Over the years I have purchased three knives. The rest were given to me as gifts. I guess those who don’t backpack think a multi-tool is essential to backpacking. I often see people post about their need for a significant knife in the back country. We really don’t need a Bowie knife or an axe to survive. Maybe it is a macho thing… I don’t see women posting about their need for a big knife.
All the knives I have been given as gifts (except one) resided in my toolbox when I was a mechanic or in my desk drawer at home. They have been used for a variety of purposes, just not needed when backpacking.
Over the years, the only thing I have needed a knife for is cutting things like paper containers or cord. The handle of a spoon works well to spread stuff like peanut butter. The one exception is cleaning trout, but I haven’t fished for trout on a backpacking trip in over 30 years. And for the small trout I catch in the mountains, a small knife or razor blade would work just fine. Sometimes a small pair of scissors is a little more convenient, but not necessary.
Above are the only knives I have ever taken backpacking. Left to right, top to bottom
- Buck Model 121 with leather sheath. Weight = 7.55 ounces (214 grams). Purchased in 1971 for cleaning fish. Last taken on a backpacking trip in 1977. On most trips between 1971 and 1977 I left it at home.
- Colonial Pocket Knife given to me by my dad in the 1960’s. Weight = 1.34 ounces (38 grams). This was my main knife until around 1985.
- Victronix Classic Knife. Weight = .74 ounces (21 grams). The only knife I used from around 1985 until 2009.
- Derma-Safe Knife. Used on most trips today. Weight = .28 ounces (8 grams).
- A razor blade with cardboard sheath. Sometimes I just take this. I got the idea from Mike Clelland on Backpackinglight.com. Weight = .11 ounces (3 grams).
Any of the above knives are more than adequate for backpacking.
The Colonial knife (top) has 3 blades.
The Victronix Classic (second from top) has 1 blade, a file/screw driver, scissors, tweezers, and a toothpick.
Above: Victronix Classic with all components shown.
Other pictures below.