Today we will take a look at the knife, a tool and a weapon all rolled in one. It all depends how you use it. When a clean and sharp knife is used properly it is relatively safe and extremely useful. However, it is first and foremost a knife.
As a Scout at summer camp one year, one of my fellow Scouts was sitting at the picnic table carving a stick. The knife slipped into his finger and sunk to the bone. He ended up missing a day of summer camp to get the wound stitched up at a hospital near the camp. However, it took another three month and some orthopedic surgery to mend his finger.
I am not telling you this to scare you but rather, illustrate that no matter what you do accidents will happen. If you keep your knife clean and sharp, your chances of such an accident are greatly reduced. As a dull knife is far more likely to slip and cut you.
From the point of view of essential gear... A knife is useful for opening packages, building shelter, shaving wood for tinder, eating, field surgery, cutting rope and clothing, etc. A multi-tool is also a versatile choice.
Now lets talk about a few broad styles of knives.
For most things all we really need is a standard pocket knife. Which is a folding knife, with one or more blades. The earliest known pocket knives date to at least the early Iron Age. I generally recommend a pocket knife, smaller then 2 inches, that locks so that it won't easily fold on your fingers.
Bigger is not always better a smaller blade is better for things like carving, as it offers more control and allows for better details to be carved. I have also heard, though I am not sure if it is true, a smaller blade is sharper.
Another good knife for outdoor explores is the multi-tool. In the most common form, now days, these come in the form of large Swiss Army Knives and a number of different types of pliers. I personally like the plier models because of variety of mobile tools they provide.
Lastly, for this video we will talk about sheath knives. These are knives that do not fold, for example what many people think of for hunting knives. Generally these knives are larger and steadier then folding knives. At the same time, think what would happen if you fell on a closed pocket knife compared to a fixed blade knife.
Please beware of the laws for where you will be. For example in some states you may need a concealed weapons permit depending on the size of the knife. Also in some countries such as the UK, locking knives are illegal.