Being prepared is a state of mind for the watchful. In any scenario, having the right state of mind, and the equipment to back it up, will put you one step ahead of the game.
Multiple opportunities for using a boot knife can come your way. We’re going to mention a few of them in just a moment. We’re going to help you master how to wear a boot knife. There’s no point looking like a rookie badass. You should look like a master badass with a boot knife that says, “Don’t mess with me!”
Why wear a boot knife?
Wearing a boot blade is all about being equipped for different situations. If you’re active outdoors, then you may have ten or twelve different uses for a boot knife in a single day. For the less active, carrying a concealed blade might just give you an edge if you find yourself in a desperate spot.
There are roughly two different uses for boot knives:
- Holdout weapons are your last line of defense when stuff goes wrong. When a sudden problem needs a sharp solution, you can reach for your backup dagger.
- Small knives are not just for defensive purposes. People have recognized the value of a keen, handy edge for years. With a blade tucked away, a quick, useful cutting tool is no further than your ankle.
Now let’s break each of these down. We want to give you some tips about these two different uses. As always in tools, form should follow function.
Wolves, bears, zombies, and aliens
Our heading is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, to be sure. You are not likely to be confronted by aliens. However, during your next camping excursion you might find yourself face-to-face with something unpleasant.
Small predators, such as coyotes, foxes, and wolves can be a huge surprise. For those who don’t pack a firearm, a blade at your ankle will provide you with a warm, comforting feeling. Of course, no one wants to put this to the test!
Large predators are almost always less surprising. Most people hear bears coming! Big uglies are much more dangerous, though. Being separated from your blade is a bad idea in the face of a big, nasty bear.
The most dangerous game is people hunting people. An attack by someone else seems such a remote possibility that many do not prepare. If you are not physically imposing and capable, then keeping a weapon within reach is a priority.
Rabbits, ropes, fish, and coyotes
Now we’ve dealt with the paranoia and alarmism. Let’s think through some of the reasons why many people could benefit from strapping a sharp tool to their foot.
Hunters and trappers bring down or catch small game all the time. Small game can be skinned, cleaned and prepped easily using a small knife. You could be sorted with a suitable knife attached to your ankle. You can even choose the blade shape to suit your most common butchery tasks.
Campers often manage lengths of rope. Knives are obviously useful for cutting rope! A well-placed blade on your foot means you can leave your main knife in your pack while you’re working around camp.
Fish need to be scaled, cleaned, and gutted. Small knives can be great for these tasks because of their thinner blade profile.
Coyotes? If you’re out hunting in coyote territory, then you need to get your game cleaned up and clear out quickly. The scavengers, like coyotes, will be on their way. A ready blade can help you get your kill sorted out quickly.
Which boots work best?
There really is no correct answer to this question. We’ve got a couple suggestions to guide you along. Before we mention those, we can point out one obvious saying:
The best boots are the ones you will wear.
You could go buy a new pair of special boot knife boots. They could suck, though. You might never wear them because your knife fits better than your boots.
Likewise, you might strap your knife to your ankle with a bit of string and then end up with a gnarly blister. Having learned your lesson about unwanted friction, you choose to leave your knife at home. Then you’re set on by a pack of mad coyotes. Alanis Morrissette had a song about this – sort of.
The best boots are the ones you will wear. You can check out this information about how to have happy feet on the trail.
Too tall and too small are both bad
Hidden daggers were a big thing with many cowboys. Cowboy boots are great blade hiding places. If the blade is reasonably thin, it will simply slide right in the top of the boot. However, boots that are too tall will mean your blade sits too far into your boot to be easily accessible. Too tall is bad.
Too small can be bad, too. A blade needs to be long enough to be useful. This means you need boots big enough to accommodate the length of the blade. A three-inch blade might not sit inside a pair of low-rise ankle boots.
The aim of choosing the correct boots is to match your boots to your knife requirements. Fishermen might choose a longer, slender blade to assist them in filleting fish. Long, slender blades fit well into high boots or cowboy boots.
A holdout weapon is meant to be concealed. Small boots could be great for this purpose, especially with a small dagger.
Custom built or customized are both fine
Boots and knives can be paired in two ways: by the manufacturer or by the wearer.
Manufacturers build boots to accommodate small blades. These boots have sheaths added to the inside, outside or the tongue of the boots. One big advantage of choosing a custom boot is its appearance. We don’t mean fashion, but concealment. A boot made with a knife in mind will usually have a higher stealth rating.
On the other hand, you might already have a perfect pair of boots you love to wear. You just need to pair the boots with your knife. To do this, you can try a few different methods:
- Tuck the knife and sheath into the side of your boot. Use thin string or rope in a loop to secure the protruding handle to your lower calf or ankle. Longer knives can be carried securely this way.
- With your sheath empty, sew your sheath into position on the side of your boot. Short knives will do very well with this technique.
- You can sew the sheath into the tongue of your boot. Inside or outside doesn’t matter too much. Small daggers are the best blade for this type of installation.
Which knife should you buy or use?
No knife can do everything. Some come close, but most are designed to do a few jobs very well. Boot knives are no different from their full-sized brethren. Dirks, daggers, and holdout weapons come in all kinds of shapes and sizes We’ve already mentioned a few of them.
In the same way the best boots are the ones you wear, the best knife is the one you use. There’s no point carrying a blade you don’t use because it is not fit for purpose. So, before you plan for looking badass with your boot knife, try to think through what you will do with it once you whip it out.
Form follows function
Blades, edges, tangs, and grinds all follow from one single question:
What is this knife intended to do?
For example, a classic fish knife is whip-thin, slightly curved, and very sharp. In contrast, a butcher’s cleaver is square, heavy, and has a thick blade profile to chop through meat and bones.
Bushcraft knives, now very popular, try to do a few things well. They can whittle because they are small, baton wood because they are relatively thick, and work wood because they are sturdy.
Your boot knife can be any combination of these things. The main question to ask is, “What will I do most with this knife?”
A few options to consider
Let’s think about a few options quickly:
- Thin, single-edged blades are brilliant for cleaning game and fish. Hunters should consider one of these for a boot buddy.
- Double-edged daggers with a short handle are great tools to use around the camp and in the bush. Campers and hikers should check out a few of these.
- For those who want to be prepared for baddies, a dirk or push blade style will be the best choice. The cross grip of a push blade will provide a lot of stabbing power.
Knife manufacturers make a dizzying array of blades to choose from. Whichever function you have in mind, someone makes a tool to do it for you.
What else should you know?
There are a couple points to mention before we wrap up.
First, you should check out the laws where you live, hike, or travel. Some states have laws forbidding boot knives. Other states may have specific restrictions on the size or concealment of them. In other countries, such as the UK, you could be arrested for wearing one in a public place. Pay attention to what is allowed in the space you plan to be.
Second, most people place their knives on the outside of the boot below their dominant hand. Reaching for your knife shouldn’t be awkward. If it is, then there is another common position you could try. Some people opt to tuck their boot knives into the inside of the boot below their non-dominant hand. Experiment with both and choose the one which suits your style best.
The main point about how to wear a boot knife
Here is the big idea: find a pair of boots you like and attach a knife to them in a way which suits your intended use. That’s how to wear a boot knife. Once you strap that blade to your ankle, you’ll notice the temptation to stand a little straighter, walk a little taller, and act with more confidence. Congratulations! You’re wearing your boot knife like a badass.