November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Why a knife instead of scissors?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Why an UL knife instead of scissors? on 03/20/2013 23:35:46 MDT Print View

Been doing some thinking, and I can't think of any situation where I'd prefer to have an UL knife over scissors. Barring those that run around with a large functional knife for woodcraft (not my thing), why would I want an UL knife instead of scissors? Based on my experiences in backpacking, everytime I've used an UL knife, a pair of scissors would have worked better, faster, safer.

Note that this is for strictly backpacking. I carry a multitool for technical or gear-intensive adventures.

And then, the next logical step... what's the lightest weight pair of super functional scissors? Something more functional than a pair taken from a Swiss Army Knife? Looking for something in the .2-.3oz range... anyone have good ones?

Edited by lindahlb on 03/21/2013 20:13:50 MDT.

Nelson Sherry

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: Why a knife instead of scissors? on 03/21/2013 00:09:48 MDT Print View

What about cutting cheese, spreading peanut butter,slicing bread, digging out slivers, defending yourself against aggressive marmots, or just making small fires in less than ideal conditions.

I think the swiss army scissors that come in their little credit card tools are awesome.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Re: Why a knife instead of scissors? on 03/21/2013 00:36:51 MDT Print View

What Nelson said. I have also been short on stakes and have had to fashion my own.

For all these reasons, I like to carry a small, light fixed blade on my belt. I also consider it my fail safe. Not being attached to my pack, if my pack decided to commit suicide over a cliff or into a river, I know that I could survive with a decent knife and a firesteal or lighter. Never really learned how to rub sticks together though...

That being said, the oposite of your argument is also true. What can be done with a small pair of scissors can also be done with a small piece of razor blade. I don't think you can get a pair of scissors lighter than an exacto blade.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Why a knife instead of scissors? on 03/21/2013 01:44:57 MDT Print View

I like a Victorinox Classic or similar that has scissors and a small blade in the .75oz range. The Leatherman Micra or Style can foot the same bill. Scissors are handy for sewing, light repairs and grooming. But scissors won't do what a knife can.

I carry a pocket knife all the time, so I'm not leaving it behind while hiking.

From there, I like a folding pocket knife with a locking blade. For good CYA, one of the 111mm frame Victorinox knives with a saw makes a good paring with the little Classic. For a good single blade locking knife, the Benchmade Griptilian is excellent.

For fixed blades, there are the light paring knives like the Little Vickie at 1oz, or one of the mora knives that wander into the 4oz ranges.

I don't know why people object to having a useful tool with them when hiking. You don't need a big heavy knife, just something for food prep and general repairs, with an eye to fire making and other skills.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Why a knife instead of scissors? on 03/21/2013 03:48:11 MDT Print View

Sort'a like any other tool that has been around for a thousand years or more, there are things that are easier with a pair of scissors. I won't debate the redundency of having two blades. I will point out that you really only need one knife edge to do most chores. I have been using/carrying the Gerber LST for the past few years. It can do wound cleanouts far better than any pair of scissors. Splinters and slivers are a fact of life around a wood shop and it is far easier to slice to a splinter that attempting to simply yank it out leaving "feathers" in the wound.

The little thread nippers (like tiny sheap shears) are perhaps the best all-round scissors I have found. Two tiny blades in a plastic handle with spring work well and only weigh about .5oz. You can pare this down some. Fiskars makes some fair ones. You can remove the blades for sharpening/honing. I use them for tying fishing flies and they cut through everything up to 18ga brass wire as well as fabric, feathers and other things. They also have a little cap that slips over the end for safety.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Why a knife instead of scissors? on 03/21/2013 07:51:19 MDT Print View

can find these at walmart or craft stores too. super sharp and very light. I find them a lot more useful when cutting moleskin and stuff like that.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Why a knife instead of scissors? on 03/21/2013 08:12:07 MDT Print View

Brian, I'd be curious specifically what tasks you used the knife for where scissors would be better. Off hand the only two I can think of are nail trimming and cutting moleskin.

My task list for the knife is pretty much the same as what Nelson listed and I don't think a pair of scissors is especially good at any of those tasks.

I have carried a little pair of scissors in the past and seldom used them. As a result I stopped carrying them.

Truth be told most of the time the plastic knife-spatula combo in my Guyote Designs Microbites does the majority of my knife tasks just fine, but I still carry a very small very sharp knife as well.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
knive on 03/21/2013 08:31:49 MDT Print View

Knife IMHO is way more useful especially if stuff goes side ways. I always carry a fixed blade just in case I have to build a shelter, start a fire, or god forbid remove a limb. My knife is a skeletonized fulltang fixed balde with a flint and an emergency whistle. heck i can even start my pocket rocket with the flint and the blade if I some how sose my lighter and back up water proof matches.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Knife, scissors, AND nail clipper on 03/21/2013 08:40:40 MDT Print View

I've found that the Swiss Army Clipper works really well for me. I usually use the scissors, but occasionally use the blade to open a food packet. I've found the clipper to be really handy and the tool really does everything I need in the woods.

Wenger Swiss Clipper

Mine weighs 1.3 ounces.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
tent poles on 03/21/2013 08:59:22 MDT Print View

Only a real dope would forget the tent poles, but I have done that a few times. Having a Mora knife has allowed me to cut some willow or alder branches to make a decent substitute tent pole. Tough to do with a scissors or a Swiss Army Classic. The Mora is about 2.5 oz, and like any knife that size, pretty hand when you need it. I have nothing against carrying both, a small scissors, and a knife. For 2.5 oz, the versatility factor of a knife is too much for me to pass up.

