OUR FAVORITE GEAR IS RELIABLE, HARDWEARING, AND, OFTEN, DIRT CHEAP
If you like working knives and you aren’t on A.G. Russell’s mailing list, you are missing both great deals and an education. Russell is a godfather of the American knife trade, and his quarterly catalog of aftermarket blades is not only a darned good place to shop for knives, but it’s also a resource to learn about the history of cutlery steel, blade designs, and the lineage of knife makers.
It was in the pages of Russell’s catalog (get it at agrussell.com) that I discovered Ka-Bar’s Dozier folders, lock-back knives made in Taiwan that Russell promised, through his lively testimonial copy, would perform far above their $25 retail price. That’s my kind of gear, so I ordered one, in an alarming orange color and with a thumb notch in the blade that enables one-hand operation.
I still own my first Dozier—blazed with my family’s brand ( 4C )—and I’ve bought at least a dozen more from Russell, to give as birthday and graduation presents, to hunting buddies, and to neighbors who allow me to hunt their land. My original knife, pictured above during a spring turkey hunt, has gutted and skinned more deer and game birds than I can recall. It’s opened countless boxes, cut steaks, sliced sausage, and sharpened pencils and hot-dog sticks. Until its tip snapped—extracting a pellet stuck in an air rifle during an iguana hunt in Puerto Rico—the knife accompanied me to four continents.
You can see my tip-clipped
Dozier knife on p. 40, included in an assortment of inexpensive but essential gear that Outdoor Life editors carry in the field. These products may show their wear, but that’s sort of the point. These are trusty tools that we use because they work, not because of their brand name or marketing hype.
We include them in our “Cheap Adventure” feature, destinations where you can hunt and fish for very little coin. Like favorite places, our essential gear is a big part of our outdoor lives, and proof that you don’t have to be outfitted with the latest gear to be successful.
Our durable-goods collection includes shooting editor John B. Snow’s hard-wearing canvas jacket, fishing editor Gerry Bethge’s go-to lure, digital editor Alex Robinson’s treestand, and assistant editor Tony Hansen’s trusty headlamp.
I’m guessing you have your own gear that you reach for before all others. Tell me about it by writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input will confirm gear doesn’t have to be pricey or stylish to be great.