Exclusive: Fremont Farson Review

In the category of Super Useful Blades That Really Aren’t Knives Or Hatchets But Can Be Both, the Fremont Farson, while unique and intriguing, is nothing new. In fact, it is founded on a hand-axe design that, according to Fremont, existed in ancient tools found in the Great Red Desert near Farson, Wyoming. Early denizens of the area probably used a tool like this for a myriad of daily chores, including the preparation of harvested game for food and clothing.

DSC_6198 - CopyThe Farson’s overall length of six inches and Paracord-wrapped handle provides plenty of purchase for an average human hand and excellent leverage no matter how strong you aren’t. With a thumb placed on the Farson just in front of the Paracord, you can chop smaller things decently or even slice more delicate things very accurately. For heavier chopping tasks, partially split one end of a short tree limb, insert the Farson into the split, and bind it togther with as much of the eight feet of included Paracord as you need. Now you’ve got a hatchet. Be careful.

Retailing for $49, the Farson sports a 4CR15 blade that comes with — really, literally — a razor sharp edge. I could shave with it.

The Farson’s blade provides a total cutting length of 7.75 inches. The unique design initially looks difficult to sharpen but Fremont points to a sharpening method recommended Lansky Sharpeners: Treat the blade as two straight blades and one curved blade and sharpen it Japanese-style, bringing the stone or abrasive to the edge.

DSC_6192 - CopyThe tool also comes with a decent nylon sheath but I’d recommend springing the extra $20 for a leather one which looks better and will last longer. It’s best uses are for chopping kindling and other light-duty tasks around a home or campsite that aren’t well suited to a knife but maybe just shy of the robust ability of a hatchet. Obviously it’s meant to easily travel with you into the backcountry, staying tucked away until needed.

— Mark Kakkuri

What other unique tools have you seen or used in the backcountry?