Why a knife?
Dec 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm #1266818Michael ReaganMember
@michaelreaganLocale: Southern California
I know there are plenty of threads here already on the various cutting tools our members carry, and I have found them all fascinating. From fixed blades to tiny folders, from single-edge razor blades to scissors to nothing at all, it seems the choices are as varied as the people and philosophies behind them. I have learned a bit from every discussion and really appreciate the ideas you've all given me. I hope you won't mind one more post on the subject.
For my part, I now carry a small pair of scissors taken from a Victorinox SwissCard and a surgical scalpel blade in my First Aid/Repair kit. Before adding the scalpel, I usually packed a razor blade in a resealable cover. Despite these cutting tools, and my commitment to going as light as possible, I find I must always add a "real" knife, usually a Benchmade or Spyderco lock-blade folder with around a 3" or so blade, which I carry clipped to my right front pants pocket.
My reason for this is two-fold. First, I normally carry this sort of knife on a daily basis and use it constantly. I find that I feel a bit naked whenever I am without my knife where it belongs. Second, on one trip in which my only knife was a SAK Classic, I discovered at mealtime that I had forgotten to pack any eating utensil. "No problem," says I, "I'll just whittle a spoon from a stick with my trusty blade". Ha! Have you ever tried to whittle with a Classic? If so, you can imagine my frustration at the attempt. After a few moments of the most pathetic woodscrafting ever seen, I had barely scratched the bark off the surface of the stick. I gave up at this ridiculous effort and asked my hiking buddy if I could borrow his knife, a 4" Al Mar folder. With his knife I was able to quickly split and whittle the stick to fashion a very serviceable paddle spoon that fed me for the rest of the trip. My buddy could not resist offering a few choice comments on my ultralight bladeware and his surprise that I would allow myself to go out into the forest so unprepared.
And so I find that I *must* carry a knife, though I likely will never have to whittle another spoon. I find that being without an adequate tool to handle life's little problems, or worse yet, injuring myself by forcing a razor blade or non-locking "mini-knife" to handle a job too big for it, makes me feel a bit too "edgy". The 3-ounce penalty of carrying a "real" knife is worth it to me for the sense of well-bring it brings. Carrying such a knife has become a habit I can't comfortably break. I'll bet a few of you know what I mean.
MichaelDec 21, 2010 at 3:56 pm #1676517David NollBPL Member
@dpnollLocale: Maroon Bells
Exactly, Michael. If you have to explain to someone why you carry a knife they won't understand. you are either a knife person or not.Dec 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm #1676531Mike MBPL Member
if your stove fuel happens to be wood, I think a knife moves up a notch or two in the grand scheme of things
I got by OK w/ my Classic when using a canister stove (albeit I felt a little naked :)), when I went to a wood burning setup I went back to a small fixed blade (which also works better for fish and grouse than the Classic)
I think there are a lot of folks that get by just fine w/ a very small cutting tool and I say more power to them, I'm definitely in the "knife guy" category and don't apologize for that, but certainly wouldn't advocate that everyone needs oneDec 21, 2010 at 4:44 pm #1676535W I S N E R !BPL Member
I only carry a knife for the following:
1. Leisurely trips. If I feel like sitting around the fire and whittling, practicing bushcraft, etc. Feathersticks are fun to make, but not necessary. (I do a lot of leisure trips but the knife is hardly essential to them).
2. Trips centering on hunting and/or fishing: cleaning game. (rare for me)
3. Rainy trips when I know I'll want a fire. While not totally necessary, a knife can certainly help prepare wet wood. (rare for me…I'll just go without fire).
It's actually my more "ambitious/serious" trips (high miles, faster pace) that I don't really ever carry a knife…usually just a single-edge razor blade for first aid reasons.
Whenever I carry a knife I tend to find/create uses for it.
Whenever I don't have a knife, I don't miss it.
