Like many of you, I got into this EDC obsessed lifestyle as a kid. I have always had an affinity for tools that serve a singular purpose, but have almost perverse levels of technology thrown into them. A knife is just a sharpened piece of steel, but you can take a relatively simple formula and distill it into a very complex, purpose designed tool like the Benchmade Osborne 940.
This obsession with performance has led me to accumulate a simply monolithic amount of sharp toys, and in many ways I would say that in the past I crossed the line from tool user to tool collector.
That said, after so many years in this world and after over 7 years of marriage, experiencing mortgage payments and shifts in lifestyle, I have begun to think far more about the purpose behind the tools I wield and what I want my collection to represent.
The bias I have towards quality and having an established “tool set” has led me to truly appreciate the “buy it once” movement: the idea that we can purchase a single tool to fulfill a singular function over the span of a lifetime. Naturally, I will never be happy with just one knife or one watch, but I have definitely taken some of the lessons this movement has to offer on board.
And with that preamble out of the way, here are some of my lifetime tools that I think some of you may find interesting. Perhaps browsing through them will spark some conversation about our spending habits down in the comments! ;)
My Lifetime EDCs
1. My lifetime watch
Is there a more versatile watch for the everyday man who wants something a bit more special than a Seiko 5, but doesn’t want to drop the big bucks on a Rolex Explorer? I don’t think so. The SARB is a true classic (and sadly, discontinued now so if you want one- get on it pronto) with a fantastic, durable movement and a sense of style and presence on the wrists that puts many luxury watches to shame.
I love horology, but I would be happy(‘ish) with only this timepiece for the rest of time. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine a single change with this watch that would it make it better, which sums up my impressions on this timeless classic.
2. My lifetime folding knife
This was a tough one. I admittedly almost strayed away from Spyderco with my choice (very unlike me, I know) due to my affection for the Benchmade 940, but ultimately, the Spyderco Military is and always will be my first choice for a single folding knife. I love a well made liner lock, the blade shape is 10/10, and the feel in the hand is sublime. I don’t like the price relative to materials, but ultimately, I do think it’s worth it.
A tip of my hat goes to the Buck 110 due to my love for it, but I do think a lot of my appreciation for this folder is down to nostalgia and it being my first introduction to high quality knives.
Availability: Amazon • Blade HQ • eBay
Read our review of the Spyderco Military
Spyderco Military Folding Knife – Amazon / Blade HQ
3. My lifetime fixed blade
This was a no brainer. Yes, I do love my Moras, and my Tops Litetrekker is a smashing little tyke, but the Fallkniven F1 is enduring in its versatility and popularity. There is something to be said for a tool that stays on the hype train for so many years.
Yes, boring steel (Laminated VG-10) and spartan design with true-blue utilitarian materials used, but at the end of the day, I trust this blade regardless of enviroment or situation. It’s a rock solid, lifetime tool despite being a smidgen on the boring side.
Availability: Amazon • Blade HQ • eBay
4. My lifetime boots
I love the comfort of my modern hiking boots, but ultimately, this pervasive habit of gluing the soles to the uppers of the boot rules out 99% of them from my lifetime list. I had to give my nod to my Doc Martens, which have been with me for around 17 years and are still going strong.
If I had the money I may recommend Danner’s light mountain boots, but I don’t own them (yet) so can’t say for certain if they’d live up to the hype. That said, I have a feeling they will.
5. My lifetime bag
You all know I love my Hazard 4 gear, and whilst some may think that perhaps a Saddleback leather backpack is more suitable as a choice for a lifetime tool, I would argue that in this case, the comfort of modern synthetic materials and know-how outweigh the advantages of leather.
The Grayman Patrol is straight up bombproof and I feel comfortable wearing it everywhere, unlike the uber-tactical camo alternatives. It’s a great option and well worth the investment. Your back will thank you, even if your wallet doesn’t!
Hazard 4 Grayman Patrol Backpack – Amazon / eBay
6. My lifetime Cookware
We all know Le Creuset. This ironware is built to withstand well, everything.
