Any mention of certain knives on the web always draws my instant attention and one of those special blades just happens to be Bob Dozier’s “Wilderness” model. Visit Bob’s website ( and you may notice that he gives me credit for designing this knife. Before you decide I’m promoting the Wilderness simply because I’m raking in a fat royalty check, I should point out I haven’t received a single cent from its sales. But I did actually play a small part in its creation and I was flattered when Bob asked to use my name in his catalog.

A few weeks ago someone made a post on one of the cutlery forums asking the viewer’s opinion of the Wilderness. This soon degenerated into a back and forth battle over whether the knife was actually “tough enough” for “real life” outdoor survival. Its detractors stated the knife’s slightly hollow-ground edge profile made it totally unsuitable for “batoning and prying,” two tasks they seem to feel were essential functions of a backcountry blade.

To give you a little history on how the Wilderness model came about: A few years ago Bob Dozier sent me a sample of his Professional Guide model to field test. While I liked the basic blade shape, I felt the handle was too short for my own hand. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Pro Guide won’t fit your hand perfectly—my hand is my hand and not yours.

Bob was nice enough to make up a second version with a longer and straighter handle that I considered much improved. If anything, the Wilderness’ .20-inch-thick blade was actually heavier than I would have preferred but the hollow grind still allowed the knife to cut very efficiently. I’ve since carried the knife in enough outdoor situations to have no problem saying I consider it an excellent all-purpose cutting tool.

I have a feeling that the phrase “wilderness” has different connotations to people in different parts of the country. Here in the Northwest it is normally assumed you are talking about a reasonably large area set aside by the Federal government as being in its natural state and unchanged by European settlement. Doing a quick count, I found we have 31 designated wilderness areas scattered around Washington. Of those, I can say I have backpacked and camped in at least 11, some over and over. If I also counted the Federal wilderness areas in Oregon and Idaho we have spent time in, then that number probably would double. In general, I seldom build campfires and I don’t recall ever having a need to “baton” anything. As for prying, what is there to pry in the wilds?

Compared to the average Swiss army-equipped Northwest backpacker, I’m probably way over-gunned taking the Dozier on my treks. Hey, it’s a free country and I like the feel of the Dozier. It has never failed to clean the trout, slice the sausage, cut the rope or perform the other normal uses I have for a knife on the trail. Still, if packing a foot-long, 3/8-inch-thick piece of steel makes you happy, go for it. The qualifier here is, make sure you have actually walked that walk before you tell me my choice is inadequate.

—Steven Dick, Editor In Chief

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