Jun 18, 2013 at 7:43 pm #1304367
I am too much of a klutz to ever carry just a razor blade as my sharp thing (sorry Mike!). In addition I worry that when I might most need it is exactly when I may be least able to handle it gracefully – in the dark, cold and wind with a big storm coming trying to cut extra guy lines. Performing an emergency branch-ectomy or wound cleaning after a fall or other accident. Defending myself from a bear or water cache thief. Plus I'm going to need to pack extra band-aids, if not a suture kit, if I try to cut moleskin very often with a razor blade – which offsets the weight savings!
So like a lot of people here I, over the last decade or more, have been carrying either the "Swiss Army Card" or more recently when I wore my second card out, the Victorinox Swiss Army Classic. (0.7 oz, $12.93 on Amazon).
But I have known for a long time there are only three tools on this I ever will use – in descending order of frequency, the scissors, the knife, and the tweezers. The scissors for most everything, especially for cutting moleskin and everything else (currently I support the scissor faction in the great scissor vs. knife debate), the knife because sometimes I want to stab something and the scissors aren't enough, and the tweezers because theoretically I might want to remove ticks or cactus thorns, and they weigh less than my scale can show, which I have officially defined as weightless. I usually have a small piece of sandpaper so the file, while useful, is redundant. Toothpick – Really? The card also has a pin made redundant by my sewing needle, and a ridiculous "pen", also useless in light of Nick's discovery of the ideal JMT pencil.
So I am tormented by finding the perfect solution, while still carrying scissors, knife and tweezers. The knife mostly so I can pass through checkpoints in knife-held territory, but also should I need to gut a trout. The tweezers because, as I have said, they are weightless. What has been bothering me about the Classic is the for some reason the scissors on this thing are crapola. The ones on the card are "good enough":
but I have been searching for scissor nirvana. I think I have found them with these Westcott Sewing Titanium Bonded Fine Cut Scissors(recommended by a BPL member, 0.2 oz, $5.47 on Amazon):
They do need to have a piece of tubing or straw used to cover the point, but no matter.
These are excellent scissors, equally excellent at cutting moleskin, thread and fingernails. Probably the most excellent I have ever taken in my pack. So nirvana. Now I lust after knife nirvana. I would put the knife on the classic (and the card for that matter) up at the passable level. But is there a knife I can really feel good about for the same weight. I think yes, it is this, Spyderco Bug SS Slip Joint Plain Edge Knife (0.3 oz, $12.45 on Amazon):
This blade is as good as a razor blade, with a little less chance of accidentally slicing off a finger, and without that "psycho-of-the-woods" vibe. Frankly just holding in in my hand makes me want to gut a trout.
The tweezers get a pass in my kit because, I remind you, they are weightless. Canabalize them off your now-obsolete Classic.
So I'm replacing my Classic with these (total weight 0.6 oz, total cost on Amazon $17.92) :
That 0.1 oz less for only $4.99 more, but in this case the quality is way up. The scissors always go next to the moleskin, and the tweezers in the first aid kit taped to something. I think I might hang my newly emancipated knife on the sting around my neck with the UL LED light – so I can gain some cred with the 10 essentials fanatics.
Anyway, your welcome!
Please critique my sharp things gear and tell me how to cut weight.
Here is a last look:Jun 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm #1997917
@kalebcLocale: South West
Scissors are a luxury, if your knife is sharp it can do the same thing. I would bring the lightest knife and bring the tweezers from your SAKJun 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm #1997921
I like the scissors on the Victorinox Classic over the Wenger scissors with a serrated edge.
I have to try a pair of those Westcott scissors– small and light, but fully functional with real handles.
