Ideal blade length for a main fixed blade for camping/surival/all-purpose?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by maximus83, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. maximus83


    Nov 7, 2011
    Have read a number of threads on the subject of blade length and whether people prefer "big" or "small" or "medium" knives, or a combo of these for camping/hiking, survival bags, or just all-purpose usage. Thing I've noticed is that people have wildly different definitions of what blade lengths are "small" or "large", and often these threads fall into debates about the merits of large vs small blades, or why one is "better" than the other.

    Rather than debate what is "better" among different blade sizes or create hypothetical scenarios where you can "only carry one" (which is rarely the case in real life), I'd be interested to just hear the following info from folks with regard to blade lengths.

    1. What size blade do you use as your "main" go-to knife for outdoor use, or all-around use, or if you were in a survival situation? (By "main" knife, I mean the one you prefer and would use most often for the widest variety of tasks).

    2. What makes you prefer this blade length, versus using smaller or larger blades that you could have used? For instance, does it do certain things more effectively that blade lengths that are a bit smaller (or larger) don't do as well?
  2. Georgia Guy

    Georgia Guy

    Jan 16, 2006
    I say 4 to 5 inch. I like these lengths because they are easy to carry but have enough heft to baton etc. It's not a bad length self defense as well. I think the bigger question you may want to ask is what thickness of blade. That is totally subjective. What I like you may not. I follow Doug Ritters advice of using your knife to cut not pry so I have thinner blades then say a TOPS. Not saying that TOPS aren't great knives but they are way thick.
  3. EBHM4


    Nov 22, 2010
    1. I use my Scrapyard Deregulator and Becker BK9 for most outdoors tasks. I find that a blade length of 7-9" is always with me, but paired with a smaller knife. But I guess if I had to choose smaller versus larger I would go larger, so 7-9".

    2. I prefer this blade length because it allows me lots of span for batoning, the blades are large enough to do light chopping if necessary, and as the late Ron Hood said "You can do small jobs with a big knife, but not big jobs with a small knife."
  4. IUKE12


    Nov 25, 2005
    I find myself packing a four inch blade for most outdoor excursions. It's not too big or small and in a true survival situation it would more than get the job done.
  5. matt1987


    Nov 2, 2009
    1) 4" to 5"
    2)At this size its big enough to process most wood, but small enough to be light, easy to carry, and do well with most carving
  6. dark impaler

    dark impaler

    Jan 14, 2011
    4" main for camping, not doing any survival situations. Good in the hand, light and does everything that I need it to.
  7. dayhiker1968


    Apr 30, 2011
    About 4".

    It isn't really about this length being "more effective" than larger or smaller blades for any task. It is that it is able to perform those tasks reasonably well.

    At least that is how I see it, and why my F1 is my preferred knife.
  8. goodeyesniper


    Aug 31, 2009
    The thing is how differently people use their knives in the wild. I am fine with a 3-4" blade for most camping/hiking/wilderness chores. And there are guys who can do things with such "small" knives out there, that would make most of us look like toddlers playing with plastic butter knives. I have never needed to baton in the wild, if I did, I'd want a bit more blade. The only thing I'd really want a bit more length for is for food prep. But I'll usually take a separate knife for that anyways, especially if I'm preparing raw meat or anything.
  9. Huntsman Knife Co.

    Huntsman Knife Co.

    Sep 10, 2010
    After alot of experimentation 4-5 inches paired with a chopper/machete/axe/ saw of some sort
  10. goodeyesniper


    Aug 31, 2009
    That's what she said.
  11. GingivitisKahn


    Jun 8, 2010
    For camping and general outdoorishness, I like my 5" BK2 because it's a great all-rounder. For hunting, where I know I'm going to be doing lots of chopping (making blinds, clearing shooting lanes, etc.) I like my 9" BK9.


    Beckerhead #42
  12. maximus83


    Nov 7, 2011
    Interesting responses, all.

