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How much knife do we really need ?

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by pitdog, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. pitdog


    Apr 13, 2007
    I've been giving some thought to this question for a while now. Obviously many factors are going to affect your individual answer but in my own case, for the most part, I don't need very much blade at all !

    Today I took out two knives on either side of my limits. My Booshway is bordering on too much knife for most of my needs and my little Bugaboo is the smallest that I find really practical. Even though very small, I could get by with the Bugaboo for most of my needs.


    I always carry enough Paracord on the sheath to rig up a quick handle wrap....



    I love the idea of larger knives but in reality it is very rare I'd ever need anything larger than a 4" ish blade such as on my Swamprat Vex.

    It was too hot to do any Bushcrafting today, these signs have gone up everywhere !


    Both my girls struggle in this heat !


  2. Maddogg774


    Sep 19, 2011
    One doesn't "need" a knife. I was taught no knife survival. With that being said, a knife makes things so much easier, as does a properly prepared survival kit and a blast match.
  3. wildmike


    Nov 17, 2007
    The smallest knife I find practical is my Swamprat Rodent Solution. Every smaller knife I've tried has had too little handle.

    That being said the RS can handle most of my needs....as long as things don't get interesting (as in real survival use building shelters etc.)
  4. kamagong


    Jan 13, 2001
    I guess it depends on how and where you spend your time outdoors. If I was in the tropics I'd want a bolo or machete. A winter in Alaska? I have no idea, but I'd want a hatchet, maybe an axe of some sorts to go with a stout hunting knife of the Ed Fowler variety. I spend most of my time outdoors on dayhikes in sunny California, so my default blades are a puukko with a SAK in my pack. I usually have a slipjoint and modern folder as well, but that's because I like knives, not because I need them.
  5. mqqn

    mqqn Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Hi Pitdog -

    I am ok with a smaller knife - they are actually preferable when considering a long distance trip where one would have to carry gear etc.

    However, I like a longer handle on a short knife to give me leverage, where most smaller knives I see have a smaller handle in symmetry with the shorter blade -

    I like, for instance, the JK Anniversary EDC - maybe with just a little longer handle.

    I love big blades though, but it's lie having a big engine in your car - it is just more fun sometimes - but almost totally unneccessary.


  6. ROCK6

    ROCK6 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 8, 2004
    Yeah, I agree that location has a lot to do with it as much as your activities. Most of my typical day hikes, backpacking, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing and hunting can be served perfectly by a smaller fixed blade. However, if I'm going out in "primitive" mode or doing bushcraft skills where I'm planning on building shelters, process a lot of firewood, manufacture several traps, etc., a larger fixed blade will be more efficient. All those tasks can be done even with a neck knife, but it would take longer, more challenging techniques and suffer in the efficiency department. I think most of us would do just fine with a good folder or small fixed blade; however, the beast inside us is only satisfied by much larger, sharpened steel...I think it's a genetic part of our mind that makes us gravitate towards large, sharp objects when a smaller blade would do:D
  7. 22-rimfire


    Nov 20, 2005
    I tend to agree. I find my SAK and my Spydie Delica just about all I need in the folder department. An F1 sized fixed blade does just about everything I need doing, but I have developed a fondness for machetes, in particular the Condor Golok and Pack Golok.
  8. upnorth


