camp knife vs survival knife vs hunting knife

For me a survival knife is a Victorinox with a saw and a can-opener it can also double for a hunting knife. The blade shape is good for small game like skinning a rabbit or gutting birds.
A camp knife is a larger knife. I don´t like to carry larger knifes so it goes in the back-pack if I do take one.
I most of the time carry a medium-sized fixed blade "Puuko style" or Fallkniven F1.
They are sturdy enough for most work.
I don´t consider the survival knife for defense situation. Here in Sweden there are no animals that you could defend yourself against with a knife....
Hoodoo --
Next weekend, I'm planning on driving a few hours to a tournament. I'm planning on spending the night there, and coming back on Sunday. I'll be prepared to spend more time there, but don't expect to, and I'll be prepared for a flat tire, broken belt, radiator leak, and any number of other small emergencies, but I won't be planning on them.

I can do many things to prepare for a survival situation, and if I'm lucky, some of it will be with me should I need it. But no amount of preparation will see you ready for anything.

Originally posted by Stryver:
Hoodoo --
Next weekend, I'm planning on driving a few hours to a tournament. I'm planning on spending the night there, and coming back on Sunday. I'll be prepared to spend more time there, but don't expect to, and I'll be prepared for a flat tire, broken belt, radiator leak, and any number of other small emergencies, but I won't be planning on them.

I can do many things to prepare for a survival situation, and if I'm lucky, some of it will be with me should I need it. But no amount of preparation will see you ready for anything.


I think I see the distinction. I guess I would have used different terms, seeing planning and preparation as almost synonyms. I agree with you but would say that you can plan or prepare for emergencies but you can't predict with any certainty if and/or when they will occur.

But I don't see how this bolsters your point about a survival knife. Given your logic, a survival knife could be nothing more than your fingernails, since you could be abducted, stripped naked, and left in the desert for dead. If we define survival knife as that knife which we have on us when we need it, then survival knife could be a penknife or no knife. And I don't see a penknife as being a survival knife. Could it serve some useful function in a survival situation? Certainly! But most people have preconceived notions about what constitutes a survival knife and if they are in a situation where there is a high probability that they would be faced with a survival situation, I'm sure they would grab more than a pen knife to take with them. The military survival knife would be a classic example of this. But according to you, no such survival knife exists. We shouldn't try to design the ideal survival knife or even consider the existence of one because we can't predict when we would actually need it???? This doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me.

And any ol' folder doesn't get it in my view. I wouldn't carry the same folder to work that I would use when I go canoeing in the Boundary Waters. Thus, I think that the question of what constitutes a survival knife is a perfectly valid question just as much as what constitutes a hunting knife. I could clean a deer with my hatchet or battle mistress if I had to but in my preparing and planning, I would choose something different.

Given your logic, why carry a Native? If any old pocket knife will do, why not carry a Sabre Barlow or an SAK classic or a razor blade knife? I mean what's the point if you can't predict when you would really need any more than that? And how can you prepare for a survival situation if you are not "allowed" to even consider what would be the ideal knife or flashlight or clothes or backpack or firestarter or whatever. If we define survival gear in general as "just what we have" at the time when the SHTF, then what's the point of preparing or even having a discussion or even a survival forum?


Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?

The Merchant of Venice, Act IV. Scene I.
Hoodoo and Stryver,

I think I agree with both of you, because I think you are describing two different ends of the preparedness compromise spectrum..

Hoodoo- You are speaking of knife close to the ideal of a survival knife. One that you would carry with you that could do it all in a pinch. But, can you carry it at work, actually on your person, and not only at work, but all day, every day, 24/7/52?

Stryver- You are speaking to the practical side, so to speak, choosing a knife that you can have with you 24/7/52, absolutely all the time.

If we are speaking to the ideal, then I would mention a M.95 Peltonen SissiPuuko, or a Allen Blade MEUK or if you like something bigger, maybe a Modern Barong or Bowie, or an axe and sheath knife. Even a complement of blades that would handle all the different 'survival" needs.

If we are speaking to the practical, then I would mention the Spyderco Military/Starmate or even just a Swiss Tool/Rucksack.

