Mora might be the first company that comes to mind when you think of Scandinavian knives, but running a close second most would say is Helle Knives of Norway. While Moras hold the title of “best dollar for dollar” knife value, most models are no-frills workhorses rather than finely crafted, hand finished knives. Not that there is anything wrong with that. They are a Jeep Cherokee rather than a Land Rover.
Helle Knives are more of the Land Rover. They feature curly birch and other woodworking-grade handles, robust leather sheaths, and brass fittings. They retain a degree of hand-finishing that is just not present in a fully manufactured knife.
Helle’s latest knife is their second collaboration with Survivorman Les Stroud. The Mândra is 2.7″ bladed neck knife that is the perfect compliment to Les’s earlier Temagami bushcraft knife which is better suited to the heavy-duty wood-processing tasks.
Holmedal, Norway – (January 19, 2016) – Continuing a tradition of handcrafting knives designed and tested in the outdoors, Helle’s latest full tang knife is a collaborative work with Survivorman Les Stroud. Pronounced mondra, the Mândra knife was designed and tested in the rugged and overwhelmingly beautiful natural setting of Romania during filming of the latest Les Stroud Survivorman film project.
Stroud’s recent expedition took place in the remote Carpathians, a 1,450-kilometer mountain range extending through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania and Serbia. Amid this backdrop of vast hardwood forests, isolated limestone cliffs and caves, Helle and Stroud sought to refine a new knife for practical use and reliability.
Years ago the Helle design team and Les Stroud came together to create a practical, useful knife based on Helle’s 80-year tradition and Stroud’s discerning tastes. An all around bestseller, the Helle Temagami continues to attract accolades and praise for its simple, beautiful design.
Building on this mutual respect for quality and function, initial designs for the new Mândra knife were conceptualized over several months. Only then were prototypes handmade at the Helle factory in Norway and sent to Romania for field-testing. Further adjustments and refinements were made using invaluable feedback from Les from his extensive solo excursion. This approach of researching, prototyping, field-testing and refinement constitutes the backbone and development of the Helle philosophy.
”We are extremely proud to present a brand new Les Stroud knife,” notes Anders Haglund, head of international marketing with Helle. “In fact the word Mândra literally means proud, and the new knife is named for the hilly peak where Les was found by the Salvamont rescue party during filming Survivorman in Romani.”
Mândra Knife Specifications:
- Weight: 2.46 oz.
- Blade material: triple laminated stainless steel
- Blade thickness: 2.6 mm
- Blade length: 2.71 inches
- Handle material: Curly Birch
- Handle length: 3.14 inches
- Sheath material: Genuine leather
- MSRP $209
I can’t help but notice how similar the Mândra is to the new Mora Eldris. The Eldris is 5.6″ overall with a 2.3″ blade. It has just been announced that the Eldris will retail for $49 when it finally reaches the market this fall. According to a source in the know, the Mândra should be available in a matter of a weeks.
Side by side these two knives really typify the philosophies of Mora and Helle. The Eldris looks like a great tool that I am very much looking forward to trying out. But it is a rubber-handled, brightly colored knife with a plastic sheath. Again, nothing wrong with this and it is priced accordingly. I EDC a fixed blade (my Kim Breed) and I look forward to testing one that is being marketed specifically for this niche.
The Mândra on the other hand is a hand-crafted tool, with the materials and labor costs reflected in the MSRP. It depends on what the end user is looking for. Either way you are getting a high-quality Scandinavian knife. I am hoping to test both out this summer.