Good Morning World,
Having previously written a combination knife review/kit description, I thought that it was time to tackle something a little larger. This next up, as you can tell from the title, is the “Bushcraft Parang”, a model produced by Fox FKMD (Fox Knives Military Division). As you can see from the opening photo, it is a knife that I have owned for a few years and used often. It might come as a surprise though, considering the size, that when my daughter Ally was eight she decided that this was one of her favourite knives in my collection and thus she too has carried and used this blade frequently in the last three years.
A Bit of a Description
I have to admit that until I received this in the mail from Bushcraft Canada that I was under the impression that the blade was going to be more large than what it is in actuality. I really should have considered what 170mm looks like. My fault for not translating the metric into imperial. It is funny that although Canada officially converted to the metric system all the way back in 1977, people who are around my age work in both systems depending on the unit being considered. Short measurements such as the persons height and weight are in the old system (no one will know what I am saying if “…I’m 177 cm tall” …no I’m 5’9″) but the city of Toronto is about 250 km away. Liquids are by the litre but we still use the imperial in the stores for things like meat – I think of the four litres of milk is about four dollars and hamburger is 3 dollars a pound. All this to say that I was surprised when the blade turned out to be around six inches in length. This is why, for comparison, I included the photo with a standard SAK for scale.
As for steel, it is as it states on the blade, from Maniago Italy, which is one of the old world steel areas much like Sheffield England and German Soligen. This parang is made of a stainless steel of the type N690Co. A little research determined that this is one of the higher end cutlery steels that is propriety of Bohler of Austria. If you hang out on some of the internet forums for the lover of sharp things you will not find very much negative written about this steel by those internet experts that write like they know what they are talking about. I say this because, not knowing them personally, I can not vouch for their level of experience or academic qualifications. The one thing I will say is that I am extremely happy with it. Holds an edge exceptionally well and is strong. It put up with everything I have put it through without issue and as I said earlier, it is Ally’s favourite large knife. If it can handle the abuse that a pre-teen can dish out without even chipping…
Things this knife has Accomplished
Over the course of the last few years this knife has seen a wide variety of tasks over all seasons not only in the woods but also on the homestead. It works best when used in a more brutal manner; finesse is not where it shines. The flat grind makes it a great chopper. This is important due to the fact that each year after Christmas any of the trees that were not sold still find a use around the farm. Chopping the branches of a Balsam fir Christmas tree is not a fun job at any time but went they are still green and frozen can be hard on a blade (see my article on Homestead Blade #1 on what it can do to a cheap machete). Ally at nine could easily de-branch a seven foot tree with this parang almost as fast as I could!
As well, just to mix things up when I am splitting kindling for the woodstove, I will often use this and baton what I need. Not because this is the easiest tool but I just enjoy using this knife. The flat grind might seem to be inefficent for batonning and splitting but I find that the Fox Parang to excel at these tasks. I can only credit this to the actuall geometry of the size of the blade but despite my initail misgivings it turned out to be quite effective. It should be noted that I am only attempting to preform batonning on reasonable piece of wood – maximum about 4 inches across and 16 inches long – not some of the wet, knotty logs some of the people out there use as their examples.
The Best Part – A Complete Survival “Package”
One of the great things that the designer of this knife and Fox FKMD did when marketing this knife was to include a large detachable pouch containing a complete survival kit.
Well, not really complete as some of the items contained within the supplied kit were definately made by the lowest bidder, but the idea was a good one. Although I will give a description of the items that I have now in my kit. Please remember that these are NOT some of the original items but what I have made into a funtional kit for my enviroment. In the description that I writ for each item I will state if it cam with the original kit or is an upgrade. I will most likely receive some messages asking about the original items, but it is my beleif that a person would be foolish if they rely on substandard equipment that might be used in a situation where their “survival” is in question. In any survival situation you would like to have the best possible quality that you can afford so, for instance, the cheap quality folding knife that originaly came in the tin has been replaced with a Swiss Army folding knife. So, what is now in my kit:
The outside pouch on the knife sheath holds this aluminum box and with sufficent room to include this emergency mylar blanket. You can see in the photo that the box is closed with roller type clips on each end for security. The box is gasket sealed but I also have sealed up the box with one inch tape – “Gorilla” brand which I find to be exeptional for strenght and waterproofing.
When you first open up the box you will see the clear silicon gasket in the lid and also that the inside of the lid has a bright refledtive surface which can be utilized as a signal mirror. Flashing sunlight with this surface is an effective means of attracting potential rescuers from great distanaces. The seealed white package to the left in this photograph came initally with the knife and contains a long piece of elastic bandage that you can cut to the desire length. On top of the rest of the items in the box is one of my favourite chemical firestarters, the “Ignite-o” brand. This will burn for a period of time that even the dampest of kindling, in all but the worst scenarios, will have sufficent time and heat to ignite to get a fire going. The aluminum box can also be suspended over a fire with some of the snare wire which will provide a small cooking implement or a way to boil water to make it safe for consumption.
Now, lets get to the rest of the items.
- The top item is a metal whistle that was included in the kit. As most anyone reading this will know that this makes a good signaling device which is more effective and longer lasting than the human voice trying to yell for extended periods of time. Remember how your voice sounded after the last AC/DC concert? ’nuff said! One additional thing about this whistle is that it contains a small vial that is waterproofed with a rubber o-ring. I use this to carry some of my prescrition medication that I require on a daily basis. Sucks getting old, but a survival situation is not the time to also we suffering from lack of medication.
- A button compass. Effective enough for cardinal directions and definately better than nothing .
- A package of salt. It came with it and takes up little space.
