View Full Version : Carryign and using a knife.

2006-09-15, 00:32
I'll admit it, I was never a boy scout, I have not done any trails or camping outside of a campgrounds, and I grew up being taught that knives = bad. Now that view has become law on nearly any kind of knife, and even spreading to the trail that anyone carrying a blade is viewed with suspicion. And yet by many it is considered an absolutely essential piece of gear.

I asked myself, why would I need to carry a knife for the kind of camping I want to do? This consists of lightweight backpacking, hammock camping, and such. I dont fish or hunt (dont know how to hunt, havent fished in 2 decades), I eat what I carry with me. I have yet to find a single need for a knife to be included in my pack. So I ask you guys, in all your experience, what uses does a knife serve on the trail that cannot be done without, or prepped at home?

Dont limit it to just my camping style outlined above, I'm looking for uses outside my box, however self defense doesnt count, as a knife wont do a bit of good against something too big for me to scare off with a stomp and a bellow.

2006-09-15, 01:54
You are right. You do not need a knife to scare off things that otherwise are scared of your good ol' stomp and bellow. You can always do all your camp chores at home first before you go. Besides, you quote laws that apparently have spread to trails causing us all to view those who carry knives as "suspicious". Heaven forbid....

Please let me explain something for you about knives. First, let me get this out of the way. Knives are manly. Men have knives. Women also have knives, but men mostly do. It is part of our contract. We are not allowed to be without them. They are so shiny and just plain f-ing fun to play with. With a knife you can live.

How about this instead. With a good knife, you can make shelter, make cordage, create other weapons and tools to kill food to eat. You can use the side of your knive blade to signal with. Cut wood for a fire. shave tinder to start your fire. You can cut your arm off when it becomes trapped in a rock crevice. You can pick at scabs on your arm with it.

Surely you jest when you question the usefullness of a knife. And where have you heard about knive "carry" laws ... "now that view has become law on nearly any kind of knife, and even spreading to the trail that anyone carrying a blade is viewed with suspicion." Suspicion of what? Preparedness?

2006-09-15, 02:14
I am not trying to say a knife does not have uses, I am trying to discover more of what those uses are, and how I may apply them both in practice and in conversation, such as the one I had recently with a friend about camping, when I could not find a single solid example of use.

On the topic of suspicion, I speak from personal experience on my carrying a knife, even one of legal concealed carry length, being viewed with suspicion from both police, neighbors, and friends. The common question among them all is "why?". Manliness is not a good enough answer.

As for laws, carrying a blade of any length in modern society made you look prepared, 30 or 40 years ago. Nowadays it makes you look like a punk or a terrorist, depending on age, in the eyes of John Q Public, and this view has found its way to the trails along with all the casual and weekend hikers.

Now, is thre anyone else who would care to reply to a serious question without starting a flame war?

SGT Rock
2006-09-15, 04:09
Almost everyone I know carries some sort of knife with them. I carry a Gerber folding tool at work on my belt and in my pocket when I am not - and my father and grandfather always have a knife of some sort in their pocket. A lot of people I know carry a folding blade on a belt or in a pocket. No one looks at them with suspicion that I know of. If they do we don't care. I think those that do are only being self conscious.

But if I were to walk into the mall with a 9" Cold Steel blade on my hip, I probably would because it ain't exactly going to be the tool of choice for cutting the tags of new clothing and anyway it is something I wouldn't do because I don't want something like that on me all the time.

But on the trail a good 6" straight blade will not make you any sort of suspicious character except to those that have been conditioned to look on a knife as a weapon (urban living) and underexposed to the life where a knife is an essential tool (rural living and outdoors men that hunt and fish). In fact I once went to a wilderness skills class where the majority of the instructors and participants could fit into the category of pacifist hippie types but they all used 4"-6" razor sharp straight blades because for that sort of work (making shelters, hand making bow/drills, and other tasks) that is the best way to go. Some of these guys even made their own blades.

If you are trail walking and camping with mostly prepared gear you can get by with a little Victronox. But if you are going in the back country and may be doing some living off the land sorts of things, a good 4"-6" straight edge is practically mandatory.

2006-09-15, 04:17
Last trip we used my wife' knife to clean freshly caught fish with.
Mine is mainly used for shaving tinder and firestarting like Iceman also writes about. Frequently we also have use for cutting cord, cutting laces, opening food packages and as tool for repairs.

We never go into the wilderness without at least one knife. But we never carry knifes in public.

2006-09-15, 07:49
Off trail:

Cleaning the dirt from under your fingernails, removing splinters, opening packages, letters, etc.

On trail:

Just about every aspect of daily camp life especially making fire, shelter, and food is made easier/possible with a blade of some sort.