The scenario that I use to define a survival knife is this. I am driving over the pass in winter, I spin out of control and I go over the side, I manage to evacuate the car just in time to see it plummet into the abyss. Now what am I going to have? The contents of my pockets. The sheath knife is probably in the trunk to keep it out of sight, and my travel unimpeeded by negative reactions from police, gas attendants, roadside diner employees, etc. So, if I were thrust into a 'survival' situation this very insant, I would have a Starmate, Delica, Mouse, Goddard ltwt, Swiss Tool, FireSteel metal match with attached striker, a Sterling Systems sharpener, Fox 40 whistle, 25 continuous feet of 550 cord in a braid, a Tri-Seps sharpener and a bunch of wire wrapped around a plastic card. (Two sharpeners because I have not decided which I prefer

That is the basic contents of my pockets, that is what is in my pockets or on my belt all the time. so that is what I have to survive with, period. The stuff I left behind or lost is of no use to me.

Now, if we are speaking of a outdoor adventure, where you have a set of gear (including that 'survival' knife) that is attached to you via LBE in addition to a pack, like infantrymen do, then maybe I would consider my sheath knife a survival knife, only because I have great assurance that even if I lose my pack, I will still have my sheath knife attached very firmly to me via my LBE when the 'survival' phase of an adventure might kick in. But, that is a special case scenario, because my work and city life does not allow me LBE and accompanying gear, I may have them in my trunk/backpack, but then I am hoping/assuming that I can get to that stuff if I need it, and we all know about wishful thinking and/or assumptions.

So to recap. Modern urban life often makes compromises necessary, especially concerning what we can carry to be prepared for emergencies. Given a situation where we are traveling or living in the bush the constraints on our gear becomes fewer and therefor we can more closely approach the ideal of preparedness, only hindered by what we are willing to carry.

What y'all think?

Thank you,
Marion David Poff aka Eye, Cd'A ID, USA

My review of the World Survival Institute, Chris Janowsky survival knife, the Ranger.

Talonite Resource Page, nearly exhaustive!!

Fire Page, metal match sources and index of information.

"Many are blinded by name and reputation, few see the truth" Lao Tzu
Here's the way I see it: a camp knife could be nearly any knife depending on how you camp. If you camp very primitive then you would probably need a larger knive that can do very heavy-duty tasks. If you camp with a tent and stove and alot of gear I would recommend a SAK or Leatherman tool (or other multi-tool).
A survival knife depends mostly on where you are and how long you will have to survive. Here in the Carolinas a pocket-knife (like a SAK or stockman or trapper or barlow) would do just fine. No matter where you are in the Carolinas you're not going to be very far from other people (you probably can't walk straight for 5 miles without hitting a road, trail, farm pasture, or other developed land). The object of survival is to reach help or wait until help arrives, and you don't need a big knife to do that. If you were in Alaska things would be VERY different: I think I would want more than just a pocket-knife.
I don't hunt, so I can't give any advice in the big game department.
When I see someone packing a "short-sword" to go on a 3-day camping trip I really wonder...

[This message has been edited by allenC (edited 09-05-2000).]
Originally posted by Marion David Poff:
What y'all think?

I think y'all is right.


Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?

The Merchant of Venice, Act IV. Scene I.

I agree with that, and in response to the Alaska comment, I can say that when playing around in Alaska, I did carry much more knife with me than I do now.
Whether or not I need more steel on my blade to do a job, a bigger knife makes me feel more secure. Ahh, but that I could carry a scabbard on my belt with 36 inches in it every day...

Not2sharp has a fairly good explanation.

One size (choice) does not fit all needs.

So, here is one approach. The Air Force thought that two knives would be appropriate for the pilot - one for slicing; the other, like the Ontario 499 for limited batoning and rugged cutting.

I will give a rough understanding. The bushcraft/survival knife will easily baton; however, it won't slice very well. The camp knife will do very well in camp, but isn't designed for cutting wood or for defense. The hunting knife will allow you to slice open and skin an animal.

Over 35 years ago, I had a class from Ron Hood. His focus was on having a small, compact knife, Yeah, I know that there is a huge knife model marketed with his name. I am simply going back in time. He wanted a Swiss Army knife with a wood cutting blade! I decided that I wanted a small Swiss Army knife with a pair of scissors. My background included broken finger nails, finger nails that needed to be cleaned, toe nails that need to be trimmed, cloth/medical items that needed to be cut. The model is the Huntsman (and it includes a wood saw). Is my choice better? NO. Just a different appreciation for what capacity was needed in a small knife.

Ok. Don't get so focused on necessarily carrying a large blade. The Scandinavians don't carry $100 - $400 knives. They might carry a $15 Mora knife.
Don't get focused on the external appearance of a knife. There is a reason(s) why the rugged appearing knife at the sporting goods store sells for $20 and a Ka-bar (or modern equivalent) sells for three times the price and it isn't because of the "name".