Thumbs down on the tweezers. I tolerate the Victorinox tweezers as they come with the knife, but they lack precision and gripping strength. Uncle Bill's Silver Gripper Tweezers are the best :)
Speaking of scissors, I got a Victorinox Compact knife the other day. It has all the tools you expect in a Swiss Army knife and the scissors are huge– as long as the knife blade. It even has a tiny pen tucked in like the toothpick and tweezers. 2.2oz. I like it!Jun 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm #1997922
"I tolerate the Victorinox tweezers as they come with the knife, but they lack precision and gripping strength. Uncle Bill's Silver Gripper Tweezers are the best :)"
Oh no! You didn't just harsh my sharp thing nirvana buzz!
Oh, well, guess I have to google them now. Knew it would happen someday soon… but not this soon. Anyway, I DID ask for it. :-(
Actually the screwdriver on your "good grief, It monstrous" pocket knife looks good. One thing that is actually *likely* to happen is my sunglasses will come apart!Jun 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm #1997924
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
The scissors in the Classic SAK work well, except for trimming the nails on my big toes. Tweezers are marginal — held too tight they break a cactus spine and too loose they slip. The tweezers take lots of practice and with the associated practiced tweezer skill can work quite well -best used by a proffessional driver on a closed course — do not try at home. SAK Classic Knife blade not as good as a razor.
How are you going to sharpen your JMT pencil with your new Sharp Nirvana kit?Jun 18, 2013 at 9:53 pm #1997927
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
I sharpen my blackwing 602 pencil with a kelly black raven 5lb double bit felling axe.Jun 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm #1997934
Oh, I was just going to leave the pencil at home and leave audio memos on my iPhone special agent Cooper style – "Diane, it 7:38 a.m., Just went over Donohue pass in the Sierra. There's a scent of Lodgepole pine and mule droppings in the air. Had coffee this morning in camp. Just like I like it – black as midnight on a moonless night."Jun 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm #1997941
Didn't mean to be a buzz kill– there's no end to tool lust :)
Lest you think the Compact is not (compact), this should give a better idea of scale:
A hiking knife should be good for repairs to clothing and gear, grooming, first aid, basic food prep, and shaving wood for fire starting. With all the Swiss Army knives made, I still want a different combination than they offer.Jun 19, 2013 at 12:04 am #1997952
"Scissors are a luxury, if your knife is sharp it can do the same thing"
They are handy small tools in my book and small ones are so light that I wouldn't want to go without. Much more precise for close in trimming and very much part of my sewing tools.Jun 19, 2013 at 11:54 am #1998085
@morte66Locale: Surrey flatlands, England
"the knife because sometimes I want to stab something"
What do you stab?
We have shortage of bears, marmots and water cache thieves around here. I can't think what I would want to stab with a sub 2 inch blade rather than cut with scissors. The closest I can get is blisters, but the sewing needle can handle that.
Hmm, tyres of cyclists who aren't meant to be on the footpath maybe?Jun 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm #1998155
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
A very thorough (and humorous) write-up. Thank you. Food for thought.
I'm with you on the scissors over blade. I've never taken someone from the job site to the ER because of a scissor incident. Razor knives and pocket knives, OTOH. . . .
The Westcott Sewing Titanium Bonded Fine Cut Scissors and the Spyderco Bug SS Slip Joint Plain Edge Knife are great to know about. Thanks. I'll pick up one of each to play with.
My hesitation to switch from the SAK Classic is having some container or storage pouch for the smaller scissors, knife and tweezers. The Classic, with no exposed sharp points, that can have a small string on it, seems harder to lose or get stabbed by.
The other thoughts about the "Compact" SAK are also nice to hear. Not for my truly UL efforts, but there are family trips that I still have a full-sized SAK along (partly for my wife) and that seems like a great compromise. Most of the blade length and versatility, with far less than half the weight.
-DavidJun 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm #1998171
"What do you stab? We have shortage of bears, marmots and water cache thieves around here. I can't think what I would want to stab with a sub 2 inch blade rather than cut with scissors. The closest I can get is blisters, but the sewing needle can handle that."
Gosh, people just don't think of the various things they might encounter in the wild, do they.