Rock solid and versatile. Yes, it’s pricey, but you won’t need to replace it. I love my Instant Pot, but I wager that my Le Creuset will outlive me. There is something weirdly nostalgic about having a tool that hasn’t changed in decades, because frankly, there is nothing about it that needs changing.
7. My Lifetime Pipe
Kraig Seder Short Poker Pipe
Owned it for years. Made by the man himself and an example of a piece of art that is perfectly functional. We live in an age where everything is built to be used and thrown away. It’s comforting to own something that is designed with the exact opposite in mind.
The older I get, the more I think about the items I own and use instead of simply rushing to buy the next new thing. I admittedly do partake within the norms of a consumerist society, but I like to think that I have pulled the breaks to a certain degree. I now give far more consideration towards the things that truly matter, and not what the deluge of advertising is telling me to get next.
What lifetime items do you own?
Bud Long says
a gun makes much more sense than a knife. For a shtf pack, best hold it to 40 lbs, so you can run and gun with it, and 20 lbs of that has to be rifle and pistol, scope, silencer, spare bolt/cleaing gear bipod, holster, mag pouches, NVD goggles, passive IR scanner, soft armor, solar charger, just the gun stuff adds 20 lbs, so that means you have to hold the food, water and other gear to 20 lbs, You’ll have to stick to nighttime when moving and just hole up during the day.
I can appreciate your investment in quality equipment ,however I have a different perspective.
I use to work on boats not just in the shop but on the water and under water and to possibility of loosing equipment is a problem.
Having lost tools in various circumstances or having to alter them to get home safely is often a challenge .And a particularly cheap tool is no advantage as well, buy what your worth.
My hunting knife is a western Bowie . not the most expensive but a faithful partner in the field.
My folders are $20 stainless steel knives completely expendable if the emergency calls for it, or it needs to be handed off to some one else.
I make knives as well, more for fun and gifts than anything.
As a mechanic I have messed up more watches than I care to remember be they on my wrist or in my pocket , they are expendable as well.
I am particularly rough on shoes due to my weight and work and activity , souls literally get pulled apart.
I rotate through several canvas shoes regularly now that I’m retired , still plenty of work to do.
I have had expensive shoes but they don’t stand up better than any thing else .
Levis wear out in the crotch . Not from being fat but from being active. In SAR I regularly carried a 70 lb Alice pack @ 7000 ft elevation all night long.
The same with flashlights and other gear. “Expensive is nice if you can afford to loose it” If loosing it is going to mess up your day/week/month/year , don’t take it camping.
I can’t afford a $200. knife for practical work . I would be protecting it too much
Thomas Xavier says
Interesting points mate and hard to disagree with- your enviroment will dictate your tool choices- I imagine that if I had your daily routine, I would also change my gear options.
Thanks for dropping by!
My everyday folder is a Douk-Douk Petite but with a sheepfoot blade, backed up by a tiny Higonokami on my keys. My torch is an Olight S1A Baton backed up by a i3E EOS also on my keys. My watch is an Invicta ‘diver’ auto that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Submariner. The Douk-Douk (I have the standard bladed Petite too) is far and away the greatest knife I’ve owned (and since I was seven I must have had more than a hundred reasonable quality knives). Just my two penn’orth. Thanks for some very interesting articles.
Thomas Xavier says
I love the douk douk, very easy to maintain with a nice lean blade. Almost disappears into your pocket too!
