In this day and age most people will agree that our lives are unpredictable and we can quickly find ourselves in a survival situation. If and when that does happen, having a trusty survival knife by your side could be the difference in a life or death situation.
Survival knives can be used in a variety of situations including: camping, hunting, hiking, and prepping. There are many different reasons for carrying a survival knife which means there are many to choose from.
We have reviewed many different survival knives and have come up with the best survival knives to have in your backpack.
1. SOG Seal Pup Elite E37T-K
The SOG Seal Pup Elite is a fixed blade, high quality, and high performance knife. This knife is on the high end of the SOG Seal products. The Seal Pup Elite was designed for military use and is one of the preferred blades in Special Forces.
It features a 4.85″ AUS8 stainless steel heat treated blade for added strength and durability. The blade is partially serrated with a longer cutting edge and a newly designed clip point shape.
The blade has a 0.19″ thickness, with an overall weight of 5.4 ounces for the knife and is 9.5″ long. The knife has a black finish, which is something unique to the SOG brand- a titanium nitrade (TiNi) coating which is one of the strongest coatings that can be applied to metal. That finish in conjunction with SOG’s proprietary cryogenic heat treatment process ensures that your knife will be incredibly durable.
The ESEE-4 knife is one of the most popular knives available from the ESEE brand. Although there are other knife models available from ESEE such as the 5 and 6, we believe that the slightly smaller size and lighter weight of the 4 makes it a more practical and versatile EDC/tactical knife. The blade is stainless steel, 4.5″ long and the full knife only weighs 8 ounces.
This blade is made of durable 1095 carbon steel. ESEE makes it easy to order your knife and customize to your preference, including blade type (serrated or plain edge), removable handles, and various blade finishes (black, desert tan, dark earth, un-coated, stainless steel).
You can also add MOLLE backs to the blade to optimize carrying with your MOLLE webbing. The ESEE knife guarantee cannot be beat- each knife has a lifetime warranty unconditionally.
3. Buck 119 Special
The Buck 119 Special is classic, proven, and very popular knife. The Buck knife brand has been around for 75 years, when they started making knives to send to troops after Pearl Harbor. This knife has an embossed logo on the leather sheath and a stamp on the blade, so some may want to own this knife as a keepsake. This blade is 6″ long and the knife weighs 7.5 ounces.
The 119 Special is a clip blade, meaning it has a crescent tip with a sharper and thinner point than other blade styles. This makes it great for poking holes or other intricate knife work. The blade is made of 420 HC steel which is exclusive to Buck knives.
It combines the durability of high carbon alloys with the corrosion resistance of steel. Their proprietary heat treatment method creates a strong and durable blade that will be a great asset in your survival needs.
4. CRKT M-16 12Z
The CRKT M-16 12Z is rugged, tough, and small survival knife designed for EDC. Columbia River’s Knife and Tools (CRKT) brand has a huge variety of survival knives to fit your needs. The M-16 series has several different choices, but we have chosen to highlight the M-16 12Z Zytel Serrated Edge Tanto Blade Knife. This is a folding knife with a Carson Flipper extension that is unique to CRKT knives.
This extends the blade and also helps to open the blade, and can all conveniently be done with one hand. The patented CRKT AutoLAWKS system is a perfected safety system for their folding knives, allowing you to feel as secure using it as you would with a fixed blade, with the convenience of carrying a folding knife. It ensures that the locking system cannot accidentally close when the blade is open and locked. Along with these excellent safety features, the blade is durable and has a limited lifetime warranty.
5. Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife- Serrated Blade
The Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is a high quality knife loaded with survival features. Bear Grylls has teamed up with the well known survival company Gerber to design an excellent fixed blade survival knife option in their Ultimate Knife. The blade is a high carbon stainless steel material, with a drop point shape and serrated edge.
To make it a true survival knife, Bear Grylls has designed it with a few life saving extras that are unique to his design. These features include: a rubber handle, whistle, stainless steel hammer pommel, lashing strap holes, lanyard cord, and a fire starter with ferrocerium rod and knife sharpener built into the included sheath. The knife is 10″ long with a 4.8″ long blade, weighing 14.7 ounces with the sheath.
6. Fällkniven A1 Fine Edge Fixed Blade
The Fällkniven A1 is a heavy duty, high quality, and top of the line blade designed for heavy use. Fällkniven is a Sweden based knife making company. They are known for high quality knives at a slightly higher price point. The A1 is an excellent option for a survival knife, it is extremely sharp and the large blade is great for large or small tasks.
It is made of a laminated VG10 steel, and the tang extends all the way through to the end of the handle, making a very durable knife and a strong pommel if you need to strike anything. It comes with a black leather sheath that is also durable and easy to carry or attach to packs.
