The steel we use in our knives is Sandvik 12c27, hardened to 57-58 Rockwell C.
The shape of the knife depends on what it will be used for. Sporting knives often have short, strong blades, while hunting and fishing knives are longer and have a special shape and finish.
For hunting and fishing, a hollow-ground knife is usually best, while for whittling sticks and branches, a convex-ground knife is recommended. You can keep the blade sharp by using a damp hone and whetting the edge on each side alternately from the handle down to the tip. Whetting the knife before it gets completely blunt will make it easier to keep in perfect condition.