Choosing a knife: It’s all about the task at hand

I recently attended the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers conference at Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake of the Woods. Outdoor communicators from all over the country were on hand.

While there, I delivered a cardboard box surrounding a tent awning to Susie Han from Honda so she could set it up for a break-out day. There were eight people nearby as I delivered the box and she immediately asked for a knife to open it. Not one, or two, but everyone standing there whipped out a pocket knife or multi-tool and flipped open the blade. We all just laughed as Han said, “That’s amazing, but I expect it from this group.”

Tim Lesmeister with Fred Feightner (l) from Case Knives at the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers conference recently at Lake of the Woods. Lesmeister is holding up one of the most popular knives that Case manufactures. The Trapper is a two-blade design that slips easily into a pocket and has many different applications.

The following chatter among the knife-wielding crew of outdoor scribes and photographers turned into a debate on the best knife. Some liked the good old Swiss Army knife for its versatility while others like a knife with a clip for the pants pocket. Some didn’t mind the need to use two hands, one for holding the knife, the other to open the blade. Others wanted a one-hand opening ability with spring assist. All agreed that, when it comes to blades, you get what you pay for.

Fred Feightner from Case Knives visited the conference. Case is one of the top knife brands in the world with dozens of different styles to choose from. I asked Feightner what his top-selling pocket knife was – “The biggest seller is The Trapper,” he said. “That is the most prolific of all knife patterns, whether it is Case or any other brand. There are more of those on the market than any other style of knife. You can check out the selection in any hardware or sporting goods store and see immediately this is a very popular model. It’s a pattern that has been around since 1910 so there are a lot of them out there.”

Feightner said that a knife is merely a tool that can perform many functions, but all the components of a knife must function flawlessly to get the most out of it. So choose a knife with quality components but also quality craftsmanship. Feightner says you can’t hone a good blade from bad steel, which is why Case uses only American steel for all its blades and they manufacture their own components.

So what does Feightner carry?

“I’m a Case traditional guy so my favorite knife is the Mini-Trapper,” he said. “I want something that is not too big, but not too small. I want it to fit comfortably in my pocket but (to be) extremely functional, thus it has more than one blade.”

If one knife did everything we wanted, there would only be one style. When it comes to knives, the sheer volume of options proves that the best option is the one that works best for the task at hand.

And this begs the question:

“What’s in your pocket?”

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