Never think that the knife hanging from an outdoorsman’s belt is just a gadget to look cool. The serious hunter, hiker, and camper know that a happy afternoon outdoors can turn into an unexpected disaster.
At A Glance: Our 4 Favorite Survival Knives
Whether it’s foul weather, wild animals, losing your way, or a dozen scenarios in between, a survival knife can mean the difference between life and death. It’s safe to say that a survival knife is the next most important thing to have in the wilderness after food and water.
The best survival knife can be used to cut kindling for a fire should you get lost and it turns cold. You can even use one to help build a makeshift shelter. A survival knife will open a can of beans and help cut bandages for wounds.
In good times, use a survival knife to clean fish. And should the unthinkable happen, it can help skin and a clean game you might not have planned on for dinner. Make it part of your survival gear and it can help you in a survival situation!
Although pocket and backpacking knives are helpful around the campsite, they’re not a replacement for a survival knife. Let our collection of the best survival knives help you choose one with the right blade design, edge, type of steel, and other features to meet your needs.
|SEE ON AMAZON →
|SEE ON AMAZON →
|SEE ON AMAZON →
Best for Survival Kits
|SEE ON AMAZON →
Best for Outdoor Adventures
|SEE ON REI →SEE ON AMAZON →
|SEE ON AMAZON →
Best for Self Defense
|SEE ON AMAZON →
|SEE ON AMAZON →
|SEE ON AMAZON →
|SEE ON AMAZON →
Made in the USA, the KA-BAR USMC Fighting Knife was designed to be used in combat for Marines during World War II. Made of 1095 Cro-Van steel, the 7-inch straight-edge clip point blade is epoxy-powder coated. Its 20-degree edge-angle knife blade design is one of the best and most often used in the world.
The KA-BAR’s overall length is 11.875 inches and it weighs 11.2 ounces. It has a stacked leather handle and comes with a genuine leather sheath made in Mexico and features the USMC stamp and embossing. Mexico is recognized for high-quality craftsmanship, and the sheath will keep the blade protected and sharp.
KA-BAR has been making knives since 1898, and each knife is tested rigorously for strength, corrosion resistance, edge-holding ability, and cutting-edge sharpness.
However, the rat-tail tang blade extends the length of the handle but not the width. This reduces its structural durability, so the KA-BAR is strictly a combat knife and not made for chopping wood.
The iconic USMC KA-BAR is the first choice as a personal knife for military men and women.
The Morakniv Companion Spark Outdoor Knife is a versatile fixed-blade outdoor knife good for carving, cutting firewood, and food prep.
The 3.9-inch blade is made of hardened Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel is rust-resistant and stays sharp longer than carbon steel. The partial-tang knife has a rubber grip handle that is comfortable to hold and easy to control for safe use.
The Morakniv model includes an integrated magnesium alloy firestarter that twist-locks into the handle. It produces a 5,400-degree F spark for 3,000 strikes and even works when wet. A reflective lanyard, belt clip, and plastic sheath are included, and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
As a survival knife, the Morakniv Companion stands up to dirt and moisture and is good for marine and outdoor applications like camping and bushcraft, and is priced fairly.
The titanium-faced HX Outdoor Fixed Blade Knife is a hunting and tactical knife that meets most needs for outdoor survival.
It comes with a sheath that is resistant to extreme temperatures both hot and cold and includes a sharpener and fire starter. The D2 material blade is 3.4 inches long and is superior in hardness, sharpness, and abrasion resistance.
The HX Outdoor Knife features a G10-material ergonomic handle. The overall length is 8.7 and it’s lightweight at 8.8 ounces.
The knife is full tang meaning it goes through the length of the handle. This is quicker to use as a survival knife than a folding blade in terms of safety when every split second counts.
Use the HX Outdoor Knife as a multi-tool for hunting, camping, and fishing. Or just simply, a good survival knife to have on hand.
