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Practical Hiking/Camping/Outdoors/Survival Knives

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by BMCGear, Mar 15, 2015.

  1. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I agree with that since in most cases the smaller fixed blades have short 3 finger handles. As always it is about personal preference.
  2. druid189


    Apr 27, 2008
    Yep, that's the one and I agree.....I prefer larger blades but only so I can baton through thicker diameter wood. I actually prefer 7"-12" blade lengths and I don't mind the weight one bit.

    My oldest daughter claimed my TrailMaster Bowie for her camping excursions [she's 26 and married] and she's like me.....bigger blades to handle larger tasks. Even though I've shown her a dozen times, she's not at all comfortable using an axe. She batons through logs like a champ. I keep telling myself "I'll get another" but never do LOL.
  3. Mannlicher


    Nov 19, 2008
    in some 60+ years of bumming around in the woods and swamps of Florida, Georgia, Virginia, i have yet to be in a true 'survival' situation. Good planning or dumb luck probably. Guess that means I don't really need a 'survival' knife.
    I have never found a one size fits all knife. I always have more than one, when I am back packing, car camping, paddle camping or just out for a day hike. Nessmuck really did get it right, many years ago.
  4. RescueRiley


    Mar 22, 2006
    Howdy all.. I think term survival knife is a little overdone. I tend to like cheaper carbon steel knives..For years I've used a mora coupled with a Sak Camper. Now I use an opinel. that's my personal preference. I think allot of the stigma built up around survival knives is attached to a romantic notion of man vs the wilderness. (at least that' s where mine came from originally) However, as I get older, and get more mileage under me, my own personal experience, is that a nice light, thin fixed blade, or a decent folder, coupled with a decent hatchet for the heavy work covers just about everything for the average campground or back country jaunt. Just my opinion ymmv
  5. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    Likewise my experience except that I have been in several situations where my survival was questionable. But the solutions to the situations never came down to what knife I was carrying. In fact on several occasions of general woodsrunning/hunting, having found myself unexpectedly knifeless and in need of one, I have improvised a blade that sufficed. Wood, bone, flint, even a discarded coke bottle once.

    But it sounds like the OP is coming up with his own preference for a blade. I do note that most of my experience was in the same environment he is in, Arkansas upland hardwoods, and I was always able to find sufficient downed wood to build fires without having to baton larger wood. A twig stove such as the Emberlit makes this even easier as it will use the stuff everyone else considers too small for a campfire. I've actually gone behind other river campers on a gravel bar they considered "picked clean" of usable firewood and found enough there to fuel my stove for two full meals and some heat besides. Nothing wrong with knife play time though if that is in your outdoor repertoire.
  6. druid189


    Apr 27, 2008
    I kind of agree with you but like for me, given the terrain I know I will get myself into - a more stout blade is what I prefer. I think many people might "envision the absolute worst" situation and the American notion that "bigger is better" takes hold. Given that the word "survival" is a general term, I think people's minds run wild when you simply mention it. For instance...California is prone to earthquake activity. "Survival" for someone needing to evade a falling buildings is a far cry from the woodsman's mishap. They are more apt to want a gas line shut off key tool, rather than a stout blade for hacking down birch trees. They can be very happy with a small fixed or medium folding EDC blade...where the woodsman usually knows there are different blades for different tasks. I take on larger logs myself so I prefer the bigger blades. Is it "overkill?" Yeah, probably...but I consider my gear like condoms....."it's better to have one and not need it, than need it and not have it."
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
  7. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    If you are looking for strength, there is no question that even a small fixed blade will be stronger than a folder. It is situational and subject to preferences. I have a Dozer Personal and a Kabar Becker BK-24 (among others) that I like to carry in the woods. I don't really want to beat up my Dozier, but I would do what I had to do.
  8. cricketdave

    cricketdave Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2008
    For general outdoor camping and hunting I like a fixed blade between 7 and 9 inches, depending on weather and what I'm planning on doing. I used to prefer carbon steel, I've been using s35vn now for a while and really like it. Improvements in almost every way over carbon steels, coupled with a medium to large folder its been very good for me.
  9. The cow

