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Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation?
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e kem
(story) - F
Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation? on 10/20/2010 13:52:14 MDT Print View

Many people consider their survival or outdoor knife to be their most important tool. I am hoping to learn what makes a knife so important during outdoor adventures.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation? on 10/20/2010 13:59:23 MDT Print View

I used to carry a big knife into the woods. Mostly because I thought they were cool. Well, I always had it, but never used it! So, I've whittled down my knife to a small Buck Hartsook knife. I very rarely use it, but it does come in handy opening Micropur tablet packaging.

Sorry, no fun/exciting story! However, you could probably use a knife to get your bear bag and rope down in case it gets stuck because I know I'm not pulling my Dyneema rope out of the tree.

Some people won't go into the wilderness without nothing less than an English broadsword. Some only take a razor blade.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation? on 10/20/2010 14:09:07 MDT Print View

I used to have the full sized Leatherman Wave at 9-12 oz.

Then I went down to the Leatherman Squirt at 3 oz.

Now I have the BPL folding "razor" blade at less than 0.5 oz.

Frankly, I have not even used my razor blade in the past year or more except for cutting open my vac sealed dehydrated food.

The only thing that I might use it for is cutting cord.

I do carry small scissors in my med kit, but I have not needed to use them either in over a year.

Don't think that it is necessary to have as long as I have all my backpacking gear.

If I were dayhiking with just my clothing on my back, then I would take one.


Michael Febbo
(febbom) - F
I'd take a phone or GPS over a knife... on 10/20/2010 14:12:52 MDT Print View

Ask on a bushcraft or knife forum and you will get more responses than you can likely read... those who frequent such forums tend to believe that with a good knife (usually a fixed blade knife strong enough to baton with)and a head full of know-how one can "survive" in the wilds by making fire, building shelter and possibly procuring food.
Maybe you can, but I have no idea when/why one would need to do this... if you are lost, learn how to use a GPS/compass and map. Carry a cell phone or sat phone if you are really worried. There are very few places in the lower 48 that one cannot walk a straight line and in a few miles hit a road... if you are injured, I doubt you'll be able to hop about wacking stuff with a knife to help you survive. In a real situation, you need to be try to be rescued, and not build spend your time making deadfall traps.

That said, I do carry a knife when climbing and would if boating... ropes can cause problems and do need to be cut. However, I do not need some $300 Bark River or even a cheap Mora to do this... i carry a cheap serrated folder with blunted tip.

Caveat: the above is just my opinion- not trying to start an argument, though I do get annoyed when I see trees and saplings cut down in large quantities by those practicing "survival skills".

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation? on 10/20/2010 14:36:14 MDT Print View

If you know how to use it properly, it can be a great tool. I admittedly do not, so I bring a small folding razor blade (same as Tony) to cut food packs open and moleskin. I could probably use my teeth for those tasks in a pinch. I'd love to hear some crazy stories though - maybe mountaineers/water travelers/climbers would some.

Gabe P
(Gabe) - MLife
"Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation?" on 10/20/2010 14:41:12 MDT Print View

I think a knife would be very handy for improvising whatever I would need to survive if I unexpectedly found myself lost/stranded in the middle of the woods without backpacking gear. If I were a military pilot, for example, I’d probably keep a fixed blade in my plane. But I’m not a military pilot who flies jets over large expanses of wilderness, with minimal space for backpacking gear. I bring the gear I need when hiking (which is minimal) and when backpacking (which includes all the basics). And if I experience gear failure, I know how to use different combinations of my remaining gear to compensate/survive. As a result, I carry a derma-safe.

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: "Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation?" on 10/20/2010 14:48:24 MDT Print View

As a climber I have used my knife a few times in situations that could have gotten rather interesting if I had not had it. The one time I can think of off the top of my head is bailing off Cathedral Peak in Tuolmne to get away from an approaching storm. Didn't have a long enough rope to manage the rappels we needed to do and came across someone else's bail rope that they had left. It was pretty hopelessly wedged behind a rock and that's where the knife came in handy. With the extra material we were able to rig up something a lot easier than without it. Granted, we could have figured something else out and managed and we weren't as prepared as we should have been, but it sure was nice to have a knife available. I either carry the Trango Piranha or the Spyderco Ladybug on a NiteIze 'biner. I have found both of these knives to be more than adequate.

Andy Schill
(Aschill) - F
knife use on 10/20/2010 14:59:40 MDT Print View

I hardly ever use my knife. I carry the swiss army "key chain" knife that has a blade, scissors, toothpick and tweezers.

If I do use my knife its usually to cut small cord (rarely) or open up food items (rarely, because I usually repackage my food into ziplock bags). I think I actually use the tiny scissors and the toothpick more than the blade.

I too started with a larger knife and scaled back after I realized I never use it.

Really the only time I ever "needed" a knife was to cut under thick bark from a fallen dead tree to find dry tinder to start a fire in very cold weather when we were soaking wet.

Edited by Aschill on 10/20/2010 15:01:19 MDT.

Scott S
Re: Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation? on 10/20/2010 15:00:51 MDT Print View

I really like this guys take on a survival knife.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Ralston on 10/20/2010 15:15:48 MDT Print View

Sure helped Aron Ralston. (Hope this doesn't turn into a discussion on his actions that led to that.)

