Question of the Day: What is your “Emergency/Go-Bag” knife.

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Kentucky and Tennessee got clobbered by a series of storms that even spawned several rare July tornadoes.

First, let me start by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with those folks in Claiborne County, TN who are picking up the pieces after an EF3 tornado leveled homes and businesses Sunday night. Though I have been without power for more than 24 hours now, I am not claiming any particular hardship. We are all safe, the only particular damage was from the hail shredding my garden. And that damage was by no means complete.

I am not preparing for the Rapture, at least not in the material sense. In a true EOTWAWKI scenario that will be measured in years and not months, my preparedness is probably lacking. I know I need to put together a “go bag”, I just haven’t gotten around to it. What I have done is prepare for a 6-week disaster where I will shelter-in-place with my  family – something like an ice-storm that can wipe out most of East TN for upwards of a month . We have enough rice and beans to sustain us for more than a month. Our house is masonry and has a basement. In 2011 we had an EF0 land 1/4 mile from our house. Other than the racquetball-sized hail doing a number on our roof, the house handled that storm just fine.

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The hailstones did not damage my roof this time, but my squash got obliterated.

I live in an area on a peninsula of only 500 homes with the typical lot being at least an acre and a half, so we are very low density. Thus, we are among the last in the area to get our power restored after a major event (40k were without power last night, we are now among the only 1000 remaining. Lucky us).  After two 5-day outages in 2011, we had about 1/3 of our house moved onto a separate panel and bought a 6500w Honda generator. We keep about 20 gallons of 100% gas on hand which will last up to 3 weeks if we are careful. If, like in this case, we can easily get more, then we don’t need to worry. Since food, water, heat (woodburning stove in the basement) and power are taken care of. And with a 5 and 3yo, it would take a pretty serious incident for us to consider leaving.

Since our Telecom comes from the opposite direction as our power, this afternoon, I managed to run some extra extension cords and was able to hook up the TVs and the router. I am now sitting in a mostly dark house writing this on the internet with the TV on in the background. (Just a quick shout out to David for realizing I was out of action last night (from a Facebook post I sent from my phone, thanks!)  and adding a post to the queue for today (or yesterday I guess now).

Last night I used the back of my mini-Grip to open the panel which hides the starting cord for the generator (the battery is long dead, but like most Honda small motors, it is a cinch to pull start) – I can’t remember the last time it took more than a single pull. It made me think about my emergency supplies, and in this instance the Leatherman  Wave that lives in my gear closet with the supplies I would grab, even if they are not pre-packed. The Wave has a couple of blades on it, but I don’t have a particular knife that is earmarked for my “Go” supplies. I always have at least one EDC knife on me, usually 2 so I am likely to have a knife to complement the multi-tool. But if I get serious about making a kit, I will probably include the Benchmade High Canyon as it is a solid bushcraft knife, which makes it a versatile tool for anything I encounter. I would grab my Mora Bushcraft, but it lives in my fishing gear. And the purpose of this exercise is to discuss what knife if any is waiting on standby for an emergency, not my favorite knife that I would grab on my way out the door.


So that brings me to the QOD:

Do you have a go-bag, and do you have a particular knife that is your SHTF knife? Just for our edification, what else besides a knife is in your kit?



  1. MD Matt says:

    We have an echo sigma er2 kit which contains a hunting knife, a sog fast hawk, and 2 Swisstools.
    In an SHTF situation, I’d probably be grabbing at least my Kershaw R.A.M. EDC, and another fixed blade, either the Gerber MKII or the Cold Steel braveheart.

  2. Brett says:

    I’ve got a SOG tomahawk on one pack and a SOG Seal Pup on each pack. Each pack also has a Victorinox Camper (or equivalent) inside.

  3. Glad everyone is safe and sound Clay!

    I keep an emergency bag in my car, and it has a Leatherman Wave. My go-to blade to grab in an emergency would be my Becker BK9 with a couple of diamond sharpening plates stored in its sheath. Versatile enough to handle chopping, smashing, and even not too bad as a machete in a pinch.

