Thursday, July 29, 2010

Appalachian Trail: Knives

Knives are a big concern among many hikers planning to hike the Appalachian Trail. Concerns range from what kind of knife to carry to the legality of carrying knives along the Appalachian Trail.

What knives are being carried?

In 2010, hikers along the Appalachian Trail were carrying everything knife-like -- from large, heavy machetes to small, ultralight, single-edge razor blades. During our recent section hike, we noted a significant number of swiss army style knives and folding buck style knives.

In our own preparation, we bought a cheap $1 folding buck style pocket knife and a small, fisherman's multi-tool for $5 at Walmart. Post-hike, it's clear that we should have left the folding knife at home. The blade on our multi-tool was more than sufficient for nearly everything we had to cut. The only exception was cutting some original moleskin. Neither the scissors nor the blade on our multi-tool was able to trim off a piece of moleskin. The folding knife allowed us to hack off a piece. God bless "Scissors" for having her dad's old swiss army knife at Quarry Gap shelter. Her scissors cut the moleskin just fine.

Our recommendation is to go with the smallest, sharpest knife that you can get by with. Your pack is going to weigh more than you would like, so cut some weight here. Many ultralight backpackers carry only a single edge razor blade. We may downsize to a razor blade for future hikes ourselves, provided we can get our hands on a set of lightweight keychain screwdrivers for tightening our hiking pole clamps.

TIP: Test your knife or substitute many times before departing for the trail.

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