Survival Knife Features
The survival knife is the single most important item any outdoors man can carry on them. Almost all survival experts will tell you if they could bring only one item with them into the wild it would be their knife. However, it is important to note that not all knives are created equal and not all are designed to handle harsh environments and the beating they will endure in a survival situation. Just like you wouldn’t use a VW Bug to tow a trailer full of mulch, you wouldn’t use a kitchen knife to build a survival shelter with! Like vehicles, all knives are designed with a purpose. Whether that purpose is for self defense, use in the kitchen or opening boxes. If you are looking for a survival knife, then you want to make sure it was designed specifically to be used in wilderness.
Even under the term “Survival Knives” there are many different styles and designs to choose from. It really depends on the individuals taste, the intended environment (forest, desert, jungle, etc.) and to some degree the users skill. Despite differences in looks, many of the best survival knives share some common characteristics:
- Full Tang: This means that the blade and handle are made of one single piece of steal with the handle grips attached to the outside of the metal. This makes the knife very durable and you are less likely to have the handle break off from the blade.
- Length: Most survival knives have a blade of at least 5″ long and some are much longer. One reason for this is for the knife to effectively be used to “baton” larger pieces of wood into smaller ones to be used for kindling or other purposes. The length of your knife directly influences how large of a piece of wood you can split with this method.
- Pointed Tip: Not all knives come to a sharp point at the end. Some have an angled, rounded, hooked, or straight cut tips. This depends on what use the knife was designed for. Having a pointed tip allows you to also use the knife for self defense or hunting as well as other uses.
- Flat Spine: You want your survival knife to have a single blade with a flat spine. The flat spine is mostly used to strike a spark using a ferro-rod and used to apply force when “batoning” wood.
There are many other bells and whistles (literally) you may find in so called “Survival Knives” today but many of them are not necessary or of high quality. As long as your knife meets the four points above, it should prove to be very effective in the wild and in most survival situations. Below is a list of what I think are the best survival knives on the market today. Despite their differences in design and style, all of them have been proven to work extremely well in the wilderness.
10 of the Best Survival Knives
Tom Brown Tracker
The Tracker was designed by wilderness expert and founder of the Tracker School, Tom Brown Jr. He came up with the design when he was not satisfied with any of the other knives on the market. He designed this knife with multi-functionality in mind. You can use this for delicate work like skinning game then use the same knife to saw through branches or even bone. It features a shorter blade than many at 4.25″ but comes with an extended handle for increased leverage and is perfectly balanced to allow for accurate throwing. It also comes with a heavy duty sheath designed to carry the knife in a horizontal position. This knife can be seen in the 2003 movie “The Hunted” starring Tommy Lee Jones. It was chosen for its aggressive look but it should be noted that although this knife was featured in Hollywood, it was not designed for Hollywood. This knife was designed to be versatile and effective survival knife. [Buy Now]
The elegant A1 was designed by the Swedish company Falkniven. It features a 6.375″ spear point blade with a Kraton handle. Popular among European military, this knife has gained a reputation for its extreme durability and is said to be “bulletproof”. [Buy Now]
The TOPS Tahoma Field Knife was Designed by fellow survival youtuber Andy Tran and is packed full of unique features. You can check out his channel here: Inner bark Outdoors. This knife includes lashing holes, over sized finger choil for fine carving, top of blade scoring for lifting pots or breaking wire, divots in the handle for use with a fire bow drill and a pry bar pommel as well as many more features. This knife was designed to incorporates the functionality of many other tools while not forgetting its core purpose of being an excellent survival knife. The knife it self is made of 1095 high carbon steel with a 7 1/4″ blade. [Buy Now]
The Gerber LMF II is the big brother to the Bear Grylls Survival Knife and is issued in the U.S. Military. This knife is not just a 4.84″ 420HC Stainless steal blade, it also includes a glass punch on the bottom of the handle, lashing holes, a nylon handle designed to absorb shock and a carbide sharpener built into the sheath. [Buy Now]
KA-Bar US Marine Corps Fighting Knife
This iconic KA-BAR knife was designed for our troops during WWII and has served as the go to knife for many during the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. It features a 7″ 1095 Cro-Van steel blade with a leather handle and of course is made in the USA. Although this knife is designed to be a fighting knife it extremely effective as a utility tool and it’s uses are only limited by the imagination of the user. [Buy Now]
The SOG SE38-N may not be as sexy as some of the others on this list but it has it where it counts. This knife is designed for one purpose, to cut and pierce. It features a 6″ straight blade made out of AUS-8 steel and is covered in a hardcase black finish. SOG’s claims their unique cryogenic heat treatment process results in an overall increase in toughness and heightened wear-resistance. SOG knives are a favorite among law enforcement and military who need a reliable tool. [Buy Now]
The ESEE 6 is a popular choice among survivalists and comes highly recommended by many youtubers. The 1095 high carbon steel blade it is made of makes it especially suited for rough handling and “abuse”. This knife has a reputation of being able to cut wood all day long then still be sharp enough at the end of the day to gut an animal. The knife features a flat ground 6.5″ blade which features jimping on the spine for increased thumb grip. The handle is made out of Grey Micarta scales for an excellent grip. [Buy Now]
Cold Steel’s Gurkha Kukri
Cold Steel designed the Gurkha Kukri to chop as well as well as a Japanese Katana! The blade is almost an inch wider at its tip than it is at its base in order to move the center of balance forwards allowing for less effort required to swing. The knife features a 12″ high carbon steel blade. This knife is designed to cut through thick foliage and small branches with ease and is obviously tailored towards certain climates more than others. [Buy Now]
Ka-Bar Becker BK2
Another Ka-Bar has made the list, this one a little bit more modern than the WWII USMC Fighting Knife. While the previous knife was designed first as a fighting knife, the Becker BK2 was designed as a wilderness tool. It can be used for splitting logs, gutting animals or carving branches. The 5.5″ blade is made of 1095 cro-van steel and has a 20 degree blade angle. [Buy Now]
Spyderco Bushcraft G-10
A little smaller than some of the others on this list at 3.9″ but makes up for it in it’s high quality. Designed by bushcraft expert Chris Claycombe of BushcraftUK.com. It features a features Scandinavian grind with no hand guard. [Buy Now]