Alternative Carry: Creative Carry Options You Might Not Know

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

When it comes to carrying your knife, you’re not going to find yourself with a shortage of options. I’m sure you’ve seen those movies where someone is going through a security check or being put into jail and they’re told to get rid of everything. Next thing you know, they’re pulling knives and guns out of everywhere--shoes, belts, ties, gloves, pant pockets--the list goes on.

Of course, there are the more standard options for creative knife carry--like the ones that allow you to carry your knife around your neck or tied to your backpack, or there are the customized sheaths that allow you to carry your knife around your torso. Today though, we’re going to leave those more popular options alone in the dusty closet of familiarity and opt for some more exciting carry options that are most likely unfamiliar to you. These carry options are quite innovative (to say the least) and just might develop within you a delightful spirit of paranoia towards the people you interact with on a daily basis.

4 Innovative Knife Carry Options:

Around your neck (paracord or ball chain)

Neck knives are slowly becoming more popular every day. Usually, these types of knives are lightweight with a blade that’s no longer than 3 inches. The sheath is attached to a paracord or ball chain that allows you to simply slip it on or off your neck. Now, just like any other knife carry option, there are pros and cons to wearing your knife around your neck. 

For example, do you really think it’s wise to carry an extremely sharp object around your neck (hello jugular vein!) and right over your heart and lungs? On the other hand, neck carry does provide a fantastic way to conceal your knife while you’re out in public.

If you’re thinking of carrying your knife around your neck, be sure to weigh the advantages with the disadvantages before you spend your money. While it certainly is an innovative way to carry a knife, it doesn’t mean that it’s an option that suits you.

Clipped/attached to your bra

Now this option is definitely limited to the ladies (unless you men enjoy the thought of wearing a man bra--not even gonna go there). Just like neck carry, this particular option allows a woman to arm herself in public without people knowing, and while the risk is the same (carrying a lethal weapon right on top of an extremely vulnerable area of your body), in certain ways, this is better than a neck sheath. Why? Because, unlike neck sheaths, this ensures that the knife doesn’t move around while you move, even when you’re running. Having it stay in the same position will also ensure that no one will be aware of your concealed weapon even when you lean forward.

Attached to you like an ID

There’s no question that your knife would have to be very small in order to fit into a badge sheath. A badge sheath you ask? Just like what the name implies, the sheath is very much like a badge--you know, those fancy ID badges that nurses and doctors and teachers wear--except this particular badge is a sheath for your knife, your really small knife. Actually, badge sheaths are usually already paired with a knife so you most likely can’t use any little knife that you have for this type of sheath. The great thing about carrying your knife around this way, though, is that you can easily carry the knife with you wherever you go and whip it out of its sheath in 1.5 seconds flat.

Clipped to your shorts or pants (without a belt)

Belt sheaths are very popular and it’s easy to see why – quick deployment without much fuss. But what if you didn’t have a belt to attach your sheath to? Should you start carrying your knife in your pocket? What if you have too much stuff in your pocket? You’d definitely have a hard time drawing your knife out when you need it, if that’s the case.

Urgent situations don’t pause in the space-time continuum and wait for you to empty out your pockets to find your knife so that you can fix whatever situation needs fixing. Fortunately, you have alternative carry options if your belt is unavailable. The first is carrying your knife attached to a belt loop in your pants or shorts. The second is to clip it to the strong side pocket of your pants. This way, you don’t waste time searching your pockets for your knife while still ensuring that it’s concealed. In addition, it can be quickly drawn and deployed should the need arise.

Of course, these aren’t the only innovative ways you can carry a knife. Some companies have come up with unique ways to conceal a knife such as inside a fake credit card, a pen, and even a lipstick. It has to be said, though, that these knives aren’t really outdoor or wilderness material; they’re more of a self-defense tool in an urban setting. Do YOU know of any other alternative carry options for knives? Be sure to let us know!

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I’ll Take Sheaths for 500: Choosing the Sheath Material That’s Right for Your Survival Knife

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by Bill Bradford. Used under Creative Commons.

There’s something very satisfying in the *click* that comes as you load your gun, the explosion as you pull the trigger, and the *thud* of whatever it is that you hit as it falls to the ground. That’s a gun though. A knife is meant for stealth--a quiet slip out of the sheath into your capable hands to whittle, skin, slice, or stab.

