Do I Need a Knife?

-- Last Updated: Aug-12-10 4:37 PM EST --

Y'all scarin' me with the knife talk. I paddle a sea kayak mostly on lakes and in sounds. I keep a knife in a dry bag but never kept one on my pfd. What are the odds I'll need one? Is there more risk of entrapment on streams and rivers with lots of trash and fishing line? Any of y'all actually saved your hide with a pfd mounted knife?

(That titanium job looks sexy... please tell me how important it is that I have it.)

No Rambo action
I paddle surf & sea. I always carry a knife, but it’s in a pfd pocket. I’ve cut myself out of snags of abandoned fishing line when paddling under piers and have cut a couple of gulls and pelicans free from monofilament, but that’s as exciting as it’s been. But if you think that knife is sexy then it’s a must have, right?

The odds are low
that you will ever need it. On whitewater rivers there is some risk of entanglement in a throw rope or boat line as Eric mentioned, as well as monofilament from trout fishermen.

A very good outfitter in the SE lost a client last year in South America whose spray skirt grab loop was snagged on wood during a swim. What are the odds of that? There is no certainty that the client could have cut himself loose, but had I been he, I would have liked to have had the opportunity to try.

Then again, a few years back, a kayaker died at the hands of a well-intentioned “rescuer” on the Ocoee. The boater had become pinned and someone decided it was appropriate to cut the guy’s spray skirt to release him. Unfortunately, his femoral artery was severed in the attempt, and he bled out before professional help was available.

If you use rope you need a knife
Whitewater throwropes are the obvious targets but if you use a tow rope, halyards, sheets, vangs, painters or any other rope or webbing while in your boat, having a knife where you can reach it in a hurry, is a very good idea.

I’ve used mine a few times, to head off a life threatening situation rather than because of one. It was reassuring when it worked as advertised.


– Last Updated: Aug-12-10 6:07 PM EST –

PB&J, opening beer.

To spread peanut butter

– Last Updated: Aug-12-10 6:12 PM EST –

and similar things. At least that is what most people seem to use them for. :-)

But seriously, they do come in handy and are essential if ropes are involved. I don't carry an actual knife, even though I have one, but carry in a life jacket pocket a tool for cutting seat belts in case of an emergency. It is very sharp, has no exposed edges, works very well on rope, and takes up less space. Unfortunately it does not cut cheese very well.
Second from the left.

Never Really Used One
I have never actually used a knife, but I carry one, just in case Which is the reason why I tend to forget about them in PFD pocket. I will find them next season all rusted out. So I got a titaniun folding knife. Been fine ever time I checked it so far.

Tsuanmi Chuck freed a baby whale from a fishing net with one once.

Knife alternative!
I carry Scuba Diving & Snorkeling Scissors - Stainless Steel. These are safer and easier to cut rope etc. They are a lot safer to carry and use!

I have used mine for many things

– Last Updated: Aug-14-10 9:22 AM EST –

but so far not life threatening situations. I use a Spyderco H1 steel folder - there are many models of these to choose from. It sits in my pfd pocket along with a benchmade cutter. Folders take up so little room, i cannot see a reason not to have one on you. Fishing line being the biggest culprit for me!

I used mine once
to cut a turkey vulture free from the fishing line it was entangled with.

It followed me around for the rest of the day.

jack L

Use it from my PFD all the time!
I need it to spread peanut butter, open slim jim’s, cut fishing line with hooks dragging from a tree in the river just waiting to snag me. Cutting rope and webbing.

I like the West Marine folding model that comes in serrated or straight for about $20. I like the straight much better.

I’ve broken the scissors before so now I just carry the knife. Whenever it is not on my PFD I cannot remember where I put it until it turns up so I keep it there.

You never…

– Last Updated: Aug-12-10 10:16 PM EST –

You never need a knife, until you "really" need one.

I have always carried one; have never really needed it, but I carry it for that time that I, or someone else might "really" need it. Same reason I always carry a throw bag & a first aid kit. No problem for me to carry those things; don't know why it should bother anyone else.

I have used the contents of my first aid kit to assist others on several occasions. I have lost count of the number of people I've assisted with my throw bag. None of them were complaining.


Trolling for a thank you :slight_smile:
"I have lost count of the number of people I’ve assisted with my throw bag. None of them were complaining.

Ok Bob, “Thank You!” I have appreciated you on multiple occasions :slight_smile:

Gerber Rivermate here…
…You may never need it but if you ever do, you’ll be glad it’s there. I like being prepared for any issues I may have. It does look cool but for me it’s more of a functional tool whether it be spreading pb&j, cutting rope, open cans, etc.

I suspect the average kayaker or canoer for that matter will never need one, certainly not carried on their pfd. I wear one on mine all the time but it’s because we often kayak in groups and I’m very often called upon to be a safety boater, the one that’s called in any emergency. Best to be prepared.

I have a problem with most of the knife holders sold to kayakers, even from top name suppliers lots of these things are pure crap. Would be nice if these companies actually tested their products outside and on the water. I’ve lost several knives that are pretty expensive because their cute little holders don’t hold.

Bill H.

I have that West Marine one and
they stand behind their guarantee.

About two years after I got my first one, it developed some rust on the blade, and one day when I was in West Marine I mentioned it to the salesman. He told me to get it and show it to him, and when I did, without any hesitation, he gave a brand new one.

jack L

Kudzu,just get the titanium knife.
You want it.

Not on your PFD for sea kayaking
For river paddling where the danger of entanglement can be very real, it makes sense to carry a sheath knife on your PFD. For sea kayaking, a knife is more of a liability than an asset, IME. They tend to come out of their sheaths at the worst possible moment, such as when your rescuing someone or being rescued. If you don’t keep it on a leash, you’ll lose it and if you do keep it leashed, you end up with a sharp blade flopping around, which is obviously not a good situation. That’s why I switched to a Benchmade rescue hook several years ago. Their current Model 7H2O is the latest version of the hook I have. It will cut you out of any snags you’re likely to encounter, but it would be extremely difficult to injure yourself with it. IME, it stays in its sheath really well.

BTW, I do keep a Swiss Army knife in one of my dry bags, for the obligatory peanut butter spreading and cheese slicing chores.

only if you’re swimming with this guy

It’s never a good omen when scavengers are following you around.

Just exactly how old are you, JackL?