Do I need a knife?

-- Last Updated: Jul-22-05 7:59 PM EST --

I went paddling a few weekends ago with a group of experienced paddlers. Several of them carried knives. They seemed to think this was essential gear, even though the water we were paddling was quite mild. So, my question is, should all paddlers carry knives? If so, what kind? The folks I referred to had what I would call "dive knives" - pointed stainless blades with plastic handles and locking, quick-release sheaths attached to their PFDs. When I paddle, I wear a Sospenders PFD, so I don't think I could attach a sheath to my PFD. A blunt-point knife seems safer to me. But do I really need one, and how should I carry it, if I can't attach it to my PFD? And, if I do need one, where on the 'net should I look? A lot of the ones on eBay look like Chinese junk.

I’d say yes
especially in LA. I saw a buddy of my get snagged by a trot line hook hanging from a tree, hooked him on the pfd luckily, but he was hooked, the barb had him good, but a quick move by pulling his knife from the pfd, he cut him self loose and continiued down river. He cut the hook out of his pfd at the lunch stop. I do a lot of fishing from my canoe and it is nice to have so handy. Plus you can look macho with a big knife strapped to your pfd, invokes all sorts of images of rescues or slaying beasts.

Do you have a rope?
…then you need a knife. Murphy’s Law, corollary 13.2 states: “Anything which can entangle you, will. And usually at the worst possible moment.”

A knife doesn’t have to be fancy, hi-tech or expensive, just easy to see and easy to access. I carry a cheap river knife in mind-numbing day-glo orange under the bungees of my deck bag. I can find and deploy it in seconds.

What is the Boy Scout Motto? Let’s say it together. “ALWAYS BE PREPARED” I do think that a knife is an important part of your paddling equipment. Good example from the previous reply about getting caught up in the line. It my never happen to you, but there will be a time that you will be needing a good knife for what ever situation you got yourself into. There are so many knives out there to choose from, so shop around, and find what you like, and make sure it is a good knife, and not some peice of crap.

I thought this was about self-defense…
…as in, if you paddle in “the wrong end of town” …

Someone going by “BayouBill” has to ask?
Seems like a knife carrier’s name if I ever heard one!

I like blunt tip BCD knives. They’re like dive knives but smaller and fit nicely on PFDs, serrated one side, straight on the other, and usually a line hook. Blunt tip safer and useful for other things.

if for nothing else than
to spread the peanut butter at lunch time.

River Goddess

Do I need a knife?

– Last Updated: Jul-22-05 11:18 PM EST –

Do I need a spare paddle?
Do I need a pfd?
Do I need flotation?
Do I need a first aid kit?
Do I need fire starting material?
Do I need a throw bag?
Do I need more than one canteen of water?
Do I need a flashlight?
Do I need a snakebite kit?
Do I need my prescription medication?
Do I need sunscreen?
Do I need a wetsuit?
Do I need a change of clothes?
Do I need food?
Do I need a tent?
Do I need raingear?

The list is endless, but I have some easy answers for all those questions. How much trouble is is going to be for me/you to carry it? What happens when I/you need one, or more of those things, and I/you "don't" have them? What are the weather & river conditions?
Take a first aid kit for example. Do I need to carry one? I've never used any of the contents of my first aid kit on myself, but I have used it to assist numerous others. The last time I used my Sam splint, and an ace wrap from my first aid kit on somebody else's broken wrist.
So, do I need to carry a first aid kit?
I carry a small river knife by Gerber(blunt tip/serrated edge) on my pfd; it is mainly there because I paddle whitewater, and am concerned about possible entanglement in some of the canoe's outfitting, either by myself or one of my friends. Have never used it. Will I quit carrying it? Nope!
Am I going to take it off my pfd because someone is concerned about me wearing it? Nope!
Never seems to bother anyone I paddle whitewater with.....I've got a pretty good idea why it doesn't bother them. It is good for spreading cream cheese & peanut butter too!
Besides Gerber you might take a look at models by Spyderco, Bear Claw, and Benchmade. Might also check out a Rescue Hook(NRS has them) instead of a knife.


For some of
the urban paddles my bro has done, sounds like he needs to carry a gun of paddle elsewhere. Drug dealers hanging out. But for paddling, yes I carry a knife. Never know when ya might need to cut yer way out of something.

Ooohhh Knives!!
I carry two. A sheath knife on my belt and a Swiss Army in my pocket. I like the sheath because it’s easy to get to when I need it and it makes me look like some badass Northwoods guide or something (in my mind anyway). The Swiss is handy for all kinds of duties from gutting trout to tightening a screw. Don’t leave home without one.

Why do you ask? Expecting company?

