In any outdoor setting, the best survival knife will let you take care of various tasks and errands. When push comes to shove, this utility may also define your survival.
Regardless of your preferences, it is undeniable that survival knives are essential items for people who want a stress-free outdoor adventure. Even the simplest campers need these knives to do campsite errands, such as cutting rope, branches, and meat.
But, of course, survival knives are designed to provide protection to their users in times of emergencies. Having them while you are backpacking or hiking in the wilderness simply gives you a sense of confidence that you can carry on once SHTF. Alongside first aid kits, survival whistles, and repair kits, these survival knives will keep you safe throughout your jaunt.
Now, there are many survival knives on the market today. The process of choosing one can be a bit overwhelming. Hence, our staff from Rilor Wilderness have picked the most qualified knives that should be included in your packing checklist. See them below.
The following are some of the top-rated survival knives in the market today. These are also among the tested-and-tried utilities used by our staff in the majority of their backcountry expeditions. They are tough, reliable, and sharp.
|Product Name||Blade Length||Blade Construction||Where To Buy|
Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter Knife
|4.43 inches||CPM-S30V Stainless Steel||REI|
Gerber Ultimate Survival Fixed Blade Knife
|4.75 inches||Stainless Steel||REI|
Benchmade 533BK-2 Mini Bugout Knife
|2.82 inches||CPM-S30V Stainless Steel||REI|
Aitor 16016 Jungle King I Knife
|8 inches||Stainless Steel||Amazon|
ESEE Authentic JUNGLAS Survival Knife
|8.38 inches||Carbon Steel||Amazon|
Smith & Wesson SW3B Fixed Blade Knife
|7.8 inches||Stainless Steel||Amazon|
Here, our staff laid out the reasons why they have picked the survival knives that are listed here. We also included their complete technical specifications so that you know what you will be getting.
Available (full-grain, buckskin leather sheath)
Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter Knife Review
The Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter Knife is undeniably one of the favorite picks of various bushcrafters. Our staff seems to have a bias on this knife, too. Well, we can't blame them because it is actually good.
The fixed blade of the knife is made from CPM-S30V steel which is known for its corrosion resistance and edge resistance. It also features a precision drop-point construction for added durability and sharpness.
Our staff pointed out that its G10 handle is among the reasons why this bushcraft knife is one of the best survival knives in the market. It is lightweight but rugged, thanks to its fiberglass construction. It is impervious to the elements; you can grip it even if your hands are wet.
Meanwhile, it has a leather sheath with a belt loop for easy carry. The D-ring also lets you access the knife quickly.
|Stable and well-balanced blade design|
Features a high-strength blade
|No notable drawbacks|
|Straight edge / partially serrated|
Available (black nylon belt sheath)
Gerber Ultimate Survival Fixed Blade Knife Review
Our staff picked the Gerber Ultimate Survival Fixed Blade Knife because it is a durable, entry-level survival utility. It is suitable for various outdoor applications and features a highly reliable blade that remains sharp for quite a long time.
It comes with a rubber grip that is easy to hold. Handling it is never a problem. Furthermore, its partially serrated blade edge so that you can use it for various cutting or slicing applications.
Notably, it has a military-grade nylon sheath. This sheath, which you can clip to your belt, is ultra tough and protective. At the same time, it has an innovative design as the sheath comes with the following features, such as a fire starter, diamond-blade sharpener, hammer pommel, and even an emergency whistle.
With this survival knife from Gerber, you can tackle different demands on the field.
Easy to handle
Comes with ergonomic blade sheath
|This knife is not a full tang|
CF Elite (glass-filled nylon)
None (folding knife)
Benchmade 533BK-2 Mini Bugout Knife Review
Believe it or not, not all survival knives have to be long or burly to be effective. A good example is this bugout knife from Benchmade. This utility also features the same blade material as the first Benchmade knife we feature here. It has a nice edge retention and is durable.
It is also lightweight, which is definitely a must-have for backpackers who want to remain safe. Our staff also love its ambidextrous Grivory handle. It has a textured surface that lets you hold it tightly, even in wet conditions. This handle is made from glass-filled nylon, by the way.
It doesn't need a sheath, though, as it is a folding knife. Plus, it comes with an axis locking mechanism that prevents accidental unfolding of the knife. This secure handle also includes a lanyard hole that enables different carry options.
|Easy to carry; compact design|
Handle is textured for secured grip
Locking mechanism is reliable
|Balance is slightly off|
|Straight edge / double-cut sawback|
Black powder-coated stainless steel
Black finish knurled stainless steel handle
Available (OD green hard nylon belt sheath)
Aitor 16016 Jungle King I Knife Review
This time, let's feature some of our favorite full-size survival knives. We are going to start with the Aitor Jungle King I. This particular survival knife is a hand-picked option of many Rilor Wilderness staff because of its exceptionally well-balanced design.
It also has a premium construction. The materials used on its blade, handle, and guard are geared for durability and weight management. Its stainless clip-point blade has high strength and features a double-cut saw back to address different field tasks.
Moreover, this knife is quite ergonomic. For instance, it's a stainless guard with lashing holes. Meanwhile, its pommel hides a compass. This knife also arrives with a hard nylon belt sheath. This sheath includes leg ties for added carry option. And that's not the end of its usefulness. The sheath also stores a gut hook blade and skinner.
This skinner is then equipped with a thumb ridge, lashing holes, and a flathead screwdriver with a can opener. Trust us. This is more than just a survival knife.
|Full-size blade lets you use it on heavy-duty tasks|
Multi-functional survival utility
|No notable drawbacks|
1095 carbon steel with powder coating
Available (Kydex sheath with Molle backing)
ESEE Authentic JUNGLAS Survival Knife Review
One of the finest survival knives that you can get today, according to our experts here at Rilor Wilderness, is the JUNGLAS. ESEE is a reputable brand of survival and tactical knives, and they have been in the business for over twenty years already.
