Rules for Intrepid Living: Rule #5

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Rule #5. Always carry a pocket knife.

I’m an old Boy Scout, an Eagle Scout, and despite years of separation from my scouting days and (hate to admit it) the forgetting of many fine skills, there is one lesson that I have always kept near and dear to my heart; the Boy Scout motto;


“Be prepared.”


The best way to be prepared is to have a good combination of knowledge, experience, and positive mental attitude. But there are other ways to be prepared as well. There are a thousand and one things that you might be called on to do in a given day. It’s always handy to have a tool at the ready to deal with those tasks. The pocket knife is the most basic of tools that you can carry with you to handle whatever comes your way. Of course, it will never be better for tasks than specialized tools dedicated to whatever job you’re working on, but most of us can’t carry a full toolbox around with us every day. Your pocket knife will render you better prepared for the challenges of your day, and you can carry it just about everywhere (airports are out, as are most courthouses, I think).


There are a lot of options for a pocket knife out there. I’ve owned a number of them over the years, and I still have several of them.
A few of the knives I've had over the years.
A few of the knives I’ve had over the years.
They each have benefits and drawbacks, but the differences are most related to intended use. If you don’t necessarily have a use case in mind and just want to have a pocket knife as part of your every day carry, the option you decide upon will largely be a matter of personal preference.
My Gerber multi-tool
My Gerber multi-tool… You can see where I broke the tip off the blade when I was a teen. Don’t pry with the tip of your knife!
The various uses for multi-tools like this Gerber make it a great tool, but it’s too bulky for my pocket and I while I don’t mind having pouches and holsters strapped to my belt while I’m camping or hiking, I don’t care for it when I’m out and about on the town.
A couple of pocket knives that I inherited from my father.
A couple of pocket knives that I inherited from my father.
I love my father’s pocket knives for nostalgia reasons. The locking blade on the Buck knife is an excellent safety feature while the smaller Case knife has two different blades. That can be handy as well.
All the blades and tools that come with my Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
All the blades and tools that come with my Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
Ultimately, however, I’ve been hauling this Swiss Army knife in my pocket every day. The blades sharpen well and hold an edge through a decent amount of use. The various tools are pretty useful too…
It will open bottles...
It will open bottles…
It will open cans…
And it will open more bottles!
And it will open more bottles!
This Swiss Army knife is what works best for my every day carry, your mileage may vary. Regardless of which option you go with, I advise against using too cheap of a knife for too long. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for, and though you may not need a $300 knife, you deserve better than a $10 knife, if only for safety’s sake. Cheap knives usually mean cheap material and/or cheap construction. They wear quickly, making accidents more likely.


Additionally, whatever knife you use, make sure you keep it sharp; a sharp blade is much safer than a dull one, so make sure you don’t let your pocket knife get dull! There are different methods for this, but I prefer to use a whetstone then finish up by stropping the knife on leather. You can check out this article on sharpening over at Indefinitely Wild if you need some guidance, and if you have questions I’m always happy to help.


So remember the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” Be confident that you’ll be able to tackle whatever tasks you’re faced with during the course of your day. Always carry your pocket knife.


Or, for a more in depth look at the varieties, you can check out this pocket knife buying guide.

Rules for Intrepid Living” is an ongoing weekly article that gives potential guidelines for how we can all live a bit more of an intrepid life. 

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