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Gear reviews

Mora Carbon vs Stainless

Mora knives are a popular choice for bushcraft knives, hiking, and any outdoor activity. The choice between Stainless and Carbon is an easy one. Here is why.

Knives of any sort come in a great variety of different steel types. Carbon steel or Stainless steel is a broad spectrum even to choose between. In the case of Mora knives, it comes down to three different steel types. Carbon steel, Stainless steel, or their laminated steel knives. Each with their own properties and characteristics.

In this article I explore the three different steel types that Mora has to offer, and explain when to choice for what steel type. In any case this is my take on the different steel types for Mora knives. After using every one of the steel types for 10 years.

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Carbon steel Mora knives

Carbon steel Mora knives are a great option for many use cases. With Carbon steel, the knife can rust more easily than Stainless steel knives or laminated steel knives. They require a bit of maintenance after every use because of that.

When cutting woods or fruit with a lot of tannin’s in it they can discolor rapidly. Let that sit for a while in a damp environment and they can start to grow rust spots that are not only unappealing on the knife. But can also damage the cutting edge and eventually the whole knife.

It is because of that they are most suited for use in dryer environments and uses. It is true that a lot of the problems can be solved with just a bit of regular wiping and oiling. Except for when you in saltwater or humid climate. Then a stainless steel version of the Mora knives is the better option.

Carbon steel has the big advantage that its easier to sharpen than the other steel types. And the edge tends to roll rather than chip. Which is way easier to restore than a chipped cutting edge. Chipping or rolling of a blade happens when you accidentally cut something you shouldn’t have. Like a nail in a piece of wood. A rock in the earth or just the wrong spot in a aluminium can. A carbon steel knife can often be brought back with little sharpening.

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Stainless steel Mora knives

Stainless steel Mora knives are an excellent alternative to the Carbon steel versions. The Stainless steel Mora knives can of course still rust in the wrong circumstances. But the chances of that happening or way lower with a Stainless steel knife than a Laminated or Carbon Steel version.

For a lot of tasks, I tend to prefer the Stainless steel version of different Mora knives. Since the maintenance is easier than with a Carbon Steel version. And it is less fussing about than one. However, I do have a few Mora Knives in the Stainless steel versions with chips on the edge. Something that I don’t really encounter with the Carbon Steel versions.

Laminated steel Mora knives

Laminated Mora knives offer a sturdy edge that is excellent for the woodsman that needs a more durable edge for a lot of cutting chores. These knives are tougher than the normal Carbon steel or Stainless steel knives because the types of steels are layered to provide the best of multiple worlds.

Laminated steel is best to use when you use the knives intensively for woodworking projects. For hiking or camping, they are also a good fit when you are not going to be hiking in wet or humid climates. For most use cases however they offer little noticeable advantages. Asides from woodworking, you can go for the Carbon or the stainless options.

Different use cases for the steel type

My preference for steel types has drifted more towards the Carbon Steel knives over the years. With a little maintenance, you can prevent a lot of problems that the steel comes with. When hiking and camping I carry a little olive oil with me, the same oil can be used for the care for your knives.

The stainless steel version of the Mora knives is an excellent option for hiking, camping, and work for wetter or saltier climates. Laminated steel is an excellent option for the user that requires a more robust edge for extended cutting tasks.

Knife sheaths from Mora Knives

The knife sheaths that come with nearly any Mora knives are basic but functional. They are just molten plastic sheaths that can clip on your belt. Or can clip them onto a button on your pants. That is the traditional Swedish way these knives are clipped on.

If you would like a bit more sturdy sheath you can look at some of the custom Kydex options. Those transform the Mora knives into a bit more of a fancier knife. And adding more function than the standard sheaths as they are sometimes hard to put over your belt. Plus they can get quite loose over time.

My pick for most outings

For most camping outings or hiking trips with a base camp layout, I take a Mora Companion in Carbon steel with me. It does everything that needs doing around camp. From food prep to bigger cutting tasks. I even made a bow a few times with one. Using another log at the point as a draw knife to shape the bow stave.

Mora knife for hiking trips

For 99% of hiking trips, I take an Opinel knife with me. For its lighter weight, and less of an intimidating factor than a belt knife. For any other camping trip, I take a Mora knife with me. With those, you can split wood, make kindling more easily, and have a tougher blade overall than a folding knife. Mora knives are also way lighter than a bunch of other fixed blades. So keep that in mind when deciding what to bring.

For under 40 dollars you can have two Opinel knives, two Mora knives or mix and match. That is why those two knife types are so popular in the outdoor community. Affordable, durable and with a long legacy of outdoor use. Get both I say!

I'm Frank, the main guy and owner of this website. Loves hiking, gear and bushcraft. And can get quite nerdy about them. In the woods several times a week preparing for my next hike. Always searching for another hill, which is quite difficult in the Netherlands. That's why I search around several countries. More about me on the about page.

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