Interesting how MOST of you ignored "barring those that run around with a large functional knife for woodcraft (not my thing)", which includes not needing firewood - especially since most of my camps are above or at treeline, and having campfires would be an unacceptable practice (LNT).
I should have put UL in the title. This thread is really for the ULers, where you bring a 0.7oz Swiss Army Knife, or a Dermasafe Razor, not the ones that take a 2oz fixed blade. I'm looking to keep the same amount of weight as a Dermasafe Razor, but have something significantly more functional for common tasks such as opening water tab packages, first aid and gear repair.
I love all the comments about starting a fire for emergency warmth, creating a shelter, etc. Isn't that what your shelter and sleeping bag (and other insulation) is for? Think UL...
On day trips, when I'm not carrying a shelter or sufficient insulation, a knife comes along. I also bring one along for technical trips, such as climbing, or on car camping trips. But I'm talking strictly about backpacking here.
Like David Thomas said:
Vastly easier and safer with scissors:
cutting mole skin, Second-Skin, bandaids, gauze.
opening plastic food packaging.
trimming fabric or thread during field repairs.
trimming finger / toenails.
Sure, you can do all that stuff with a knife (except nail trimming), but it's hardly an easy task, compared to scissors. The big problem is having a leveraging force on the other side of the blade for fabric/tape/gauze, where you need to use your other hand in a dangerous way, only to get imprecise cuts.
Per Dave Thomas again:
Vastly easier with a blade:
splitting kindling, shaving tinder.
** I don't need either with proper insulation and a shelter.
cutting salami / cheese.
** I don't bring those, or cut before you leave the house.
filleting a fish.
** I don't fish.
Spreading peanut butter.
** a spoon handle works just as good
Fabricating objects from wood - tent poles, replacement button, pack stay, Huck-Finn raft, etc.
** No tent poles (tarp). If I lose a stake, I can use a big rock and an extra guyline. I definitely don't have a reason to make any of the other stuff.
> I don't know why people object to having a useful tool with them when hiking.
Because it's not as useful for real tasks, compared to scissors. A USEFUL knife is much more weight than a pair of scissors, which can weigh about the same as a Dermasafe Knife, so if you don't really need it, therefore, nix it, per principles.
> Splinters and slivers are a fact of life around a wood shop
Do you backpack in a woodshop? I get maybe one splinter a year, and a sanitized needle from my repair kit works great for that.
> too many things that scissors would not be good for.
> Oddly, I find that a lot of people I know who choose not to carry a knife...ask to use mine.
To do what?
I appreciate all the responses. I really want to be convinced that I should bring a knife, but most of the already-mentioned stuff I've already thought of:
shelter... I have one
fire... I don't ever need/want one, and often can't
food... useless for the food I (most ULers) take
making stuff... what would I make that I actually need?
At this point, I'd rather take scissors and make the real tasks easier to do, than take a knife that I don't actually need, and be annoyed with having to use it for the real tasks.