What’s the Best Survival Knife?
One of the most important items you will ever need in the woods is a quality fixed blade knife. This is especially true when put in a situation where your survival may rely on it. A trustworthy survival knife is an essential tool for anyone who frequents the outdoors and is definitely in the top 4 items I would consider mandatory next to fire, clean water, and shelter. With all the options out there, it can be hard to determine what the Best Survival Knife is for your needs. Here are a few of my favorite.
I’ve carried a variety of knives and never leave the house without one. When in the outdoors, I always carry one larger fixed blade alongside a small folding blade that is tucked away for more refined gear. A solid fixed blade, when put into a survival situation, could drastically improve your chances for survival. The reason behind a fixed blade is that they are thick, large, and heavy duty and take a lot of punishment. There are no folding mechanisms or other moving parts to fail, and generally come with a sheath that can be easily attached to a shoulder strap, belt loop, or MOLLE system.
For the purposes of this comparison, all knives I’ve selected for this list have been kept under the $80 price point (not MSRP), must be a fixed blade, and have a blade length of 4″ or over. These are not fancy collectors nice with expensive steel, these are tools made to function and perform a task. Each knife on this list was hand selected based upon my own experience, and they are but a few of the myriads of great knives from a lot of manufacturers. Also, these are in no particular order, they are all great knives, all highly recommended.
SOG Jungle Warrior
This is a big bad knife. Realistically, the SOG Jungle Warrior is closer to being a Bowie Knife than a camp knife, but I couldn’t help but throw this in here! As far as functionality and practical use, this thing is large and thick and works great to split small limbs from trees and make kindling for a fire. In terms of blade length, it’s only 1″ shorter than the Gerber Gator Machete Jr which is 10.75″, albeit it is of a far superior quality.
Unfortunately, it is a little clumsy as a utility knife and because of the large 9-3/4″ blade, it is not ideal for processing game or fish. But what this knife does, it does amazing at, and that’s the tough limb splitting, bone sawing, rough and tumble type of activities. If you are looking for an absolute beast of a knife to hack and slash your way through the Forrest or cut large ropes after you’ve climbed the cliffs of insanity, than this is an ideal choice.
Gerber Big Rock Camp Knife
The Big Rock Camp Knife by Gerber definitely balances the fine line of quality and price. This is a very simplistic knife of I have owned several over the years and still keep one handy in my spare gear. I have taken this knife on many outings, split kindling, cut ropes, and even prepared fresh trout in the mountains with it. After a week of backpacking with fires, fishing, and cooking this knife kept its blade after I absolutely punished it. I literally split kindling for 20 minutes by using this knife and a rock as a hammer, and then turned around, cleaned it, and gut two fish and prepped them for camp dinner.
As with many of the knives on this list, one of the great features of this knife is the option to purchase it in either a fine or serrated edge to meet your specific needs and usage model. The knife itself including the nylon sheath are on the lighter side and make great camp knives for backpacking or long trips when weight is a consideration.
Schrade Extreme Survival F26
There’s not much to say about the Schrade Extreme Survival F26, and that’s not a bad thing. This is a good looking knife with a 5.4″ blade, Textured Rubber (Elastic) Grips, and Ballistic Nylon Sheath that covers all the basic necessities of a utility survival knife, and it does it well for a great cost. The Schrade Extreme Survival F26 has received great reviews from its users as well as professional industries praising its high quality, great finish, and simplicity as a great tool for a large facet of applications. The Schrade F26 is thick and heavy duty, weighing considerably more than many of the fixed blades on this list, making it great for more intense applications.
SOG Seal Pup
The SOG Seal Pup is a classic and popular carry choice for all applications. To say this knife is well used would be an understatement. When it comes to the balance of simplicity, durability, and price point, the SOG Seal Pup does it well on all front’s and because of that has been a top choice of hunters, outdoors-men, military, and professionals time and again.
In terms of finish quality, the SOG Seal Pup has feel of quality and look of simplicity that appeals to many, myself included. The knife comes available with a serrated edge, glass reinforced nylon grips, and high quality powder coated finish. The blade also comes available in a variety of finishes, my personal favorite being the Hardcased Black TINI.
