knives and hiking

10:00 p.m. on May 4, 2008 (EDT)
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Over the years I have seen everything from a small single blade pen knife to the very large “Bowie Style” sheath knife taken on hikes, backpack trips, ect.

I have talked to some people about their knife choices and they all say they chose that knife for protection from wild animals. I think that if I have to use a knife to defend myself from an animal I am in serious trouble, already. All though in the case of an attack, I am prepared to use what ever knife I have at hand.

My preference is to carry not one but two folding knives for work, or general usage. Both very sharp. When I was young I traveled with one knife. Setting it down after using it, I promptly forgot about it, left the area, and only much later and a distance away remembered that I had set it down on a tree stump. It was not recovered. I also use a separate knife for cooking or kitchen duties. I don’t want the general use knives to contaminate my foods.

I am wondering what type of knife you take hiking with you and, or how many? And, or why?

10:19 p.m. on May 4, 2008 (EDT)
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Knife selection is a very personal choice. I choose to carry a Swiss Army Swiss Tool. I've always carried some sort of folding knife for their utilitarian options, like a saw. I keep my knife on a lanyard, clipped to my pack, belt, or hung around my neck, to avoid loss.

12:26 p.m. on May 5, 2008 (EDT)
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redpatch5 has been talking to a bunch of macho dreamers who say

Quote:

they all say they chose that knife for protection from wild animals.

Maybe in the movies. Or maybe defending themselves against chipmunks. I expect kutenay to respond here, assuming he can pick himself up off the floor and quite laughing hysterically long enough to type a response. I doubt that a sword (except Ahnold's in the Conan series) would have any effect against grizzlies (or any other bear bent on a real attack), the large cats, or even an enraged elk/deer/moose (yes, these have been known to kill people).

Knives are made for specific purposes. Although I do use a Swiss Army knife (have several of these from both "official" makers), I find that all the multiple blade/tool knives/Leatherman type of devices do not do anything particularly well. For climbing, I carry a "rescue knife" which sees occasional use for cutting sling or cord for leaving behind for a rappel (more often for clearing the huge pile of ancient, rotting sling off popular rappel points on backcountry routes). Yes, the SAK can be handy [I have used the pliers on one several times when on a backpack with scouts to to "orthodontal" work (retrieve pieces of broken braces), as a pot lifter, and to tighten a few things that my fingernails weren't up to]. And I have used the blades of SAK and Leathermen to whittle, carve, and cut things. The saws aren't good for sawing wood or anything else more than a couple centimeters thick (and are poor even on sticks less than a cm).

Bowie knives do have a purpose. Aside from their use as a weapon for fighting other humans mano a mano, they were used as a substitute for axes, skinning large animals after killing them with the muzzleloader, and as the frontier equivalent of a multi-tool. I do carry one when doing historical re-enactments.

Multiple blade knives do have their uses, but they are not a substitute for a real tool and certainly are unsatisfactory as a weapon for defense against wild animals. Oh, wait, maybe if you confront an enraged brown bear, he might laugh himself to death at the sight.

And the point about having a knife that is kept clean and separate for kitchen putposes is a good one - the folding blade type, especially multitools, have too many hard to clean crevices that can and do harbor all sorts of contamination (if you carry your knife for cutting bread and spreading peanut butter in your pocket, do you also carry the bread itself and the peanut butter in your pocket - I mean without wrapper or container, directly in your pocket?)

1:04 p.m. on May 5, 2008 (EDT)
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the only action my knife ever sees is cutting open a hoagie roll once a day.

I'd be fine backpacking with a plastic knife.

2:10 p.m. on May 5, 2008 (EDT)
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I used to carry a SAK (camper's model with saw) every day. Almost every day I found a use for it. When hiking/camping I carried a SAK and a Russel Belt-Knife.

Now, I would carry the SAK and a Marble's "Trout and Bird" knife. The trout and bird in carbon steel will take a superb edge, hangs around your neck when not in use, is very light weight, and has no crannies to trap dirt - so you can use the same knife for cooking and all other uses.

Here is a photo of the Marble -- http://www.marblesoutletstore.com/ProdDetails.asp?IID=102

BTW, Jim Bureau, who owns the Marble's store above, is a great guy and superb cane rodmaker.

Reed

10:06 p.m. on May 5, 2008 (EDT)
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I love the Victorinox/Swiss Army Super Tinker that I have carried for years. Can't seem to find it on the Victorinox site, however; most of those knives have corkscrews, which I never needed while backpacking. I have used every blade (and even the tweezers and toothpick), but I find that the scissors are the most useful.

Not too good for spreading the peanut butter on the tortilla, however. For that, Ed G's plastic knife is perfect.

12:03 p.m. on May 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Lately my knife choices run between a Swiss Army Knife with a locking blade or a Mora fixed blade knife. I like the locking blade on a folder because I'm careless enough when I'm tired to fold the blade onto my hand during use. Mora's are cheap and light and have a wonderful blade. In the past I've used Grohmann knives and like them a great deal, but they are heavier and more expensive.

12:06 p.m. on May 6, 2008 (EDT)
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rexim -
I also have a Super Tinker - seems like the best combination for a climber, backpacker, or backcountry skier, as well as a Climber Deluxe (has the corkscrew instead of the Phillips head). But something I learned over the years - Victorinox and Wenger both have used a given name for several different combinations of blades and have changed the name of a given blade combination from time to time (haven't seen a duplication of names between the companies, though, despite both being "official Swiss Army Knives").

Years ago, I had a "Climber Deluxe" that was the same as my present Super Tinker (I lost it by leaving it on the roof of the car after fiddling with the roof rack - frozen lock - following a backcountry ski tour). I bought another "Climber Deluxe" mail order (which I still have), and discovered that the Phillips head had been replaced by the corkscrew (climbers in Europe drink wine during the climb from corked bottles, apparently). The current Super Tinker was called a Tinker Deluxe for a while (got one for my son) - exact same blade selection. There is currently a Tinker Deluxe, which has one less blade (forget which one it is). I have several catalogs from them which clearly show the re-naming when compared.

I will have to ask the Victorinox and Wenger people about this at the next OR Show.

1:52 p.m. on May 6, 2008 (EDT)
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I have some type of a Gerber(can't remember the name) that has useable pliers, scissors, a small saw, two smaller blades, two screwdrivers and an awl. That rides in my pack or bike bag and I often carry a larger Gerber with a good sharp blade.

4:15 p.m. on May 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Spyderco Ladybug. Or, the Jester.

I keep it on a neck lanyard (from Benchmade for their rescue hooks). You can pull hard and it pops right off. Neat-o if you ever needed it for an emergency.

Mostly stays in the "possibles sack", though.

-Brian in SLC

5:00 p.m. on May 6, 2008 (EDT)
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I've got a 3" tanto point Benchmade that's been run over a few times, thrown straight into a granite wall from about 4 feet away, and buried in wet sand, but all she needs is a few cotton swabs and a few drops of oil every month, and I'll be damned if she doesn't drop out smooth as butter like the day she was born. I really liked the Leatherman Juice for a while, until I realized only used the knife and scissors. So I eliminated the scissors, and now I just have the blade. If you get one, very good blade, you can use it for nearly anything you might need a multi-tool for. Prying, tightening screws, wedging and chiseling can all be done with a high-strength, thicker blade. In my opinion, Benchmades just have the best mechanism around, and their handles are light and fit my hnd well.

6:23 p.m. on May 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Personal preference is a small knife with a combination serrated and straight edge. Favorite was a Spyderco ?Ladybug. Almost too small. Lost it somewhere on the Dominican Republic. Right now I'm using a Mt Shasta combo edge. Bit heavy relative to the Ladybug. Strong construction. I usually also pack an old BuckTool. It has a straight and serrated blade plus a few useful tools.

Regarding protection from wild animals. Only one real close encounter. Black bear. I found a small tree between it and me plus a branch the length and size of a baseball bat worked. A knife as protection? No way!

7:42 p.m. on May 6, 2008 (EDT)
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James Gary Shelton, a respected bear/Cougar defence instructor here in B.C. and author of three well-known and widely read/used books on this topic, DOES recommend carrying a large, sharp, pointed knife along with two fresh canisters of bear spray, in holsters on your belt while in bear/Cougar habitat. This is largely due to most people being banned from carrying a handgun in Canada's wilderness or anywhere else and he feels that such weapons CAN be useful in the event of a Cougar or bear attack.

Gary is from California and has an American's attitude toward handguns, however, he came here in 1965 and actually LISTENED to the old timer's where he settled and thus learned what/what not to do where these animals are concerned. I own and have read all of his books and respect him, his honesty, experience and conclusions, most of which I agree with.

A guy successfully fought off a hungry Black Bear in William's Lake a couple of years ago, using his belt knife and, I would rather have a good knife than my hands if tangling with a bear.

I do not carry spray, DO carry a 4-4.5" heavy duty sheath knife at all times when in the bush and I keep it sharp enough to do surgery with. I also carry a Letherman TTi Charge and a small SAK in my 1st aid kit.

I don't carry a knife especially FOR use in defence and I can obtain a permit for my Redhawk .44, but, I can't be bothered as I hate having a handgun around in the towns we have to pass through as it is just one more thing to worry about.

Would I use a knife for self defence against a bear or Cougar, hell, yeah, no point in going down without a fight. That said, my buddie's Busse Battle Mistress on his pack strap makes me chuckle....my custom P-64 Mod. 70 "shorty"in .375 H&H with firesights is a FAR better option in bear country and doesn't weigh much more than that "toadstabber"on steroids!

9:22 a.m. on May 7, 2008 (EDT)
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I collect knives, so my list will be longer than most. On backpacking trips this summer, it will be:

Bark River North Star
Spyderco UKPK
Stockman, either a Queen or Moore Maker
Victorinox Farmer (for the saw)
Leatherman Squirt
Victorinox Classic (for the scissors)

I used to not carry a fixed blade, but on a trip two years ago I decided to take one and it ended up being very useful; I had to baton a bunch of branches off a fallen aspen that was blocking access to the only reasonable spot to cross a river. Since then, I make it a point to bring one.

10:03 a.m. on May 7, 2008 (EDT)
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That's a good point about the fixed blade knife. When you need one a folding pocket knife is a lousy substitute.

11:08 a.m. on May 7, 2008 (EDT)
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That is why I have an OSK-1 model on order from Charlie May in Mississippi, he is a friend of Gene Ingram's there and the custom "Lite Combo" hunting knives I had Gene make me are the finest knives I have ever owned/used and that is a bunch.

A GOOD medium fixed blade knife is probably the single most versatile tool you can take backpacking, far more useful than a gun and much more portable than an axe.

Sometimes, doing without a tool to save weight is actually counter-productive, although "fighters", "Bowies" and SURVIVAL knives in tricky synthetic sheaths affixed to the offside pack strap, upside down of course, for that "tactical" draw, always make me snort.......

9:15 p.m. on May 7, 2008 (EDT)
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The best thing I found for long term survival in the woods is a regular 21 inch bowsaw. With it you can make a tipi, cut firewood, build a sweatlodge, clear a trail, make wooden stakes, or quickly fashion a debris hooch. It's light and the blades are cheap though some care must be used in carrying. A great tool for the woods.

10:21 p.m. on May 7, 2008 (EDT)
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Bill S
OGBO

LOL LOL LOL

No I haven’t thought of carrying peanut butter or bread in any of my pockets. It would be kind of messy wouldn’t it? Never mind very difficult to remove and eat. Good One.
Glad to see that I’m not the only one to abuse or loose a knife.

I hope people noticed Kutenay’s comment about sharp knives.

I didn’t name the type I usually carry – “Victorianox” two blade, scissors, tool pick, tweezers, tools, cork screw (it may be the Super Tinker, no mater). It works, and the best part I did not have to buy it.

I am thinking that most of the guys that I have talked with chose the fixed blade, sheath knife, as a comfort thing as well as sometimes practical knife.

And to help with the humour

One of my camping buddies carries a very large, wide blade, sheath knife which ends up in at least one trip pic every time. He uses it for any camp or kitchen work. He worked in the woods marking out cut blocks for forestry companies, and has met up with at least one Black Bear.

Another buddy, to keep his wife happy, takes along a small air-horn, a large can of pepper spray, and a filleting knife as personal protection. All three dangle on his pack belt. He does not like the pepper spray so he says, and he is worried that it might discharge by accident on the trail (I hope I’m not around when it does). The pepper spray could be discussed as another topic later. The fish knife is long and may be sharp, useful?

My daughter went camping last with a few girl friends to a popular Provincial Camp site. One of the girls was loaned a large sheath knife from her boyfriend (at the time) to take car camping for protection. From what, I don’t know. I tested the blade for sharpness before they went camping and I found the blade to be completely dull. As they were leaving within the hour, I told her to bury the knife deep into her camp stuff and under no circumstances should she bring it out at camp as I thought the knife to be more dangerous to her if it was brought out. They returned home without incident and the girl returned the knife to her boyfriend, blade still dull.

I thank you all for your comments and stories. They help me and others. Keep them coming. Keep the knives sharp. Times are good and the trails are fun. Happy Trails.

3:14 p.m. on May 8, 2008 (EDT)
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I carry a small, basic Swiss Army Knife for small tasks and a drop point hunter made by Knives of Alaska.

4:33 p.m. on May 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Bill:

I'd be interested in the explanation from Victorinox. I was at REI yesterday and saw both the Super Tinker and Climber Deluxe on Display--the only difference was the corkscrew, as you said.

I also sometimes carry an old Kinfolks sheath knife I inherited from my father-in-law, but I carry it primarily for sentimental reasons.