I haven't been without a knife of some sort on my person since I was 5 years old.

2006-09-15, 10:14
Let's not deny the primal relationship between humans, the out of doors, and a knife. To me they naturally go together. Sort of form follows function, where a sharp implement would be one of the first things you would make or search for if you had nothing else. Like early man. Club good. Knife better.


Kamen, didn't mean to throw "flames". The question rather knocked me off my seat. And, regarding your; " Dont limit it to just my camping style outlined above, I'm looking for uses outside my box, however self defense doesnt count, as a knife wont do a bit of good against something too big for me to scare off with a stomp and a bellow " I would argue that a knife may help you deter aggression by a human.

There is also a sense of security that one gets when they are in the back country when carrying a knife. As you crouch near the creek filling your water bottle, as you sit back away from your fire to eat your meal, as you step off the trail to fertilize the flora, or close your eyes to get some sleep, many find a bit of security knowing they have a blade or other measure/s :biggrin: .

bird dog
2006-09-15, 16:05
Please let me explain something for you about knives. First, let me get this out of the way. Knives are manly. Men have knives. Women also have knives, but men mostly do. It is part of our contract. We are not allowed to be without them.

I think its man law Iceman. BD

2006-09-15, 16:37
my dad got me my first knife when i was 4 or 5... he'd won it for me. Camillus Cutlery used to sell "seconds" to churches and other organizations as prizes. you threw a hoop over the knife, and it was yours. i carried it for years, and never lost it, even at that age. it taught me responsibility several ways-1, keep track of your stuff. 2, don't hurt yourself. 3, don't hurt anyone else. 4-do preventive maintenance on your gear. no one showed me how to use it. dad just said 'cut away from yourself and others'. admittedly, i cut myself a few times growing up. the blood wasn't too much, and the wounds healed. i learned to be careful, like a kid around a hot bbq grill... as i got older, maybe 8-9, i remember carrying it to school for show and tell. and the nun/teacher didn't freak out. i later bought my own barlow knife. still later, i won a big 5" lockblade in some boy scout competition. dad got me my first swiss army knife when i was about 15. i got a huge SAK at some point, along with a Gerber multi-tool and a much smaller SAK, which is what i usually carry in the woods while camping. i can't remember my dad ever being without his. when i was little, i remember this 2 bladed model with a wooden handle. later on, he got a schrade knife called an 'old craftsman' or 'old crafty'. he still has it (he's over 70 now).

the following are basics. a small knife blade can do them all:

-toothpick (and not the SAK one. just use the point)
-nail cleaner/cutter
-bee stinger/splinter remover
-rope/twine/cord/duct tape cutter
-seam ripper
-food cutter-upper (salami/pepperoni)
-vegetable peeler
-remove fishhook from flesh
-create dry tinder when it's raining

for the following, a larger knife, or even a hatchet/axe would be preferable:

-cut spear shaft and provide spearhead
-cut and sharpen tent stakes
-cut cooking prong/make grill
-cut bark or other material into strips to make rope/lashing material
-cut larger branches for shelter frame
-skin game
-cut meat

2006-09-15, 16:55
Ditto on just about all the uses everyone has come up with for a knife, not to mention it's on just about any "10 essentials" list you can find, and for all of those reasons. I carry a small SAK or leatherman, mostly because bandages and other first aid materials are easier to cut with scissors than with a knife - otherwise 99% of the time a small blade will do the trick.

The small pliers on many leatherman or other multi-tools are also handy for many things, and don't forget the can and bottle opener on the SAK! Most important - my SAK has a corkscrew, and I've told the story elsewhere of the time when two young lasses asked if I had a corkscrew. I did! :biggrin:

Last, if you think Iceman was flaming you, you're waaaaay too sensitive. He was just having a little fun.

2006-09-15, 17:12
I had to remove a fish hook from a friend's hand once in Canada and could not have done it with out my gerber multi tool. I have carried a knife with me almost my whole life.

2006-09-15, 19:05
As others have pointed out here, the uses for a knife depend on several things.

I would say the most important being your outlook on life.

If you are satisfied with what urban life can supply you with such as the mall, the supermarket, movies houses, museums, etc., then you are probably right, there is little need for a knife beyond a letter opener.

However, if you ever seriously get beyond civilzation for more than a week, say at least 1 month, you are in a situation that you have to rely solely on what you alone can provide and what you can carry with you. Since it will be impossible for you to carry all of the food and shelter, warmth and whatever else you consider essential, you will find that a knife is essential in providing for your continued existence.

Go into the supermarket where you like to shop and visit the meat section or the seafood section and watch the people in action, they have several knives they rely on to accomplish their tasks. Those are tasks that you would have to now perform using your knife.

