For you carry weight conscious Woods Monkeys out there Buck Knives has produced a series of minimalist fixed blades that are right up your alley. Introducing the Buck Paklite series, skeleton framed skinning, hunting, and gut hook knives. Buck kindly provided us with the Paklite Caper # 135 and the Paklite Skinner # 140, the flagship models of the Paklite series.
Buck is also producing a gut hook skinner reminiscent of a rescue knife, and a larger Skinner. They are also making models with a “Black Traction Coating” on all of the knives but the edge.
The Paklite series is Buck’s idea of a companion knife to a hunter’s main blade, or a backup in case of a failure. The knives are American made of Bucks proven performer their 420HC, which has excellent corrosion resistance and durability, and come with a sturdy nylon sheath with a plastic insert for safety. The handles have an ample amount of grip for small to medium hands, and with the addition of a paracord wrap should be enough for even those of us with gorilla hands. The spine has jimping to allow for thumb traction for those who use that type of grip. The Skinner has a modified spear point, and the Caper reminds me of a modified wharnclife point. The Caper’s edge has a sort of rocking chair curve, while the Skinner has a down turn right at the end of the edge.
Pulling out the Paklites from the box, I oohed and ahhed, because these knives had been on my wish list since I had seen them at a local outfitters. I set aside some time to tackle some common tasks that any Woods Monkey always finds to do on a trip, or in everyday life. I first started by cutting some briars from around my favorite spot in the woods behind my house. The Paklites came razor sharp from the factory, and zipped through the tough briars like a hot knife through butter. There was no loss of edge, and this encouraged me to move on to the other tasks. I then broke off piece of dead standing poplar to test their carving ability. The Skinner has a slight down curve at the back of the edge, and this seemed to hinder carving a fuzz stick, while the Caper has a gently curving upward edge that seemed to be made for carving.
I carved up more of the poplar to use in creating the kindling for my small fire and some skewers to cook my lunch over and both knives performed admirably, though I was beginning to notice hotspots on my hands from the scale-less frames. I resolved to carry on, and keep working the Paklites. I used both knives to cut up some summer sausage, tomatoes, and onion for my kebabs. The thicker spine of the Skinner became apparent when cutting the tomatoes, seeming to squish them ever so slightly versus the Caper, whose blade thickness is closer to a paring knife for fine work. I worked both through rough chopping some fresh spinach, onion, and sprouts for my salad. Again the downward curve of the Skinner stopped the knife from cutting completely though to my improvised cutting board, but the rocking edge of the Caper handled it with ease. To top it off, due to the nature of the knives, clean up consisted of no more than a wipe down with a hand sanitizer wipe. Refueled, I headed into the woods again for the makings of a bow drill. I found another nice chunk of dead standing poplar a couple of inches in diameter, where I used a small baton to cut around the circumference of the tree with the Skinner. After a couple rounds I had cut through enough to snap off the remaining wood. I took the tree back to my camp and used both the Caper and the Skinner to baton through the sticks until I had the sized I wanted for my fire board and my drill. The Skinner seemed to do a better job with the batoning versus the Caper which stuck several times in the cuts due to the thinner blade. When drilling the starter holes with the knives, the Skinner’s spear point showed its worth versus the Caper’s point.
By this time my hands were showing the strain of the skeletonized handles, and I decided it was time to do some kind of wrap for the remainder of the day. I pulled a piece of leather boot lace out for the Caper , and some 550 paracord for the Skinner. The addition of the wraps provided more comfort and a better grip as I continued to use the knives to finish my bow drill set.
Now, normally I would not do this with any knife, but with the handle frame, I couldn’t resist lashing the Skinner to a stick to create an improvised spear. It has plenty of area to tie with, so the lashing was extremely sturdy. I didn’t thrust or throw at anything, but I believe that plenty of damage would be achieved if used in an emergency. This would be also useful in extending your reach with the blade by lashing it to a short handle for harvesting fruit beyond your reach, or other applications.
The next weekend I went fishing with my cousin, and I took along the Paklites to use throughout the day. I carried the Caper, and my cousin took the Skinner, and we used them to trim lines, cut away weeds next to the bank, and other things that come with fishing next to a pond. He liked the light weight and unobtrusiveness of the Skinner, saying that it was at no time in the way, easy to get to and a joy to use. We used the Paklites to process our catch that evening. The edges of the spine are sharp enough to use as scalers, and we could get enough leverage to cut through the spine fairly easily with both knives, but once again the down turn of the Skinner was a slight hindrance when cutting through the fish. We both learned to use the belly and further up the tip when cutting on a board with the Skinner. The Caper really shined when we used it to cut along the backbone of a decent bass for filleting out the meat. The Caper was perfect for this, and was great for cutting out the bones around in the belly meat. Then a fillet knife was used to separate the skin from the meat.
The Paklite series range in MSRP from twenty five to thirty five dollars depending on which model you want, some of them with the “black traction coating”. They are also making the Paklite Fieldmaster, a combo kit that comes with the Caper, the Large Skinner, and the Guthook in a specially designed sheath that holds all three with a pocket for game tags etc. As always it’s worth doing some shopping around because online prices show an even better deal on these already affordable prices.
After testing, the Caper became my favorite of the two, due to the edge shape and it having a slightly longer handle, but I wouldn’t hesitate to grab either one as a backup to my main knife. I think that they are a little too small for one knife, but for a weight conscious wilderness hunter, or backpacker than they just might fit the bill. I know mine will.
Editor’s Note: I had a chance to work with the Paklite’s for a bit before shipping them to our reviewer, Taylor Hayes, and it was interesting that my favorite ended up being the Skinner. The wider handle fit my hand better and I like the fatter blade with more belly to it. I thought the Paklite Skinner would make a great neck knife, light weight belt knife for backpacking, or hunting where you’re going to be putting a lot of miles under your boots, or even a nice EDC blade. The nice thing with the series is that Buck gives you some options to choose from and the prices are so affordable that you can afford to pick up a couple and try them out side by side!
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