9:28 p.m. on May 8, 2008 (EDT)
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...and the hard-core ultralighters say "Razorblade. That's all you need."

11:49 a.m. on May 9, 2008 (EDT)
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I carry the same BSA pocket knife I was given 38 years ago. It's nice and sharp. Yes, its heavy, and I really don't have a use for the can opener when I'm out in the woods, but I feel naked without it.

12:11 p.m. on May 9, 2008 (EDT)
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I'm surprised, in a way, that this discussion has gotten so many responses. But then, I guess I have to add one more to the list of items so personal that every one has a strong personal preference - boots, packs, tents, headgear (whoops, shouldn't have put that in - there will now be a hundred post argument on headgear), cameras, backpack stoves, ...

I do have to disagree slightly with kutenay - yeah, if attacked by a critter bent on killing, maiming, and/or eating me, I would rather have some sort of weapon to defend myself. But I would like for it to be effective, which brings the basic requirement of having training and experience in using the weapon in such a situation. I would contend that the vast majority of people carrying knives in the belief that they would be effective in defending themselves against an enraged bear or hungry puma are just deluding themselves. It may be that Shelton recommends carrying weaponry, but kutenay says he is

Quote:

a respected bear/Cougar defence instructor here in B.C. and author of three well-known and widely read/used books on this topic

Which means he has spent time training, studying animal behavior, and maybe doing some practice. I suspect that the number of those carrying Bowie knives in "tricky synthetic sheaths affixed to the offside pack strap, upside down of course, for that "tactical" draw" who would actually be able to get the knife out and use it effectively in a real bear or lion attack is miniscule, and that the number who succeed is even smaller. And those who believe a folding pocket knife will provide any protection against a grizzly, well, ... Do you really know where the vital spots to use the knife are on a 500 pound angry bear (or a 100 pound puma), and can you get the knife out, maneuver yourself around this angry mass of claws and teeth, and get the knife into the vital area without dropping it in the process? Even having a large bore firearm does no good unless you have been trained in its use and practice a lot - do you know where the slug has to be placed to stop the big, enraged furry guy, and can you do it consistently in a dynamic situation?

It's just like the people who carry electronic widgets, expecting that if they get in trouble, help will arrive instantly. In many cases, the widget, big knife, or even the bag with the 10 Essentials just promotes hubris. It ain't the things you carry with you - it's the knowledge, experience, judgment, and preparation that come before you ever get out in the woods and hills. All the hardware in the world does you no good unless you really know how to use it effectively. Yet too many get out there with "things" and believe they are invulnerable.

I am NOT saying "do not bother carrying" appropriate gear. I AM saying get trained, get the knowledge, work with an experienced mentor, develop the judgment, and be prepared. Don't just get, say, a big knife and head into the hills in the belief that this is a magic talisman that will save you automatically.

12:33 p.m. on May 10, 2008 (EDT)
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I don't see any disagreement here, Bill, you and I are totally agreed on this. I simply wanted to point out Gary's suggestion of a "Cougar knife" plus twin bear spray cans on a belt because most cannot carry a handgun here. He lives where Cougar's DO and HAVE attacked and killed adults as well as kids. He is not the ultimate authority, many here have equal or greater experience than he does, but, his books ARE worth reading, although his rants against "preservationists" are rather tiresome and totally without foundation....I AM one and I was working in the BC wilderness when he came here from California.

Like you, I am very sceptical of ANY tools when the person(s) packing them do not have the skills to use them and I also, as my previous post indicated, find guys packing huge knives amusing. I have had enough Grizzly encounters to know that, in MANY cases, EVEN WITH my custom bear gun(s), I would be dead meat if a given bear decided I look like "Grizzwurst"..... :)

In fact, this is why I very seldom bother to carry a weapon, it is just too heavy and a pita when climbing steep cliffs. I DO highly recommend noisemakers and USE them and have never yet been attacked....thank God.

4:01 p.m. on May 10, 2008 (EDT)
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Kutenay... noisemakers? Do you mean airhorns - or simply a group of off-key voices singing loudly and obnoxiously? ;)

9:49 a.m. on May 12, 2008 (EDT)
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"or simply a group of off-key voices singing loudly and obnoxiously? ;)"

I resemble that comment.

9:21 p.m. on May 12, 2008 (EDT)
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You're ALL going to laugh at me. But, I bring as my primary knife an army surplus bayonet. An old Enfield bayonet with the hollow handle, the barrel loop, and the round spring loaded clip at the end of the handle to lock it onto the rifle. Using a bit of 3/4" steel rod and a rubber O-ring I fashioned a cap for the end of the handle and created my own "Rambo" style camping knife. One that doesn't break the first time you hack at a branch with it. In the handle is the usual. Waterproof matches. 3 Band-aids, large needle, 50 feet of 15 pound fishing line, fish hook, half a dozen Iodine tablets in a tiny Ziplock bag, and a half dozen extra strength Advil Liqui-gels in another tiny Ziplock bag. I love it. It's blade is 11 inches long, double sided up to about 1-1/2 inches from the hilt, and can take ABUSE. You can use it to make kindling by beating on the blade with one piece of wood while driving the blade through the kindling piece. You can hack things with it, pry with it, dig with it, scratch your back with it. Well...When it's dull anyways. : ) Speaking of dull, double sides also means twice as long before it needs sharpening... Theoretically anyways. It's sheath is made of steel, it weighs a ton, but you would be hard pressed to find me a knife as durable and as multi capable as this monster. It can even open up soup cans when someone forgets the can opener... (Whistling) ...

9:01 p.m. on May 13, 2008 (EDT)
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I have seen live and stuffed mountain lions. They are very impressive - beauty, grace, & power come to mind. I have played with house cats that were all teeth & claws. I would not want to have to fend off a cougar attach with anything.

Having said that, there are several instances where people successfully defended themselves with knives. Here are a few:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/cougar/attacks.html

http://wdfw.wa.gov/do/newreal/release.php?id=nov0303a

8:56 a.m. on May 14, 2008 (EDT)
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Who needs a knife to fend off the bears when you can use an umbrella.

http://www.backpacker.com/community/ask_buck/48

Okay, so he doesn't think that will work, but he does provide some good tips on how to avoid a bear confrontation to begin with.

5:24 p.m. on May 15, 2008 (EDT)
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I am a strong believer in carrying at least one knife into the woods with me. But then I am the guy that you rarely find without a knife of some sort. I carry a Victorinox SAK Huntsman in my front pocket that is attached to a lanyard which also has my whistle on it. I always carry a Leatherman Pulse (ie. Locking blades) strapped to the shoulder strap of my pack and usually carry either an Ontario Spec Plus Survival Machete or a Schrade X-Timer Camp Knife. These are used for chopping fire wood or basic utility work.

It’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.

7:13 p.m. on May 16, 2008 (EDT)
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Over 100 years ago George Washington Sears (Nessmuk) would go out on extended backcountry trips in the Adirondack area. He got his entire gear load down to 26 lbs, and that included his canoe!

Yet when it came to cutting tools he never skimped. Cutting tools were very important for survival in the wilderness. He brought an axe, a fixed blade, and a small slip joint pocket knife.

Along those lines, I usually have a small pocket knife (SAK Soldier or Tinker), a fixed blade (Bark River Northstar), and a folding saw. Sometimes I will also have a 3" locking folder, just because they are so convenient with the pocket clip.

I probably carry more than most backpackers, but since I am normally with some of my scouts I have to also be prepared as their leader for eventualities.

6:07 p.m. on May 18, 2008 (EDT)
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Kutenay, Bill S, Tom D
Hi all
I suspect that some of the postings reflect a sort of heated thread in another forum group. It seems that a HUGE percentage of American Males feel the NEED to carry a big sharp knife for self defense in the woods. A lot of really frightened ones need to carry automatics.

I carry an old Victorinox swiss army knife with cork screw - the full sized knife - 3.7 oz. I NEVER sharpen a knife unless a kitchen knife is too dull to cut its intended, then I put a bit more edge on it with a steel.

I have always heard that the first rule of knifes is to NEVER point it towards yourself, so that if it slips, you won't get cut. The second rule was to keep it sharp. My contention is that if you ignore the first rule, then you should also ignore the second rule, or risk being very badly cut with a sharp knife. Or to put it another way - I can hold my swiss army knife a foot above my hand and drop it and just get knicked - what would happen with say a commano knife or a scalpel?

Still everyone writes to assure me that a sharp knife is safer and I have to think that this is the same wishfull ignorance that makes some think that taking less gear is safer cause it weighs less. If you want to believe that all you need is a quilt and a bowie knife, then your fantasy world is greater than your personal experience in the real world.

I carry dull knives and have a nick name Dull Knife in another forum. I claim a dull knife is much safer when solo camping. Since I do follow rule one, I do not need a sharp knife to cut my foot or open a plastic bag. In fact I cannot actually concieve of a real world camping activity with a higher probability of happening than being struck by lightening, that you need a big sharp knife for. I never split wood backpacking, I do not shave fuzz sticks, I do not whittle, I do either attack nor defend myself from big game. I do cut meat for dinner and spread peanut butter and I contend that a butter knife sharp enough to cut a steak is all the knife actually required for camping - wine cork optional.
Jim YMMV

7:19 p.m. on May 18, 2008 (EDT)
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Hmmmm, Jim, having camped with you, I'm not so sure that the corkscrew for the wine is optional ;)

Visit here more often. It's been too long.

8:54 p.m. on May 18, 2008 (EDT)
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Well, where I usually camp, a serious, sharp knife is probably my most valuable tool, but, a corkscrew is aboslutely useless to me as I do not allow alcohol in any form in any camp I inhabit. My hunting/camping partners respect this and none of us drink much anytime,so, it is never a problem.

Backpacking is done in many different situations/environments and what may be appropriate for southern California, for example, is not suited for a two week stint in northern B.C.

Also, don't ya know that peanut butter attracts SASQUATCHES????.....Geez, ya gotta watch that!!!!!

8:56 p.m. on May 18, 2008 (EDT)
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Carrying a knife should have the same criteria for any gear. What do I need it for? If your reasons begin with "maybe", do not bring it. For example, maybe I will need it for protection against a wild animal. Maybe, I'll need a saw blade. Maybe, I'll need it to carve a sharp point in a stick. Figure what you need the knife for and plan accordingly. BTW I saw an old-timer skin a deer with a small one blade knife he had on a watch chain. The secret was it was sharp. A small sharp knife covers most needs.

11:48 a.m. on May 19, 2008 (EDT)
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kutenay -
The trips with Jim S I was referring to were "luxo superlight" trips, plus they were northern California, not that far from the Napa-Sonoma-Mendicino Wine Country. The wine was to go with the "ultralight" gourmet meal (amazing what you can cook up on a backpacking stove), and amounted to a glass each. Jim and I have also done old-timer backpacks with 19th century gear, just for the experience and for the fun of it. Really gives an appreciation for what can be done without all the modern, synthetic gear and materials. I believe Tom D has gone with Jim on one or two outings as well. Jim lives in Oregon these days. I think he is part Sasquatch.

4:50 p.m. on May 19, 2008 (EDT)
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No, the "Sasquatch" is only indigenous to B.C. and especially to the West Kootenays and certain parts of the Coast Range. I used to know old Johnny B. from Nelson, B.C. who claimed to have seen one up Lemon Creek in the Slocan, but, he "might" have been mistaken.......

So, I figure that Jim is probably part "Bigfoot" and I hear they DO drink "porchclimber", as we used to call vino when I was a lad......

I started with basic 19thC gear, an old WWI rucksack, jam can with candle inside and smelly old Brit. issue ground sheet, plus a goose down summer quilt that my grandmother brought as a girl from Norway at the time of the Klondike Goldrush.

We built brush shelters and cooked with an old frying pan my Grandfather brought home from WWI....worked just fine and we caught as many fish and shot our share of game...we DID use sheath knives a LOT and I think that some of these skills are well worth preserving.

In actual wilderness areas, tho', I am totally "no trace"and have been since the '60s, as even vast B.C. is "shrinking" as people pour in and " develop" the wilderness....gawd, I hate that!

11:17 p.m. on May 19, 2008 (EDT)
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WOW. Who would of thunk.
Peanutbutter, Sasquatches, Razor Blades and Bayonets.
All from one question – what type of knife you take hiking with you and, or how many? And, or why? LOL, LOL, LOL.

I personally prefer a sharp knife, mostly folding types. I do get tired though of folding knives weakening and flexing from side to side. I also have been known to carry a takedown aluminum tube buck saw.

6:53 p.m. on May 21, 2008 (EDT)
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interesting topic .. i used to carry a SAK when i was younger and now i use a benchmade osbourne 940sbk. it weighs less then 3 oz, the locking mechanism is well designed, and the blade is high-quality steel. it has served any needs i have encountered ... although i am a backpacker so don't need to build a log shelter, construct a canoe from a tree and i am not worried about defending myself from bears , mtn lions, marmot, pikas, rapid squirrels or horseflies.

i also carry a leatherman squirt p4 (plier version) which is handy for any gear/stove repairs, etc.

