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Knife or multi-tool for EDC: Which one to choose and why?

Knife or Multi-Tool For EDC

When it comes to what type of survival knife to carry on a daily basis, there are many really good options to choose from.

You have to consider what you want to do with it and how you intend to carry it on a daily basis. There are many things to think about like, what is your purpose for carrying? In what type of situations will you be using this knife or multi-tool? Will it be for work or for the weekend at the campsite?

Do you have an office job and need it for small uses on a daily basis or do you intend to use it on the construction site? And, perhaps the most important question of all, what is the price point that you are looking for?

All these things have a big part in your decision-making process. To help you get a better idea of what to think about when purchasing a knife, you can refer to our top bowie knife post.

This article will answer those and other questions about whether it’s better to carry a knife or multi-tool and why.

Clearly, the first question in your mind is, knife or multi-tool? Which one is better for EDC (everyday carry)? As a person who does a lot of maintenance work, it is my opinion that a multi-tool is best for EDC. This is because it has a knife, which answers the question of what to do if you need a knife, and it has several other tools also. Most multi-tools will have some kind of a screwdriver, knife, pliers, and maybe some other things depending on the quality of the tool. Obviously, the more money you put into it, the better the quality and items you will have on it. 

The knife for EDC

First, let’s consider the value of a good knife.

Everybody needs a good knife and not even for self-defense. You may need it simply for cutting straps or opening packages or whatever.

My wife carries a knife in her purse for just such occasions.

The value of a knife is found in simply having a handy tool available everywhere you go, all the time to handle those unexpected little jobs that come up in normal life.

There are many different types of knives to choose from. Check out this interesting article about some of the differences between tactical and non-tactical knives.

Foldable knives

The first type you might be familiar with is a spring lock folding knife. These aren’t a true locking folding knife. They just have a spring that helps to open the knife and then hold it in place.

But, there’s no actual lock such as you might have in a lock-back knife, for instance. 

What is a lock-back? It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s got a pressure switch on the back of the knife handle.

When you push the switch in the blade unfolds and when fully open the switch locks it into place.

This is probably one of the most popular folding knives out there.

Another type of knife is technically two different kinds but they are very similar. They are the liner lock and the frame lock.

They both operate on the same basic principle but the liner lock locks the knife from inside the handle and the frame lock locks the knife in the same way but the lock is incorporated into the handle itself. 

On both of these knives, when the knife is opened the lock slides into place. To unlock it and fold the knife up again, simply push the lock to the side with your thumb and the blade will be free to fold up into the handle.

Fixed Blade Knives

Now having concentrated on folding knives is not to say that there aren’t good fixed blade options.

Also, if your main use for the knife is to be out in the field hunting or camping, for instance, then a fixed blade knife should probably be your main choice.

However, a folding knife can be a good back up. But, for EDC purposes, a fixed blade knife can be a good choice.

There are some knives that have blade lengths no longer than three or four inches or even shorter.

They can easily be slipped into a pocket or attached to a belt inside your shirt if they have a belt clip on them.

Fixed blade knives are also generally going to be stronger since most of them are a single piece of steel that runs the entire length of the blade and the handle.

As always, do your research and make the best choice for the best quality at the best price.

The Multi-tool for EDC

What about the practicality of a multi-tool for EDC? I also think that having a multi-tool is good for those little quick jobs that come up every day.

Do you need to tighten a loose screw on that chair in your office or at home? Use your multi-tool.

Do you need a pair of pliers to quickly twist that wire on? Use your multi-tool. A multi-tool will also have a knife.

So, that will cover both bases, so to speak. Does the average person need a large multi-tool in their pocket every day? That’s probably going to be a no.

But, a small multi-tool with some basic stuff on it would be more than sufficient.

Just like with knives there are many different name brands and varying qualities.

The cost of the multi-tools varies GREATLY. I’ve seen them as cheap as $20 and as expensive as $500. Here’s an article for the best multitools of 2019.

Multi-tool types

Multi-tools have some extremely varied forms. 

Most look like what you would expect a multi-tool to look like. They have a handle that spreads and all the tools pop out of it.

When closed it looks much like a folding knife. The fun comes in when you look at some of the other types of multi-tools.

There are some that are simply very small versions of the bigger multi-tools. They are small enough that they can even fit on a key chain. So, of course, they would easily fit inside your pocket.

There are others that literally look like a key when folded up and closed. They could fit on a key chain and no one would ever know it’s there unless you told them.

There’s even a multi-tool that looks like a bracelet and, one would think, could be worn as one.

What sense would it be to make it look like a bracelet and it not be able to be worn as one? It’s really a very neat tool and can do just about everything that other multi-tools can do.

Then, of course, there are the multi-tools that are large and can be worn in a sheath attached to your belt.

You could also throw these in your pocket but a multi-tool that big would be rather bulky in your pocket.

What are the biggest differences between a knife and a multi-tool?

It could be safely said that the biggest difference is form and function.

A knife has a specific function. It can be used in a survival situation to great effect.

It can be used to cut branches or to skin and cut game for cooking over a campfire, for instance. It can be used, in extreme situations for self-protection.

Although if you have been reduced to using a survival knife to protect yourself, it’s safe to say that things have not gone well for you.

Knives can be used in many ways in the wild. A fixed blade survival knife is strong, sturdy and able to handle the harshness of life in the woods.

On the other hand, multi-tools have a great many and varied uses.

Of course, they can be really good at the job site or in the wild. However, if you don’t have a good quality one, it might not be able to handle the harshness of life in the woods.

If you get a quality one, though, you’d better be prepared to put down a nice bit of money on it. You can get them for as cheap as $20 or $25.

But, those won’t be tough enough to handle extensive use in a harsh environment. This is one of the biggest advantages of having a good fixed blade knife.

They are simply made and don’t have all the moving parts of a multi-tool. This makes cheaper one’s tougher.

One of the disadvantages of a multi-tool is all the moving parts.

The more moving parts you have, the greater chance you have of something breaking.

The more money you drop on a multi-tool, generally the better quality you’re going to have. A really good one should be able to handle the harshness of extensive use.

So, of course, it goes back to what functionality you are looking for and what use you need.

In the cold and wet of a hunting trip in the woods or a fishing trip in the ocean, perhaps a good fixed blade or quality folding knife is called for.

If you are looking for something convenient and quick that can easily be used for fixes and maintenance issues, a good multi-tool would be what you’re looking for.

Wraping up

Every knife has its function and its price point. The same can be said for multi-tools.

With every tool, whether it’s a knife or a multi-tool, quality is key.

We all know that quality varies, so do your research. Brand names matter and some are better than others. 

For me, a multi-tool is the way to go because of how I intend to use it. But, having said that, I do carry a knife also.

Everybody has to make their own choice.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

But, as I said, for me if I have to choose one or the other, I choose the multi-tool.


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