“Mary gave him a bran-new “Barlow” knife worth twelve and a half cents; and the convulsion of delight that swept his system shook him to his foundations. True, the knife would not cut anything, but it was a “sure-enough” Barlow, and there was inconceivable grandeur in that – …”. – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The time was when every man (and some women) carried a pocket knife. Now the mayor of London, England, is advocating for the prohibition of all knives. Obviously he has never opened a package of hot dogs or anything else requiring a blade. Knives have always been a part of American culture. From a rite of passage for Tom Sawyer to today’s hi-tech blade systems and multi-tools. Whether or not you carry a knife in your pocket or purse every day, you should have one in your kit. There are folding knives, non-folding knives, multi-bladed knives and all kinds of spring-loaded knives. Big ones, little ones and in-between ones. There’s a knife for every purpose and for every budget, and like most things, you get what you pay for.
Everyone knows about Swiss Army knives. Understand that not all red plastic-handled knives are the genuine article. There are only two companies authorized to market “Swiss Army” knives. Victorinox and Wenger. Victorinox acquired Wenger in 2005 and they have decided to retain the Wenger nameplate. To determine the brand of a knife, open the blade. The brand is engraved on the ricasso (base of the blade). If it simply says “China” or “Pakistan” or “stainless” then keep looking, that is unless you’re buying a cheap gift for your brother-in-law.
Some of the best quality knives are made right here in Oregon. Gerber, CRKT (Columbia River Knife and Tool), Benchmade, Kershaw and Leatherman, to name a few. These companies offer a wide selection of quality products. Most companies offer knives that appeal to the “survival” crowd. Once again, use wisdom when choosing a knife. Some so-called survival knives wouldn’t help you survive a 30-second power outage much less a real emergency. Let me tell you about a couple of knives I own and recommend. First is a folding knife made by Tool Logic. It features one-handed opening, a built-in whistle, an LED flashlight and a magnesium fire striker. Cost is in the $50 range. The other is marketed by Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild . Manufactured by Gerber, it is a fixed-blade knife. Incorporated into the design is a whistle, a firesteel, and a sharpening stone. The butt of the handle is designed to pound things like tent stakes, walnuts and even nails should the need arise. Cost is also in the $50 range. My every-day carry is a SOG Twitch II. Known as a “flipper” it is a single bladed knife capable of being opened with one hand.
Another must-have for your kit is a multi-tool. Multi-tools were made famous by Leatherman and have been copied by several other knife makers. All multi-tools have a knife blade, an assortment of screwdriver heads, a set of pliers and depending on the model, a saw, wire-cutter and mini-scissors. As most men already know, a good multi-tool is a very valuable item to have.
I would be interested in hearing your knife stories or recommendations for outdoor equipment. As always, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dave Robinson is a retired Postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.