SOMETIMES, INEXPENSIVE UTILITY BLADES YOU PICK UP AT YOUR DESTINATION CAN GET THE JOB DONE

If you are used to carrying an everyday carry (EDC) blade, whenever you are without one you feel half dressed. Oftentimes, I will choose my EDC according to what I think my day will be like.

If I am doing a lot of maintenance work or construction, I pick a multitool-style carry. Going outdoors, I’ll choose something suited to those tasks perhaps. If all I am looking for is a blade, the world is my oyster. I am a firm believer that there is a tool out there for every job.

Therefore, what do you carry, say, if you are going to a tradeshow and opening a lot of boxes? Now add the fact you are flying to these tradeshows and you need something that TSA won’t confiscate.

My company started sending me on the tradeshow circuit. Not wanting to be without an EDC, I started looking at utility blade-based EDCs. Surprisingly, there is more than one supplier of these, yet the market is not flooded with them.

I grabbed some knife EDCs from four companies. These knives traveled with me to the shows and got a workout just as my EDC knife when I wasn’t traveling.

The models I chose were the Outdoor Edge SlideWinder, the Gerber Exchange-A-Blade (EAB) (EAB Lite), Gerber Prybrid, the GilTek Ruk, and the Big I Design Titanium Pocket Tool (TPT) (TPT Slide).

For me, these tools fall into the categories of convenient and functional. So, no destruction tests or cutting trials. It was simply, do they work and are they easy to use. Anything else would be pretty much a bonus.

OUTDOOR EDGE’S SLIDEWINDER

(MSRP $14.95)

The SlideWinder is available in three colors: orange, blue, and black. One scale of the knife is stainless steel while the other scale is textured glass reinforced nylon. To open the SlideWinder, simply push forward on the slide and the utility blade locks in place.

To retract the blade, just press the button on the slide.  To change the blade or take it out, you use the same button.

It operates similarly to some of the regular knives, except it is compact. One of the main reasons why I decided to try this style was the fact it used utility blades.

Outdoor Edge’s SlideWinder comes in three colors: blue, orange, and black. If you have a tendency to misplace things when you set them down, I would give the lighter colors a look. The textured scales help the user to maintain a grip on the knives.

When I fly, I can’t take a knife on the plane and checking luggage is a pain and expensive. With this style of  knife, I am able to remove the blade and take the knife in my carry-on bag, and when I reach my destination there are plenty of sources for these blades.

I actually went to Walmart and bought a pack of five blades for 97 cents. At the end of every tradeshow, I took the blade out and stored it in the toolbox for the booth.

There was nothing wrong with the quality of the blades for what I was using them for: I open catalog boxes and other cartons. I can tell you it felt good to be able to have an EDC, and the TSA said nothing most of the time.

The SlideWinder is quick and easy to use. Having a limited amount of the blade sticking out helps prevent serious injuries and helps prevent you from accidentally cutting into the contents of a package when opening it.

Outdoor Edge mounted a pocket clip on the stainless-steel side of the SlideWinder. Given the size of my hands, the pocket clip was a welcome addition, as its added girth aided in my purchase.

If I had a complaint about the knife, it would be that the knife is designed with the pocket clip creating a tip-up carry. With the tip-up carry, you have to do a little manipulation to open the knife, which slows you down.

If they only had it as a tip-down carry, I could go straight away to opening the knife once I drew it from my pocket.

Both the Gerber EAB Lite (top) and EAB open. In the open position, their length is almost double. The carbon blades maintain a good edge but are prone to rusting, especially sitting in a sweaty pocket

Other features on the knife include a point to act as a Philips screwdriver and flat head screwdriver and pry platform. As can be expected, there’s a bottle opener as well.

If you want to drop it into your pocket but still find it quickly, there is also a lanyard hole on the back. I really liked this knife.

It was quick and easy to use even with the tip-up carry. Light and functional, I was pleased to have it. I worked it hard and it did not let me down.

GERBER’S EAB and EAB Lite

(MSRP $15)

Both the EAB and EAB Lite are essentially the same knife with one exception: Gerber skeletonized the frame on the EAB Lite to reduce weight. The MSRP on the EAB may be $15, but I have repeatedly seen it for around the $8 mark.

As the Gerber EAB was a folder, I thought it would be good if it could be opened one handed. I tried replacing the standard screw with a socket head, hoping that the head would make a thumb stud for opening. It turns out the hole was counter bored too deep

Unlike the others in this field, the knife unfolds and locks open using a liner-lock system. The fact it unfolds creates a larger platform for a person to hold onto, allowing the user to exert more force during cutting. The design is clean and sleek.

The pry bar feature on the Gerber Prybrid may not work on 3-inch spiral nails, but it is handy for small jobs such as pulling this stripped screw up until the threads catch.

Gerber’s version of the utility EDC comes with a beefy pocket clip, which can double as a money clip. All around it is a knife that rides the line between a regular knife for size and durability.

One issue I have with it, is that it is not a one-handed opener. All the other knives in the field leave the EAB in the dust on opening.

A second issue is that to change the blade it requires a slotted screwdriver. Having said that, the knife is still a good serviceable EDC and I appreciated having it with me.

GERBER PRYBRID

(MSRP $25)

Gerber may have gone larger with the Prybrid, but the company also went for more convenience. It is a one-handed opener and changing the blade doesn’t require a tool. It has a full frame construction with G10 scales.