9:12 p.m. on May 21, 2008 (EDT)
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I'm am a cutting tool advocate.I carry a Leatherman,an Emerson Recurve folder, and a Stryder fixed blade for all hiking, camping, hunting and wilderness activities. If with a group, then one hatchet and possibly a camp size axe would be taken. I found that a bigger knife can do the job of a small knife, but the small knife has tough time of doing the job of bigger knife. Just my $.02.probably worth half that

10:19 p.m. on May 21, 2008 (EDT)
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Great advice re: knives & camping. Let me throw in my 2 cents. I won't expect any change. I have been camping for many years culminating in a 70 miler at Philmont. The folks at BSA Philmont recommend a SMALL Victorinox pen knife.
It was adequate for light camping. My favorite is a MYERCHIN model 377 all stanless steel. There are two models: one with a straight edge and the other half straight, half serrated. Both have a marineers spike. Both the marineers spike and knive blades are LOCK blades and are released for closure by one mechanism. Lock blades are safer, avoiding a unexpected closure. I have seen too many accidents involving severely lacerated fingers ( I am a Physician and have sewn up those accidents ). The knives are stainless steel and extremely sharp and well made. The serrated blade will cut throught rope, material without having to "RIP". Knive blades ( tanto style) that are long and pointed are too fragile and pose a danger to the user. These MYERCHIN blades are STRONG, STURDY. They come with a substantial sheath that fits on a wide belt and the LOCK release mechanism can be knotted for even easier retrieval.
I highly recommend it for all camping.
HY

11:17 p.m. on May 21, 2008 (EDT)
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I carry three, a swiss army knife (officer or adventurer I believe) for the cork screw, knife blade (cooking) and saw blade. A leatherman wave (my tool box) and either an Air Force survival knife or a Kabar for heavy cutting, hammering and a weapon if needed. I have a Khukuri that I want to change the scales on then I will try it for a while but I suspect it will end up in my survival pack. What ever you take keep it sharp.

1:20 a.m. on May 22, 2008 (EDT)
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Location, Location, Location....I've gotten by with just a basic swiss army pocket knife on a perlon lanyard around my neck for over 40 years when backpacking or on climbing trips. Ski touring and snow shoeing requires tools to help repair skis or snow shoes and bindings. Hunting or fishing requires different tools, if you harvest venison or fish you will come into contact with blood and this could bring a predator to you and your venison or fish, this is more probable if you are in a true wilderness area with a large predator population, Parts of Alaska are a good example. With documented cougar and bear attacks on the rise in many non wilderness areas, this may apply to you in a rural area. A well made fixed blade knife of full tang construction is stronger than a short pocket knife, You should however consider that if the knife is to be used for emergency self defense that the blade be very sharp and long enough to reach internal organs, How long is a long enough blade? Well a 160 lb. cougar is alot smaller than a 800 lb. bear, you decide. After several encounters with cougars and bears I now carry a large caliber revolver with the heavy bullets, even when hunting with a rifle because my rifle is scoped and after dark it's too difficult to see through. Some people who live in grizzly bear country carry a short 12 gauge shot gun with pistol grips in a special custom made shoulder holster others carry a short 12 gauge double barrell shotgun first shot is into the eyes with bird shot follow up shots are slugs. I carry a K-Bar or Cold Steel fixed blade knife and a pocket knife as well as a hatchet. How long is too long, it depends on what fits your needs, go to the sporting goods store put the knife and sheath on, wear it for awhile, sit down, squat down, will it fit on your belt without getting in the way while wearing it? Does it lash down to your leg. What other ways can the knife be carried? shoulder holster. does the knife rattle in a synthetic plastic sheath ? maybe leather is better for your situation? If you choose to carry bear repellant spray, be aware that you must keep the tip unplugged, so test it daily when in bear country. You must also be sure to keep from spraying yourself by making sure you are up wind and out of the way of drifting spray.

9:16 p.m. on May 23, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi guys - hey Bill, Ed howsit?

Yep I'm in Orygun now. Moving to Bend was great except for the collapse of the real estate market. The back property line is part of a ridge of lava flow about 2 miles long. From my lot to the next it jumps 30 feet up a rhyolite wall thats nice to climb on. Its not real high, but a traverse across the back works your fingers and keeps the deer out of the enclosed yard. I do have a climbing partner on her way back from New Zealand (shes 21) and when shes back we'll climb at Smith Rock which is 25 miles from here.

I'll admit that since many of my BPing friends have grown old, I've taken to taking young ladies on gourmet camping trips during warm weather so the can "sun" themselves. A warmlight Down Filled Airmattress makes a great barge so we always find a private lake in the Sierras somewhere in August. Its MUCH warmer down there at night.
I live 20 miles from Mt Bachelor ski area and three sisters wilderness and 25 miles from Smith Rock in an old grand hunting lodge style home.

I used to carry a Gerber LST, but I lost it. On my last trip I had an obsidian bladed stag horn handles knife that cut the steak very well. A flake of obsidian can skin out a deer as fast as any modern knife.

Went BPing in Oregon Dunes state park a week go with internet friends. The last time they were there my camping friends watched a mtn lion chase a deer near the beach.
Jim

9:24 p.m. on May 24, 2008 (EDT)
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Very sharp fillet knife ( for trout )
Fixed blade Gerber
Swiss Tinker
And for protection a modified Glock 30 with very hot 45 cal loads if in bear country.

2:44 p.m. on May 25, 2008 (EDT)
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trouthunter

with all due respect - why do you carry 3 knives? And a glock? It seems that the people with similar posts about carrying many pounds of weapons generally have only made a handfull of posts. Perhaps you just haven't tired of carrying all of that extra heavy hardware yet.

There are a LOT of campers who feel the need to carry a weapon to defend themselves with. Do you carry 3 knives and a glock around with you every day? Why should you think you need all that hardware in "the woods" where you are probably much safer than in the city?

I'm just a youngster with 50 years and maybe 1,000 nights of wilderness time. In that time I have had to "defend" myself 5 times.
1) I ran off three javelina by running at them yelling.
2) I ran off a mountain lion by shining my flashlight at him.
3) I ran off another mountain lion by jumping and yelling (he was less than 20 feet away from th wife and I)
4) I ran off a bear by throwing a rock at him.
and finally
5) after the 3rd strike at me I killed a rattlesnake with a stick. That was the most harry encounter with any wild beast I've ever had except for mosquitoes.

4:38 p.m. on May 25, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi Jim,
Thanks for your input. I guess I should clarify that I don't carry all that stuff on every trip, sometimes just my tinker. It usually gets the job done!
I spend a lot of time in trout streams in black bear country, you are correct most of the time you can scare animals off if you need to. However sometimes you can't, otherwise they wouldn't make bear spray. A couple of years ago we had a young girl mauled to death here by a black bear as her mom tried to " scare " the bear away. So with all due respect I will carry a firearm, I think this is a rational well thought out decision. I have also encountered some less than savory characters in the mountains, once someone tried to steal my tent while I was off fishing and fled as I approached my camp. This is also " Deliverance " country here in the southern Appalachians, we have moonshiners and pot growers. But you are usually ok if you stay on the trail system. So I guess we have different perspectives, but I do appreciate your years of experience and obvious passion for the outdoors. I would like to hear some of you adventures.

5:13 p.m. on May 25, 2008 (EDT)
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I appreciate all the humorous posts!! Reminds me why I like outdoorsmen so much. Just returned from another section hike on the AT... 80 miles this time. Ran into and envied a little (especially after a difficult 21.5 mile day) a lot of ultralighters. Knifewise, most of them carried a tiny, single-bladed affair (a lot of Spyders). Seems to work well for the long-distance hiking applications... especially when roads and towns are fairly accessible, and the wildlife encounters are of the "hit and run" food bag raider types. I personally have carried a SAK Pioneer (sharp) for the past 20+ yrs. on backpacking outings. Like any good Scout leader, I believe in being prepared. But I also believe that part of the value in wilderness activity is learning to live simply and to get by with less... as my hiking buddy says, "after this, most everything else is easy." So, I try to prepare for staying healthy and getting to where I'm going rather than maintaining the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed at home... that's part of what I'm trying to get away from. So far, I've been able to improvise what I needed from what I've had handy and have not wanted for any tool on my outings. I recently bought (for no good reason) a Leatherman xe6... a lot of cool thingies on it, but, when it came time to pack, the lighter SAK got the nod, and I left the Leatherman at home. That said, I have not done much inaccessible wilderness type adventuring, so I'll leave the commenting on that regard to those who have, but I do agree with an earlier post that training and knowledge are prerequisite to any tool... it's amazing to watch what a knowledgeable person can do with simple tools.

5:49 p.m. on May 25, 2008 (EDT)
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Amen Macgyver, I agree, simplicity and multi purpose items are key. Coupled with training and using some common sense, outings are less troublesome and more enjoyable for everyone.
I am however a little jealous, I am 42 yrs. old and still haven't done much of the A.T., it has always been a dream of mine. I will give the spyderco another look.
Good luck to you!

6:10 p.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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I generally care two knives when I hike: An original leatherman (I uses the pliers every time I cook they are great for lifting and pouring hot pots), and a 2 inch Columbia River folding knife with a resin handle (very light). I love them both. I can't find the CRK model any more, I've looked. I've got four, and I wish I had more.

3:53 p.m. on September 18, 2008 (EDT)
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Lots and lots of knives. My two cents shall hopefully be quick.

I carry two "knives" camping. A sturdy sheath knife and a gerber multi tool. The multi tool has can openers, the invaluable pliers for gear maintenance and so on. I'm with alot of other people who have posted that the knife on SAK and Multitools is worth squat. I carry my knife for survival, i.e. getting lost, injured or somehow not making it back out in time. I want a knife that won't break, and will hold up to tons of punishment. SAK don't cut it. Right now i use a 12" Nepalese Khukri. It's a touch on the big side, but has eliminated the need for a hatchet while serving the role of sheath knife admirably.

On the protection side of things... I spent two months doing Puma rehabilitation and conservation in South America. Good look touching those things with a pen knife or any knife for that matter. They are fast, they are strong, and if they want to kill you your chances are slim *if* you know what you're doing. One of the Puma's and I were playing, and my arms got badly scratche dup and i lost use of a hand for a week due to tendon damage, and his claws were retracted.

The last story i heard of a guy besting a cougar was when he slit the cougar's throat with a pen knife (so yes, I suppose you can use a pen knife if you know what you're doing). That said, he still sustained huge amounts of injuries.

So, Cat protection: slit the throat with a knife suited to the purpose, or have something long, strong and sharp solely for stabbing. And pray, because you'll probably loose anyway.

As for Bear's.... with a knife? As someone earlier said... Fantasy world.

11:05 a.m. on September 21, 2008 (EDT)
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No, it's NOT a ...fantasy world... to carry a knife for defence and just last week, as I arrived home from a screwed-up trip to my home region after Elk, a guy cut the throat of a Black Bear that attacked a fisherman on his own boat at a remote dock here on the BC coast. This killed the 200 lb. bear and saved the victim's life, stuff like this happens here far more frequently than media reports indicate.

OF COURSE, you will get clawed and chawed and your personal strength and determination are crucial to this situation, but, it has and can be done and having a knife along is not a bad idea. My feeling is that a decent fixed 4+ inch blade is very much worth packing in true wilderness treks/camps and I would not hesitate to use it against ANY attacker.

So, that's two recent uses of a belt knife here in BC that saved a person from a bear.

6:28 p.m. on September 26, 2008 (EDT)
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I need to get a knife, but to protect myself from animals, I have bear spray and a .45 Kimber Pro Carry that I open carry. I don't want to be hand to hand with anything larger than a chipmunk.

7:17 p.m. on November 25, 2008 (EST)
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I used to carry a CRKT Mini My Tighe. Nice kind of tool to have for cutting fishing line or things like that. A less utilitarian purpose is that it looked really cool. I kept it clipped to the outside of my pack, but that wasn't very effective because I lost it somewhere around Table Rock Mountain in SC. If anybody hear found it, please let me know.

10:45 p.m. on January 10, 2009 (EST)
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THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD

back in 2007 an elderly couple was hiking in prairie creek redwoods national park in california. the 65 year old woman had gotten a little ahead of her 70 year old husband when she noticed he was beening attacked by a mountain lion. she came at the lion with a stick but it did no good. she was finally able to get the lion to release her husband by poking it in the eye with a ball point pen. the man was rushed to the hospital and recovered.

a couple of days later park officals killed two lions in the park, one of which had human blood on its claws.

as for knives, i am sticking with my swiss army "first victornox". the round point gets sardines out of a can easier than any other knife i have used. i have repalced all of my felt tip pens with ball points. you'll never know what you can do till you have to.

9:30 a.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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I remembered reading this story last year around this time.

Although this event did happen, the pen was not what made the cat stop the attack. The Seattle Times reported that the pen simply bent when the woman tried to use it, so the woman went back to beating the Cougar with a 4" diameter log.

This make sense since officials identified the cat by the blood on its paws, not an eye puncture from a Bic.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003545456_webcougarattack28.html

10:48 a.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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I do remember this story as well, I am glad things turned out as well as they did. It could have been much worse.

A pen, a 4" log, pepper spray, or a gun will not prevent an attack.
The risk of being attacked can however be mitigated by educating yourself on instinct driven animal behavior, and being acutely aware of your surroundings at all times.
I personally use a dog for that WHEN in REMOTE areas, the dog can detect things no human is capable of when properly trained, plus a dog (the right kind) can buy you valuable time during an attack, and quite possibly dissuade the attacker altogether. Again, a well trained dog only! Untrained dogs can CAUSE problems.

Most importantly, I think we should ALL be following the SAFETY guidelines set forth by experts for the region we hike in.
A lot of hikers I know thumb their nose at such things as hanging your food, or not cooking where you sleep. Maybe luck will be with them. Maybe not!

Let me say that the reason I am so passionate about this is because I backpack in areas that have seen numerous bear attacks, (yeah, maybe I'm stupid). But these are very beautiful and pristine areas which are hard to find in the Southeast.

A few years ago a transplanted problem bear attacked a family on a main trail, they were visiting from out of state. The black bear mauled a little boy and killed a little girl.
Attempts by the family and other hikers to "shoo" the bear failed, this attempt included yelling, screaming, and throwing rocks and sticks! The little girl was found partially consumed! Read that last sentence again.
The bear was later shot by authorities, many days too late as far as I'm concerned.

