Mora Garberg Review

The Garberg is a true survival knife

I love the Mora Garberg knife and I’ll do my best in this article to explain why I think it’s the best knife you can own for woodland wild camping and as a survival knife.

So what is it about the Mora Garberg?

I could describe the Mora Garberg as a boring tool that just does the job it’s meant to do. And that’s the whole point, really. It just works and does not make a fuss about it.

Mora knives are a bit like that – they lack style and beauty. They are a tool and you will often see them on fishing boats where a knife is just a knife.

So why does it evoke emotion in me to the level where I love it to bits?

Is it because it is so functional?

Is it because it has no frills or concessions to beauty?

Does the beauty lie in its simplicity? I suspect it does.

A review of the Mora Garberg by Paul Kirtley…

Specification of the Mora Garberg carbon

  • Total langth229 mm (9.3 in)
  • Blade length109 mm (4.3 in)
  • Blade thickness3.2 mm (0.12 in)
  • Weight 272 g (9.6 oz)
  • Blade Carbon steel
  • Steel grade C100
  • Hardness 59-60 HRC
  • Grip ABS

Specification of the Mora Garberg stainless

  • Total length 229 mm (9.3 in)
  • Blade length 109 mm (4.3 in)
  • Blade thickness 3.2 mm (0.12 in)
  • Weight 272 g (9.6 oz)
  • Blade Stainless steel
  • Steel grade Sandvik 14C28N
  • Hardness 57-58 HRC
  • GripABS

Difference between carbon and stainless

The stainless knife won’t rust, takes an edge well and will stay sharp. So why would you buy the carbon version?

Surely all the benefits of stainless will make it the obvious choice. But there is one thing that the carbon knife will do that the stainless one won’t. It will strike a spark on natural flint. Stainless will not do this, but will work perfectly with a fire steel. In fact, both knives excel at striking a spark. If you have no interest in using flint, then this advantage is pointless.

If you view your knife as a survival tool that you may have to rely on, then you may want to add the flint fire lighting ability to your arsenal. This is the crux of why Mora made the carbon version. It’s all about purpose and the Mora Garberg carbon is a survival knife.

There are plenty of other ways to make fire without flint, so the carbon steel advantage may be of no use to you. In reality, the stainless version is what the market needed and wanted, but Mora responded to demand and came up with the carbon version for people that specifically wanted that.

It will be hard to tell the difference with sharpness and ease of sharpening. They will both be excellent.

The carbon version is coated in a very durable finish that is black.

I don’t like black knives so I polished mine to the natural steel colour. This was a simple task that just took a while. Call it sacrilege, but I prefer the polished look.

You will need to keep a carbon steel knife oiled to stop it rusting.

The Mora Garberg is full tang.

The key feature of the Mora Garberg is that it has a full tang.

That is, the metal of the blade extends as one piece all the way to the end of the handle. It even exits the end of the handle to make a pommel that can be used for hammering or striking a steel. It is also useful for making fine shavings for fire lighting.

The full tang is the whole point of the Garberg’s design. It makes it a proper survival knife with the strength to take severe use for a long time.

Your knife is the most valuable survival tool you have and if it breaks, you have a problem. This full tang knife is built to last and can be abused with very heavy duty work.

What a blade…

The blade is what it’s all about with a survival knife. It needs to be strong and able to do heavy tasks that would have a thinner blade snapping.

The ability to take a hammering when batoning the knife to split wood is critical.

The Mora Garberg blade is 109mm long and 3.2mm thick. This means it will be more than capable of splitting 10cm thick pieces of wood. It does this well and I have no feeling that I am pushing the limit when doing so.

Combined with the strength of being full tang, the Mora Garberg is a superb tool for processing firewood. This is what I mainly use it for.

I have no desire for the blade to be thicker or thinner. It’s the perfect size for a survival and firewood knife.

It will struggle to fillet a fish but excel at chopping firewood, and that’s what I want it for.

The point of the Mora Garberg is immensely strong and does a great job of drilling even into difficult woods. I can’t see it snapping.

The back of the blade has a 90 degree grind and is perfect for striking sparks or finely shaving wood for fire starting.

Sharpening and grind

The blade has a “scandi” grind with a tiny micro-bevel. This makes it very easy to sharpen for an amateur like me.

It holds an edge really well.

When it is razor sharp, it will happily encounter knots in soft wood and just keep on cutting.

Getting an edge this sharp is easy – even I can do it and I’m a bit crap at sharpening.

Durable and comfortable handle

The Mora Garberg doesn’t have a drop dead gorgeous wooden handle, carved into an artistic and exquisite shape. On the contrary, it’s made of black plastic or ABS to be precise.

It is not brittle and has a slightly soft grippy texture to the surface. It never gets slippy.

The diamond pattern works well, though crap tends to get stuck in the slots. But being plastic, it’s easy to keep clean.

The knife is very comfortable to hold and work with for long periods of heavy work.

In short, it’s just a boring black handle that does an excellent job of being a knife handle. That’s the point – it’s a utility that isn’t chasing beauty and style prizes.

The handle will take lots of abuse and mine is showing no signs of wear. It gets used a lot for heavy duty batoning of firewood and I see no reason for it to fail in the future.

