Slip Joint Travel Knives

Slip Joint Travel Knives 150 150 Greg Ellifritz

Having at least one slip-joint (non-locking) folding knife is a good idea.  Lockblade folders are outlawed in many countries (especially in Europe).  Having an innocuous looking slip joint will give you better protection than using your fingernails.  I prefer to carry the Spyderco UK Penknife when I’m in Europe.


Learn about more non-locking options in the article below.


Slip-Joint Knives Buyer’s Guide



The Knife Static Cord

The Knife Static Cord 300 225 Greg Ellifritz

The static cord is a very good way to carry a fixed blade knife for optimal concealment.  It provides easy access, but you can shove the entire knife down into your pants if necessary and nothing will be seen.

This is how I carry my ceramic and polymer knives that (will go through metal detectors) when I travel internationally.


Simple Knife Carry Hack – The Static Cord

Weapons and Carry Methods for Foreign Travel

Weapons and Carry Methods for Foreign Travel 620 455 Greg Ellifritz

In last weeks’ article, I talked about the common guns I see carried all around the world.  As a traveler, since you aren’t likely to be able to legally acquire firearms overseas, this continuation of last week’s theme covers some of the weapons you ARE able to carry.


When I’m at home, I carry a gun for protection because it is both legal for me to do so and it is the most effective weapon in my arsenal. Overseas, with very few exceptions, the average traveler will not be able to legally acquire or carry a firearm. Although widely available on the black market in almost every country, the penalties for getting caught with a firearm are so severe that it is in most travelers’ best interests to avoid acquiring one. The increased protection one may receive isn’t worth the cost of doing time in a third world prison in the event you are discovered carrying an illegal pistol by police.


Since guns are not recommended, the most effective weapon for most travelers is a knife. Knives can be legally brought into almost every third world country in checked luggage. Unless the knife is massive in size or the traveler has dozens of them in his luggage, customs officials rarely look twice if they see a knife when searching your bags.


Even though it’s rare that carrying a knife into a country would be questioned, the traveler should still have a believable “justification” for the presence of the knife in the event that customs or law enforcement officers ask you why you are carrying a blade. “Self-defense” is never a good justification to use with corrupt third world officials. Remember, most people in foreign countries don’t have the same “right” to self-protection as they do here in the USA. It’s best to have a more innocuous reason for carrying the knife.


I generally carry a Spyderco “Salt” folder when I travel. The knife is made of a special type of stainless steel that does a phenomenal job resisting salt water. Thus, I have a handy justification for my blade; it’s my “diving knife.” That excuse has worked for me no matter where I have traveled. “Dive knives” are commonplace and cause no additional scrutiny. You could even get by with a larger fixed blade knife so long as it looked like it had marine applications. Other “justifications” could be that you are going “camping in the jungle” or that the knife is your “cooking knife.” No matter what justification you choose, have a ready answer for when the cops ask you about the blade. “Cutting throats” is not generally recommended.


If you want to avoid the hassle completely, you can purchase a knife when you arrive in country. Hardware stores or outdoor/camping stores will have the largest selection. You may also be able to acquire a knife at a local market as well. If you buy a knife locally, keep the receipt. If you do get caught carrying it, you can tell the officer that you just bought it as a souvenir to take home with you. Playing the role of the clueless tourist with this excuse might keep you out of jail.


All of these knives were purchased at third world markets as “souvenirs.”

All of these knives were purchased at third world markets as “souvenirs.”


If you can’t find a hardware or outdoor store, don’t forget that you can buy cooking knives at almost any grocery store. A small paring knife won’t cost more than a couple dollars. Use a discarded piece of cardboard (from the inside of a roll of toilet paper) and some duct tape to create a makeshift sheath for safe carry.


If all else fails, stealing a steak knife from a restaurant table is a valid option as well. That may be the best option for cruise ship passengers who have to go through a metal detector every time they get back on the ship. Take a sharp knife from the dinner table and carry it around with you on your land excursion. Dispose of the blade on land before your re-board the ship. Grab another knife at dinner to repeat this process for the following day.


In addition to carrying my Spyderco Salt folder, I also carry a Talonz brand ceramic fixed blade knife. I carry this one because it contains absolutely no metal. While not quite as sharp or durable as a metal blade, the ceramic knife isn’t detected by metal detectors.


