Author Topic: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?  (Read 2923 times)

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Offline Phaedrus

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Okay, things have been a bit slow here so I thought this might be a good topic to stimulate some discussion!  Occasionally you'll see discussions (or often YouTube videos) of survival kits, and very often you'll hear the claim "my knife is my most important survival item!"  I know Dave Canterbury has said this a few times and it's a common opinion among many internet survival experts.  But is it true?

There are a lot of ways to examine the priorities of survival.  Some like the rules of three- 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Okay, it's a handy mnemonic to help you think about survival.  But while it's true not all of the rules are hard and fast.  For example, while you do indeed need air to avoid a quick and horrible death, most survival situations not based at sea or in flash floods won't require one to look very hard to find oxygen!  And in good weather in the summer shelter might be completely unnecessary depending on your AO.

I guess I prefer Cody Lundin's philosophy espoused in "98.6- the Art of Keeping Your A$$ Alive".  He points out that you need to maintain your body's core temp in order to keep breathing.  That requires water (the main way you regulate temp), food to keep making energy and some means to adjust core temp in extreme environments.

So were does the knife come in?

Perhaps shelter?  It's very handy to have a knife, I won't deny that!  But it it really required for shelter?  If you have a small shelter kit with pretied cordage and a tarp or space blanket you don't really need a knife.  To cut cordage you can use a lighter, too.  A debris shelter is one type of shelter where a knife would almost never be used at all.

Okay, fire then?  Again, a knife is handy to process wood or to make fire in some instances.  If you need to strike a firesteel it's handy if you don't have a striker.  It would be kind of hard to make a bowdrill set without a knife but I suppose it could be done.  But if we're talking a survival kit, does it need a knife?  If you have only one tool, a knife or a BIC I'd say 98% of people would have a lot more luck with just a lighter than with just a knife.  Depending on your AO you may be able to get all the wood you'd ever need without ever cutting or splitting a bit of it. I have one friend, around 80 years old, that claims he almost never needs to cut wood- he can always find enough dead wood and just break it with his feet.

Well, maybe for hunting or gathering food?  Certainly if you need to clean a fish or some wild animal you've snared a knife is pretty handy!  But will the average survival situation involve trapping or hunting?  I know it's a common trope of mini-kits to include snare wire but how often are they used?  Thinking back on all of the stories I've read in the media or seen on the news involving lost hikers I can hardly think of any that hunted or trapped game.

I'm not trying to make the case that you don't need a knife!  I'm more just examining the axiom that states that without a survival knife you're a goner for sure!

Personally, I think a knife is a great thing to have.  If I'm wearing pants you can bet there's a knife in them!  While I'm at work I have a Spyderco Dragonfly in HAP40 on a ring with a small light and a spare battery in a Delrin locker.  That's my minimum.  When I'm off and out and about I swap that out for a real light, a larger knife (either a Spyderco Delica or a Native5 in Maxamet) and usually a sidearm in 9mm. If I'm out on the trails hiking, camping or bushbumming I'll definitely have more!  But a lot of that is because I hike and camp for relaxation and satisfaction.  The activities I do are enhanced by having a knife, be it to carve, whittle or make small kindling.  So I'm not anti-knife!

Another common point brought up is that tools are the hardest things to replicate in the woods.  There I heartily agree!  It's not easy to mine your own ore and set up a forge to make a knife in the wilderness!  And flint knapping is an art not easily mastered.  There's a good reason that aboriginals in the Americas quickly adopted steel and iron when they were exposed to them!  Life in the long term without tools is difficult and everything is harder.  But that's not always the case in the short term.

What do you folks think?  Is the knife the most important survival tool you can have or just another option that's nice to have but not essential?

Offline Moe M.

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 06:22:46 AM »
  Things have been really slow conversation wise around here for a long time, so yes any contribution at this point is a good thing,  is a knife the most important survival item one should have with them in a survival situation, good question, if, one is in the process of choosing items or assembling his/her "kit".
  Academically speaking the question can be posed in several ways, and there would likely be a different response each time the question is worded a bit differently,  my answer would be no, we all know that early man did a pretty good job of surviving without the benefit of modern tools,  and for those early people survival was their daily challenge.
  Unless one has been through a wilderness survival event it's not unusual to make mistakes when setting priorities and choosing survival items when assembling one's "survival kit",  almost anyone that has been "tested by fire" will tell you that the most important tool that you carry with you is your mind,  and if it doesn't have the proper knowledge and skill set to survive your situation,  your chances of surviving are slim to none regardless of how many tools you are carrying. 
  Viewing or reading the teachings of instructors like Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin are a great learning aid if you actually get out and practice what you've seen or read,  just reading it and understanding the methods they employ aren't going to help you when you're caught in a survival event,  usually, at least for most people who are caught unawares that they're in trouble until it's too late to turn back,  the first thing they experience is panic,  the mind stops working and falls back on past experiences (aka training and practice), no experience, no survival.
  There are other things that can also cause a mental shut down,  a serious injury,  a loss of core body temp will not only affect the thinking process but also impair motor skills,  it's said that a person can live for approx. three weeks without food, generally that is a true statement, but after just a few days without food you begin to get light headed and find it hard to make good choices,  after a week the body begins to weaken, motor skills and balance start to suffer, and the will to do the chores necessary to ones survival and well being start to diminish.
  Every year we hear or read about some well seasoned hikers who go out with all the right equipment and because of an injury or some minor miscalculation end up becoming a statistic in some SAR log, most likely because they were never subjected to a true survival challenge, and when it came they weren't ready for it.
  Back to the knife,  no, it's not the most important item you can carry in your arsenal of survival items,  but without it you're going to have to work harder at some things you'll need to do to survive,  harder work means loosing calories you should be holding on to,  sweating more than you need to,  and making yourself more tired that you would be if you only had a sturdy knife that was up to the task.
  In my area of the country we have some pretty hard stone, usually easy to find along streams and old river beds,  they are fairly easy to break into flakes that are extremely sharp,  fixed to a split green limb with a bit of natural cordage they make a very serviceable knife or stone axe that can be used to cut shelter material, hunt with,  process fish and game, or make a bow or hand drill set,  it's a great skill to learn and a real confidence builder,  but as much fun as it is to learn to make primitive tools,  they don't come close to doing the work of a good quality modern knife or other woodsman's tool,  so in my opinion, while a knife is not the most important survival tool in my kit,  it's right up there in the top three.     
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Offline Unknown

