Larry Roberts, runner-up in the second season of the History channel’s wilderness survival show “Alone,” lasted 64 days in the harsh environs of Vancouver Island with one knife: the Genesis made by L.T. Wright Knives. L.T. Wright knew Roberts as a customer and because he wrote articles for the company’s Self Reliance Illustrated magazine. What he didn’t know, because “Alone” participants are not allowed to discuss the show, was which knife Roberts used on the show. When Roberts was allowed to talk about his experiences, he raved to Wright about how much he appreciated the Genesis. Wright suggested they team up, and a winning partnership was born.
On Dec. 16, LTWK introduced its Larry Roberts Signature Edition Genesis to the public. Fans of the “Alone” star and members of the LTWK Pout House club were eligible for pre-release access for 24 hours prior to the general release.
The premise of the reality show is that a group of outdoorsmen and women are deposited in a remote locale—alone—and whoever can survive the longest, wins—$500,000 to be exact. They are positioned so that natural obstacles prevent them from encountering each other. There is no crew; the participants film themselves and are resupplied with batteries and camera chips. They must build shelters, find enough to eat without expending too many calories, stave off hypothermia and marauding animals, and maintain their sanity.
So, how exactly did Roberts use his knife? The list is extensive. He built small game traps and a fish trap. He used it batonning, feather-sticking, harvesting spruce sap and cedar bark, gutting and filleting fish, processing mice and prying shellfish off of rocks. He used it to make a spoon, a spatula and a fork. He harvested mushrooms with his Genesis, cut cordage and used the sharp 90-degree spine of the knife to strike his ferrocerium rod to start fires. He used the knife to make a spear and tent stakes, and even for first-aid and hygiene tasks, such as removing a splinter or cleaning his fingernails.
The knife measures 9 inches overall. The 4.25-inch blade has a Scandinavian grind, and the chiseled edge is ideal for bushcrafting skills like making kindling, tent stakes and stripping bark, L.T. Wright explained. It used to be, he continued, that outdoor knives were overbuilt to account for hard use in the field, but now that the education and skill level of outdoorsmen has advanced, often through watching and practicing skills learned just on YouTube, thinner-edged knives are sought after by outdoorsmen and survivalists. Roberts, too, praised the knife’s ability to bite deeply into wood.
The Genesis offers a 1/8-inch-thick spear-point blade made of A2 tool steel, following a Kephart design overall. The knives are tested to 57 to 59 HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale, so they are tough but hold an edge, Wright said. The A2 steel, in the opinion of both Wright and Roberts, outperforms O1 and 1095 for edge retention, and corrosion and stain resistance. For his time on the island, Roberts only stropped his knife on his leather belt to remove micro-oxidation from humidity and moisture. He never had to resharpen it at all.
The Roberts version of the Genesis has a broomstick handle because Roberts found the thicker handle easier to hold and control. It also has thumb scallops and a sharpened spine for striking a fire steel against. LTWK made the black Micarta handle with white liners because Roberts likes the black-and-white contrast. The blade is stamped with Roberts’ rendition of his Vancouver Island nemesis: a mouse. “It became an obstacle for me to overcome,” he said of the creature he battled during the show.
The MSRP of the Larry Roberts Signature Edition Genesis is $225 and includes a true 8-ounce black leather sheath with a dangler and 3/8-inch ferro rod loop. Wright prefers to purchase 10-ounce double-died leather from Spen Stelzer, the owner of JRE Industries in Illinois, and have it split to 8 ounces so there are no discrepancies. “We can control consistency better that way,” he explained.
Roberts wanted the largest ferrocerium rod he was allowed to have during the show, so he went with a ½-inch rod and wasn’t able to use the loop that comes with the Genesis sheath. Roberts did use the dangler, however. He explained that it allowed the knife to hang where his hand fell naturally for easy access—just like a gunslinger in a western—and yet carry out of the way of a backpack or any other gear.
Wright grew up playing Tarzan and Rambo in the woods as a boy, and, of course, the tactical use of knives and their implementation in hunting and bushcraft interested him all along. But he wanted to make a living making knives, so he listened to what people told him they wanted. “If you go to a show and come home with all the knives you brought, you’re not going to be in business long,” he said. Like the survivalist industry itself, as the education and skill levels of users advance, so too must the sophistication of the knives. Wright listened.
At first he made knives as L.T. Wright then as Blind Horse Knives and he’s back as L.T. Wright Knives. Wright learned to make knives from R.W. Wilson, who made the tomahawks for the 1972 movie “Jeremiah Johnson,” a cult favorite among outdoorsmen. “He’s probably sold off all of those,” Wright said, “but I do have a prototype of a tomahawk he made for the Texas Rangers.”
So, it is fitting that Wright should partner up with a man who carried his knife in a reality-based outdoorsman show for the small screen. Roberts grew up in Oregon, spending as much time outside as he could, bait-fishing for steelheads in the Rogue River and bow hunting. His first knife was probably a 3-inch lockback Buck pocketknife, he said. He married his high-school sweetheart, and they had a son and a daughter, now grown and on their own.
Roberts attended the Pathfinder School, LLC Survival Classes offered in Jackson, Ohio, through Self Reliance Outfitters. An instructor at the top-rated school, Dave Canterbury, had been on Discovery Chanel’s “Dual Survival” show, and Roberts had heard about “Alone” from a season one participant named Josh Chavez. Roberts had been looking for a challenge, a real-world way to apply the skills he’d learned. “This was it,” he said, and applied online.
You can be a superb outdoorsman, Roberts pointed out, but if you can’t express yourself in front of a camera, you won’t be selected for the show. Although more shy in real life, Roberts is a natural in front of the camera. He sent along hours of footage of himself conducting survival skills. He made the cut, and a total of 20 finalists attended a boot camp in New York. They were tested on their comfort level in the outdoors in a city park. They underwent both medical and psychological testing, and were trained extensively on how to operate the cameras they would be using to film themselves for the show.
Even though Roberts eventually had to “tap out” because he could not get enough food to compensate for the calories he expended, his life has changed from being on “Alone.” He teaches now for Pathfinder and privately on his own farm. He attended the Primitive Living Skills Conference, Rabbitstick, in September in Idaho and will be attending Winter Count, Feb. 12-18 in Maricopa, Arizona.
Roberts can’t say enough good things about the LTWK Genesis. It’s everything he ever wanted in a knife, in every way. Similarly, he can’t say enough good things about L.T. and his crew at LTWK. It was on the island, at night, when Roberts began designing a tattoo he wanted to get. It incorporated everything that was important to him during the “Alone” challenge. You can read about his experiences on the show and how the tattoo both gave him something to think about and something to look forward to getting in “Star of History Channel’s ‘Alone’ Talks Survival and Tattoos,” an interview by Kirstie Kovats in Inked magazine.
Of course, the mouse figures prominently in the design, as does the knife.
‘Bushcraft 101’ teaches the fundamentals of survivability
Not sure where to start with your quest to master wilderness survival skills? Dave Canterbury, the primitive arts instructor at Pathfinder School in Ohio mentioned above, has written a book that’ll help you get back to basics, enjoy the outdoors and understand the essentials of wilderness survival.