The embedding of the tang in to the handle is perfect. I can’t see it ever breaking. The handle is not a weak point of this knife.

Pommel strikes a spark

The pommel is ground to a 90 degree sharp edge all round. This is surplus to requirement as the spine of the blade is also ground square for scraping and striking a spark. It’s nice to have, but not really needed.

There’s no reason not to include it, so why not?

If it wasn’t there, I’d still be 100% happy with the knife.

The garberg’s pommel does an excellent job of scraping small powdery shavings from wood. As does the blade back.

A simple sheath

I have the leather sheath but there is a plastic version that I can’t comment on.

The leather sheath is in the same style as the knife – totally functional with no aspirations to being fancy. A timeless simplicity of design.

Nothing about it says “look at me, aren’t I cool” No it is just understated and gets on with being a sheath that does a great job of holding a knife securely. Perfect.

Totally about function. It isn’t beautiful, but like the knife, I love that understated simplicity.

It is a utility and not a work of leather art.

Making fire is a dream

The 90 degree grind on the back edge of the blade and on the pommel is superb for striking a spark with a fire steel. It’s the best spark I’ve ever seen come from a knife and is significantly better than the little steel plate that comes with the fire steel.

I tend to use the back of the blade, but the pommel does just as good a job and can be a bit more accurate at shooting the sparks where you want them to go.

The carbon version will strike a spark from a natural flint, but I have never tried it.

Is the Mora Garberg a good buscraft knife?

Mora creates a whole range of knives that are better for bushcraft because they have thinner blades and are more suited to cutting work.

That doesn’t make it a bad bushcraft knife. It is excellent, but there are better models.

It’s real forte is as a wood processing tool and for heavier carving and shaping work.

Mora really knows what they are doing with utilitarian knives that just get the job done. And the Garberg is no exception.

The bushcraft community has embraced the Mora brand as an entry level knife, but the Garberg is not entry level and deserves to be considered in a different league.

The Garberg is a wood processing machine

With the strength of being full tang, the Mora Garberg is a superb tool for processing firewood. This is what I mainly use it for. It takes batoning in its stride.

I take this knife to the woods when I will be having a fire, but not carrying an axe.

For its weight, it delivers an amazing ability to process quite chunky firewood.

It’s not the best for fine cutting work

The thickness of the blade has a disadvantage for some tasks, such as fine slicing. It is a bit crap at slicing tomatoes, for example.

It makes lovely feather sticks, but this is the limit of its area of excellence. Start slicing veggies, and it’s a bit of a task that has me reaching for a thinner blade. It chops stuff up just fine. It is a compromise in this area, and rightly so. This is a survival and wood processing knife, not a kitchen utensil.

I will not go hungry if my veg is a bit coarsely chopped but I might if I can’t split wood to light a fire.

My favourite wild camping knife

The Mora Garberg is superb for the heavier duty work of a woodland camp where you don’t have the luxury of an axe. And let’s face it, that’s what the knife will be used for. Wild camping in the woods where fire and bushcraft tasks are the order of the day.

It’s an almost perfect tool for the job and probably the perfect one in the absence of an axe.

It is perfect for splitting and preparing firewood. It’s the mutts nuts for making feather sticks – better than it should be for a thick blade.

For sharpening pegs and making stuff around camp, it is just perfect.

For food and fire tasks, it’s the only tool you will need. All kinds of food and fire tasks are easily accomplished.

For shelter building, an axe becomes more useful to have as well.

It’s a knife for camping in the woods when you don’t have an axe.

It’s also a brilliant survival knife if it needs to be.

The Garberg blurs the line between an axe and a knife. Most of the time, I leave the axe behind.

You can’t cut down trees with a knife, but combine the Garberg with a saw, and you can achieve most woodland camping tasks easily.

The best survival knife

The Mora Garberg is a survival knife. Its entire purpose in life is to be the one knife you need in a survival situation. If you want a bushcraft knife or a fishing knife, this model is not designed for you, and you could get away with a cheaper knife.

Its design is solely focused on being a survival knife, and it makes no compromises on being that. It could be argued that the stainless knife is compromised in that it can’t strike a spark from natural flint. And I would agree. The carbon version is the true survival knife.

Pricing

Cheap and functional is what the Mora brand is all about. But the Garberg is an exception and carries a hefty price tag.

At around £80, the Mora Garberg is not cheap for a plastic handled knife, but beneath that handle is a full tang and that’s what sets this knife apart from the rest of the Mora range.

There are various Mora models that fit different budgets and functions. They all do an excellent job – but the Garberg is in a different league. It is well worth the extra cash if you are looking for a super strong survival knife that excels in wood processing.

Conclusion

The Mora Garbera ticks all the boxes for me as a wild camper that makes fires in the woods. It will also make a first class survival knife should the need arise.

It puts a smile on my face to look at it, and I am always making excuses to use it. I really don’t need feather sticks at home to light the barbecue. There’s a box of firelighters that will do the job. But I just can’t help myself. Out comes the Garberg.

I just get a lot of pleasure from the sound and feel of that perfect blade sliding down the edge of a piece of wood. Those perfect curls never fail to delight.

If you like knives purely for their aesthetic and have little interest in sheer function, then this is not the knife for you. It’s a workhorse and a tool. I happen too like the simple looks, but many disagree with me.

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