Your knife is your companion, and as your companion, it deserves to be protected and carried in a worthy vessel. Sure, a survival knife’s sheath isn’t quite as important as the knife it’s carrying, but it still plays a crucial role in every aspect of your knife’s well-being.
Not only does it help you carry your survival knife around without accidentally hurting yourself or anyone else, it also provides your survival knife protection against exposure to the elements. A good knife sheath keeps your blade from getting scratched while you lug it around in the great and cruel outdoors, allows you instant access to your knife, and prevents you from losing it.

So a sheath is definitely important, and if it’s important, then you ought to put a good bit of thought into the type of sheath you want to use to carry and protect your precious blade. The various types of sheaths on the market today are usually designed based on how you want to carry your fixed blade survival knife. Do you prefer to have it strapped to your belt or leg, hung around your neck, or tied to your bag? While the designs do vary depending on the manufacturer, the materials used are mostly the same. Each material has its pros and cons, so we’ll take a little time today to talk about that to help give you a better idea of what kind of sheath material you’ll want for your blade (no matter how you decide to carry it).

Leather Sheath

Leather is one of the traditional materials used to make a knife sheath. It's very rugged, tough, and strong. It won't break like plastic does and can easily be re-sewn should the stitches come loose. A leather knife sheath feels and looks good and may remind you of or even make you feel a part of the “good ole days” when mountain men and cowboys ruled the land. As an added bonus, the attractiveness of a leather sheath only gets better as it ages (if properly cared for, of course). Aesthetics aside, a leather sheath is quite versatile and will provide a custom fit to your knife once it's broken in. The best thing about leather knife sheaths is that they're silent; you can easily pull the knife out or put it back in without making a sound.

Photo by Eugene Peretz. Used under Creative Commons.

While there are many advantages to a knife sheath made of leather, there are also some disadvantages. It's not waterproof (though it can be treated to make it water repellant) so getting it wet a lot or exposing it to extreme heat can dry out the oils in the leather which could lead the sheath to crack. Fortunately, oiling it from time to time can help make it last a long time.

Nylon Sheath

Nylon is another material that is commonly used in knife sheaths. Just like their leather counterpart, nylon sheaths are also tough and strong. Unlike leather though, nylon sheaths are resistant to rot and mildew. They're also not as vulnerable to water as leather sheaths. Another great aspect is that nylon sheaths aren't easily scuffed or torn. The best thing about nylon sheaths (IMHO) is that most of them are MOLLE compatible.

Photo by Jun Wang. Used under Creative Commons.

As for its disadvantages, nylon sheaths don't last as long as leather ones, and where leather sheaths fit your knife better over time, nylon sheaths get stretched out over time which means that your knife won't always fit snugly inside its sheath.


Plastic sheaths (not Kydex) are probably the cheapest ones you'll ever find on the market. You get what you pay for though, so you shouldn’t be surprised that plastic sheaths are quite probably also the ones that are the cheapest quality. A plastic sheath is most definitely an inhospitable home for you trusty blade to be carried for an extended amount of time. If you do get a plastic sheath with your fixed blade survival knife, make sure you replace it as soon as possible.


Kydex is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride (what a mouthful!) material that is used in creating holsters and sheaths. There are several advantages to having a sheath made from this modern material. It's waterproof, scratch resistant (it has a Rockwell hardness rating of 90), and will not stretch or shrink over time (under normal conditions). It remains unaffected when exposed to most chemicals like skin acids. In fact, Kydex sheaths are extremely durable and will hold up fairly well when exposed to different environments. They are also great for the forgetful or negligent person as they really don’t require much attention or care when compared to leather sheaths.

As for disadvantages, one of the biggest complaints about a Kydex sheath is that it's noisy and cannot be used in stealth mode. There’s no such thing as silently withdrawing your knife from a Kydex sheath, and if you accidentally brush against something you can count on your Kydex sheath to make a bit of noise. That being said, there is something particularly smile-worthy about “snapping” your blade into its sheath, but I digress. Because it is stretch proof, a Kydex sheath can sometimes be too loose or too tight for your survival knife (rattle time!). With a Kydex sheath, you do risk dulling your blade’s edge as you repeatedly withdraw and replace your knife into the sheath unless there's an insert within the sheath.

I’m sure price, appearance, and practicality all factor into your survival knife sheath decision, but it’s always important to remember that your survival knife is only good to you if you can ensure that it remains protected and secured. And let’s face it, your knife is more important in a survival situation than the sheath. So, while you're debating on which material works best for you, also put a great deal of consideration on how the sheath will “get along with” your survival knife and how it will help you carry and secure your knife while you explore the great outdoors.