    I forgot to add my own response: I personally use a 4.5" blade more than anything else. I find this is both small/light enough to carry comfortably (this is important to me), also small enough to handle well for fine cutting tasks, but at the same time just large enough to do some light wood splitting.

    Thinking about stepping up to something slightly larger, say 5" to 5.5", to get a little wider range of things that the knife can do. Adding a bit more length would make it potentially a little better at splitting wood, at chopping, and also a little more viable for defensive use. I have a big chopper, but the thought would be, perhaps with a well made 5.5" blade, I could get by without bringing the chopper.

    Funny thing is, I've observed from knives I've owned over the years that when you do belt carry, there's a fairly significant step up in weight and discomfort level when you go from say a 4" blade that weighs 5 to 7 oz and is maybe 9" long, versus say a 5.5 inch blade that's 10 to 15 oz and 10" to 11" long. It's subjective, but somewhere in there, it seems like while you get a bit more functionality from the larger blade, you also give up quite a bit in portability.
  13. upnorth


    Nov 25, 2006
    I believe that this is why the ''size'' controversy keeps arising. Different applications\environments\circumstances all calling for a universal blade. Granted there seems to be a general consensus on a 4 inch or so blade though.
  14. upnorth


    Nov 25, 2006
    Love my 2 also but I'm leaning more toward machetes for the brush chopping these days. :)
  15. michaelm466


    Mar 5, 2009
    I prefer 4.5" - 5.5". The main blades I use while hiking/camping are a BRKT Bravo-1 ( I plan on getting a Bravo 1.5), a Swamp Rat RMD, and Scrapper 5.
  16. Huntsman Knife Co.

    Huntsman Knife Co.

    Sep 10, 2010

    Agreed. Going from something like an ESEE4 to a BK2 is a HUGE difference in carry. I like to keep my knives as light and efficient as possible. The best knife i have used to date for efficiency is the scrap yard War Dog. It is a little BEAST. 5 inch blade, .235 thick and so light you don't even realize you are carrying it.
  17. ocnLogan


    Jul 31, 2011
    I'm not super experienced compared to most people around here, and I haven't yet owned every blade size there is out there.

    I think my ideal size for a knife might be 6-7in for an all purpose blade. I like my BK2, and am very confident in it, but there are times when I've wanted the blade to be a bit longer, and a bit thinner. I also like my BK9, but I use it more like a camp hatchet than I do a knife (so far anyway). It does small things alright, but sometimes I do wish it was a bit shorter. If all I had was one blade, I might take that one though. Anyway, thats my reasoning behind what I think might be my perfect blade length, because its right between both of those.

    I do know that I personally wouldn't feel comfortable only carrying a Mora if I were out alone in the woods. Thats probably because I'm not skilled enough, or because of my location, but it is what it is right now :).
  18. PitbullShogun


    Apr 14, 2011
    around "4in, give or take, is probaly ideal for all around use. its long enough for most utility tasks, and is also adequate for tactical roles.
  19. facablade


    May 23, 2009
    5" for me:
    good size for batonnin, 4" logs
    good size for food preparation, chopping onions vegetables..........
    good size for light chopping, small diametre branches from poles..............
    good size to show in public areas......
    this is my current ideal camp always with me knife (SY wardog)
  20. shunsui

    shunsui Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    I've got a D2 Rat-7 I'm quite fond of, ~0.187 x 7" with a big choil. I EDC an Endura that's almost a 4 inch blade. Between the two of them it gives me a chef's knife and a paring knife. Add an Estwing hatchet for all that chopping and splitting and I've got the basics covered. Like a lot of people here I've got more knives than I need, but they cover a lot of applications. I'm not a one knife kind of personality. I'd always have at least two outdoors. I like the 7-8" range on a belt knife. I like a big handle and I find you need a bit of blade to balance things out. I think that's a personal thing. A bit of resonance. YMMV.

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