From simple pocket knives to Swiss Army-style multi-tools, the choices, sizes, and styles of everyday carry blades are endless. If you’re not keeping a good knife on your body as part of your EDC, you’re skipping one of the basic essentials. 

To me, having a knife handy is a necessity. I use different knives for different tasks, but having a good all-around knife is an invaluable tool that you’ll use over and over again. If you’re not currently used to carrying a knife on a daily basis, you may be wondering why you’d need one. 

Ka-Bar Knives
There's no shortage of blade types, like this diverse crew of fixed blades. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Owning a horse, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve grabbed my knife to use at the barn. I’ve used it for everything from cutting hay string while feeding to cutting away a torn blanket to free a struggling horse in an emergency. It’s become instinct to reach for my knife on a regular basis. 

Many knives have tools integrated right into the design of the knife. Some convenient and handy features that many knives now integrate include a bottle opener and/or screwdriver. Swiss Army-style knives generally have several tools, including screwdrivers, toothpicks, and even tweezers. They may not be the hardiest tweezers, but they do come in handy in a pinch … pun intended. 

Glock 19 & Ka-Bar TDI
Your knife shouldn't be an afterthought. It should be one of your go-to EDC items every day. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Here are eight great reasons why you should always carry a knife:

  • Opening boxes – You know, from all those orders.
  • Basic tool – Your knife can substitute for a screwdriver, letter opener, can opener, and a host of other tools.
  • Emergency survival tool – You can cut away debris, cut small branches for a fire, dig, loosen or tighten screws or bolts, and it could be used to help start a fire if you have flint. They are also perfect for cutting seat belts in a crisis.
  • Last resort self-defense – It would be a close-quarters fight, but a knife may just give you the advantage you need to survive.
  • Crafting – You could try whittling, cutting balsa wood, pipe cleaners, etc. 
  • Cutting food – Knives are great tools to have on hand when you need to cut vegetables and fruit on the go. 
  • Bottle opener – My Kershaw Shuffle has been known to open a few imported beers.
  • Impromptu leather punch – If you have horses, you know the struggle. There’s always something that happens out on the trail that requires new stirrup leather holes or an emergency bridle repair. 

It’s not rocket science, but there are few things as shameful as an adult incapable of performing even the most moderate of cutting tasks. Now that you know why you should carry a knife, you need to decide which type is right for you. While any small knife is useful, some types may suit you better than others. I’ve broken down a few popular types of knives with examples of each below.

TDI Knives


Ka-Bar TDI Knives
TDI knives offer you a last line of defense in a close-quarters fight. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

TDI knives are designed for self-defense. An acronym for Tactical Defense Institute, the TDI knife was created by Vietnam veteran and police officer John Brenner. TDI knives have a distinctive curved shape and a fixed blade. 

  • One to Look For: Ka-Bar 1480 TDI Law Enforcement 
  • Style: TDI
  • Blade Length: 2.31 inches
  • Total Length: 5.63 inches
  • Special Feature: Includes a hard plastic sheath with a belt clip

Folding Pocket Knives

Cold Steel & Civivi Folding Knives
Folding knives are a great way to balance blade length with pocketability. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

As the name implies, these are generally made for pocket carry. Pocket knives fold so that one or more blades fit within the handle. It can also be known as a penknife or a jackknife. Pocket knife blades generally range from 2 to 6 inches. The smaller the blade, the easier it is to keep in your pocket. 

  • One to Look For: Kershaw Shuffle
  • Style: Folding
  • Blade Length: 2.4 inches
  • Closed Length: 3.25 inches
  • Special Feature: Bottle opener with screwdriver tip

‘Swiss Army’ Knives


Folding Knives
There's no shortage of folding knives on the market, but one of the most iconic is still the Swiss Army-style knife not unlike the old red blade in the center. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

A popular style of multi-tool invented in Switzerland and manufactured by Victorinox, the term “Swiss Army knife” has become common for this type of knife in general. This style of knife has many integrated tools, such as screwdrivers, scissors, tweezers, multiple blades, can opener, bottle opener, corkscrew, etc. 

  • One to Look For: Victorinox Evolution 23
  • Style: Folding
  • Closed Length: 3.3 inches
  • Special Feature: 17 individual tools, including a magnifying glass and corkscrew



SOG Multi-Tool
Multi-tools are fantastic range companions. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Multi-tools are great EDC knives and range companions. The multifunctional tool does several separate jobs. The best-known multi-tool is a Leatherman, but many companies make great quality alternatives. Multi-tools are also available for a variety of different needs. For example, if you’re an avid biker, you can get a multi-tool specifically made with bicycle tools for you to use on the road. They even make multi-tools specific to firearm needs, like the Ka-Bar Gun Tool. 

  • One to Look For: Leatherman Wingman
  • Style: Multi-tool
  • Blade Length: 2.6 inches
  • Closed Length: 3.8 inches
  • Special Feature:  14 separate tools

Straight Blade / Fixed Blade


Ka-Bar & Buck 120
This Ka-Bar and Buck 120 might be a bit large for most people's tastes, but we think they're worth collecting regardless of size. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Straight blades can offer more strength because they do away with the folding feature of most pocket knives. This comes at the cost of overall size, and they are generally carried in a sheath on your belt or as a neck knife using a lanyard. Straight blades are generally longer than a pocket knife as well. 

  • One to Look For: Columbia River 2382 Biwa 
  • Style: Straight blade
  • Blade Length: 3.02 inches
  • Overall Length: 6.63 inches
  • Special Feature: Plastic sheath that includes a lanyard 
Fixed Blades: Mora & CRKT
Pocket-sized fixed blades are increasingly common and popular. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Fun fact, you never know when your knife may save someone’s day. In fact, my knife once saved a wedding reception. A friend had a beautiful wedding in a state park up in Vermont. For the reception, they rented a lodge deep inside the park. The caterers dropped everything off ahead of time, but no one noticed there was no bottle opener or wine opener. As luck would have it, I had tucked my Swiss Army-style knife into my purse because I’m never without some type of blade.

Ka-Bar Knives
If you needed one more reason to fall in love with more than one knife, it's worth noting they are also a highly enjoyable collecting hobby. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

With so many knives on the market today, it’s hard to know who makes a great knife. Here’s a list of a few manufacturers known for quality knives and a few suggestions on some brands to check out: CobraTec, Cold Steel, CRKT, Glock, Hogue, Ka-Bar, Kershaw, Outdoor Edge, Spyderco, Templar Knife, and Wilson Combat. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

Once you start carrying a knife, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. They fit easily in a front pocket, and you don’t notice they’re there until you need them. Which you will, time after time. 

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