by Brian Griffin July 06, 2018
For a knife that is going to be carried daily and see a lot of use, use by you and probably by others as well if your life is anything like mine, there is a lot to be said for it having a broad range of comfort zone rather than a narrow specialized one. Highly ergonomic bushcraft knives are wonderful tools to have along when you're crafting things in bushes, and well thought out tactical knives are worth their weight in gold in environments of human conflict. However, in the average person's day to day life, with them doing average day to day things, high levels of portability and user-friendliness will serve you better.
Portability is an important factor for me when I'm choosing an edc knife, and this is obviously an area in which smaller knives outclass their larger counterparts. I think the most user-friendly tools of all are the unobtrusive ones we can forget we have on us until we need them. Personally I prefer pocket knives with no moving parts over folding knives. There are multiple reasons for this, but hygiene and durability top the list, One of the benefits of carrying a small fixed blade in a pocket sheath is that the clip stays in place when the knife is drawn, and this exposes the hem of the pocket to less wear and tear over time.
In some ways the term “sheeple-friendliness” also translates into a form of user-friendliness. I much prefer the more civilized method of eating my meals, that is to say that I prefer to cut my food into bite-sized pieces over just taking bites out of my food. I don't mind getting my hands dirty when I am working, but I'd rather them no be messy while I am eating if it can be avoided. Most restaurants provide flatware that is at least marginally functional for this application, but sadly not all of them do. Over the years I have learned that for me this is one area where it is best to follow the Boy Scout motto and be prepared to look after my own needs. In such cases I find that smaller classier knives draw less unwanted attention.
I know that visual appeal shouldn't be the primary factor my choices are based on, so it isn't. But I have no qualms with admitting that aesthetics and cool factor almost always have a say in the things I choose to carry through my life. I certainly like to think of my tools as being cool in my own opinion at least. I definitely don't want to dislike looking at it when I use it, or even worse be embarrassed by it if others see it. Though they can be a lot more environmentally sensitive than man made synthetic materials, with most items I feel that organic materials like wood, bone, and leather have an old school cool factor the other materials are missing. There are some exceptions of course as always. Since they are two-piece and thread together, I like the strength of the titanium just as much as I like the looks in the case of the carbon fiber and multi-colored chopsticks I edc.
Teamwork is an area where crossover user-friendliness is really important to me. When I'm out on a picnic in the park with a special lady, and she wants to use my knife, I certainly don't want to hand her something she finds off-putting. I much prefer to keep the atmosphere light, fun, and conducive to happiness and laughter. Picnic lunches in the local park are supposed to be pleasant moments in time, so to me it just doesn't feel like the right time to go for impressing with tool size without a proper context for good illustration.
If you really want to impress a lady, in a good way, I would suggest demonstrating your ability to reason and solve problems without immediately resorting to anger, force, or violence. At least unless it's obviously essential to a task at hand, and even better if it is a task she would like to see accomplished. Losing your cool and accessing the wine for your picnic via breaking the bottle or mincing the cork, after you realize you've misplaced your cork screw, can quickly bring the fun times to a grinding train wreck of a halt. I watched that from a slight distance once years ago. It wasn't a pretty sight. There is at least one better way that I know of for sure, it involves the ring-and-break and batonning techniques I've taught in previous blog posts. As you can see in the picture above, it lets you have the wine whilst still leaving the bottle and cork intact. Very few of the adults I've known would want to drink a glass of wine with cork sprinkles floating in it, and no-one wants to risk glass shards passing through their nether regions.
If the two of you hang out long enough, opportunities to show off will come long, it's just the nature of things, For instance if she ever complains about vicious invading flora in her yard, you can bring over a parang and take them out with one swing each. By this point, hopefully, you've been able to establish that you aren't a narcissistic neanderthal, and by rescuing her from the painful invaders, you can create a better context. Now the odds will be better that she will see your showing off the size of your tool and your level of skill in using it in a much better light.
Versatility in carry options is another aspect of user-friendliness from my perspective. There are some times when I don't want to carry a pocket sheath. It can be because of the clothes I am wearing, as some of my active wear pants don't even have pockets. Or it can be due to already having a lot of other things in my trousers pockets. It can even be due to the environment I'm in at the time. If I am wading creeks and carrying a knife with a wooden handle in a leather sheath, I don't like carrying my knife low on my body. I prefer to make sure it stays as dry as possible. Sometimes when I am in dense brush, I like having my knife on my chest where I can see and monitor it. So there are times when, for whatever reason, I just prefer to carry a small knife in a neck sheath.
There is a time and a place for everything, and as Solomon points out in Ecclesiastes “to everything there is a season” Large knives are great to have along in the more wild and less settled places of the world, but there is seldom a need for them in a city or much more urbanized areas. So I much prefer to make carry something that makes sense compared to how I intend to use it when I am living the city life. Fortunately, looking at the number of smaller Fiddleback Forge models, it's easy to see I'm not the only one who feels that way.
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