    Between the Leatherman, the Becker, and my EDC (Benchmade Ritter Mini-Griptilian, and Wenger EvoGrip S16 Swiss Army Knife), I am pretty well covered bladewise.

  4. Zach says:

    I have a tiny emergency kit that I keep in my Camelbak when I’m hiking, and I keep close by to grab in a pinch.

    In that, I just have a little Leatherman Juice S2, the one with both the main pliers and the scissors option. I figure I would also have my EDC knife, which has a larger blade.

  5. CM says:

    My BOB (a blackhawk 3 day assault pack) has a Leatherman multitool and a Gerber Prodigy along with a pack axe and a Benchmade rescue hook.
    The smaller GHB in my trunk (maxpedition versipack) stores a Gerber EVO multitool and a Glock field knife.

  6. Mike L says:

    Having gone thru most recently the Hurricane Sandy aftermath, I did some noddling on the whole survival equipment, bug out bag, etc. This was done mostly in the dark. My neighborhood was without power for 8 days. If I can give a quick synopsis that might be helpful or at least stimulate your own thinking.

    1. Very quickly I realized that electric power makes our modern world spin. The few who had generators where lucky. BUT, quickly they realized that all the gas stations within a 2 hour drive had either no juice themselves to pump gas, or their deliveries weren’t happening. It turned out to be quite the circle jerk for around 20 million people. Another observation was that criminals also rose to the occasion. The incessant drone of a generator, with lights on in the house, in an otherwise dark neighborhood, was like playing some weird mating call for mosquitos. Crews of guys with a pick up truck started to steal the generators sitting outside. Stop, jump out, pull cords out of the thing, haul it to the truck. Gone in 60 seconds at most. At 3am in the morning it was a done deal.

    2. As for “a plan”. If, as I did with the family, decide to shelter in place, than I had all the tools and equipment of the house and garage. I wasn’t going to be doing anything unusual for the duration. Actually less. Like no lawn mowing. LOL so nothing much to do here.

    3. For a brief period I thought about fleeing outside the impact area. Made me realize that I couldn’t pack up the garage for the trip. Much like my old camping/hiking days, decided that if I couldn’t pack it in, I was to stop fixating on it. So, no I wasn’t going to carry my chain saw with me. Neither the computer etc. For the mobile scenario, I decided on the following: 1 pack, 10 essential items as a goal. That was it. Water, Food, Medicine, gas, knife, gun, communications (FRS and AM crank), was the core of it. My thinking is that light is right. Make it thru each day with the absolute minimum.

    4. Finally for the blades I chose what sits on my nightstand every day. A folding Ontario XM-1. BUT and this is a big but ! I also decided that single edge razor blades would be super useful. Without going into detail, I’ve had a chest tube inserted with the help of razor blade. Think about it. You can go to Home Depot and pick up a hundred blade pack for 6 or 7 dollars. The pack is small enough to fit in your pocket. Each one is “razor” sharp and doesn’t need to be sharpened. They are delicate enough to do minor surgery or make a zillion ad hoc little things that come up in life. They are light years ahead of anything Daniel Boone had. I’ve cut up squirrels and small game with them. I believe these little gems are well worth including in any BOB.

    1. Thanks for the great response and suggestions. I hope that it stimulates further discussion as it is certainly worthy.

      Living in East TN, at a high enough elevation above Fort Loudon Lake (even if a TVA Dam failed, we are well above washout level), the only major disaster that would cause us to need to leave in a hurry would be something nuclear at Oak Ridge. And even then I am far enough away that I am not necessarily going to take the governments word to evacuate without having time to get my shit together.