    Nov 25, 2006
    I think that i've found my size limit now. I am a big blade lover whether F.B. or folder. However, you guys have made me think about this and I now see merit in a smaller knife for many reasons. The two that I like now are my Becker BK-16 and ESEE 4. I have had those little red Moras for years and saw them as tough junk knives for cutting carpet or whatever. I am now likely going to grab a few modern Moras such as the stainless Companion etc. That ''Bushcraft'' By Mors is my thunder pot book and is influencing me a bit over the last few months. I seem to be downsizing and coming to a loose concensus on my basic gear (for light pack carry). It seems to be a 4 inch F.B. (got it), a folding saw (getting it, I have a Stanley Fat Max right now), a Gransfors Bruks small forest axe (got it). I have various axes\hawks and knives and I agree with the previous comments that cutting tool choice is influenced by location. I would add that sometimes I'd rather just strap on a BK-2 than include a bunch of other gear. How long will I be out ? Were am I going ? How much weight do I want to hump along with my other stuff ? I am jelling into : smaller F.B., small forest axe, quality folding saw along with the ever present ferro rods etc. I am very comfortable with this set up. Those of you with higher skill levels likely need less gear. I will tell you right now though. I have been in the far north at blisteringly bitter cold temperatures and there are no awards for making a fire with flint and steel. Use whatever works quickly and reliably because it was not a game up there. So my selections are based on practicality, considering my (basic) knowledge, skills and experience. If I'm in an extreme environment and have a choice, I would opt for a chain saw and full sized axe, as the northern natives do. For us a lot of this is play. For them, it is serious business and repetitive work to be performed in the most practical and efficient manner possible, with whatever tool is available. Often in terrible conditions.
  9. coaldigger


    Jan 27, 2007
    I like to carry my Izula or BHK Tiger necker & my Tram. 14" Trail machete.....Actually I could make do with the Izula but the short machete makes some things alot easier -
    BHK Tiger necker has become my go to Necker, it has a mini firesteel attached & this thing throws a mean spark !
  10. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I went from a SOG SEAL team, to an RC-3. A fairly big difference you'll probably agree. All other factors aside, (edge geometry, and the like) I have found that the RC-3 does everything better. The SEAL was too long to be easily used, and not heavy enough for chopping.(I have pretty small hands) I could do with less blade, and don't feel underknifed with my izula or even my case cv stockman. That said, there is a point where a small knife makes things take much longer. I was even excited to see that there were shorter versions of the Mora 2k and some of the Becker line.... this could be bad....
  11. SaturatedShadow


    Apr 28, 2010
    I like carrying a chopper. It makes many tasks faster and easier.

    Last weekend, I used my BK-9 to clear an area to set up a blind for coyote hunting. I then used it to quickly and easily cut some brush for camouflaging material. I could have used my small knife, but it would have taken longer. In my area, I often have to cut multiflora rose vines to clear a path. I could walk around, but it would take longer.

    However, I could get by with just a small knife.


    This shelter was built using only a BK-14.
  12. TheGame


    Sep 24, 2008
    I could get by just fine with a smaller knife, however that wouldn't be as fun. In my opinion, I find big knives more useful, and much more fun to use. That's the reason I don't go into the woods without some form of chopping knife - the enjoyment of using it.
  13. fmajor007


    Apr 1, 2010
    I prefer a mid-sized stout field knife for "heavy" tasks (5" +/- a little) with a full-sized handle and a SAK Huntsman is quite a versatile little follow-up to my field knife.

    However, terrain/eco-system differences can require different tools depending on the required tasks...
  14. sutured


    Oct 30, 2011
    I love knives. I love axes. I love cutting and chopping and carving, even to no purposeful end. I'm also a firm believer in not being under-tooled, regardless of the task.

    But I find without fail that ounces left behind trump ounces carried on your person. Aside from scuba diving I can't think of a single instance where carrying an extra ounce is anything but detrimental to a persons pursuits.

    When I'm loading my pack there are some things I simply won't forgo: Water, food, binoculars, camera, appropriate clothing, and then the mission specific equipment, which is usually fishing gear. Once all that is in the pack I'm pretty hesitant to add anything which may or may not get used.

    Most times I find myself bringing a stick-tang puukko knife while my Bark River Bravo, Fallkniven F1, Dozier Elk Skinner and assorted axes and hatchets get left behind. Sometimes I feel a little under-knifed, but I've never actually been under-knifed.

