I always thought of myself as the kind of guy who’d never need a survival knife. After all, I spent most of my life in urban environments, always within easy reach of tools and blades and any supplies I needed.
Then I started venturing out into the wild—hiking, camping, kayaking, trekking, even just road-tripping—and I realized how wrong I was. Far too often when away from civilization, I wound up in a situation where a survival knife could have come in handy, only I was silly enough not to pack one.
I deep-dived into the world of survival knives, researching everything they could do: chop wood, carve kindling, gut a fish, protect me from predator attacks, spear fish, and the list goes on. And heck, if an apocalypse ever happens, I’ll be awfully glad I have one of these bad boys in my gear.
All my research led me to compile a list of the best survival knives on the market. These knives are true masterpieces of craftsmanship. They’re the tools you’ll want to have on your belt or in your backpack if things ever go really wrong.
At just 9 inches long, this is one of the shorter survival knives on my list. But don’t let its short length fool you—it’s still tough and insanely versatile, capable of withstanding an immense amount of wear and tear without losing its edge or snapping.
With a 4.5-inch blade that’s 0.188 inches thick, I’ve found it as useful for skinning game as it is gutting fish and carving kindling.
The drop point is suitable for slicing and stabbing both, and the 3D contoured G10/Micarta handle offers amazing grippiness even if my hands are wet, muddy, or covered in animal guts.
Thanks to its textured powder-coated finish, it’s designed to last a long time—a lifetime, in fact, thanks to its no-questions-asked lifetime warranty.
Whether I’m heading out into the bush or setting up camp, I’m glad to have this knife at my hip.
The 5.19-inch blade is heavy enough to chop through dense foliage but weighs surprisingly little (just 5.31 ounces) and is just 0.14 inches thick. The plain blade and drop point make it suitable for virtually any outdoors task, and the CPM-3V (60-62 HRC) is capable of surviving quite literally anything I find myself dealing with.
Best of all, the Santoprene synthetic handle comes with a lanyard hole that allows me to hang it from my wrist, neck, hunting vest, fishing vest, or PFD so it never gets lost.
This knife is one of my favorite camping/outdoors tools. Not only does it come with an ultra-tough, insanely sharp 4.29-inch carbon steel blade, but it also includes a built-in fire striker (no need for matches) and a diamond sharpener.
The knife sheath also features reflective paracord that can be utilized in a broad range of survival and emergency applications (I’ve hung food bags, run it as a guy line for my tent, and strapped gear to my kayak).
The knife is designed for ambidextrous use, and I’ve found the full-tang blade is more than tough enough to withstand 3+ years of regular hunting, bushcraft, camping, and trekking.
Gerber is one of the best-known brands in the knife game, thanks to the high tensile strength, excellent edge retention, and sturdy construction of their knives.
The Strongarm is one of their best-sellers, with a full tang fixed blade made of ultra-tough 420HC stainless steel and a rubberized diamond textured grip that will stay securely in your hand all day long.
The sheath is compatible with MOLLE systems so you can secure it to your vest, pack, or belt in seconds. It’s a true masterpiece of American knifesmithing, and well worth every penny.
The Helle Temagami is just as much at home slicing meat as it is carving kindling, cutting straps, or skinning game. It’s designed with a semi-full-tang (not quite full tang, but longer than partial tang) to maximize durability while still keeping it lightweight and portable (and protecting your fingers in cold environments).
Built in collaboration with Survivorman’s Les Stroud, this knife is made using fine Norwegian laminated steel which maximizes both edge retention and sharpness without sacrificing durability. Truly, it’s one of the finest, toughest, most versatile of the survival knives on our list.
The Ka-Bar Becker takes everything that makes the classic Ka-Bar knife amazing and steps it up a notch, designing it specifically for campers, hikers, and outdoorsmen.
The 1095 Cro-Van steel blade is tough and does an amazing job of maintaining its edge. I’ve used it in the field/outdoors for weeks at a time, and it stayed surprisingly sharp.
The black-coated metal won’t reflect sunlight, but the coating also wards off rust and increases durability. Thanks to its flat blade and drop point, it’s as reliable for skinning game as it is for cutting fish, chopping wood, and warding off predators.
Buck is one of the budget-friendly brands that you’ll find everywhere, but don’t think for a minute that affordable means cheap. Their knives are tough, reliable, and hold up to wear and tear with the best of them.
This particular Buck knife is made from 420HC steel and features a wood-textured Micarta handle that offers amazing grip even in wet conditions. At 9.5 inches long (4.6 inches of blade), it’s small enough to fit in any pack but still long enough that it’ll be useful for camping, cooking, hunting, and survival situations.
The rear steel bolsters also double as a hammer, and the gear comes with its own built-in ferrocerium striker to make starting every campfire a breeze.
For nearly three decades, the Fallkniven F1 has been the official knife of the Swedish Air Force, carried by every pilot to take to the skies. It’s the perfect blend of time-tested forging techniques and the latest modern innovations in technology and metallurgy.
It comes in a range of steel options—including Lam. VG10W, Lam. CoS, and 3G—laminated steels that maximize durability while ensuring excellent sharpness and edge retention. Though the blade itself is on the shorter side (just under 4 inches), it’s sturdy enough that it will handle any emergency situation.
This is a unique survival knife, one that strives to combine all the features that make for easier survival into one trusty blade.
The blade is partially serrated so I can saw as well as slice, and the clip point is ideal for piercing, stabbing, slicing, and cutting. The AUS-8 steel is insanely tough thanks to the cryogenic heating process that hardens the metal at an atomic level.
The knife handle is made from glass-reinforced nylon that is both perfectly grippy and virtually indestructible. It’s also MOLLE compatible and easy to carry in your boot, on your belt, or strapped to your vest.
But my favorite thing of all: it’s affordable. I’ve always got at least one of these bad boys as a backup wherever I go.
The United States Marine Corps Ka-Bar knife is one of the most iconic, instantly recognizable blades on the planet—but also among the toughest and most practical for both survival and combat environments.
This fixed blade knife has been military standard for more than 70 years, with a 7-inch blade and clip point that is suitable for virtually any survival task: chopping firewood, digging, carving kindling, cooking, gutting, skinning, and more.
The 1095 Cro-Van steel is tough enough to handle anything, and the full tang blade will never snap or break in your hand. Made in the USA, it’s a sterling example of the finest American forging and design that lasts for decades.