      This isn’t to excuse not formally having a bug out bag. As Napoleon said “Ask me for anything but time”. With a 3 and a 5 year old, it is on the list of things to get to. Some of what I would like to have I have not yet achieved a level of redundancy that my ___________ isn’t already in daily use. But I am an Eagle Scout who takes the “Be Prepared Thing” seriously. It isn’t far from the camping closet and food storage to the back of the truck, and I have a running checklist in my head that I update constantly. As the protector of my family, I feel comfortable with where I am prep wise, mindful that is is an ongoing thing and you are never really “there”.

      I have a bunch more to write, addressing some specifics of your post. But the kiddos are up from nap and I have to go. One early contestant for the bag is my newly arrived Benchmade Steep Mountain. If it tests the way I think it will, it will be a knife that I can leave in a bag unchecked for months on end in the TN environment and be comfortable the S30V steel won’t rust.

  7. PeterK says:

    I grabbed a glock field knife on amazon. Cheap and durable and sharp enough. I’m not that picky.

  8. Marmot says:

    A quick note about rice: It has been recently discovered that rice contains harmful levels of the poison arsenic. Unfortunately, the only rice that is good for you metabolically, brown rice, has the highest levels of arsenic. Therefore you should dump that rice you have stored and double up on canned beans, green peas, powdered milk and such.

    1. The BPA in the Bean cans will give me cancer too. Barbecued meat will give me colon cancer. It is all a cosmic crapshoot. My mom survived breast breast cancer. My dad had two angioplasties and died of Lou Gherig’s disease at age 52. I am frankly more worried about heart disease and try to act and eat accordingly. Cancer is completely random. My grandmother really, really didn’t take care of herself and lived well into her 80s. My grandfather survived getting hit by lightening twice and died at age 83 of an aortic anurism while being driven to work (my pick for the best way to go). I know someone who flipped a light switch and his house blew up, killing his son. He and his wife landed in their neighbors yard. I knew a stabbing victim. As the locals in East TN say, “Ain’t none of us promised a tomorrow.”

      I try to stay Zen about my mortality. I could get eaten by a bear or get swept away in rushing water too. I think that not stressing about the whole thing adds a few years to your life. I relish my role as Mr. Mom and I know that that is the best launching pad for my kids should God forbid something happen to me.

      In the words of the late, great Warren Zevon from his final interview on Letterman, “I try to enjoy every sandwich”.

      1. I_Like_Pie says:

        That was a much nicer reply than I could have produced.
        Arsenic in my rice huh? Heaven forbid I drink a glass of apple juice.

      2. Tom in Oregon says:

        Great philosophy. I figure every day I wake up on this side of the grass is a good day!

  9. Tom in Oregon says:

    A Criswell on the pack with a leatherman inside. Jetboil, 2 mtn house meals, 2 bottles of water, water filter, Armalite survival rifle with 50 rnds of mini-mags, small first aid kit. 3 ways to start fire, 100 ft of paracord, large garbage sack.

  10. knightofbob says:

    I don’t have a centralized pack, but if I had to pick one blade from my collection as an all-purpose, only one I can have, I think I’d go with the classic Ka-Bar. Talk to me in a few years when I finally manage to keep enough money together to buy a Randall Model 1, and that decision will probably change. I’m as big a fan of the latest and greatest as the next guy (probably more in several cases), but I’d take comfort in having something proven over such a long time. I also have the classic Case pilot’s knife, and keep a GLOCK survival in my car.

    Ideally, I’d have something tough and utilitarian, and something else more aggressive, like the Boker Applegate-Fairbairn or one of my Gerber Mk IIs. Though I’d hate the idea of leaving behind my Pentagon, and it doesn’t take up too much space…

  11. MikeH says:

    I currently keep a Mora companion in my truck emergency kit, and that would have to be my go to knife to leave in a bag as I like to use my others. I would definitely make sure I have a fixed blade in the bag so it would complement my EDC folder.

  12. VaqueroJustice says:

    I have more than one knife in my Bob. A small buck folder and an older leatherman wave are complemented by two fixed blades: a buck nighthawk and a cold steel bushman. A hatchet rides on the outside of the pack. I figure that covers just about everything.

