Like it or not, having a knife with you is essential when exploring the outdoors. A good knife can help you cut through brush that is blocking your way, cut food when camping and provide safety while in the wilderness. However, selecting a knife can be a difficult task as there are so many manufacturers. (I normally carry Gerber Knives).
Here are some of the essentials to look for when selecting a knife.
Fixed blade or folding knife
The most important consideration with a new knife is whether you prefer one long, strong blade (fixed blade) or an easier to carry folding blade (folding knife).
The benefit of a fixed blade knife is that the blade itself is normally larger and stronger than a folding blade. This makes it easier when clearing brush and cutting wood, as the knife has more space and more actual blade. These types of knives are normally carried when backpacking or camping in the wilderness and are rarely used for a day hike.
For day hikes and other one day adventures most people use a folding knife. Folding knives can easily be clipped to your belt or pocket and worn without any effort. They provide easy access to the knife if needed, without forcing you to have to carry a large knife. The downside is they are not as effective for larger tasks.
Now that you know whether you need a fixed or folding knife consider the different options below.
Serrated or straight
The next consideration when selecting a knife is whether you would like your knife to have a serrated or straight blade.
Straight blade knives are the most often carried knives as they have a large straight blade that can be for many purposes. Serrated blades have more of a saw like look to them and are great to saw branches and other things that require more friction to make the cut. These types of cuts are much harder with a straight blade. Some modern knives also have a half straight, half serrated blade, creating a hybrid that gives the best of both worlds.
Full tang or not
The next consideration, if you are going to be using a fixed blade knife, is whether you want full tang or not. Full tang means that the knife blade goes all the way to the bottom of the knife handle, creating a well-supported blade that is nested in the handle. This allows the knife to be stronger and withstand more force during use. This also means the knife will cost a lot more than a non-full tang fixed blade knife, so if you are looking to save money, you probably would not want to get a full tang knife.
For folding blade knives you need to consider what type of opening method you require. Most folding knives open via a thumbstick that allows the user to flick the knife open with one hand. Folding knives also come with assisted opening options as well, which means they can be flicked open relatively easily with little movement. These knives also have a lock to keep them from opening when in a pocket, and another lock to keep the knife open when in use.
These are simply the main options that are available when looking to select a knife. There are many other options available as well, if you have more specific things that you do outdoors. Say if you plan to fish while camping, you can get a gutting fixed blade knife for cleaning the fish and still have the fixed blade for other uses. Another option is, if you needed a quick release, you could invest in a switch blade knife.
The possibilities are endless for knife selection, but this one thing is certain. Make sure you invest in a knife for your next trip. You won’t regret it!