The Mora Companion: The Best Twenty Dollars You’ll Spend on Gear

Does great gear always cost a lot? While often you get what you pay for, the Mora Companion shows that sometimes you can get a whole lot for just a little.

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Gear is expensive. Spend a little time shopping for equipment, and it won’t take long to learn that a proper outdoor kit can really hurt the wallet. There’s plenty of cheap stuff out there, but I’ve been burnt enough to know that often you get what you pay for when it comes to outdoor gear. There are exceptions, however, and if you’re starting your outdoor kit, the best twenty dollars you can spend will acquire you a Mora Companion, one of the best damn knives you didn’t know you needed.

The Mora Companion
The best knife you’ll find for less than $100.

Meet the Mora Companion

The Mora Companion is technically the MoraKniv Companion, through pretty much everyone you meet will just call the knife a Mora. They’re incredibly popular with the bushcrafting community because they’re high quality but also inexpensive, a difficult pairing to find when it comes to reliable outdoor tools.

Morakniv hails from Mora, Sweden, where they’ve been making great knives since 1891 and though the company has changed over time, the commitment to quality knife-making remains the same.

Let’s Talk Specs

The Mora Companion sports a 4.1 inch blade, which is long enough for most camping or bushcraft tasks. Some more experienced trekkers and bushcrafters might prefer a longer blade, but I’ve never had a need for anything larger. The rubber grip on the handle is purely utilitarian; while it lacks the aesthetics of wood or bone handled knives, the rubber enables you to hold the knife safely, steadily, and securely, even in rain or while your hand is sweating.

Mora Companion handle and sheath
The Mora’s handle isn’t beautiful, but the grip is solid. The sheath isn’t beautiful either, but will keep the Companion where it needs to be.

To enable you to put plenty of force behind the knife without losing precision, the Mora Companion sports a three quarters tang. This means that the steel of the blade extends into the handle for three quarters of its length. Some knives boast a full tang, but I feel that in a knife of this size to be used as an outdoor tool, a three quarters tang is more than sufficient, and a full tang would add excess weight to knife.

Speaking of weight, the Mora Companion is incredibly light in the hand. Weighing in at 124.5 grams, you don’t have to worry about wearing yourself out while performing tasks like cutting rope or batoning firewood. The light weight paired with the comfortable grip means that you’re less likely to experience fatigue-related accidents. Safety is a good thing!

Stainless Steel vs. Carbon Steel

You can get a Mora Companion with either a stainless steel blade, or one made of carbon steel. There is an unending battle on knife forums online about which is superior, why that’s the case, so on and so forth. I’m not a metallurgist, but here’s my take on it.

Mora’s stainless steel blade is hardened to HRC 56-58, which makes for a strong knife, that’s resistant to moisture, and can take a good deal of abuse. Their carbon steel is a little harder at HRC 58-60, but it’s also more brittle. Don’t use the tip of the blade to do any prying (actually, don’t do that anyway).

The carbon steel blade is more prone to rust, so you will have to spend time maintaining the blade, but it’s also a bit more wear resistant than stainless steel. Carbon steel takes a sharper edge; you will never get your stainless steel blade as sharp as the carbon steel. I feel like it’s easier to sharpen a carbon blade in the field, but that’s purely anecdotal.

For me, the stainless steel’s primary benefit is aesthetic; it’s not going to rust or take on a patina, so it stays shiny. No matter how well you care for the carbon steel blade, eventually it will take on a gray matte appearance, and perhaps even an oxidation pattern. I don’t care about the shininess of the blade, so carbon steel has always won out for me.

The grind

Mora ships the Companion with a Scandinavian or “Scandi” grind. The grind of the blade refers to the shape of the blade’s metal as it tapers to the cutting edge. Since the Companion has no secondary bevel, sharpening is an easy process. You simply lay the single bevel flat on your sharpening stone, and run the blade down the stone. No special angles, just consistent work on both sides of the blade.

Sharpening the Mora Companion
Sharpening a Mora is quick, easy, and simple to do in the field.

The Scandi grind dulls faster than other knife grinds, but is much more easily sharpened, especially in the field. In my opinion, this balance works out perfectly; you may need to sharpen the blade more often, but you’ll spend less time doing so.

The Mora Companion is *Almost* Perfect

…But not quite. There are a few flaws that are worth noting. The first is the grind and polish on the spine. The Mora Companion’s spine won’t draw sparks off of a fire steel or similar firestarter. That’s because they grind, polish, and buff the spine before it leaves the factory. Mora does sell specific bushcraft models with an unpolished spine, but I’ve never felt the need to buy a different knife; instead I took a file to my Mora Companion’s spine. After a minute of filing, my Mora will make the sparks fly with no problem.

Starting fires with the Mora Companion
If you want to use your Mora to start fires, you’ll need to file down the spine for a few minutes.

The sheath, while functional, leaves a little something to be desired. It clips readily to your belt, and I’ve never had any trouble with the sheath coming loose, or the knife coming out when I didn’t want it to. I would prefer a sheath that could be worn horizontally across my back on my belt, or has additional options for holding my firestarter. I’ve tried plenty of aftermarket solutions, but haven’t found any of those that I like either, so I won’t judge Mora too harshly.

