Whether it’s going out for a day hike or a full trek of the Appalachian Trail, having a solid knife with you is absolutely essential. After all, there’s no telling what may befall of you on an outdoor adventure, so it’s absolutely better to be safe than sorry. We’ve covered survival gear before, but there are few pieces of outdoor gear more critical than a survival knife.
Knives are essential tools for helping you with all kinds of outdoor tasks including cutting rope, branches, starting fires, and more. They’re also helpful to have as a defensive tool, should it ever come down to it. More than anything else, it’s just a functional tool that will serve you well time and time again as you go hiking and camping.
Hopefully, you’ll never be in a position where you need a survival knife to survive. But should that situation arrive, you’ll be set with one of these 13 great picks. Our selections, below.
1. Ontario Knife Company 499 Air Force Survival Knife
Carried by Air Force pilots for decades, this survival knife from the Ontario Knife Company may look retro, but it’s decidedly modern in how helpful it is to have alongside you. The blade itself is five inches long to help you cut and trim anything you may need while the reversed sawtooth side allows for, well, sawing effectively. The leather handle helps to give the knife a good grip, allowing you to use it confidently.
2. SOG SEAL Strike Survival Knife
With its specialized SEAL Strike blade, this survival knife from SOG has been field-tested by the best of America’s military to ensure it’s more than capable for civilian use. With a total length of 9.8 inches, the SEAL Strike is considerable, but not in a bad way. Rather, it feels good in your hand and has a solid weight to it when in use. The titanium nitride coating on the blade itself ensures it won’t break down over time, meaning you can consistently use it without the worry of it failing you. And, of course, there’s a sawtooth edge for really difficult cuts.
3. Gerber Ultimate Survival Knife
This survival knife from Gerber is kind of like a Transformer in the sense that there’s more to it than meets the eye. Sure, you’ve got a dependable blade backed by Gerber (one of the absolute best when it comes to knives) but it also includes a dedicated fire starter, striking edge, sharpener, emergency whistle, and a hammer pommel to give you a fully rounded emergency survival kit. And you can keep it close by with a dedicated wrist loop. Just be sure to keep it in its sheath.
4. Nisaku RIKUGATANA Japanese Stainless Steel Knife
Coming in with a whopping 7.5-inch blade, this stainless steel survival knife from Nisaku will do some serious damage if used incorrectly, so be careful. This thing is massive and sharp as can be, with an ergonomic handle that is designed for a tight grip when pushing and pulling through any medium. Keep it on your belt for safekeeping and really impress your friends with this sizeable handyman.
5. Morakniv Companion Survival Knife
While this survival knife from Morakniv looks like a beefy kitchen knife, it packs a lot of power in a small package. The 4.1-inch blade is crafted from stainless steel to hold up to the toughest of challenges, while its coating helps to fight against rust and corrosion as you and it navigate the outdoors together. We particularly enjoy the rubberized grip handle that just feels good in your hand.
6. Gerber Fast Draw Tanto Knife
In a rut and need your knife quick? Gerber’s Fast Draw Tanto knife has you covered. No matter the situation, this knife is best for quick to action moments in order to cut, puncture and perform without fail. It’s classically designed for one-handed blade deployment and has an easy-to-grip handle that layers your thumb on comfortably. The blade is only 3 inches long which makes it ideal both for daily chores and outdoor scenarios.
7. Buck Knives 119 Special Survival Knife
With its curved “clip point” blade, this survival knife from Buck Knives provides superior strength, edge retention, piercing and detailing work. The pommel of the blade has dedicated palm swells to help you naturally grip and hold the blade while you perform whatever task you may need. The dedicated blade sheath has a button closure to ensure it won’t slip out and can sit right on your waist for ease of access and use. Plus, the 119 Special’s overall design is inherently vintage-inspired, making it feel like something your dad might have carried — while still being handy and ready for today’s world.
8. Helle Harding Knife
Not only is this survival knife absolutely gorgeous, but the Helle is designed for ergonomic holding and sharp slicing. The blade is made from high-quality stainless steel that’s, dare we say, sharp as Helle. When the knife begins to dull, it still holds its edge making it easier to sharpen when need be. The barrel handle is a handsome touch and it sits in an exquisitely crafted embossed leather sheath to really bare a masculine vibe.
9. Gerber GDC Money Clip
Don’t be surprised that we’re adding Gerber to the list this a few times, they make some of the best knives you can buy. We love this money clip for its two-in-one capabilities and for the fact you’ll be able to protect your money in two ways. Keep your stash safe inside this durable clip, and if anyone else tries to rob you, you have a way to defend yourself. While there really isn’t much of a need to bring this one on your next hike, we do suggest you snag it just in case.
10. KA-BAR Marine Corps Survival Knife
Looking to channel your inner Crocodile Dundee? Make sure your knife is this KA-BAR survival knife. Aptly named the Marine Corps knife, its 7-inch blade provides plenty of real estate to accomplish a variety of tasks. The blade is made from Cro-van steel, which helps to keep this survival knife both sharp and durable over extended use. Additionally, there’s a guard a top of the hilt to keep your hand from slipping during use, giving it just an extra step of safety while you’re already working to survive.
11. ALBATROSS Best 6-in-1 Survival Pocket Knife
There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of color. This red folding pocket knife from ALBATROSS is the multi-tool you need in the wild. Not only is it a dangerously sharp survival knife, but also an LED light, seatbelt cutter, glass breaker, magnesium fire starter and bottle opener. So no matter your survival situation, you’ll be able to get through it with this knife option. While we don’t always suggest you keep a knife on you because that might be, well, a bit threatening, this is one we definitely do suggest you keep on you because you really never know when you might need it.
12. Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Survival Knife
Bear Grylls might as well be the name in survival, as his name is just synonymous with the intensity of the outdoors at this point. It also makes him well suited to tackle a survival knife. Developed in partnership with Gerber, this folding health knife has a high carbon stainless steel blade with a drop point that’s well-made for cutting through things such as rope. Additionally, the textured rubber grip helps to reduce slippage while retaining comfort. When folding out the blade, it will snap into place to securely fasten and can even be opened with one hand. If it’s good enough for Bear, it’ll be good enough for you.
13. L.L.Bean Special Edition Swiss Army Pocket Knife
While it is literally never going to save your life, we couldn’t leave out this cute limited edition pocket knife from L.L.Bean. No, it really isn’t a survival knife in the slightest, but like any other pocket knife, it has the ability to do just about anything. Because who doesn’t need a corkscrew in the middle of the woods? Don’t tell us you forgot that bottle of wine at home.