Unfortunately, it is up to you to find the tool that meets your criteria.
I disagree with most of the posts to some degree on how these break down ... I think that there can be overlap among any of these knives (e.g. a camp knife that is a pretty good survival knife), but I also believe that they are distinct concepts. A lot of the confusion is caused by sellers advertising knives under each of the categories, such as calling a ka-bar a "hunting" knife (in my opinion, it definitely is not). Below are what I see as being some of the most unique and essential features of each:

Hunting knife: This is for gutting, skinning, field dressing game. This might mean a big blade for a whale or elephant, but we are generally talking about deer, elk, etc., and so the blades typically aren't that long, and they should not be all that thick. They often have a lot of belly (I prefer hunting knives with a lot). I do not think of a hunting knife as being something that you want to use to butcher the animal (your boning / butcher knives are much better for that).

Survival knife: Should be made to do a lot of things okay (probably not a lot all that well), including really hard-use, abusive things like batoning, chopping, and puncturing tough surfaces -- all without breaking. Usually a longer blade with a substantial straight part of the edge (although plenty of curvy designs).

Combat knife: A lot of overlap with survival knife, but I'd say incorporates elements of a fighting knife. So, you'll see features like swedges or double edges that take away from its utility as woods or general purpose knife but make it a better weapon.

Camp knife: Definitely overlap with a survival knife but I'd say they generally have a thinner blade for the length, and much more emphasis on food prep. I think of general kitchen knife made tough. The Hudson Bay knife is probably a "camp knife" that would make a good survival knife, but I also think it is on the very heavy duty side for a camp knife. I'd rather have a thinner blade.
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Back when I was much, much younger, and had the time to go camping and hunting, I never went out with just one knife. My "camp knife" was a military surplus 4 blade Camillus "Demo"/Scout/camp/utility knife, or an old BSA scout knife. I carried an Ontario 499 "Jet Pilot Survival Knife" (also military surplus) as my fixed blade, and a Uncle Henry Old Timer 7OT.

How times have changed. If I ever have the time to go camping or hunting (or fishing, for that matter) my camp knife will be a Marbles rendition of the old Camillus "Demo" knife, or an Ulster Boy Scout knife. My fixed blade will be a Cold Steel Bushman, and my lockback will be either a Buck 110 or Schrade-Taylor Uncle Henry 7OT.

A small axe or hatchet will also be added, maybe a Marbles #5, or an Estwing 32 ounce double bit.

EDIT: I'll probably keep my Buck stockman in my pocket, too.
While I agree there is overlap between Camp knife and Survival Knife (nothing not blade-heavy and under 8" in blade should be considered), the difference is the Survival Knife has survival items in the sheath and/or handle, particularly to light a fire: At the very least a fire steel on the sheath should be a minimum to be considered a "Survival Knife"... A sharpening item of some sort also seems "de rigeur", but not enough by itself to do without the fire-making addition. The knife can chop the wood that it can also light up: That seems to be the minimum that makes sense... Bear Grylls and all Bushcraft types fail in the area of chopping. As for batoning with those to make up for the lack of chopping ability, often ignored by everyone is that all thick wood on the ground is mildewing/soft, and it is often considerable work to find and make an efficient baton from sound dry wood... Calling anything under 7" in blade a "Survival Knife" is really an excercise in silliness...

*Snick* Some folk like to camp with a camping-survival knife and some like to survival with a survival-camping knife. The variety of knives made over the past 100 years touted by makers and owners as the bestest for (fill in the blank) boggles the mind. Truth be told, most camping and survival chores don't require a Rambo knife though some of those blades are cool to look at. I have camped and "survived" with no knife at all before and made it just fine. I've skinned and butchered deer with a piece of found broken glass, a sharp rock, the top to a vienna sausage can and n old Imperial keychain knife with a 1" blade. Buy what appeals to you, carry it and use it as you see fit. Don't worry so much about manufacturer's categories and imaginative descriptions. It was true fifteen years ago and is still true today.
Hi! Very old thread and one of those well discussed topics. Not so much has changed :) !

To me camp knife is synonymous to utility knife. It’s, in my mind, a knife precisely designed to carry out all the camp tasks, from fire starting to shelter construction, from food preparation to carving. As far as my preferences, I’d like it solidly built but not too heavy, possibly full tang, robust, easy to sharp, difficult to break, with a full flat or scandi grind and in stainless steel. Dimensions wise, not too long as to prevent precision cutting tasks and carving, not so short to prevent a decent chopping. My “platonic ideal” of a camp knife it’s the Fallkniven A1.