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation? on 10/20/2010 15:16:43 MDT Print View

I think that the responses here will likely fall into two categories of lightweight hikers. Those who remove a piece of gear because it is seldom or never used and those who choose to carry an item for safety's sake even though they may never need it. I think the former group would likely carry fewer first-aid "basic-aid" items as well.

I fall into the latter category and carry a Leatherman Micra, for the scissors only as I feel they are superior in cutting than the Swiss Army classic, and a CRKT lock back knife which weighs 2.4oz. They both get daily use on the trail for cutting cheese or spreading peanut butter and cutting moleskin or fingernails. I'd rather have the extra ~3oz of utility and some security than to go with only a Dermablade which many people carry.

This mindset is probably what's keeping me from a sub 10lb base as well.

Edited by cobberman on 10/20/2010 15:19:04 MDT.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation? on 10/20/2010 15:58:09 MDT Print View

Sure helped Aron Ralston.

He could have done it with a razor blade, it just would have taken longer. ;)

But, yep, that is a good example. I agree with Eric about the two types of people. I never used mine so over the years I simply reduced and reduced until I had just a dermasafe.

However, I should mention in winter, I typically bring a small multi tool in case something needs repair like stove, snowshoes, maybe lots of fabric cutting for some reason, etc. With cold hands I envision the razor blade required additional dexterity which may be tough...I'm not ready for derma-winters yet. :)

Stephen Adams
(stevemkedcom) - MLife

Locale: Northwest
"Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation?" on 10/20/2010 16:07:13 MDT Print View

Last weekend while doing a section of the PCT in Southern CA we ran into some hunters on the trail. After a few minutes of conversation with them one of them asked if were carrying protection? My first thought was "You mean like a condom?" "No like a knife or gun", he said "because we saw some big mountain lion prints back there on the trail and you really should have protection". I have been carry the Baladeo the last couple of months which might do some damage to a mountain lion but was way bigger than necessary for the couple of times I cut some cord. The several bear and one cougar encounters I have had, my first thought is where is my camera? not where is my knife?
I was actually way more scared of the guys with the guns than the Mountain lion.

Arthur Forbes
(FNF) - F
I carry a Bark River on 10/20/2010 16:31:33 MDT Print View

Michael you are one of the few people I have ever heard mention Bark River knives but that's exactly what I carry as I happen to collect these knifes! Yes, some of them cost $300 but many smaller knives that we would use are under $100. I no longer carry a blade that would make Rambo green with envy, but I do carry a little Bark River Scalpel with aged bamboo handle which is the lightest handle material according to the owner, Mike Stewart. Bark River has a fantastic selection of small fixed-blade knives, much more so then most any other company.

I do a lot of fishing and this knife works great for that and general camp duties, it is a full-tang fixed blade knife but only weights a couple of ounces, not sure the exact weight as I have misplaced my postal scale but it is very light and very strong.

What is so great about Bark River Knives (semi-custom), besides the outstanding materials & craftsmanship, is that they have a convex cutting edge and can be sharpened razor sharp with a small piece of 800 to 1200 grit sandpaper - no need to carry a sharpening stone. Convex edges also wear a lot better than the chisel-point blade we are all now accustomed to using. I can even baton with this little knife on small pieces of wood and this is considered "normal" use for these knives and is covered in their lifetime warranty.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Yup on 10/20/2010 16:59:34 MDT Print View

I always carry a small folder

- used it to shave kindling in wet conditions
- cut old rap slings
- cut an emergency bivy bag into an improvised rain shell
- slice cheese ... Lol

i mean a light knife weights less than 2 oz and can save yr life ... Wjy not?

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
first post on 10/20/2010 17:05:21 MDT Print View

interesting first post on a backpacking light forum

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Biggest Transformation on 10/20/2010 17:26:09 MDT Print View

I started my latest backpacking life carrying a 12" USMC Kabar. It did everything from pound in tent stakes to spread peanutbutter. Then I saw "the light." Since then I have wised up and only carry a razor blade which I seldom use. So I probably eliminated 99% of my knife weight and have never had a second thought.

Chris H
(-NXP-) - F

Locale: Upper Midwest
LM Wave on 10/20/2010 17:26:48 MDT Print View

I always, always, always carry my old model LM Wave on me - everyday it sees use at work, at home, and also on the trail/hunting.

It always seems to have something I need, I just wish it didn't weigh so much.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation? on 10/20/2010 17:32:57 MDT Print View

I bring a 0.7oz Victorinox w/7 tools on it...I have only use it for the scissors when I go fishing to cut the line.. No dire situations ever...

Edited by Creachen on 10/20/2010 17:47:00 MDT.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Has your knife ever helped you out of a dire situation? on 10/20/2010 17:43:43 MDT Print View

Cant think of one for me where it was paramount.

Didn't that guy a few years ago that got his arm caught under a falling rock, hack it off with a pen knife ??

I do like the plastic handle Mora 840 and becker necker knives but neither are SUL. They weigh about 4 oz.

Over all the years I have probably gotten more use out of a
Swiss army knife. The one with the saw, scissors, knife and screwdrivers.