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2018, 07:13:40 AM »
Good points Phadrus. You convinced me.  Since we don't need knives so much we should make a new name for B&B......hmmm....ah ha.

Bics and BarcaLoungers.

I have some admiration for those Northern boys who leave the sticker at home, and go about with an axe instead. So much depends on where you are at the time(ao). It's hard to say what is most important to have. A knife is one familiar, universally useful, and generally small enough to remain a constant companion that it always makes the list. For its utility and the confidence it can inspire, I think a knife is the number one tool.

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Offline wsdstan

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2018, 09:27:10 AM »
My short answer is "I want a knife if I am out in the woods or fields."  It makes life easier and allows one to get the food for keeping the engine running processed much easier.

Is it required?  Of course not.  A sharp stick will do some of the things that need to be done to gut an animal or bird.  A sharp stick can be made with a stick and a piece of broken rock.  A broken rock of the right kind can be used to start a lot of the processes we use a knife to do.  Pierce the skin to get your fingers inside and you can skin a critter with little more than two hands.  A sharp flake of the right kind could replace most of what a steel knife does except create spark.  Friction fire methods would be in your future.

Shelter is made by getting out of the elements.  A lot of dead wood can be worked into pyramids or lean to's without the assistance of a knife.  Fire can be made with friction and a sharp stone flake can make a feather stick.  In addition there are lots of materials in the woods that would not require a knife to harvest them. 

I am writing this quickly as we are off to church in a moment and it also written without benefit of much thought.  If something occurs to me while I am gone perhaps a modification of my initial thoughts will happen. 

Thanks for the topic, something to think about regarding what is probably my favorite thing to have with me all of the time.

Sitting an church I thought about this a bit and am comfortable with what I wrote.  My EDC when in town or walking around the farm most of the time is a Buck 110 with the polyester handle.  It is light compared to the regular 110 but the blade is the same and it is a very useful clip point design.  I would not be disappointed to find myself in a survival situation with that 110 but I would get by without a knife should I have to

I like Madmax's idea of having a pot and a lighter a lot.   
« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 01:25:14 PM by wsdstan »
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Offline wolfy

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2018, 10:29:36 AM »
Is it a "big deal" in a survival situation? :shrug:     To ME, it is.....so much so, that I have not even flown on a commercial airplane since the ruling went into effect where I could no longer carry a small SAK in my pants pocket or even my carry-on luggage.   I can't stop my mind from going to a nightmare scenario where I am trapped upside down in a weight-loaded seatbelt in a sinking or burning airplane, not being able to release the buckle of the belt......and NO KNIFE TO CUT IT!  Even worse.....without my SAK, I wouldn't even have ready access to my trusty EDC plastic toothpick! :doh:
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2018, 11:46:33 AM »
Good post, Phaedrus.
I'm in the same camp as Moe. There is a saying, "Knowledge is power." It's also claimed that people generally remember 20% of what they hear, 60% of what they see/read, and 80% of what they do.
So to me, the most important thing is knowledge. Know your area, know the value of its resources, and know how to utilize them. To "know" something is to be familiar with a subject, and the truth of that knowledge. That doesn't come from "book larnin'", it comes from doing...with or without a knife.
I'm never without a blade of some sort, so it's a moot question for me.  But I wouldn't put a knife at the top of any comprehensive list. I've built my share of fires without ever unsheathing my blade.
That said, and since the OP addressed "survival kits", I believe a knife should be robust enough to do whatever you need to do. In all the reference material I've found, one of the most worthless items, IMHO, is the typical "Altoids kit knife" (and I use the term 'knife' loosely).  One would do better to cut the handle off a scalpel down and put that in their kit for first-aid purposes if nothing else, or select a razor blade. When I'm fully dressed, I do carry a folding razor knife in addition to my Kershaw Blackout folder.  I use it for a variety of mundane tasks on a weekly basis.

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Offline madmax

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2018, 12:20:51 PM »
    I'm going against the grain here.  On Pot and Machete's we boiled water in bamboo.  BUT we cut the bamboo with a knife.  We have a lot of water in FL.  But drinking it raw is rolling the dice.  Warm water.  Lotsa animals pooping in and around the water.  Lotsa rain washing it in.  Trust me on this,  you don't want the pukes and screaming s in a survival scenario.  Even a simulated one.  I'm guessing more than one participant went home dehydrated from bringing too small a pot.  Boiling and cooling takes time. 