I say this as an avid animal lover, I donate some of my time to cleaning up (animal enclosures) after injured animals at a local rehab center. I do think I have a good grasp of, and a balanced mindset concerning the subject of human / animal encounters.

I have fished and camped within two miles of the attack location in the TN Overhill/Chillhowie area. Nobody (officials) bother to educate the tourists that the area has many rogue bears that have been transplanted from the state park (GSMNP).

Since that incident and others around here, I have decided to add a "T" to the end of the word "SHOO".

"SHOO BEAR"... does not cut it for me! Although I would try to resolve any encounter peaceably if at all possible, and have done so.
Yes I know, some would say I should stay at home if I'm scared.
The same people who go to the ATM alone, at night??
Or the same people who don't mind cows and chickens being slaughtered by the millions for their fast food??

Given the choice of a pen, a log, pepper spray, a knife, or something more devastating, I opt for something more devastating as a last resort only! I do not advocate this as being for everyone.

I also do not wish to raise any ones ire....but
for me the debate is over!

11:34 a.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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Not to beleaguer the point, but the one and only time I have been harassed by a bear was this year, while on a SAR mission. We were approached by the same bear 3 separate times over a 1.5 hour period. Once he even bluff charged us. All encounters were thwarted by blowing whistles, clapping, and hollering "Hey Bear!" Afterward, during debriefing and a conversation with a wildlife officer, it was determined that the bear was only interested in us BECAUSE of the SAR dog we had with us.

11:51 a.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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When I joined the B.C. Forest Service in April, 1965, we WERE NOT allowed to have our dog(s) accompany us when working in the field. This was due to the propensity of most canines to arouse a bear by barking at it and then when the bruin comes arunnin', the pooch hustles back to "Pop"....ergo, you have the bear in your lap!

Carrying ANY firearm was STRICTLY forbidden and you could be "terminated for cause" if you broke either of these regulations. We had no bear problems because bears were routinely shot by almost all bush workers and they were more afraid of US, than we of them....NOT the case now, however.

I do not like having my big, fearless Rottweilers in the bush, especially the late "Woden", an honest 160 lbs. of muscle who worshipped me and would attack anything he considered a threat to me. This is NOT what you need or should want in a wilderness canine and his brother, "Axel", a mere 120 lbs., while incredible in his urban protection role, even as an "old man", is also too hardnosed for a bear dog.

I am raising a super little bitch, from much the same fine stock and "Lily", at maybe 70 lbs, is smart, ignores severe cold and drenching rain and will, IMO, very likely be my mountain dog, trained for bears, retrieving game and light packing. A GOOD bush dog takes 2 years to train and is a lot of work to get right, but, the companionship is neat to have and they do warm your tent.

12:22 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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Yes, I am aware of what the wildlife officers are taught. I am also aware of why they are taught certain things.
Still that is his/their opinion

I personally know several long time Rangers and Wildlife officials who have a much different opinion than the "official version".

Again, my opinion is based on the region I backpack in, I can list several instances in this area where the bear was not merely curious, but attacked, mauled, and killed someone while they were busy yelling "Hey Bear".

Many times "shooing"the bear away works just fine, I consider these practices effective for certain types of encounters which probably make up most encounters I'm aware of. Again, I'm just going by what I've been taught, I'm not a expert.

But...
When a bear is gnawing on your head you had better have something better than "HEY BEAR"!
A feeding or defending predator is only excited by noise made by the prey.
A well placed shot at the foot of the bear is much more effective than yelling and re-instills the bears natural fear of man.
This is a technique now being taught to wildlife officers in many areas of the country after many years of transplanting bears has failed to produce the desired results.

The areas I backpack in are rugged and remote and have been the recipient of transplant programs over the years. This has produced pockets of wilderness with high concentrations of aggressive problem bears. A behavior that is also being taught to cubs by sows in these areas.

Wildlife officials are very reluctant to admit this openly and often seem to explain the problem away. Much to the detriment of hikers in these areas.

I do a good bit of remote backpacking with two Rangers whom I have known for a long time. I helped build one of the homes one Ranger resides in many years ago, and we have backpacked together for many years.

They both carry!

But they do not for the sake of their job recommend any one else to do so while in their official capacity as a Ranger because it is not politically correct.
We have had this discussion many times over a camp supper, the fear is that many more people would get injured by a gun, than by attacks by black bears.

Actually I agree.
My previous post is based on my experiences in the region I backpack in, the advise and education I have received from experts, and the fact that I have a good bit of experience carrying a weapon.

So I do not necessarily disagree with you f klock, but I do think I have inside information specific to my region that legitimizes my decision, and I have the skills to safely do what I do.
Again, it is not for everyone, and as I said, I do not advocate it for everyone.

It is good that we can talk, even sometimes disagree slightly about things we are passionate about, and I commend the passion you have with the work you do.

12:54 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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BTW, I am also aware that the behavior / activities of search dogs vs. pack dogs is very different and may well have a bearing on the curiosity of other animals including bears.

I would also add that I use a well trained Akita as a pack dog, while Akitas are friendly to other people and animals if trained right, Akitas are quite capable of putting up a very formidable defense against anything in Southeastern mountainous areas that you are likely to encounter in the backcountry. I would not use a Lab, Collie, or hound for this specific purpose.

I also do not take my dog in areas with lots of trails or other hikers, I do this out of consideration to my fellow hikers.

I can assure you that I am a nice, courteous, and considerate hiker, I realize my post may sound militant, it is not intended to.

I am just not a very PC type of person, I prefer to call things as I see them, balancing my approach to the outdoors with a dose of realism due to a few of my less than pleasant experiences, and and the tragic (fatal) encounters others have had in my area.

Most of my experiences have been fantastic, and most of the people I have met are great outdoors men.
I have an unquenchable passion for animals and the wilderness and just wish to be as safe as possible.

1:20 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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Kutenay raises a good point that I failed to mention.
You do not want a dog who will challenge, track, seek out, or attack a bear.
In my opinion, and this is my third pack dog and I am still learning, you want a dog to STAND FIRM BY YOUR SIDE and be a DETERRENT to any further approach on the part of the bear.

This type of training has cost me a good bit of $$$ and I do not quite yet claim to be capable of doing so on my own.
Maybe only those who have a deep love and understanding of a dogs unique skill sets could understand why anyone would want to do this, I am truly in awe as I watch my dog work in the mountains. He can hear water running from great distances, this is invaluable to a tired trout fisherman who uh...might be slightly lost! HaHa

BTW..I like to hike with my SAK, it is the most usefull.

I'll shut up now, mostly 'cause my wife suggested I should.

3:39 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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First off, I am not into ultra lightweight BP'ing, although I'm trying to get my weight down.
I carry a Buck 119 Special when I'm in the woods. It's not too big and there are just some things a folder isn't good for. I do carry a small Buck folder. It goes with me everywhere unless it's prohibited. I also usually carry a Gerber Multi-tool. Even though it's sometimes overkill, I always end up using each tool on every trip. Yes, I can get by perfectly fine with only one of these and if I had to choose only one, it'd be the 119 as I am always trying to teach my Boy Scouts (I'm the Scoutmaster) wilderness skills every time we go out (think Survivorman) and a good, strong fixed-blade knife makes the most sense for me.

7:56 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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I have a little Gerber pocket knife. Its pretty good for slicing apples. Not sure about a grizzly though, maybe if I poked it in the eye? I'll need you to hold him down though so I can be sure and get the eye.

3:06 p.m. on January 13, 2009 (EST)
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Benchmade Mini-Griptilian, yellow handle.

Next question?

5:37 p.m. on January 13, 2009 (EST)
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BigSmoke, maybe the grizzly just wants your apple?

Hi Perry Clark!

11:29 p.m. on January 13, 2009 (EST)
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Hello BigSmoke, and welcome Perry Clark.

BigSmoke, sorry, I haven’t done enough bear raslin yet to help you out. It wouldn’t be fair to you to have the two of us trying that with a live bear. I wouldn’t want you to get hurt.

Perry Clark, a man of few words. Wow. Don’t worry you don’t pay for words used here. Just look at some of OGBO’s posts.

Trouthunter, are you sure bears eat apples?

Wow. 66+ responses to what I thought was going to be a simple little question. Thanks all and keep up the posts.

6:31 a.m. on January 14, 2009 (EST)
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Hi redpatch5,
Well, I wouldn't try to stop a bear from eating an apple if he wanted to! HaHa

I hope my previous posts didn't give the impression that I dislike bears, I think they are very cool and I have had the immense pleasure of watching a few, from a distance.

Anything that weighs 400+ lbs, can run 30 miles an hour, and catch fish out of running water has my respect!

10:21 p.m. on January 15, 2009 (EST)
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I did pick up a 6” single blade Buck Knife since I started this post. I’ll try not to stick myself with it.

Trouthunter, I do enjoy watching bears (from a distance, longer the better.) The strength that they have is truly remarkable. In the time it takes to stop a vehicle, get out of the vehicle, and try to aim a firearm at the bear, I have seen Bear (Black) cross a gravel road, run up hill and disappear into the woods before you could sight on it. More often than I’d like to say. They are very large, very fast movers.

They like all animals deserve our respect.

11:06 p.m. on January 15, 2009 (EST)
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Redpatch5, I try not to stick myself as well!
I don't approve of bear hunting per say and would have no need to point any weapon at one unless he was charging me.
A situation I go to great lengths to avoid, I once yielded a trout stream to one. The bear knew I was there, he did not seem agitated but I withdrew slowly all the same.
I will be perfectly honest and say it was unsettling, but the bear was a perfect gentleman. I hope he felt the same about me.

2:25 a.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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I like to carry 2 knives a large size (4 1/2 inch blade) heavy duty lock blade is my main knife that I use for most if not all things. My secondary knife is one of 3 depending on who, what, why, where & when or what I feel like when I pack my gear. Choice #1 is my Marine Corps Combat Knife (7 inch Blade) witch is the one I carried when I was in the Corps. Choice #2 is my small to medium sized multi-tool and choice #3 is medium sized light (3 1/2 inch blade) duty lock blade. All my knives are very high quality and are very sharp carbon steel blades that I keep sharp. A good sharp knife is one of my key items for my gear.

3:49 a.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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Whenever I read or hear some urbanite make a comment such as ...I don't approve of bear hunting..., I get just a little bit annoyed.

The very same types who have NO difficulty brutally yanking some unsuspecting trout from his/her humble aquatic abode have the gall to object to hunting????? Geezuz Horatio, puleeeze give me a break!!!!

KIllING IS killing and don't give me the lame excuse about "catch and release", among the most hypocritical and cruel forms of "entertainment" ever devised.

There is NO repeat NO difference AT ALL between hunting and fishing in respect of the impact on the prey; in fact, I think that the  swift death by a well-directed bullet is MORE humane than the horrible, slow death by suffocation of a trout out of water OR the relatively slow death by clumsily breaking it's cervical spine by twisting it's body.

Black Bears ARE PREDATORY, DANGEROUS ANIMALS, NOT FUZZY LITTLE PETS!!!!!

Here in BC, where we have actual, REAL wilderness and very strict regulations concerning hunting and fishing, we have about 200,000, yep, nearly a quarter of a million Black Bears.

This population is ALREADY too numerous for the available habitat, constantly shrinking due to the curse of lax immigration laws and we pay taxes for Conservation Officers to kill roughly 1000 of these bears every year....because urban, anti-hunters will NOT learn to keep bear attractants such as garbage inside until pickup day.

Hunting is among the very basic and defining traits of humanity and is a far more ecologically sound practice than, for example, building huge "yo-yo" ski hills in wildlife habitat.Fishing is as well and those who will practice one and condemn the other are simply wrong.

4:22 a.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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Kutenay - I applaud - You have a excellent and accurate point of view and I agree a bit off topic but I do agree 100%

9:21 a.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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Kutenay - I applaud - You have a excellent and accurate point of view and I agree a bit off topic but I do agree 100%

Thanks Mike,

Your post made me realize that this thread has gotten WAY off topic. You, Perry Clark, and Scott have tried your best to add comments within the spirit of the original question, as have others.

The whole bear/killing/ballpoint pen thing has really diverted from the intended topic. I too allowed myself to be sucked in when I posted about our SAR dog - She doesn't carry a knife!

Now, to get us back on track:

I carry a small SAK (I think it's a "Hiker", the logo is worn off) with me everyday, wherever I go. When in the woods I either carry a Gerber Multi-plier, or a Swisschamp, or both. On SAR missions, if the brush is thick, I'll sometimes carry a machete or Woodsman's Pal.

10:32 a.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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For work of the latter type, I much prefer an axe, preferably a "Hudson's Bay" or Scandanavian Forest pattern, about a 2-2.5 lb. head and RAZOR SHARP, with a 26-28" helve or "handle".

You will cut more wood with one of these during a 12 hour bush day than any machete and be less tired at the end of your endeavours. I have, btw, felled trees to 8" diameter with a machete, but, it is FAR easier with a good axe.

Portions of this post have been removed to maintain subject continuity.

1:23 p.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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Going WAY off topic -

I have to agree with what I believe trouthunter was trying to say when he said (with a minor spelling correction)

I don't approve of bear hunting per se

and I believe kutenay was actually saying the same thing. Namely, disapproval of hunting for "fun and entertainment" and for the sake of gathering trophies (skins, stuffed heads to hang on the wall) and seeing how many animals you can slaughter while abandoning the carcass to rot. That is not what our ancestors were doing when they learned to hunt and fish. They hunted and fished for food and survival. I agree with kutenay when he says

"catch and release", among the most hypocritical and cruel forms of "entertainment" ever devised ...[and] the horrible, slow death by suffocation of a trout out of water OR the relatively slow death by clumsily breaking it's cervical spine by twisting it's body.

