Like all other realms of human endeavor, we knife enthusiasts and survival skills practitioners have our standard slogans that pass for wisdom. Some of these seem to contradict each other, while others can be used to support a questionable argument. The Boy Scout motto “Be prepared” is about the best advice ever given regarding wilderness survival. Then one hears the phrase, “A survival knife is the one you have with you when you need it.” I couldn’t agree more…to a point. Upon closer examination however, one sees the conflict. If I am prepared, how do I get stuck out there (wherever out there is), with whatever happens to be in my pocket? What happened to preparation?
Examples abound of folks making it out with the most modest of cutlery. Aaron Ralston saved himself from death in the canyons by amputating his own arm with a knockoff multi-tool. A logger here in the Pennsylvania woods was pinned by an oak, which fell the wrong way, and saved himself by amputating his leg with a flea-market folder that he used mostly to scrape gaskets and chainsaw bars. Sure, any knife is better than no knife, but when survival is at stake, I want my best shot at it.