> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Prepping on $40 a Week: EDC Knife



Prepping on $40 a Week: EDC Knife

Hope you've got your budgets worked out, because we're diving right into our $40 a week series. We're starting out by building a solid, budget-minded EDC. This week, we're looking at our first selection, a pocket knife.

There are actually a surprising number of excellent choices for under $40; the Spyderco Tenacious, which is a really great knife for around $35, is a very solid pick at this price point. However, remember that we're writing for someone really starting out from scratch and looking to maximize the utility of the limited budget at hand.

With those constraints in mind, I'm deviating from what you'd normally think of in a pocket knife recommending a multitool - the Leatherman Sidekick.

The Sidekick and Wingman look almost identical, but the tools are a bit different.
The Sidekick and the very similar Wingman are Leatherman's entry-level offerings for full sized multitools, and for under $30, they're an unbeatable value. In my opinion, the Sidekick, with its plain edge blade, saw, and serrated is more attractive for general survival use than the Wingman, with scissors, serrated blade and package opener.
Here's the Wingman's tools on display - note the differences. The Wingman
is a few dollars cheaper than the Sidekick, though.

The Sidekick's plain edge blade locks via the sturdy liner lock, which is one of my favorites, and well executed on the Sidekick--strong yet easily disengaged. The blade of my Sidekick came arm-hair shaving sharp, too. Yes, the 420HC blade steel is not a premium steel, but you'll have a hard time finding anything significantly better, with this quality, at this price point. It's a really good knife, and offers $30 worth of value all on its own.

Close-up on the Sidekick's
But, of course, you've got some excellent tools ontop of the knife. The Sidekick comes with spring- loaded pliers, and the spring make a big difference. The saw blade is very good for a small saw blade--you probably won't be cutting down too many trees with this one, but thinner stuff and notching should pose no problem. There are three different screw driver ends, a file, a small serrated-edge knife blade, a can/bottle opener, a lanyard ring and a reversible pocket clip.

Really, I consider a multitool a must have for any decent-sized survival kit, and I'm not alone there, either. Yes, you'll get better ergonomics and a lighter weight package from a plain-jane folding knife, but I feel like the trade offs are more than worth it for the utility the multitool provides.

Given the budget constraints we're working with, I feel confident recommending the Sidekick for every day use and as an essential  part of the bug out gear we'll be putting together later in the series. As a bonus, the Sidekick also comes with a cool carabiner with bit driver and bottle opener and a pocket sheath.

Week #1 Purchase: Leatherman Sidekick
Cost: $29.50 via Amazon. We're going to "bank" the extra $10.50 towards future purchases.

If you've already got an EDC Knife...
If you're into survival/preparedness, you've probably got more than a couple good folding knives and a multitool or two. I know some of you have dozens of good knives. So you may well be "good to go" for EDC/folding knives. If you've got your EDC squared away, but are short on a knife or multitool for a kit, the Sidekick is again a great choice for filling those holes without breaking the bank. I'm hesitant to drop the coin for something like a Leathman Charge to gather dust in a bug out bag, but the $30 Sidekick is another story...

So, if your folder/multitool needs are covered, here are your tasks for the week:
  • Perform basic maintenance on your EDC knife. Sharpen, clean and oil. If you don't know how to do that, learn how. If you don't have the tools, put some of this week's $40 towards 'em.
  • Spend 10 minutes practicing drawing your knife. Be careful and avoid slicing yourself. How fast can you draw and deploy the knife? If you carried the knife differently or altered your draw technique, would it be faster?
  • Practice using your knife--carve/whittle something, prep some food--get some outside the box practice with your blade. 
That's it from my end - what are you thoughts?


  1. Awesome!! Really diggin the $40/week concept and in my humble opinion, you started things off on the right topic. ;) A multi-tool is a surprising choice but I am diggin it. Certainly a lot more bang for your buck, especially if it gets paired with a larger fixed blade down the road. *fingers crossed* - at any rate keep up the great working, loving it thus far.

  2. AnonymousJune 26, 2012

    Lovin it!

  3. Years ago I got the original PST from my father, and I EDC'ed throughout my service, and as a civilian. When it got retired the wire cutter was notched, the pliers bent, the tip of the knife broken, and the Phillips ground to a blunt tip.

    When I got into preparedness, a multitool was high on the list of prioritised equipment, and yes, I'm on a budget. After having researched various options, I ended up with the Sidekick. I bought mine at Wallmart for around 40 CAD, if I'm not mistaken. It has a belt clip, and came with a leather... I guess protective cover is the word. Though the clip makes it suited for pocket or belt carry, I keep it in my EDC kit-bag.

