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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Overlanding Cutlery and Why 440C Steel Matters

Photo by ArtistGNDphotography via iStock

When you’re gathering up gear for an overlanding trip, the cutlery you bring might not be the highest item on your list.

Sure, you need cutlery, just like you need fuel, your sleeping bag, and lots of spare parts for your vehicle.

But like so many things in life, not all cutlery is made alike. You can go the cheap route and buy cutlery that does an okay job for you for a short period of time, or you can make an investment in cutlery that lasts for decades and will see you through meals on overlanding trips near and far.

I’m definitely in the “make an investment in better gear” camp. That being the case, I want to talk about overlanding cutlery and why 440C steel matters.

But First, Let Me Introduce My New Overlanding Cutlery

multi-functional knife

If you’ve been following the articles here on 4WDTalk for any length of time, you likely know that I’m a big fan of Tops Knives.

I have several of their knives in addition to their absolutely badass High Impact Hatchet.

But why Tops Knives?

Well, if you know me, you know that I really enjoy three things – overlanding, photography, and cooking, and in all three instances, having the right gear makes all the difference.

Tops Knives XXX Dicer

When it comes to cooking, I’m very particular about the knives I use. I’ve tested dozens of knives over the years from lots of different companies. And the truth of the matter is that no one has come close to the quality that Tops Knives offers.

So, my XXX Dicer came in the other day, and true to Tops Knives form, this thing is something to behold.

It’s made of 440C steel. I’ll get into the benefits of 440C steel in a moment, but for now, just know that this thing is ultra-sharp, very hard, and because it has such a wide blade (4″ inches, in fact) it allows you to dice, chop, slice, and scoop up whatever it is you’re cutting.

Tops Knives XXX Dicer handle

Having a multi-functional blade like this on an overlanding trip is hugely helpful. Honestly, it’s the only kitchen knife I really need, so that saves me precious space in the kitchen for other items.

With that introduction out of the way, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why 440C steel is such a huge benefit for overlanding.

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Why 440C Steel for Overlanding Cutlery?

compass, knife, and flint and steel on a moss covered log in the forest

Photo by gaspr13 via iStock

Most of my knives are made from 1095 steel. It’s a tough material and slightly outperforms 440C steel when it comes to edge retention. So why get a knife that’s not as good on those metrics?

Well, while 440C steel might not be as tough or keep an edge like 1095 steel, 440C offers plenty of other benefits that make it an excellent material for your cooking knives.

For starters, 440C steel is extremely hard and resilient to wear. Additionally 440C steel is easier to sharpen than 1095 steel, making it a great option for overlanding cutlery.

Tops Knives XXX Dicer

When you’re overlanding for months at a time, having a blade that sharpens quickly is a huge bonus. Rather than spending 15 minutes sharpening your knife so you can get cooking, you can get a nice, sharp edge in just a few minutes with a 440C steel blade.

Another benefit of 440C steel is that it is highly corrosion resistant – far more resistant than 1095 steel. When you’re overlanding (or anywhere, really), you don’t want to cook with a rusty knife.

person sharpening a knife with a whetstone

It’s also important to mention the high polish finish you can get with a 440C steel blade. This is important not only because it looks great, but because a high polish blade is easier to clean. Again, when you’re overlanding, you don’t want to spend your time meticulously cleaning your knife. Thankfully, you don’t have to with a 440C steel blade.

That highly polished finish can also come in handy in survival situations – it’s so reflective that you could use it as a signaling device if you find yourself in a situation in which you need help. It’s as reflective as a mirror, so you could theoretically grab the attention of search and rescue personnel from afar. Plus, if you need to check your teeth for scraps after dinner, a 440C blade will do the trick for that too!

The Right Gear is Paramount

Tops Knives XXX Dicer

As I mentioned in the introduction, having the right gear is essential for success. This is true whether you’re a chef, a photographer, or an off-road enthusiast.

For me, the benefits of 440C steel made it a no-brainer to add a 440C steel blade to my overlanding cutlery kit. I mean, if it’s the preferred steel for many knife enthusiasts, outdoors enthusiasts, and the military, then it’s good enough for me!

There are many excellent 440C steel knives on the market that you can choose from for your overlanding kit. I personally love what Tops Knives has done with the XXX Dicer. Whichever knife manufacturer you prefer, I’d encourage you to consider what your specific overlanding cutlery needs are, do some research, and invest in a 440C knife that you can take on overlanding journeys for years and years to come.

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