    I don't see wood processing as necessary here.

    I'll take a pot,  if we can have a lighter.  If not,  I'll lick the dew in the morning and I'm going to find a road as fast as possible and get out.
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Offline xj35s

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2018, 12:54:38 PM »
There are just too many things that can be done easily, if you have a knife, that makes it almost necessary.

1. how about camp craft. making a raised bed. lean to. fire reflector. table. There are too many joints and junctions to just rely on woven pine roots.

2. It simply makes the start of a fire easier. shavings, scraping, split kindling, and if Carbon sparks.

3. In our area it's easy to tap a tree for water. birch or maple. Not trying that with a rock as it would do unnecessary damage to the tree.

4. There are a multitude of traps and deadfalls that are sooooo much easier with a knife. How about just whittling a point on a bunch of short branches to pound into a fish trap in the waters edge ?

5. If I gotta kill I want it to be quick.

Yup. Gotta have a Knife and a good one.
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Offline Orbean

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2018, 03:12:17 PM »
If I had only one item it would be a Bic lighter
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2018, 12:38:13 AM »
If I had only one item it would be a Bic lighter
If I had to have only one item it would be a mini propane torch. Butane (i.e., Bic lighter) won't ignite at 20 or more degrees below zero.  I've had pee-poor luck with them even at +5o F.

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Offline Phaedrus

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2018, 01:28:10 AM »
Good points Phadrus. You convinced me.  Since we don't need knives so much we should make a new name for B&B......hmmm....ah ha.

Bics and BarcaLoungers.

That name is catchy! :D ;)  But don't get me wrong!  I'm sure not advocating for leaving the knife at home; I'm just examining the oft-made statement that it's the most important single item.  Surely by my username you had to expect a bit of Plato, right? ;D

BTW, a knife is almost impossible to get by without in bushcrafting, but survival isn't exactly the same as bushcraft.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 03:01:10 AM by Phaedrus »

Offline Phaedrus

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2018, 01:33:53 AM »
  Things have been really slow conversation wise around here for a long time, so yes any contribution at this point is a good thing,  is a knife the most important survival item one should have with them in a survival situation, good question, if, one is in the process of choosing items or assembling his/her "kit".
  Academically speaking the question can be posed in several ways, and there would likely be a different response each time the question is worded a bit differently,  my answer would be no, we all know that early man did a pretty good job of surviving without the benefit of modern tools,  and for those early people survival was their daily challenge.

I suppose early humans were a lot more adept at doing more with less vs modern humans.  After all, being stuck without cell service wasn't a big deal 250,000 years before cell phones! :rofl:  But in all seriousness, I expect that among pre-historic humans there were many common skills that would be uncommon today.  Before matches they probably knew a lot more about things like fire plows, fire pistons, hand drills, etc. Apropos of nothing, I wonder if firemaking skills were common or if each clan or tribe had an "elder" that held skills thought of as sorcery to the rest of the tribe?

Again, I'm not trying to really advocate either way, I'm just kind of musing a bit.  I don't know why this forum has so much less traffic than "the other one"...I actually think the quality of discussion is a bit better here.  I just wish there was a bit more of it.

Offline Phaedrus

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2018, 03:05:42 AM »
To ramble a bit more, my notion of what a "survival knife" is has changed over the years.  Like so many folks when I got started collecting knives it was big knives that I felt were 'cool'.  My most prized blade when I was a kid was my Cold Steel Recon Tanto! :lol:  Of course that knife was ridiculous, pretty much the best use for it was stabbing 55 gallon drums!

Honestly I think that a SAK would handle the lion's share of survival and camp tasks.  It's nice to have something robust for wood processing but if you need to clean a fish, cut some cordage or dig out a splinter a Farmer or Pioneer would get the job done just fine.  Realistically the scissors is probably the thing I use the most on a SAK so I keep a little Classic at hand most of the time.

Offline wolfy

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2018, 08:50:18 AM »
Your experiences with the Cold Steel Recon Tanto mirror mine with the Becker BK-2.....great choices for removing the tops of oil drums, but little else.  Lots of folks seem to swear by them, so maybe I just don't get it. :shrug:

I also agree with you on the usefulness of the SAK as a candidate for being my 'best friend' when I have access to no other appropriate tool.  I was almost on the verge of total panic yesterday when I went fishing in my pocket for mine and IT WASN'T THERE! :shocked:  :doh:   After 10 minutes of frantic searching & retracing my steps since I'd last used it, I found it on the seat of my truck. :banana:
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Offline wolfy

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2018, 09:04:40 AM »
If I had only one item it would be a Bic lighter
If I had to have only one item it would be a mini propane torch. Butane (i.e., Bic lighter) won't ignite at 20 or more degrees below zero.  I've had pee-poor luck with them even at +5o F.



Great little torches, I agree, but they won't let you carry them on your person or carry-on luggage on a commercial flight, either.  They do, however, allow passengers to pack a Bic or a Zippo.  I still ain't flyin' though......burning my way out of a jammed seatbelt with a Zippo or a Bic sounds a bit 'iffy' to me when the water is rising up to my neck or the flames from burning jet fuel are approaching the seats just two rows ahead of me!  :lol:
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 09:11:16 AM by wolfy »
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2018, 09:16:10 AM »
...  Before matches they probably knew a lot more about things like fire plows, fire pistons, hand drills, etc. Apropos of nothing, I wonder if firemaking skills were common or if each clan or tribe had an "elder" that held skills thought of as sorcery to the rest of the tribe?

