Top Ten #1: The Axe
Given the choice of just one item to take with me into the wilds it'd be the axe I would choose. Of the many axes I've tested and used the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe (SFA) has been my favorite. It came sharp out of the box and has held an excellent edge through extended use and required no modification to be useful.
Gransfors axes aren't cheap by any stretch of the imagination but they're very good quality from top to bottom.
I give the handle a coat of Linseed Oil every couple of months and the sheath has needed nothing more than an occasional brushing to remove surface dirt to keep it in service. The head gets oiled after every outing and I strop and/or sharpen the edge after every use to keep the edge where I need it.
With the SFA (or any axe) you've got a hammer, a chopper, and a cutting edge. I can use my axe to take a piece of standing dead wood all the way down to a friction fire set. You can use the bottom corner (or top for that matter) of the axe to carve the initial depression into the hearth board and making the notch with an axe is easier than with a knife as long as you remember to watch your fingers. You can even choke up on the head and use the bit like an ulu for food prep.
An axe will feed your fire, put a roof over your head, and can even be used as a weapon in a pinch. If it could purify water it'd be the ultimate survival tool. (Sure, it can feed the fire that boils your water to make it potable...)
I've used my axe to make tent pegs, trap parts, firewood, a platform bed, a roughed out spoon and bowl, and much more. It's been used as a hammer to pound in upright supports for a fire reflector, driven in pegs to hold logs in place for a primitive shelter, sunk wooden wedges into dead tree trunks to split them, and even pounded a few nails.
I'm by no means an Axe Man but I've used my axes enough to know that they're my ultimate tool and that they'd be the absolute last thing I'd give up.
Of course my environment is much more suited to an axe than the jungle or desert would be but that's why this is a Top 10 list and not a Top 1. :)
Thanks for reading,