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Picking a Pocket Knife: Knife History and Evolution

Knife Development

Over time as man has developed, so too have the tools he uses. Since the days of cavemen, instruments and tools have been an essential part of human survival. One of the first and most widespread human instruments is the knife.

The development of the knife is remarkable. From the first piece of human obsidian to the modern hardened stainless steel knives we have today. There really is a knife for every task. However, the pocketknife stands out as one of the most useful, convenient and comfortable knife applications.

The pocketknife as we know it today is the result of many years of evolution. For centuries, knives have been used with a sheath, on a belt or harness, outside of clothing. This was for many practical reasons; nobody wants a sharp piece of steel along the inside leg without protection! With the invention of the pocket, a common feature of modern pants, and the advancement in equipment technology, the pocketknife was born.

Essential Features

The first folding pocket knives were made of iron with a bony handle. Both large and heavy, time saw the design slowly but surely improved. With better materials and advanced production processes, we now have pocketknives that are smaller, stronger and lighter.

Premium materials

Current pocketknives utilize a broad range of types of steel, bone, wood, plastic, aluminum or composite handles, and a large number of different locks and electrically operated opening mechanisms. The designs range from bright colors and themes to camouflage designs with black leaves. There are many different specialized shapes and styles to suit whichever outdoor activity man chooses.

So many applications

No matter your outdoor activity, the right pocket knife is an essential part of your toolkit. How do you use a fishing rod without a knife to clean the catch? The same applies to small arms, a complex bow or a game trap. Hikers, climbers and campers will share stories about how their pocketknives helped them escape sticky situations during their ventures to the country.

Rescuers and soldiers regularly wear pocketknives to assist in search and rescue operations.

One pertinent story includes an American outdoorsman, whose arm was trapped by a boulder in a Utah canyon. After several days without rescue, he resorted to saving his own life by amputating his arm!

Whether for first aid, comfort or simply preparing a meal, there are many important uses for a trusty pocketknife.

Things to consider

Choosing the right knife for your needs is just as important as taking it with you. When it comes to choosing the right knife to carry, there are many things to consider. First of all, you should think about the activity and the most important life characteristics. When you’re backpacking, you can look for lightweight materials like titanium to keep your carry load light. When fishing, you might seek a knife with gut hooks or a tool with pliers.

Make sure that the characteristics of the blade suit your needs. Then think about the materials that best suit you. There are many types of blade materials, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. If you are white-water rafting, you may want something that is corrosion resistant. Some materials are easier to grind, but may not hold such a long edge. Many resources are available to help you determine which blade is right for you.

Tough knives

Durability is also an important factor. Wood is a pleasant aesthetic choice and easy to grip with a wet hand but may not last as long or be as durable as some available composites. There are also different types of supported opening and closing mechanisms. Take time to consider how you’ll use your knife and choose the most applicable features.

The development of pocket knives has given rise to a wide choice. There are specialized pocket knives for every possible application, in every color and from different manufacturers. No matter what you do outside, it is important to have a reliable pocketknife with you. Picking the right knife could be a decision that saves save your life.