Any weaknesses of the conventional two-knife combo?

Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Messages
255
I have used tools including knives for the job at hand. It many times the knife but the skill of the person working with it. One large knife, one small knife you should be good to go.......the blade shapes are probably as important as size.
 

MtnHawk1

Basic Member
Joined
May 22, 2019
Messages
335
DangerZone98, as others have said, you don't mention the environment you are talking about. If it's the usual urban or suburban environment, or something or someone is carrying a person's tools for them in a forest wilderness, then they can pretty much have anything they want. I think this is the likely case for just about everyone who prefers axes, hatchets, machetes, saws, or whatever, to the two-knife combo you are talking about.

When I'm packing into the wilderness, where I need to keep my pack weight and bulk to a minimum, I can pretty much do everything I need to do (chopping wood to delicate camp chores) with one knife: around a 10" high-quality blade with a finger choil. Knowing an unanticipated emergency or survival situation could occur at any time, having a big, versatile, do-everything knife gives me as much confidence as I can probably get, especially when calorie conservation can be the difference between life and death. Because cutting tools are so important in a forest wilderness, for redundancy and convenience I usually also carry a 4.5" blade and multi-tool, all high-quality. I can't think of too much this combination can't handle.

To each their own, though. The important thing is to think about all possibilities, not just probabilities, prepare for them, and be as safe as possible.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
2,039
DangerZone98, as others have said, you don't mention the environment you are talking about. If it's the usual urban or suburban environment, or something or someone is carrying a person's tools for them in a forest wilderness, then they can pretty much have anything they want. I think this is the likely case for just about everyone who prefers axes, hatchets, machetes, saws, or whatever, to the two-knife combo you are talking about.

When I'm packing into the wilderness, where I need to keep my pack weight and bulk to a minimum, I can pretty much do everything I need to do (chopping wood to delicate camp chores) with one knife: around a 10" high-quality blade with a finger choil. Knowing an unanticipated emergency or survival situation could occur at any time, having a big, versatile, do-everything knife gives me as much confidence as I can probably get, especially when calorie conservation can be the difference between life and death. Because cutting tools are so important in a forest wilderness, for redundancy and convenience I usually also carry a 4.5" blade and multi-tool, all high-quality. I can't think of too much this combination can't handle.

To each their own, though. The important thing is to think about all possibilities, not just probabilities, and be as safe as possible.
I see, I should’ve been more specific. I was subconsciously thinking of a wilderness environment I suppose, where all you’ve got are two knives, the rest of your gear, and your wits.

As I said though, just a hypothetical situation man. I wanted to see if it’s possible to get by with just one small and one big blade combo. Other combos are definitely viable, such as with small folders or chopping hatchets. As you said, different strokes, different folks.
 

comis

Gold Member
Joined
May 17, 2013
Messages
1,046
I think it would also depend what kind of 9" and 4" knife we are talking about, and what tasks you plan to do with them in the wilderness. If you plan to process tons of firewood or doing some really fine carving job, I'd imagine they might be tiring or awkward to use well.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
2,039
If I were thrown into the wilds and had to walk 50 miles back to civilization, I would want nothing more than a 4" stout and sharp fixed blade. With that, I could do most tasks required to hoof it out of there.

Even still, I find the area between a 9" and 3"/4" not enough of a difference to work for me. At that point, I have two knives that overlap 80% and weigh me down.

I have long been a fan of a rig that consists of wildly different knives/tools to cover more work. Something like the Khukuri set up where the scabbard pairs a large, thick blade with a small 2-3" narrow knife and a tool that can be used to maintain the edges of said knives that nest behind the big one. I modify mine a bit. I carry a khukuri with about 12" blade, pick and choose a karda (small knife) out of my collection that comes in around 3" of blade and very pointy/narrow as to handle much finer work, and then carry a small 2-3 layer Swiss Army Knife in the place of the chakma (traditional burnishing tool) as to have more specialized tools like scissors or a saw or what have you to maximize my tool set.
I love khuks. Just a nitpick, but the kardas we got from The Khukuri House were kinda dull. Small issue though, nothing a sharpener can’t fix.

I still don’t know how to use the “chakmak” honer that comes with the khuk, lol.
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2020
Messages
612
TL;DR: a puukko and a leuku are the perfect couple.

One four inch knife with good ergos, good blade geometry and HT is plenty for normal, civilized conditions.
Personally, I don't want to EDC anything bigger than that, only something smaller. My small size limit is the Spyderco Native or exceptionally, the Chaparral.

