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is a knife a non-essential item?
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Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 21:42:46 MDT Print View

"I think that's a stretch."

People really do take a knife just because it's on an essentials list. Just because you and most of the people on this forum are reasonable doesn't mean most people are equally as reasonable.

jimmy b
(jimmyb) - F
Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 21:57:49 MDT Print View

"yet it's no more useful to them than a lucky rabbit's foot"

I've cut many a rabbits foot off with a good sharp knife and I can tell you first hand the knife, although not magical, was positively more useful than the left over rabbits feet :)


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
tiny Gerber on 08/27/2014 22:00:19 MDT Print View

I have the smallest Gerber/Bear Grylls lock-blade made. It weighs 0.9 oz. and will do all the cutting and peanut butter spreading I need. One stainless blade, one pivot pin, one locking spring and one plastic handle. That's it.

It's so small I had to add a 8" braided Triptease tent cord lanyard so I could even find it if i dropped it at night. With the lanyard it stays in my pocket better.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 22:01:00 MDT Print View

>"I never judge someone's knife choice"

I do - when I'm hiking on a paved path in Yosemite, where the greatest risk is being attacked by a hungry ground squirrel, and someone has a 6- to 8-inch blade sheath knife. Then I judge them.

On an overnight or longer, I carry a SAK Classic (21 grams). Blade, scissors, nail file, tweezers. I don't think you're wrong to carry a razor blade or nothing or all. Or to carry a 3-4" fixed blade although I'd say that's a personal or luxury item rather than UL gear.

SAK Classic

On a boat or dog sled I carry a Little Vicky (3.25" plain or serrated or 4" plain) in a sheath in case I have to cut lines quickly.
Little Vicky knives

If we're on salt water, then I've got a 9-inch fillet knife in the tackle box. I only need to fillet from the edge to midline on a halibut so with that I can cleanly dress a 80-pound fish. Always a Dexter-Russell just like the big boys working on the slime line use.


My biggest knife safety tip: Use scissors and not a knife whenever you can. I'm kind of fanatically on that point on the job site as I have found it reduces trips to the ER to get stitched up.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 08/27/2014 22:07:03 MDT.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 08/27/2014 22:19:43 MDT Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 06/17/2015 16:43:56 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 22:35:19 MDT Print View

For all the what-ifs that theoretically could arise that require a 1 ounce knife (and the far fewer, but infinitely more dramatic situations that would require Crocodile Dundee's knife), there are at least many what-ifs fixed by a needle and thread. Which weigh a gram.

And yet, I never see a thread arguing standard sewing needles versus glovers needles (my favorite) or if the added weight of also carrying a carpet needle or darning needle requires you to resign from BPL.

If you knew you were going to be sent 20,000 years back in time, most would agonize endlessly over .338 versus .458 rifles and the UL guys would go for 30/06 while the SUL crowd would argue you can kill a mammoth with a .22 if you are experienced enough while some moron would advocate for Dirty Harry's .44. I'd bring a thousand sewing needles (about a pound) and trade for what I needed when I got there.

Knife for water on 08/27/2014 22:55:41 MDT Print View

I was in the sierras last October and the only water on a forty mile stretch was a stream that was covered in ice. Probably could have used a rock if there was one nearby, but my knife ended up saving a lot of time to cut through the ice and get my water. Never used it again on the trip, but man it was useful for that situation.

David Olsen
( - M

Locale: Channeled Scablands
cut thread on 08/27/2014 23:17:50 MDT Print View

I need a knife to cut the thread when sewing.

My teeth aren't what they used to be.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 23:20:12 MDT Print View

No. We traded tooth and claw for tools. That doesn't mean you have to haul some Crocodile Dundee Rambo short sword. A good quality 3.5" folder or a Mora will fill the bill nicely.

I carry a pocket knife every day. Why wouldn't I carry one while hiking?

What would I use a knife for?

