Anyone involved in bushcraft and survival skills in North America and Europe knows Mors Kochanski. We stand on the shoulders of bushcraft titans like him today.
Born in 1940, Mors Kochanski comes from a family of Polish immigrants in Canada. His life was devoted to learning and teaching bushcraft and survival skills, particularly in the boreal forest. Even though he was limited in mobility, he continued to study and expand his knowledge of outdoor-related topics.
The saying “The more you know, the less you carry” and the book Bushcraft, originally called Northern Bushcraft, became the bible for those who study and practice outdoor living skills, bushcraft, and survival. His inventions include the super-shelter and the flip-flop winch.
There were two distinctive visual features I automatically associate with Mors, the black beret and a Mora knife around his neck. He popularized the idea of carrying a knife around the neck. This was influenced by the First Nations people and the nurses that wore their scissors around the neck on small medical transfer airplanes.
To exemplify the importance of the knife, in the article “wilderness blade” for Field & Stream magazine from 2004, Mors writes “The knife is the balance point for survival in the bush.” Without it, you have to stay on the move. With it, you create the opportunity to rest.”
Knife blades that were around four fingers long (he often used the Swedish lagom, which roughly means “not too big, not too small”), continuous curves, tips that could make holes, and handles that fit well in the hand and indicate the cutting edge’s direction would be ideal.
Mora knives fulfill all the requirements he defined years ago, they are easy to maintain and inexpensive.
Mors began using Mora knives in the 1980s. He would purchase them from an Edmonton camping outfitter. For many years, he chose the classic N.1, which had both a red and orange handle. He then carried a variety of models with plastic handles, mostly carbon steel, made by Frost and KJE. He used several different models, but the one most associated with him was the KJE 511.
It was normal for him to modify most of his KJE 511: the finger guard was sawn off; the spine was sharpened to facilitate scraping ferro rods; a hole in the handle for the attachment of a string in case the knife was dropped in the snow; a hole in the handle to attach a wrist lanyard.
Example a customized KJE 511 Mors knife source “Field & Stream magazine, 2004”
Another model we could find him carrying more regularly was the Frost 700 series. Additionally, some Frost 600 Vikings and Frost/Morakniv Companions have been spotted.
Mors recently acquired a Morakniv Eldris. According to Jonathan McArthur, from the outdoor line of products, it was the Eldris that really spoke to him. It was his favorite over Kansbol and Garberg.
His legacy will be preserved for many generations to come, not only through his book, but also through many of his students, including Kelly Harlton, Jonathan McArthur, and the rest of the instructors at the Karamat Wilderness Ways school https://karamat.com and all the instructors all over the world he taught.
Some of Mors personal knives. On the first picture: On top, a blue Eldris (this was the last new Morakniv he got); A n.1 Swedish civil defense model made by Frost; an n.611 cannot; Looks like an n.2 Premier private label made by KJ Eriksson (Cody Lundin also favored this Premier labeled KJE) Photos by Jonathan McArthurhe.
A one-way ticket to history, thanks!
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