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Four Mistakes You Don’t Have to Make on Your Next Excursion

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by Bureau of Land Management. Used under Creative Commons.

“They” say experience is the best teacher. What “they” neglect to add is that you can also learn from other people’s mistakes experiences without experiencing the thing itself. This goes for any area of life, backpacking and hiking included. No matter how many books you read on backpacking to help you prepare for your first ever hiking trip, you're still bound to make a mistake or two while backpacking. There are a few mistakes that seem to repeat themselves all throughout the annals of backpacking beginners though, so instead of repeating these mistakes, take a few minutes to learn from the typical beginner’s experience.

The Disastrous Dresser

Photo by Loren Kerns. Used under Creative Commons.

We all know that it’s important to dress for success when it comes to the professional world. Well, the same goes for the great outdoors. You'll need to be dressed appropriately if you want a successful backpacking trip. Improper clothes can guarantee an uncomfortable hike. It can sometimes even lead to serious injury. So if you want to avoid having a this-is-the-last-time-you'll-ever-catch-me-doing-this hike, you'll need to think hard about what you'll be wearing.

A lot of beginner hikers think that rubber shoes or sneakers are great for hiking. And they would be during the first hour of the trek. It won’t take much time, though, until this sneaker-wearing beginner is singing a different tune. While sneakers or rubber shoes are certainly comfortable, they aren't built for trekking in the wild. Hiking shoes, on the other hand, can ensure that your feet are comfortable whether you're walking on a flat trail or an uneven one filled with rocks and roots. The height of the boots also ensures that you won't injure your ankle if you slip, stumble, or fall.

As for your actual clothes, many beginner backpackers are unaware how unsuitable clothes made of cotton are for the great outdoors. Cotton retains moisture which means it will take a lot of time to dry out if it gets wet (even if it's just from your sweat). Clothes made from wool, silk, or synthetics are a better option.

The Unprepared

One of the worst mistakes that beginner backpackers make is not getting mentally and physically prepared for a hike. A lot of people think that hiking is just plain walking in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, there's a lot more to it than that. No matter what kind of trail, any hiker, experienced or otherwise, needs to get into shape and build endurance.

Mental preparation for beginner hikers means knowing what your limits are. Many novices are too stubborn to listen to their bodies, feeling the need to prove themselves capable. Unfortunately, this stubbornness and lack of mental preparation can lead to strained/pulled muscles or, worse, injuries due to exhaustion. Knowing when to stop is something that any hiker, experienced or otherwise, should be able to do.

Failure to prepare also means not having the proper supplies or having too much. Some beginner backpackers think that dialing down on the things you'll be bringing with you is a good thing because you won't be carrying much weight with you while hiking. If you lack experience, this could land you in a pit of misery without food, water, appropriate clothing, or whatever else you decided not to bring with you. Some novices make the mistake of bringing too much, carrying a lot of stuff that they won't even get to use. The best way to avoid this mistake is to have a backpacking checklist to make sure that you're neither over-prepared or underprepared.

The Weather Ignoramus

Photo by Wesley Fryer. Used under Creative Commons.

A little rain never hurt anyone, right? Well, that's what most novices think anyway when they hear a forecast of rain on the day of their hike.The weather is actually an incredibly important factor on what equipment (i.e. tent, sleeping bag, backpack) and clothes you'll need for your hike. More importantly, serious weather can mean dangerous trail conditions that novices won't be able to handle.
In order to avoid this costly mistake, make sure that you check the National Weather Service’s website or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website to find out what the weather will be like at the location you’ll be hiking in.

The Novice with a Need for Speed

Novice backpackers are almost always so eager to get to the end of the trail that they tend to rush during the easier or earlier portions of the hike. Unfortunately, this wears them out quickly; they lose all the energy they need in order to get through the rough patches of the trail. To avoid this mistake, keep a delightful mental image of a turtle in your mind and chant from time to time: slow and steady wins the race. With a steady pace, you're able to conserve your energy for the steep climbs or rough "roads" as well as enjoy the beauty of nature surrounding you (wouldn’t want to miss that!). You'll also lower your chances of slipping, sliding, stumbling, or falling, things that could occur when you race through your hike.

Of course, there are plenty of other mistakes that you can make as a beginner backpacker. You could wear your boots fresh out of the box, not taking the time to break them in. You could have brought a first aid kit that rivals those used by Marines. You could bring equipment that you don’t know how to use. Sure, knowing about the most common mistakes can help you avoid them. But let’s be real, you can’t prepare for every little thing. Hiking is an activity that requires learning, where you’re constantly challenged and faced with the unknown. The best thing you can do is to have a sense of adventure and to learn from every hiking trip you make.