It's one thing to kill an animal (or tear a plant apart) for food to eat, and quite another to destroy for the "fun" of proving one's "manhood" (women hunters do this, too).

The other reason to kill a bear or mountain lion or marmot or mouse is if it has become "habituated" and has become a danger. The real solution is to get rid of the humans - how about a good pandemic or global thermonuclear war? Ooops, that isn't PC, is it? Can't get rid of the humans. To quote Pogo, "We have met the enemy, and they are us."

So, having said all that, let's get back to the topic of knives strictly within the context of camping and backpacking (not machetes, axes, broadswords, scissors, chainsaws, or other sharp implements), and have no more of macho ways to defend ourselves against wild beasts and crazy humans lurking in the woods. Or else (OGBO says threateningly), I will post my story of how I felled a tree on the archery range (true story, by the way)

1:32 p.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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The real solution is to get rid of the humans - how about a good pandemic or global thermonuclear war? Ooops, that isn't PC, is it?"

Well gee Bill, guess you're one of those people who would like to reduce the worlds population to a sustainable and controllable 500,000.

Lets just get the box cars ready and start slaughtering, I mean solving the problem by gassing women and children and burning those useless sacks of sub-animal garbage. All these mouths do is pollute and kill and harm your poor animals. Just taking up space and wasting my oxygen. Contributing to global "climate change" (had to change the name now, because folks are realizing warming is a bullshit) and the eradication of habits.

The after we do that, we can build one big city, and have one government, and one religion and worship trees, and genetically modify ourselves, breed a class of slaves, and live in our own paradise forever while we worship mother nature.

Yup, all that most be done to better the planet.

If you think people are the problem, why don't you eliminate yourself from eh equation? Right, you have to stick around to make sure things get done.

Here Bill, and anyone else, go get started: http://www.vhemt.org/
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement - Help Us Die Out for the Earth.

1:48 p.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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Sigh! Some people take themselves and posts on the internet way too seriously. Maybe I should have put a big TIC label on the post. Then again, the whole thread has become way too serious.

Lighten up, mikekey (and a bunch of the others who posted here as well)! I don't take myself seriously. Nobody else should, either.

2:34 p.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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Re: my succinct response earlier

Oh, don't worry, I can succumb to the logorrheic urge as easily as the next guy. Just didn't see the need here. Once we're done doing battle against mountain lions with ink pens, the best action is to stop, get a fix on where we are, and then move toward where we wanna be. Such was my thinking, at any rate.

And actually, I generally have a small multi-tool with me as well--a Leatherman something or other, forget the name. I don't worry about using the knife for protection. That's accounted for by the RPG and the Claymores.

6:23 p.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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If the moderators would please indulge me this opportunity to post...

Boy, sorry guys!

In the original post, second paragraph, it reads:

"I have talked to some people about their knife choices and they all say they chose that knife for protection from wild animals. I think that if I have to use a knife to defend myself from an animal I am in serious trouble, already. All though in the case of an attack, I am prepared to use what ever knife I have at hand."

I apologize for stirring things up, I didn't realize how off topic I was.

Kutenay, I did a poor job of expressing how I felt about a certain type of hunting that is prevalent where I live.
I fact I don't consider it hunting in the true sense.
I myself hunt WT Deer, Boar, and Pheasant. I eat what I harvest and that goes for the fishing as well.
Where I live, the state of South Carolina, has been divided into several hunt units. One of the places I often backpack is located in hunt unit 4, the only hunt unit to allow bear hunts.
There has been much discussion here lately about the hordes of local yahoos who crowd this one hunt unit so they can bag a bear purely for bragging rights. For some it is nothing more than a cheap photo opportunity, they couldn't dress their kill if they were starving to death. Many do it out of panic, like you mentioned, they don't want bears digging through their garbage so they wish to kill them off, or at least turn a blind eye to others doing it for them. We are not overpopulated with bears, we are overpopulated with tourists who take the many car tours we have here where you can get very close to the "cute fuzzy bears" and often tourists (and many locals) can not resist feeding "the poor thing"!
It seems apparent that tourist dollars trumps common sense. This behavior causes backpackers in the area a lot of problems. The bears often think we are hiking in to feed them.


So I am sorry I was not more clear, and I have NEVER been called an urbanite before. I wouldn't pay six dollars for a cup of coffee if I was dying of thirst.
I like to grind my beans between two rocks!

6:34 p.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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Since we're already a bit off topic, let me say that I don't think there are enough electrons available for me to post anything accurately reflecting the depth and breadth of my contempt for the sort of tourist/hunter types you describe, trouthunter.

Some of the most appalling scenes I've been witness to have been those of bears dumpster-diving and hordes of gawking onlookers, or similar nonsense. Makes me embarrassed to belong to the same species. (Maybe there are too many of us--er, wait, don't wanna stir THAT pot again!)

I once proposed that in such circumstances local law enforcement/animal control officers should be able to ticket the gawkers, and each should then be personally liable for the full costs of dealing with the problem bear, with the plans utilized potentially including trapping/relocation, trapping for zoo/park, killing and then full prep of carcass to maximize use, etc., and whatever number of other options people can come up with. Still not sure what's wrong with that idea.

6:37 p.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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Bill - don't leave us hanging, tell us how you felled a tree on the archery range!

Trouthunter - are you sure that bear that killed the kid a couple of years ago was a transplanted problem bear? Where did you hear that? If true, I would think the parents have a beef with the Park Service. Kind of like the guy up the street from me who has 3 "rescued" Rottweilers. They are pretty aggressive dogs, and one of them chased my son when it got out one day. The guy has no clue as to how much liability he took on.

11:37 p.m. on January 16, 2009 (EST)
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Chumango, I could elaborate, but the subject matter is outside the scope of Trailspace. While I am passionate on the subject we do need to stay on topic.

I have valid sources of info, plus a lot of this is public record if you know where to look.
If you would like more info feel free to contact me at:
www.gartman.michael@gmail.com

 

Okay, Stainless vs. Carbon Steel, anyone?
My SAK is production grade stainless and will stand up to moderate prying & twisting stresses, but...
I prefer high carbon stainless steel knives for a fixed blade knife, given the choice. The one I currently use has a single beveled edge for shaving, whittling, and other similar chores.

I will take decent carbon steel over cheap 440 stainless for a camp cutting / food prep knife.

1:07 a.m. on January 17, 2009 (EST)
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Defiantly Carbon Steel

Carbon steel blades are high quality and eazy to sharpen and maintain. Stainless Steel blades are mostly 440 SS and very hard to sharpen and don't keep a sharp edge very long.

10:42 p.m. on January 28, 2009 (EST)
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I carry a SOG E-Clips on a ring with my Photon light. The knife weighs maybe 0.5 oz, 2" folding blade, great for cutting rope, sling, carving stakes, whatever. Tiny, fits anywhere. I also carry a SOG Crosscut, a tiny little 'multi-tool', scissors, knife, 2 flat screwdrivers, tweezers, file, bottle opener, pick and ruler. No corkscrew. 2.5" closed, 4" open, 1.7 oz, the scissors are some of the best I have used, and at that size and weight, why not have it in my pack? I use it all of the time, hiking with kids you always need all sorts of tools to create, alter, modify, fix or entertain. The Crosscut may actually be the most indespensable tool I own. I also sometimes carry a Gerber folding saw, folds out to about 12", great for cutting brush, branches, sticks, etc. Polycarbonate handle, so it's light enough to carry, small enough to not be a hassle, and important enough to not leave at home.
I found a switchblade once in Alaska, and as a joke that is what I carried for bear protection. One time I saw a black bear down the trail, so I pulled out the 'blade. My hiking buddies behind me laughed, but when that blade sprung out from it's handle, that bear turned tail and ran upvalley. Haven't laughed that hard on a hike since, well, not since the cathole-under-a-hornet's-nest experience, but that is for another thread.
And no, I don't carry the switchblade anymore.

10:45 a.m. on February 1, 2009 (EST)
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A good knife for backpacking would probably involve more than one knife. Each tool is designed for a particular purpose. When you use a general purpose tool, it will not function as well with any particular task. A well designed knife for a particular purpose will have the proper blade characteristics. Furthermore, there are tasks which a knife is not suited for. If a bear is charging you, you will need to respond quickly, and with the appropriate amount of force. A knife in this instance is no substitute for a large caliber rifle with a heavy load, and dependable quick bolt action to reload for a second shot. A guide gun would be what you want, and no good unless kept close at hand. The added weight may be necessary during your camping trip hike if you are in bear country. It would be worthwhile to know about your predator before visiting his home; and in doing so, may prevent an encounter. Make no mistake, a human in the woods is like easy prey for these spectacular predators who did not make it to the top of the food chain by ignorance.

A knife should not replace the use of an axe for chopping wood. Might as well add the weight that is necessary for such a task.

A custom knife shop usually has it's knives divided into just a few categories; skinning, outdoor, and tactical. Skinning has a shorter thin blade of tool steel that has properties that make the blade less brittle even after forging. Be sure to get a tool steel that is nopt much harder to sharpen than stainless; otherwise, you may not be able to sharpen it out in the field due to it's hardness.

An outdoor knife has a thicker spine, and is more suited for cutting, and chopping meat with it's long heavy blade. Tactical knives have a long blade, and strong sharp point for puncture wounds deep into the body's organs. Here too, one would benefit from knowing a little about his predator. You may avoid contact that requires such force.

For an extended stay in the forrest, a guide gun, short skinning knife of tool steel, a medium length outdoor knife in stainless, and a long handle chopping axe. And most important, pay attention to what is going around you, or you will be asking for trouble.

12:05 p.m. on February 1, 2009 (EST)
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"Hunting is among the very basic and defining traits of humanity" is not correct. Simply put, look at any animal, and you will see the defining characteristics that evolved to his environment. Just like a speckle trout has a mouth that is mid line, while a redfish has a mouth positioned more toward the the bottom. Therefore, one could conclude that the trout feeds in the middle of the water column, while the redfish feeds at the bottom. Humans have teeth which are situated primarily for what, not meat.

Man has impacted the environment. When he should learn how to blend in. It is called a symbiotic relationship with his neighbors, and this relationship is what makes up the complexity of all things on this earth. For billions of years each thing has adapted to it's surroundings to become each so magnificent that we often believe that only a god could produce such wonder. but, in only a short period, man comes along and quickly destroys it. It is arrogant to think that all of nature is here for us to consume.

There is no need to wonder why people are alarmed about global climate change. The pollution from our machines spills into our air, land, and water. And all systems, wether it's the human body, or our climate; have a preferred point where it functions best at, and a tipping point when too large of a stressor is applied. The feedback would change the direction of ocean currents, wind patterns, ph balance, oxygen level, and temperature. Places that were once warm, are now cold. Areas that were dry, are now wet; and so on. So the term global warming was changed to reflect a broader picture of the changes. Thus, it is refered to as global climate change, and by the way, this was done many years ago. Now nature will try to restore the balance, and we are igsignificant to this enormous power.

I suggest listening to what peter kropotkin had discovered long ago; it is not competition that is prevalent, but cooperation by far.

10:48 a.m. on February 4, 2009 (EST)
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you are completely wrong grizzlyadams, why do humans have canine teeth? They are designed for tearing and shredding and their location next to the incisors which are used for cutting and biting indicates that we were designed for eating meat. If we were designed for eating just plants all of our teeth would be broad and flat much like a cows. And even then you still need the "environemnt" to provide you with sustenance.

Hunting is also a form of a symbolic relationship as humans need the nurishment and animals need preditors to keep numbers in check.

Lets get back to the original topic about knives and hiking.

3:57 p.m. on February 4, 2009 (EST)
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My teeth seem best suited to ripping and tearing....pizza. FWIW.

3:54 p.m. on February 7, 2009 (EST)
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I think the choice of knife you take with you on any outing is as custom as any other piece of gear. All depends on the circumstances. Personally, I like to have a shorter fixed blade (3-4 inch blade length) with a comfy handle and full tang for sturdiness attached to my belt (packs can be lost). I also keep a small folder or multi tool zipped into my pants pockets just in case. If im just out hiking i rarely use the smaller folder and only occasionally use the fixed blade, but its always been a case of "rather have it and not need it" for me.

6:58 a.m. on February 8, 2009 (EST)
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The choice of whether to carry a knife is as personal as is choosing a knife to carry. I am of the mindset to carry a set of tools that include a pair of knives; one knife is a fixed-bladed (I prefer carbon steel) - the other is swiss army knife - a simple set up of large, small blades, can-opener/screwdriver and phillipshead screwdriver. The rest of my tool kit consists of a "sawzall blade" aka homemade saw - etc.

1:31 p.m. on February 9, 2009 (EST)
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If I carry a knife its usually a Spyderco Ladybug. Big enough for me. Light, pretty durable. Seems to have stayed sharp for a number of years. Did upgrade to the jester variation a few years ago. Bit better tip control.

Cheers,

-Brian in SLC

1:06 a.m. on February 19, 2009 (EST)
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I've not read all the posts on the subject of knives, but I've found them all (knives, that is) to be useless weight. I think on my first JMT (or was it the HST the summer before?) I had a large, black, commando-style knife that I attached to my shoulder-pack-strap, for instant access in case I needed to fend off a bear! or dig a latrine, but mostly, the knife was just weight and I never used it for anything. period.

I found a really nice gerber or some such folding knife on the trail and again, only carried it because I found it . . . but never used it.