    From my experience it is a good and reliable tool, and a suitable upgrade from the PST.

  4. Good choice for a knife. Swiss Army knives are also pretty handy. For a straight up pocket knife Opinel makes pretty good knives for around $15.

    I love the $40 a week concept.

    1. AnonymousJune 27, 2012

      Yep, gotta love the SAKs - and great edc in places where locking blades are frowned on. You don't usually get the pliers, but blades, saws, screwdrivers etc are well made and very pocketable. YMMV, but where I am, I prefer the SAK in my pocket to the multitool left in the car :-(

  5. AnonymousJune 27, 2012

    For a plain jane every day chores knife, a Case Sodbuster is pretty hard to beat. Opinels are lighter though.

    Just beyond the $40 limit, the Leatherman Rebar might be an option for some. About $50. And be sure to check out pawn shops, the Wave can often be found for a very reasonable price. $80 brand new, $20 can often take a used Wave home.

    Very nice review of Sidekick above - thank you sir.

    1. AnonymousJune 27, 2012

      That's a great idea to check pawn shops!

  6. Great start to the series!

    The multi-tool definitely makes sense for the budget minded: more bang for those rare bucks. I agree with some the concerns for the multi-tool not getting carried, compared to a smaller/lighter folder or SAK, since this looks like a full size multi-tool. You could make an argument for a smaller multi-tool (Juice?) to get the benefits of the tools, but at the cost of the primary blade size/functionality of course. It's always a trade off with something!

    I really like your task list too. Great tips for everyone, gets you beyond the 'buy some gear and your set' attitude. Keep it up!

    1. I'm with you, though a belt pouch or even carried in an EDC bag does make a multitool easier to carry around. The non-locking blades and two handed opening of SAKs are a deal breaker for me.

  7. This is a great first post to a great series idea, this is why you're the first blog I check when I'm online.

  8. DiabloLocoJune 27, 2012

    I currently carry a Leatherman "Blast". I've had it for 3 years, and it hasn't fail me yet! I also have a "Squirt" on my keychain. A good multi-tool is a must!

  9. AnonymousJune 28, 2012


    Well you have my seal of approval. Top three survival capabilities are the means to-CUT IT, FASTEN IT, AND BURN IT. You are well on topic for priority management. So logically, a knife, fire making means and cord-tape are my musts.

    Water, food and my favorite... DEFENSE!

    Carry on maestro.

  10. When I get asked, I always recommend :
    #1 a good large-ish multitool (I prefer Gerber, but that's just familiarity, not an 'article of faith')
    #2 A good, solid LED flashlight (it can be pretty cheap, just works)
    #3 A good, lockblade folder you can open with 1 hand (The Spyderco Tenacious is my choice as well)
    #4 The smallest belt-pouch that will hold the multitool, the flashlight and an Altoids-tin and a butane lighter or 2.

    THEN, fill up the tin with 'stuff' you made need, based on what you do daily. The folder clips to your pants-pocket of choice (or inside waistband, (or in purse) if you choose pants without pockets, or a skirt, or a kilt, etc.) Not a gender-specific set of recommendations.

    1. What about a utilikilt?

      Next week is an LED light. Found one for under $30 that rivals my Surefire E1B!

    2. I LIKE utilikilts - pockets :)

  11. DeadCrowPoeJune 30, 2012

    Awesome blog btw. I get paid bi weekly and I've already got a good leatherman, so I ended up getting an Esse Izula 2 for $67 shipped! A little over budget , but I'll skimp some where else down the line. Can't wait to see what light you picked next.

  12. AnonymousJuly 02, 2012

    Great post!

    I consider a multitool, a strong locking folder and a larger fixed blade to be the holy trinity of cutting edge tools.
    Add a saw and medium weight axe, and you can do just about anything with wood.

    But if I could only have one, it'd be the multitool every time!

  13. For the locking folder, my #1 choice is a Spyderco 'Tenacious' - good price point, good knife. If cash is tight, you can get 3 Gerber 'Crevice' folders for about the same $40 price. Think about a set of 'Torx' screwdrivers to 'tune' the knives for smooth opening.

    1. The Tenacious was almost my pick. Great value.

  14. I just got my Sidekick, and I'm impressed. I ordered one for my dad too. Thanks for the tip, and I'm digging the $40 per week idea.