Also, it is like a mini pry bar with a knife on board. There is no pocket clip, therefore it has spent the majority of its time in my tool belt working on those never-ending house renovations. It also comes with a bottle opener and cord cutter.

“Finding the right EDC is not as difficult as finding the perfect EDC.”

The EAB models lock the blade open using a sturdy liner lock system. The system is beefy given the size of the tool.

The Gerber EAB Lite on the left is not only skeletonized to make it lighter, but it seems to be a bit wider near the pivot point than the regular EAB.

Here you get an idea of the size difference between the SlideWinder and the Prybrid. The SlideWinder (top) limits the amount of blade you can have sticking out, which adds a level of safety when you are opening packages, so that you don’t damage the contents.

It is a good knife, but I would more likely keep it in its role as a knife on my toolbelt than an EDC due to its size.

Its beefy nature makes it a bit much for the bottom of a pocket, but in many ways, it is well suited for toolbelt work.

I actually use the pry bar feature quite a bit. For example, I lever stripped screws up with it until the threads grab. If they ever come up with a version that has a pocket clip, I would try it more in an EDC role.

GILTEK’S RUK

(MSRP V2 $35 TO $100)

The RUK is a super exercise in keeping it simple. To open the knife, press on the side of the utility blade, lining it up with the track, then push it forward. To close it just do the same and pull it back.

If you want to remove the utility blade just slide it forward until the side spring is no longer pressing on the utility blade. Then you grab the utility blade and pull it out. Things don’t get much simpler.

“…I am able to remove the blade and take the knife in my carry-on bag. …when I reach my destination there are plenty of sources for these blades.”

A side-by-side look at the GilTek V2 Aluminum and the Big I Design TPT. Out of the field of knives, both companies take a minimalist design approach to their tools. In the end, they create a lightweight carry option.

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A backside view of both the GilTek V2 Titanium and the V2 Aluminum. Note the pry bar, bottle opener, bit holder, and cord cutter from here. You can also see how the pocket clip attachment limits access to the pry bar and bit holder.

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The bit holder systems work on the Big I Design TPT and GilTek V2 Aluminum, but they are not something I would readily use in place of a screwdriver. And in a pinch would you even be carrying extra bits with you?

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On the top is the TPT slide, which I have outfitted with a serrated blade. On the bottom is the TPT with a razor edge and on the right is a finger safe blade. You can get a variety of blades for these knives including hook blades.

SOURCES

Outdoor Edge
OutdoorEdge.com

Big Idea Design
BigIDesign.com

Gerber
GerberGear.com

Gil-Tek
Gil-Tek.com

The RUK V2 is available in anodized aluminium and titanium, hence the reason for the two prices.

Other features on the RUK are a bottle opener, cord cutter, and quarter-inch hex bit holder. It is a solid tool if only you bought it for the knife feature alone.

BIG I DESIGN TPT SLIDE

(MSRP $80)

The TPT—Titanium Pocket Tool Slide—has such a long name for such an abbreviated tool. I do mean tool, as the Big I Design Company packs a fair bit into this little piece of titanium.

As well as access to a cutting edge, you have a quarter-inch hex bit socket, a pry bar/flat head screwdriver and a universal wrench.

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The cord cutter works great for stripping single-strand solid wire. Just place the wire in the groove, do one turn with the tool while pressing the wire in, and the insulation will pull off. It is a lot easier than trying to shave it off with the blade without nicking the wire.

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No need to snap the tip of your pocketknife blade off prying on something. I can’t tell you how many tips on pocketknives I have had to regrind for people. These utility knives have pry points built in giving them a bit more versatility in everyday use.

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The utility blade may not be able to fell a mighty oak, but for small jobs, such as stripping Romex 14/2 wire, it is a great little tool. Small utility blade knives are quick, handy, and don’t have to be re-sharpened.

Big I Design has a couple of models, but I chose this one because of the convenience of opening the utility blade. Just depress a button with your thumb and slide the blade forward.

Also, Big I Design includes what it calls a finger safe utility blade with the tool, along with a carrying case that has a pocket for an extra utility blade. The finger safe utility blade, as you might guess, does not have an edge.

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Here I have the pocket clip attachment on the GilTek V2 Titanium. The attachment gets in the way of the pry bar and makes the pry bar inaccessible.

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Big I Design provides a nice pouch to carry your tool and a spare blade. If you were carrying this off body in a kit perhaps, the case would add bulk making it easier to find as well as protect other items from getting scratched by it

Having a titanium construction makes it as tough as a coffin nail and keeps it from rusting. I found the knife easy to use and convenient to carry. I used the included pocket clip more than the case.

Because the button for the slide is on the spine, it is ambidextrous. I liked it so much, I have since moved this into my ankle trauma kit for everyday carry.

SEARCH FOR PERFECTION

If only we could carry a thousand knives at once. Finding the right EDC is not as difficult as finding the perfect EDC. For the most part, these knives do the vast majority of jobs I come across in a day.

As I mentioned, they caught my eye as a solution while traveling. I took the knives on a couple flights each and the TSA only searched my bag once to confirm that there was no utility blade in the body of the RUK.

Other than that, they normally let it sail. I like the concept and they let you go about your business without raising too many eyebrows. KI

 

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