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Caring for the Star of Your Survival Gear

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by Mike Petrucci. Used under Creative Commons.

The star of the show when you’re in a survival situation is not your shoes or your axe or your paracord. The star of the show (in my humble opinion) is your survival knife. Think about it. From batoning wood to skinning game to spearing or chopping or as protection, a survival knife is wonderfully multifunctional, and really, essential to a lot of outdoor tasks. Fortunately, survival knives can usually take on loads of well-meaning abuse without breaking, but this does not mean that you shouldn’t take care of them. In the same way that you will always take care of your parents because they took care of you growing up, you really ought to take care of your knife so it can continue to take care of you! (Alright, so your parents might be worth a little more than your knife, but you know what I mean.) So, how should you take care of your ever-faithful survival knife? Here are a few tips.

Tips for Survival Knife Care:

Always keep it clean. 

Your knife won’t live forever, but making sure that you keep it clean will definitely lengthen its lifespan. Keeping it clean will also keep any harmful bacteria that you may have picked up in the wild from being preserved on your blade. No, this doesn’t mean that you have to intensely clean your knife after each and every task you do. Just make it a habit to wipe your survival knife down before you put it back in your sheath. When you are cleaning your survival knife, make sure to use just a little bit of soap and running water to clean both the blade and the handle.


Photo by Arek Olek. Used under Creative Commons

What should you check for when cleaning it? 

  • Make sure there’s no dirt or sap on the blade.
  • Dry both the handle and the blade thoroughly.
  • Check again for moisture, then put it back in its sheath. (Any moisture left on the sheath could lead to rust.)

If your survival knife is made of stainless steel, avoid putting your fingers on the blade because the acid from your fingertips could lead to corrosion. One thing you should never do when cleaning your knife is to use anything abrasive to get the dirt off. This can irreparably damage your knife consequently leaving you with no tool when you just might need it the most.

Keep it lightly oiled.

Oil your survival knife's blade regularly to prevent friction. A small amount of oil can also protect the blade from rust. Lubricating oils such as household oil or oil that can be bought in local hardware stores and firearm supply stores are your best option. Some good brands include Dri-Lube and 3-in-one. You can also opt to use some WD-40 but stay away from motor oil. When oiling your knife, remember to only use a small amount. Also, don't use the oil on the handle if it's made of rubber. This will make it too slippery for your hands which could mean accidentally cutting off your fingers.

Keep it sharp.

While it’s true that a dull knife is better than no knife, even the best survival knife is not really of much use to you if it isn’t sharp--not to mention the fact that a dull knife can actually be a danger to you or to anyone else who uses it. With a dull knife, you're going to have to exert more pressure on it to get it to perform to the same standard as a sharp one. All that extra pressure makes the knife more difficult to control and can cause your fingers injury or even slip through your hands and hurt someone nearby.


Photo by Beverly & Pack. Used under Creative Commons

Since keeping your knife sharp is extremely important, you should learn how to sharpen it yourself. This is an invaluable skill that you may find yourself in need of should you suddenly be in a survival situation with no expert knife sharpener in sight. If you're a bit leery of doing it yourself while you're learning, you can find professionals that will be happy to do it for you for a fee. Whichever option you do go for, just make sure you do get your knife regularly sharpened.

Store it in a dry place.

When your knife isn’t hanging out in your pocket or you boot, it’s best to keep it in a humidity-free environment to keep moisture from getting to it. This means that as much as you might love your sexy leather sheath, you shouldn't leave your knife inside of it if you're going to be storing it for a long time. Leather can attract moisture and the chemicals in the leather can also damage the blade. To keep your survival knife safe while in storage, you'll need to wrap it with paper, place it inside a plastic bag with desiccant, and then put it in a cool, dry place. Some outdoorsmen recommend oiling it lightly before wrapping it to add an additional layer of protection against rust.

Whether you spent a fortune on what you deemed the best survival knife out there or got your knife real cheap, it doesn’t matter. A good knife will take care of you as long as you take care of it. With just a little bit of effort, you can keep your survival knife at your side for a very long time.

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Knife-aholism and the Search for the Perfect Edge: Choosing the Blade Edge that is Right for You

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by Bill Bradford. Used under Creative Commons.

