Should I Carry a Pocketknife? 

Should you carry a pocket knife? Yes! Of course you should. This isn’t really an open question, or up for debate.

We’d just leave it at that, but supposing (somehow) you’re not entirely satisfied with just that clear-cut answer. Suppose you’re saying: “C’mon, it’s the 21st century: Do I really need to tote around a knife in my pocket?”

OK, then: We’ll go ahead and flesh out our response. There’s a reason people have been toting small knives around for millennia, and the utility of what might variously be called a jack-knife, a folding knife, or even a little penknife hasn’t diminished in our modern age of fancy electronic gizmos and a (downright sad) trend away from self-sufficiency.

Here’s why having a small folding knife on your person is still a damn good idea.

The Zoomed-Out Picture: Being Prepared

We think a guy still needs to be prepared: prepared to protect himself and others, prepared to fix something broken-down, prepared to tackle any number of everyday tasks without always expecting (or needing) somebody else to do it. (We’re not at all devaluing the concept of asking for help, mind you, or the exceedingly admirable skill of knowing when a job calls for a genuine expert or specialist. Too many of us are too proud or too mule-headed to admit when we’re in over our heads. But we digress…)

There may be no more useful object out there than a knife blade, and, again, human hands have been fashioning and wielding them since time immemorial for countless purposes. The versatility of a small knife is massive, both as a tool in and of itself and as a means of making other tools. For many tasks, there are without question more specialized or appropriate tools out there, but in a pinch a pocketknife is surprisingly adept at getting the job done.

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Life throws a lot at us, including contingencies large and small that you didn’t necessarily see coming. A pocketknife is a safeguard against many of them, at least to some degree. And if you don’t want to be packing everything and the kitchen sink as you go about your routine, it’s the piece of everyday-carry gear—your EDC jack (knife) of all trades—which can see you through nine times out of 10.

The Many Indoor & Outdoor Uses of a Good Pocketknife

From leisure activities and cooking to repair jobs and lifesaving scenarios, a pocketknife can be your best friend out there. There’s a reason many fellas feel downright naked without one. What follows is nothing more than a sampler pack of what a jack-knife can do for you. Some of these applications are standard practice for a pocketknife; numerous others are more ideally suited for specially designed tools, but when precision isn’t necessarily called for—or you’re in one of those SHTF situations—the knife can most definitely do the trick.

But first, let’s throw out the standard word of caution: Don’t get careless when using your EDC blade. Not least for some of the more delicate operations listed below, it’s mighty easy to slice through a fingertip or stab your palm with that hard-working little pocketknife of yours. A good knife owner keeps his (or her) blade keen and always stays aware when wielding it.

Around the House

A pocketknife can be your go-to mail-processing implement, whether you’re slitting open a letter or tackling some gnarly, heavily armored box. Speaking of heavily armored, your pocketknife also comes in handy dealing with those universally hated plastic clamshell packages.

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With a good jack-knife, you can pull staples in a flash, sharpen a pencil, cut a wire or cord, and pry loose those infuriating batteries that refuse to pop out of the compartment. If need be, you can use the tip of the blade, or maybe the edge or spine, to drive a screw or back one out, or to wedge out a nail.

Whether that waistband of yours is slimming down or swelling a bit—no judgment here—use the point of your knife to bore out a new hole or two in your belt.

And hey, with a little finesse, you can even crack open a bottle with a jack-knife!

In the Kitchen

From slicing up an onion and peeling an apple to fileting a fish and deboning a piece of meat, a pocketknife can be surprisingly effective in the culinary realm if, for whatever reason, you don’t have access to standard kitchen/chef’s knives—or are just feeling a bit lazy.

In the Woods & Around the Campsite

We definitely recommend a fixed-blade knife (or three) in your camping arsenal, but no question a pocketknife has plenty to offer in the great outdoors as well—maybe even subbing for said fixed-blade if it’s gone missing.

Anglers can use one to prep bait, mend line, and gut and clean their catches. Hunters might use one to skin small game (and maybe even big game, if the need arises). And foragers, of course, covet a good pocketknife when out and about mushrooming.

Even a relatively small jack-knife can perform impressively when readying a campfire. Fray twig ends or bark to make highly flammable tinder, and cut small branches for kindling. And a pocketknife can, if necessary, handle your main fuel logs: Particularly with a locking blade, you can pound on the spine with a mallet (including a makeshift one) to split firewood.

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It goes without saying a pocketknife comes in handy in all manner of ropework, from cutting and splicing to loosening jammed knots.

In an Emergency

In all sorts of worst-case scenarios, a pocketknife can, quite literally, save your life. You can use one to fashion a tourniquet, for example, or (echoing what we just covered in the previous section) quickly prepare a survival fire. If you or somebody else is trapped in a car that’s on fire or nose-diving to the bottom of a lake, you’ll appreciate that blade for its ability to saw through a seatbelt. You can also bust open windows with a pocketknife, especially one equipped with a glass-breaker at the butt end.

Besides its value in getting a fire going, a pocketknife has all sorts of other potential uses in a wilderness emergency: from erecting a shelter to carving a spear and making a snare.

And, naturally, a pocketknife can be wielded as a self-defense weapon: one that’s quick to deploy and (as far as these things go) easy to use.

Miscellaneous Uses

From burning vehicles and nefarious assailants, let’s swing over to lighter territory with a far-from-exhaustive survey of a pocketknife’s miscellaneous applications. You can use one to:

  • Whittle a woodcraft masterpiece
  • Dislodge a splinter
  • Pop out a nail in your tire so you can patch it
  • Shave (if you feel like tapping into your inner mountain man or Old West miner)
  • Stir your cocktail or mocktail (if you want to up your badass factor)
  • Pop a balloon when the birthday party’s winding down

Get Thyself a Pocketknife!

Have we convinced you yet? Slip a jack-knife or penknife in your pocket post-haste, and relish the immediate feeling of beefed-up EDC preparedness!

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