My choice for ultimate trail knife goes to . . . I have a very small, plastic-encased about the size of a half-dollar coin–– spring loaded exacto blade. I've never seen them in hardware stores, but I have bought all mine in art supply stores. THEY weigh absolutely nothing and are sharp as can be and . . . again, I've cut a few swatches of moleskin, but otherwise, barely used them––here's a forum post idea: what have you used your knife for??? (okay, moleskin, cut some cord a few times, slit some packaging open . . . )

12:56 p.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
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I'm pretty certain I'll hear some "learning" from my post, but here goes anyway.

I always carry a knife with me all the time. Guess it's a habit from the "old days". I've got a few that are nice, but seems the ones I carry now are the ones with the inexpensive partially serrated blades I find all over the place that are always imported (that reads made in China). They do a fairly decent job, and are cheap enough to replace quite often if they break, although not too many of them do break. They sharpen up pretty nicely also. They are found in all sorts of sizes, so I usually carry a 2 and 3 inch with me.

The only criteria I insist on is that the blade lock works (other than being pretty sharp). Don't want any little accidents.


steve

2:47 p.m. on February 25, 2009 (EST)
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i carry a sog multitool and a spyderco rescue with orange handles. the rescue has a blunt tipped sheepsfoot fully serrated blade. i spent 10+ years in search and rescue and now i can't go anywhere without both. the spyderco hangs around my neck in the closed possition in a River City Sheathes custom kydex sheath.

5:07 p.m. on February 25, 2009 (EST)
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Hey 'camper,

What SAR unit were you with?

9:09 p.m. on February 25, 2009 (EST)
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white county rescue. sparta tn. all volunteer. became a swiftwater rescue instructor in the last few years i was active. had training in high angle, confined space, cave rescue, land based search operations, visual tracking etc. back surgery in 2005 made me rethink taking risks that might cause further injury

11:11 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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I always carry American and either a CASE 54 trapper [2 blade folder] or a CASE 50 Coke bottle [single blade folder] and/or a fixed blade hunting knife [no survivals or bowies please].

I never carry a lock blade.

The fixed blade will likely be a Western, Ka-bar, Case or Bark River but there are others I have and would use.

And tho it wasn't asked-I often carry a folding saw.

11:44 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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So far there has not been anything my Leatherman Micra couldn't do - cutting rope, moleskin, tape, plastic, or random food packaging. Screwed my glasses back together, pried with the screwdriver bit, cut with the knife blade.

If there is a need for firewood I use what I can break with hands.

Self defense? I hike with slower people. But seriously - I don't often go anywhere without my trekking poles, and sometimes I carry an umbrella. I also have a pepper spray generally for the random people I run into while solo hiking, maybe feral dogs. the only time I've seen bear spray deployed, it was in someone's pack and when we figured out what was hissing we had a laugh about her chili scented fleece. Happily she was really carrying it for wild pigs - as we didn't see any of those either, I didn't think to bother asking why she thought it would be useful in a pack pocket. As I don't feel comfortable using either knife or gun for self defense, i don't intend to bother thinking I could use them as such - and if I ever did go somewhere I felt such measures were necessary I would practice with the weapon in question until I felt comfortable using them. It's no good to me if the usage isn't automatic.

10:38 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Seems like a very realistic approach NQT.

11:32 a.m. on May 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Thought I'd chime in, though I haven't read the entire thread..

 

I use to rock the "My First Swiss Army Knife Plus" by Victorinox Swiss Army, though it wasn't my first Victorinox knife; my first was the "Recruit." I loved (and still do) the "My First Swiss Army Knife Plus," but since then have gotten more of an adult-like knife; one with a point. Today I'm rocking a "Sentinal Non-Serated" Victorinox Swiss Army Knife; I can't get away from the tweezers and the tooth pick. Now I've got a point to my knife, and a bit longer of a (now, locking) blade, which is wonderful since my wife and I enjoy peanut butter, but not the task of cleaning the "elbow" of folding knifes. I do miss the saw, but it hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would to be shy a saw blade. The can opener you ask.. well, we haven't been eating canned food, and we can feel it!

5:01 p.m. on May 12, 2009 (EDT)
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The use of trekking poles in self-defense requires some modification of the poles. I recommend using a Biller Bang Stick in .357 caliber to replace the handle of the pole (see http://bluewaterhunter.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/shop_bangsticks_biller.html

). When needed in defense, simply jab the intruder hard in a vital area with the tip.

There are certain drawbacks with this device - when using the "BangStick" trekking pole for support you must be careful not to exert any weight upon it, as they have a tendency to blast you off the path. Also caution should be exercised when using the pole as a tent support.

6:24 p.m. on May 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Bang stick? You are joking - aren't you? If so, good, but you're a bit off of the knife topic. If you're serious, you're WAY off topic.

11:09 p.m. on May 12, 2009 (EDT)
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My old diving buddy and I actually had one of these. Ours fired a specially designed 38 cal. shell. Maybe not the same brand though.

OMW is kidding. These things are designed for scuba divers and they are d*** dangerous when armed. You have to always make sure they are either unloaded or the safety pin is in. This one seems more sophisticated than ours with some kind of safety on it.

We used to carry one when spearfishing, but pretty much gave it up. Just something else to drag along. We never fired it, but I understand the concussion is pretty nasty, especially the 12 gauge model which this company doesn't make, but I've seen one.

If you have to use one, you are way too close to a shark than anyone should be.

10:07 a.m. on May 13, 2009 (EDT)
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f_klock,

I was responding, in jest, to NQT's trekking poles and umbrella. IIRC, the initial post mentioned that many carry knives for self-defense from animals. Depending on the animal, NQT's trekking poles might work as defensive instruments - pica and marmots come to mind, also marmots with pica.

I appreciate that shark attacks while hiking are not well documented; however, should the condition arise, the bangsticks seem an appropriate response.

11:27 a.m. on May 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Phew!

1:23 p.m. on May 13, 2009 (EDT)
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I carry a knife all the time but its definately a tool I use. I call it my gloified envelope opener. Its just a small folding Buck. My wife and some friends thought I was silly at first but now they're always turning to me to open or cut something, "Hey you got your knife on you." Plus my dad carries a small knife all the time and if he does then I does... can.

About protection. At first I thought it was funny too. I would always say, "Yeah right like you have skills with a knife." However I've heard/read that if a hiking buddy is attacked by a mountain lion you should try to find a large rock and go to work pounding on the big cat. If somebody can be expected to have enough presence to get a rock they certainly can pull out their knife too. Now is a knife more effective than a rock?

2:19 p.m. on May 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Wow, so many posts about this already...

Anyway, I carry two, no make that three knives when I go on a extenive hike. I have a all metal, Longs Peak folding knife, a Gerber (leatherman like) knife with the pliers and scissors,screw drivers and such and a cheap but good Chinese made folding knife with a saw on the back and a plastic handle with a clip.

I really like the Gerber because unlike the Leatherman I lost down the East Fork of the Virgin in southern Utah, its blade and tools lock open. I also have it in my bike tool kit when I am not hiking.

The Longs Peak knife is unique as its folding spring is on the inside where the blade folds up. And it has a lever behind the blades top that makes it lock open even tho it seems to stay locked open without it. My brother gave it to me for Christmas a couple years ago. I have it in my pocket daily to cut my lunch bagel in half.

I also have a Rambo style knife I rarely carry, but its cool with the sewing kit and fish hook and line inside the alumium handle. It is of drop forged steel and also has a saw down its back. Be a great blade to use if I wanted to kill something. I got it at a second hand store I used to work back in Jackson Hole. It came in the donations I was sorting and I had to have it!

I used to have a little pocket folding knife my grandfather gave me as a child but I have missplaced it. Sorry, Grandpa! It was tiny, at about 2 inches long folded with a wooden inlayed handle.

6:55 p.m. on June 4, 2009 (EDT)
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Can't say I read the entire thread, I skimmed some of it though. Being that I'm into metal/welding. Most people believe D2 tool steel is "The king of all survival knife material" or close too it. I like the steel itself and I think what the knife is made out of is more so important then who makes the knife. However, if your out in the middle of no where, the knife is dull, and you just happened to forget your diamond lansky sharpening kit your SOL when that knife gets dull because you'll be there for a month trying to sharpen it on rocks.

 

I myself carry a simple stryder/buck folder. The ATS-34 steel is better then what gerber/buck/spyderco/kershaw/benchmade/SA/Leatherman uses in their knives under 100 bucks.

Stryder makes great knives I wont lie, being that the owner is a friend of a friend and lives locally doesn't bias me at all *lie*. If I had 300 to spend on a fixed blader I would even if they are "tacti-cool".

On the other hand I also carry my throw away CRKT Crawford Kasper. CRKT's knives are nice, but the steel according to many is "low quality". I honestly agree, I dont like sharpening my CRKT every two weeks or so, especially the serations. IMO serations are a NO NO, i see no need for them at all in a "survival" or "backpacking" knife. just more $$$ and time to sharpen.

 

My suggestion to anyone buying a knife? Don't even consider one as a serious main duty knife if you don't know what the blade steel is made out of. "high quality" or "high carbon stainless" doesn't count. Your looking for a number/letter combo. like ATS-34/S30V/D2/A2/440S/154CM/520 etc etc etc. Then do a search & see if the steel matches your needs. Maybe you need a harder steel with lower stain resistance or a softer steel & a higher stain resistance. Also once you know what kind of steel the knife has you can usually judge how much you should be paying for the knife.

 

Just my .02 cents. feel free to comment!

11:21 p.m. on June 5, 2009 (EDT)
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My 1 iron, also known as "the knife" is made of 1040 carbon steel, and let me tell you it has been in my closet since the early 2000"s. I'll break it out every once in a while when the weather calls for thunder and lightning. It's mostly a safety concern, because a wise man once said "not even god can hit a 1 iron".

If I carry a fixed blade in the woods, it's an ontario carbon steel 4" blade that I keep sharp enough to shave with. I carry it mostly for protection, but not from wild anamals. Other than that, I have a Victorinox army knife and a plastic knife for spreading the jiff......

8:53 p.m. on July 14, 2009 (EDT)
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I always have a SAK Huntsman Plus in my pocket when hiking or backpacking. Over the years, it's been very useful, and I've used all the tools and gadgets at one time or another.

I also carry a fixed blade with me regularly. Decades ago, I was in a "survival" situation and having a solid and sharp tool made the experience much easier.

In over 50 years of knocking around the woods and hills, I've encountered most of the large predators here in North America. Last year was the first time I had any trouble - a black bear was relieving fishermen of their catches, and followed us for 100 yds on the lakeside trail, sniffing at us, until he saw a fisherman on the shore (No, we were not fishing, just hiking around the lake; and the only food we had with us was powerbars still in unopened wrappers). Now my wife won't let me head up the hills without a large knife (I've no desire to carry a pistol).

10:19 p.m. on July 14, 2009 (EDT)
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f_klock,

I was responding, in jest, to NQT's trekking poles and umbrella. IIRC, the initial post mentioned that many carry knives for self-defense from animals. Depending on the animal, NQT's trekking poles might work as defensive instruments - pica and marmots come to mind, also marmots with pica.

I appreciate that shark attacks while hiking are not well documented; however, should the condition arise, the bangsticks seem an appropriate response.

I didn't go into detail on the umbrella... it's mainly for sun protection on trails I know are exposed for miles, on summer hikes. But while using it one day at a low elevation trail frequented by people and their dogs or horses, I discovered that both those animals are quite disturbed by an umbrella. Once I closed it they settled down.

I think an umbrella would be sufficiently different to wild animals as well to startle them into flight. Certainly they would not have seen a lot of umbrellas, and a large waving (in my case shiny and reflective) thing would probably give them pause at least. That it's flimsy makes it feel like a less viable defense item - but a bear isn't going to know what it is, just that it's made that person big and strange.

Poles I already use to fend off snakes and dogs.

12:46 a.m. on July 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I always carry a leatherman and a SEAL PUP Elite. Most of the guys in my unit carried some sort of SOG knives. They are sturdy and not so big that they are cumbersome to use (ie, Rambo style knife). I have noticed that the bigger the knife, the less you use it. I still get a chuckle when I think of some of the big-ass knives I saw the cherry privates carry on their gear--blades bigger than their heads and a compass in the handle. In fact, I rarely use(d) my SOG knife. The only time I used it was to cut my parachute suspension lines when I landed in the trees. Most of the time, my leatherman was the handiest and most appropriate knife to use.

For heavier duty jobs, I have no desire to use my 100 dollar knife to chop a tree branch when I can use a 10 dollar hatchet to do the same thing.

As for protection, why bring a knife to a gun/bear-fight?

7:37 a.m. on July 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I've tried a lot of stuff over the years -- fixed blade, folder, locking folder, SAK, multi-tool. Each of them had its good points and its bad points.

I keep getting back to a fixed blade. I have an old Boy Scout sheath knife that is about perfect. They mostly came with 4.5 in. blades, but I lucked into one of the smaller ones with a 3" blade. It weighs all of 4 oz., sheath included. While I love to pare the ounces as much as anyone, there is a lot of functionality for a fixed blade knife and 4 oz. is not that bad. It is always handy on the belt, holds a good edge like a dream, and looks great to boot (I love a stacked leather handle.)

I usually carry some kind of multi-tool as well. Doesn't get used as often as it seems it should, but when you need it, you need it.

1:26 p.m. on July 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Oops, I meant "a smaller one with a 4 inch blade."

9:35 p.m. on July 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I carry a swiss army knife. It just seems the most reliable to me, and the easiest to store.

