Monday, November 22, 2010

Size of Blades or Knives in Survival Situations

My Razor knife, shown above, is the only blade I've used on my long distance backpacking trips, including the Pacific Crest Trail, and thru hike of the Appalachian Trail.
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I built this and other shelters without any tools. The bow saw shown in this photo was brought on this trip to clear blow downs on the trail leading up to this mountain hideaway so my camera man could do some filming.
It was not used to cut any limbs or branches for this debris shelter which is large enough for two.

I took a survival quiz and one of the questions I got "wrong" dealt with the size of the blade.

As a minimalist, I've learned many techniques which do not require any blade. I've analyzed my packing/hiking/shelter building skills and realized I've never used a large blade. What is the ideal length and weight of the Ideal Blade?
Its the one you have with you. Regardless.
It must be sharp. A heavy dull blade is worse ( having little value and is actually dangerous) than a razor sharp two inch knife. Whatever length you normally have with you is the one you will work with in a survival situation.

The longest outdoor knife I've ever owned has a 4 inch blade. It fits my hand. I seldom bring it because it's heavy by ultralighter's standards. I've made stoves using a small blade, cut and sewn gear using a razor knife.
When building a camp fire, don't waste time cutting firewood into lengths with a knife or blade. Two ways to deal with long logs is feed them in, or build the fire with the middle of the logs in the center of the fire.
As far as hunting and skinning animals, or self defense, the best knife is one that feels comfortable in your hand, which can not be wrested from your grasp. For me, that's a small blade. I have learned to identify edible plants which are bountiful, knowing that actual hunting in survival situations can be time and calorie consuming. More on that later.
As a chef, I use significant knives while in the kitchen. I leave them there. My minimalist ultra lighting tendencies cause me to carry a small, razor sharp tool. My skills are built knowing that's what I will have with me.
So the bottom line is to get used to carrying the knife you want to have in a survival situation.

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