Do you need a knife while backpacking? Yes. How much knife? That depends. I’ve come to the conclusion that a small blade is all I really need for a backcountry trip. I’m not ready to go without some type of knife as a few hikers have.
If I need to cut a piece of cordage, open a package, trim a bandage, or shave some tinder, then a small Victorinox or Leatherman fits the bill. I’ve made the mental and emotional hurdle in my head that told me a larger knife offers vastly greater benefits and better personal protection from scary creatures.
The cutting options I’ve considered are the following (L to R):
The Victorinox Classic — o.7 oz (20g) — Tools: (6) blade, nail file, scissors, screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick. It’s a compact and light package. It has the three essentials for me: a blade, tweezers, and scissors. The toothpick I’ve already lost. You can pick these knives up cheaply on Ebay from sellers auctioning stuff confiscated by airport security.
Razor Blade with paper cover — o.035 oz (1g) — Tools: (1) blade. I carry this in my Murphy bag as a back up. Some folks only carry a razor blade. I’m not ready for that yet. A piece of heavy paper or cardboard makes a protective envelope/sheath.
Leatherman Squirt S4 — 1.9 oz (54g) — Tools: (7) blade, nail file, scissors, large screwdriver, small screwdriver/phillips screwdriver, tweezers, and awl. Again with the nail file. C’mon. But, it does have a small awl and a few screwdrivers to top it off. And… it has an amazing pair of scissors. But it’s twice the weight of the Classic or Style.
Leatherman Style — o.8 oz (23g) — Tools: (5) blade, nail file, scissors, screwdriver, tweezers. This skeletized package is pretty awesome. I like the blade on this. I am almost as baffled by the inclusion of nail files in knives as I am by corkscrews on knives. Duh? I’d rather have an awl than a nail file any day.
I’ve settled on carrying the Squirt as an everyday carry. In the backcountry, I’ll take the Leatherman Style and a razor blade.
What’s your choice of cutting tool for backpacking and why?