Buck Selkirk Survival Knife
What sort of list would this be if I didn’t include a Buck Knife? Buck is a household name and there is a reason for that. The Buck Selkirk Survival Knife is a cost effective offering from Buck Knives that is solid, thick, and mostly compact for easy carry. The blade length is just 4-5/8″ making it the third smallest on this list. You might think the smaller blade would be a negative, but this knife holder sits own when splitting limbs or performing other heavy duty applications.
Because of its smaller size, the Selkirk makes for a convenient game and fish processing knife. This knife also makes a great camp kitchen knife, is great for repairing clothing and performing maintenance on gear. As a bonus, this knife often comes paired with a Buck Flint Striker for emergency fires, which in of itself can be a great life preserving tool in an emergency.
Ka-Bar Short Black Serrated
As far as iconic knives, this one is at the top of the list in popularity. The Ka-Bar fighting knife series is commonly issued to military personnel, including the USMC and US NAVY, and several foreign military units. The US ARMY is issued the M9 Bayonet for those wondering.
Short of its infamy and pop culture status, this knife really does represent quality and durability in a woods survival knife. It is basic, it is tough, and offers great versatility in the remote wilderness. The knife comes standard in a variety of finishes, the all black again being my favorite, but also has more colorful options for those looking for them.
Gerber LMF II
This is another great pick from Gerber. The Gerber LMF II knife is a solid choice for a survival carry option and has quite a few features that make it a top pick in this list. The blade on this knife is a convenient 4.84″ length, making it great for preparing meals or processing game. The knife comes in a variety of color options and the blade comes standard with a lower front serrated edge. One of the more notable features of the LMF II is a completely separated butt cap that is a great tool for hammer work.
The sheath that comes with the Gerber LMF II is one of my favorites. It is a ballistic nylon material and contains multiple loops making it an idea option when integrating with a MOLLE style vest or Thigh Strap for easy access. When in the back country I like to carry my Fixed Blades in one of two places, either off my left shoulder with the handle facing downward or by using a thigh strap on my right leg. Both of these give very easy and quick access and do not block or interfere with my other gear. Carrying it on the belt loop is not an option for me in this situation, and the Gerber LMF II sheath works great for my needs.
Kershaw LoneRock Large Gut Hook
The Kershaw LoneRock is a solid and budget friendly offering from Kershaw, offering some great features. One of the best features of a knife like the Kershaw LoneRock is its ergonomic shape. While this isn’t ideal in situations where splitting or heavy duty hammer or sawing are required, it definitely lends itself to game and fish preparation. Pair this with the included gut hook, and you have a handy one tool solution. The K-Texture grips and great ergonomics of this knife make it very easy to maintain control when working in wet or slippery conditions.
Kershaw Camp 10
Here is another offering from Kershaw in the budget friendly Survival Knives. We previously mentioned the Kershaw LoneRock, which is a great choice for fixed blade multi-function survival knife, however it completely stands apart from Kershaw Camp 10. What the Kershaw LoneRock lacks, the Camp 10 fills in for, and vice-versa. If the LoneRock is a knife with ergonomics and finesse, the Camp 10 is its big dumb brother. Hulk Smash. This knife won’t do you a lot of good with preparing game or processing fresh trout, but what it will do is split limbs, hammer stakes, and hacks its way through the thick brush like flawlessly.
Because of its size, the Kershaw Camp 10 has far less uses than many on this list. That is not a bad thing, because what it does, it does well, and it’ll last you through. This thing is closer to a small machete than a camp knife, but who’s counting. The Kershaw Camp 10 is ideally carried alongside a smaller folding blade for versatility, and between the two will cover basically every need in the back country. If this thing had a screw driver and a flux capacitor, it’d be flawless.
All jokes aside, if you catch Paul Hogan standing on the street corner with this thing, I’d suggest you walk the other way.
Browning is a great company with a rich history and quality products. The Browning Ignite is no exception. This knife has become a survival favorite of many across the USA and around the world, and offers some great features at a very budget focused price point. The Browning Ignite comes in a variety of color options and features a 4″ fixed blade, making it the smallest on this list. Being the smallest doesn’t mean you are the weakest, and this knife pulls its own again and again.
The Browning Vortex comes with a standard Nylon sheath and also houses a Fire Starting Flint for emergency fires in the wilderness. This is another one of those knives that fits nicely into the middle ground of versatility, making a decent skinner and game/fish processing knife, camp kitchen knife, gear repair tool, and limb wedge for preparing firewood. This is a great option for carrying off the shoulder or via a thigh strap for easy access.