...
I believe that may well have been the case. A couple of old movies come to mind: "Quest for fire", and the theme of "Clan of the Cave Bear".
In the first one, the clan sent a search party out to find fire caused by natural sources and bring it back to the rest of them.
In the Clan movie, the female protagonist learned how to make fire from the tribe's shawman, and was banished because women weren't supposed to possess that mystical knowledge.
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Offline OutdoorEnvy

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2018, 09:22:14 AM »
I don't think it's the most important item.  It's up there.  I think too big a deal is made of "which knife?" or "the right knife".  Having one is having one and knowing it's limits so you don't break it is on the user.  I will say I can't imagine why anyone would be in the woods in any capacity without at least a pocket knife.  But that's an old soul talkin...
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Offline Orbean

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2018, 11:09:57 AM »
If I had only one item it would be a Bic lighter
If I had to have only one item it would be a mini propane torch. Butane (i.e., Bic lighter) won't ignite at 20 or more degrees below zero.  I've had pee-poor luck with them even at +5o F.



I too have had the same problem, however it is easy to solve, put the lighter under your armpit. Problem solved.
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Offline Pete Bog

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2018, 11:38:03 AM »
Orbean,

"I too have had the same problem, however it is easy to solve, put the lighter under your armpit for a minute or two. Problem solved."

I added a couple words to your reply, I imagined some young 12 year old reading (Ha! that's a funny thought) and wondering how they were going to carry a Bic there all day.

Your experiences with the Cold Steel Recon Tanto mirror mine with the Becker BK-2.....great choices for removing the tops of oil drums, but little else.  Lots of folks seem to swear by them, so maybe I just don't get it. :shrug:

I also agree with you on the usefulness of the SAK as a candidate for being my 'best friend' when I have access to no other appropriate tool.  I was almost on the verge of total panic yesterday when I went fishing in my pocket for mine and IT WASN'T THERE! :shocked:  :doh:   After 10 minutes of frantic searching & retracing my steps since I'd last used it, I found it on the seat of my truck. :banana:

I think your right Wolfy, there's nothing quite like the sinking feeling of reaching for your knife and it's not there. Even a missing key ring doesn't have the same sense of loss.

Offline Orbean

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2018, 12:04:03 PM »
Pete, thank you for fixing it, but if you could manage it, carrying a bic in your armpit in cold weather would allow for immediate use. LOL
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Offline xj35s

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2018, 12:05:37 PM »
Wolfy, I ain't flying either but it's more due to the security issues trying to get on the plane than, what if, when it goes down. If it goes down you ain't getting out.

I have always been impressed by my Fiskars X7. I have a video of shaving wood for a fire. It did better than most of the knives I tried. This was a challenge from another site some time ago I think but it was fun to do. Fill a hat the light a fire using just a ferro.

My fiskars has been damaged to the point it's not shaving sharp anymore and has some deep notches in the edge.(wife) I need to invest in another for my outings only.

Actually watching this again it looks like the Mora did great.

pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline wsdstan

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2018, 02:32:02 PM »
This thread reminds me of those "what if you could have only one gun or two of this or that." 

Fun to contemplate but really isn't going to happen.   
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Offline Phaedrus

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2018, 02:44:41 PM »
Wolfy, I ain't flying either but it's more due to the security issues trying to get on the plane than, what if, when it goes down. If it goes down you ain't getting out.

I have always been impressed by my Fiskars X7. I have a video of shaving wood for a fire. It did better than most of the knives I tried. This was a challenge from another site some time ago I think but it was fun to do. Fill a hat the light a fire using just a ferro.

My fiskars has been damaged to the point it's not shaving sharp anymore and has some deep notches in the edge.(wife) I need to invest in another for my outings only.




Are they too deep to sharpen out? If you have a belt grinder almost anything is fixable.  :D

Offline wolfy

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2018, 04:03:16 PM »
Wolfy, I ain't flying either but it's more due to the security issues trying to get on the plane than, what if, when it goes down. If it goes down you ain't getting out.

Security and being treated worse than cattle in the airports are both reasons enough to keep me out of them, BUT (there's always a 'but' ain't there?) in 1989 United Airlines flight 232 crashed in Sioux City, IA.  Of the 296 passengers and crew aboard, 111 SURVIVED the crash.  Many others survived the initial impact, but died of smoke inhalation.   According to rescue workers in local TV interviews, many of them were hanging upside down and had to be CUT FROM THEIR SEATBELTS.  Not gonna happen to me for lack of a knife.....period! :coffee:



https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_232
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Offline Orbean

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2018, 05:18:24 PM »
Wolfy, I ain't flying either but it's more due to the security issues trying to get on the plane than, what if, when it goes down. If it goes down you ain't getting out.

Security and being treated worse than cattle in the airports are both reasons enough to keep me out of them, BUT (there's always a 'but' ain't there?) in 1989 United Airlines flight 232 crashed in Sioux City, IA.  Of the 296 passengers and crew aboard, 111 SURVIVED the crash.  Many others survived the initial impact, but died of smoke inhalation.   According to rescue workers in local TV interviews, many of them were hanging upside down and had to be CUT FROM THEIR SEATBELTS.  Not gonna happen to me for lack of a knife.....period! :coffee:



https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_232

I don't fly anymore, hate being treated like a criminal just to travel.
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Offline Unknown

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2018, 05:39:38 PM »
It is good to hear I am not the only one here that doesn't fly. See ya on the highways- not as quick but so much better imho.
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2018, 06:07:07 PM »
A fellow I worked with, his wife, and both of his children died on that crash.  We heard that his wife was out of the plane but he and the children weren't so she went back in to save them.  They all died, she likely from smoke inhalation. 
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2018, 07:34:39 PM »
Wolfy, I ain't flying either but it's more due to the security issues trying to get on the plane than, what if, when it goes down. If it goes down you ain't getting out.

