Product Review: Bear Grylls Gerber Ultra Compact Knife

Sam Gravestock gets to work with a Bear Grylls knife.

Everyone knows that one of, if not the most, fundamental item you need for survival is a good knife.

What makes a good knife is something that is argued wherever two or more people with any interest with sharp pieces of metal meet, be it down the pub, around a campfire or on an internet forum (oh how it's argued on the internet forums).

In my opinion one critical thing that is always overlooked is the best knife to have in a survival situation is the one you have with you.

It doesn't matter if you have a £500 handcrafted piece of art or a cheap £10 mass produced rubber handled work horse, if they aren't with you it's irrelevant.

Bear Grylls Gerber Ultra Compact Knife
Bear Grylls Gerber Ultra Compact Knife

Why am I rambling on like this? Let me explain. I have many knives, some from both camps - the handcrafted pieces of art and the mass produced. All too often when I go for an impromptu bimble none of them come with me. Why? Well there are several reasons: weight, bulk and how conspicuous they are.

Recently I was sent the Bear Grylls Ultra Compact Knife to test run. I've read some good things about this knife so I was looking forward to putting it through its paces.

The Bear Grylls ultra compact knife is a full tang (the metal runs from the tip of the blade to the very end of the knife). This makes is a very sturdy tool without any of the potentially weak spots a folding knife or lock knife has.

It has a rubberised handle so you can grip it with wet, muddy or bloody hands and it will not slip from your grasp (safety first with sharps). The handle incorporates 3 choils to allow different grips depending on if you are doing general cutting or finer work.

Using the Bear Grylls knife to split wood
Using the Bear Grylls knife to split wood

The blade is made from stainless steel. This is where personal preference comes into play. I prefer carbon steel blades as they are easier to sharpen and maintain. However, carbon steel is more prone to rust and tarnishing which can be more of a challenge in the field. Stainless steel is less susceptible to damage in rain or wet conditions and as the Bear Grylls ultra compact knife is primarily meant as a survival knife I can understand why Gerber went with this material.

The entire knife is black which gives it a 'tacticool' look which again is something that is down to personal preference. It does have the Bear Grylls logo in orange which actually has a purpose beyond market labelling, the orange shows up well in the wilds should you put it down (not something I advise personally, in my humble opinion as soon as a knife is not being used it should be put straight back into its sheath as it is far safer).

The knife also has a hole in the butt of the handle should you wish to attach a lanyard to it.

So that's an overview of the knife, now onto the sheath. Made from hard-wearing high density plastic it has a locking mechanism which makes a very reassuring click when you push the Bear Grylls ultra compact knife into it. It also holds it very securely (no one wants a knife to come out of the sheath - this is a very, very bad thing trust me).

The sheath has a removable belt clip that can be used to position the knife in the preferred carrying method of the owner either clipped with handle down or up as you choose (personally I feel it already looks tacticool enough without having it point down). It can also be worn as a neck knife with the provided cord to allow it to be tucked into layers of clothing when not in use.

Sheath securely attached to clothing
Sheath securely attached to clothing

The sheath also incorporates space for webbing straps to be threaded through to allow you to attach it to MOLLE webbing, rucksacks and so on.

It can even be attached to your boot (not sure why you would want to but the option is there should you choose to do so).

The removable belt clip is bright orange and the sheath features a bright orange Gerber logo to act as a visible beacon should you drop the sheathed knife.

The Bear Grylls ultra compact knife also comes with Bear's Priorities of Survival pamphlet - a handy little memory aid containing useful survival tips. Whilst this isn't attached to the sheath or knife it is a useful addition as in survival situations you can guarantee you won't be able to recall information vital to getting through the situation.

There you have the complete overview of the Bear Grylls ultra compact knife. Now for a test run.

Using the knife to make feather sticks
Using the knife to make feather sticks

I took the knife up to my usual woods for some play time. One of things I expect a knife to be capable of doing is battoning or splitting wood into fire wood and carving feather sticks to act as fine kindling.

Despite this knife being a lot smaller than my usual one it coped well with battoning the fire wood and also carved suitable feather sticks.

Orange logos help avoid losing the knife
Orange logos help avoid losing the knife

I decided to test the visibility of the orange in a green and wooded environment. Several casual throws to mimic the accidental loss of the knife showed that the orange really does stand out.

I proceeded to use the knife for various normal cutting methods, harvesting nettles and processing the nettle stem to use to make cordage and so on.

At all times the knife felt light in my hand (it weighs in at 74g for the knife and another 53g for the sheath) and easy to use, it didn't slip or cause hot spots or blisters despite my hands having lost some of their toughness due to a lack of using knives/tools for a while.

Now remember the fourth paragraph where I rambled about weight, bulk and how conspicuous a knife was? Well the Bear Grylls ultra compact knife ticks all those criteria for a survival knife/back-up blade. It is light, not bulky and small enough to reside in a coat pocket or cargo trouser pocket. It even fits nicely in the back pocket of a pair of trousers (assuming you have a valid, legitimate and legal reason to be carrying a knife). It's hardly noticeable when stored in the pocket but is always there ready and eager to be used.

I would recommend the Bear Grylls Ultra Compact Knife to anyone and everyone who wants a no-nonsense blade to put in a grab bag or bug out bag or just to tuck into a bimble bag for when out for a wander on the chance you may find something you wish to gather.

You can buy the Bear Grylls Gerber Ultra Compact Knife directly from this site.

August 2012