Bud Long says
I lose a folder about once a month, so I stick to cheap ones. usually I find it back again, but 1-2 per year are gone forever, So I use the 2 Chinese things from Wallys. I use an angle grinder to get rid of the serrations on the blades. In the BoB is the Crunch tool and a couple of 10″ saw blades, and the Cold Steel shovel I carry a sig P938 in a front pants pocket holster. the spare mag is in the anlke pouch, with the AA light. I have to carry a set of keys pen pad, wallet, phone and its case, I have a ferrorod on the key chain, a fresnel lens in my wallet, a Big in my pocket, in a ziplock bag. i have a zippo and a UCO candle lantern (beeswas only) in the BOB
Bud Long says
I keep a couple of canteen cups in the BOB, as well as some platypus bags and some ziplock bags, I’ve got a water filter and iodine. The cover element is vital. i’ve got a 2 man SOL emergency bivvy, 1/4 lb, $20 , and to deal with the condensation, I’ve got a half lb, $5 3×8 ft bag that i made out of Wally’s absorbent painters drop cloth. It deals with the condensation perfectly. I can handle 30 ft with this, the bank line and the stakes, wearing office clothing, either in the hammock or on a pile of debris. i carry a pair of $10 each 1/4 lb each bugnet bags that i can stuff with dry debri and use for bedding. All of this can be worn as a poncho, if need be. and then I can sleep at 20F. add 2 lbs of beanie, neck gaitor, glove liners, gloves, wool socks, and long johns. I normally wear wool Russan winter foot wraps. I use the bugnets with debris like long johns, too. I save the wool socks and longjohns only for sleeping. 1 lb of monofiament fishling gillnet hammock rounds out the sleeiping gear, no lead weights. It’s 2″ mesh, 6 ft wide, 100 ft long, . I fold it 3x and it’s 12 ft long and quite strong. I gather it at each end with muletape tree straips. That’s enough netting to feed me, if i attach stones to the bottom line bait it and use it as a net-weir.
I’m surprised with all the knife reviews on here that I don’t recall you ever discussing chefs knives although you have lifetime cookware here. I use my cooking knives vastly more than my sports knives and they are a slam dunk for gear that will last a lifetime. I have a Japanese brand called Tojiro for my chef knife, Kanetsugu for my utility and Shun for my parking.
Thomas Xavier says
Tojiro’s are badass, I love the kitchenware stuff and I imagine I will do a round up of my favourite blades inside the kitchen at some point, I do often hesitate because I don’t want to dilute the direction of the blog but as you said, most people use their cooking knives far more than the outdoor shinies so I will work on an article.
Thanks for the nudge mate.
As a deliberately provocative counterpoint to this, is there the case for ‘good enough’? My experience is that I prefer to invest in things I use daily rather than drawer queens. But real world everyday use leads to things getting broken, stolen and lost. So my Casio wristwatch (stainless steel, totally reliable for 10years so far, £40) is a much happier companion for me than the £900 Longines I was gifted. The Byrd tern I carry is much more suitable than a Spyderco PITS, imho. It’s not that I doubt the superior quality of the more expensive brands, but so much kit gets lost, becomes obsolete, gets damaged etc. That I am always looking for the sweet spot – good enough performance but readily replaced if there is a disaster. Perhaps a topic for another article?
I think much the same, finding the price/performance balance point is part of the fun! Thinking out of the box gives some interesting alternatives, growing up on a farm most heavy wood working tasks were done with a brush hook – I reckon I could build a shelter with one of those and a mora (or equivalent) in half the time compared to most purpose built survival knives.
Disadvantage – bloody heavy!
Advantages – Tough enough to dig with, or baton using a rock, an edge you can sharpen using the same rock! If we’re being a bit apocalyptic it is an awesome tool for unskilled people to defend themselves with too!
Good point, I’d love a Rolex but doubt I would ever wear it travelling , heard too many stories about getting assaulted and robbed for them even in relatively safe European countries. As it is I have a Tissot PRS 516 that i never wear out of Canada , I wear a Citizen while traveling. I’ve even heard stories of airline security ordering them put into the tray and they never make it out other side.
Thomas Xavier says
Aye, thats a very good point and its a mindset I sporadically share. The one thing that stops me from baby’ing my “collectables” is knowing that they are tools and deserve to be used. It hurts a lil’ but whenever I bang my SARB against a door but then again I love wearing it and after the first few dings, you learn to let go and enjoy life and those special tools.
Then again, I have never bought anything “crazy” expensive so I don’t know I would feel about manhandling a rolex sub or something to that effect.
Very good point Tiny, definitely something worth exploring further in another article.
El Greggo DeAlmighty says
Folder: Benchmade 5700 Presidio 2. Got one about six months ago. First knife in many, many years that I bought and can’t seem to put down. Built like a tank and a blade steel that balances edge holding ability with somewhat ease of sharpening. I’m not a huge fan of auto or assisted knives but for some reason I love this one. The Buck Vantage is my second pick. Not built as heavy as the Presidio but it has done everything I ask out of a folding knife. It was my main carry knife for over a decade. I still carry it on occasion and when I travel to a commie state that doesn’t allow automatic knives.