It has excellent balance and a high quality feel with the convex ground blade. This knife is larger than some of the others we’ve reviewed with a 6.3″ blade and an overall length of 11”.
7. Gerber LMF II Survival Knife
The Gerber LMF II is a top rated, military inspired, and rugged fixed blade knife. Gerber is a well-known creator of knives and tools. Their Survival Knife was designed by a former military man and was field tested to ensure it was up to their rigorous standards.
Gerber added some unique changes to the design of this knife by adding a pointed stainless steel butt-cap at the end of the blade that can be used to break glass in case of emergency. With this innovation, they only have the tang extend about 3/4 of the way through the handle, purposefully separating it from the stainless steel butt-cap to help with shock absorption and prevent electrical shock when in use.
The knife handle has a comfortable grip with lashing holes. The sheath is thoughtfully designed as well, and includes a built-in carbide sharpener and belt attachment. This is a 10″ serrated fixed blade knife, that is both strong and durable.
8. Tom Brown Tracker Knife
The Tom Brown Tracker knife is a large and extremely versatile survival knife designed specifically for survival situations. This knife from TOPS brand was designed by survival expert Tom Brown Jr. It was featured in the movie “The Hunted”, has been on the cover of Blade Magazine, and is a serious survival knife.
The knife is 11.88″ long, with a 6.38″ blade that is 1/4″ thick. The blade is made of 1095 high carbon alloy with a black traction coating. It was designed to be able to be used for multiple different tasks in a survival situation, such as chop, split, carve, hammer, scrape, saw, engrave, and even break metal wire. This fixed blade knife has multiple parts to the blade.
It has two parts that can carve or chop, and along the spine there are sawback serrations that mean business and jimping to give added confidence in your grip. The knife also comes with a kydex sheath with a rotating spring steel clip to easily attach it to your pack or hip, weighing 26 ounces total.
9. Spyderco Bushcraft G-10
The Spyderco Bushcraft G-10 is a knife designed for the survivalist in the Bushcraft style. Bushcraft is inspired by the Bushmen of the Southern Hemisphere, with the idea of learning how to survive in the wilderness with only a knife. Syperco’s Bushcraft G-10 is a 4″ blade knife that is fully tanged.
The blade is a Scandinavian style with a single bevel grind, made of O-1 high carbon steel. The knife is 8.75″ overall, weighing 7.75 ounces. It has a lanyard hole in the handle and comes with a leather sheath. This knife is an excellent option if you are looking to perform wilderness duties in the traditional Bushcraft style such as whittling, skinning, chopping, and slicing.
10. KaBar Becker Campanion BK2
The KaBar Becker BK2 is a fixed blade knife with a drop point blade and is fully tanged. The blade is 5.25″ with an overall length of 10.5″ for the knife. It is a little heavier than some of the other knives we reviewed at 16 ounces, but that is probably due in part to its durable 1/4″ thick blade made of 1095 cro-van steel.
As the name states, this “campanion” is great to have when camping and enjoying nature. Although not as useful for intricate work, this knife is great for outdoor tasks. The handle feels comfortable in your grip, made of Grivory and comes with a glass-filled nylon sheath.
When choosing a survival knife, there are many things to consider including blade types and material. As you might have noticed there is a wide variety in price which is something to consider. We reviewed a lot of good quality budget knives as well as some high end knives.
Another thing to consider is the tang. Tang is the back part of the blade where it connects into the handle. A Full-tang means the metal extends through to the end of the handle, partial tang does not (common in folding knives). Partial tang knives aren’t as sturdy and the blade can loosen over time. Some knives have serrated or a saw on the spine, which is the un-sharpened top of the blade.
There are many different materials that blades are made out of or have coatings on them. Blades are commonly made of either a high carbon steel or stainless steel. Stainless steel is popular because it resists corrosion and is easy to sharpen, however it still can rust. High Carbon steel tends to be tougher and more durable than stainless steel, however it can corrode easier and requires more maintenance.
There are some blade Patterns to consider as well. Drop point, the spine of the blade slopes from the handle to the point, with a convex blade shape. This is common in hunting knives.
Clip point, Clip Point blades have the front 1/3 of the blade “clipped off”, so the spine tapers off to the tip and is not as thick. This allows a quicker and deeper stabbing motion.
Survival knives can and have been used in a variety of situations. While having a pocket knife on you is handy, sometimes having a reliable survival knife can make a huge difference. Since survival knives have large and sturdy blades, they can be used to whittle, carve, saw, skin game, chopping, and many other different uses. Some blades even come with fire starters, whistle, or even para cord. Many people consider a survival knife to be an essential item in a bug out bag. What ever your reason for carrying a survival knife, make sure you get the best knife for you and your situation.