Should you carry a knife on you every day? We take a look below at five reasons you should be considering it if you weren’t already.
Disclaimer: We believe everyone should own at least one quality knife, but before you walk out your front door with one, make sure it’s legal for you to do so in the first place. Different states vary on what kinds of knives you can carry on your person (and a few don’t actually allow it at all), so take a moment to familiarize yourself with local laws to ensure there are no unexpected consequences of carrying this particular tool with you.
1: The Day-To-Day Basics:
I lose count of how many times a week someone asks “anyone have a knife?” and I have an opportunity to make myself useful.
It’s amazing more people don’t keep some kind of basic everyday carry (EDC) knife on them at all times for the utility alone.
This past Christmas you better believe all the tape and ribbons in the world didn’t stand a chance at keeping my grandmother from opening her mountain of gifts. Opening boxes and packaging of any kind is quick and easy with a good knife, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Bag of broccoli didn’t quite tear open right while you were making dinner? EDC. That loose thread hanging off the end of your shirt? EDC. Pencil getting a little dull during a woodworking project? EDC.
A good knife will pay for itself many times over during its lifespan in the time you save looking for the multitude of tools it serves to replace in a pinch from scissors to boxcutters to wire strippers. Take a look at the Spyderco Paramilitary 2, which is one of the most popular day-to-day knives on the market.
2. Hunting and Fishing:
We really shouldn’t have to tell you about this one, but we are including it anyway. Obviously you should never go hunting or fishing without a knife on you. A good sharp knife will also help you to gut and bleed game of all kinds if you hunt and process your own meat. We like the Spyderco Military for this kind of work for its generous blade length and camouflage pattern.
When you hear the word survival, most people’s thoughts go someplace between Tom Hanks in Castaway and James Franco in 127 Hours (...speaking of reasons to carry a knife...).
And while wilderness survival is a big part of why many people choose to carry a knife, you should also consider that emergency situations can be just as likely in a busy downtown area as they are in the backcountry.
Your knife can save you or someone else from a burning car by cutting through a seatbelt and even breaking through glass (many knives actually feature a glass breaker on the butt end). A knife can be used to create a bandage or tourniquet that saves someone from a life threatening injury.
And while avoiding confrontation with wild animals at all costs is generally your best option, a knife can make the difference between life and death if you’re forced to contend with predators like mountain lions and crocodiles who could care less (and would actually greatly appreciate it) if you started “playing dead” once they’ve decided to attack.
4. Hiking and Camping:
It’s pretty common to bring a hatchet or an axe along for the ride when you’re camping out of a vehicle and know you’ll be dealing with firewood. But adding the weight of either just doesn’t make sense when there’s going to be any kind of serious hiking involved.
A good knife on the other hand is barely noticeable until you need it, and comes in handy when it’s time to shave kindling or feather sticks to get a fire going, provides a steel edge for striking flints, cuts lengths of paracord to hang your hammock or stake down your tent, and can even whittle you some eating utensils or a spear to cook any fish or game you catch over open fire. We like the Spyderco Delica 4 as a useful addition to our pockets on a standard camping trip.
A sturdy blade and a log can even be used to split or baton firewood in a pinch, although you’ll likely want to look at fixed blade knives if you’ll be doing heavier work like this.
Last but not least is arguably the most divisive topic out there when it comes to carrying a knife, and that is using it for self defense.
Introducing a blade into a fight all but guarantees that both parties will be going to the emergency room, if not worse.
Carrying a knife doesn’t need to have anything to do with self defense whatsoever. Again, a knife should be thought of first and foremost an incredibly useful tool. Seeing a knife primarily as a deadly weapon is largely a sigma held by people who don’t carry a knife themselves, and therefore don’t understand its daily utility.
That being said, when in imminent threat of death or serious danger, many would rather have a knife to deter or defend against a would-be attacker than be left empty handed.
The choice is up to you here, but there are two things you’ll want to consider before putting your knife into service in this capacity.
First, like any self defense system, you’ll want to spend a sufficient amount of time learning how to defend yourself with your knife.
If you aspired to defend yourself with your hands, would you go into it blind and hope for the best, or would you prefer to train in a proven martial arts system like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai?
If you chose to carry a gun, I would sincerely hope you’d start with a firearm safety class, followed by as much instruction as you needed to build the skills to be safe and effective with your weapon.
Same goes for a knife.
Second is to know the laws surrounding knives anywhere you’ll carry one. It may not even be legal for you to carry a knife, for self defense or otherwise, depending on the laws of your home state.
Add that to the fact that laws around defending yourself with a knife in virtually every state are both serious and varied, and you’ll start to see that choosing to carry a knife for this purpose is a decision you should not take lightly.
Introducing a knife into a fight for any reason, including self-defense, is almost always considered to be a use of deadly force, and you will likely be required to justify your actions in court.
That being said, if self defense capability is an important aspect of a knife’s utility for you, you’ll likely want to ensure the knife you choose has features that allow it to be deployed as quickly as possible. Knives like the Spyderco Endura 4 make great candidates for self-defense because they employ Emerson Openers (also called “wave technology”), which allow them to be drawn, opened, locked, and ready to use in a single motion using the back corner of your pocket.