Survival Gear Review: Camillus S.K. Arctic Knife

Camillus knives have been around for 130 years, and Les Stroud is one of the most respected names in the modern survival arena. I expected big things when I saw their names paired on the S.K. Arctic fixed-blade knife. Did these icons deliver? Let’s find out.

The S.K. Arctic knife is part of a larger Les Stroud line of gear from Camillus. These Survivorman-inspired items include things like first aid kits, machetes and even a hatchet. Straight from the package, this knife boasts one of the best factory sharpening jobs I have ever seen. The knife felt a bit heavy, but in a good way—like it had strength to it. The drop point blade is made from titanium-bonded 440 stainless steel, with a black non-stick coating. It worked great for carving and slicing tasks; though with its tapered spine, it isn't as well suited for baton work or heavy chores. There is also a rounded notch on the blade's spine that can be used to scrape sparks from the ferrocerium rod accessory that's stored in the sheath. This notch is handy for fire starting, but it also represents a weakened spot in the steel. The handle is an interesting amalgam of plastic, soft, black textured rubber, and a metal I couldn't identify. There is triangular lanyard hole and an angled "waffle-head" hammer pommel. The generous size of the handle works well for larger hands and when wearing gloves. For added grip, there is a yellow rubber insert behind the finger guard.

The sheath poses the biggest issue for me. Beyond a Velcro strap, it has no blade retention system. I do like the small mesh pouch on the sheath’s backside, and it retains the ferro rod (which worked like a charm) very well. But the sheath itself is oversized and the knife itself does not fit it very well. The Chinese-made S.K. Arctic has the following specs:

Blade Length: 4.5 inches
Overall Length: 9.25 inches
Weight: 8 ounces (11 ounces with sheath)
Warranty: Lifetime warranty from Camillus (for "normal" use)
MSRP: $45.99

To sum up, the S.K. Arctic is a good first knife for someone new to outdoor skills, camping, bushcraft and survival, as long as that person doesn’t demand much of the sheath. The blade is plenty sharp enough—and the handle comfortable enough—for most purposes. It’s also an affordable back-up blade for more experienced outdoor enthusiasts, though you may want to fashion your own sheath.