Okay, you're hiking along cheerfully in one of your favorite, and most beautiful, backpacking areas and suddenly you come upon some dude who's chopping down a live tree to build a lean to, and he's defecated on the side of the trail without digging a cathole and there's used toilet paper all over the place.
You NEED both scissors and knife. A knife to cut the sack cleanly. Scissors to cut the vas deferens. Gonna need a needle and some good thread too, and lots of whiskey to make him pass out first…..Jun 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm #1998179
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
I've got a similar kit.
I use a Spyderco Ladybug (half straight edge/half serrated edge). It lives in the hip belt pocket on my pack and is used for most day-to-day cutting duties on the trail.
I carry a pair of the scissors and tweezers from the SAK Card in my first aid/repair kit. I don't use either of them frequently and therefore like them to be as small and light as possible. I do however find the scissors handy for certain duties like cutting repair tape or trimming nails.
The little SAK tweezers aren't great, but like you said, they're weightless and I haven't bothered to look around for a better pair yet.Jun 19, 2013 at 5:41 pm #1998188
Woo.. those scissors rock :) and yes a knife can cut moleskin and other things but not always as well and with precision. making much more of a square of moleskin with a knife becomes a project when nice rounded corners help keep it from peeling up.
Opinel #6 and Westcott scissors for me. safety pin works well for splinters and can hang wet stuff on your pack.Jun 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm #1998218
@dipinkLocale: Western Washington
Mark, had any cherry pie lately ? =pJun 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm #1998221
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
>"A knife to cut the sack cleanly. Scissors to cut the vas deferens. "
Oh, Doug, this brings back memories!
I did get complimented on my shaving job.
I figured if I didn't do it well, someone else would.Jun 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm #1998224
"I figured if I didn't do it well, someone else would."
Ah David, we've missed you on the forums! Glad you're back!Jun 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm #1998227
"Mark, had any cherry pie lately ? =p"
So glad someone got that reference :-)
Special Agent Cooper is my role model!Jun 20, 2013 at 3:56 am #1998285
@bigjackbrassLocale: Northwest England
"Thumbs down on the tweezers. I tolerate the Victorinox tweezers as they come with the knife, but they lack precision and gripping strength. Uncle Bill's Silver Gripper Tweezers are the best :)"
I agree completely with Dale here, aside from tolerating the tweezers: if you choose the Alox version of the Victorinox Classic knife (which is also lighter than the standard version at about 15 grammes) then it doesn't come with tweezers, so I don't see a reason for being stuck with the feeble things. A pair of Uncle Bill's are far more useful and usable, one of those cases where saving a tiny amount of weight simply isn't worth the compromise.
The Alox knife is also available in a nicely visible shade of orange, handy for something so small.Jun 20, 2013 at 9:30 am #1998365
"A pair of Uncle Bill's are far more useful and usable, one of those cases where saving a tiny amount of weight simply isn't worth the compromise."
I think your are right. I actually ordered them back when Dale first mentioned them. They are the thing you may not use very much (or what may seem like *ever*), but when you really want them you want them to work, and not just remind you of how much you wish you had some real tweezers. Hard to get at splinters and cactus spines are to that I have experience with. I'll just put it in the first aid kit.Nov 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm #2049172
Hey everyone, I followed this thread at the time with great interest and am searching for my own sharpie nirvana.
I've been particularly prompted from an experience this summer when I got a shard of rock embedded in my foot while swimming in a creek. My sharpie things were a Gerber Paraframe I and a mini SAK (and also a sewing needle). I had to perform a little field surgery, and I found the SAK tweezers worthless and the knives would only have worked by cutting my foot way more than needed, while the SAK scissors worked quite well. In particular the tips worked well for small precise clips into my foot around the rock.
I totally agree that I only need scissors, blade, and tweezers. I'd like to improve in this area as well, and drop a little weight while I'm at it, and would like some advice.
Tweezers – already got the Uncle Bills. The SAK tweezers may be weightless but they're staying home. I wonder if I'd had these at the time of my field surgery if they could have gotten that rock shard out.
