This article originally appeared in Issue 115 of Singletrack Magazine
Words & Photography Chipps
For this issue’s look at the non-bike essentials that make us tick, Chipps considers a few non-bike tools that can be essential for improvisation in the hills, as well as for slicing cheese.
While bike tools can cope with most foreseeable bike repairs on the trail, those unforeseen issues often need non-bike tools like pliers, zip ties, duct tape and penknives. And if you’re camping, you’ll always need a knife for cutting cheese, splitting sausages or opening packets, so we thought we’d bring you some of our favourites. (Before we go any further, UK law precisely defines the type of knife you are allowed to carry in public. It needs to have a folding blade under 3in/7.5cm that does NOT lock in place.
You can only carry one that doesn’t comply if you have ‘good reason’, but there are custodial sentences if the court decides against you. So, while we know many riders who carry an Opinel for slicing saucisson, or a Hultafors Chisel knife for trimming kindling – or even the ubiquitous Leatherman Wave for everything in between, these are technically not legal to carry in public – which even includes campsites – without good reason.)
With that in mind, then, let’s look at some UK-legal knives that you can carry in your pack for when that cheese simply must be sliced and that kindling needs to be shaved.
Kershaw Pub Carbon
- Price: £28.00
Folded, the Pub knife has a neat carabiner-ready loop as well as a workable bottle opener and flat-blade screwdriver. There’s minimal decoration, with a steel side and a carbon fibre plate on the other. Once you’ve worked out how to get into this neat little knife, which opens a little like an old cutthroat razor, you’re presented with a chubby blade with a 43mm edge.
Best for: Whittling wood, slicing pepperoni, shaving pecorino.
Swiss Army Knife Climber
- Price: £33.00
The Swiss Army knife is considered a classic for a reason. Tough, rust-free blades in a compact form with a load of useful accessories. From opening tins and bottles (and wine!) to slicing and dicing, there’s not much this knife can’t do. The Climber model includes handy (and workable) scissors and tweezers too. Plus it’s something that Auntie Joan will buy you for Christmas without asking what you need it for.
Best for: Every chore around the campsite.
317 Buck Ridgeway EDC
- Price: £36.95
Buck is a well-known name in the knife world. The American brand is over 100 years old and synonymous with folding (and locking) hunting knives. Its UK-legal ‘everyday carry’ knife here has an elegant shape, both open and closed, with a fine point for getting under zip ties, or carving meat from the barbecue. Its warm, wooden handle makes it a pleasure to fondle in your pocket too.
Best for: Cheese, sausages and general chopping.
Creek Cutler Custom
- Price: From £150.00
Just as there are bikes and there are bikes, so the Creek Cutler penknife justifies its ‘How much?’ price by being hand-made by a blacksmith in Norfolk to the client’s specific requests. This is a slip-joint, non-locking knife with a 2.5in carbon steel blade. It has a brass liner and custom plasticised fabric handle. The blade can be carbon or Damascus steel and it’s a tool that you can expect to have forever.
Best for: Kindling, meats, cheese, owning a quality tool.