Boker And Condor’s Back To Basics Bushcraft Knives

Boker And Condor’s Back To Basics Bushcraft Knives

We put the Boker Plus Vigtig vs. Wild and Condor Tool & Knife head to head to see which come out on top in the backwoods.

A couple of decades ago, attention started turning to the category of bushcraft knives. As usual, custom knifemakers were the ones filling the demand and leading the way. I was proud to be among them, along with such makers as Scott Gossman and others. There were those* before us but the push back then seemed more on survival knives with a tactical leaning.

After the push started, many smelled the opportunity to make money and the genre was flooded with assorted marketing schemes and people seeking their 15 minutes of fame. In all the confusion of people wanting to become famous and cash in, the true meaning of bushcraft was lost.

Boker Vigtig vs. Condor Wild
The thinner steel thickness on the Condor Tool & Knife Lipotes enables it to make finer curlicues than the Boker Vigtig vs. Wild. Designed by Dave Wenger and made in Germany, the Boker has an MSRP of $194.95. Joe Flowers designed the Lipotes, which is made in El Salvador. MSRP: $64.98.

A bushcraft knife is not something meant to be indestructible at all costs. It instead has always been a tool of creation. Now I see most marketing or testing related to whether the knife can be pounded through a log, a log that most likely would be unavailable if not for a chainsaw. No, the bushcraft knife started out as a tool, nimble in hand, keen in cutting and used to fabricate things in the bush, things not just to accommodate survival but to help a person thrive. In that reasonable light and practical expectation of the genre, let’s see how the Boker Plus Vigtig vs. Wild and Condor Tool & Knife Lipotes are suited to help you thrive in nature.

Boker Plus Vigtig

Boker sports a molded Kydex sheath
The Boker sports a molded Kydex sheath with an ambidextrous belt clip. The sheath holds the knife secure while still allowing for an easy draw when using a thumb push off.

The Boker’s 3.35-inch blade features a Scandinavian, aka Scandi, grind, a grind in which the major bevel is the only bevel and goes straight to zero. Executed correctly, the grind should take up at least a third of the blade’s width. If the grind is any shallower it will be too steep. Some variation on the height of the grind is due to the thickness of material. Being too steep will decrease the effectiveness of the blade to cut because the angle of the edge will plow into the work material—and when I cut with the Boker, it did just that. It is not that it won’t cut with a steep angle, it just tries to take heavier cuts as it dives. Therefore, you don’t get the thin controlled cuts as easy as a properly executed grind.

Scandi grinds are popular in bushcraft because of their amazing effectiveness carving wood. In the game area they work fine but you will often find that bone wreaks havoc on a Scandi edge. In addition, the cross profile of the blade is not optimized for processing meat. Full flat grinds process soft, malleable materials such as meat best since there is no shoulder on the blade to bind as the meat flows along the cross-section profile. On flat grinds you also have a secondary bevel, or micro bevel as some call it, and it takes hitting bone better.
The Boker is a full-tang knife with a blade .16 inch thick at the thickest, somewhat thick for a bushcraft knife. A clever feature is how the spine is finished. To strike a ferro rod off the blade spine you need a crisp edge. Sharp spines are more effective at generating sparks but are not very comfortable if you need to use a pinch grip or a thumb extension on a power grip. To address the issue, the Boker has a sharp spine toward the tip and a crisp spine section near the handle.

Blade thickness comparision
Note how much thicker (.16 inch at the thickest) the Boker blade is than that of the Lipotes (.13 inch at the thickest).

The handle is green linen Micarta® with beefy mechanical fasteners that double as lanyard holes. For those who prefer a full grip it has good profile contouring and leaves a blocky handle from side to side. There are no hot spots while still providing control.
The blade is CPM MagnaCut stainless steel and is wide for its size. With its thicker blade it batons well through small branches to make small kindling. You trade some agility for durability with a beefier blade material.

The molded Kydex sheath rides high and boasts a metal belt clip that screws on for right- or left-hand carry. The knife locks securely into the sheath yet not so much you can’t easily withdraw it.

I think the Boker has its good points. I do prefer my bushcraft knife to be more of a nimble cutting tool. Overall, if the edge were ground higher this knife would up its game substantially.

Wild and Condor Tool & Knife Lipotes

Lipotes batoning
For ease of baton work, the general rule is the cutting medium should be no wider than one-third the length of the blade. The Lipotes has a 4.15-inch blade of 14C28N stainless steel.

Let’s start with the handle on the Lipotes (among others, a lipotes is an endangered species of dolphin). It is an extended hidden tang and not a full tang—that’s right, not a full tang. Some time ago a well-known knife company introduced an extended-hidden-tang version of a knife and called it a full tang, and all the marketers and social media influencers decided to rename a feature so everyone could fall in line. If you can’t see the tang all around the knife’s handle, it isn’t a full tang.

Along with rat-tail tangs, hidden tangs have the distinct advantage of being some of the most comfortable knives in use. The steel element is totally encapsulated in the handle, allowing the maker to have full control in contouring the scales. In other words, you basically have a tang that will not interrupt how the material is shaped.

The Lipotes handle is very comfortable and the texture in the molded material provides a secure grip. As for the hidden tang extension, it can be used as a small hammering device or even a scraper.

Except for the grind, I like the overall proportions of the knife. As with the Boker, the grind doesn’t go high enough. It will still cut but the cutting would be greatly optimized if the grind were half its height taller. It performed well in its cutting tasks with power cuts, feathering and the like. However, it still missed the ease of cut and control of a higher grind. If I could, I would love to get my hands on a bunch of these blades and regrind them.

Lipotes sheath
The Lipotes has a quality sheath that holds the knife nice and tight when you ramble through the woods. The leather belt loop riveted to the back won’t accommodate a wide belt.

I really like the sheath. It has a nice, deep carry. It is a molded plastic with a good friction fit. It is a bit mysterious to me as to why the belt loop is so small. Only a dress belt would fit through it. You could still run a cord through it for neck carry or a baldric. The Joe Flowers design checks off so many of the boxes for a good tool. I would have been singing its praises more with a higher grind. Instead, I am pretty much humming.

More Than Survival

To repeat, a bushcraft knife isn’t just for survival, it is a tool of creation. Often the real goal of an issue gets lost in the minutiae that results from personal gain and egos. Over the years, marketing and self-promotion have polluted bushcraft until we have lost it in a sea of books and an ocean of social media. A look at a simple tool such as a knife can really remind us of what bushcraft is about. It is about man’s will to do more than just survive. Man strives to prosper.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes about tools by Thomas Carlyle: “Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.”

*Author’s note: The origins of the discussions of bushcraft can be attributed to such enthusiasts as Mors Kochanski, Larry Dean Olsen, Lofty Wiseman, Ray Mears and others.

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