A scout is: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Wouldn’t it be great if knife owners/carriers had a list we could rattle off to naysayers as to why we carry a knife?
In a few of my previous articles I touched on several reasons people would carry a knife. I touched on emergency personnel, personal preparedness, and other points. In this article I want to create a reasonably conclusive list of the purpose behind carrying knives. I will not get into field specific reasons because there are too many to list. As always, check your state and local laws as to what you can and cannot legally carry. It is your responsibility.
Every day we come across situations where having a knife would be useful. Many folks reach for a box cutter, scissors, or a kitchen knife. While these can work for the task at hand, they are often pressed into service well outside of their intended roles. This brings inherent risk to the tool, the person using it, or both. These are task specific tools. Using a kitchen knife to open a clamshell package may work, but it isn’t ideal. At best it’s unwieldy. At worst it’s dangerous. Alternatively, a pocket knife is a task generalized tool. It is supposed to fit multiple roles every day. It has a wide range of tasks to fill. As a purchaser you get to define YOUR needs and can buy a knife accordingly. What do you need it for? Do you work in an office or constructions site? Do you work with food or technology? Do you work around the general public or crowded places?
I will break down this list into four categories with explanations as needed. I will then paste a short list at the end of common reasons… scout law format. The categories I will break it down into are Every Day Carry, Emergency Preparedness/survival, recreation, and self-defense.
1. Every Day Carry (EDC)
Carrying a knife makes it easier to cut tape, cut string, cut trailing threads on clothing, open boxes, open clamshell packaging, cut/strip wires, prepare food like fruits and vegetables, open mail/envelopes, open food packaging, cut paper when scissors are absent, cut zip ties, cut tubing, remove tags from new clothing, or even for sentiment. Some of us have knives that were given as gifts, inherited, or are even family heirlooms and they mean a great deal more than their price tag. Yes, before you ask, some people even carry knives as pocket “bling”. I am more of a pragmatist and don’t care about pretty objects as much as useful ones.
2. Emergency Preparedness/Survival
It’s great to have a knife in case of an emergency or survival situation. Carrying a knife makes it easier to cut seat belt straps for extrication, create cloth bandages, cut rope, make kindling, scrape a firesteel, create a fire board and spindle, dig out a splinter, build a shelter, prepare wild game, collect wild edibles, make traps, carve utensils, make a spear, make an atlatl, and/or make feather sticks.
Having a knife is almost mandatory in many recreation activities. How many hunters or fishermen neglect to carry a knife? Only the stupid ones. Seriously though, if you are out hunting or fishing having a knife is not an option. You NEED one. Having a knife means you can gut, skin, and bleed game. It means you can clean fish, cut fishing line, make animal calls, prepare an animal hide, make a “blind”, build a gambrel, cut brush, prepare a salt lick, whittle, carve, and/or prepare bait.
4. Self Defense
Lastly many people carry a knife for self-defense. I am a huge proponent of knowing how to defend yourself. Many people carry a knife as part of their self-defense carry. Law enforcement, body guards, soldiers, and security often have a knife in their gear. I personally do not carry a knife as a self-defense tool but if I had to press my EDC into service I would. Some knives are legal and some are not. There are many self-defense techniques using knives…too many in fact. Some are crap and some are legit. The one rule I have encountered that is always true is once a knife is introduced into a dispute, someone WILL get cut.
I hope I have given a very thorough list of reasons someone would want to carry a knife. I know it includes many reasons I have run across. Here is a list you can politely rattle off to naysayers or the simply inquisitive. A knife owner needs to cut: food, packages, plastic, paper, string, rope, tape, envelopes, boxes, straps, wire, and kindling.
And as always…remember to keep your knives sharp, and your wits sharper.