A Beginner’s Guide To Survival Knives

A Beginner’s Guide To Survival Knives

Surviving alone in the wilderness can be tough. However, it is a valuable learning experience. Whether you are hiking, camping or backpacking, a situation can arise where a sharp weapon can be the most useful tool.

A survival knife will be the solution to many of the problems that you will face on outdoor adventures.

What is a survival knife?

A survival knife means precisely what it sounds like- a handy tool to ensure your well-being. Its uses range from simplifying small tasks to handling emergencies. It is perhaps the most useful tools you can invest in as an adventurer.

Truthfully, when you are out on your own in the wild, a lot can go wrong. As responsible campers or hikers, you should be ready for any direction that a trip may take.

Why do you need a survival knife?

A survival knife is useful when things go wrong and even when they go as planned. These are the eight reasons why you should buy a survival knife before venturing on your next camping or hiking trip:

  1. To build a fire

Building a fire is an essential component of any outdoor adventure. It is used for heat, cooking food and act as a signal in times of emergency. A steel knife is a tried-and-tested way to start a fire.

2. To make a shelter

By using a knife instead of bare hands, you save much-needed energy and time. A survival knife makes building a shelter exponentially easier.  These are some of the uses of the survival knife in creating a shelter:

To clear the area that you will be building the shelter on.

To baton the trees and branches, you need to construct the shelter.

To cut the cordage with the knife.

To notch branches and trees for sturdier shelter.  

3. To hunt and clean prey

Attach a survival knife to a piece of wood with a rope and make a spear. It will be the perfect tool to hunt animals.

A survival knife can be useful to facilitate a range of challenges while cooking as well.

After hunting, clear the fur of the animal before cooking with the knife. You can also use it to debone and remove scales off of a fish. One of the common items to bring on a camping trip is canned food. Use a survival knife to open cans when you forget the opener at home.

4. To clear the path

While there are some forests where there is a trail to follow, there are many where you have to clear the path as you walk. Some plants can cause allergies or be poisonous. Forge your own way with a survival knife and stay safe.

5. For first aid

A survival knife is very handy in case of an injury or accident. Use it to remove foreign objects from the wound and quickly tear clothes to make bandages.

6. To dig trenches

Building a trench around your campsite is vital to ensure that your tent doesn’t flood if it rains. A survival knife with a sharp blade is a useful tool for this purpose.   

7. To defend yourself

This is the most extreme use of the knife, however the most important one too. It is important to remember here that a knife is traditionally a weapon. Use it to defend yourself against animals and other people. A survival knife is also useful to make weapons out of wood. Use it to cut and sharpen a piece of wood. Or make and use the spear mentioned before to defend yourself.

How to choose a survival knife?


Arguably a medium-sized survival knife is the best to buy. A knife with a big blade will pose a problem while pursuing detailed tasks and may compromise precision. On the other hand, a small blade will not perform well with tasks like chopping wood and batoning.

Fixed v/s folding blade

While folding blade knives are smaller than fixed blade knives and thus easier to carry, a fixed blade knife is a better choice due to its many advantages. A fixed blade is more dependable than a folding blade is, especially in times of emergency. It also does not break easily. Lastly, it is also easier to clean, as there is no hinge.


While the make of the blade is an essential criterion for selecting a survival knife, the handle is also worthwhile. The wrong handle can give a weak grip on the knife or cause blisters. Don’t opt for hollow handles as the knife will have no tang. A full or half tang means less chance of breakage, and thus your knife won’t betray you in the time of need.

These are the three factors that can help you choose a quality survival knife. While you may develop preferences as you become more experienced, ensure that the primary factors are met.

Sean Lockwood

Sean is a programmer with a passion for extreme sports. Favourite extreme sports discipline is biathlon. Started this blog because of the great love for nature and adrenaline which results in something extreme like Extreme Sports Lab (ESL).

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