Scissors – Obviously I'm happy with the scissors on the SAK. But not necessarily with the SAK blade so wondering on thoughts how the Westcott could have worked for the kind of work I ended up needing done.
Blade – really the source of my dilemma. I don't need two. The current Gerber is 2.85 oz, that's getting kicked out of my kit. But I think I would prefer something sharper and a tad heftier than the SAK for my one-and-only blade.
So my choices for scissors+blade:
– Keep the SAK, problem solved. The blade is fine for what I need, get over it (I might need a little convincing). Easy solution, and I know the scissors are what I like.
– Get the Westcott scissors and a separate blade.
– Take a hacksaw to my SAK to cut out the scissors and use those plus a separate blade.
New blade choices I'm pondering would be Gerber LST, Spyderco Honeybee, Gerber Mini Paraframe, or similar. These are all pretty inexpensive, all on Amazon right now for $11-$14. The caveman in me still wants a blade that is at least approaching 2 inches but above all is sturdy (and where my doubt lies with the SAK). Is the LST sturdy enough? The Honeybee is just a little larger than the Bug, but still too small? I like the locking blade on the mini paraframe and the caveman nods approval, but worth the weight (it's 1.6 oz while the other two are 0.6)? Some other blade out there that fits the bill and price range?
So a lot of combinations but if you've read this far then you get the idea. Any and all thoughts appreciated.Nov 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm #2049245
Strong enough for what? The LST is fine for cutting, but don't twist or pry with the blade.
SAK's are quite strong, with the same caveats, plus the precautions to be taken with a non-locking blade.
If you can do your kitchen chores, make repairs, make tinder for an emergency fire, and scrape the firesteel, it doesn't make much difference. It's nice to have some cushion to do those jobs better and easier, but if you must pare this important tool down to the minimum, just make sure it can do those basic jobs.
My advice? Get one with metal liners and a lock. If you might be using it to get your butt out of hot water, consider raising budget a bit and get a good tool. :)Nov 30, 2013 at 2:22 am #2049260
Dale in fact turned me on the the Uncle Bills tweezers on this thread, which I had somehow not been aware of previously, and they did turn out to finally solve the issue for tweezers for me now that I have used them. The SAK one are pretty useless for anything but maybe ticks. The Uncle Bills are not only sturdy enough, but sharp enough for "surgical" probing needed for the worst case scenario. So I now feel I have the ideal sharp thing set for the kinds of thing I will ever want to cut, short having to go all "Aaron Ralston" on something.
I know people can be very emotionally attached to a more serious knife, a fact that Mike Clelland analyzes with much humor in his little book. A good knife really is a nice thing, and multi-use, but there really are alternatives to ALL of those things in my kit. Its like Mike says, its not about going without, it about analyzing everything you will ever need, and then preparing for that with no redundant capability.
But if you feel you WANT to take a heavier, more versatile knife, go for it.Nov 30, 2013 at 7:44 am #2049292
Thanks guys for getting back so quickly.
"Strong enough for what?" Fair enough. Just for your typical on-trail potential needs, I FBC my meals so usually no food chopping/slicing, and I don't hunt or fish so no field-dressing an elk carcass or anything like that. I'll use the blade for simple repairs, opening oatmeal packets, and possible emergency uses such as feathering wood but not actual batoning. The blade on the mini SAK probably is sturdy enough for that but since I was also carrying a more substantial knife that I will be removing from my kit I'd like my one-and-only blade to be at least a little more sturdy, while still keeping overall weight down.
Mark, I'm 100% sold on the tweezers. How has your experience been using the Westcott scissors? I'll probably buy the scissors and try them out myself, if they don't make the kit then I'll hack out the SAK scissors and find a use for the Westcott's around the house (I bet they would do great on nose hairs).
So it's really coming down to blade choice. Any likes/dislikes among the 3 I named, and/or specific other recommendations? Thanks again.Nov 30, 2013 at 7:59 am #2049295
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