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7 Tips For Choosing A Knife For The Outdoors

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When a knife is a fundamental part of your EDC kit you need to select the right one for the job and for you. Getting it right is not always easy and can turn out to be very costly exercise if you are not careful. When anyone asks me about choosing a knife I always give them this advice-

Choosing a knife for the outdoors


Things to consider when choosing a knife

Where is it going to be used?

Is the knife going to be used in a specific environment e.g. jungle, water/maritime, pine forest or do you want a knife that is going to travel from place to place with you.

What sort of handle do you want?

Handles can be made from wood, bone, metal and vast range of synthetic materials, they also come in a bewildering range of styles. You want a handle that fits comfortably into your hand, can be used for as long as you need it to be and doesn’t lose grip when it is covered in things like rain, mud or sweat.

What sort of tang does it have?

The tang is the part of the blade that continues into the handle. The longer the tang, the stronger the whole knife will be when put to work. There was a time, years ago, when knives where made with hollow handles and tiny tangs. Most of these knives broke very quickly when used. Over the last ten years I’ve only ever seen two makes of knife, with small tangs, that could be classed as reliable but that’s all. ¾ or full tangs are best.

What sort of blade do you need?

Blades come in a variety of thicknesses, lengths and tip styles. If you need a skinning knife then it will come with a very specific blade, if you need a Bowie knife then the blade will be in that style and so on. Some blades also contain features like angled tips, two blades and saw teeth. Remember that you are choosing a knife for you, if these things are not relevant or pose a danger to yourself, then you’re looking at the wrong knife.

What sort of sheath do you want?

Sheaths keep the edge safe when not in use.  They also allow you to position it somewhere to be carried and keep the knife protected. Some are made of leather which can look great with aging but these do need the occasional rubbing with leather cream. Some sheaths are made of high impact plastics, whilst others are made from man-made fibres with an insert inside. It is wise to have the knife secure in the sheath. Otherwise, it may come out when you least expect it. If you like to hang it from shoulder straps this means that it could spend significant time up-side down.

How much do you want to spend?

There are so many types of knives being sold today that you can find great knives in all price ranges.

Can you use it?

Having gone through all of the questions above, this is the last thing to do! Just because the knife has ticked the correct boxes still doesn’t mean that it is the right one for you. In an ideal world you would ‘try-before-you-buy’ with a knife. Research what others have used in the past.  This is sometimes a good way of discovering what really is useful and what is not.

A well chosen knife can be a lifelong companion; I hope this article helps you find the one for you.

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