Being prepared often means having the right tools. A prepper should be mentally/physically prepared and also have the mindset to ensure they're carrying essentials in the event of an emergency, or if a task arises that would require a specific tool.
A knife is one of the most basic self defense tools one can Everyday Carry (EDC). It's also a useful daily tools for basic and urgent tasks.
Before you consider carrying any gear that you may use as a tool for self defense, you must ensure your first tool, your mind, is in proper working order. Visualize your day and the various activities you will be conducting. Visualize an incident and how you will resolve that incident. Ensure your mind is sharp, well oiled and prepared to meet the day. Your brain is the most important tool you will ever carry, everything else is supplemental.
“The more you know, the less you carry.” What an excellent and profound quote. Having a tool is not the same as using a tool. Watching a skill on YouTube or reading about a skill in a book or internet site are terrific things but are no substitute for learning and practicing the skill. Knowing how to fashion tools from everyday items is an excellent skill. If you don’t carry a specific item, figure out how to improvise for it. Learning simple skills could save you some pocket space. This idea is a little more appropriate for the bushcraft survivalist who may be entering the forest for a multi-week adventure in that he could leave rope and fire tinder out of his pack because he knows how to craft cordage and harvest tinder from nature. With that said, it also applies to the prepper. You don’t want to be weighed down with non essential gear.
Consider your EDC carefully and find out what works for you. There is no “one size fits all”. Your circumstances, expected roadblocks, threats, weather, and experience all play a role in what you carry. There is no scenario where you wake up and all is calm in the world. Don’t tell yourself you don’t need your knife or flashlight today. Remember, EDC means everyday!
When selecting a bladed weapon do so with Class; Capability, Legality Access, Size, Speed. (CLASS)
Capability: A knife does things, each knife does things a little better or worse than others. Determine what you need your knife to do. Are you looking for a lethal self-defense tool or a box opener? Do you need something that can double as a prying tool or throwing knife? You likely won’t find one that does everything, (definitely don’t try prying a door with a tool not designed to do that). If you're smart, you’ll find one that serves multiple purposes. Urgency related tasks must be prioritized. If you need a knife to deploy quickly to stop a threat, you will have to forfeit other capabilities.
Legality: Check local laws when planning to EDC a knife. Tt's essential to ensure that your EDC knife complies with local rules and regulations to avoid any legal repercussions. Although we prioritize protecting oneself, it's important to note that breaking the law may result in severe consequences. As we’ll mention next, a clip being exposed on the pocket typically defines the knife as open carried and will deter a concealment violation. Certain types of knives are generally illegal in most states (automatic knives that deploy the blade on a spring action). Certain blade lengths (especially concealed) are often illegal. Check local laws, get a blade that meets the standard for your purpose of carry.
Access: When selecting a self-defense knife, it's essential to choose one that can be easily accessed. Owning a knife that can be opened quickly is useless if you can't access it easily. Pocketdump knives offer a great means of concealment but are hard to access due to the need to fully insert your pocket (this can be aided with a tether/lanyard). The most common method to carry a folder is with a clip that allows the body of the knife to be hidden in the pocket while the clip remains exposed thus allowing you to easily grasp it and deploy. The clip also meets legalise standards. Consider neck worn options, belt attached options, ankle carry options, and boot carry options.
Size: Although not a critical factor, larger knives may be difficult to access, deploy, carry, and conceal. and therefore may not be ideal for self-defense. Choose a blade that can be carried discreetly while also having a blade length capable of reaching and injuring your attacker while also capable of simple tasks. Reach will allow you to make contact with the attacker while keeping your body away from the grasp or attack. A 2 inch blade would be too small to injure the attacker in a manner to allow your escape of the disabling of the attacker. An 8 inch blade may be too large to conceal and too bulky to easily withdraw quickly.
Speed: Self-defense incidents can occur suddenly, so the speed at which you can access and use your EDC knife is crucial. For this reason, knives that can be deployed quickly are generally considered the best for self-defense. Fixed blades are excellent in this regard since they don't require opening before use, and automatic or assisted-opening knives can also be activated quickly. While some folders can also be opened rapidly, they are typically slower than other types of knives (like a dagger) and may not be the best option unless practice is performed. Folders do offer the greatest concealment options and quick access options (for the basic user); folders also extend reach while maintaining a small size. A 4 inch fixed blade may be 8 inches in total length with the handle included, while a 4 inch folder blade may only be 4.5 inches total while close.