So basically it's not necessary backpacking gear for me. To each their own.Dec 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm #1676539John DonewarBPL Member
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Texas
Just this past weekend I attended a birthday party for a three year old. There were presents to be unwrapped and fiendishly clever packaging to be removed and disposed of.
Never Go Anywhere Without A Knife!
Fixed, folder or multi-tool sometime, sooner or later, someone will ask, "Anyone here got a knife"?
NewtonDec 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm #1676556James holdenBPL Member
I usually carry a multitool …. Its useful in winter or if you have gear that may need fixing
its much easier to start a fire in winter or in wet conditions with a knife too
for climbing you should always carry a light knife on uDec 21, 2010 at 8:00 pm #1676593Jace MullenMember
@climberslackerLocale: Your guess is as good as mine.
I had a multi-tool that I always brought with me camping. And I used the same logic: "well if anything breaks I can fix it". As Ive gone UL and now borderline SUL I have nothing that a multi-tool could fix. Alky stove- nothing that can really go wrong, Pack- no zippers or anything, Just a little zipper on my quilt and nature certainly does not create anything with a philips head.
I now just use a SAK and will probably up-grade (downgrade?) to a derma-safe blade when I get an order together thats worth paying for shipping from BPL.Dec 21, 2010 at 8:06 pm #1676596
I always carry a Leatherman Micra that includes a knife which I use occasionally. Very sharp knife, but very small.
It has a screwdriver which I use occasionally, for example to screw back together my glasses.
It has a scissors and can opener that I use occasionally.
2 ouncesDec 21, 2010 at 8:18 pm #1676602John DonewarBPL Member
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Texas
>>I always carry a Leatherman Micra that includes a knife which I use<<
…..quite often! ;-)
+1 for the Leatherman Micra.
NewtonDec 21, 2010 at 9:30 pm #1676637BRIAN TACKETTMember
@tacksman99Locale: So Cal
To be prepared for the unknown.Dec 21, 2010 at 9:40 pm #1676640John BrownBPL Member
@johnbrown2005Locale: Portland, OR
I carry one because I like them. That said, I have never used one for anything essential, beyond cutting an apple.Dec 21, 2010 at 11:08 pm #1676655Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
+1 to all of Craig Wisner comments. My choices (and experience) are almost identical except that I drop down to just scissors from the swiss card rather than a razor blade when I am really pushing it.
Two other reasons:
4. group trips where we are doing more fancy meals that require cutting / chopping for some part of the prep work.
5. if I was going someplace (like canadian rockies) where there is a real chance I wouldn't see people for week or more, and might not to really use those survival skills I learned years ago.
–MarkDec 22, 2010 at 2:38 am #1676677James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Well, I am not a survivalist, but a knife is one of the few basic tools you will have a hard time making.
Overall, a knife is too handy to be without. There are thousands of uses for a knife, too many to list.
One with a fairly good blade, good steel, but not brittle, about 2-3" long is my choice. A small piece of carbide paper (carborundum) is enough to sharpen it. Gerber or Buck makes good blades (LST or Rush versions.)Dec 22, 2010 at 7:38 am #1676724Andy FSpectator
For something which weighs around 3-4 oz and, with the corresponding skills, can enable you to make almost anything you might need in an area where wood is available, it's hard to not carry a 3-4 inch fixed blade knife on a trip.Dec 22, 2010 at 8:00 am #1676731Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
Why any piece of gear? I find that the utility justifies the weight. As with any gear, either you do or don't.
Knifes do carry some emotional baggage as they can be considered a weapon. So can a rock or stick for that matter. The intent of the user is the thing to be concerned with, not the object.
Ray Jardine mentions that many gear choices are based on an underlying fear of nature, prompting people to over-equip, and I think that is an accurate assessment. I do hold that a small amount of gear is needed to handle basic emergency/survival situations. That needs to be kept in check, just like any other gear category. The same UL principles should be applied, with an eye to multiple use and finding the lightest functional options.
