Does Silky’s Nata make t he cut?
‘LET’S CALL A SPADE A SPADE.’
Most of us are familiar with the saying, but, despite the popularity of this cliche, the value of the outdoor and camping market is based, to a large extent, on you and I believing different.
A knife cuts things. For the most part, that’s all any of us want it to do, yet the design, price and variation of knives on the market is almost infinite.
But what of an axe? A tool so singular in its purpose that even chewing gum found more uses in the hands of Macgyver. Can an axe really vary in form and function?
JACK OF ALL TRADES
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing any outdoor enthusiast is the matter of packing space, or the lack thereof. Whether you’re a hiker, hunter, camper, off-road traveller, or general lover of the great outdoors, most of us are aware of our space limitations.
Personally, I tend to believe that travelling with too much gear is worse than travelling with too little. For this reason, I generally favour equipment that is either multipurpose, or versatile in its function. The problem, however, is that a number of multipurpose tools are either bad at everything, or not particularly good at anything. Which is why I view all ‘ latest and greatest’ multitools with extreme scepticism. The Nata from Silky was no different.
At first, I couldn’t quite figure out what it was meant to be: Is it an axe, a machete, or a giant meat cleaver? Then I held one in my hands and realised that it’s all of these things, and none of these things. The Nata is a hybrid tool that is an axe, a machete, and a knife, all in one – making it the most unique outdoor cutting-choppinghacking-splitting tool known to humans (well, known to me). I’d even go so far as to say that the Nata is an evolutionary milestone for one of humankind’s oldest tools.
But enough rambling – what can possibly make this … hmmm … axe-knife-choppy thing so much better than a conventional axe? Everything!
Aside from the obvious fact that it looks completely unique, what amazes me most about this blade is its weight distribution. It feels surprisingly well balanced for a tool that has a 240 mm blade and a 175 mm grip length. Part of this is due to the Nata having a fixed blade that runs all the way through to the butt. What this means (when you’re actually using it), is you don’t get nearly as fatigued swinging it around as you would an ordinary axe.
Along similar lines, most conventional axes feature a heavy taper, where the back (or spine) of the blade is typically far thicker than the edge. Naturally, this makes your average axe purposefully suited to splitting logs, but it also means that your wrists have to work extra hard to keep the top-heavy blade upright and steady.
Admittedly, a standard axe is probably a better log-splitting tool (thanks to that taper), but at the same time, most axes aren’t great at penetrating – which is what you need when clearing bushes and fallen branches. This is generally the domain of machetes and kukris, which have thinner blades that are designed to strike deep into ‘wet’ wood and branches. What most machetes lack, however, is the necessary mass and blade stiffness to split a log in half.
And that’s pretty much where the Nata slots in: somewhere between an axe, a machete and a general-purpose outdoor knife. So instead of having to own all three of these things, you can get away with just one. But the real difference between these tools and the Silky Nata is the quality.
As a self-proclaimed knife nut, I would consider a Nata just for the steel quality alone. Made from SK4 high carbon steel, the Nata’s edge retention and hardness is every bit as good as the phrase ‘Japanese steel’ implies.
And with that, we come to our final point – price. Without a doubt, at R1 439, the Nata is going to cost far more than most people are willing to part with for an edged (outdoor) tool. Initially, I thought the same way, but since owning one, I have subsequently bought three Natas as gifts for close friends.
But what draws me most to this blade is that I don’t often come across a product that is better than the hype that surrounds it. Sure, it’s going to set you back far more than a garden-variety axe, but this is no ordinary yard tool – this is evolution.
Silky Nata Tool: Where are you: Wilderness, jungle, garden Chopping wood, clearing brush and branches, cutting thick steak What you might be doing?
SPECIFICATIONS WEIGHT: 0.6 kg Blade length: 240 mm Blade height: 49 mm Blade thickness: 5.0 mm Edge: Double edge Steel type: SK4 high carbon steel