is a knife a non-essential item?
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David Dietrich
(Hinds) - F

Locale: Central Mississippi
is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 19:46:15 MDT Print View

I read Skurka's ultimate hiker's guide, and he recommends bringing a small, folding knife. I have seen it recommended elsewhere also, but I am having difficulty convincing myself it's needed. Does anybody use knives on hikes regularly? If so, what for?

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
nonessential knife on 08/27/2014 19:51:37 MDT Print View

I use a knife about the same amount as a real compass (i use micro compass at trail intersections frequently) or FAK. Very seldom. That doesn't mean it would be a good idea to leave it behind. I usually just have a 0.25 oz dermasafe, but sometimes an exacto blade.

Edited by livingontheroad on 08/27/2014 19:54:24 MDT.

Todd Taylor
(texasbb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 20:08:25 MDT Print View

Nope, it's essential. Rarely needed but indispensable when needed. Doesn't need to be big; it's mainly for cutting string, cord, hangnails, occasionally wood slivers (tender). My big one weighs 1.2 oz.

Andrew U
(anarkhos) - M

Locale: Colorado, Wyoming
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 20:13:53 MDT Print View

Years ago, I always took a big bushcraft knife because, well, I always took one. Everyone did. You couldn't possibly survive in the woods, even just a long day hike, without a Rambo knife.

Now, I take a SAK Classic, mostly for the scissors, and rarely if ever use it. My last 3 hikes I haven't needed to use it for anything, and that includes food prep.

So no, I vote that you don't need a knife. A small cutting tool, like a pair of mini scissors or a razor blade, yes. But a legit woods knife, absolutely not.

With that said, if the object of my trip is bushcraft oriented, I take a 5 inch Mora, a Laplander folding saw, and/or my Gransfors Bruks Mini Hatchet.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 20:20:24 MDT Print View

The answer clearly depends on the person. To me it is an essential item when outdoors, but I would not suffer from anxiety either if I left it at home.
My favorite is my Esee Izula, at two ounces. I use it one every backpacking trip in non survival situations. I loan it out a lot to others who think it's not essential..
I can think of many instances that would call for a good knife when inn the trail.
As with everything else to each their own.

Katherine .
(Katherine) - F

Locale: pdx
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 20:41:24 MDT Print View

It's far more civilized to cut my salami and cheese with a small knife than to chomp down on the whole thing with my incisors.

and I yes, I do think could be of importance in an emergency situation.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 20:43:52 MDT Print View

"is a knife a non-essential item?"

Only if you don't need it when you're out there.

Billy

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 20:46:04 MDT Print View

I use my knife for:
fire prep in wet conditions
gutting fish (or animals if hunting)
slicing up food
carving tarp stakes
cutting plants for edible gathering or samples for taxonomy
throwing at rotten logs for entertainment

In an emergency situation if you are separated from your pack or don't have overnight gear, a sturdy fixed blade can be batoned to cut branches or saplings for building an emergency shelter and ground insulation. Also helps with fire prep in an emergency.

I wouldn't call it essential for backpacking but if you know what you are doing with it, it can be useful. It's more useful if you come at backpacking from a bushcraft/minimalist camping frame of mind.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 20:47:03 MDT Print View

I normally have some kind of benchmade on my person in the front country but for reasons unknown only carry a sak classic when backpacking. I really need to reexamine my reasoning for not bringing a proper knife.

I've had my eye on the Izula for quite some time.

Essential? Probably not but I like having a quality knife on me.

jimmy b
(jimmyb) - F
Most gear on 08/27/2014 20:55:55 MDT Print View

Individual items to carry make for good conversation but like everything in my bag of tricks for an outing a knife is a personal decision based on past experiences, forethought and learning from others. In the end though its me that has to carry it or deal with being without it and that again goes for each and every piece of my kit.

I do carry a knife.
Well my old man was a Navy man and all those old time sailors carried some sort of blade. He could butcher a deer with a tiny folding pocket knife. Think pocket knife of 50,s. Nothing high tec. I have seen him thru a lifetime take that little knife out and save himself and others he came along so much trouble. One of the keys to knives is carry a sharp one, otherwise its pretty well useless. I have a very light foldable with a partial serrated blade. I do use it but I also would not panic if it was left behind on a shorter trip.

Like most things there is an argument for both sides. It doesn't keep me hydrated, warm or dry so its importance is below all the items on the list that do.

