Do I need a knife?

and all that other crap you guys carry around on the chance that “hey you might need this”, and “hey, better to have it and not need … and blah and blah”. i’ve not carried one of those PFD knives nor needed one in 35 years of sea kayaking. i also don’t carry the following:

alarm clock


ear muffs


letter opener

scotch tape


paper clips

hair brush

dental floss

TV remote

pencil sharpener

small ruler

picture of my dog

spare computer keyboard

ash tray

four changes of clothes

4ml, 5ml, 7ml, and 11ml ropes in 500 foot lengths

2 spoons and 3 forks

extra PFD

two pairs of reading glasses

pad of writing paper

extra pack of wrigleys doublemint gum

walkperson CD player and eleventy six CD’s

collapsable kitchen sink


two compasses even though my boat has one affixed

walking shoes

2 gallon bucket

coffee cup

electric toothbrush

stamps to mail letters

tennis racket

full cogset for my mountain bike


you guys that carry 70 pounds of gear you just might need, slay me. no wonder y’all are so slow. hahahahahahahah.

- 2 gallon buckets are good for bailing

  • Coffee cup can get the puddles that the bucket can’t
  • Gum is good for plugging small holes in the hull
  • Electric (battery-driven) toothbrush is essential for good oral hygiene while in the wilderness

    ** And **
  • Floss can be used as suture material when you injure yourself with your knife!

Me too

– Last Updated: Jul-23-05 5:11 PM EST –

Scouts and growing up hunting/fishing/camping sort of made me a knife nut. Some of it is genetics. While going through some of my grandad's old tools while moving recently, I was struck by the number of his knives that I have. There are filet, carving and utility knives, a couple of pocket knives, even an oystering knife. All the blades show signs that he spent a ton of time sharpening them.

I try to keep a small clip-on folder (Gerber Easy Out) on the lash tab of my vest at all times. The small size and the serrations on half the blade are just right for cutting rope and similar tasks. I usually have another knife or two along. I'll often have another clip on folder in my pocket and another knife in the dry bag along with a Leatherman Tool or Swiss Army knife. I'm a little absent minded so having a couple of backups insures that one will be available. One in my pocket keeps me from using, then mislaying the one on the vest.

My favorite knives are the small Nordic utility knives These are light, well made, relatively inexpensive and easy to sharpen and handy as heck for regular camp and outdoor tasks.

but bill …
i’m paddling a kayak, not a barge. ok … ya talked me into the bucket though.

Hey, hey, hey…liv2padl
Don’t knock people for carrying a picture of their dog. How can I brag well about him when he’s not with me if I don’t have the picture.


Replaced walkperson CD player and
eleventy six CD’s with an I-Pod and six dozen batteries… you can’t have too many batteries in a kayak…

Spyderco Atlantic Salt
I just got one of these for myself. Blade is made as not to rust, even in salt water. It has, what is called a “sheep’s foot” blade. This is a not sharp point bladed, they are used a lot by rescue workers. It has a hole for a lanyard, reversible clip. The cost is somewhere around $45.

Do I need a knife
There are several on-line places to get good knives. One is Atlanta Cutlery at (they have all sorts, some cheep, some very good), than there is AG Russell at (usuall high end knives) than there is Smoky Mountain Knife Works (don’t know their web site). Do get one with a partial serrated edge, either a folder or a sheath knife, than keep it on your person for easy access.

A swiss army knife is very usefull also.

Good luck

Cutting Rope
Unless you are in whitewater there is no real reason for carrying a knive on your vest to cut rope. Hang around a boat ramp on a WW river and see how rarely it’s done then. A friend of mind was made fun of because of his. He didn’t wear it at the end of the trip. If you ever happen to need a knive in a rescue situation it will probably be helping someone rescue an empty boat or raft. Don’t think you’re going to do a self-rescue with your knife. Quick release buckles on your PFD add far more to your safety than a knife. People who die while wearing their vests often do so because their vest gets snagged on a tree while in strong current. They fail to take their vest off and drown.

why a sea kayaker should carry a knife
to cut a rope off of himeslf if he capsizes or gets entangled during a tow. There are alos occasional stories of sea kayakers getting entangled in fishing line.

In my club you cannot even carry a tow rig if you do not have a knife, hook or shears poised for quick access.

I guess I should carry a knife every
time I am on the water, but in 32 years of canoeing and kayaking, I have never had occasion to use one for anything rescue related.

It’s kind of like being caught on a wide river in a lightning storm. You’d love to have a charge dissipating tower mounted on your head to avoid being struck, but when have you been struck before?

know anyone ?

– Last Updated: Jul-24-05 3:08 PM EST –

know anyone who ever got tangled in a tow rope? neither do I! you should affix a tow rope such that it's set up for quick removal, both from the boat being towed and from the person using the tow rope.

why not carry a defibrillator as well. and a snake bite kit, and an insulin hypodermic, a pair of splints, a lightning rod, an intubate, a chest tube, and on and on. you can carry this beyond the point of lunacy. wait!!! i think you already have.

Go for the jugular
I see a lot of sea kayakers with a sheath knife attached to the shoulder strap on their PFD. To me it seems in just the right place to cut your throat as you draw it, especially if you’re being Maytaged at the time. I suggest mounting it at waist height and using a blunt-point knife.

I’ve gotten tangled in a tow rope
during rather interesting (and revealing) training. It did not get tight so I was able to slip it. I want to be two steps fron death at minimum, carrying a small dependable cutting tool increases my margin of safety.

I know (and trust the veracity of) people who know people who have been entangled in fishing line. Stories have been published.

I have never set off the air bags in my car, but I am glad they are there.

Knife would have saved life.
Our local river is riffly, but not fast or whitewater. A woman drowned several years ago when her braided hair snagged on a tree and held her underwater. If someone had a knife, they could have cut her braid and freed her. So I carry one…and keep my hair short…

I carry a knife at all times
A sharp edge is a very basic tool and not akin to carrying a lighting rod or intubator. I find 1001 uses for a knife every day. I see no reason whatsoever I should not have a small knife affixed to my pfd. One may very well be able to go 50 years without NEEDING one on their PFD, but that’s not an argument against having one anyways.

You could carry a knife on your PFD for a lifetime and never need to deploy it in an emergency. But I doubt you’d go fifty years and NEVER deploy it at all. It’s handy, that’s all. For some people it can save a life, for others it never does more than save a couple seconds of rifling through a gear bag.

Reminds me…
of a discussion that went on among danish seakayakers some years ago.

One guy suggested carrying gear for lighting a fire, in case you get stranded somewhere along the wild and savage coastline of Denmark.

For pete’s sake - in a country with 125 people pr. sq. kilometer one should think walking to the nearest house or even picking up your cellphone would do. But no - where’s the romance in that.


I carry a knife but I have elected to carry a small but sharp pocket knife. Gerber makes a stainless steel three inch witch fits my needs nicely. You never know when you will need a knife in an emergency and it is an easy tool to add to your standard fair. It will also come in handy for all sorts of non-emergency applications when out paddling.


Is the cost too high to carry one?

– Last Updated: Jul-25-05 7:39 AM EST –

If I was a salt water paddler, I probably would not keep a knife clipped to my PFD. It seems like it would be a big hassle trying to keep even a good knife from rusting in that environment. Is that the real reason for not bothering with it?

I like the way you put things…

– Last Updated: Jul-25-05 8:01 AM EST –