When camping, hiking or engaging in any outdoor activity, it’s always best to come prepared. Survival knives are multitools that are useful in a variety of different circumstances when camping.
These circumstances can include construction, opening cans or packaging, cutting bandages, ropes or cloth, carving additional tools, preparing food or cutting wood.
Different types of survival knives can be utilized in different ways and each have their own features, pros and cons.
Things to Consider when Buying a Survival Knife
The size of the knife of your choice really does matter. When camping or hiking, it’s always important to pack as lightly as possible to avoid any unnecessary strain. Whilst some things can help mitigate this such as car camping or being able to drive straight up to a campsite, it’s still something that should be considered.
In survival, a knife needs to be small enough to make precise cuts, but also big enough to handle heavier tasks such as cutting wood. The general consensus is that a survival knife should be around 9 to 11 inches long, as that range offers the largest variety of uses. As a result, most knives marketed towards survival are medium sized and take into consideration the uses which a survival knife has.
The different types of survival knives usually all have different types of blade. Blades can be tailored to specialist areas, for instance some knives are better suited for cutting ice. One must consider if they want a specialised blade or a more usable one for their trips.
As the blade is arguably the most important part of a knife, it’s important to ensure that the one you’ll be using is durable and strong. The whole length of the blade will be used performing different tasks when camping or during other survivalist tasks, so it’s important that the blade is strong and reliable enough to complete these tasks. The ideal shape for a survival knife is that of a spear blade. The spear blade design keeps the tip of the blade light, whilst also maintaining a consistent weight throughout the rest of the blade.
The versatility of a blade is immensely important when it comes to survival. Being able to complete a variety of different tasks using one single knife is obligatory. Even though the idea of a large, tactical blade might be appealing, you’d struggle to complete more precise and concise tasks with it. This is why smaller to medium sized knives are more suited to survival, as they have a greater range of uses and are easier to carry as a result of their size. Versatility is a big part of survival and camping, as it ensures the only supplies you’re carrying are essentials and takes away the need to carry multiple items that only serve one purpose, rather than carrying one item that can serve multiple purposes.
Survival knives are great if you’re camping on a budget, due to their multiple uses.
The handle of a survival knife is also important when picking out a reliable survival knife. The end of the handle – known as the butt – can be used in some situations as well. Survival knives are multipurpose tools, so it only makes sense that the whole tool can be utilized in some way. The butt of some knives can be used as a hammer, to break glass or even to open bottles. Realistically, the most useful of these applications is the dual ability as a light hammer, in which a flat butt is needed. Hammers can be heavy to carry – even lightweight ones – so having a substitute is preferred.
The tip of the blade may seem like a rather benign part of a survival knife, but it does have its applications. A blade tip should be just the right shape for fine point work, which is necessary when completing tasks such as making a fire without a lighter.
Looking After a Survival Knife
The maintenance of a survival knife is important to keep it in working condition and to make sure it doesn’t degrade over time. Whilst the durability of a survival knife is key to finding a reliable one, looking after a survival knife also helps it maintain its durability. There are a couple of ways to keep your survival knife in the best condition it can be.
Sharpening a knife is key to keeping it usable. A dull knife can lose its precision and cause more trouble than it’s worth. Keeping your knife sharp will save energy and ensure that the knife remains as effective as it can be. Sharpening a knife can be done in a few different ways. Investing in an electric knife sharpener may be ideal if you frequently use survival knives. This is a quick way to sharpen knives but is also quite expensive, so it’s best to weigh up options.
- On the contrary, there are cheaper ways to sharpen knives. One such way is by either using whetstone or a ceramic stone. These two methods take slightly longer, but can be used to modify your knife’s sharpness to the exact amount you want it to be. The latter two options also work equally well in the wild, which is ideal if you’re camping or on a survival trip.
Lubricating the knife or sheath can help keep the longevity of the blade. Every time a survival knife is pulled from the sheath, a small level of friction is applied.
- By applying friction repeatedly over an extended period of time, the knife’s sharpness may become compromised. Keeping the knife or the inside of the sheath lubricated is a good way to reduce this friction – and also a cheap way of doing so as well.
- Common household lubricant or oil should do the trick and could potentially keep you from needing to sharpen your survival knife often.
Keeping a survival knife dry is essential to keep rust or other unwanted effects away. Keeping your survival knife in a sheath and away from moisture is necessary to keep it in good condition. This goes for most camping equipment, too.
- If there’s room in the bottom of the sheath, a packet of silica gel could also go a long way to keep moisture in the air away.
Keeping your Knife Clean
Cleanliness goes a long way for everything, including survival knives. A clean knife is safer and more reliable. The ragged edges of a knife are a breeding ground for dirt and germs, and for an instrument that could be potentially cutting dinner tonight, it’s important to make sure it’s as clean as it can possibly be.
- To keep a knife clean, wash it with running water and soap, and ensure it’s fully dry before being put back in the sheath to prevent moisture and rust.
Different Types of Survival Knives
Knowing what to consider when buying a survival knife will help you decide which knife is most suited to your needs.
1. Boot Knives
Boot knives are fairly small, with a blade of around 3- 3.5 inches. They’re known for being easy to carry and, as the name suggests, they are easily tucked into a boot, under a pant leg or in a belt. Whilst boot knives are easy to carry, they aren’t the most suitable knife for survival and they aren’t particularly versatile. Boot knives are usually used as a last resort or as a backup if another knife fails.
2. Folding Survival Knives
Folding survival knives are similar to boot knives in the fact that they are incredibly easy to carry whilst not being the most reliable knives on the market. Folding knives are convenient, small and ideal for small tasks like whittling or cutting fabric or bandages. They aren’t particularly durable, but make up for it in their convenience.
3. Tactical Knives
Tactical knives are ones which are used mostly as a multitool. These knives often have a serrated area, and the handles are durable enough to act as a makeshift lighthammer. Tactical knives are created with the army in mind, and are designed to be versatile and durable. A good tactical knife can be expensive, however, but it will pay itself off with its years of continuous use.
4. Tanto Knives
The tanto knife has its roots in Japan, where it was traditionally referred to as a short sword. Its main uses in history were to pierce the armor of opponents. With years of engineering, tanto knives still have their uses today, and are incredibly useful in survival. The sleek design of the tanto knife assists in its ability to slice, scrape and cut very easily. It’s a very durable knife and can be used for a variety of different purposes.
5. EMS Knives
Members of the emergency medical services can often carry knives with them in the event of extreme circumstances. As a result, EMS knives can be operated with one hand, are quick to open and are multifunctional. Some EMS knives also have a stud at the end which can be used as a glass breaker. These knives are ideal for cutting bandages and fabric, as they are routinely used by emergency services.
6. Combat Knives
Combat knives are designed with the army in mind. These knives are used by all members of the armed forces and are made to be durable, efficient and useful. These knives can be long lasting and with their durability, can go a while without needing to be sharpened.
7. Buck Hunting Knives
Whilst known as buck hunting knives, these knives are actually made for skinning. As a result, buck hunting knives are useful for cutting, scraping and chopping in addition to skinning. The thin blade that these knives possess enables them to carry out these tasks with ease, and they are extremely useful for chopping materials to create a shelter if you’re out in the wilderness.