A survival knife is among the first pieces of equipment that come to mind when most people think of bushcraft. The versatility of a survival knife as tool and weapon makes it one of the top 3 items in your pack No woods-wanderer should be without a dependable knife. While there are many high quality knives on the market today, only through practice and time with that knife are you going to be able to really master that tool.
Survival Knife Uses
While the usefulness of a survival knife as a hunting or fishing spear or survival weapon are popularly known, this tool is invaluable for a staggering spectrum of tasks.
A knife will never work as well as many tools designed for specific tasks, but it is about the best substitute if you find yourself in need. Let’s look at 10 ways to use a survival knife.
- Food Processing: From slicing foraged vegetables to skinning game, you will find that there is no substitute for a quality survival knife. It is your most effective tool for processing food ingredients in the wild.
Slicing down larger cuts of meat and trimming meat away from bone are all critical tasks that your knife should be able to handle.
- Weapon: In a situation requiring you to procure your own food, a survival knife can be used to harvest small game or even fish. While its no gig, a simple spear point use or even adding it to trap construction can be effective.
Your knife is also one of your best options for self-defense.
- First Aid: While a clumsy, unpracticed hand can do as much damage as good with a knife in a medical emergency, the tool is as versatile in first-aid as in basic campsite routines. It’s useful for cutting improvised bandages, for example, or—with a sterilized tip—draining pernicious blisters.
- Splitting Wood or Cutting Saplings: If you’re only accustomed to flimsy, cheaply made versions, you may have trouble envisioning a survival knife as a hatchet and axe substitute. However, a large, full-tang model with a flat edge to the blade back can be a formidable wood-splitting or cutting implement. The design allows you to use a piece of wood or mallet to pound the keen edge into a log or sapling. This is often called batoning.
- Hammer: The butt end, or pommel, of the survival knife handle is its own hammering tool, handy for driving in stakes for shelters or snares.
- Gear Adjustments: On an extended foray in the backcountry, you invariably need to make little adjustments to clothing and equipment in the interest of comfort and safety. A survival knife is the perfect tool for emergency modification of your gear.
- Stake: In the absence of other materials, a survival knife can be driven into the ground to serve as a stake—as when anchoring an emergency shelter or a food bag balanced in the tree canopy out of a bear’s reach.
If you aren’t prepared to give up your tool, you could also use it to create stakes from other pieces of wood.
- Tool-making: Some may think a knife in a wilderness emergency is simply a tool unto itself, but one of its chief purposes in a wilderness emergency is really the manufacture of other, more specialized survival gear. It’s essential for making a fire bow and drill, which is of utmost importance if you’re lacking other means of lighting tinder.
With practice you can carve things like spoons and bowls. Your knife will also help you craft important camping tools like tripods for cooking.
- Fire: Speaking of fire-making, a survival knife allows you to flay out ribbons of inner bark from a branch to produce so-called “tinder”—invaluable when making a “birds nest” and igniting a fire in any condition. That strong 90-degree spine is great for processing down bark, as well.
A survival knife can also be used to strike your ferrocerium rod (ferro rod) when igniting that tinder.
- Shelter-making: A knife blade serves handily to trim limbs in the event you must build a shelter. It can also be used to notch the limbs before lashing them together.
You will use your knife to cut down pine boughs for a leanto roof and to cut away larger pieces of bark to fortify that shelter. Without a knife shelter making can be a real problem.
From lifting simmering stew off the flames or making your own tools, a survival knife is more than just a weapon. A good quality knife is a companion that follows you on some of your most enduring adventures.
Make one a permanent addition to your pack, and head into the woods with that much more peace of mind.