Next visit the produce section and watch the workers there in action. If you watch closely, you will observe at least one of them using a knife to prepare one or more the fruits or vegetables for display. That is something you would have to perform.

Also, visit any constuction site and observe all of the sharp instruments/tools being used. You alone would have to perform those the tasks requiring those tools, formost amoung those tools would be a knife.

Visit a shop where clothing is being made. Again you will readily notice several sharp tools, mostly sissors. What they are accomplishing with sissors you would have to accomplish and probably with your handy multi-tool, commonly known as a knife.

Now visit the kitchen where you live. Open the drawers and count the knives. Think about what those knifes are used for in preparing and consuming the food you eat. Those same tasks need to be accomplished in the wild when you are days or weeks away from the nearest kitchen or supermarket.

The tasks you have to accomplish with a knife are not something you sit down and tabulate and even think long and hard about. You will just do them with the best tool at hand. You will then be truely amazed at how many times you reach for your knife to accomplish them.

Again, if you are truely satisified with urban life and never being more than a short walk or drive from urban life then your need for a knife in the wild is just not there.

I grew up in farm country. The nearest town (approximately 3,000 people and still that size) was miles away. Everybody I knew used knifes even if they didn't carry them. I carry a superknife at all times - it is very useful.

My favorite knife away from civilization is currently the M9 bayonet with scabard. I have replaced the baynet attachment with a lanyard holder to ensure that I never drop the knife where I cannot retrieve it. It will never be used as a signaling device, I wouldn't want to attract the attention of anybody anyway. Never thought I would have a use for the wire cutter until I had to use it - best tool for the job on hand at the time. Before the M9 bayonet, I carried a WW II bayonet with metal scabard that I purchased at a surplus place in NJ in 1959. The blade on that is almost 10" long and I used it for more than I will ever be able to remember. Sometimes I now take both. Amazing how handy having both is sometimes.

What have I used it for recently? How many times have you used a pencil or pen in the last few days? It is not something I think about hard and long, I just use it when necessary.

As far as a knife arousing suspicion, as Sgt Rock says, I wouldn't carry the bayonet into the local mall. No use for it there. But I do carry my superknife there and have never had anybody even glance at it. It is not concealed, but clipped to my pocket or waistband easily visible.

I think that your statement that people are looking on knives with suspision is more a statement about you than anybody else.

Again, it depends on your outlook on life and what you expect from life.

2006-09-15, 21:35
.... i later bought my own barlow knife.....

A Barlow was my first knife as well. Ah...memories. That knife cut the twine of many'a hay bale in my youth.

When Grandpa(mother's side)passed, I got his Tree Brand. That's the knife in my pocket at church, weddings, funerals, and other special occasions.

Some emotions just can't be explained....

2006-09-15, 22:11
umm .. okay for starters ... everything Seeker, Ice and Rock said x 2 for this canuk. Knives are great, long live knives :adore: :adore: ...

Okay but in all seriousness, Kamen nobody here is trying to be offensive.
Please don't take it as such. We are generally a good humored bunch and very considerate of all trains of thought. This is a very mature and 'family' type forum group.. we have very few flamers. I think that perhaps this topic however carries with it a great deal of emotional and philosophical response.
Note the length of the replies and the relatively short time they appeared in. I think you just stumbled on a topic where individuals here have a strong personal opinion and are eager to share those thoughts. Please realize though these same people are equally open minded enough to hear other thoughts and opinions.

That said.... here's my 2 cents...

To me a knife is your second best friend in the bush rivaled only by fire.
I won't even begin to open up a debate on types, makes, models, lengths,
and such. When it comes right down to it... any good chunk of something sharp... will qualify. Unless I am paddling or walking up a very steep incline... my knife doesn't see its sheath very much, even on the trail. I very much enjoy primitive skills and the practice of bushcraft.

On the trail I will often try my hand at carving spoons, sporks, figurines (I have a thing for miniatures), chess pieces, etc. In camp, my blade is all business. All the camp chores others have mentioned. In addition I will often dig holes *wince*, hammer, chop, scrape, scribe and
build 'camp furniture'. When bushwacking, I will use a blade to slash out trail markers on old groth *gasp - sorry LNT fanatics*

When you get right down to it... there is no piece of gear more multi-use than a blade. The more you use one, the more you refine your individual requirements in a blade and the more specialized uses you invent for you blade to replace other pieces of gear.

f.y.i - of late I do not carry a knife at all. Rather I am very partial to hatchets and tomahawks. My latest love affair is with the Granfors Bruks mini hatchet.
Perhaps the best weight to utility ratio of any blade I have ever used.

