The best survival knife for your outdoor adventures and everyday use must meet specific criteria to even be considered. Over the years I have been in situations where my knife has let me down in one way or another. The fact is that when out in the wilderness you want to be able to rely on your tool 100%.
Not All Survival Knives Are Made The Same.
A knife may be considered the most primitive of technology, people have been using metal one-sided knives for over 5000 years to cook, prepare food, and even on other people. Many knives available on the market today are designed with multiuse, reliability, and durability in mind. The primitive technology has evolved to quality options available, but research is vital because you do not want to find out you are relying on a faulty tool once you are deep into your trip. I have compiled a list of reviews of the top woodland knives for all budgets so you can make an informed decision on your woodland survival tool. Few things get me more annoyed than investing the money, and weight in my pack on a tool that proves ineffective or even dangerous.
What Is The Criteria For A Quality Survival Knife?
- You want quality steel that holds up to use. This video below explains in depth why the type of steel on your knife matters and the variations you should know about. The fact is that most of the offerings that are worthy of your time use quality steel as a point of pride, but be sure not to get pulled into some off-brand or attractive knife at a trade show without knowing enough about the steel used.
- The knife must be sturdy. I know people who have been to the urgent care center for stitches after a knife collapsed on itself. This painful lesson should not have to be learned first hand. Remember knives are not created equally and it is not just about the sharpness but about every single component and material used in the knife.
- Ease of use and carry is vital. This refers to details such as the sheath, the size, and ease of storage in an available location on yourself while outdoors. If the is so large it must be carried in your bag, then it will reduce its use in an emergency. On the other hand, if it is too small it may not be effective either. The ability to grip the handle and rely on it in a variety of angles and situations is of utmost importance as well, no one wants their knife to slip while they are preparing dinner, cleaning an animal, or during any use out in the wild. The knife design and ease of use should be studied as much as the thickness and steel type.
- Your knife will be most useful if these elements are applied to more than one use. Every aspect of the knife must be quality but a multi-use tool while out in the wilderness is worth more than a single-use item.
A Dull Knife Is More Dangerous Than A Sharp Knife.
Think about it, if you are out in the wilderness you wan to be able to rely on your tool at all times. A dull knife may slip and the force used to apply enough pressure to try to cut with it can end up slicing up yourself or someone else pretty bad. In your kitchen at home, this is a painful inconvenience and maybe even a trip to urgent care. In the wilderness, the same cut can become life-threatening for a variety of reasons. This is an important tenet to keep in mind no matter the knife you end up choosing as your every day or bush carry.
Why Does The Knife You Carry Matter?
Any outdoors person knows that every single ounce counts in your bag, and every item must have optimal use to be worthy of its space and weight. Choosing a survival knife is one of the most important decisions to make before you go out into the wild. I found myself giving away items at base camps on my journey more than once because a seemingly useful item just did not justify itself. You want to make sure any tool you choose to carry is tried and true before you add it to your pack.
Finding a wilderness survival knife that is quality was a bit of work. It took research, and you can find more information I have written about how to choose a survival knife. I have compiled a list of the ones that have “made the cut” for various reasons so you can reference a comprehensive guide for purchasing a knife you can rely on in all situations.
Five Real Reviews For Wilderness Survival Knives
Best survival knife For A Budget and Strong Hands
This knife is made with a Sleipner steel blade which means that it will keep its edge for a while and is hard to rust. It is sturdy, a little large, and if you have the hand size and strength to wield it, it can be your full time go to. It may be considered cumbersome to some. I enjoyed the versatility of this particular piece, in fact, it is the best in general for an expert with a budget. The size of the knife is just over 12 inches overall, full tang, with 7 inches of exposed steel blade.
- Reliable from the materials used to the design you can count on this piece.
- Full tang blade for durability.
- The thickness of this knife stands out, it is virtually indestructible.
- Sharp quality Sleipner steel that holds up to use.
- The price point is low in relation to quality. You will discover that there are many lower quality knives at this same price.
- This knife can take some abuse. If you are one to use your knife a lot, you will be pleasantly surprised at how well it holds up without chipping or real damage that cannot be sharpened out.
- The finger coil and handgrip was just about perfectly placed for any task needed.
- Made in Italy.
- A little heavy for its size, it may be worth it depending on how far you are going to carry it and how much you can handle. Its versatility makes up for this.
