I’m constantly asked why I feel the need to carry a knife or multitool in today’s modern world and generally my response is sarcastic: “So I can tell who I should be wary of.” Seriously, people who get nervous around guys with knives make me nervous.
But in all seriousness, as much as the world has progressed since the days of frontiersman self reliance, one thing hasn’t changed—when the need for an elemental tool arises, you better have one. A smartphone won’t help you open a box, cut open packaging, open a pile of mail, whittle some kindling, or help you through any jam beyond the reach of Google.
But not all knives and tools are created equal. Pick a dog and you’ll be wasting your time, frustrated at the task at hand, or maybe even end up getting stitches. You should carry a knife or multitool—and a good one at that—on a daily basis. Why?
1. Your Day Job Gets Easier
Nothing could make your day easier at work than having a knife or multitool at your side. Even if you work pushing paper around, it’s amazing how often little needs arise.
Even if it’s just to open up a simple UPS package or pop open an envelope or slice up an apple for a quick snack at your desk, it makes you more efficient, self-reliant and ready to focus on the more important aspects of your job.
Here’s the dirty little secret of knife-carrying–you’ll never believe how often you’ll find yourself using a knife or a multitool until you have one handy. Then you’ll wonder how you got along without it for so long.
2. Because a Bad Knife Can Actually Hurt You
Which is more dangerous—a sharp knife or a dull knife? The cliché has a point. If you take the time to carry a blade, you should not carry a piece of junk that could fail you when you need it. Just ask Aron Ralston.
The last thing you want to do is have to rely on a knife or tool in a jam with a bad lock mechanism, a blade that dulls easily or is hard to sharpen, or a folding multi-tool that easily gets clogged and sticky. If you don’t get smart the first time, you’ll soon have the stitches to remind you for the next time.
3. Because Self Sufficiency Will Never Go Out of Style
Helplessness is a byproduct of modernity, but it’s not a given. Everyone respects a guy or gal who can whip out the right tool for the task at hand. Without going overboard everyone should be ready and able to adapt properly to any situation on the fly. You just never know when you’re going to need a knife or tool to get you through something random. It could be cutting open a box at work, fixing a loose battery cable on your beat up pickup truck, cutting a length of chord you didn’t expect to need. If you’re self-sufficient, you’re one step ahead.
4. Because Grandpa did
Back in the day, virtually everyone carried a knife on them—because their lives and jobs depended on it. Honor that heritage. Put a quality knife in your pocket and feel a little connection to the old ways every time you feel it hanging on your belt.
5. Because a good knife is a work of art
I’m a knife nerd. I know how much heart and spirit goes into the making of a good knife—and how much soul goes into a great one. It’s not just a tool. It’s a vision manifest in steel. The more you get to know about how and why knives are made the way they are, the more you will appreciate the craftsman’s unique perspective. Respect the craft by carrying the best you can afford.
I’m starting to tear up a little bit. Let’s move along.
6. The Cool Factor
Admit it—you feel cooler with a good knife at hand. You’re in charge. You’re broadcasting from the hip, ”Come to me if you need anything—I’ve got you covered.” People notice. Done right, you inspire confidence. If can even be a great icebreaker in the right situation. Just don’t be too eager to whip one out too quickly to lend a hand before you’re ready. (I have the scar to prove that one.)
7. It’s Your Right to Feel a Little Bit Safer
We don’t endorse paranoia. We do endorse self reliance. And self reliance has a way of deterring baloney before it starts. Always remember, it’s not a weapon, it’s a tool—and sometimes that tool makes you feel just a little more in control of the uncontrollable.
8. Because one good knife is worth a dozen crappy ones
I still have my first knife from when I was seven, and it’s in great, reliable shape. Why? Because my aunt and uncle did their homework before deciding what to buy for me.
Do yours before you drop your money on an underbuilt piece of garbage. Check out our several years worth of head-to-head reviews of top knives—you have plenty of options to choose from.
9. Because a Good Knife Will Endure Your Abuse
A fussy knife is a waste of your time. While knives need regular care, they shouldn’t be high maintenance. A knife made of cheap steep will require constant, careful sharpening. It’s hinges will clog miserably and regularly with grit. Just having a knife ride around in your pocket, on your belt, or in your pack can put it through hell. Dirt, dander, and debris can jam up mechanisms and locks, and sweat can cause hardware and blade steel to rust.
You want something that can live the life you live—without needing to be babied. A good knife can take a hell of a lot of hardship and still come out sharp, easy to open, and always ready for the next task.
10. Because you’re the one they’re looking up to
A few things pass along well to the next generation. A well-made watch. Jewelry. And the one thing you can keep with you everyday—a well-made knife.
Being a dad, I’m always looking at my favorite knife and say to myself “Oh, I can’t wait to give this to the girls…” You want tools that help you make memories, so they need to last a lifetime.