2006-09-15, 22:23
Glad to join you guys here at the KNIFE CHANNEL! I'm not smart enough to be as philosophical as a lot of you dudes, you guys just about nailed every reason to pack a blade. I will only add these two suggestions.

1) Never carry a knife into a remote area that doesn't have a locking blade.

2) If your immeadiate task requires more than a folding blade, but doesn't quite require an ax, there is no better tool than a Kukhri, and the best value in Kukhris is the one made by Cold Steel.

2006-09-16, 00:00
Ive never considered not carrying a knife. My dad gave me a knife when I was probally 6 or 7 and have carried one ever since. I got stoped last year going to lunch at school with my daughter, I was talking to a teacher while walking down the hall when she asked about my knife clipped in my pocket. It didnt even click until she pointed at it. She escorted me to the door so I could go to my truck and checked when I came back in. I wanted to crawl under a book or something. I use my knife 15-20 times a day, to me its just part of my tools like my pocket screw driver, flashlight or any other thing in my toolbox.
When I backpack, a small lockblade is all I need to complete any camp chore needed.

SGT Rock
2006-09-16, 03:59
Knives, gotta love them. I got my first one at 6. I still remember it well and I also remember and still cherish my first really good sharp straight knife my dad gave me - and I still have it and try to keep it in prime condition and still use it. I remember giving my kids their first knife. In fact, right next to my bunk in Iraq I have a picture of my youngest son holding up his first knife that he got on Christmas right before I left.

When I took my boys to a wilderness survival class in Georgia I got my oldest a new straight knife - the class and the knife were his birthday presents last year.

Strong emotions in the male bonding realm from this. I didn't think of it until y'all pointed it out. I honestly never made the connection.

2006-09-17, 01:49
I don't even know how old I was when I got my first knife. I've carried one ever since I showed my Dad I had enough dexterity to use it. If I had to guess I would say 4 yrs. old, but I might even have been 3.

I haven't ever been without a knife since then, except for rare occasions.
-In my school days there wasn't a problem with carrying a knife. And where I grew up it would have been stranger if you weren't carrying one. All the males had them, teachers and students.

On those occasions when I don't have a knife I badly miss it's use.
I use my pocket knife for so many daily tasks that I would be hard put to list them all.
To name a few, I open boxes, clean & trim my nails, shape wood, cut cords/cloth/insulation/sausage/loose threads/carpet/cardboard/paper/leather/plastic etc., clean fish, spread putty/peanut butter/etc., tighten and loosen screws, make holes, make holes bigger, strip wires, smooth edges, etc. etc.

I normally only carry a 2" blade (lockback) as I find that this handles the majority of my tasks around home. However for camping and hunting I carry a 5" fixed blade as having more heft works much better for cutting branches, or cleaning a game animal.

In the kitchen I use a 12 inch chef's knife (I used to cook for a living), an 8 inch boning knife, and a 2 inch paring knife. (Oh - and a serrated bread knife).

2006-09-17, 07:30
I carried a knife after I passed the Boy Scout training course at age 12. Learned the care and feeding of knives, axes, saws, etc. All of the boy scouts, and a few of the girl scouts, always had one on them in grade school. Not only did the teachers (nuns) know about them, they often would borrow them to cut open packages. If we were to misuse our knife, we would hear about it from the teachers, our parents and the scout troop leader. I have carried a knife since then. I currently have a SAK in a nylon case on my belt. Never been challenged about it.

A lot of the problem lies with the fact that context is being ignored. This is due to the litigous, knee-jerk nature of our today's society. I have walked down a road, right past 2 policeman at an auto accident scene, with a hunting knife on my belt and a shotgun over my arm. The hunting license on my jacket defined the context of a hunter returning home. No challenge from the cops.

Do the same thing in a school and get a different reaction, and rightly so. But, it can go too far. A six year old boy in Pawtucket, RI was suspended from school a couple of years ago because he had brought a PLASTIC picnic knife to school. What was the context of this? He took out the knife at lunch, in the cafeteria, because he wanted to be able to spread the butter on his bread. Instead of a reasonable approach, there came the knee-jerk reaction of HE HAS A WEAPON!!! :afraid: Let's come down hard on this threat to society because WE MIGHT GET SUED otherwise! :albertein The kid was suspended, most definitely traumatized :bawling: by the overreaction, and made national, if not worldwide, headlines.

What has happened to common sense? :confused2

john pickett
2006-09-17, 20:22
What has happened to common sense?

Common sense has been sacrificed on the altar of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS! :bawling:
John Pickett

2006-09-18, 14:35
What has happened to common sense?

Common sense has been sacrificed on the altar of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS! :bawling:
John Pickett

Right on John!

I'm not prejudiced...I hate everybody! :ahhhhh:

(How's that for politiical incorrectness?) :aetsch: