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Bucking Tradition With a Rugged Camp Knife

Outdoorsmen expect each piece of their gear to perform numerous uses, and rightly so:  No backpack or saddle bag has space for dead weight.  But we also know that it’s always better to have the right tool for the right job.

My knives, for instance, are no strangers to multitasking.  They do everything from cutting and slicing to whittling and splitting, and I’m ashamed to say, sometimes a bit of digging and prying.  And after all that, I use my knife for food preparation.

But after field testing the Buck 941 TravelMate Kit, I have to admit that it was nice to have this clean and capable serrated spreader pull K.P. in my camp kitchen.  The Buck 941 includes a top-notch spreader knife, an ingenious antibacterial sheath, and a stainless steel fork littered with helpful built-in features.

This compact kit is a cool kitchen addition designed with all the resourcefulness of the clever camper, all the benefits of cutting-edge technology, and all the quality you’ve come to expect from the Buck brand.

The Spreader Blade

What jumps out at you first about Buck’s TravelMate Kit is 2 ¾ inches of serration on the belly of the 8 ½ inch blade.  With a distinctively serrated edge you’ll have no doubts this 410HC stainless-steel knife can do the job.

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Apples, carrots and meat were no problem, but the serrations were just as useful for cleanly slicing bread and cold bagels.  The formidable serrations make it easy to overlook the inch of sharp edge toward the tip of the blade, great for precision prep tasks like mincing onions.  And the flexible blade bends just enough to spread over surfaces more evenly than a stiff-bladed butter knife.

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Another surprise was that this knife is also a handy turner utensil.  Buck says that the fork can double as a spatula, but I made some mess-kit pancakes over the fire and I have to say that the flexible blade did a better job of flipping flapjacks and serving them without breaking them up!  This alone earned the TravelMate a place in my pack.

The Spreader Handle

The generous handle comprises a full tang and pinned chocolate-brown scales for a hand-fit superior to the narrow metal handles on most kitchen knives.

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The scales are dishwasher-safe, goo-resistant PaperStone laminate.  Environmentally friendly PaperStone is pressed from recycled office paper impregnated with synthetic phenolic resin, that resilient and unyielding polymer in pool balls and glossy laboratory countertops.  Like other great knife handle materials, PaperStone is used for a variety of architectural applications, particularly kitchen counters, window sills and door thresholds, so you know it is water and stain resistant and can withstand repeated physical abuse.

The Fork

Built into the compact design of the fork attachment are several helpful gadgets that normally clutter up your keychain.  The real estate on the handle integrates the prerequisite can opener and bottle opener.   And Buck hasn’t forgotten to integrate the ubiquitous flat-head screwdriver.

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Added along the edge is a feature unique to most compact cook kits: two-sizes of handy grill scrapers for your barbecue, one on each side of the tines.  The sharp right angles of the scalloped scrapers are effective.  I found this especially valuable for backwoods trips, as I usually pack in a small grill salvaged from a toaster oven.  Tailgaters and backyard barbeque chefs will find it just as useful for their Webers and Hibachis.

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Jimping on the handle’s midsection help ensures a good grip.  The pointy bits of the bottle open and can opener did dig into my hand a little when I held the fork like a fork.

The Sheath

Another great idea in the TravelMate Kit is the antimicrobial sheath.  Made of injection molded-plastic, holes designed into the sheath allow dishwasher jets to thoroughly cleanse the interior.  What’s more, the sheath is treated with an antimicrobial additive that helps to prevent bacteria growth, so you don’t have to worry about any lingering germs.

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A thumb-release clip at the top locks the spreader into place, and the fork snaps securely onto a button on the sheath’s exterior.  All assembled, the sheath doesn’t expose any sharp edges, safely securing knife and fork when not in use.

The Verdict

Whether you’re road-tripping in your sedan or cruising the country in your RV, if your title is Camp Cook, you’re going to love this dishwasher-safe addition to your kit.

The Buck 941 TravelMate Kit is a tough tool.  Thick steaks, crisp vegetables, and even ice-cold peanut butter and cream cheese:  No plastic-busting foodstuffs can stand up to this sturdy, stainless-steel blade.  Made in the USA and guaranteed by the Buck Knives Forever Warranty, the TravelMate Kit is a solid investment with a $75 MSRP, though most online prices provide a discount at around $50, give or take a few bucks.  This is a bargain considering that the spreader alone retails at $43.

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Granted, this knife isn’t for every weekend backpacker.  At nearly 10 inches overall length, the TravelMate Kit is not as compact as folding or lightweight backpacker utensils.  Ultralights, minimalists and spork-devotees will find this kit is overkill for their muesli, and doesn’t do much for them that they can’t do with Lexan utensils.

Instead, this Buck knife is best suited to car camping, where you’ve got a trunk packed with coolers full of meat and beer.  If you’ve got little extra room for kitchen utensils in your picnic basket, whether you’re a tailgater or fishing out of your camper, you’ll enjoy the space-saving Buck 941 TravelMate Kit.