Urban Everyday Carry Knife Philosophy

My theory for what to choose as an urban everyday carry knife is rooted in my desire for being prepared and self reliant in a downtown, city like environment. What that really means in terms of what urban EDC knife I carry differs from situation to situation.

There is no one size fits all here.

Considerations That Go Into Picking An Urban EDC Knife

It used to be normal for a man to carry a knife out in public. Quite normal even up until pretty recent, like the 60’s and 70’s. And yes, I know that sounds antiquated at best.

But, it’s not normal anymore. Cities and states are moving away from the acceptance of carrying a knife in droves. That leaves us good citizens with the job of figuring out where we can and cannot carry an urban EDC knife.

You probably also already know that being allowed to carry doesn’t mean your peers will readily accept it. Social norms are changing (and are actively being changed) towards an anti knife attitude. I keep that in mind when walking around with a knife.

So today I’d like to share my ideas on what would make a good urban EDC knife. I realize that this is just my opinion. So when you feel that I’ve overlooked something, please tell me so in the comments, I love to know.

What’s Important In Urban EDC Knife Carry?

A good place to start when figuring out if you can take a knife to work is by reading the workplace rules of your company. Not many companies have an explicit policy against knives, but you should know for sure that they don’t.

Then you should also find out about the laws in your city, county and state. What is allowed and what not? Most states have limits on blade length, some cities have strict rules on opening mechanisms. To be legal you need to check all boxes.

I particularly like this website that provides knife law guides for 50 US states. When all signs are green and you are allowed to carry your particular knife, you still have to take the social aspect into account and be careful.

Just two scenarios for picking your urban EDC knife

There really are just two scenarios, or situations you need to keep in mind when picking your urban everyday carry knife.

The first is when your knife is in your pocket, hidden away and not being used. The second is when you take it out of your pocket to use it.

Besides these two scenarios, which are about the grey man aspect of staying hidden in plain sight, the other large factor is what you want to carry it for. Are you thinking self defense or are you thinking more in the lines of your pocket knife being a tool?

What do I consider picking a knife for urban carry?

It’s all about following the law and company rules and then its about etiquette, social acceptance and the perceived threat and mental stability of us, the knife carriers.

I boiled my considerations down to these five, I’ll go over ‘m in detail.

  1. Utility use case
  2. Low weight
  3. Clip color and carry depth
  4. Overall thickness
  5. Looks

Utility Use Case

Practical or tactical? It’s a choice for many people. Not for me. I’ve decided to dual carry. One tactical knife and one utility knife. Dual carry means making use of your second tier carry option to stash the second (or even third) knife.

I’m assuming here that we’re not dual carrying and that we have to pick one knife.

The use case for an urban EDC knife is cutting packaging, smaller boxes, a piece of rope or a plastic food container. That kind of stuff.

So when talking about picking an urban everyday carry knife I’m talking about utility knives.

And since you won’t find yourself cutting a path through a collapsed wooden structure, or building yourself an overnight shelter with that one knife anytime soon, that utility knife is very urban, small tasks oriented.

When things do get worse, as in SHTF for real, than you might have step up your game quit a bit. For that you have your second tier gear to give you more capabilities.

My advice: Think of the situations you’re ending up in all the time. Pick your urban EDC knife for that. Not for fantasy survival.

Low Weight

When you’re a city dweller weight isn’t much of a concern. You’re not hauling your butt across mountainous terrain. You’ll mostly be sitting in your car, some form of public transport or an office chair. Thus the weight of your pocket knife won’t wear you down and ruin your day as it would in the outdoors.

It does however play a role in another way. Weight is a big factor in both hiding the fact that you carry a knife as as well as in making you feel comfortable.

Suits for example tend to sag whenever you put something heavy in any pocket. The pants will really sag and show something’s in it. Even those of us with just a tiny bit of fashion style, know this won’t fly.

It’s also a really uncomfortable feeling, which is another important point. You need to also literally feel good about carrying this knife, you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable at any time.

My advice: Don’t go to heavy for the kind of clothes you’re wearing. Try out the knife in the pocket you’ll be hiding it in. Does it show? Is it comfortable?

Clip color and Carry Depth

The kind of clip you have on your pocket knife is instrumental in hiding the fact that you’re carrying a knife.

A lot of knives come with bright shiny metal clips. Nice looking, but not so inconspicuous. And even when they’re not bright, or shiny, clips tell the people around you that you’re carrying almost right away.

Same goes for how well your clip hides your knife in your pocket. Not a lot of knives are deep carry, and even those that are don’t always really deep carry… Only few knives have true deep carry pocket clips.

When it comes to the color you should buy a knife that has either a dark clip or one that you can replace or remove.

The removable clip is good because you can take it of, paint it the right color to go with you outfit and put it back on. If you can, replace it with a more urban friendly clip. Get yourself something like these cute Rick Hinderer knives pocket clips.

Deep carry clips are good for their own article. But for now let’s at least say that they should do as advertised, hide your knife deep in your pocket. An urban EDC knife is no good without a deep carry clip.