Kyle Meyer

Locale: Portland, OR
scissors. on 03/21/2013 08:59:51 MDT Print View

It's hard to split kindling with scissors.

Don Abernathey
(OldGuysRule) - F

Locale: PNW
Scissors just don't cut it on 03/21/2013 09:08:43 MDT Print View

A knife is multipurpose - scissors not so much. A little Leatherman PS4 will let you squeeze on split shot, clean a fish, tighten the reel, fix a nasty toenail, and open Micropur tablet packaging.

Now they come with little scissors - I guess a lot of folks want to trim nose hair, etc. to keep up their grooming on the trail :)

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Scissors just don't cut it on 03/21/2013 09:32:14 MDT Print View

Let's just cut to the chase. ;-)

I have never really "needed" a knife while hiking even though I always carry one' Rule #9.

That being said the old axiom, "Use the proper tool for the job", comes into play here.

As Bob and Kyle have said you just can't fashion tent poles or split kindling with a pair of scissors.

I much rather scissors or a DermaSafe in my FAK but they do have their limits.

A Mora is about as small as I would want to go if I'm going to be doing bushcraft shelters or batoning of firewood.

Party On,


K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Scissors? on 03/21/2013 09:50:08 MDT Print View

There may have been a few times that a pair of scissors would have done the job, as in opening a bag of food, cutting a piece of moleskin etc. all and all, I would not chose scissors instead of a knife; too many things that scissors would not be good for. I carry a small Gerber knife with me at all times and I use it just about daily. I also loan it out all the time to someone less prepared.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Good Q. Scissors trump blades. But having both is easy. on 03/21/2013 10:01:18 MDT Print View

Interesting Q, Brian.

You predictably got flamed by the bushcrafters, etc. Even as some acknowledged never actually needing a knife.

For 30 years, on the job site, I always reach for the scissors and not the razor knife if I possibly can. I get kind of preachy about that with underlings as it greatly reduces trips to the ER (and therefore OSHA recordable incidents). So I have a nice selection of substantial shop shears and scissors in my garage and in my field tool box.

Vastly easier and safer with scissors:
cutting mole skin, Second-Skin, bandaids.
opening plastic food packaging.
trimming fabric or thread during field repairs.
trimming finger / toenails.
cleaning a razor clam.

Vastly easier with a blade:
splitting kindling, shaving tinder.
cutting salami / cheese.
filleting a fish. (but how many halibut or king salmon do any but me catch? Don't you cook a 10" rainbow whole?)
Spreading peanut butter. Although a spork or spork handle works better and is easier (and SAFER!) to lick clean.
Fabricating objects from wood - tent poles, replacement button, pack stay, Huck-Finn raft, etc.

I have rarely made a blade from chert or obsidian. I have never fabricated scissors on the trail. More usefully, I have often used a found stone as a file or sand paper to shape, smooth or thin a piece of wood or metal.

*IF* I was limited to one or the other and I don't use a wood stove, I think I would go with the scissors. But since a SAK Classic is 21 grams / 0.75 ounces and has scissors, blade, tweezers, and nail file, for me, that's the easy answer. The Classic also gives you a decent-sized handle for using the scissors and blade.

But I still go for the scissors if at all possible. Who among us has NOT cut themselves with a knife? Who HAS cut themselves badly with scissors? A sliced finger is bad enough in town. It could really suck 4 days out on the trail or a week into a remote rafting trip.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Scissors? on 03/21/2013 10:06:47 MDT Print View

i will always have my Opinel in my pack but my tiny scissors will probably get more use. I don't tend to carry food that needs a knife or make fires that would need a knife.

rowan !

Locale: SF Bay Area
Knife and Scissors on 03/21/2013 10:08:53 MDT Print View

I carry a tiny Leatherman Style, which weighs about 0.7 ounces and has a knife, scissors, file and tweezers. I use both the scissors and the knife every day when backpacking. It lives in my pocket at home too, and I use the knife and scissors frequently.

If you want a small light pair of plain scissors, I found one in a Japanese "dollar" store (Daiso in San Francisco's Japantown) for 89 cents. It works very well.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Re: Good Q. Scissors trump blades. But having both is easy. on 03/21/2013 10:30:25 MDT Print View

I think that you also need to look at the tasks performed with a knife as opposed to scissors. I dont know about you but I have never cut my self opening a bag of food, cutting mole skin or trimming fabric with a knife. I tend to cut my self while performing harder tasks such as chopping wood, opening a can, ect. Which im sure if you tried with a scissors would be even more dangerous due to the fact that its an insufficient tool for the job.

Ill take my knife over scissors anyday in the field.

Also, I have seen some one cut them selves trimming there toe nails with scissors. Hint its me.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Why a knife instead of scissors?" on 03/21/2013 10:32:35 MDT Print View

I haven't found anything I can do with scissors I can't do with a knife. There's plenty I do with a knife that scissors don't work well for. Food prep being a major one, as someone previously pointed out. So, I carry a knife. Oddly, I find that a lot of people I know who choose not to carry a knife...ask to use mine.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Why a knife instead of scissors? on 03/21/2013 10:47:32 MDT Print View

"Oddly, I find that a lot of people I know who choose not to carry a knife...ask to use mine."

Good point, Dena! And too often the borrowed knife comes back to you with a ruined edge, or the borrower cuts themselves because they have never held/used a sharp knife. It makes me very leery of loaning my knife to folks who don't carry their own.