I have always been impressed by my Fiskars X7. I have a video of shaving wood for a fire. It did better than most of the knives I tried. This was a challenge from another site some time ago I think but it was fun to do. Fill a hat the light a fire using just a ferro.

My fiskars has been damaged to the point it's not shaving sharp anymore and has some deep notches in the edge.(wife) I need to invest in another for my outings only.




Are they too deep to sharpen out? If you have a belt grinder almost anything is fixable.  :D

I don't have a high-tech belt grinder like most of you. But I do have an 8" Craftsman. I put a worn out 80 grit belt on it, turn it upside down and clamp it to my work bench. Pull the trigger, push the 'hold' button and sharpen any thing from machetes to axes.  "Made in Montana"  (IMO better than calling it a red-neck contraption. hehehe)
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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2018, 08:17:27 PM »
If your belt sander has wood dust in it- be careful. Or observant. 1 little spark can build up a nice coal and so on and so on- depends on how much sanding dust is packed in there
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Offline wolfy

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2018, 08:43:51 PM »
I've done that.....talk about a nearly indestructible ember! :shocked:
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #30 on: April 10, 2018, 12:49:14 AM »
That's what my air compressor and detailing brush are for.  A very good warning, guys!
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Offline Moe M.

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« Reply #31 on: June 10, 2018, 07:21:53 AM »
  OK, back to the original question,  is a Knife the most important survival item one can carry (changed it a bit) ?

  Probably not "the most" important item,  but certainly near the top of the list most people that step off the blacktop would agree.
  Maybe before continuing we should agree on what constitutes a knife,  we are discussing wilderness survival for the sake of this conversation, certainly any knife is better than no knife when you need a knife, and then there's the old saw about the best knife in a survival situation is the one you have with you when the music stops.
  I've been carrying a slip joint or lock back pocket knife every day of my life since the age of five years old,  though it's saved my bacon hundreds of times whether cutting open a box, whittling on a stuck window, cutting cordage or my food on occasion,  I don 't think of my EDC pocket knife as a survival tool,  my thoughts assume that when someone mentions survival and knife in the same sentence we're talking fixed blade belt knife.
  It's pretty much been my opinion that any emergency kit/survival kit designed to be taken into the wilds should have at the top of it's content list a sharp stout fixed blade knife,  but, I'm just a recreational outdoorsman,  I'm not living off the land or exploring dangerous and inhospitable places,  and I'm not a survival expert.
  So,  yesterday while browsing the B&B forum I read the Alone season 5 thread, cliked on the Alone link and then on to Meet the participants,  I listened and watched as each went over the ten items that they chose to take with them on their adventure,  some of my favorites out of the season five group are Larry,  Nicole,  Sam Larson and Brook Whipple,  I was very surprised when in their presentations both Sam Larson and Brook Whipple didn't include a fixed blade knife in their kits, both choosing to carry a multi-tool instead.
  They will both be taking along a saw and an axe for shelter building and processing fire wood,  but I assume they are going to be depending on the smaller knife blades in their multi-tools to process fish and game, food prep, and all the other small cutting tasks associated with living off the areas natural resources.
  I know quite a few guys that have discarded their pocket knives and taken to carrying multi-tools ever since Leatherman came out with their first one many years ago, I have a few of them (my favorte is a Buck-Lite multi-tool) but have never been able to warm up to carrying one, I keep one in the glove box in my truck and a second one in my fishing box,  I had one in my trail pack for a short while but took it out along with a few other little used items to save weight and space.
  I just curious,  how many of you guys on the forum carry a multi-tool over a pocket knife, and would you choose a multi-tool over a fixed blade knife if you were going on that type a survival adventure ?
 
 
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Offline madmax

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #32 on: June 10, 2018, 08:23:44 AM »
My EDC has a multitool and a fixed blade.  Only one person ever brought a multitool on our Pot and Machetes.  But he was a friction fire guru and he had a fire going  from onsite material before everybody even landed.  We appreciated that but everything he did could have been done with a big knife.  I doubt he would've been comfortable with any a lot of the other chores with it.  So I'll take that as a thumbs up for a fixed blade knife.

I was the only one to show up to a "outdoor skills" seminar with an Opinel.  I got everything done but I carry a fixed blade normally.  Because I've tried it with a little folder.

Up north I could trade out for a small hatchet  I think of it as a multitool.  It does a lot.

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Offline Orbean

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #33 on: June 10, 2018, 10:59:56 AM »
I used to carry a multitool, at work and when in the woods but hardly every used it. I always had a folder in my pocket so that was my go to. I stopped carrying a multitool and do not miss it, just did not use it much.
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Offline JeffG

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2018, 11:08:46 AM »
Okay, things have been a bit slow here so I thought this might be a good topic to stimulate some discussion!  Occasionally you'll see discussions (or often YouTube videos) of survival kits, and very often you'll hear the claim "my knife is my most important survival item!"  I know Dave Canterbury has said this a few times and it's a common opinion among many internet survival experts.  But is it true?

