ESEE-3 ideal all-purpose knife for wilderness tasks

The ESEE-3 knife is made from coated 1095 carbon steel with a 3.9 inch blade and 8.3 inch overall length. It weighs 5.2 ounces. 


The tool, which is designed by Randal’s Adventure & Training and manufactured by Rowen Manufacturing in the United States, came with a moulded Kydex sheath and canvas micarta handle scales.


The ESEE-3 is designed to be a general use field knife. It is primarily intended for military or wilderness survival applications.


The use of 1095 carbon steel is an OK choice for an outdoor knife because it is tough. 


However, the primary limitation of this kind of steel is its vulnerability to corrosion. 


ESEE uses a strong coating on its blades, leaving only the cutting edges exposed, which minimizes the chances of corrosion developing. The knives should develop little corrosion if properly maintained. 


The full-tang handle of the ESEE-3 provides adequate strength. Removable canvas micarta handle slabs are bolted firmly onto the tang and shaped for excellent comfort. The handle design feels natural in the hand and easy to transition through different grips. 


The canvas material ensures a good grip even when wet. The exposed steel pommel has a lanyard hole and may be used for light hammering.


Our test knife had a plain edge, although partially serrated models are available. The drop point blade is ground flat from spine to edge, sacrificing some tool strength for a good slicing edge. 


Well-designed index finger choil and thumb jimping allow for a sure grip when choked up on the blade for detail work.


The ESEE-3 comes with slightly different sheaths based on the model selected. 


Our test knife had a tan Kydex sheath that secured the blade well and came with few mounting options, such as a belt/boot clip plate or Molle locks. 


The sheath also came with a drain-age hole. It is an effective and simple combination of design and materials.


The knife tested well in cutting tasks appropriate for its size. 


The edge was sharp out of the box but took an even better edge with some reworking by hand. 


The handle felt natural and sure and the overall design of the knife was well thought out and impressive in use. 


The edge withstood contact with bone and wood OK, although there was some rolling. The 1095 carbon steel retained its sharpness reasonably well and was easy to touch back up.


The ESEE-3 is a remarkable tool for its intended use and size. We were particularly impressed with how its handle felt and overall usable design. 


The knife could be improved if it offered higher quality carbon steel options, with less susceptibility to corrosion and better edge retention.


But for a small outdoor tool, the ESEE-3 is tough to beat. It is an excellent value. 


This knife would make an outstanding choice for anyone who is about to engage the outdoors in almost any climate, so long as they are mindful in moist environments.

Kim Quintin is a Saskatoon outdoor enthusiast and knife maker. He can be reached for column content suggestions at kim.quintin@producer.com.