Food prep
Fire making
Improvising shelter
Self defense

David Olsen
( - M

Locale: Channeled Scablands
self defense against sheep dogs on 08/27/2014 23:20:51 MDT Print View

"But recently the 68-year-old has added something to the hiking sticks, water bottle, rain jacket and sketching supplies she always takes along — a loaded Glock.

Graham is arming herself because she fears the large, white Akbash dogs that guard sheep herds around Silverton and other high-mountain towns, particularly along the popular Colorado and Continental Divide trails. "

Katherine .
(Katherine) - F

Locale: pdx
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 23:25:57 MDT Print View

"And yet, I never see a thread arguing standard sewing needles …"

because then it would be a needle and thread thread.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 23:33:22 MDT Print View

"I carry a pocket knife every day. Why wouldn't I carry one while hiking?"

Same here. It would make no sense for me to leave it home when backpacking.

No problem if some of you don't want to bring one. I'll keep bringing mine and if you need it I will loan it to ya.

As for mountain lions, at least I have a small chance if I get attacked. I also carry a screeching mace around here. They tell you to fight back and I would rather do it with my knife than small scissors.

Edited by Kat_P on 08/27/2014 23:38:02 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: self defense against sheep dogs on 08/27/2014 23:36:58 MDT Print View

A can of bear spray would be better. Works on bears too :)

James Couch

Locale: Cascade Mountains
Re: scissors on 08/27/2014 23:42:37 MDT Print View

+1 Paul!

I now carry a pair of Swisscard scissors and leave the heavy SAK classic at home. :)

Still carry a knife climbing, but if I am hiking I just bring scissors. The only thing I have ever used a knife for hiking was to slice cheese. Pre-slice the cheese and I have no need for a knife.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/27/2014 23:43:26 MDT Print View

I'm under no illusion that I need a "real" knife, but I think the honest truth for me and many others is that tools are pretty cool and fun and I'm out there to enjoy myself. There are some trips where I have extra packrafting gear or big water loads on a long trip and every little thing is worth scrutinizing, but 85% of the time I'd rather cut my cheese off the slab while I'm out there. Or my avocado. If you're hiking the JMT, plan ahead, and don't care about all this aesthetic bullshit, then no, you probably don't need a real knife (though the same could be said about other "nessesary" gear like shelters and sleeping bags).

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Knife for water on 08/28/2014 00:01:52 MDT Print View

What does ice do to a knife edge?

Michael Gunderloy
(ffmike) - MLife
One more use on 08/28/2014 05:46:29 MDT Print View


Of course that moves it from "necessity" to "personal luxury" unless you're whittling tent pegs or some such.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/28/2014 08:04:10 MDT Print View

A man needs a knife...

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F

Locale: SE US
Re: Re: is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/28/2014 08:35:19 MDT Print View

Depends. I probably could get by fine with just a Vnox Classic most of the time, but always carry a Spyderco Delica. Was wishing for the saw on the Vnox Hiker, that I usually consider dead weight, when I lost a trekking pole doing some class 5 "scrambling" climbing around a waterfall that flows into a hole. Had to cut a limb to use as a trekking pole/support for my Tarptent Notch.
Where appropriate in cold weather, I sometimes bring a folding saw for cutting firewood, and a fixed blade comes in handy for splitting it if all the small stuff has been picked over already. Bought a Mora Companion HD this spring that I'll carry instead of a heavier knife on the rare occasions I bring the saw. Since my weekly trips in winter are only 1-3 nights, pack weight's already minimal, and the extra 14.4oz that combo weighs isn't noticeable. The ability to have a decent sized fire prepped in going in just minutes is, though, because if it was too time consuming I wouldn't bother. Fire can be fun to play with when sunset comes early...

David Dietrich

Locale: Central Mississippi
is a knife a non-essential item? on 08/28/2014 09:59:34 MDT Print View

...annnd the knife comes off my gear list. If I want self-defense, I'll bring bear spray, and the food I pack can be eaten with a spoon. As for cordage, I plan to have it pre-cut and tied onto my tarp already. For fire I bring an alcohol stove, and a knife large enough to make real firewood would be too heavy anyway. As for being a man, I'll sweat it out.