I think the real issue comes to carrying equipment that is not used every time we hike. I carry some survival items with the great hope that I will *never* need to use them. In my case that would be a whistle, space blanket bivy, some alternate fire-starting options, back-up lighting, and some larger first aid items— maybe 4 ounces more than the more Spartan SUL gear lists, plus my choice of knife. IMHO, hiking without the essentials is foolish, particularly when hiking solo.
Buy why carry a knife specifically? It is part of my personal safety/survival gear, a repair tool, cooking gear, and I do consider it to be a self defense option. That said, I don't think it needs to be some massive Rambo chopper. I prefer a quality 3.5" folder with locking blade that weighs 3-4oz.
On a typical hike you would find me with a Victorinox Classic on my survival keyring and a Benchmade Griptilian clipped in my pants pocket. I carry the Griptilian daily, along with a Leatherman Style CS.
Other knife options I like:
Victorinox Trekker one-hand opening
Victorinox Farmer (non-locking)
Victorinox Hiker (non-locking)
Victorinox paring knife (fixed blade)
Mora All Round (fixed blade)Dec 22, 2010 at 8:52 am #1676738D GSpectator
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
Ray Mears constructs a bowdrill set from scratch with no knife by knapping a stone!Dec 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm #1676845Mike MBPL Member
^ good idea but ray mears probably weighs close to 180 lbs, lighter to just carry the knife :)Dec 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm #1676899John DevittBPL Member
"I think the real issue comes to carrying equipment that is not used every time we hike. I carry some survival items with the great hope that I will *never* need to use them. In my case that would be a whistle, space blanket bivy, some alternate fire-starting options, back-up lighting, and some larger first aid items— maybe 4 ounces more than the more Spartan SUL gear lists, plus my choice of knife. IMHO, hiking without the essentials is foolish, particularly when hiking solo."
+1 Dale. In the backcountry for multiple night trips is no place to be w/o a few key survival items and the skills that make them effective.
On the AT, I carried a spyderco ladybug. It was fine for the uses I needed a knife for. I was never very far from a town, road, or another hiker. I emergency items were just as compact for the same reasons.
When I started hiking in Colorado, I changed up my kit a bit. I learned from years of hiking that cold hands don't work well with folding knives, matches, small shelter bits, ect. I use a mora fixed blade, either my clipper or miki, most times it is a bit more than my needs but is great when way out from a town or another hiker. Heetsheet, fero rod, tinder, whistle, and chapstick w/sp are now standards in my kit. Even with these additions my pack for 5 days w/ 1 liter of water is only 20 – 25 lbs bepending on the time of year. Yeah, I know it isn't a light as some on here, but I can easily handle it and it offers very safe margins when the weather gets wacky.
At any rate… HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
JohnDec 23, 2010 at 12:08 am #1676981jeffrey bennettSpectator
@jollygreenLocale: Near the bottom
^ good idea but ray mears probably weighs close to 180 lbs, lighter to just carry the knife :)
Now that was funny!
I carry a 530.Dec 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm #1677102John DevittBPL Member
I missed that….that IS funny!!!Dec 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm #1678171Ken KMember
@thefatboyLocale: St. Louis
Not the "LOL" type, but I just woke the wife laughing at that… Now I have to put the phone away for the night.Dec 29, 2010 at 7:48 pm #1678847James holdenBPL Member
the REAL reason you need a knife …Dec 29, 2010 at 8:38 pm #1678857
This summer someone was killed by Mountain Goat in Olympic Peninsula, somewhere near Hurricane Ridge I believe.
That person should have carried a knife as in your picture.Jan 2, 2011 at 11:25 am #1679828Timothy CooperMember
That gave me a good chuckleJan 2, 2011 at 12:44 pm #1679858
When I was in Enchantment Lakes in 2008 there was this Mountain Goat that came right up to us. I had to shoo it away. If I knew then what I knew now, I would have been more fearful:
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