The Woodman's Pal I have is more of a 'commemorative item' that I bought at Cabela's during this year's Sierra Trek. A few of us bushwacked our way there from White Rock lake and it turned into quite the ordeal so by the time we made it there I felt like I *had* to buy something and I'd seen the Woodman's Pal recommended in the past. So when I saw one in the store I bought it as an impulse. It's honestly pretty expensive at $89 but I like the fact it's made in the USA and has been around since the 1940's...sort of an American Icon. It is far superior to the cheap $15 machete I have; it's heavy enough to split small wood and can baton through heavier stuff and holds an edge fairly well, but it's not the first thing I would recommend buying.
Here's the one I have:
Normally I carry a small "boy's axe" on my LR3. It's about half way between a hatchet and a full size axe. I don't carry it in the D1 as I don't have a lot of extra room in that truck. Most of the time I use the axe to split kindling and occasionally I use the back of it to drive tent stakes. I like this size as it's big enough to do some chopping if you need to and small enough to use one handed to split kindling. I forget what brand I have - nothing special. You can spend big money on some high-end Swedish axes like Gansfors Bruks and they are VERY nice, but since mine just lives on the roof rack 24/7 I'd feel bad about having something that expensive and not taking better care of it.
For actually cutting things you don't want an axe or Woodman's Pal - you want a saw. Now this is an item I would recommend - a Silky BigBoy:
There are plenty of other similar saws on the market but this one is excellent. It's a made-in-japan (hence the goofy name) pull-saw that folds. I prefer it to a bow saw as the blade is much sharper than any I've used and it stores more easily - I keep mine in the seat back pocket of the driver's seat on the LR3 where it's easy to get to if I need to trim a low hanging branch or even take down a small tree. I've used it to cut down trees up to around 8" diameter but more commonly I'm cutting stuff a few inches. It makes fast work of just about any cutting. They have bigger and smaller versions, but this seems the ideal size for our application.
Of course if I expect to be doing serious cutting, I break out the Stihl chainsaw, but that doesn't travel with me on normal trips.
Regarding knives, I always carry my Leatherman Wave whether I'm at work or home or on the trail.
It gets used for everything except food (the places that blade has been....I don't want it anywhere near food!) I also have an assortment of extra bits that fit in the sheath and used to carry a small flashlight in the sheath as well though I don't these days. I'm so used to having that thing on my belt I'm lost when it's not there (like when I fly somewhere). There are lots of multi-tools on the market but I find this is the best fit for my needs.
I have one 'nice' knife that I carry when camping primarily used for food and for some general cutting, a Spyderco folder that I clip to a side pocket on my pants.
It's an easy one-hand opening locking folder with half normal/half serrated blade. It's sort of an 'entry level' high-end knife - serious knife guys will spend a fortune on specialized or custom knives and there is no end in variations but I'm not a 'knife guy', I just wanted a good quality folder with a decent sized blade.
I've thought of getting a small fixed blade knife to carry instead of this as it would be more robust, but it would also be more difficult to carry since I already have my Leatherman on my belt.
I am not a fan of the huge survival knives. Most of them are junk sold to make 16 year old kids feel like Rambo. There are some genuinely good large knives and they have their uses, but it's not something I have a need for.
Of all that stuff, the Leatherman gets used the most BY FAR (I literally use mine every day) even if it's just to open a box. It's just so fast and easy to get to and it's always with me. Plus the tools, while never the 'right' tool for the job, are again always at hand and often more convenient than having to go dig out the correct screwdriver or wire cutter or whatever I need for just a quick job. After that it would be a toss up whether I get more use out of my Silky or the axe around camp.
Edited by DHappel, 16 November 2017 - 10:00 PM.