Even though it makes it through metal detectors; x-ray or pat-down physical searches will find the blade. If you try to smuggle it into the passenger cabin of a commercial airplane, there is a very good chance you will get caught and go to jail. Spending time in a Federal Penitentiary will ruin your vacation.


I honestly don’t know the laws regarding knife carry for most of the countries I visit…and I really don’t care. I recognize that I may be breaking local laws by carrying a blade, but my personal protection is very important to me. I’ll risk an arrest or fine in exchange for being able to save my own life if I am attacked. You’ll have to make a decision for yourself with regard to what you are willing to risk. It’s “Big Boy Rules.” If you can’t do the time, don’t commit the crime.


With that said, the chance of getting caught and/or arrested when carrying a knife in a third world country is next to zero. If you are smart about carrying the blade, you won’t get caught. If you do get caught, you’ll usually be able to pay off the cop who catches you to avoid going to jail. I’ve only been caught with a knife one time in all of my travels when I had to go through a metal detector unexpectedly in Peru. I gave the knife to the cop. He pocketed it and that was the end of the issue.


To avoid being caught, you have to be smart. Don’t carry your blade clipped to your pocket like you may in the USA. No one carries knives like this in other countries. It’s a huge red flag that cops and security guards will notice very quickly. If you have a folding knife with a clip, carry it down in your pocket or clip it inside your waistband with an untucked shirt. It will be harder to access this way, but you won’t get shaken down by the cops.


Be careful of metal detectors. In third world countries, you will encounter metal detectors in places where you might not expect them to be. Depending on the country and the area, you are likely to find metal detectors in hotel lobbies, train stations, bus stations, government buildings, and museums. If you are sightseeing in those locations, carry the ceramic blade.


I carry my ceramic blade in what’s called a “slip sheath.” I attach the cord on the sheath to my belt or belt loop and then position the blade in my waistband. When I draw the knife, the sheath falls off as soon as it reaches the end of the cord. If I need to have a lower profile, I will shove the knife completely down the front of my pants. The only thing visible is the cord attached to the belt. If you use paracord that is the same color as your belt or your pants, the cord will be barely noticeable. Even if you do get searched by the police, there’s a good chance that they will miss the knife. Male cops don’t tend to check other men’s genital region in a thorough manner.


Talonz Ceramic Knife in “slip sheath” stuck in waistband

Talonz Ceramic Knife in “slip sheath” stuck in waistband


When I pull up on the knife, the cord attached to the belt reaches the end of its range of motion and the knife clears the sheath.

When I pull up on the knife, the cord attached to the belt reaches the end of its range of motion and the knife clears the sheath.


But when the cops are around, you can push the entire blade down into your pants and only the cord shows

But when the cops are around, you can push the entire blade down into your pants and only the cord shows


If you are carrying a metal blade and stumble into a location with searches or metal detectors, you may still be able to get through the security checkpoint without being arrested. Often, police and security guards use metal detecting wands instead of using walk-through metal detectors. The cops get lazy and grow tired of bending over. They regularly won’t sweep body parts that are low to the ground with their metal detector wands. Sticking a knife in your sock or shoe will often allow it to make it through security undetected.


If the shoe isn’t an option, clip the knife to the front of your underwear right behind your pants zipper. That area won’t likely be searched well. If the metal detector does go off, you can blame it on your metal zipper, belt buckle, or pants button.


One other technique that is regularly used by criminals here at home is to allow their female companions to carry the weapons. Women aren’t viewed as being “suspicious” enough to warrant a search in lots of situations. If they are searched, male security guards and cops will avoid searching the breast area or genitals of females. These practices are even more evident in foreign countries than they are here. Clip your knife to the front of your wife or girlfriend’s panties or to her bra strap and she will probably get the blade past security.


In addition to the two blades I mentioned above, I also carry the knife that I designed, the Ka-Bar Last Ditch Knife.  I designed it specifically to be a last ditch weapon or escape tool that could be hidden anywhere on your body and would likely be missed by a cursory pat down search.  I made the blade smaller than a credit card so that it can be hidden in a wallet.  The sheath has multiple attachment points so that it can be taped or safety pinned anywhere inside your clothing.  You can even lace the knife up in your shoelaces.