– Last Updated: Jul-22-05 10:42 PM EST –

Just kidding. I've been carrying a blunt tip BCD knife since I took my first sailing course many many years ago. It attaches to my PFD and I don’t even notice it some times. I also have a compass, a whistle and a thermometer attached to my vest. I also carry a Leather Man packed away.

"Better to have and not need......."

I carry a Spyderco clipit in my shorts & a Gerber River Shorty in my dry bag. Over the years, I’ve cut down tons of hanging fish hooks. You never know when you will need to cut rope for tie downs & etc. You can go for lots of paddles & never need one, but sooner or later, you will.

a knife is priceless when needed. If there are things that will tangle and threaten your life, (ropes, straps, fish lines, etc.)you need a SHARP knife. Easy to get to.

Gerber makes a good lock-back called a Gerber Gator. The grips are a soft rubber comp., that when wet grip your hand with out slipping. Nice touch. Good knife. Safe paddling.

I’ve never regreted bringing things

– Last Updated: Jul-23-05 9:26 AM EST –

But I have regretted NOT bringing things.

I carry a hooked blade spyderco on one side of my PFD for cutting line and a Gerber multi-tool for cutting wire (and other uses) on the other side.

My favorite knife is

– Last Updated: Jul-23-05 1:41 PM EST –

(as you all know by now) an emerson lagriffe WWR (white water rescue)). Its compact, sharp beyond belief, handleable with dry gloves, quick to deploy. The CRKT bear claw is a cheap knock off of this design. The lagriffe is so simple, just a piece of fine steel with a 1.25 inch serrated blade, blunt tip, very large finger hole and a curve to fit your hand. best price I found was at I coat mine twice a year with boeshield T9 and wash it after 90% of ocean trips. I do not favor folders for tactical applications. You should see the automatic knife (front opening switchblade) that one of the USCG rescue guys had on him during a demo I was at. Safe and fast; designed for salt water, and illegal for me to carry.

For most paddlers I recommend sea snips emt shears (well made, big handles, and safer than a knife). For those of you who might have to cut a paddler out of a boat I do recommend a knife.

Yes and no
Although I’ve carried them in the past, I’ve never found a need to have a knife on my PFD for sea kayaking. However, I do carry a rescue hook in case I need to cut a tow line, fishing line, etc. The problem with sheath knives is that they have a nasty tendency to come out of their sheaths at critical moments. Once loose, they are an obvious hazard, particularly if they’re on a lanyard. I’ve had that happen more than once, but luckily never got cut. A rescue hooks is safe, sheathed or not.

Folding knives are somewhat safer, but they’re also slower to deploy. Doing so with gloves on can be extremely slow, if not impossible.

I do carry a Swiss Army knife and a multi-tool in my gear inside the boat, as you never know when one will come in handy onshore.

Do you need a knife? Maybe not right this minute, but you will sometime. Take anything except my knife. If I have it I can make just about anything to substitute for what you have taken. Obviously, within reasonability. Keep it SHARP, clean, and safely sheathed where it won’t surprise you.


I always carry a pocket knife
It is rare that I’m without a pocket knife. In recent years I have been surprised at the number of people who are agast at the idea of having a knife. They always ask the same question; “do you carry that for protection?” They seem to have no concept of the vast uses of the pocket knife. Some people, read my mother-in-law, are convinced that it is illegal is some way to carry a pocket knife in public.

Not a day goes by that I don’t use my liitle knife for something, and rarely does a paddling trip not have need of my knife. I guess it is just my Boy Scout background, but I say, carry a knife when you paddle always, and consider a small folding pocket knife for daily use.


No Knife Needed
In your situation a knife isn’t needed. It is nice to have though. I carry one in my deck bag but not on my body. It’s too easy to get snagged there. River people carry knives close at hand because the current can cause dangerous entanglements. Flatwater paddlers are better off keeping their knives on deck somewhere. Having said that I carry a Leatherman, on me, almost everywhere I go.

Okay, then,

– Last Updated: Jul-23-05 3:40 PM EST –

based on all this much-appreciated feedback, I think a good paddling knife would have these features:

- Blunt-tip blade for safety, prying, and peanut butter spreading
- Noncorrosive, nonfolding, serrated blade, maybe with a straight edge or a line cutter on the other side of the blade
- Lanyard ring (maybe not a good idea, but would rather have the option)
- FLOATING, easy-to-grip handle (based on my experience with fishing knives, I think a floating handle is essential, especially if not using a lanyard)
- A reliably-locking sheath made from a submersible material, that can be mounted various ways (belt loop, pfd, arm or leg, deck bungie)
- Sized right (not a shark-killing monster dive knife)
- A price that doesn't require taking out a second mortgage, but not a Chinese-made piece of junk

Any specific suggestions as to manufacturer, model, and where to buy? TIA for the help.