- A condom that came with it. All the survival books say that this will make a great water carrier, but I perfer to carry my water, especially in a situation where it would come to this, in my stomach to prevent dehydration. I leave it in here as it takes up little space and for the off chance that I might need it to put something into it to keep it waterproof, like a GPS during a river crossing…
- Bandages in a waterproof plastic bag.
- A couple small pieces of paper sealed in plastic that came with the kit. It is flat and thin so takes up very little space.
- On top of the paper is a small sewing kit that came as part of the package. A couple needles, thread and some small buttons. Good for emergency repairs and if your name is John J. Rambo you can use these to suture up a wound.
- Starting now at the top right and going downward, for the few people that have read my previous articles you will see something that I have included in almost every one of my kits – a couple of cotton tampons in plastic wrap. These are good items for first aid, especially puncture wounds, and make excellent tinder for fire starting.
- A “Bic” brand small disposable lighter. I like the orange ones when I can find them as they are easier to see if accidently dropped on the ground.
- As previously mentioned an “Ignite-O” firestarter. All you have to do with these is apply flame to the plastic wrapper and away they go. Even if the lighter fails, as things are so prone to when you REALLY need them, a bit of cotton from the tampon and a spark from the ferro rod will get this going. These burn for longer than most other commercial firestarters I have tested, plus have the benefit of being relatively flat, which makes them convenient for packing.
- It is a bit hard to see but along the bottom edge of the Ignite-O is a full sized ferro rod with the handle removed. The kit does come with a miniature ferro rod which I found to be basically useless and appeared much to fragile to trust in a situation where I might really need it. Therefore, out with the crap and in with a ferro rod that I know will work when I need it.
- Going down the next item is a DOAN’s magnesium bar. These also have a built in ferro rod. Scrape the magnesium side to make a pile of fine shavings (I like to shave it onto a fluffed up cotton ball to prevent loss especially if windy) about the size of a nickel and hit them with a spark from a ferro rod and these will burn white hot.
- The red thing is something I suspect most people will recognize – A Swiss Army Knife. The knife that came with the kit was…I was going to say garbage but that would be and insult to garbage. I put in to the kit as a replacement a SAK “Camping” model. It has two additional blades which will allow for fine, detailed work while the Fox Parang will cover every other task. This model of SAK also includes a very good little saw, plus the standard screw driver and can opener. Great little knife and reasonably priced considering all the features it contains.
- To the left of this is a single edged razor blade with a cardboard protective wrap. It came with the original kit, takes up very little space and provides yet another sharp edge in the kit.
- In the centre of the picture there is a wire saw that came with the kit. These have been known to fail but if careful can cut through some decent sized pieces of wood. Like any tool it is important to use it correctly and not stress it beyond its capabilities.
- It is hard to tell from the photo but that plastic bag to the right of the bottom ring of the saw contains the fishing kit that came included. A few various sized hooks, line, small swivels and a couple of sinkers. For me, personally, fishing will not be high on my priority list mainly due to the fact that I cannot stand the taste of fish. That being said, I am pretty certain that if hungry enough it would be delicious, but since most survival situations are concluded in under 72 hours that I could use this time to lose a couple of pounds.
- Finally there are two rolls of brass snare wire. The smaller roll came with the kits and is rather thin and the larger sized roll is what is generally used in my part of the world to set rabbit snares. Snaring is something that is best accomplished with some snow one the ground so that the rabbit runs can be identified but the wire can also be utilized in many ways including assisting in securing a shelter together or making emergency repairs to equipment.
So there you have it. All of these items together is why I call this a complete survival system.
The sheath that the Fox Parang comes equipped with does a pretty good job and provides for a variety of carry options, including a belt loop and MOLLE attachments. My preferred method for this knife is the baldric style. By adding an adjustable cargo strap through where the belt loop is I now can carry over either shoulder and easily change for the seasons for everything from t-shirt to Arctic Parka.
One thing that I experienced, and I have seen from other reviews it is common, is that the retaining strap to secure the blade into the sheath is positioned in a manner that it is easy to cut the webbing while drawing or replacing the parang into the sheath. If they had used a few more inches of strap and secured it to the rear of the sheath instead of the front that I suspect that this would have not occurred. Now, in order to prevent further damage, requires the use of both hands to get out or put back the knife – one hand on the handle and the other holding the strap well back and out of the way.
You can see from this photo that there are two elastic type straps on each side of the sheath. When this came in the box there way a green cylume stick (“glow stick”) in these which could either be used for signaling or if you stumble upon a rave in the bush? Sometimes, especially in the winter when it gets dark so much earlier, I will carry a 3AA Mag-Lite in these.
The designer of this knife, Alfredo Doricchi, did an excellent job, but even he, on “BladeForum” stated that this was not designed to be a do-everything blade but to be part of a system that includes a multi-tool and possibly a bushcraft knife for more precise work. The Fox Bushcraft Parang is a decent chopper on most types of wood found in my bio-region (Great Lakes/Boreal Forest transition).
To paraphrase Mr. Doricchi, this is not my one tool option, but there is never a time when I would go out to the woods with only one tool. On a bit of a rant, I hate the question that seems to pop up all the time on the internet forums (although I may have answered this in the past) “If you could only have one knife…….” Why would you ever handicap yourself and limit your options by only carrying one?
Bottom line – would I recommend this knife. Yes, and I have done so in the past. Good design, good steel and a self contained survival kit. Particularly in the winter while out snowshoeing in the bush it is like that old “American Express” commercial…
“Don’t leave home without it.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Feel free to comment on what you might carry as your one package survival system or if you have any further questions on this topic!