12:43 p.m. on July 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I usually carry a thick bulky fixed blade that weighs about 14oz with the sheath. Lately I have thought about ditching it for a folder that weighs a good 1/4 of its weight.

The only real time I end up using it is to widdle a roasting stick for marshmellows and occasionally de-barking birch for fire starting.

10:19 p.m. on July 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I think a comprehensive list of what everyone has actually used a knife for when hiking would be helpful. Preferably two lists. One for uses of a blade and one for everything else done with a multi-tool. To be truly helpful these lists should include only those things you've actually used the tools for, not what you think you might use it for.

11:15 p.m. on July 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I sense a spot of disbelief in the need for a knife while hiking, mostly because of the word actually. I use my knife quite often as a matter of fact. But at the same time my style of hiking isn't a stroll through a woods with a backpack.

11:52 p.m. on July 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I believe you, but what do you use it for?

12:56 a.m. on July 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Well I did post here in this topic a while back but I felt like putting in my 2 cents again. I have changed my knife preferences. I don't really know but I did and most here wont agree with me but I don't care either. I have always been thought that your knife is one of the most important items to bring. Now I carry a small pocket knife with a 2 1/4 inch blade and a Ka Bar BK2 its a bit shorter than my Marine Corps Combat Knife but the blade is wider and I feel more useful for my uses. But that's me

10:22 a.m. on July 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Ok, I'll play.

I have a couple of inexpensive knives - one a knife only, the other a multi-tool.

My knife is a Gerber Gator. Bought it ten years ago at a Bass Pro shop for $15. Like Kmarr, I've used it for whittling marshmallow sticks, but I've also used it for scaling and gutting fish, cutting thick rope, opening bags or boxes, and even whittling cane whistles for the kids. Use it almost every time I go out. Never used it for self defense, although there has been a couple of times I've heard a strange noise and I've had it ready.

My multitool is a Leatherman Squirt P4. Ok, go ahead an laugh now. But my Dad taught me to always carry a knife, and this is the one that I can carry in my slacks to my job and it's not too bulky - but yet proves very useful. I can also carry it camping for the different tools. I can't tell you how many times the pliers have proven useful, whether grabbing a small item or clipping a piece of fishing line. Screwdrivers, hole punches - it gets used whether I'm camping or sitting at my desk at work.

I only carry the Gator when fishing/camping/hiking, but I carry the Squirt everywhere. I don't carry knives to impress anyone (obviously), I actually use them and only carry what I need.

11:09 a.m. on July 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Okay, so I'll be more specific. What have you used your knife's blade for while on backpacking trips where you hiked more than 10 miles? (a little arbitrary, but let's start somewhere)

For me: opening a food bag, cutting cord/string/rope/webbing, shaving wood for kindling, whittling for entertainment, stirring food, digging out a splinter, bending cotter pin on my old external frame backpack.

5:09 a.m. on October 7, 2009 (EDT)
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I carry a "swiss army" knife for all the obvious tasks and a plastic knife -re cycled from Glora Jeans- as a spreader etc I have found that this keeps the dirty work knife away from food.I have always found the multi tool style knives to be not as efficient and have survived 30 + years of hiking without once needing a pair of pliers,however i do carry one when remote moutainbiking

7:34 p.m. on October 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I carry a Wenger Ranger 55. Kinda heavy, but a good blade and I like the saw for cutting small wood for fires. I use my knife blade for many things (cutting straps that hanging, shaving tinder for fires, etc).

My wife carries a multi tool , but we use it practically never.

11:33 p.m. on December 16, 2009 (EST)
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I have two Gerber multitools, one of which usually is in my pickup truck's glove box. After a semi truck tire disintegrated ahead of me on a freeway, I actually used a Gerber 800, which has a hardened steel insert in its pliers, to remove a ball of steel tire cord from the underside of my truck.

Most of the time, I carry a Swiss army knife (Victorinox, but don't ask me which model), which takes care of most of my pocketknife needs. Yes, it has a scissors and a corkscrew, which has been used to open wine bottles at campouts (and for that matter parties) when the "good" corkscrews had been left behind. When hiking, I usually have the Swiss Army Knife.

11:58 p.m. on December 18, 2009 (EST)
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Update! I've elvolved! From a monstrous bayonet to a monstrous OLD Bowie. It was given to me this past summer by the gentlemen who run the hatchery in the Native village of Hartley Bay in BC. To say that I was humbled to my core would be an understatement of incalculable proportions. One of the guys from the hatchery found it all rusted and burnt in the bush years ago, and it's been hanging around the place ever since. When they gave it to me it was one of those: "Huh? What's going on here? They giving me this? Oh... Oh wow... Oh wow! Oh-my-WOW!" You can understand, I think. So, after many, many hours of gentle heating and beating to straighten the damaged tip and edge, and equally many hours cleaning the rust off of the steel, the patina off the brass, and the scorch marks off of the handles, I was left with the biggest and most beautiful knife I've ever held in my hands. Here's a couple of before and after shots.

Before

After

Oh yeah, and I always have this along with me in a pouch around my neck.

A flintsteel, some fatwood and a Gerber Clutch, awesome combo.

Righty then...

Later!

4:41 p.m. on December 20, 2009 (EST)
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Small,lite and sharp.

4:08 p.m. on December 21, 2009 (EST)
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It depends on how old you are, but the younger a guy is, the bigger the knife he'll carry. I've seen Rambo knives of every sort on people, but everyone has their favorite. At my age, I just carry a Leatherman and a hatchet, seems to work fine.


If you're worried about safety a knife won't do s***, carry a pistol.

8:57 p.m. on December 27, 2009 (EST)
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I usually carry a small SAK that has a blade, scissors, and a file. It also contains a plastic toothpick and tweezers. I find all the implements on this knife to be useful and adequate. I found a Super tool by a creek some years ago - it was in perfect condition - almost new. I never carry it. I just never seem to need pliers or phillips head screwdrivers when I am in the woods. Duct tape has always been my tool box in the backcountry. About a year ago I read a thread about carrying a KABAR. There were some good points, and, well... I've always liked the look of the KABAR, so I got one and have been carrying it. It has come in handy a couple of times for clearing some Rhodo out to make room for my tent, and those type chores. In all actuality I think it is just a lot of extra weight that may end up in the gear closet like so many other things. The little SAK with the handy nail trimming scissors and sharp cheese cutting blade is about all I really ever need.

6:17 p.m. on January 1, 2010 (EST)
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Lets see. I have a Gerber Obsidian folder (folder with slotted/philips tips, file, bottle opener.) A Gerber Gator Jr.(not sure if I would call it a machete due to length 18" blade/15"saw on spine) I use it regularly. The saw on the spine is adequate and I honed/sharpened the blade...and a Leatherman Skeletool which does whatever else I need it to do.

Bowie knife? I really don't see the sense to carry one, They can be pretty hefty weight wise. I have the blade on the Gator Jr so sharp that it does the job...

8:27 a.m. on January 5, 2010 (EST)
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I carry a:

- Gerber multi-tool (~12 years old. I can't find any model # on it, but it has: needlenose plies, wire cutters, knife, flathead & phillips screwdrivers, can opener, bottle opener, file w/ fine & coarse edging, lanyard ring, precision blade, and american & metric rulers)

- Buck Omni Hunter (10PT drop point, fixed blade)

The Gerber is my work knife. The Buck is mainly for food prep. Both are great, though. Of the two, the Gerber seems to maintain a sharp edge longer.

1:36 p.m. on January 7, 2010 (EST)
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Oh, I forgot to add a SOG Tooclip. This thing is a tank. Still works great and from when I remember getting it it is well over 10yrs old...

12:21 a.m. on January 17, 2010 (EST)
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I carry 2 "knives" to go with my slip open and close pocket knife when i go hiking or camping.

The first resembles a K-Bar (sharp). This 21 inch blade has a huge saw on the back, this monster is perfect for pretty much anything that needs cutting, and it is heavy enough to replace a hatchet while camping. Although i usually keep it stashed away in a pocket on my pack. I use it to cut a lot of fire wood or tree branches.

My second knife is an extremely sharp fixed blade hunting knife with the deer hook on it. This one is much smaller and quickly accessible. I keep it in a leather sheath with a snap button close strung through my belt. I mostly use this knife for dealing with dead animals on hunting trips, but i've found good use with it when i need something sturdy and sharp that my pocket knife can't handle (my pocket knife dulls too easily)

I doubt I would ever even try defend myself against a bear by slitting it's throat, that sounds like pure stupidity to me. I would most likely try to scare a bear off by jumping and being loud, and when that fails i'd be off for the races.

2:20 p.m. on January 19, 2010 (EST)
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I like to carry a variety of knives, each with specific purposes, totaling 3 to 4 depending on where I am going.

The first knife is on my Multitool, Letherman Charge. It has easy to open blades and tools so I can open it in a pinch with one hand.

The second is a Kershaw 4 1/2" blade which can be used for any general purpose cutting, eating, cutting knots, widdling. You name it.

The third, and most personal for my style of camping is my Ka-bar Heavy Bowie knife. It weights 0.9 lbs which is a burden for those who choose lightweight over capabilities when backpacking. This blade rocks. I have found a use for it every time I go backpacking. It'll cut through any log you put infront of it.

If I do carry a fourth knife it is a more dull blade for eating or cleaning the dirt under my fingernails, which is a complete luxury but it's nice when you don't want to look like a complete mess after an hour of cutting firewood in the mud.

I do like to carry multiple knives when I backpack but that's the system that works for me.

6:01 p.m. on January 19, 2010 (EST)
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I usually carry two knives when I go out. The first one is a basic multi function knife with two blades, can opener, corkscrew, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, file, scissors. I carry this mostly as my knife for my kitchen duties and if need be, gear repair.

The second knife I carry is always clipped to my pants. It's a Gerber Paraframe I and I love the thing to death. I keep it sharp and well oiled. I use it mainly for heavy cutting jobs that the other knife can't do and for all purpose cutting and whittling. It's by far the best knife I have ever had and it isn't heavy either.

9:39 p.m. on January 19, 2010 (EST)
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Leatherman Wave, always and everywhere. On-trail: SOG Seal Pup. Off-trail wilderbilly-fantasy-explorefest: Ka-Bar Marine.

The Leatherman speaks for itself. It is hands-down the most versatile tool in the smallest useful package available and I simply do not go anywhere without it. Its weight is irrelevant in consideration of its utility.

The SOG is a good knife. Good steel, holds an edge extemely well, light, practical, useful. No personality, but a good knife that can be trusted.

The Ka-Bar remains my favorite. Of high-carbon 1095 it sharpens very easily and it stays sharp. The blade is long enough to strip heavy bark, baton chunks and poles. In general the thing is tough enough and big enough to use as my primary tool under primitive conditions, which is my preferred "style" of wilderness recreation.

If I could have but one edge and given a choice among the Leatherman, SOG and Ka-Bar, I would choose the Ka-Bar.

Why?

Because it's a real knife.

Drake

11:08 p.m. on January 19, 2010 (EST)
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If I could have but one edge and given a choice among the Leatherman, SOG and Ka-Bar, I would choose the Ka-Bar.

Why?

Because it's a real knife.

Drake

Could not agree more. I love my Ka-bar. There is only 25% of the original paint left on the blade which makes me smile ever time I pull it out of it's sheath. My favorite part is the fact that after a 7 day trek with heavy use, it holds a good edge.

Just this weekend I found a new use for it, Intimidation.

I was hiking and had to seek refuge in a shelter... I didn't have to but I was getting soaked by rain, it was dark and I just wanted to eat and sleep without setting a tent up. After I laid down for sleepy-time ~9:00 p.m. a stranger approached my shelter. I was alone and recruited my ka-bar Large Heavy Bowie as my bodyguard. I struck up a conversation with the stranger all the while the knife was on my belt loop in its sheath unbuttoned. He never mentioned the knife but I caught him eyeballing it. I'm glad i did not have to ask anything more from that knife that night.

9:07 p.m. on January 20, 2010 (EST)
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Just this weekend I found a new use for it, Intimidation.

I carry a military issue Mark III knife attached to the hip belt of my pack. Fortunately I have never felt the need to use it in an intimidating manner. I am grateful that all the people I have come across in the backcountry were just out having fun like me.

9:22 p.m. on January 20, 2010 (EST)
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I never carry a knife to a gun fight...

That said, its not intimidation - no one is scared of your Bowie knife, they are instead thinkng "this guy is a real inexperienced camper who is more of a danger to himself that to anyone else, a real drugstore cowboy". .. "I'll just mosey on down the trail so I don't have to give hime first aid, wonder if hes gonna try to chop wood with it?"

Jim

9:39 p.m. on January 20, 2010 (EST)
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I agree with that, Jim. One thing certain about a knife fight is that everybody participating gets hurt bad and sometimes the winner is just the one who bleeds to death last. It is not to be wished for under any circumstances.

Waving a blade around is just adolescent. It speaks to lack of experience, and unhoned critical thinking skills as well.

This thread isn't about becoming a pretend Rambo, it's about folks talking about the merits of whatever knife they have used while hiking, camping, canoeing or whatever in the boonies.

Pretty simple.

Drake

10:06 p.m. on January 20, 2010 (EST)
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Welcome Drake & clawsoncc,

I think you are wiser to hide your strength, not display it, and make friends with the 'stranger'. Few people are intimidated while you are asleep, they will, however, remember a kind word and a shared meal.

Also let's remember that shelters belong to everyone, there is no such thing as "my shelter".

I understand the need to be cautious, but your mind is your greatest asset, I'm sure you would agree.

