You might not need a survival knife if you’re the sort of person who never really leaves urban environments, but the minute you venture away from civilization—to go hiking, camping, kayaking, trekking, or even just road-tripping—you run the risk of winding up in a situation where a survival knife will come in handy.
A good knife can chop wood, carve kindling, gut a fish, protect you from predator attacks, spear fish, and the list goes on. And heck, if an apocalypse ever happens, you’ll be awfully glad you had one of these bad boys in your gear.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the ten 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.
Read over the list to find the survival knife that suits you best. I guarantee there’s at least one that you’ll fall instantly in love with, and will be your best friend in any emergency situation.
At just 9 inches long, this is one of the shorter survival knives on our list. But don’t let its short length fool you—it’s still beautifully 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, it’s 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 your 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 you’re heading out into the bush or setting up camp, you’ll be glad you had this knife at your 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 you find yourself dealing with. Best of all, the Santoprene synthetic handle comes with a lanyard hole that allows you to hang it from your wrist so it never gets lost.
This knife is the ultimate camping/outdoors tool. 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 and a diamond sharpener. The knife sheath also features reflective paracord that can be utilized in a broad range of survival and emergency applications. It’s designed for ambidextrous use, and you’ll find the full-tang blade is more than tough enough to withstand 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 beautifully tough and does an amazing job of maintaining its edge, even after it’s been used in the field/outdoors for weeks at a time. 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 truly 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 you 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. Best of all, it’s as affordable as you could hope for.
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.
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