The knife: A foundational tool of human civilization. In its simplest form, a knife is just a sharp edge with a place to safely hold it. Avid Field Mag readers know we tend to believe a less-is-more approach to outdoor gear design is often the best path to success, but when it comes to knives—particularly, survival knives—sometimes more is more.
When venturing into nature, carrying a trustworthy pocket knife is highly recommended—it is one of the 10 essentials, after all. A Swiss Army Knife will do for most lightweight backpacking needs. A multi-tool is great for car camping. Your dad’s old folding Buck knife oughta work well enough in most casual situations, too.
So what makes a knife a survival knife? Well, as unhelpful as it sounds, a survival knife is any knife you’ve suddenly become dependent on to survive. This could, in theory, be the simple pen knife you keep on a keychain if the situation is dire enough. For our purposes, let’s say you’re a little more prepared than that, and you’ve gotten a specific knife to help you survive, or practice surviving. (Sorry Team Zombie Apocalypse Survivalists, no carbon steel machetes on this list.)
What should I look for in a survival knife?
The two most important elements in most survival situations are fire and shelter. You’ll need some ingenuity and know-how to achieve both, but a good knife will make the job a lot easier.