The Gerber LMF II was originally designed to free an aircrew from a downed aircraft. With a 4.84-inch half-serrated blade, the break between the tang and the buttcap gives insulated protection against stray wires and will absorb shock from hammering.
The LMF II was designed by a former military leader who field-tested it with his troops to ensure it could withstand the most rugged conditions while performing in emergency situations. As such, we would put it in our best survival knife selection, specifically for survival kits.
The LMF II has a pointed buttcap of stainless steel and can pierce glass if you’re trapped in a vehicle. The glass-filled over-molded handle provides a secure grip while preventing blisters on your hands. Lashing holes allow the knife to be converted into a spear.
An included low-profile sheath attaches to a belt or MOLLE vest and has a built-in carbide sharpener so you’ll never be stuck with a dull knife. At 10.59 inches long, the entire knife is black for nighttime stealthiness. All these things make it our choice for the best survival knifes for almost anyone.
Overall, the Gerber LMF II is excellent for camping and hiking in risky places and is a great addition to your vehicle emergency kit for cars to helicopters and airplanes.
Gerber collaborated with Bear Grylls, host of a worldwide survival TV series, to create the Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Knife. With a 4.75-inch drop point blade, the half-serrated edge knife has versatility for backpackers and outdoor adventures in the wilderness. It is now not so easy to come by, so I would go for the Gerber Ultimate Survival Knife instead, it is more or less exactly the same.
The serrated part of the blade makes it a snap to cut the rope and other fibrous materials. Full tang construction makes it durable and the hard steel blade provides superior edge retention.
The Gerber Ultimate’s rubber grip is comfortable to hold and it’s textured to prevent slippage intense moments. The handle also has two holes so you can lash it to a stick for spearing fish. The base of the handle has a stainless steel pommel for hammering.
An included high-quality nylon sheath has a diamond blade sharpener and fire starter. The set includes a lanyard with an emergency whistle and a handy “Priorities of Survival” pocket guide. Overall, we consider it to be one of the best knives around!
Although the fixed blade is popular for survival knives, the Kershaw Ka Ba Mule is the answer to those who prefer a folding-style knife.
The knife is made from a 3.9-inch stainless steel blade (AUS 8a stainless steel) with a Zytel steel handle. The open length is a little over 9 inches and the closed length is 5 and 1/4 inches. It’s super-light at only 0.5 lbs.
Rubber inserts provide a comfortable, slip-resistant grip for the Mule and strong stainless steel liners give lateral stability. The double-thumb studs make it easy to open for either right or left-handed users.
The Mule has a plain edge blade, a clip point blade, and a hollow blade grind. The edge angle is 15 degrees. It has a reversible pocket clip and a sheath with Velcro and snap closures that can mount on a belt vertically or horizontally.
Overall, the Kershaw Mule is a good camping knife for those who prefer a folding knife over a fixed blade.
With a razor-sharp blade made of black-coated 1095 high carbon steel, the ESSE 6P knife ranks high in durability and carries a lifetime guarantee.
The blade length is 6.5 inches with a plain cutting edge of 5.7 inches. The full-tang handle is Micata canvas and has a lanyard hole in the pommel.
The full-tang handle of ESSE 6P is comfortable to carry and provides excellent balance for the fixed-blade knife. Use this survival knife for multiple purposes including hunting, camping, or self-defense. It can also be fitted to a modular system for tactical carry. The ESSE 6P comes with a sturdy molded polymer carry sheath with a removable clip, paracord, and cord lock.
The Cold Steel Rincon 1 is a folding tactical knife for outdoor applications, self-defense, and everyday carry (EDC).
The 4-inch clip point blade is made of imported Japanese AUS 8 A stainless steel that has been vacuum heat-treated and sub-zero quenched. The tough finish is rust-resistant and cuts through tough material easily. It’s held together by strong mechanical fasteners and anchored with a heat-treated spacer.
The Cold Steel’s black handle features G-10 laminate scales that are scalloped and contoured for a firm, non-slip grip. The black blade reduces glare and makes it obscure against an attacker in the dark. A thumb disc makes the foldable 9 and 3/8-inch long knife easy to open, and it has a super-strong pocket clip.
