Contribution by Dan Kidder
I have been carrying an ESEE Izula II blade on my belt for years. All of the knives that ESEE makes in their Idaho factory have proven themselves to be tough as nails and some of the most reliable blades I have used.
Since canyoneering is my current sport of choice, I was intrigued when I got to see their newest offering, the Imlay Rescue Knife. Made in the same form as the Izula, a small and lightweight blade, the Imlay provides a skeletonized handle for minimal weight, and is designed for use around tensioned ropes, while wearing gloves, and where you may be in close proximity to an injured victim. It also is designed to clip into a standard personal flotation device (PFD) or hung from included cordage, attached to an Izula clip plate, or best of all for my purposes, attached to a harness via a carabiner.
The tip of the Imlay is blunted to avoid damage to gear and people in a rescue scenario. The remaining 2.25 inches of blade are equally divided by a straight edge and a serrated edge. This gives a rescuer the option of slicing cleanly or sawing through tougher material like rope, nylon webbing, or polyester. It can also work great to give yourself an emergency haircut if you get your locks tangled in a rappel device. On the spine of the blade is twice the amount of jimping to get you even more control and tactile feel while wearing gloves. They even provide an oxygen wrench so you are never without that vital tool. For those who use them regularly, you know what I am talking about. As I am writing this, I have three tools with integrated O2 wrenches on my person, and an oxygen tank in the back of my truck.
The sheath is made of a polymer that the blade snaps into with an audible click. It takes some serious force to remove it, and it is unlikely that it will disengage by accident. However, because of the risk of the knife dropping from a high cliff and being lost, or worse; landing on someone below, ESEE has added a secondary retention feature. This stretchy material hooks onto a lug on the sheath and can quickly be locked in place and disengaged easily with one hand to add an extra layer of security. Additionally, a lanyard can be attached to the handle to provide additional retention while in use.
The entire knife is a single-piece construction and unlike the majority of knives ESEE makes, it is made of 440C stainless steel. This is because it is designed to be used around a lot of water and the high carbon tool steel that ESEE usually employs for their blades is more prone to rusting and corrosion.
When you are hanging from a rope and need to cut something free while wearing gloves, fiddle farting around with a folding knife lock, is a recipe for losing your blade. Having a fixed blade knife with multiple carry options and the means to secure it to yourself and your gear is the key to having it when you need it most with less fear of dropping it. This makes the Imlay serious Gear for Life and a great companion for Alpine climbers, arborists, tower workers, divers, rafters, canyoneers, and really anyone who needs a sharp edge, a tough tool, with minimal weight, and less danger of getting stabbed in tight spaces.
The knife is named for a canyon in Zion National Park, near where I live in Utah. Imlay Canyon is a serious canyon that is only suitable for experienced canyoneers. It has over 40 rappels and takes multiple days to traverse, with waterfalls, potholes, and fascinating terrain. I haven’t tackled it yet, but I am working on building my skill and experience so I can.
As a former Search and Rescue member, I most appreciate that a portion of each ESEE Imlay knife sale goes to Randall’s Adventure Training Search and Rescue (RAT-SAR) an all-volunteer search and rescue and training group. So not only is the knife there to save your butt when things go sideways, but it also helps save lives all over the world.
Take a look at all of the outstanding knives that ESEE makes, and see why they are my choice for made-in-America quality with a lifetime warranty at eseeknives.com.
Picture Credit www.knifeworks.com.