When I was a kid my dad asked me, if I were stuck on a tropical island with only one piece of equipment, what would it be? I don’t remember what I said, but it was probably something like a radio to call help or a boat to get off the island or something like that. Of course, those choices run contrary to the conditions of the game – I’m stuck on the island.
Maybe a tent? Maybe a gun? Nope! He assured me that his choice would be a good knife because with a knife you could catch or kill or make whatever else you need – from shelter to weapons, and from fire to clothes.
A knife is perhaps the most useful multipurpose tool ever invented – and you should not ever go on an outing without a pocket knife. There is even a good case to be made that you should never go anywhere without a knife (except for places where they are disallowed like airports and courtrooms and schools).
There are several features that you should know about to help you pick a good knife for everyday carry (EDC).
Folding vs. fixed blades
Beginners and kids always want a fixed blade hunting knife for outdoor use, but fixed blade knives are generally more special-purpose knives like filleting knives or skinning knives. If it is to be an everyday carry knife then I’d get a folder. Folding knives have several advantages.
- More moderate-to-small blade size, which is convenient for everyday uses.
- Folders fold to a smaller size for convenient carry
- They don’t require a separate sheath
Blade smiths and knife geeks are always arguing about the merits of their proprietary locking mechanisms, but for everyday use it probably doesn’t matter much. So long as the knife features a clasp-knife action or an actual positive locking mechanism, it should be fine for EDC.
The clasp-knife action is when you are pulling the blade open it will get to a point maybe 75% or 80% open and it will snap open with a click. Then when closing there is initially a little resistance before the blade releases and closes. This type of action is featured in many congress knives and small pocketknives.
Some folders, however, will have a locking mechanism so that once the blade is opened it will lock the blade open and it will not close until you unlock it. You may have to push a button or a small lever to get the lock to release.
The handle of a pocket knife should be slightly longer than the width of your hand. A shorter handle will dig into your hand when you apply pressure to the blade, and a much longer handle can make it more likely to be leveraged out of your hand.
Pocket folders often feature a non-slip texture or shape to make it less likely to slip.
The pocket clip knife is, in my opinion, the greatest invention since the bread knife! When I was a kid there were no pocket clip knives and I was forever losing knives because they would tear holes in the bottom of my pockets. I finally stopped carrying a pocket knife just because I could never keep up with them.
It wasn’t till years later that I discovered that knives came with pocket clips, and the pocket clip knife reignited my passion for EDC pocket knives.
The pocket clip on most knives is configurable – you can put it on either side of either end of the knife so you can carry the knife point-up or point-down in your left or right pocket.
If you are looking for a good EDC folder, I love and recommend Spyderco knives. They have a wide assortment of all shapes, sizes, and special functions and they are super-durable. If you use any of these photo links to buy a knife at Amazon, the Roaming Parkers may get a commission at no extra cost to you.
This is my favorite EDC knife – the Spyderco Endura. It is not the largest of their models, but it is a pretty large knife. It has a configurable pocket clip, a good strong lock, and a textured non-slip handle.
The handle sticks out of my closed fist by about a half inch on either side and it is a super sturdy knife so you can use the closed knife to hammer on things (not necessarily recommended). It also has a wide spine and a triangular cross-section, resulting in a super-durable blade that can be used to punch through cans or pry against things (also not recommended uses for a knife).
If you want a smaller blade or handle, there is the Spyderco Delica – roughly the same profile and features as the Endura but sized for a smaller hand.
You can get even smaller EDC knives like the Spyderco Chicago! with its 2″ leaf blade