Over the years I’ve gone through enough knives to outfit a steakhouse, but most of them have been just another knife. That all changed the first time I used a Havalon. My buddy Steve let me use his to cape my Dall sheep, and I couldn’t believe how fast I was able to get it done. I was sold on it right then and there as a caping knife, but Havalon knives are much more than that.

If you’re not familiar with them, Havalon knives are simple folding knives that use replaceable over-sized surgical scalpel blades (I use the pocket knife version). Their primary advantage is that they are extremely sharp. You really have to be careful with them, as you could give yourself a very serious cut before you even realize it. The blades don’t hold an edge as well as some knives, but in a few seconds you can switch to a new one, and replacement blades are pretty inexpensive. The knives are very lightweight, weighing less than your average pocket knife, which makes them ideal for backpack hunting.

Not only are Havalons great for skinning, but they can accomplish pretty much every other field dressing task for which you would need a knife. I’ve noticed that the blades can break pretty easily if you twist and torque them, but with a little practice, you can clean, skin, and quarter game even quicker than with a regular knife. This year I used my Havalon pretty much exclusively, and was able to skin three brown bears, a grizzly, and a black bear; cape and butcher my Dall sheep and mountain goat; and I used it to clean my entire moose (with the exception of splitting the brisket with a hatchet).

If you haven’t tried them already, I highly recommend them. For 35 bucks or so, you can make your drawer full of hunting knives all but obsolete.