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What style/size of knife would be most useful in a survival scenario in the forest?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

There's no simple answer to this question - everybody has their own preferences. (That being said, I'm a big fan of my straight edge SOG SEAL Pup Elite and would highly recommend it). There are a few simple guidelines, though.

I'd suggest something with a (1) thick full-tang blade, so you could chop down some small trees if needed. But (2) not too big, so it's still comfortable for carving fire spindles and whatnot. (3) Straight edge is better than serrated - you're unlikely to need to skin a bear in a survival situation, but carving with the serrated blade is a pain. Serrated blade is also not very easy to sharpen.

And remember, the best knife is the knife you have on your person when you need it. So, although a big beefy knife might sound like a great idea, chances are very high you're not gonna have it in your pocket when you really need it. Go with practical, not fancy.

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Time-tested bushcraft designs look like this:

Classic but less bombproof (because of the lack of a full shank):

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+1 for the Mora. I have personal experience with that one and it's been great. Perfect for an inexpensive but useful survival knife. – Blackbear Mar 6 '14 at 14:25

The traditional standard is the USMC Ka-Bar knife.

Generally I look for

  • Fixed Blade
  • Five to Seven inch blade
  • Durable (full-tang)

Assuming you're going survival, whatever you choose needs to be able to fulfill the following roles.

  • General purpose cutting (rope etc.)
  • Fell small trees
  • Spear point
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I once tried to make a spear out of a staff and an old knife. It is true that I do not know how to throw a spear. It is also true, however ,that the tip broke off at the second throw at a three. Could you provide some info or a link to how this setup could be useful and how to acquire the necessary skills? – Vorac Sep 5 '12 at 12:29
I started a question on it. From my own experience, I only use a blade spear for fixed point defense. I'd never consider throwing my knife in a survival situation. – Russell Steen Sep 5 '12 at 13:16

How about a multi-tool. I always carry a Leatherman Wave with me. Besides the knife, it also has a serrated knife and a saw. It's small and easy to carry on the belt.

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I don't have a proper survival knife but I always bring my Griptilian knife around whenever I go camping. It is a folding knife but I like the fact the it uses AXIS lock and it's well sturdy! Apparently it uses a type of metal called 154CM stainless steel. They says it is a high quality steel. I don't know much about steel but trust me, this knife is razor sharp the tough - I dropped my knife a few times and it is still very sharp.

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