One of the oldest conundrums in the annals of knife purchasing lies in the matter of the blade edge. Straight edge or serrated edge? If you’ve trolled through various forums, you’ll see that the unfortunate answer to which blade trumps is almost always “it depends” which seems like a very non-committal answer (and nobody likes those). So, how are you going to decide which blade edge is the one for you to get?

Rather than telling you that one blade edge trumps another, I’m going to break it down into the three basic blade types giving you a rundown on the pros and cons for each one. From there the choice will be up to you and the functions you deem most important in a survival knife, and this way, you can be sure that you’re getting the very best survival knife for you. 

3 Basic Blade Edge Types:

Plain/Straight Edge

We’ll start off our discussion with the straight edge blade. Though the popularity of other blade edges, particularly the partially serrated one, is increasing, the straight edge is still usually the default choice of many knife manufacturers. Just like its name, this blade edge is plain, without any teeth or grooves. It's easily the sharpest type and can be pretty versatile. One example of this type of blade edge is Cold Steel’s Leatherneck 39LSF. Although the plain edge provides a lot of versatility in a knife, there are some things that a straight edge blade cannot do.


  • A plain edge blade is extremely sharp which ensures better precision and control, especially if clean cuts are necessary.
  • It can also be easily sharpened, especially compared to a serrated edge.
  • Straight edge survival knives are highly versatile because you can "customize" the edge by how you sharpen it.


  • Straight edge knives usually need more frequent sharpening compared to a serrated survival knife.
  • The knife has to be extremely sharp to be able to cut through tough materials such as thick ropes and straps.
  • Sharpening it with a coarse stone in order to create "micro serrations" for easier slicing of thick/tough materials can damage the blade if it's not done properly.
  • Creating "micro serrations" on a straight edge survival knife can reduce the blade's effectiveness for push cuts, where cutting is performed by pushing the knife through the material.

Get this knife if you are planning to:

  • Shave
  • Skin animals
  • Chop wood
  • Prepare food
  • Any application that does a lot of push cutting

Serrated Edge

Contrary to popular belief, the serrated edge wasn't created as a rival to the straight edge. It actually serves as a complement to the other, able to easily perform tasks that a straight edge blade won't be able to do effectively. How do these two differ? Unlike a straight edge survival knife, a serrated one has little teeth that are extremely sharp allowing the blade to cut easily through tough material. One example of this type of blade edge is Cold Steel’s Super Edge 42SS.


  • Extremely effective for cutting through thick or tough, fibrous materials such as ropes and straps even if the teeth are dull.
  • Requires less sharpening since it retains its edge far longer than a plain edge survival knife
  • Doesn’t require as much direct pressure to the object being cut
  • Can inflict greater damage in combat due to its saw-like edge.


  • Not as precise/accurate as a straight edge blade when performing general tasks. It's also harder to control.
  • It's not easy to sharpen.
  • It's not an effective bushcraft knife.
  • In combat, the blade's teeth can get caught in the enemy's clothing or fur which can greatly decrease its effectiveness as a self-defense tool.

Get this knife if you are planning to:

  • Slice bread, rope, straps (i.e. seatbelts), thick wood and cardboard.

Partially Serrated Edge

*Commence angelic singing* This blade edge type is often called the best of both worlds because it combines the plain edge and the serrated edge onto one knife. Either the edge near the tip is plain and the lower part have teeth or the entire edge is plain while the back of the knife has a serrated edge. One of the best examples of this type of blade edge is Gerber's LMF II.


  • A partially serrated edge is extremely functional for both push cutting (the straight edge) and slicing through tough materials (the serrated edge).
  • It's convenient because you have two types of blade edges in one survival knife.


  • The partial serration doesn't work well if used on short blades (those that are 3 inches or shorter) because you'll need a certain length of the blade edge in order for both a plain edge and serrated edge to be effective.
  • Serrations (even partials) are always more difficult to sharpen.
  • The design is not always ideal--sometimes the placement of the serration on the edge is “wrong” for certain tasks. For example, if you’re whittling, you’ll need the straight edge to be near the lower part of the blade for better control or if you are batoning and the serration is on the edge opposite the blade, you’ll end up quickly dulling your serrations.

Get this knife if you are planning to:

  • Own only one knife that can function fairly well for most survival/woodsman activities.

So there you have it--plain edge, serrated edge, and partially serrated edge. Choosing the best survival knife for you really boils down to what you’re planning to use it for and how many you want to carry with you. Of course, then, there’s the matter of knife-aholism (the urge to always buy the newest, prettiest, baddest knife), and I can’t really help you there.

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