    The cow

    Jul 3, 2014
    In a survival situation, I'd rather have a chopper. Either my Junglas or a 12-16 inch full tang hawk.
    Sure, its all fine and dandy having a ESEE5 or some Woodlore derivative, but in a "survival situation", my worry would be more for the gross tasks and less for the fine (hopefully I still retained my pocket knife...). I always make sure I have my winkler or junglas on my hip on in my daypack.

    Put if you're looking for a belt knife, anything in the 4-6 inch range will do you well. You'll start seeing what people generally like/want in a blade.
    4-5 inch CUTTING edge
    3/32-6/36in thick
    Nice to have a 90deg spine but no big deal if it doesn't.
    Simple steel: 1095/5160/52100/O1 etc
    Scandi grind (ease of field maintenance), but others prefer saber
    full tang (granted moras seem to have quite the devoted following)
    Contoured handle. I prefer canvas micarta and stabilized wood.

    It was a fairly expensive journey to get to my"perfect" knife and ultimately ended up with the woodlore variants. Ultimately, its preference and nothing can change that. Those that ask usually aren't looking to spend a whole lot of money which is why I recommend Moras and the Condor Bushlore. Little more with the ESEE 4, TOPS BOB, and some nicer ones like LT Wright and Battle Horse

    Heck, look at what a lot of the popular TV stars liked. Les is usually seen with a walmart special (though he has his Helle), Lundin loves Moras. Mors loves moras and his Skookum. Ray has his Woodlore. Dave Canterbury has his BHK trade knives. Then theres Bear...with that ugly Bayley blade (though I'm not entirely sure he even cares that much)

    Me? I dislike the sharpened prybar like the ESEE 5 (overweight and lack finesse) and the blades that are 6-9inches never endeared themselves to me (too big for fine tasks and too small for chopping). That said, there are always those THAT NEED TO QUIT LIKING THINGS THAT I DON'T LIKE!!!!.
  10. sams


    Apr 21, 2001
    A good pocket knife and a " chopper" like a machete was recommended to me by a Army Ranger back in "72. Another Ranger friend said a khurki was the way to go. There is something about these recomendations I thought was sound and worth following.
  11. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    These "perfect knife" threads are almost always fun, aren't they? ;) I'm adding my comments to your post quote in blue rather than break up the post into multiquotes. Please forgive me but aI am feeling lazy this morning!

    I pretty much agree with this opinion too. With the exception that I have very rarely found myself wanting or needing to chop with a knife.
  12. trestle


    Feb 2, 2008
    I think the need for a chopper boils down to your comfort with using an axe or practicality of carrying one on your trip. An axe is easy to bring along when car camping or by canoe (I'm guessing), but not so much when going by foot. Where I live and choose to backpack, fires are often limited so my blade needs are reduced to food prep and campsite enjoyment. A full-tang, 3.5" to 4.5" carbon-steel fixed-blade with a contoured handle is a huge category to find the perfect knife within. I own several and choice just comes down to whim upon departure. The Knife Makers page here on bladeforums is a great place to look and worthy of support. When camping by car I bring a hatchet because I'm very comfortable using them but I'll also bring a short machete for fun. I'm teaching my girls to use both but they prefer to baton due to the easier striking motion.

    In most places, daily carry is limited or at least made much easier by carrying a folding knife. Perhaps you live somewhere that nobody minds if you use a fixed-blade openly but in many urban areas (spreading fast) it isn't allowed or is frowned upon. Due to this, and the ease, simplicity, and safety that comes with them, I prefer to use fixed blades when camping. No worries about a lock failing, no need to teach anyone how to operate said lock, and no struggle cleaning food out of the mechanisms. For me, especially when camping with my children, fixed blades=simplicity.