My advice: Get a small but good urban EDC knife that doesn’t need a pocket clip. Like the French Douk-Douk or Japanese Higonokami knives. If it does have a clip, make sure it is friendly looking and that it allows for real deep carry of your knife.

Overall Knife Thickness

Unless you wear jeans to work, office clothing really shows when there’s something in one of your pockets. I’ve noticed that the material is usually less rigid or firm (I have no idea what the right terminology is here) and that it forms nicely to the curvatures of the body. And also anything else it covers.

This is one of the reasons I try not to put too much stuff into my pockets because it looks ridiculous. Same goes for any knife. Especially when your knife has too much thickness to it, it shows.

The trick than becomes to find a knife that will fit your use case and comes in a neat, flat package. In case you wondered, they do exist.

My advice: Check out knives with profiles that are mere millimeters thick, like the Spyderco Police, the French Douk-Douk or Japanese Higonokami knives. For more inspiration take a look at my ‘Low Profile Urban EDC Knives’ article.

Looks

Yes, I think we have to care about looks too.

There will come a time when you want to use your EDC knife in the office. It could be to open a simple box, or to gallantly help out the lady refilling the coffee machine by opening up a pack of dried coffee for her.

Either way, people will see the knife and instantly have their opinions ready. An opinion on the knife, and an opinion on you. Remember, you’re surrounded by people that think knives are scary.

When your knife looks tactical or menacing in any way, they’ll feel uncomfortable and will react accordingly (‘accordingly’ in an office environment means hiding away and metaphorically stabbing you in the back later). You don’t need that.

I think that there are two possible solutions here. One solution would be to take the multi-tool route. You should know that not all multi-tools are big and bulky. On the contrary, Leatherman has some very nice and small multi-tools in there lineup.

The one I like most for the office environment is the small, colorful and overall great Leatherman Micra. This tool has a lot to offer and fits the environment perfectly.

It boasts a series of tools that could come in handy, one of which is a small knife. Granted, the knife isn’t that big, but it does give you a knife that doesn’t bother anyone. If that’s not enough and you would like a little more knife and a little less tool there are Swiss Army Knives like the Pioneer. Not at all menacing and very capable.

If the tool route doesn’t suit you then I’d look at knives that have been designed to look playful instead of serious. The Hinderer knives could be an option. Although they might be a little to heavy and thick.

A good tip to follow up on are some of the Benchmade knives. They cover all the requirements for urban everyday carry knives. Models to take a look at are the family of Bugout knives, especially the mini’s.

When you do go and pick a tactical knife, pretty much the whole urban everyday carry knife philosophy applies except for the looks part. Put differently, if you carry tactical, don’t let anybody know.

My advice: When you’re working an office job in a progressive environment always hide the fact that you carry a knife. When you do have to show your knife, make it as pleasant an experience for everyone as possible. We’re not out top hurt anyone, so make that point come across by the way your knife looks.

Don’t go Tanto tip, black handle, dark coated blade or large anything. Do none of that. What I advice you to do is to go over to Benchmade and customize a Bugout or Griptilian knife.

Their customization tool is crazy easy to use and you get all kinds of nice colors to choose from. You should really go and check that out.

Roundup

Those are the things I think about when picking an urban everyday carry pocket knife. Is it legal? Does my boss or employer allow it? And if so, is it nice and thinly profiled, not too heavy, does it hide well, and does it look non-threatening?

Two things I didn’t talk about are money and (blade) length. The reason is that it really doesn’t matter how expensive a knife is. As long as it meets the above requirements, it’ll be fine.

Do more expensive knifes fit the bill better? Maybe. I currently carry a small 40 bucks Japanese Higonokami knife and I love it!

Higonokami urban everyday carry knife closed
Higonokami folding knife
Higonokami brass made handle

A purpose build, one-off knife will certainly do it too. But I won’t EDC that knife for all kinds of reasons. Inexpensive knives like the one depicted above do just fine. It’s up to what you can afford and want to pay for a knife.

On the length of the knife I can be quick, if it fits the above criteria it doesn’t matter what the size is, as long as you like it. Logic dictates however that longer blades fall outside the criteria rather quickly.

update: As Granville Hawley correctly points out in his comment I didn’t mention that the legal length of the blade varies by state and federal law. Be sure to check what the laws are where you live.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading this far. I’d love to hear what your philosophy for an urban everyday carry knife is, and especially why, so please leave your comments below and share your thoughts.

Till next time, Kain.

9 thoughts on “Urban Everyday Carry Knife Philosophy”

  1. Yeah I know, this is an old post but I hadn’t heard of Kershaw until you mentioned it, so after scouring Amazon I scored a Brawler1990 and I f*cking love it. But it nevertheless “shows” in my pocket. So thickness is a defining factor, but it “shows” not only so much in thickness as it peeps above my pocket. So using the pocket clasp is a no-no. I simply submerge the whole thing in my pocket and keep going. I love the spring assisted opening – much better than any other method. Very well built.

    Reply
    • Holy moly, that is a great looking knife! Doesn’t look much different from the one I’ve got, same spring assisted opening. I love it, indeed one of the best methods.

      Reply

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