For most of us, carrying a knife every day is the most natural thing in the world. We've been doing it since we were kids, and we really don't give it much thought -- it's just what we do.
Still, wondering aloud about what makes a good everyday knife could be a useful exercise, so we decided to share our experience on the subject.
How will you use your knife?
When you reach for your EDC (everyday-carry) knife, you'll want to have "the right tool for the job." And that begs a question: What's the job?
Consider what you do every day, the kinds of tasks that'd go better if you had the right knife, and be as specific as you can.
Opening mail or boxes? Quartering apples? Cutting zip-ties or flex-cuffs?
When you begin by getting a clear picture of what you'll ask your EDC knife to do, you'll have a good start on choosing a tool you'll be pleased with.
Do you prefer a folding knife or a fixed blade?
This question may have caught you by surprise -- on their own, most folks don't even consider a fixed-blade knife for EDC.
Before you limit your choices to traditional pocketknives and folders, you should know that many small fixed-blade knives are just as comfortable in a pocket (carried in a proper sheath, of course). Keep your options open.
How will you carry your knife?
You know your habits, your routine and your personal preferences -- what you're comfortable with and the stuff that really bugs you. Those things will shape your decision to carry your EDC knife in a pocket or a purse, on your belt or in your briefcase.
Where do you go every day?
Take note of where your daily travels take you -- not just the places you go, but the people you encounter.
It's an unfortunate fact of modern life that some folks don't love knives as much as we do. They may even see blades not as tools but as weapons -- gasp -- an inanimate object that strikes fear in the hearts of the innocent.
These are the people who'll lose their minds the first time you deploy a spring-assisted folder to make lunch.
Okay, maybe you don't care about others' reactions, and that's up to you, but we suggest you consider it anyway when picking out your EDC knife. It just might save you some annoying paperwork one of these days.
What are your state and local laws governing knives?
While we're on the subject, another sad aspect of today's culture is the tangle of laws, some of which ban fixed-blade knives (of any length) and limit folding blades to two inches.
Silly? Sure -- but you still should be aware of your local and state laws before strolling out the door with a new EDC knife.
How often will you have two hands free?
If you expect to have both hands available when you open your EDC knife, then almost any knife (including slipjoint pocketknives) will be fine. But if you often find yourself with just one hand free, think about going with either a fixed blade knife, a one-hand-opening folder or a folder with spring assist.
Do you enjoy maintaining your knives?
Some people are meticulous about their knives, while other folks just use them and don't care much about maintenance.
If you prefer a no-fuss knife with an edge that's easy to touch-up, you're probably a candidate for a carbon-steel blade -- it may not hold its sharpness as long, but touching it up is a breeze. And if you tend not to wipe your knives clean of oils, food residue and moisture before putting them away, you should strongly consider stainless steel blades.
Ready? Choose it and use it.
By this point you should be anxious to choose an EDC knife -- so do it. Now the fun begins.
You won't know if you picked the right knife until you've put it to work -- not just holding it or shaving strips of paper, but actually using it.
You may not have your answer for weeks, possibly months. Maybe even longer. And that's fine.
Just remember, not every knife will be right for you. Not every knife will be a keeper. You'll learn something new every time you set out to find the perfect knife -- for EDC or any other purpose -- and you'll get to enjoy this process all over again.
To us, that's the best part.