On the other hand when sailing I have a medium sized fully serrated pointless straight blade in a Velcro rip away sheath lashed to the front of my PDF that I hope will NEVER get used. But it is there in the event of a knockdown or capsize to cut my self or another free from lines and rigging.

Funny, two different knives. One I don't mind using to justify its weight the other I hope never to use at all.

jimmyb

Edited by jimmyb on 08/27/2014 20:59:27 MDT.

Mitch Chesney
(MChesney) - F
keep it simple, stupid on 08/27/2014 20:56:44 MDT Print View

KISS

It's a philosophy we all live by in the UL circle. What more do you need for normal backpacking than a SAK Classic? If you are cutting large ropes or possibly doing stove maintenance get a slightly larger multitool like the Leatherman Juice S2. Or if you feel like whittling or bushcraft a cheap (and light) Frosts Mora Classic fits the bill.

A folding knife, even a lightweight one like the Benchmade Griptillian, has only one or two uses. I don't see a reason to buy an $80 knife if it'll only cut rope or some basic firestick feathering. Rather have the multitool or have a knife dedicated and durable enough for harder use.

That being said I do own a Geiptillian, the original Cold Steel SRK in CarbonV, and an order in for the Skookum Bush Tool. But 99% of the time will be the SAK.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 21:08:29 MDT Print View



I keep a tiny Gerber Zip Blade (0.6oz) in my pocket to slice open the little foil Micropur packets. Also, to occasionally cut cord. That's about it.

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
A single-edge razor blade for me on 08/27/2014 21:09:59 MDT Print View

“Here’s an insight from all my years in the mountains: With just a little bit of planning, I don’t have much use for a knife and rarely use one.” – Mike Clelland

Like Mike, I carry a single-edge razor blade (and haven't had to use even that in a couple of years). While backpacking at, or above tree line, in the High Sierra I don't carry, or come across, anything that needs cutting. If I ever do, my little razor blade should do the trick.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 21:11:07 MDT Print View

Perhaps Aron Ralston would like to chime in on this?
(of 127 hours fame?)

Billy

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
scissors on 08/27/2014 21:15:42 MDT Print View

I could do without a knife but I often use the scissors on my SAK classic - mostly to cut tape or moleskin. I have used the knife blade occasionally to cut pieces of cord, but I could do that with the scissors just fine. So I can't think of a time in the past 10 years or so when I had to use the knife blade.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 21:16:22 MDT Print View

"I normally have some kind of benchmade on my person in the front country but for reasons unknown only carry a sak classic when backpacking. I really need to reexamine my reasoning for not bringing a proper knife."

Benchmade?! Well excuse me, your highness, I didn't realize this was the Luxury Camping forum!

Just kidding.

If I had a nice knife, I'd want to carry it. I never judge someone's knife choice, because it's one of those tools where ergonomics, comfort, and utility go miles further than an ounce saved. A good knife can eliminate so many potential problems, especially in a medical emergency, that I can't imagine judging a knife choice.

That being said... the Daniel Boone knife in a leather sheath, leave it at home.


I myself carry a Ken Onion Chive, it's only an inch or so but it's nice and sharp. Anything smaller, and I wouldn't be comfortable applying any force.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 21:19:49 MDT Print View

"That being said... the Daniel Boone knife in a leather sheath, leave it at home."

I sometimes carry a Danny B sticker in big cat country. A slim, but at least some chance to live.

Billy

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 21:24:53 MDT Print View

If a person doesn't think it's essential, then for them, it's not. It's only useful if they have the skills and knowledge of how to use it. It's one of those magical ten essentials which people think will bail them out of trouble, yet it's no more useful to them than a lucky rabbit's foot. Everyone reads the ten essential lists, but not many think about them.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 21:28:24 MDT Print View

"Benchmade?! Well excuse me, your highness, I didn't realize this was the Luxury Camping forum!"

Ha ha! Thanks for the laugh!

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 21:32:59 MDT Print View

"It's one of those magical ten essentials which people think will bail them out of trouble, yet it's no more useful to them than a lucky rabbit's foot. "

I think that's a stretch.

I most likely won't need it to survive. I definitively use it all the time. I could go without. I could regret not having it with me.
If carrying a knife, or Tp, or whatever slows you down and people have to wait for you...then it might be time to start leaving even those at home. If you are in good shape and can handle those few ounces that make your trip more comfortable/ clean/ safe, then the fact that others consider them non essential does not matter.