Fixed blade: Bush 1 by Bladesmith Jeff White. It does everything well.
Watch: Casio G100 G Shock. Not expensive but very durable. Exposed watch crystals don’t last long with me and I like rubber watch bands over metal or leather. It fits all my criteria in a watch.
Shoes: Vasque Juxt. They aren’t boots and they don’t last forever. They do hold up very well and fit my feet better than anything else I have tried. They are also versatile. If I had to wonder off forever in only one pair of shoes it would be these. I would rather get a few years out of comfortable shoes than a decade in uncomfortable ones.
Pack: Maxpedition. Pick a model that suits your needs. I can’t seem to tear up the ones I have. Nothing lasts forever, but these packs seem too.
Cookwear: Lodge Dutch oven. It wouldn’t surprise me if the first one produced was still in use.
Thomas Xavier says
Always loved the Presidio line, sadly never lived in a country where auto’s are legal hence I have never actually held one! :(
“I would rather get a few years out of comfortable shoes than a decade in uncomfortable ones”
Well put mate, I agree 100% Although for some reason I find shoes that are advertised as comfortable, to be somewhat uncomfortable. I like hard leather boots without soft cushioning- i guess one gets used to certain things!
Chris Fyfe says
My lifetime Folder is a Strider PT, lifetime watch is an Omega Seamaster ( may not last a lifetime , but rebuildable ) , don’t have a lifetimefixie yet , but probably a high end Scandi . A Bark river product might be in contention too .
Thomas Xavier says
Never owned a strider folder- I have played with them for a few weeks and I gotta say I do love the feel of the SNG (that oversized choil is awesome) but the cost has always put me off. As for a high end Scandi, I can’t say enough good stuff about the Helle Temagami! Had a bad experience with a BRK and edge chipping- could have been a fluke though.
Folder, either my Lansky WL or my Victorinox Hunter.
Watch, Vostok Amphibian
Fixed blade, my Marttiini hunting knife ( no idea what model, it’s VERY old!)
Boots, not sure, probably German Paratrooper boots.
I’ve not given consideration to luggage unfortunately.
Thomas Xavier says
Gotta love the classic Vostok- great history and robust movement. I like the rest of your choices. The Victorinox Hunter is workhorse!
“If I had the money I may recommend Danner’s light mountain boots, but I don’t own them (yet) so can’t say for certain if they’d live up to the hype.”
I live in Danner Country, have owned several pairs of that very model, and they don’t. In fact, the Danners of today don’t live up to the reputation they built before the company was sold to foreign interests.
Finding something similar is tough. I have a pair of Viberg’s lace-to-toe hiking boots, said to be the inspiration for Danner’s, but they’ve been discontinued by the company’s new owners and replaced by a similar-looking “lifestyle” version. Only time will tell if they’re as good. Thorogood’s “Roofer” boots, which are my favorite all-around footwear, have been recently discontinued.
@ Grant – Is this the boot you are talking about??
This Item is Back Exclusively at MidwestBoots.com
Men’s Thorogood American Heritage Lace-to-Toe Wedge Sole Roofer Boot
Apparently Midwest Boots has a deal to carry them now.
Check at “http://www.midwestboots.com/product/TH814-4233.html” and let me know if this is the boot you liked.
Thomas Xavier says
Damn. Well thats really disappointing. :( They look so bomb proof that I would have sworn they would be the perfect boots.
Alright Grant, any (still in production) recommendations?
I second Grant’s comments about Danner, though it’s been years since I bought any boots from them, and will never do so again.
Nevertheless, the two pairs I did purchase from Danner were defective out of the box. For example, one pair’s steel shanks in the soles were not properly glued in place and would slip and emit loud popping noises when walking. Just the thing you want while taking a quite hike in the woods or hunting. The other pair’s leather uppers cracked badly and looked terrible.
