Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
The lead-up to SHTF could be a slow burn or it could happen in the blink of an eye. In either case, especially the latter, EDC (Everyday Carry) items become extremely important to have.
The contents of an everyday carry kit vary from one person to the next depending on the region they are in, the environment around them, and their abilities. However, there is one item that is a constant across all kits: a knife.
When it comes to survival scenarios, emergency preparedness, and all-around SHTF situations, there are many different tools, but a knife is the most talked about and desired one. I am no exception. I do not care if it is a fixed blade or a pocketknife, I love a quality knife.
Several years ago, I had a conversation with someone discussing certain aspects of SHTF. At one point they asked me, “What’s the one tool you would want to have if the SHTF?” I replied, “Hands down, a knife.”
They looked slightly confused by my answer, wondering why I chose what I did, and then started listing off other items they thought would be better. Everyone has their preferences when selecting tools, but here are my 6 reasons to always have a knife on you.
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The first thing that I have to address is the appearance a knife projects. From a “tank killing” all black 16-inch knife that can do “everything,” to an innocent looking Swiss Army Knife, knives come in all shapes and colors.
I would venture a guess and say that many people carry a pocketknife and use it every day. I am also going to assume that people who do not carry knives see others using them somewhat frequently.
Why does this matter? It means that knives are a common tool that people are used to seeing, and they will not instantly jump to the conclusion that you intend on doing something bad just because you are carrying one, unlike other items that could be carried.
As I mentioned above, knives come in all shapes and colors. Generally speaking, they are lightweight and compact tools. Even larger knives are not all that cumbersome and can be carried discreetly when one wants to.
When the SHTF, you may be singled out if you are carrying a tool that cannot easily be hidden from view. Discretion may better help you to get out of a situation rather than flaunting a tool that could raise a lot of eyebrows.
People have carried knives around for a long time because they can be used for a lot of different purposes. This is probably my number one reason for always having a knife on you. When the SHTF, you may not be able to have all the tools you want with you. But in my opinion, a knife is a basic tool that you will always want to have because it covers a lot of bases.
It may seem obvious, but a knife makes for a pretty effective self-defense tool, and it has been used as such for a very long time. Have you ever heard the saying, “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight?” While I appreciate the message that is being conveyed, I would certainly suggest bringing a knife with you, just maybe keep it as a backup to your primary weapon.
Are you stuck in the cold? Wet? Need to cook some food or boil some water? Well, a knife paired with a ferrocerium rod produces a shower of sparks that can be used to get a fire started. You don’t have a ferrocerium rod? Well, you can still get a fire going using friction methods, such as a bow drill set which is a lot easier to make with the help of a knife.
Heck, a bow drill set is not the only thing you can make with a knife. You can make all sorts of other tools or items that you may need to get through an SHTF situation.
If you are starting to get hungry, a knife comes in handy for cutting notches to build traps, such as a figure-four deadfall. Want to be a little more proactive in the hunt? Use the knife to sharpen the end of a wood pole and you can have yourself a spear in under five minutes.
It will take a little bit more time but if you carve a few barbs on the end of the spear, it will be much more effective at holding onto prey, especially slippery fish. Of course, after you get an animal or fish, a knife will make skinning, gutting, and processing the meat so much easier.
Note: Tying your knife to the end of a pole to make a spear isn’t as great of an idea as movies make it out to be. Doing so increases the chance of losing a very important tool.
Once you get some food in your belly, it would be nice to have a place to lay your head at night. Emergency shelters do not have to be all that elaborate, and a knife will help to clear light brush out of the way, cut notches into building materials, and trim cordage after tying everything together.
Tarps and tents are popular options to use for outdoor shelters, but they usually require stakes to keep them secured. For several reasons, stakes may not be available. Fret not, use your knife to carve a spear point on one end of a piece of wood and a notch into the opposite end. Pound the sharp end into the ground and use the notched end as a tie-off point. Instant improvised tent stake!
Creating a tree tap is easy to do and will give you access to water, sweet sap, or resin. Simply “drill” a hole into the side of a tree with the tip of a knife. Insert a hollow tube or small stick at a downward angle to direct the sap into a collection container.
A knife is also valuable to have for first aid and medical applications. I have used a knife to remove splinters and other foreign debris from my skin, to cut up clothing to make bandages, and to cut away clothing for easier access to a wound or injury. A knife can also be used for more invasive procedures, but I would advise against unless you know what you are doing and are capable of keeping things sterilized.
While it is never really a great idea to use a knife in a way it wasn’t designed for, a knife can also be used as an impact, prying, or digging tool.
4. Long Lasting and Simple
Let me go back to that conversation I mentioned at the beginning of the article. The person I was talking to said their number one tool was a firearm and they were astounded that mine wasn’t the same.
Don’t get me wrong, a firearm is a great tool to have because it equalizes the playing field among a broad group of individuals, and I certainly do not dismiss the idea of having one.
But when people talk about the SHTF, they do so generally and usually without giving specifics of the situation. A firearm has several moving parts and if one of those parts breaks, the tool is relatively useless. It also depends on a healthy supply of ammunition.
As I said, a firearm is a great tool to have, but when it comes to longevity, a knife isn’t dependent on any outside resources for it to operate. If it has any moving parts, such as a pocketknife, they are minimal. When the SHTF, we do not know how long we will be in that situation or how long it will take us to get to other resources. In that situation, I want the most basic, reliable, versatile tool that can get me through the situation.
5. Small Enough to Carry Extras
Carrying multiple knives is one topic that I do not hear a lot of people talking about. Given their versatility, usefulness, and importance, it has always perplexed me that many people settle on carrying one knife.
There are a lot of different knife designs available as well as different specifications to which those knives are constructed. Some knives are a “jack of all trades” while others have limited capabilities. For the reasons I have laid out thus far, I believe it would be beneficial to carry more than one type of knife.
For example, some people insist on having a serrated blade. Personally, they are not my first choice. This doesn’t mean I think serrated blades are a bad choice, but every tool has its place and I find a plain edge more versatile than a serrated one. But why should I limit myself to just one or the other?
If a knife is the tool to have and it is lightweight and compact and can be carried discreetly, why not carry multiples? Carry one knife that has serrations in one pocket and a plain edge in the other. Doing this is not going to take up much space or bog you down. It will also give you more options for choosing the right tool for the job when work needs to get done.
Having multiple blades will also cut down (pun intended) the amount of time it takes to maintain or sharpen a blade. If you do not have the time or the tools to do so, you can simply switch one blade out for another when the first one becomes dull.
I know this may not sit well with some people, but some knives are not just a knife but also a multitool, such as a Swiss Army Knife. Having a knife with multitools and a separate knife like a fixed blade would be my ultimate choice because there isn’t much I can’t tackle when both of those are on my person.
My final reason for always carrying a knife is that they are affordable. Sure, just like any other tool you can spend gobs of money on a knife, but not all quality blades are expensive. In either case, with the reasons I have discussed in this article, can you afford to not always carry one?
For as long as human beings have been around, a knife has been strapped to our hip for much of that time, and for good reason. During that time, we have also made many advancements and invented a lot of new tools along the way. Yet a simple knife remains one of the most popular, important, and versatile items to have when the SHTF.
Be sure to always have a quality blade on you because you just never know what can happen and when. Stay sharp, stay prepared, and thanks for reading.
I laid out some of the reasons I think a person should always have a knife on them. Let us know in the comment section below some of the reasons you always carry a knife.
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