Nothing is more essential than a good knife. It’s the ultimate tool and when you buy one, you can never imagine when and where you’ll need it. The applications are endless, and this winter, I’m using a Freescape folding knife from Gerber. The partially serrated blade makes cutting anything easy, and it has a safety mechanism, so you can lock it closed or lock it open, minimizing accidents. It’s compact enough to fit in your pocket, but sturdy enough to stand up to the rigors of living in the backcountry. Two thumb studs make for easy one-handed opening, and the textured rubber handle means it won’t slip out of your palm. The Freescape also comes with a carrying case for your belt. $53; gerbergear.com.