One common thing people like to bring along on a day in the outdoors is a knife. But what type of knife should you bring? Do you even need to bring one? Lets explore this idea a bit.
First off, it is entirely possible to have a great day outdoors and never reach for a knife. A couple hours of leisurely floating down the Dan with a short stop for some granola and a soda will probably not require the use of a knife at all. So don’t think you have to have one or you should stay home. That is not the case at all. However, there are times when the ability to cut something can be handy or downright necessary.
Lets look at some common situations where a cutting tool would be handy. Lets say we are on a day trip and doing a bit of fishing. A knife or scissors in nearly a necessity to cut fishing line when you want to change lures. What about getting a lure stuck in a branch? Cutting the line or the branch is easy with a knife.
One of my favorite shore snacks is brie and grapes… it sure is handy to have a knife to cut the brie. Another regular lunch is cheese and crackers, often with some summer sausage, but what do I do if I don’t have a knife to cut it? Biting off hunks of sausage isn’t ideal.
Sometime serious things happen, even on small day trips. I have used a knife to remove nasty splinters and fashion splints in the past. I even carved a paddle out of a piece of discarded 1x6 when I forgot my paddle at home. Paddlers often carry rescue knives designed to cut rope and strap in the even that someone gets tangled in a capsize.
So now we have probably decided that some type of cutting implement is a good idea to take along with us. But what kind to choose? Let me start by stating that an 18 inch Rambo style survival knife is just silly. You are not fighting war, your are not exploring the vast wilderness ( and that’s not a good knife for that either), and a knife that big is going to be very uncomfortable in the boat with you. Other fixed blade knifes can be great. Something with a blade less than 5 inches can be a very handy tool. Most puuko style knives have a blade length around 3 or 4 inches. That is big enough do do anything a knife should be doing, yet small enough to do detailed work and not be obtrusive.
Folding knifes are probably the best choice for most of what you are going to use a knife for on our river. Need to cut cheese, fishing line, whittle a stick? A folding knife with a 2 to 3 inch blade is all you need. It doesn’t have to be a fancy, expensive knife. A $5 dollar special from Wal-Mart will do the trick.
A multitool can be a great choice for a day on the river. The pliers can help remove hooks from fish, the scissors can cut the line, the blade is there for other tasks. If you are going to carry one cutting tool for everything, the multitool is your best bet.
Material wise, stick to grippy plastic handles and stainless steel. They require very little maintenance and will perform well on the water.
DRC will carry a few different knifes this year in the shop. We hope to have a variety of tools to chose from, priced from a couple bucks to a couple hundred.