The first pair was returned for service to Danner, but they never could fix the noisy shank problem. For the second pair Danner just blew me off.
So what to do? My solution was to spend a little more money and buy a pair of custom-made high top boots by White’s out of Spokane, Washington (https://www.whitesboots.com/#/page/home). Since loggers, smoke jumpers, ranchers, and other hard-use outdoors-men rely on White’s I figured their footwear must be tough and durable. And they are. My White’s are 12 years old and the Vibram soles and leather probably will last the rest of my life –and the life of whoever inherits them.
Comments on knives: Yes, Buck 110 was my first introduction to a quality knife. Benchmades? Quality – yes. I don’t carry mine. Spydercos? Yes. A Police model within a Benchmade bidirectional soft sheath is in the briefcase. Multiples for carry AFTER shtf. My primary carry is a used plain edge Endura with the pocket clip removed or if plastic, ground down. I wear gym shorts all day. Multiples for BEFORE shtf. Combo blades for AFTER shtf.
Fallkniven F1. Here is a surprise for all! An F1, placed within the truly ugly factory sheath fits perfectly into a suit pants pocket without printing.
The critical objective is to have a tool(s) with you when shtf (no problem is minor). So, you need a folder/leatherman/Swiss Army knife hidden in the car/in the ski jacket/in the wind breaker. If something is too heavy, you would not carry it. If it is too bulky, you won’t carry it. You aren’t going to wear your Jim Bowie knife on your side on a date or going to the movies.
The girlfriend wears a Rollex. I wear a $20 used Timex purchased from Goodwill. Watches are very useful. I have cheap Japanese solar powered watches and Swiss Army watches for AFTER shtf. Your rechargeable cell phone that tells time will not work very long AFTER the electric power is down for a while. Of course, I have some inexpensive conventional watches for a formal outing with leather straps. Sure, I print out the 90 page manuals for the super duper watches with multiple functions that I own. If I don’t have the time now to master the gadgets, I probably won’t have time AFTER shtf. I do review and examine the backup/spare watches annually for servicing, if any.
Sure I get pissed like you when I cannot find shoes that fit. I went for a year through Africa, the Balkans, Central and Southeast Asia. Always. Always. Shoes and blue jeans were on my shopping list. You are not going to find anything that fits AFTER shtf. I outgrew my Swiss hiking boots that I bought in Switzerland. Boots and tennis shoes are a real pain. Why is it that sneakers are made almost totally in narrow? So, this is what I do. I find a recommendation like the author made. I find a store and it is usual that the shoe will not be in stock in my size and never be in stock. I am going this week to the branded store on the mall in Santa Monica where the beautiful people shop. What do you think the chances are that the author’s recommended brand will have the combat boot in stock? At least, i will get fitted and find a way to get the boot. So, I have recommendations for multiple shoes. When I find a pair that fit, I buy them. You try them on with the socks you would like to wear and in the afternoon (because feet swell up). When I finally get the shoes (assuming that they are going to be backups), I get multiple pairs of socks that work with them and store them together with a note about the socks. Socks are critical. You don’t wear low cut gym socks with ski boots. You don’t wear a heavy wool sock with a sneaker. So, you have to carefully match socks to shoes. And, drum roll . . . . buy the extra laces. Yeah! I know the b.s. about using 550 cord. However, I have boots with eyes that are too narrow. You know the Danners you bought at REI or A16, well the local drug store is not going to have laces for you and most probably where you even bought the shoes. When I wore Church’s shoes (out of business), I had to insist that the shoes be sold with extra pairs of laces.
Thomas Xavier says
as always BDC, insightful and on point comment. I agree with everything you wrote- on the note of shoes, I find it super interesting that so many modern hiking boots have glued construction. I actually spent some time yesterday looking for classic goodyear welt construction hiking boots and man are they a rare breed these days.
I personally have never had the glued soles come off but it seems theoretically too easy. What are your thoughts on that?
I guess I trust stitching because if it starts going south, I know its an easy fix. I also like that i can replace the soles should/when they wear out.
Why combo blades for after SHTF? I would have thought it would have been the other way around (plain edge being easier to sharpen and all that)?