There are a lot of ways to examine the priorities of survival.  Some like the rules of three- 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Okay, it's a handy mnemonic to help you think about survival.  But while it's true not all of the rules are hard and fast.  For example, while you do indeed need air to avoid a quick and horrible death, most survival situations not based at sea or in flash floods won't require one to look very hard to find oxygen!  And in good weather in the summer shelter might be completely unnecessary depending on your AO.

I guess I prefer Cody Lundin's philosophy espoused in "98.6- the Art of Keeping Your A$$ Alive".  He points out that you need to maintain your body's core temp in order to keep breathing.  That requires water (the main way you regulate temp), food to keep making energy and some means to adjust core temp in extreme environments.

So were does the knife come in?

Perhaps shelter?  It's very handy to have a knife, I won't deny that!  But it it really required for shelter?  If you have a small shelter kit with pretied cordage and a tarp or space blanket you don't really need a knife.  To cut cordage you can use a lighter, too.  A debris shelter is one type of shelter where a knife would almost never be used at all.

Okay, fire then?  Again, a knife is handy to process wood or to make fire in some instances.  If you need to strike a firesteel it's handy if you don't have a striker.  It would be kind of hard to make a bowdrill set without a knife but I suppose it could be done.  But if we're talking a survival kit, does it need a knife?  If you have only one tool, a knife or a BIC I'd say 98% of people would have a lot more luck with just a lighter than with just a knife.  Depending on your AO you may be able to get all the wood you'd ever need without ever cutting or splitting a bit of it. I have one friend, around 80 years old, that claims he almost never needs to cut wood- he can always find enough dead wood and just break it with his feet.

Well, maybe for hunting or gathering food?  Certainly if you need to clean a fish or some wild animal you've snared a knife is pretty handy!  But will the average survival situation involve trapping or hunting?  I know it's a common trope of mini-kits to include snare wire but how often are they used?  Thinking back on all of the stories I've read in the media or seen on the news involving lost hikers I can hardly think of any that hunted or trapped game.

I'm not trying to make the case that you don't need a knife!  I'm more just examining the axiom that states that without a survival knife you're a goner for sure!

Personally, I think a knife is a great thing to have.  If I'm wearing pants you can bet there's a knife in them!  While I'm at work I have a Spyderco Dragonfly in HAP40 on a ring with a small light and a spare battery in a Delrin locker.  That's my minimum.  When I'm off and out and about I swap that out for a real light, a larger knife (either a Spyderco Delica or a Native5 in Maxamet) and usually a sidearm in 9mm. If I'm out on the trails hiking, camping or bushbumming I'll definitely have more!  But a lot of that is because I hike and camp for relaxation and satisfaction.  The activities I do are enhanced by having a knife, be it to carve, whittle or make small kindling.  So I'm not anti-knife!

Another common point brought up is that tools are the hardest things to replicate in the woods.  There I heartily agree!  It's not easy to mine your own ore and set up a forge to make a knife in the wilderness!  And flint knapping is an art not easily mastered.  There's a good reason that aboriginals in the Americas quickly adopted steel and iron when they were exposed to them!  Life in the long term without tools is difficult and everything is harder.  But that's not always the case in the short term.

What do you folks think?  Is the knife the most important survival tool you can have or just another option that's nice to have but not essential?

"A knife, a knife, my kingdom for a knife!" I will not be without a knife. I cannot imagine a situation that I would be without one. I stash multiples of knives, at least folders, in every bugout bag. hunting pack, or glovebox, besides the one(s) I carry.
     The knife was a HUGE advancement in tools for the species of man. So significant it would be easy to adapt them to every life task. I will admit I am knife co-dependent...I think of how a knife can make the task at hand easier. Everything from an emergency tent stake, no moving parts self defense, fire making, gardening, daily chores, to preparing daily food, the knife is my most important.
"Rise, Peter; kill and eat." Acts 10:13

Offline lgm

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2018, 04:21:55 PM »
A knife is the tool used to make all the other tool needed.
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2018, 07:14:45 PM »
A knife is the tool used to make all the other tool needed.
"One knife to rule them all!"....or was that a ring? I fergit....
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Offline wolfy

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #37 on: June 10, 2018, 10:12:37 PM »
A knife is the tool used to make all the other tool needed.

I believe that's been said of the machine lathe, but the knife is a close second. ;D
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Offline Phaedrus

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« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2018, 12:26:22 AM »
  I just curious,  how many of you guys on the forum carry a multi-tool over a pocket knife, and would you choose a multi-tool over a fixed blade knife if you were going on that type a survival adventure ?
 
 

I have contemplated swapping out my Spyderco for my Leatherman Skeletool CX but so far I keep chickening out.  My Dragonfly in HAP40 certainly trumps any multi-tool I know of in the blade department but it's a one-trick-pony.  The Skeletool has a blade I could live with plus pliers and an assortment of driver bit.  The downside however is that it weighs a lot more.  If I carried it in a sheath of some fashion it would probably work fine but real estate on my belt is somewhat limited.  I already have a sidearm at 3:30 and a horizontal mag pouch at 11:00, not a lot more places to put one that isn't in the way of something.  Perhaps a second horizontal pouch at 9:00?  It would be nice to have the pliers especially.