About hunting knives the topic can become very large :). Honestly, since many years now, I don’t hunt anymore. Hunting knives are, in my mind, specifically designed for field-dressing and skinning game. Sure they have to undertake other “knives jobs” such as cutting rope or twine, whittling tinder for fire and food prep, but as ancillary tasks. They need to be super-sharp and keep their edge long. I cannot find a reference standard for hunting knife or, more precisely, I have several. It would depend a lot on what I’m hunting. Big game or rabbits or birds? The drop-point blade is great for skinning; the clip-point blade is maybe thinner, flatter and has a more well defined point than the drop point but I find it not as efficient at skinning and splitting. If I’d hunt big game I’d prefer a drop-point blade. For me this makes the job of skinning easier, faster and I “lose” less meat. When hunting small game, I would prefer a folder maybe with a clip-point blade. I’m not a big fan of these fowl hooks, but I agree they can come in handy when gutting small game birds. Folders are generally lightweight, a good thing for long hikes with the rifle and the backpack and they stay out of the way in my pockets.

As said before, “survival knives” it’s a category artfully constructed, in my opinion :). Agree 100% that one “survives” with the things he has at hand at that moment… how was that say: “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” ? Then, of course I also have some fun with that nice tactical pouch attached to the sheath of my knife full of cool entertaining stuff but I'm not sure I will survive thanks to this :D!
I think of them like this:
Camp knife: a large 8" + knife suitable for
everything from slicing steaks off a deer
to chopping/splintering up wood for the campfire. When I visualize "camp knife" I
envision a large chef's knife or even a
10" machete like some of Livesley's products.

Survival knife: a generic 5-7" knife that will do most anything adequately and be nearly indestructible. Easy to sharpen and
usable for self-defense or even primitive
hunting as a spearhead. Randall model 15's
and 18's and Kabar's come to mind.

Hunting knife: any drop point knife with a
blade length of 3-5". When I visualize "hunting knife" I think of an Ontario leather
handled Quartermaster model or a Loveless DP

Well said

I guess I used many words to say this; Camping, hunting and survival are three different activities with different knife needs.

Camping is mainly food prep with maybe some whittling and very light chopping involved, like preparing kindling or making a hot dog/marshmellow stick. Hunting is field dressing and skinning, and cutting pepperoni and hard provelone at the poker table in "camp."

Survival, now that's different. You are not usually staying put, otherwise you are camping. You will use your knife for cutting, chopping, hammering, just about everything that you could not use your hands for.

I agree...
"I have camped and "survived" with no knife at all before and made it just fine. I've skinned and butchered deer with a piece of found broken glass, a sharp rock, the top to a vienna sausage can and n old Imperial keychain knife with a 1" blade."

Pictures or it didn't happen.
Camp Knife: Swamp Rat Camp Tramp
Survival/Hunting Knife: Swamp Rat RatManDu


I think its been covered in answer or another, but IMHO:

- Hunting Knife is going to be generally, or perhaps specifically, tailored to processing whatever it is you're hunting. A quality skinner with lots of belly for a big game, a smaller 'Bird & Trout' type knife for those animals, etc.

- Camp Knife is, as indicated, something that will be supplemental to 'camp chores' and probably depend on where/how you're making camp. Unless you're 'hiking in' and having to pack it (ie. using it mostly out of a vehicle or pack horse near by), weight is going to be less of an issue. If you're going to be needing to clear an area, etc. you might want something longer, near machete like...or if working out of an established camp, and you're just doing routine cutting, twine, opening food packages, etc. something smaller. You're 'camp knife' may be the folder in your pocket. Where I would see a difference between a 'camp' knife and a 'survival' knife would be the overall strength/durability and the perhaps the absence of a coating.

- A survival knife, as others have said, in my mind (given the choice and not being whatever you have when the SHTF), would be something more robust/durable. A knife that could deal with the rigors of more imminent/dangerous situations where you're 'use' might go more into 'abuse' territory and a lesser blade might fail. Not saying you'd plan on chopping through cinder blocks, but if we're talking a true 'combat/survival ready' would be need to be ready to do so if it meant saving life/limg. As I'm not a combatant, I generally use the term 'field knife,' which in my mind is a ~6-8 x .25+ coated heavy duty (saber or convex ground) blade that can handled just about any 'exigent' circumstance that might arise in the field. For me, its the Busse NMSFNO.

Obviously there's plenty of room for overlap...a 'survival knife' may very well do hunting knife chores if that's what's required in the survival situation...

Just my general $.02 worth, YMMV.
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