    As mentioned, a visit to a large retailer like A.G. Russell is a great idea and you can directly compare manufactured knives with hand-made. Cabelas, BassPro Shops, and similar sporting shops are another option for seeing and handling a variety of knives. A local gun & knife show can also be worth a visit. An advantage of living in the Mid-West is the ease of travel to so many different places due to the number of highways. If you can't do that, go to the large web retailers and set their filters to show you fixed-blades that are within your price category. There are some amazing bargains for under $100, some great value to be had under $250, and self-indulgence above $300 :D but great knives nonetheless that are easily justifiable once you have some experience to know what you want and need.
  13. pitdog


    Apr 13, 2007
  14. lazy otter

    lazy otter Banned BANNED

    Apr 4, 2013
    If your just out for the day or want a nice fixed blade for daily carry I suggest the bark River Gunny and a Alox farmer and you'll be comfortable and ready for most any task.
  15. Smithhammer


    Nov 9, 2012
    Not to be argumentative, but a "Scandi" grind is really just one form of saber grind (besides being a relatively recent term, invented by people who don't live in Scandanavia). A so-called "Scandi" is no easier, nor harder, to maintain in the field than any other form of saber grind (or flat grind, for that matter), because field maintenance has little to do with "grind" per se.

    Other than that, I largely agree with your recommendations for an all-around knife. But I also agree whole-heartedly with Codger's statement:

    "It has been my experience that most "survival situations" don't depend on any particular knife to solve them. "Survival knife", IMHO, is a marketing term. And it is generally used on a wide variety of knife sizes and designs."

    We are knife geeks on this forum, so we focus our discussions on knives quite a bit. But any good review of the factors involved in those who sucessfully negotiate life/death situations rarely seem to mention what type of knife they were carrying. I don't think this is oversight - it's just generally irrelevant.
  16. RDog


    Jul 28, 2011
    Although there are so many good knives out there, when it comes to Hiking/camping/outdoors its hard to beat a swiss army knife. Adding survival to the list and a simple mora is plenty.

    For me its mostly a Opinel or SAK, but if I have a pack on for any more in depth hike I do keep a fixed blade and MT in there. Truth is unless I'm cooking on a fire I almost never need any knife while hiking.
  17. neeman


    Apr 5, 2007
    Becker 16
    • About $60
    • Very strong
    • Long enough to perform any task
    • Light to carry
    • Chopping is done by cross batoning
  18. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011
    Nice to see your sig again.

    Yes on the bolded part, big time.

    I think the terms "survival situation" or "SHTF" are hyper-romanticized. Add to this that I think a lot of the romanticization is actually driven by fear. It's the same sort of fear that leads new hikers to carry too much equipment and why 2 weeks in, most AT through hikers drop tons of gear along the trail as being not needed.

    The vast majority of situations that will kill you in backcountry are best handled through knowledge, not a knife.

    I'm not discounting a knife, or any other piece of survival equipment. But I don't care for adding the adjective "survival" in front of it as making any bit of kit more important. All of the essentials are important. I don't carry a survival whistle. I carry a whistle. I don't carry a survival first aid kit. I carry a first aid kit. I don't carry a survival bivy. Well... OK... I carry a survival bivy. <shrug> ;^)

    My thoughts on essentials...

    My typical outdoors knife carry.
    [​IMG]Outdoor Carry by Pinnah, on Flickr
  19. B34NS


    Dec 30, 2013
    Our gas meters are required to have wrenches right next to them. A sub 6" knife can save lives in an earthquake, especially your neighbors who are trapped in cars, buildings and anything else. The last few earthquakes I saw more people helping one another, helping first repsonders and rescuers, and yes knife is no less practical a tool. Although a larger one could endanger the lives of those you're trying to save. Doesn't mean I still don't find time to enjoy my GSO 10 ;)
  20. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Survival...prepper...superhero...Alien Abduction Prevention Tool...whatever descriptor makes you happy, go for it! :)

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