Not all of us are going to need to break out of a crashed plane, fend off tigers, and escape the jungle. However, a strong, sharp knife with a good handle can literally be a lifesaver. These knives are definitely not for everyday carry, but rather for camping, hiking, and having on hand for emergencies at home. Here are the best survival knives.
The updated successor to, the StrongArm is just as strong and even more capable. The 4.8-inch, 420-HC (high carbon) steel blade keeps an edge for a long time but can still be abused by activities like chopping wood. The Cerakote ceramic coating on the blade is often used on firearms and improves the wear and corrosion resistance. The included sheath can easily be mounted vertically on MOLLE straps, horizontally on a belt, or with a drop leg system.
While more of a bushcraft knife, the Helle Temagami is still going to make quick work of camp chores. Helle, a Norwegian company, designed the Temagami with “Survivorman” Les Stroud to be a strong, yet beautiful handmade knife. The 5.5-oz knife has a 4-inch blade and a handle made from curly birch. The semi-full tang (the metal part of the blade) runs to the end of the handle but not quite to the fingers.
Fun fact: Stroud’s love of the brand started when he found a knife while hiking through the Temagami wilderness in Canada when he was young. The handle felt perfect in his hand and it was easy to sharpen. Only later did he found out it was a Helle knife.
The 5.25-inch blade with saver grind on the ESEE 5 means business. The 1095 carbon steel is sharp yet strong. The canvas micarta handle is easy to hold on to in any conditions. If you’re truly out in the wilderness for days, a divot on the handle holds the end of a stick for starting a fire with a bow. If you ever do need to break through glass in an emergency situation, the steel pommel on the end of the handle will make quick work of it.
Ontario Knife Black Bird SK-5
Now for a different look and feel. The Black Bird SK-5 from Ontario has a full flat grind and a mirror finish. The sharp edges on the spine throw sparks from a Ferro rod for starting fires with ease. A G10 handle is very comfortable to hold on to for long periods of time. The 5-inch blade is long enough to hammer through firewood but not too big it’s going to get in the way.
If you’re looking for something larger but less expensive, the SCHF9 from Shrade might be the ticket. With a 6.4-inch blade and a thermoplastic handle meant for large hands, it can chop wood without issues. A blunt tip is stronger and won’t break when prying. An included nylon sheath with Kydex liner easily hooks to a belt or ties to a pack. A small removable pouch on the front is great for Ferro rods or emergency fishing kits.
Article originally published December 14, 2018. Last updated to include new pricing info.
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