  13. Kap says:

    EDC, a Stockman pocket knife and a Leather-man Kick on my belt, SERE packet contains a 2″ knife, Razor Blade Box cutter with spare blade, First aid kit 2 E-xacto blades with cut off handle and a pair of scissors.
    Sling Bag contains a Mora and a Kukri, Large bag add a rifle mans Tomahawk and either a K-Bar or Ontario fighting knife, Knives used can be sharpened with a rock if necessary! Occasionally a Machete or Hatchet will be added to my camping gear along with pocket chain saw, straight blades preferred (makes it easier too sharpen)

  14. Senna Marpat says:

    The Leatherman Wave (1st gen) and Cold Steel Voyager or Recon 1 I use for work live in my purse do that’s covered. The BOB (a large but innocuous Jansport) contains a Becker BK7 with the old 0176 steel, single edge blades, and a machete heavy enough to cut fallen trees if need be. My husband has his own bag similarly equipped and a medical supplies pack. Our plan consists of throwing the bags in the truck, followed by a twenty gallon plastic bin filled with whatever food can fit in it from our current supplies (plus the MREs, beans, and stuff that is already in there just for that purpose), followed by a tent, blankets, and clothes chucked into another bin and lastly as much water as will fit. Total time from making the decision to leave to turning the truck on is about twenty minutes at most. It would look a lot like one of those shopping spree game shows. If we ever have kids, some of that is going to change.

  15. Mike says:

    I’m in the process of building a bag myself, picking up pieces here and there when I remember or find something that really looks like it will work (not the best way, but it’s getting there).

    For blades, I’ve got a SOG Seal Pup attached to the front of a shoulder strap, and a generic multi-tool in a front pouch. I also have my SOG Trident EDC, and a SOL Origin survival kit (backup knife, backup compass, backup firestarter, etc. all in one small assembly). There’s a Kershaw Camp 10 that is in the truck I could also grab if need be.

  16. ChuckN says:

    I take 3; a multitool, an axe currently a Cold Steel hawk
    and a durable fixed blade, an Ontario Rat 5 in D2.

    While each has some overlap I feel that they are different
    enough to warrant the extra weight. I also have a folder
    and razors/scalpels in my EMT kit as well as my usual
    EDC. In addition to my BOB I also made identical survival
    kits for each of my vehicles. These contain an e-tool, an
    axe and a short sturdy machete.

  17. Jim Bullock says:

    Thank you all for your replies. I’m rethinking the BOB, and stay-put supplies so this is timely. For me, I have:

    – A mora, in the BOB, which is a surplus alice pack.

    – A one-shoulder messenger / computer bag I carry pretty much all the time, with a leatherman wave among its “emergency” gear, and a small scalpel-sharp blade in the medical stuff.

    – A pocket “EDC” cheap stainless folder, which works well enough.

    I can do a couple days with what I carry every day, and nearly every where. The BOB will do me for a week or more, in more style.

  18. Jim Bullock says:

    I just realized I could ask y’all…

    I’m looking for an upgrade to my EDC bag, right now a decent messenger that holds a 17″ laptop, plus gear for “car broke down in the middle of nowhere, in a storm.” I take the “computer bag” everywhere so the exception gear comes along without attracting attention. Just a nerd with his nerd-stuff. Nothing to see here.

    I’d like to be able to take both the nerd-bag and the BOB – an alice pack good for an uncomfortable week, depending on weather – on foot, should it be time.

    Net nerd-bag requirements:
    – Holds a 17″ laptop & accessories, plus EDC stuff, mostly medical plus 2 days afield.
    – “Passes” well enough in the nerd pool.
    – Conceivably can be co-humped with an alice pack, or similar.
    – Durability and pockets would be nice.

    All thoughts welcome.

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Question of the Day: What is your “Emergency/Go-Bag” knife.

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