Mora Companion in the Sheath
The Companion’s sheath isn’t perfect, but it is functional and safe.

Some have criticized the use of a three quarters tang, instead of a full tang. I’m not concerned about this, but it is worth noting that other quality outdoor knives, like the ESEE 4, do come with a full tang. That’s not a criticism of the Mora, but if a full tang is a priority to you, the Mora Companion might not be the right knife for you.

The cost…

The thing about the Mora Companion that turns most heads is that it’s so inexpensive. Prices on Amazon fluctuate, but the most I’ve ever seen it going for is $19.99. What’s the current price?

Compare that to the current price of the previously mentioned ESEE 4

With that kind of price difference you might suspect that the Mora lacks in quality. But if the above review hasn’t allayed those suspicions, I’ll put it plainly…

The Mora Companion is a damn good knife!

Nothing against the ESEE; everything I’ve heard indicates that it’s a great knife too. It’s just a little out of my price range. The Mora Companion, however, is an excellent tool that’s accessible to everyone.

In my opinion, a good fixed blade knife is one of the best outdoor tools at your disposal. Using a knife properly, you can cut down a tree, prepare food, process firewood, dig holes, and whittle other tools. Sure, your Mora will never cut down a tree as well as an axe, dig a hole as well as a shovel, or process firewood as well as a hatchet and saw, but you get some of the functionality of all of these implements in one lightweight tool. That’s the versatility a good knife brings to the table.

Mora Companion processing firewood
The Companion is a versatile tool; here I’m using it to split open a damp branch to get to the dry wood inside.

The Mora Companion isn’t the only knife out there, but it is the only knife in this price range that boasts this kind of quality. If you’re looking to add a knife to your kit, this is the one I would recommend. I carry my Mora every time I’m in the woods, have used it for hundreds of tasks, sharpened it in the field, and bought one for my wife. As far as I’m concerned, the Mora Companion is the knife to buy, and will serve you well for years to come (even if you decide to upgrade later).

Mora Companion
The Mora Companion is a purchase you won’t regret.

5 thoughts on “The Mora Companion: The Best Twenty Dollars You’ll Spend on Gear

  1. I have a Mora Companion, and a Mora Pro, both in stainless. Even though the blade on the Pro is a little shorter, I actually like it better because of the balance and feel. Don’t get me wrong, they are both great knives, and for the price you can’t go wrong with either one. By the way, my local Sportsman’s warehouse now carries both in stainless only.

    1. I’ve actually never used the Pro before… They’re pretty cheap on amazon right now though, so I’m thinking of picking one up just to see how I like it.

      The companion has never let me down, and has sold me on the value of Mora’s products… So I don’t mind exploring some of their other products.

  2. I have heard of Morakniv for years, but always dismissed them at the face. A $20 knife? It’s guaranteed to be a piece of crap. Might make an ok throwaway toolbox knife.

    That is, until I started doing some research and realizing that no, Morakniv DOES make a $20 blade that is easily rivaled by a $150 blade. I bought a companion, my first Mora, still wary and half expecting to recieve a piece of junk.

    That was 3 years ago, and I now own 12 Moras. You simply can’t beat the quality to price ratio. When it comes to a heavy duty bushcraft knife, I’ll always go with a high quality PKS, but for all of my lighter tasks, I reach for the Mora. Shaving fatwood, processing food, cleaning fish and small game… these knives are incredibly versatile and durable. I’ve only broken one (doing something stupid that I knew I shouldn’t have been doing to the blade) and the rest keep trucking along. Best part is that if you DO break one, no need to cry because you’ve only lost maybe an hour or two’s worth of pay. My favorite is the Bushcraft Black, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them. They even make knives designs for children who are learning to use a knife. They have a sharp edge, but a blunt, rounded tip, with big finger guards at the tang to prevent little hands from sliding onto the blade. I’m buying one for my daughter when we start fishing this year.

    1. When first recommended to me, I also figured that I was buying a bargain basement knife that I would need to replace in short order. That was over five years ago now, and that same knife is going strong.

      I talk to a lot of people (both in person and via this site) that have never owned or used a fixed blade knife. They’re getting recommendations for $200 knives from people, and I’m always shocked. I mean, I’m sure those knives are great, but don’t spend that kind of money when you’re starting out. You can always use the Mora for a year, learn how to properly use and take care of it, and then upgrade over time. As far as I’m concerned, the Mora Companion is the perfect starter knife — easy to use, gentle on the budget, simple to sharpen.

      I hadn’t seen the children’s knives, but I think it’s a brilliant idea. I hope your daughter loves it!

      How do you like your PKS? I’ve heard great things but have never had the opportunity to use one.

  3. I have a Mora Companion, and a Mora Pro, both in stainless. Even though the blade on the Pro is a little shorter, I actually like it better because of the balance and feel. Don’t get me wrong, they are both great knives, and for the price you can’t go wrong with either one. By the way, my local Sportsman’s warehouse now carries both in stainless only.

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