    I know that the weight savings is small, but it matters. My last fly fishing outing involved a 19 mile hike, and I slipped and banged my knee at the start of it. The fishing was fantastic, but by the time I got back to my plane I was tired and sore to the point of silliness.

    I'm baffled by people who carry BK9 sized knives into the field, but I guess it comes down to priorities. I get more enjoyment from my binoculars than I would from a large knife, while others feel differently.

    I love using a good axe or a large knife, but a tarp weighs less and makes a better shelter. If I'm going to spend the night, or think I just might spend the night, I'll bring a ultralight thermarest, down sleeping bag and either a tarp or a hammock. That weighs about the same or a little less than an axe and chopper knife and it makes a better camp. Of course, once that stuff is in the pack I'm even less inclined to add heavy steel.

    Even in my airplane I minimize, as ounces in an airplane are little better than ounces on your back. I cary a pruning saw and a 2lb boys axe and a large sheath knife in the plane. If it's going to be very cold where I'm camping I'll splurge and put in a 3lb axe and maybe a bow saw, but that's it. I don't cary redundant tools or the dozens of sharpened toys I collect or things that "might come in handy".

    Could this philosophy come back to bite me? Sure. But I'd rather increase the performance of both myself and my aircraft by keeping them lightly loaded, which in the end I believe is safer and more enjoyable.

    I love big knives, I just find I have very little actual use for them.
  15. Joezilla

    Joezilla Moderator Moderator

    Jul 22, 2005
    all of it. Thats how much knife I need!!!

    WILLIAM.M Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 14, 2006

    Like it has been said before--A lot has to do with the location you are in

    I just enjoy bigger knives more as well

    I love to whittle--and I'm quite good

    But I'm an expert at chopping and even if I do not have to chop I like the feeling of using one-even when I'm not chopping.

    I can not ever imagine a survival situation where a bigger knife would be less suited for survival than a smaller one-especially when shelter building is concerned and time is of the essence.

    I could get by with a SAK or a 3" Blade---but since they weigh so little I bring one with me anyway---but I trust my bigger knives more.

    I just like the feeling of a 6" or longer blade with me when I'm out on the woods.

    I however-understand and appreciate people who have the completely different viewpoint..and they are correct(for them)

    I know what works for me
  17. medcommander


    Apr 21, 2010
    If you look at any civilization you see an pattern of duality occur. Most cultures would have a larger knife such as a Seax, Dirk, Machete, Kukri, Kopis, etc... Most of the time these were used for everyday chores but also functioned as weapons when needed. For smaller tasks such as whittling or eating a smaller knife was kept either on the belt or hidden for emergencies.

    With this in mind I would hazard to state that a combination of both are necessary for long term subsistence

  18. RickJ


    Mar 2, 2003
    Day hike in a very safe location, yea not much knife at all, but if I knew I was staying in a long term wilderness living situation, bet your booty my Busse NMFBM is with me, along with a few others like my LM ST300, Spyderco Military, and a good saw, maybe a axe too!
  19. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    I haven't carried more than a couple inches of knife in many years. Eastern U.S. is mostly hardwood forest, and most backpacking a large knife is just not needed. I will have a folding saw if a real emergency comes up, but so far it hasn't. A light sil-tarp and some cord make a far better shelter than anything that can be chopped up with a large knife. Add a large contractor size trash bag or two, and you can sit out mot emergencies with comfort. Not as much fun as hacking away at things, but more calorie effective. If I have to split firewood, the saw does an excellent job if you saw halfway through and bang it on the ground. This can be done with one hand if injured.

    I used to carry a large knife, but after so many years of it being dead weight and never being used, I got rid of it. These days, even canoe camping, I carry my regular pocket knife and a mora on my belt. So far so good. One of my several folding saws will always be in my pack.
  20. upnorth


    Nov 25, 2006
    Cool. Maybe phone up some local farmers or a feed lot for a dead cow. Dump it out at your site and you will have more yodel dogs than you'd care for.

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