Outdoor enthusiasts as well as disaster preparedness guides will tell you that knives are one of the most important items that you can have in your outdoor tool cache.
Knives are also incredibly useful for everyday purposes, especially for people who like to keep it simple. After all, who really needs a separate tool for every single task? In this article, we’ll look at what we mean when we talk about a knife as a survival tool. Then, we’ll discuss uses for survival knives in the great outdoors and in the aftermath of an emergency that can also come in handy in your everyday life.
Not Just Any Knife Will Do
Practically everyone has several knives in their kitchen, but that’s not the type of knife we mean. Let’s look at the difference between kitchen knives and those used as a survival tool to understand what we’re advocating for you to keep handy.
A kitchen knife or cooking knife is used for just that—cooking. All cooking knives are designed with that function in mind and are thus manufactured accordingly. The most common and one of the most versatile is a chef’s knife, which usually has an eight-inch blade and is curved along the cutting edge. It was originally designed to cut through large pieces of beef but is used for many tasks.
On the other hand, a survival or outdoor knife is used by outdoors enthusiasts and members of the military. Instead of cutting beef, it is designed to be used for tasks such as cutting branches and cords, skinning animals, and setting traps.
There are many types of outdoor knives that can be used as survival tools. We recommend having two on hand: a chopping knife and a wood-carving knife. We’ll explore the differences between them in the next section.
Consider Multiple Knives for Multiple Purposes
The first type of survival tool that everyone should have is a chopping knife. This type of knife is somewhat similar to a hatchet (though it is distinctly different) and is sometimes referred to as a camping knife. It is heavier, wider, and longer than a wood-carving knife, and it is used for more heavy-duty tasks. This is what you would use to chop branches or split wood. You can also use the butt end as a hammer.
The second type of knife that we recommend having in your survival kit or bringing with you on outdoors adventures is a wood-carving knife, sometimes called a bushcraft knife. No, you’re not going to use this knife to whittle a statue for your mantle (though you could). Instead, you use this ultra sharp knife for all kinds of important tasks that are more intricate, such as trimming an animal for meat. You can even use it in an emergency as a first aid survival tool.
Now that we’ve covered the two most important types of outdoor or survival knives, let’s look at just a few of the hundreds of uses for them while you’re in the wilderness that can also come in handy for everyday use.
Knives in the Great Outdoors
- Food—your three biggest needs as a human being are food, water, and shelter or warmth. Your survival knife has you covered for two of them. In addition to being able to use it for animals, a survival knife can also open cans and other containers and be used to cut crops and edible plants.
- Shelter—you can use both your chopping and wood-carving knives to cut wood to make a lean-to or other type of shelter.
- Fire—not only can you make firewood, you can also shave tinder by stripping bark and even starting a fire.
- Dig a hole—especially useful if you ever need to use the bathroom away from home.
- Hammer—as long as you sheath your knife first, the butt end can be used as a hammer for all kinds of purposes, especially driving a stake into the ground.
Knives as a Survival Tool
- Weapon—no, we’re not talking about harming another human (calm down) but killing animal sources of food. It might not be pleasant to think about now, but consider that having a sharp, precise knife is more humane than many other methods of taking a life.
- First aid—we mentioned this above, but in a situation of this nature, you’re unlikely to be able to reach a set of surgical tools. A sharp, sterilized knife could be used to remove a foreign object, pop a blister, and cut cloth into bandages.
- Make other tools—you can use your knives to carve other types of tools you might need, such as a stake, skewer, or spear.
- Ice pick—if you find yourself stranded during the winter months, you may need an ice pick to fish or access the ground. Your knife has you covered.
- Self-defense—especially in close contact with another animal, having a sharp knife in your hand can inflict some serious damage and allow you to escape with your life.