Overall, the Cold Steel Recon 1 is suitable for outdoor use. It flips open easily with one hand for self-defense. The patented Tri Ad lock totally eliminates lock failure.
The Benchmade Brushcrafters Outdoor Survival Knife is a USA-made robust, knife built for the trail.
Constructed of CMP-S30V steel, its drop point blade construction is strong and durable, corrosion-resistant, and has first-rate edge retention. The durable G 10 handle is resin-soaked fiberglass and resists moisture and changing climates.
The Benchmade Bushcrafter is a full-tang fixed-blade knife for good stability with a blade length of 4.40 inches and an overall length of 9.15 inches. It comes with a genuine leather sheath that has a belt loop and D-ring for easy carry.
The manufacturer offers LifeSharp service for free. They will clean, oil, and resharpen to a factory razor-sharp edge. It also comes with a limited warranty. Use the Benchmade Bushcrafter as a heavy-duty survival knife in the wilderness.
The Fallkninven A1bL is an all-purpose knife with a fine edge designed for heavy use.
The strong 6.29-inch blade is made of extremely tough laminated VG 10 steel to withstand hard use as a survival knife. The overall length is 11.02 inches. An ergonomic handle and full-tang design give the knife stability and enable you to perform a variety of tasks from fine cutting to chopping.
The Fallkniven Fine Edge model is oblivious to extreme temperatures, hot or cold, and moisture. The black Cerakote coating eliminates reflection and provides a tough surface. Although the coating may separate over time, more durable coatings make a blade harder to sharpen, and other coatings make a knife more expensive.
Overall, the Fallkniven A1bL is an excellent knife for hunting, camping, and surviving. It comes with a Zytel plastic sheath that is a bit inferior in quality.
Survival knives are much different than ordinary pocket knives. They are designed for your survival under extreme circumstances. At the same time, many have features that make them versatile for multiple purposes such as lighting fires and other outdoor applications.
The ways you plan to use a survival knife can guide you in choosing the best one for you. You’ll need to consider features such as blade and handle design and material, blade length and thickness, overall length, and blade edge and grind.
Outdoor experts usually prefer a fixed-blade full-tang design over a folding knife. Our collection of survival knives includes a couple of good folding survival knives for those who prefer them. In case you did not know, full-tang means the blade runs solidly through the handle.
This gives the knife strength and stability. Other tangs include partial and rat tails. Drop point blades, clip points, and spear points are common blade designs for survival knives.
While thickness is important for strength and to keep the blade from bending, you want it to be thin enough for tasks like skinning animals. Aim for between 0.17 and 0.25-inch thickness.
The best survival knife is made of super-strong steel and sets it apart from other knives. The knives in our collection are made of high-grade stainless steel such as Cro-Van steel, high carbon steel, and titanium facing.
The handle of a survival knife is just as important as the blade. Look for durable, ergonomic, slip-resistant handles made of materials such as Kraton, Micarta, or dense rubber.
Survival knives come in a wide range of prices. Our collection reflects this with prices ranging from just under $30 to over $200 to fit all budgets. And many customers have discovered that a good one doesn’t have to break the bank.
With a pointed buttcap of stainless steel and a 4.84-inch half-serrated blade that can pierce glass, the Gerber LMF II Survival Knife is a great addition to your vehicle survival kit and is useful for hunting and camping.
Designed in collaboration with a celebrity outdoorsman, the Gerber Bear Grylls has full-tang construction, a hard steel blade, and a stainless steel pommel for hammering. It includes an emergency whistle and a built-in blade sharpener and a firestarter.
The ESSE 6 PB Fixed Blade Survival Knife is a full-tang, fixed-blade knife that provides excellent balance. It can be fitted on a MOLLE system for tactical carry.
The Morakniv Companion Spark is made of a high-grade rust-resistant stainless steel that stays sharper than carbon steel at an amazing price and includes a firestarter.