When in the woods I err on the side of many tools and cutting implements. ;)

Offline Old Philosopher

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« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2018, 12:41:55 AM »
  I just curious,  how many of you guys on the forum carry a multi-tool over a pocket knife, and would you choose a multi-tool over a fixed blade knife if you were going on that type a survival adventure ?
 
 

I have contemplated swapping out my Spyderco for my Leatherman Skeletool CX but so far I keep chickening out.  My Dragonfly in HAP40 certainly trumps any multi-tool I know of in the blade department but it's a one-trick-pony.  The Skeletool has a blade I could live with plus pliers and an assortment of driver bit.  The downside however is that it weighs a lot more.  If I carried it in a sheath of some fashion it would probably work fine but real estate on my belt is somewhat limited.  I already have a sidearm at 3:30 and a horizontal mag pouch at 11:00, not a lot more places to put one that isn't in the way of something.  Perhaps a second horizontal pouch at 9:00?  It would be nice to have the pliers especially.

When in the woods I err on the side of many tools and cutting implements. ;)
I carry a standard Leatherman in a pouch on my belt, and a folder clipped to the inside of my front pocket. The Leatherman weighs in at under 6 oz, and including the case is about 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 4" and never gets in the way.  Carrying it is more habit than necessity, but I always seem to be reaching for it for one thing or another.  Leatherman, Kershaw Blackout, and a Mora Clipper....I usually have more blades on me than I have hands to use them...and that's just around the homestead.  :-\
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Offline madmax

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #40 on: June 11, 2018, 07:04:39 AM »
Well OP.  You never know when you'll have to battle a horde of rabid skunks under the shed.  lol.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty with a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, thouroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a ride!" 
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Offline Moe M.

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« Reply #41 on: June 11, 2018, 07:38:41 AM »
  I just curious,  how many of you guys on the forum carry a multi-tool over a pocket knife, and would you choose a multi-tool over a fixed blade knife if you were going on that type a survival adventure ?
 
 

I have contemplated swapping out my Spyderco for my Leatherman Skeletool CX but so far I keep chickening out.  My Dragonfly in HAP40 certainly trumps any multi-tool I know of in the blade department but it's a one-trick-pony.  The Skeletool has a blade I could live with plus pliers and an assortment of driver bit.  The downside however is that it weighs a lot more.  If I carried it in a sheath of some fashion it would probably work fine but real estate on my belt is somewhat limited.  I already have a sidearm at 3:30 and a horizontal mag pouch at 11:00, not a lot more places to put one that isn't in the way of something.  Perhaps a second horizontal pouch at 9:00?  It would be nice to have the pliers especially.

When in the woods I err on the side of many tools and cutting implements. ;)

  LOL, now we're getting off into a whole new area of differences,  we really ought to stop meeting this way.
  While I've heard a lot of good things said about Spyderco knives I've never owned one, I was tempted to buy a Spyderco Bush Craft knife once, but resisted,  for some reason the looks of their folders just never appealed to me.
  There seems to be a hundred or more new patterns of folders today,  I don't know if I'm accurate or not but I lump them all into the category of tacticals,  most are one hand opening auto assisted or flipper styled folders with frame locks and boot/pocket clips,  some sell for $1.98 at the dollar store others are way over priced, I saw one in the classifieds on a blade forum the other day used selling for $1300.00,  how can a folding knife or any other knife that's not diamond encrusted be worth that much ??? ?
  In my many decades of owning, carrying, and using pocket knives I've never needed more than a simple slip joint pocket knife,  or occasional lock back hunter,  another thing that I find puzzling about pocket knives today, why are they all so ugly looking, most are painted or powder coated flat black, others are all natural stainless, few use brass liners anymore.
  I have built up a small collection of pocket knives over the years,  Buck's, Gerber's, Case, Shrade, Boker, Tree Brand, Ulster, American knife, early Imperial's, Uncle Henry's, Western Cutlery, and  bunch more vintage knives that are all great quality, and they are also great looking as well,  I'll take a nice pocket worn vintage bone handled high carbon bladed case Trapper or Stag handled Shrade Hunter over a $200.00 black plastic handled Spyderco any day of the week.
 But I digress, the discussion is about survival with or without a fixed blade knife or a knife vs. a multi tool in a survival situation,  In my opinion there seem to be pros and con with both choices,  I can see the merit in having a pliers for crafting from salvaged wire, making fishing hooks, traps, and other uses,  having a small working file would be handy for keep tools sharp,  I'm not so sure what help slotted or Philips screw drivers might be in the woods,  but an awl might come in handy, and a small wood saw for making notches. 
 On the other hand, a good fixed blade knife might be better at processing fish and small game, and better at food prep,  making shavings and feather sticks, pot holders, or carving utensils,  in my case the knife would win out over the multi tool simply because I would be doing more knife stuff than tool stuff.   
 
   
 
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #42 on: June 11, 2018, 07:44:20 AM »
Well OP.  You never know when you'll have to battle a horde of rabid skunks under the shed.  lol.

  You Too,  I've had a family of them (not rabid) living under one of my sheds for the last three years,  they never bother us except on real humid nights occasionally, we have to keep the windows closed as their aroma waifs in through the window screens.
  I guess the good news is nothing else lives under there.   
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #43 on: June 11, 2018, 11:17:12 AM »
Well OP.  You never know when you'll have to battle a horde of rabid skunks under the shed.  lol.

