Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rule No. 9

"Rule No. 9 - Never go anywhere without a knife." -- Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS.

I've pretty much obeyed this rule most of my life. While young, Dad let me "find" tiny folding knives with pretty marbled handles and 1.5 inch blades. He'd tuck them on top of the door moldings, I'd get a chair to see if he had hidden a knife over the doorway and got to keep whatever knives I found.

(No, I don't think Mom knew what we were doing.)

In high school, I took to carrying one of these little knives in my purse, rotating them according to whichever color I preferred that week. I never told anyone, and never used one, but felt good having one along. It gave me a sense of security knowing I could sharpen my pencil if the classroom pencil sharpener ever failed.

Then, I switched to mechanical pencils and quit carrying a little knife.

In my late teens-early 20s, I carried a diver's knife strapped below my calf while scuba diving off the island of O'ahu in Hawai'i, mostly off a boat out of Poka'i Bay in Wai'anae, but also shore dives along the North Shore and south shore over to the Blow Hole on the Halona Coast.

I mainly used the blade to crack open sea urchins. Spearing the animal with the point, I would offer it to a nearby moray eel peering out from its hole in some rocks. My dive buddy thought I was crazy-brave to be feeding moray eels this way, and didn't hesitate to tell our dive companions when we rejoined them, but I was never in any danger since I wasn't threatening the eels. Sea urchins are special treats to them because they can't get to the animals because of the spines and the morsel was at a safe distance at the point of my dagger, not in my fingers. It was a calculated risk that wasn't at all risky, the way I did it.

Later on the Mainland, I was given a Classic Swiss Army Knife that I promptly attached to my key ring. Using it mostly to open letters and packages, cut hang nails, file broken fingernails, and trim errant hairs in my bangs using my car visor's cosmetic mirror, it remains a convenient EDC tool.

Years later, I got another Classic SAK for my hiker's survival necklace and a Trekker SAK for my hiking pack knowing I should have a fixed-blade sheath knife in case I ever get into a survival situation because the hinge of a folder is the weakest part and a survival event is the worst time for a knife to break.

However, I couldn't rationalize the cost of the knife I lusted after. A few weeks ago, I finally ordered an affordable survival knife. Made by Benchmade as is the expensive knife I coveted, I got the Rant with a drop point, plain blade that is just under 4.5 inches long. The overall length of the knife is slightly over 9 inches. The sheath is Molle compatible. Benchmade not only has an excellent reputation for quality, the company offers sharpening for life for its plain edge blades for only the cost of return shipping.

At the same time, I ordered a Benchmade Griptilian H2O folder to replace my Trekker. The Griptilian has a modified drop point, plain blade that is under 3.5 inches. The overall open length is slightly over 8 inches; it is 4.62 inches closed.

Popular with other hikers, I don't like the Trekker because of its weight and because the serration starts at the tip of the blade instead of at the base. I also don't like the way it closes. If I don't position my fingers exactly right and am not very careful, I could end up cutting myself while closing it. It makes me nervous.

The Griptilian is much lighter and much easier to open and close. It is very comfortable in my hand, unlike the Trekker. While I might miss the Trekker's awl, I don't mind not having the saw blade because I already had a wire saw in my pack before getting the Trekker. I wouldn't miss the other tools of the Trekker because of the Leatherman I carry for the pliers and wire-cutter.

I'm thinking to use the Griptilian as my motel camping knife as well, to replace the Farberware kitchen utility knife I've been using and don't like.

Remembering Aron Ralston's difficulty in retrieving his dropped multi-tool in the movie, "127 Hours," I immediately threaded wrist lanyards through the eyelets of my new knives using 1/8" utility cord with mini cord locks to cinch them to my wrist so the lanyard isn't loose to slip off and let my knife fall to perdition, thinking a survival event is the worst time to lose a knife.

I'm very pleased with my new knives especially since I got them both for less than MSRP from Amazon Marketplace Sellers and the Rant came with free shipping.

No comments: