I became an Eagle Scout in my teens, but, despite continuing my outdoor adventures, I seem to have promptly forgotten the majority of my scouting wisdom. Tying timber hitches, identifying medicinal plants, constructing emergency shelters — all gone. I just didn’t and haven’t needed that stuff. But I have continued one Scouting tradition: carrying a pocketknife.
I’ve gone through a lot of knives in my life. There was a Buck or two, a wood-handled Old Timer, even a high-end ZT. Then sometime in my mid-20s, a weathered U.S. Special Forces operator told me that his daily carry is the Benchmade Mini Griptilian. If it was good enough for him, I assumed it could handle whatever I might put it through, and I bought my own.
Since then, I’ve carried the USA-made Mini Griptilian most days and have used it in tasks both mundane and epic. The knife’s 2.91-inch blade has sliced through apples and packages.* It’s gutted trout alongside Utah streams and Wyoming lakes. It’s butchered 400-pound caribou on the Arctic tundra. It once even sliced through my own flesh at home when I asininely used it to cut the tag off of a shirt that I was … wearing. There was some good news, at least: The cut was clean, thanks to the knife’s ability to hold a precisely sharp edge. If it ever dulls, just ship it to Benchmade’s factory in Oregon City and the company will take care of the maintenance for you — cleaning, oiling, tuning, and resharpening the knife for free.
At just under 3 ounces, the Mini Griptilian is light enough for everyday carry but not so light that it can’t take on heavier jobs like that caribou.* Its fiberglass-reinforced, diamond-engraved plastic handle sits comfortably in your hand and stays there (it’s called the Griptilian for a reason). Another nice feature is that Benchmade allows you to choose from six blade shapes and a handful of handle colors. One tip: Select a yellow or bright blue handle, which makes the knife harder to lose when you drop it in the field — and harder to overlook when you’re checking your carry-on before heading to the airport. I’ve lost three to the TSA.
Correction, March 13, 2020.: This piece originally misstated that the Mini Griptilian’s blade was 3.45 inches and its weight was just under 4 ounces. The blade is actually 2.91 inches in length, and the knife weighs 2.81 ounces.