How to Choose the Ultimate Wilderness Survival Knife
In a survival situation, a good knife can mean the difference between life and death. And while the right skills can get you far with any knife, there are some features that make certain survival knives better than others. Choosing a survival knife is a personal choice, but there are some things you should consider when comparing models:
StatGear 99416 Surviv-All Outdoor Knife with Firestarter
Our favorite for 2017
Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife
A great value option
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
A really great knife
- User feedback: What do other people think of the knife? Have they had a good experience with it? Or, did it break after just a few heavy uses? You need a knife that can withstand the rigorous demands of a survival situation. If the knife has a pummel, you don’t want it to crack or break after one or two uses. Customer feedback can help you determine if the knife is up to the job.
- Knife brand: Brands are important in the knife world. Some are known for their quality, while others are known for being budget-friendly but not quite as durable. Look for knives made by companies that you know and respect – you’re less likely to be disappointed with your experience.
- Versatility: Are you looking for a multi-purpose knife, or a simple fixed blade knife with a sharp edge? Some knives include fire starters, flashlights, and other survival tools to help you in an emergency situation. A basic fixed blade won’t have as many uses, but is still a highly valuable tool and does its job well. Knowing what type of knife you want can help you narrow down your choices.
Deciding which knife to carry in the backcountry is a personal one. What works for you may not work for someone else. But there are some knives that are highly respected by bushcrafters and outdoor enthusiasts.
These five knives are affordable, versatile and trusted by hikers, campers, hunters and survivalists around the world.
Gerber Bear Grylls – With a molded rubber grip, the Gerber Bear Grylls is a versatile survival knife made famous by the Man vs Wild TV and show. The saw ground black blade features a serrated blade edge that’s made of stainless steel. At the top of the rubberized handle is two holes that can be used to lash the knife to a stick, and use it as a spear.
The rubber grip makes it easy to hold onto the knife regardless of the weather conditions. It doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or if you’re sweating in 100-degree weather, this knife won’t slip out of your hands.
At the bottom of the knife handle is a heavy-duty pommel that can be used as a hammer. Attached to the pummel is a lanyard whistle that can be used to attract attention in emergency situations.
With a fire starter and sharpener in the sheath, this knife will prepare you for just about anything.
StatGear 99416 Surviv-All – The Surviv-All knife from StatGear features a full tang blade made of 440 stainless steel. It’s durable, lightweight and easy to grip – exactly what you need in an emergency situation.
The blade itself is 4.25 inches in length, while the entire knife length is 9.5 inches. At just 7.5 ounces, this knife won’t weigh you down.
This fixed blade knife can do more than just cut cords and branches. The knife’s sheath features a cord cutter and a fire starter. It also includes a sharpening stone, so you can keep your blade razor sharp. The rubber handle makes it easy to grip this knife in all weather conditions.
Affordable and versatile, this is a knife that you want by your side in a survival situation.
Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife – The Ontario 499 Air Force is simple – it doesn’t come with a fire starter, cord cutter, or an LED flashlight. But its simplicity is that makes it such a fantastic survival knife. For those of you who don’t know, the 499 survival knife has been carried by pilots for generations as a survival tool in any environment.
Made in the USA, this knife has a leather handle and sheath. The 5” Parkerized blade features a serrated top edge and is GSA compliant.
With a full tang blade, this knife is one of the best bushcraft knife models out there. And it comes with its own pouch and sharpening stone.
Outdoor Nation 3-in-1 Tactical Pocket Folding Knife – If you’re looking for a versatile survival knife, Outdoor Nations’ three-in-one tactical pocket folding knife may just be the perfect choice for you.
This folding rescue survival knife features an LED light, magnesium firestarter and flint, so you can see in the dark and start a fire if you need to. It also comes equipped with a belt clip and a partially serrated edge.
When opened, the knife spans 8 inches long, and the blade itself is 3.5” long. When closed, the knife is 5 inches long. Weighing just 4.6 ounces, this knife can easily fit in your back pocket or be carried in a backpack.
The versatility that this knife offers makes it one of the best outdoor survival knives out there.
BlizeTec Survival Knife – One of the best tactical knives out there, BlizeTec’s three-in-one survival knife features a fixed blade, full tang, magnesium firestarter, belt pouch, and an LED flashlight. The classic Pakka Wood handle is easy to grip and ergonomically designed for added comfort. At the end of the handle is a hole so you can lash knife to a spear or hook it onto backpack.
The 30° blade is made of 420 stainless steel and features a partially serrated edge that’s razor-sharp. Inside the sheath, you’ll find a fire starter and a mini LED flashlight powered by AA battery. The flashlight can last up to 30 hours, and the firestarter will deliver 12,000 strikes.
Although a little more costly than the other models on our list, BlizeTec survival fixed blade knife is backed by a lifetime warranty and delivers the durability you need to survive emergencies.
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Best Outdoors Knife for You
When shopping for an outdoor knife, what features should you be looking for? While the right knife for you will depend on your own skill level and personal preference, there are some features that every good survival knife has.
- Full tang: it’s important to choose a knife with a full tang design. This means that the blade’s steel runs all the way to the end of the handle in one single piece. Knives that are partial tangs are weaker and less durable.
- Fixed blade: Although some folding knives are great for survival use, fixed blades are often preferred by survivalists. Why? Because fixed blades are less likely to break. They also have thicker, more durable blades.
- Comfortable grip: make sure that the handle of the knife is comfortable and easy to hold. It’s also best to choose a knife that has a rubberized or textured grip to prevent it from slipping out of your hands in wet conditions.
- Blade length: A blade length of 4 to 6 inches is typically recommended for survival knives. Knives with smaller or larger blades typically don’t have the same versatility. With that said, blade length is a personal choice, so choose the size that suits you best.
- Easy to sharpen: Many other survival knives now come with a sharpener on the sheath. This will help you keep your blade sharp. Also, pay attention to the steel that the knife is made of and the profile edge. A compound blade is easy to sharpen in the backcountry, but a hollow-ground blade is more difficult to hone.