It would be pointless to try and review the stunning array of knife choices you face when selecting a blade for your backpacking trek on the Appalachian Trail. Rather than wade these waters, I will share my own experience and choices. I hope they usefully inform your own.
Like some backpackers, I probably own too many knives. Fixed-blade, folding, small blade, blades as part of a multi-tool. They’re good choices and I might use a different one for each trip, depending on circumstances and needs I foresee.
Let’s use the “If you were stranded on an island, and had to choose…” question.
Opinel (oh-peen-el) makes a wonderfully light, study folding knife that holds its edge a long time and has most often been in my pack.
- It’s easy to sharpen and keeps that edge for the duration of my trip.
- It is light.
- I prefer the comfort of a wooden handle.
- The blade locks easily with a “ring” device.
- Useful for delicate cutting, such as mincing onions and garlic.
- Reliable for tougher work, cutting cordage and wood.
Also, I include a small Swiss Army Knife, which has a small blade, a nail file, a scissor (really handy!), toothpick, tweezer. This fits in my first-aid kit and makes an excellent backup blade.
Think “light” when choosing your knife. Forget commando knives, Bowie knives, machetes (yes, I have seen them on the Appalachian Trail!) Make your choice based on practicality and not for fear of wildlife or unstable persons you might meet.