- In the Kydex sheath, you can hear a rattle while walking due to some spacing, this may be an issue for those who require stealth.
Overall I would recommend this knife to a friend. The price point is great for the quality and it is one you can trust to perform with a blade that lasts.
Best USA Made Woodland Knife
This fixed blade knife is designed with a polymer sheath that will last, perhaps, forever. The overall length is 11.75” with the blade at 6.5”. It is made of carbon steel and in the United States.
- Bright colors so you are less prone to lose it or misplace it in a survival situation.
- The coating protects the metal for prolonged use.
- The plastic polymer will not rot, decay, or splinter.
- The size is large enough to be effective but lightweight and small enough to travel and be useful.
- No-questions-asked repair/replacement lifetime transferable warranty.
- 1095 steel tends to rust easily but the coating is an effective deterrent and this should be no issue with care.
- You cannot strike sparks with this knife unless you wear down the coating in the area you want to spark.
- Some wilderness enthusiasts may not care for the bright colors, but there are many other color options.
At this price point, it is a great lightweight tool that will do the task expected. It may not be able to produce sparks without wearing the coating off of the one area but it is the best knife for those who like to customize their tools. I recommend it to any outdoor enthusiast who wants a lightweight yet sturdy tool they can customize.
Best survival knife For Customization.
The KA-BAR name instantly brings to mind the reputation of the greatest survival knives hands down but it should be noted that it is as heavy as the M7 for travel and use. The full length of this knife is 13.7 inches and it weighs one pound exactly. It is made in the United States.
- Full tang which means sturdy and reliable.
- Custom or professional sharpening will last and outperform other knives.
- The grip is designed with a variety of scenarios in mind. If you are skinning a dear this knife will not slip from your fingers or cut your palm.
- Lifetime warranty straight from the company.
- There are some complaints about the glass-reinforced nylon sheath, upgrades are available. The problem lies when you try to remove the knife it is not an easy fluid movement. The makers claim this is an intentional feature for optimal safety and security while you carry.
- Does not come very sharp from the factory, needs a good custom sharpening.
I would not recommend this knife for beginners because of the importance of that first professional sharpening and its weight. It is reliable and versatile though and a worthy addition to any collection.
Best All In One survival knife From An Established Brand.
The price point may deceive you on this one, but I just had to try it. It is a good piece that comes in at 4.3 inches for the blade and 9.1 inches total and under half a pound.
- Diamond sharpener and fire starter right there on the sheath for convenience. You already know how important multiuse is when it comes to weight and travel.
- High-friction rubber grip for user safety. This knife feels good in the hand and withstands needed pressure.
- Limited lifetime warranty.
- It fits the leather sheath of the BPS BS2FTS.
- The sharpener may leave marks on the blade because it is so coarse.
- Not full tang. Sometimes this is a deal-breaker for many, but this knife is solid regardless.
The Morakniv company has a solid reputation for offering reliable knives at an affordable price point. It is the best choice on the list if you do not want to experiment and simply want a trusted knife that will last.
Best survival knife For The Beginner On A Low Budget.
This knife looks great. You can see the craftsmanship in every detail. The price point is low, and for a typical day in the bush cleaning an animal or prepping a meal you will find it the perfect accessory.
- Full tang.
- True scandi grind and sharp out of box
- Genuine leather sheath that is quiet and easy to maneuver knife out of. The quality is clear with the sheath, the wood, and the blade although the tang is not well polished in the handle area. The sheath in particular is usable with other knives such as the Morakniv Bushcraft
- Mirror polished blade. This knife is attractive and well balanced.
- May need to polish the wood as it can get a bit try. Never leave it wet.
- The grip is good for many basic chores and cooking but perhaps not as great for something that requires force or extra gripping.
- The knife may not spark easily at first due to the coating.
The price is low enough and the quality high enough that this is the perfect addition to any wilderness survival case and I even use it in my home kitchen. It is worth adding that the sheath itself justifies the cost of the knife.
So what is the best survival knife?
The winner is pretty clear in my opinion. After using each one they all have a place in my collection but when it comes to actual bush survival the one that meets all of the criteria set above and simply works the same each time I use it is the LionSteel M7. It is great right out of the box and stands alone if it is your only knife. It is the best survival knife because of both the quality and the versatility, and durability.