My LDK knife design


When I travel to countries where kidnapping is a probability, I safety pin the knife inside my pants below the belt line in the small of my back.  In that position, it isn’t likely to be found on a search.  Again, most men don’t want to spend time feeling another dude’s ass.  That position also makes the knife easily accessible if my hands are tied or taped behind my back.  The knife is just the right size to cut my way out of a lot of problems.  I’ve seen some folks tape it to the inside of their belts, carry it on a cord around their necks, or pin it under a lapel.  It’s truly a versatile knife that you can carry anywhere.


Those three blades have traveled around the world with me for many years.  No one ever gives them a second glance, but in a pinch, they’ll work well as defensive weapons.  I carry other weapons as well, but this article is already over 2000 words and I don’t want to bore you.  If you are interested in the pepper sprays, hidden impact weapons, and improvised weapons I carry with me on my foreign travels, check out my upcoming third world travel safety book.   In the book I describe all the weapons I carry and how I avoid getting arrested for carrying them.  It’s worth a read for any of you who travel in “non permissive environments” whether those places are in third world countries or right here in the USA.






Ka-Bar TDI Shark Bite

Ka-Bar TDI Shark Bite 398 500 Greg Ellifritz

The Shark Bite is an inexpensive option for you travelers who have to deal with magnetometers. It has no metallic content, so it can be carried into places where metal knives can’t go.


It’s relatively easy to make a plastic, carbon fiber, or polymer blade.  It’s tougher to make a sheath that contains no metal.  Look at every other polymer knife sheaths you own.  See those metal rivets?  It’s more difficult to make a sheath that doesn’t have them.


The engineers at Ka-Bar figured out an innovative method to carry the knife in a safe manner without using any metal.  The retention on the sheath is created by studs in the sheath that fit through the hole in the center of the knife.  To draw the blade, you simply push on the studs in the center of the sheath with your index finger and the blade pops free of the sheath.


Note the twin studs protruding through the center of the blade. Push those and the knife pops away from the sheath.


So, how do you carry it?  You can run it a ton of different ways.  The slots in the sheath can be slipped over a belt so that the blade can be carried like an outside the waistband holster.  The blade comes with a metallic dog tag chain so you can wear it around your neck.  If you are planning on going through metal detectors, replace the metal chain with something like paracord that is non metallic.


The holes in the sheath allow it to be suspended by a cord around the belt and carried inside the waistband (a slip sheath).  You can also use the holes to lace the blade to your boots or to zip tie the sheath to any piece of Molle gear.


Where I see the best use of this sheath is carried in the front pants pocket.  It’s easy for a person in “business” attire to throw this knife in a front pocket and have a weapon available when they otherwise can’t carry.  The light weight won’t drag down your dress pants like many other blades do.  When I carry mine, that’s how I do it.  Inside the front, strong side pants pocket.  It’s very concealable and pretty quick to access.  If you want a little more stability and a more consistent draw stroke, attach the sheath to a Raven Concealment Pocket Shield.


I think this is the ideal weapon for those of you who travel on cruise ships.  If you are going through metal detectors on reentry, but not getting physically searched, this one will get through every time and give you a weapon option for when you go ashore.



If you haven’t seen the Shark Bite, you ought to check it out.  For less than $15 it provides a protection option that you can take almost anywhere.












The links above from are affiliate links.  If you purchase these items, I get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.


US Knife Laws

US Knife Laws 1024 576 Greg Ellifritz

Most of this blog focuses on foreign travel.  With that said, I realize a lot of you prefer to travel in the USA instead.  If your destination state does not have a reciprocity agreement with your home state in regards to concealed carry, many of you will choose to carry a knife for self protection in lieu of your firearm.


It may be useful to know each state’s knife laws before you carry there.


Staying out of jail is a good thing.


Knife Laws and Regulations of All 50 States



The Static Cord

The Static Cord 300 225 Greg Ellifritz

Do you know about the simple static cord?  Read the article below

Simple Knife Carry Hack – The Static Cord

Me using static cords to carry both a pistol and a blade.

The static cord is a very good way to carry a fixed blade knife for optimal concealment.  It provides easy access, but you can shove the entire knife down into your pants if necessary and nothing will be seen.  This is how I carry my ceramic knife (will go through metal detector) when I travel internationally.

I had Matt from Zulu Bravo Kydex custom make a non-metallic sheath for the blade.