  You Too,  I've had a family of them (not rabid) living under one of my sheds for the last three years,  they never bother us except on real humid nights occasionally, we have to keep the windows closed as their aroma waifs in through the window screens.
  I guess the good news is nothing else lives under there.
LOL! My last bout with a big sow skunk last fall convinced me of the live and let live policy. As long as the tribe isn't eating my chicken eggs (or chickens), they're welcome to hang out and keep the mouse population under control.
Better skunks under your shed than leprechauns, or elves. At least you know the skunk's agenda. ;)
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #44 on: June 11, 2018, 11:30:33 AM »
I carry a Skeletool most of the time.  The blade is 154CM steel and works fine for 90% of what I use it for.  Not much of a skinner but fine for cutting bale twine, slicing small cuts of meat, whittling on a stick, and those kind of things.  It is light (to me) and while the pliers are only good for little stuff they do work well enough and strip wire pretty well too.  Mine came with two screwdriver bits that insert into the end of the body.  One Phillips head with two sizes and a regular flat blade in two sizes.  Didn't  think much about it but I do use them quite a bit.

It won't replace a hunting knife or camp knife but its useful.  It has a sheath that I made  for it out of some leather that was laying around but most of the time it is just clipped in my pocket.

I have three other multi-tools, two Leatherman models and one Gerber.  I don't use them much. 
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #45 on: June 11, 2018, 01:42:45 PM »
I have a mini-Gerber multi-tool that was part of a set given to me.  The blade is about 1 3/4", and only good for things like cutting garden twine. The pliers work for pulling splinters in an emergency.  But it's just so darn cute (and was a gift) so I do carry it in my watch pocket. ;)

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Offline Phaedrus

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Re: Old thread New post
« Reply #46 on: June 11, 2018, 03:37:57 PM »
  I just curious,  how many of you guys on the forum carry a multi-tool over a pocket knife, and would you choose a multi-tool over a fixed blade knife if you were going on that type a survival adventure ?
 
 

I have contemplated swapping out my Spyderco for my Leatherman Skeletool CX but so far I keep chickening out.  My Dragonfly in HAP40 certainly trumps any multi-tool I know of in the blade department but it's a one-trick-pony.  The Skeletool has a blade I could live with plus pliers and an assortment of driver bit.  The downside however is that it weighs a lot more.  If I carried it in a sheath of some fashion it would probably work fine but real estate on my belt is somewhat limited.  I already have a sidearm at 3:30 and a horizontal mag pouch at 11:00, not a lot more places to put one that isn't in the way of something.  Perhaps a second horizontal pouch at 9:00?  It would be nice to have the pliers especially.

When in the woods I err on the side of many tools and cutting implements. ;)

  LOL, now we're getting off into a whole new area of differences,  we really ought to stop meeting this way.
  While I've heard a lot of good things said about Spyderco knives I've never owned one, I was tempted to buy a Spyderco Bush Craft knife once, but resisted,  for some reason the looks of their folders just never appealed to me.
  There seems to be a hundred or more new patterns of folders today,  I don't know if I'm accurate or not but I lump them all into the category of tacticals,  most are one hand opening auto assisted or flipper styled folders with frame locks and boot/pocket clips,  some sell for $1.98 at the dollar store others are way over priced, I saw one in the classifieds on a blade forum the other day used selling for $1300.00,  how can a folding knife or any other knife that's not diamond encrusted be worth that much ??? ?
  In my many decades of owning, carrying, and using pocket knives I've never needed more than a simple slip joint pocket knife,  or occasional lock back hunter,  another thing that I find puzzling about pocket knives today, why are they all so ugly looking, most are painted or powder coated flat black, others are all natural stainless, few use brass liners anymore.
 
 
   
 


The Spyderco knives I carry the most are more brightly colored. My HAP40 Dragonfly is Orange which I love because it is easy to find.  :)  My Delica is purple and was the last Xmas gift from my dad (purchased because he knew that is my favorite color ). A slip joint would be okay for most tasks but the one-handed opening has come in handy on numerous occasions.

Offline Phaedrus

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Re: The Knife: Most important survival item or not really a big deal?
« Reply #47 on: June 11, 2018, 03:39:25 PM »
I have a mini-Gerber multi-tool that was part of a set given to me.  The blade is about 1 3/4", and only good for things like cutting garden twine. The pliers work for pulling splinters in an emergency.  But it's just so darn cute (and was a gift) so I do carry it in my watch pocket. ;)



I've got a couple of Gerber Dimes which are surprisingly handy at times.

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Old thread New post
« Reply #48 on: June 11, 2018, 03:47:38 PM »
...The Spyderco knives I carry the most are more brightly colored. My HAP40 Dragonfly is Orange which I love because it is easy to find.  :)  ...

After loosing a couple good blades in the Washington rain forests, I've been guilty of painting a perfectly gorgeous knife Int'l Orange with a can of spray paint.  :P
I only do what the voices in my wife's head tell her to tell me to do.

Offline Phaedrus

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Re: Old thread New post
« Reply #49 on: June 11, 2018, 04:47:50 PM »
...The Spyderco knives I carry the most are more brightly colored. My HAP40 Dragonfly is Orange which I love because it is easy to find.  :)  ...

After loosing a couple good blades in the Washington rain forests, I've been guilty of painting a perfectly gorgeous knife Int'l Orange with a can of spray paint.  :P

Your experiences mirror my own! That's precisely the reason I gravitate towards Orange scales for outdoor knives.