Best knives and accessories for 2021. This category covers a broad range of items that are needed in the field. Testers use headlamps, bear spray, cutting tools, first aid kits, communication devices and the list just keeps going. Read on to learn about items that can make your time fishing more effective, safe and fun.
As anglers, we use a range of different knives. Many of us employ everyday carries for a variety of uses, and anyone that processes their own fish needs good fillet knives. Keeping those knives sharp is critical in cutting quality fillets and also speeds up the job, so you will also see sharpeners covered in this section.
Best knives and field accessories for Alaska in 2021
|Counter Assault 10.2 oz Bear Deterrent with Belt Holster
Alaska is bear country, so carrying bear-protection tools is a smart idea. We recommend the 10.2-ounce canister of bear spray from Counter Assault with the belt holster. This can will shoot 40 feet of spray for eight seconds. The spray contains 2% capsaicin and related capsaicinoids which is the most allowable by law. The belt holster allows for easy access when hiking, fishing, backpacking, hunting, etc. We recommend that you also purchase an inert can of spray so that you can practice removing the can from the holster and deploying the spray.
|Kershaw Taskmaster Saw
This folding camp saw is portable, sharp and compact. The nylon handle features a rubberized overmold which is comfortable in the hand. The high-carbon steel blade is 7.25 inches and is nickel plated. The push-button lock ensures that the saw doesn’t accidentally close when using it, and that it stays closed when not in use. We bring this saw on every camping adventure. It works well for cutting wood with a diameter of about six inches or less.
|Lee Pro Melter 4-20
With twitching jigs commonly costing more than four bucks each, our tester finally became motivated to start pouring and tying some of his own. This melter holds 20 pounds of lead, and you can either ladle the molten lead into your molds, or you can use the gravity-feed mechanism which results in a little cleaner operation. We used this melter to pour cannonballs from 2- to 16 ounces, bank sinkers, and lead-heads from 1/8- to 4 ounces. This melter can also be used to cast bullets.
|Norvise Custom Granite Base
These custom, polished granite bases are absolutely beautiful. They are heavy, too, so they provide a very stable platform for your Norvise system. Since the base is heavy, it’s not what you want for a travel system, but it gives your home tying station a classy appearance as well as a more stable tying platform. If you’re an avid tyer and user of the Norvise system, you need to get one of these bases.
|BioLite HeadLamp 200
Super lightweight at less than two ounces, comfortable to wear, and with a long-lasting battery—these are just some of the reasons to pick up this headlamp from BioLite. Multiple lighting options include white + dim, red + dim, white strobe and red strobe.
|ZOLEO Satellite Communication Device
For the past year we have been operating this device and it’s worked very well. It uses the Iridium satellite network to allow you to send texts and emails when you are off the grid, and Wi-Fi and cellular networks when on the grid. We tested it in remote locations where no on-the-grid service was available and the ZOLEO unit excelled. Users download an app for their smartphone which allows them to both text and email easily. We like the added functionality of using our smartphone. To become a subscriber, purchase the unit for a reasonable fee and then choose from a number of monthly service plans. ZOLEO assigns you a unique email address and SMS number; the unit also includes weather forecasting and SOS alerting.
|Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight Pro Medical Kit
We reviewed this kit because we think it is well suited for guides and outfitters as well as group leaders on trips. If you have a medical emergency in the backcountry, you’d be pretty stoked to have a kit like this. From a CPR mask to the long-respected SAM splint, plus all kinds of bandages, dressings and medications, you can treat many field injuries until you can get to a medical professional. It’s light and watertight which means you are more likely to bring it along.
|Do-it Sinker Molds
We used a variety of Do-it molds this year, ranging from small lead-head molds to 16-ounce cannonballs. Do-it Molds are precisely machined and provide clean pours every time. Molds are built to last for many years of use, if not your lifetime.
|RoosterWrap Cell Phone Safety Harness
This device was found to be a great solution for keeping a phone (camera, music, apps) handy when hiking, on the water or in many other applications. The device places your phone securely at your chest for quick access. We love using this in combination with a waterproof phone case. The elastic cord holds your phone in place and easily stretches away from your body for use, as needed.
|Coast XPH30R Rechargeable Dual Power Headlamp
This rechargeable LED headlamp puts out 1000 lumens of light and offers a ton of features. It runs in four modes: low, medium, high and Turbo, rolls in its bracket to provide directional lighting, and can transition between flood beam and spot beam. It can be removed from the bracket to make a handheld flashlight. The flashlight not only runs on the rechargeable ZITHION-X battery but also can run on disposable CR 123 lithium batteries. Rugged, versatile and weatherproof, a good headlamp is a must-have for every serious outdoorsman. Other features we like are the Battery Life Indicator, and Magnetic Tail Cap that allows you to affix the light to magnetic surfaces.
|Spyderco Caly 3.5 Carbon Fiber
Spawned from the classic Calypso flat-ground, thick leaf-shaped-blade pocketknife designed by the expert designers from Spyderco, the Caly 3.5 is a newer version with a 3.5-inch blade and a gray carbon-fiber handle and mid-positioned back lock. It has a low-seated wire clip designed for a deep pocket. Our tester appreciates the hole in the blade that makes for easy opening.
This folding knife became our everyday carry in 2020. The full-flat-ground blade is made from LC200N steel that is seriously corrosion resistant. That came in handy when using it to bleed halibut and salmon in the saltwater, or cutting up bait to load up the crab traps. The textured G-10 handle performs really well when wet or slimy. We like the reversible deep-pocket wire clip; it slides easily over your pants pocket and stays securely in place. The knife has an overall length of 8.73” with a closed length of 5.12”. Blade length is 3.60” with a blade thickness of .125”.
|Gerber Controller Folding Fillet Knife
There’s a lot to like about this fillet knife. It features a 6-inch blade that is corrosion resistant and suitable for use in saltwater. It sports a comfortable grip that remains sticky even when the knife handle is wet and slimy. Its folding design makes it easy to transport and stow the knife, and the lock ensures that it stays open or closed as desired.
|Work Sharp Benchstone Knife Sharpener
This sharpener is easy to use thanks to the 20° and 25° angle guides. 15° and 17° guides can be installed and are sold separately; angle guides can also be removed altogether. Users have the choice between Medium (320) Grit Diamond Plate, Fine (600) Grit Diamond Plate and Fine Grit Ceramic Stone. The Pivot Response feature makes it so that the abrasive follows the curve of the blade when sharpening; this feature can also be locked out. We sharpened fillet knives, everyday carries and kitchen knives using this device and were pleased with the ease of use and razor-sharp edges.
|DiamondBlade Commander Auto: OD/Black G10
The Commander opens dependably with one-hand in just the press of a button once the safety is turned to off. The open handle with milled holes makes it lightweight and easy to clean. The knife is supremely sharp.
|Spyderco Ladybug 3 FRN Purple
A small, lightweight pocketknife in our lady tester’s favorite color attaches to your keychain or a lanyard. There is plenty of cutting power in this VG-10 stainless-steel, hollow-ground, plain-edge blade, and the whole unit weighs less than an ounce.