9:55 a.m. on January 21, 2010 (EST)
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I generally carry a smallish or medium folding knife and a full-tang fixed blade knife. For most frequent use, the folding knife is perfect, quick to use and access, and convenient. But for the large array of tasks in a survival situation a small folding knife is not your friend. Hopefully I willl never be in a serious survival situation, but I other emergency gear. I have had to help others injured on the trail, clean fish & other animals, carve and cut wood, and many other task while in the backcountry. A larger, fixed bladed, good handled knife is MUCH more effective for these and many other tasks, and I use the larger knife frequently. But I completely understand when someone else just doesn't want to carry a larger knife.

Some like theirs black, some like it with cream & sugar, so to speak.

11:12 a.m. on January 21, 2010 (EST)
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I use my serrated knife in my Leatherman Crunch quite often. The only other knife I carry is my small Rapala Fillet knife ("4 blade) very sharp and very light. Most of the time I'm fishing when I go Backpacking, and the fillet knife works well for what I need to do.

2:29 p.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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I carry a folding Tomahawk with a 2" blade. It's very light (2oz). I only use it to cut paracord, whittle kindling, gut an occassional bluegill, or cut 1st Aid tape.

As for protection, I carry a 10oz can of bear spray. I've never had to use it.

10:13 p.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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Welcome Drake & clawsoncc,

I think you are wiser to hide your strength, not display it, and make friends with the 'stranger'. Few people are intimidated while you are asleep, they will, however, remember a kind word and a shared meal.

Also let's remember that shelters belong to everyone, there is no such thing as "my shelter".

I understand the need to be cautious, but your mind is your greatest asset, I'm sure you would agree.

Well said. We all should be quicker to embrace than to intimidate.

8:39 p.m. on February 7, 2010 (EST)
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I like how you started off with a list of knives and delved into a gun....

When I go into the woods, I typically take my Leatherman Wave and and Emerson folding knife, but am looking at getting a fixed blade (possible a Gerber of some sort). I find it funny how some people think it is silly to take a multi-tool knife for the "maybes" in life. I guess those are the poeole who find themselves in a world of hurt if they didn't start their though process with a "maybe". Funny you mention a gun, I take an H&K .40 compact with some pretty hot loads...LOL. (BTW, I am licensed as a conealed carry holder, have handgun and military weapon training and only carry in woods where the law allows--for the critics).

D

10:15 p.m. on February 7, 2010 (EST)
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Moderator's note:

This thread is entitled "Knives and Hiking." Not "Guns and protection while hiking" In such a long thread, it is necessary to keep on topic in order that readers will be able to follow along. Please try to keep to the topic of any given thread.

Also, a previous gun thread has been closed and locked and the owners of this forum have declared a moratorium on weapons - of any type.

Alicia MacLeay, Editor in Chief wrote:

As I've posted at the bottom of the other locked threads, now that everyone has had more than ample time to discuss this topic, I'm declaring an indefinite moratorium on any forum posts or threads concerning carrying a gun or other weapon.

Thanks to everyone who has been patient and civil during this lengthy discussion. I appreciate it.

Now, let's move on to talk about other backcountry topics. (I'm locking this thread too, so we can all resist temptation and move on).

This thread is now locked pending moderator and owner review.

8:17 a.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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The thread is unlocked, but let's stay on topic and remember this is a backcountry recreation community, not a self defense site.

7:20 p.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks for the freedom, Alicia. The libertarian side of me appreciates it.

At the same time, though, I gotta admit that after 21 months and however-many posts since the OM, I'm kinda failing to see much continuing ROI. I mean, really, how much can constructively be said on the topic of "knives and hiking"? While there's always something more that can be said, if we haven't gotten to it yet, how illuminating is a comment likely to be?

But wait..... Maybe if we extend it a bit in the direction of how one goes about keeping knives sharp whilst wandering the woods? There are the diamond hones, Arkansas stones, ceramic tools, steels, and more. And stropping is an art form, according to some, that may be right in someone's wheelhouse. Then there are the considerations of various different steels for the blade. Or should one consider a ceramic utensil? Obsidian can be mind-blowing sharp, but can it be effectively sharpened? And we haven't even begun discussing blade shape and grind yet. Drop point v. spear point v. sheep's foot v. .... Fine or serrated/combo?

Then again, if we'd stayed on topic, maybe we'd have gotten to some of that, eh?

7:45 p.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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Since you brought it up Perry........this is what I prefer myself.

Scandi grind

Drop point

Half serrate on folders

Thick spine w. full tang

Round pommel

& a small diamond stone.

10:49 p.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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I prefer Spyderco knives because I am a lefty and most of their knives are ambidextrous. By this I am referring to the back center lock and the Spyder opening hole. As far as steel goes I prefer VG-10 and like 1/2 serration. My knife sharpener is a DMT FWFC Double-Sided Diafold Diamond Whetstone Sharpener Fine / Coarse.

3:03 a.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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multi-tools are definitely useful to have - i usually have a leatherman - but they aren't perfect for being outside. they're hard to grip in cold weather, and the tools are too small for some tasks. so, i tend to use the tools, but not the blades.

i also tend to bring a fixed-blade knife. they can be a useful tool for splitting wood, cutting boughs to make a shelter, making kindling for a fire, making sparks with a firesteel, and as a hammer (assuming it's a full-tang knife with the metal part at or protruding from the butt of the handle). fixed-blade knives also can't unlock, which is a risk (slight) even with locking folding knives. fixed blades tend to be thicker and more able to survive abuse than folding knives, they are much easier to hold with gloves, and they are better for cutting anything when you have to exert a lot of force - like if something is frozen solid. i tend to like blades around four inches - much longer doesn't serve most useful purposes as a tool, and shorter can be a little tricky for some tasks without risking getting your fingers mashed.

i have two fixed-blade knives. the decision about which one to take along depends on conditions. one, a fallkniven f1, has a stainless steel blade, so it's better for canoing and wet conditions. the other, from bark river knife & tool company, is a non-stainless tool steel that holds an edge a little better and is a little easier to sharpen. the main shortcoming is that it's prone to oxidizing.

8:55 a.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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This, and my ever-present Gerber para-frame, with the missing screw, or my BM 940. And, I'm 62 years old. And, yes, I've been "out in the woods" a lot. I also shot only a flint lock rifle for years. I like to understand the old tools. I was in a hunting camp in Up-State New York and one night the fire in the tent went out. The only wood we had was large split wedges. I started batoning the thin end off some wedges with a 5 inch fixed blade Randall, and one of the hunters said "That's the first time I've seen a big knife put to any use." I thought it odd that he referred to a 5" bladed knife as a big knife.

He was an Urbanite so to speak, and was used to following the thinking of contemporary "writers", in his choice of tools, as he had nothing else to go on. These days, there's a sort of snobbery about, and it's expressed in the form of "real men can fell trees with a hat pin". Well, my time was spent as a Land Surveyor, and my experience tells me axes work better than hat pins. Your mileage may vary, of course. And no offense intended.

Oh, and I'm not felling trees anymore. :o)

Al in Oklahoma

PS I totally agree about the 4" being a superb all 'rounder. I have this one.....I love it, too.

Bye....Al

12:45 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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I would like to interject a gripe about knives. Many of the well-designed, medium-cost knives seem to only be available in stainless steel. This is, I suppose, a concession to the widespread belief that people will not care for their equipment properly. However, I am willing to spend a few seconds making sure a good knife is out of the damp, not left beside a log near the fire. I would like the knife to have a decent, high-carbon steel that takes a good edge, easily. I don't mind resharpening as necessary.

3:29 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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I am thinking about getting a knife to take on backpacking trips (3-6 days). What would you guys suggest?

4:40 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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@overwaders - i agree, and there are many brands that still use excellent, non-stainless tool steel. look for D2 tool steel - good hardness, retains an edge well, but still relatively easy to sharpen.

@seth - if i were only bringing one, i agree with many others here that a multi-tool offers a lot of flexibility. leatherman, gerber, any other quality brand that won't break. basically a tool similar to a swiss army knife, but with pliers and hopefully with locking blades.

as noted above, i'm partial to fixed-blade knives as an addition, but if you use a knife mostly for cutting as opposed to heavier abuse, a small, lightweight, folding lock-blade knife can be a good addition. easier to grip than a multi-tool and useful for basic tasks. i tend to look for ones with a grippy, no-slip handle and either a liner lock or benchmade's axis lock, but lockbacks are fine too, it's a personal preference. anything to keep your fingers intact. look for knife blades made of VG10, 154-CM, or ATS-34 steel - hard stainless steel that holds an edge well. S30v is a great stainless knife steel too, but it's very hard and can be harder to sharpen.

7:11 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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Hey, we actually talked knives for like a half-dozen posts in a row! Woo-hoo!

I wish there existed the perfect compromise amongst hardness, effort to sharpen, and corrosion resistance, but I fear there isn't. My couple of Benchmades both have 154CM, and it's a good steel, but does require some effort to sharpen. Pretty highly corrosion-resistant. "Holds edge" score of 7/10. (And I'm a tough grader.) I'm impressed by what I've heard of S30V blades, but not convinced they're worth the extra $ they usually ask, and note that almost all reviewers note they're "harder to sharpen", as noted above.

As for fixed v. locking, I end up with a locking blade because of ease in packing/pocketing, and considering there are generally more options and they're more readily available in the size range I prefer. The locking mechanism on my Benchmades, their Axxis (TM) design, is the best I've ever encountered, hands-down. I've never encountered any blade instability, the lock is secure until I release, and I can do this last easily with one hand, but without fear I'll do it when I don't wish to. (Disclosure--I have no relationship--financial, fiduciary, or otherwise--with Benchmade other than carrying a couple of their knives around.)

10:24 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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Any thoughts or suggestion on Damascus steel blades? I always wanted a knife with that kind of blade. From what I understand their very strong and you can put a fine edge on them, very sharp. They blades look awesome but are they good for the typical back country travel?

3:06 p.m. on February 10, 2010 (EST)
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I don't know of any reason why a damascus steel blade wouldn't be a wonderful backcountry knife, if you care for it, that is. Like any high carbon, finely tempered steel, it wil rust in a heart beat if left untended.

I have a damascus steel kitchen knife that is by far my favorite cooking knife.

10:30 a.m. on February 13, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks Leadbelly

7:02 p.m. on February 13, 2010 (EST)
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Wow!!This topic shure brings out a lot of personel opinions!Over 35+ years i have never been attacked by a Bear,Moose or large cat,nor skunk or any creature that was really pissed off that i was in their "area".I carry a very small Kershaw folding knife,very light and very sharp.I have educated myself to how to travel and coexist with these animals inorder to safely journey into their "homes".Yes there is a higher risk in grizzley,black bear and moose country but i do take all the ness precautions when doing so.All in all i feel the most dangerous creature is the humane kind lurking at trail heads in order to rob or steal from those of us leaving our cars and or valuables for a day or longer.Also dont forget that some drug growers take great pride in protecting their hidden crop from both us and the legal folks.To finish up i just always try to be aware of my surroundings and practice all the cautions i can.ymmv

4:40 p.m. on March 7, 2010 (EST)
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Not only do I carry a Leatherman wave, and an Emerson folder, I like to have a ceramic bladed pairing knife dedicated to my "kitchen" usage while in the woods.
After reading through every post in this thread, I fail to see where some people find it cute to make jokes that we have gone more than half a dozen posts on topic....maybe people should read through the posts before making their comments. I thought this site was for information and sharing experiences, not being political and satirical.

D

9:26 a.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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I agree that a 4" fixed blade serves as a fine utility knife in the woods. To this end I have made use of a Spyderco brand, Bill Moran designed "featherweight" fixed blade for a little while now; their first fixed blade knife, the FB01 sure is quite a special little beauty. 4" trailing point, flat grind VG-10, 6oz. with friction-fit kydex.

6:22 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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Oh, piffle. Obnoxious singing. Umbrellas. Hunting. Hunting v. fishing. A post starting with an admission of being "WAY off topic". Firearms. Self-defense blather ad nauseum. Only some of the things one gets from "reading through the posts". But nonetheless, I forged on, and even shared some information and experiences. Even did so after the editor unlocked the thread and issued a reminder to stay on topic. Didn't notice much of anything political, and certainly not anything satirical. Did I miss something fun? Gee, I hope not.

6:58 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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From the OP:

"I am wondering what type of knife you take hiking with you and, or how many? And, or why?"

Now....isn't that an open ended question?

I've never seen a really interesting thread that stayed completely on topic, but I understand why we should try. It is however sometimes the scope of a topic that causes some to feel that others have strayed, while those who have 'strayed' feel as though they are just discussing the topic in depth. Maybe width would be a better term.

If all you use a knife for is peelin' taters and cuttin' string, you are entitled to that, and the view point that comes with that type of use.

Lots of people like to try their hand at bush craft, or bush craft light as I like to call it, which I have no problem with in areas that can easily sustain that type of use. Not all backpackers eat only freeze dried food on the trail, carry only canister stoves, and those backpackers may use knives for a variety of other tasks.

Some people have knives that have never touched anything besides tofu or broccoli, and as silly as I think that is, I respect their right to use the tool as they see fit, within the bounds of the law, haha.

I think this thread could have benefited from a distinction being drawn between using a knife strictly as a tool in camp, vs. 'other' uses.

Some people are just very sensitive, overly passive, and choose to see the world how they see fit and this is just one of those topics that will quickly rub them the wrong way.


I think a good fixed 4-5" blade is a very useful camp knife.

only for peelin taters, of course!

7:16 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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What's the Guiness record for most posts in one thread?

8:03 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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Is killing a Tofu legal in all states?

9:21 a.m. on March 9, 2010 (EST)
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Trout, I think Perry answered that in another thread- the answer is 42

:)

BTW, How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?

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