At first blush, you might think of the term fixed bladed knife as a retronym. Didn’t all knives have a fixed blade, meaning with the blade set firmly into the handle and without a folding capability, up until recent times? Well, no. Not by a long shot. Victorinox made the pocket knife world famous when it released the vaunted Swiss Army Knife back in 1891, but in fact, folding knives date back more than 2,000 years with numerous examples found with ancient Roman origins, some possibly predating the common era by centuries.
Great full tang fixed bladed knives — full tang means the blade continues throughout the grip, adding strength and durability — come in a vast variety of shapes and sizes and they are designed for myriad uses. There are hunting knives, built to help carve up a fresh kill in the field; utility knives, designed to help with work; and fixed blade knives ideal for camping, mountaineering, or survival situations.
We’re focusing on the best fixed blade knives that sit near the intersection of utility and survival. Any of these knives would be a welcome companion were you to find yourself lost in the woods; needing to cut up some cordage to help build a shelter, gut a fish, shave some kindling; or fight off a mountain lion. Bring one along whenever you camp, trek, or push for the summit, because a solid knife is useful at all times, and is precious when you’re in dire straights.
Ka-Bar U.S. Marine Corps Fighting Knife
Its large blade and sharp point make it a great hunting knife, while its durability makes it a solid blade for working with wood, too. The 7-inch blade and overall length of nearly a foot make this a bigger knife than most people need, but if you ever did find yourself engaged in a self-defense situation, you’d be glad this was the fixed blade that came to hand.
I own three Morakniv knives, two of which I acquired directly, one that came as part of a pre-stocked survival/bugout bag. If this is the blade a group of survival experts settled on when they were assembling their kit, I think it’s safe for you to consider it as a knife you use when camping out.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
It has a large serrated section for sawing, it comes with a fire-starting Ferrocerium rod tucked into the sheath, and there’s an included sharpener. The relatively short section of non-serrated edge does reduce its usefulness for certain activities, like cooking in the field, but that’s a sacrifice that’s worth it for versatility.
Ontario Knife Company Spec Plus SP-1 Combat Knife
While this Ontario Knife Company blade may have been designed for fighting, I generally avoid combat. However, I’ve spent a lot of time with this knife; I have had my trusty Spec Plus SP-1 strapped to my leg as I pushed for multiple mountain summits and I brought it along during a 10-day trek through the mountains of Colombia.
SOG SEAL Team Elite
It’s highly resistant to corrosion and the handle is designed for a secure grip even with wet hands or under water. The blade is partially serrated and there is a sawtooth edge opposite the cutting edge.
Uncle Henry Golden Spike Knife
It features an imitation bone Staglon handle, a gently curved blade, and a leather sheath complete with a sharpening stone. This isn’t an expensive knife, but it’s decently well made. The blade dulls faster than most others on the list, but it sharpens quickly, too.