grip for the whole hand, and with no sharp edges to blister one’s hand. The handle is of light but hard wood, 3/4 inch thick at the butt and tapering to 1/2 inch forward, so as to enter the sheath easily and grip it tightly.

“This knife weighs only 4 ounces. It was made by a country blacksmith, and is one of the homeliest things I ever saw; but it has outlived in my affections the score of other knives that I have used in competition with it, and has done more work than all of them put together.”

Here are the Genesis specs (Courtesy of Knivesshipfree.com)

Overall Length:  9″
 Blade Length:  4 14
 Blade Steel:  A2 or CPM 3V
 Blade Thickness:  18

I used Matt’s Genesis extensively. Here is why I like the knife.

Handle: I like a large handle on a working knife, and so do tool manufacturers. Go to any hardware store and look at framing hammers, hatchets or hand saws. The handles have a large diameter, are probably oblong, and are made of a sturdy, durable material. The Genesis handle is a handful, and I am able to use it for extended periods of time without discomfort or hot spots developing. Many of my different knives were loaned out when I helped teach a “Women in the Outdoors” seminar a couple years ago. The Genesis ended up being a favorite, even for women with small hands. The sheer utility and practicality of the knife was noted and commented upon.

The handle is designed for a working tool.

The Genesis handle is designed for a working tool.

For a working knife’s handle material, I want micarta – it seems to be almost bullet-proof. Micarta also gets almost tacky when wet, and this is a big consideration when cleaning fish, field dressing game or using in a wet environment. I prefer a matte finish green –  the color and texture reminds me of the wooden pilings on the Mississippi River.

Steel: Made of A2 or CPM 3V steel, the Genesis features two of my favorite blade steels. For a real user knife, you can’t go wrong with an A2 steel blade and a micarta handle. A2 is a tool steel that holds an edge really, really well, and IMO, is easier to resharpen than CPM 3V.  Truthfully, I haven’t noticed a difference between the two when it comes to edge-holding ability. In part, this may be because of my knife sharpening OCD. I strop my knife after every use, and generally sharpen everyone’s knife at hunting camp.  A maintained edge never gets dull.

If patina or potential corrosion is a consideration, get CPM 3V. It seems to be more stain resistant. If patina or stain is a real issue for you, get some Flitz cleaner and periodically use it on the blade.

Spine: The spine is ground at a 90-degree angle, like an ice skate. I like to use the spine for processing and shredding tinder or for  emergency scraping of a ferrocerrium rod to produce sparks for firemaking. This saves the razor edge for other tasks.

Point: The Genesis’ spear point is an excellent choice for a utility, do-it-all knife. My favorite point is a clip with swedge, but that is just a personal preference.

Sheath: The Genesis comes with a sturdy leather sheath with a dangler option and a side loop to carry a ferro rod. Most of my sheaths are danglers because of the comfort in wearing and safety.

Grind: The Genesis comes with either a scandi or full flat grind with a secondary convex hard buffed bevel. I ordered a flat grind on my latest Genesis, but given a choice, I would prefer convex over either. I have proven to my satisfaction that convex is superior to either grind for an all around knife.

So do you need a Genesis?

Well, the Genesis is not the only Kephart-style knife on the market.

And I have a lot of quality knives, and several other go-tos I rely on. My Ambush Tundra and Bark River UP Bravo are the best hunting knives I’ve ever used. My Bark River Sportsman is my most-used knife for everything. And when I’m teaching basic wilderness skills, I’ll have a L.T. Wright Bushcrafter and couple of  inexpensive Mora 840 Companions along as loaners.  My wife appropriated my Bark River Five Inch Kephart for the kitchen, and I am only allowed to use it outdoors with prior permission.

But there is something about a Genesis – maybe it’s the solid handling, and bulletproof feel. I can’t really put my finger on it, but the Genesis just feels…dependable.  Whether it is working with scouts, woods rambling, including in your survival cache or working around the yard, chances are my Genesis is close at hand.

You can order a Genesis here.

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