To survive in the nature (shelter building, etc), additionally, a bigger chopper and a saw would be more than welcome. How big?
I sold my Hudson Bay (8.5"), because it was too big for some tasks and not big enough for others, but I am keeping all my parangs, goloks, saws, hatchets and axes, because i can use them (processing felled trees and weeding the garden). But these are not for EDC..

Not counting the chefs knives in the kitchen, my current largest knife is a BRKT Aurora II with a 5.6" blade. I use it to process larger fish, it is kinda my Camp Knife. I think that is how big I would go for EDC out in the nature. Adding a Bark River UL Bushrafter would make a cool combo.
 
Last edited:

Don W

Gold Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
869
If you only had a big knife (9”+ blade length) and a small knife (4-5” blade length), would there be any knife-related tasks that would still give you trouble? Or does this reasonably cover all bases?

Purely hypothetical situation, folks. We all know every man needs at least two knives.

There may be a few smaller carving tasks that would be better suited something smaller than a 4-5 inch blade, but you would be covered for most everything. The 4-5 inch fixed blade is my big knife and my small knife is a folder.
 

TrainedBullets

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2017
Messages
283
Yes, weight.

For all but winter backpacking, I have never needed more than a sharp, 4” long, 1/8” thick fixed blade. I always have one of those on me when I’m in the woods.

For winter overnighters, I add a GB small forest axe, largely because it’s the one backcountry arena I actually plan on building a fire. I usually leave it in base camp and day hike/peak bag with a lighter pack. I find the axe a lot easier to work with than a long fixed blade.
 

cbach8tw

Gold Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2006
Messages
7,916
I think a two combo is a good idea, altholugh mine would be a fixed blade between 3 to 5 inches and a knife with multiple blades or my SA knife. I do more glamping but get by with just my SA for small jobs. I do want to try different combos just for fun to see if it makes a difference. I think Nessmuk had it right with his trio, with everyone choosing which tools would meet their needs. Maybe your needs only require two tools. I think even Kephart had a pocket knife with him. My needs do not require batonning, maybe just splitting small branches for kindling to make a fire or get to dryer wood, even that is done with my small inexpensive hatchet in the truck.
 

Wild Willie

Gold Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2018
Messages
1,261
I think even Kephart had a pocket knife with him.

He did.

"For ordinary whittling a good jackknife is needed. It should have one heavy blade 2 3/4 or 3 inches long, tempered hard enough for seasoned hickory, but thick enough not to nick or snap off; also a small thin blade that will take a keen edge and keep it."

From The Book of Camping and Woodcraft.
 

Edgeoflife

Gold Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
2,439
Im a fan of pairing up folders. One small and one larger with around a 3” blade and the other a 3.5”-4” blade. Preferably a slicer and one for hard use. Could i get by with one blade most of the time, sure, but i have multiple pockets and knives so why not. Although thats mainly my EDC and at work carry. At home in PJs i get by with one blade lol. If i am going out in the woods ill carry a larger folder like a police or military. If im going camping or something i break out the fixed blades but don't carry them much otherwise.
 

MolokaiRider

Gold Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2017
Messages
3,960
Scenario:

Lost in woods. No electricity or phone. Washed up on shore with what’s in your pockets or belt.

If I had a choice, it would be a OG Leatherman, A TOPS Puukko, Ontario SP-53, Glock 21 with three full mags, two BIC lighters, a stick of zinc, small flashlight with reflective lens, hopefully a compass too with a fish hook compartment.

Also a satellite phone.
 

Chronovore

Basic Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
974
If you only had a big knife (9”+ blade length) and a small knife (4-5” blade length), would there be any knife-related tasks that would still give you trouble? Or does this reasonably cover all bases? ...

Comfortably carrying a knife to perform those knife-related tasks can become an issue in some environments. For instance, a folder with a 4-5" blade might be pretty big for office or gentleman's carry, light summer or PJ carry, etc.

Being out in the woods is different. I enjoy the woods when I can but I'm not a serious bush-crafter or an ultra-light back-packer. I usually just carry what you're calling a small knife here. Larger blades or other tools might come along for camping or specifically planned activities. Even then, I almost always still have a small folder or multi-tool with me.
 

cbach8tw

Gold Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2006
Messages
7,916
I read that zinc is very important for your immune system, and homeostasis, could that be why it is needed in a survival situation? For staying healthy?
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Messages
242
Guessing sunscreen?

Weaknesses of 2 knife combo, only thing coming immediately to mind would be more advanced wood processing or "construction". Right angles and joins/joints? that might be a bit easier with a saw. That's a bit beyond my skill level though so IDK.
 
Top