The Great Outdoors: Choosing the Right Survival Knife for Your Needs


Many wilderness hikers and serious weekend campers like to carry a survival knife as a form of protection in the wild, but they need to choose a knife that they are allowed to carry legally as well as being suitable for their needs.

You never know when you will need a survival knife but you will soon be glad that you have one with you when you are faced with a diverse range of emergency situations.

Packed with features

You only have to look at products available such Zero Tolerance knives to understand that a survival knife is intended to not let you down when you need it and if you choose carefully, it will be packed with features that could all the difference in a tight situation.

A key distinguishing feature of many survival knives is its hollow handle, which is used to store some items like fire strikers, needle and thread or some fishing line, all of which could prove critical if you are faced with a survival situation.

You might also find that some versions of survival knives have the handle wrapped in cord, so you can use it to tie down some items or even perform some wilderness first-aid.

You can also expect to find a compass integrated within the design of many survival knives and even if the knife is not called into action, your orienteering skills using the compass could make all the difference in an emergency situation.

The importance of the blade

It goes without saying that a blade is a key element of any knife but with a survival knife, it takes on a greater significance and is such an important aspect that you need to get right when you are deciding which one to buy for your kit.

Features to look out for when selecting your survival blade are whether it has a sawback blade, if you are wanting to cut larger branches with ease in order to make some firewood or build a temporary shelter.

A survival knife should ideally be full tang. This is the description used to describe a knife where the blade is one solid piece, giving it greater strength, durability and reliability, which are key attributes when you need a knife that won’t let you down in an emergency.

Another potentially vital feature to look for in a survival knife is a sharp pointed tip. Having this sharp pointed tip on your knife will greatly enhance your ability to defend yourself if you are faced with a combat situation or need to use the blade for hunting.

Dealing with the misconceptions

There are undoubtedly a number of popular misconceptions surrounding survival knives and some of these may make you wonder whether you should actually be carrying one, which is why you need consider the perceived pros and cons.
The most obvious question to ask is whether you believe that you will ever find yourself in a survival situation that will require to use the full features of the knife.

The fundamental point about a survival knife is that it is actually an amazingly versatile tool to have with you and even if you don’t need to call upon some basic primitive survival techniques, it can enhance your outdoor experience anyway.

The chances of a dealing with a close-combat situation with your knife are thankfully slim, but being able to prepare wood and perform general trail duties with ease, should be a convincing enough reason to consider buying a survival knife anyway.

Another aspect of owning a survival knife that some people might be unsure about or have some misconceptions about, is the legality or being able to carry the knife with you.

Knife carry laws

State laws do vary, so you do need to check whether you need a license to carry your survival knife in certain parts of the U.S.

A large number of states permit certain knives like a survival knife to be openly carried but there are states where ballistic knives and switchblades are illegal.

Concealed knives that are over three inches in length are illegal to carry in some states and there are some states that require to have a license if the blade is over three inches. Good advice would be to check with your knife supplier or make your own enquiries in order to ensure you comply with the relevant state law and carry your knife legally.

The great outdoors offers wild adventure and sometimes danger, which is why it is worth considering the idea of adding a survival knife to your kit.

Keith Bradshaw is an experienced wildlife adventure host. He enjoys the opportunity to share his insights online. He has written for a number of relevant websites.