I carried a Nessmuk Trio long before I knew it was a "Nessmuk Trio". Most of us probably did. The variations we see today vary greatly from what George Sears (Nessmuk)carried. But Nessmuk believed his trio would allow him to accomplish pretty much any outdoor task. So that should be the basis of everyone's trio. What three tools do you have confidence in to accomplish any outdoors task you will be faced with? That's what you should ask yourself when selecting your trio of tools.
Traditionally it's a hatchet or small axe, a fixed blade knife, and a folding pocket knife. In Nessmuk's time this was about as varied as it got for tool selection. Today we find ourselves with much more options. The two constants you see today are the hatchet or small axe or hawk, a fixed blade knife, and the third tool is what we see a lot of variance on. Some stick with the traditional folding pocket knife, others like a folding saw, and some prefer a multi-tool or necker knife, etc. The best option will be different for everyone. My kit has changed quite a bit over the years but I wanted to share my two trio sets that I used the most.
As our gear kits evolve so do our Nessmuk Trio's. My first Nessmuk Trio consisted of a True Temper Hatchet(It came with a black fiberglass handle that I rehandled with a hickory handle), a Case Leather Hunter, and my Leatherman Supertool.
I carried this trio for many years and it served me well. After time the things I started to realize I wanted was the ability for a two handed swing if needed from my axe. And for better edge retention from both my knife and hatchet.
So that brings me to my next and current Nessmuk Trio that has evolved to some higher quality tools that perform very well for me in the bush. A Wetterlings Large Hunter's axe, a custom Kephart/Drop point styled fixed blade knife from C3 Knives, and still my Leatherman Supertool.
What I've noticed the most when upgrading my kit isn't that I can now perform more tasks necessarily. But that I can perform the same task more efficiently. The slightly longer handle of the hunters axe allows for more powerful swings, allowing it to chop and split much better than my hatchet. The steel holds it's edge better so it needs less sharpening. The knife I now carry has better steel as well so I don't need to sharpen it as much either. While I don't baton heavy with my knife, this one can certainly take that abuse if the need arises. Also the steel of this knife works well with a ferro rod. The multi-tool is just a great array of versatility that I just can't leave behind.
Like all kits the preference for change will arise from time to time. As we use gear we realize it's triumphs and shortcomings. And if the shortcomings are weighed heavily enough an upgrade will be necessary. Only experience will tell you what the best option is and that decision can only be made by the user. But I believe George had it right. Three tools offer the right amount of versatility without being a burden to carry. So if you haven't done so already, identify your Nessmuk Trio, and put it through the the paces on your ventures.