The JUNGLAS is one of their opuses, and right now, it is one of the best bushcraft knives there is. This one has a well-balanced design; its blade is constructed from 1095 carbon steel and treated with powder coating for utmost durability.
Meanwhile, it comes with a Micarta handle with texturing over its surface. The handle has been contoured to fit the hands of its users. By the way, the handle is removable for replacements. There's also a hammer pommel integrated into this knife that features a lanyard hole.
Sharpness and edge retention are among the strong points of this knife. It is easy to maneuver and could take on various field errands and survival needs. Its Kydex sheath is well-built and highly secured.
Blade is durable and corrosion-resistant
Features a removable synthetic handle
|Its tip should be thicker|
|Straight edge / notched spine|
420J2 powder-coated black oxide steel
Deep-grooved nylon fiber with rubber inlay
Available (black scabbard)
Smith & Wesson SW3B Fixed Blade Knife Review
Believe it or not, Smith & Wesson isn't just a popular maker of firearms. They also make tactical knives that are great for survival use. Specifically, its SW3B is one of the top picks of our staff because of the knife's versatility and reliability.
This tactical knife features a spear-point blade, which is not surprising given that it is inherently designed for tactical purposes. The blade is tough and sharp; its edge retention is also great, and it doesn't require too much sharpening.
Its notched spine ensures that users will have a better grip when holding the blade's spine. This feature is particularly useful when working with tough objects. The blade even has deep grooves and oversized blood grooves.
Meanwhile, the blade is attached securely to a textured nylon fiber handle. The package is then completed by a black scabbard that includes a sharpening stone, a large storage pouch, and several wire cutters.
|Suitable for tactical and survival use|
Handle has an anti-slip texturing
Ergonomic, effective blade design
|Blade is somewhat susceptible to scratches|
A survival knife is essential for anyone who enjoys staying outdoors. Whether you are a hiker, a camper, or a hunter, these survival knives should have a place on your checklist. These are must-have tools for off-grid adventurers and those who want to try dispersed camping.
But the thing is, there are different survival knives in the market today. Choosing one can be a little tricky, especially if you are presented with various features, prices, and designs. So how can you trim and narrow your options? Here are some guidelines that you need to follow.
Essentially, there are two types of knives out there for outdoor use: fixed and folding. Both of these knives can be used for survival applications. But keep in mind that folding knives are way better for everyday carry purposes. On the other hand, fixed-blade knives are well-balanced and sturdy. Hence, they are more suitable for field tasks.
If you are looking for a bushcraft or survival knife, you might have to stick with these fixed models.
Now that you know that you are going to need a fixed knife, you will need to decide how you are going to use them. Some knives are versatile, while others are designed for tactical, bushcraft, survival, and hunting.
Defining these applications should let you arrive at the ideal knife that you can use. In fact, you can even purchase several of these knives and use each of them on applications where you think they fit.
Here, you will need to scrutinize the build of the blade and the hafting style used in its construction. Is the blade made from stainless steel or carbon steel? How about its tang (the back part of the blade that extends toward the knife's handle)? Is it skinny, thick, or full?
Don't forget about the geometry of the blade's edge. A convex edge is ideal for heavy-duty work like chopping. Meanwhile, the Nordic grind is suitable for grinding.
All of us have different preferences when it comes to outdoor tools. And just like we have mentioned, not all survival knives are the same. So there are specific knives that excel in a particular environment or situation. Some knives are inherently built for hunting, while others are for fieldwork. But all of these knives can still be considered "survival" tools.
Regardless of your intended usage, choose a knife that will not disappoint you. This means that it has to be functional, reliable, and durable. While it is cool to pick aesthetically stunning knives, keep in mind that appearance is not the primary consideration in choosing survival tools.
So if you are going to choose a knife, you better look for the following qualities.
The blade of knives can be made from different materials. But in this context, what we can recommend are blades made from stainless steel and carbon steel. Both of these materials can handle different applications and environments.
A lot of bushcrafters and survivalists prefer high-carbon steel blades because they are durable and offer great edge-retention. But these features can also be found on stainless steel blades.
Now, we will take a little different route here. Most of the time, we always remind people what to look for when it comes to choosing a particular gear. But this time, allow us to tell you what to avoid when it comes to choosing survival knives. Specifically, we are talking about the handle.
There are two types of handles that should cause you to turn down a knife: hollow handles and those that have poor grip.
Hollow handles are quite cool because the space inside them lets you store small essentials and accessories. But because of this design, these knives suffer from a major problem: they don't have a tang anymore. Therefore, the handle and the blade are entirely made from different materials. And if you are aiming for heavy-duty use, this architecture is not entirely suitable for that.
Meanwhile, you should also avoid those handles that have poor grip design. You don't want the knife to slide away from your hands while you are using it. That could cause potential accidents, not to mention the fact that it could get annoying. At the same time, the handle should be comfortable to hold.
A survival knife is more than just fending off enemies and threats. At its core, a survival knife should be utilized for fishing or hunting food. But at the same time, it is usable in different types of field tasks. And among these tasks could increase your survival if you are stuck in an emergency or pressing situation.
Here are the uses of a survival knife:
Here’s a basic batoning tutorial:
Here’s a video on how to do this task:
Here's a summary of what you should look for in the best survival knives:
Overall, these survival knives can help you conquer any demands in the field. Whether you need to hunt food, gather fire materials, or build shelters, these knives can actually help you. Just make sure that you pick a good tool in the first place so that you don't feel dull when you are already in the wild. And the picks we listed here are easily among the top survival knives right from the get-go.