Since it's initial release last year the new Wenger Mike Horn model has gotten a fair bit of attention- something Mike Horn himself has been doing for years! Mike's history is long and reads like a Clive Cussler novel- from paragliding to mountain climbing to cycling to sailing, Mike appears to have done it all.
You can read all about Mike on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Horn), at the Pangean Expedition Homepage (http://www.mikehorn.com/) or many other sites. His name brings up close to 2 million hits on Google, and he has a thriving page on Facebook as well. So, since there's lots of info available elsewhere, and since this is a SAK website, we'll concentrate on the knife instead of the man!
While we all think about what the perfect woods knife is, and we each have our own opinions on that, I would daresay that the Wenger Mike Horn model has probably been tested more often, and in more conditions than just about any other. As such, I think it's a great place to get started when looking for a good woods knife! If it's good enough for Mike when sailing, biking, climbing, and gliding, it's got to be worth it's weight, which is significant for a SAK- it weighs in at 251.5g (8.9oz), not including the sheath!
Within that mass is a great selection of tools, with no redundancy and no wasted space. There are two one handed opening blades- a plain edge and a sheeps foot serrated blade. The serrated blade locks open using the typical New Ranger shield lock mechanism, while the large spear pointed plain edge is a slip joint. The plain edged blade is a bit of a challenge to open with your right hand, but is perfect for lefties, who will consequently have issues opening the serrated blade one handed. While this may sound like it doesn't make much sense, it ensures that the safety blade is the one that is deployed in an emergency situation- unless of course you are a Southpaw!
Nestled between the two blades is a set of folding pliers, identical to the ones found on any other New Ranger model. I like these pliers- they may not be as heavy duty as some other pliers, but I find them perfect for repairing camping equipment like lanterns and portable stoves. I can see issues when trying to use it for bigger tasks though, like repairing a bicycle, but given that most bikes need allen wrenches to tighten brakes, seats and handlebars, I wouldn't be surprised to find that Mike also carries a dedicated bike tool.
On the outside of the plain blade is a small double sided file with a metal saw edge. As with many tools, a decent file and metal saw is one of those things that you may not need it all the time, but when you do need it, there are no substitutes. In the same layer as the file is a can opener, which is the usual Wenger type- simple, and it works.
Another Mike Horn model specific tool is the awl on the backside. It's a rounded awl with a segment cut out of it and a sewing eye. One side of the segment is also ground down to make a small edge- many folks have complained that Wenger awls are not sharpened, but I doubt they will complain about this one! Since it's a rounded awl, it doesn't fit in the typical slot, and so it lives in the spot usually reserved for a phillips screwdriver or corkscrew.
Filling in for the lack of a back mounted phillips is a 1/4” slot cut into the scale and frame of the knife- perfect for the two screwdriver bits that ride along in the sheath, or really, any other 1/4” bits you may want or need. There's enough space in the sheath pockets for you to bring a few of your own preferred ones along as well.
The sheath, in addition to carrying the bits, also has a nice hole in the bottom for drainage, which can be very important in the rainforest, or on a sailboat- or even just getting caught in the rain running to the car from the store! It's most interesting feature though is the belt loop- it's a tri-fold type with a couple of layers of velcro so it can be attached almost anywhere securely. Someone was thinking!
One other neat thing about the Mike Horn knife that may not be common knowledge (and shame on you if you didn't know as we've mentioned it here before!) is that the scales are recycled plastic bottles, mixed with wood pulp. This is because Mike is famous for picking up bottles wherever he finds them, and Wenger told me the original idea was to use actual bottles Mike had collected, but logistically it didn't work out. You can imagine the difficulties in getting bottles from all over the world shipped to Switzerland in large enough numbers to create an adequate supply for production, and the resulting cost! Still, the texture is very nice, and conducive to a secure grip even in wet conditions.
While I'm sure everyone still has other thoughts for their favorite outdoors knife, I think that the Wenger Mike Horn knife is still perhaps the most versatile available. If it was my design, I think I would have tried to squeeze in a saw, but I guess I'll take that up with Wenger after my next successful journey to the top of Kilimanjaro! Until then I'll amuse myself reading about Mike's adventures, and enjoy having a knife that a real explorer helped design, and not just one that has a name stuck on it!