BEST SURVIVAL KNIVES | MAY 2018

Survival knives have a long list of uses that vary significantly based on blade design, sharpness and length, as well as functionality. Designed for survival scenarios and emergencies, the quality of a survival knife is of significance to the buyer, as it could mean the difference between life and death. In our recommendations, we have divided specific use knives, providing a comprehensive guide to the survival knives we think represent the pinnacle of their individual categories. For those unsure of what type of survival knife they need, please refer to our buying guide for further information. Read more about our methodology.

Best Overall

97

The sharpness of the blade, integrated ferrocerium rod and lightweight nature of the Light My Fire FireKnife make it our best overall survival knife.  This knife should appeal to those looking for a good all-round survival knife to pack in their bags to take into the wilderness.

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Best Value

87

The Whetstone Vermillion Survival knife comes fully equipped with its own survival kit that fits neatly into the handle compartment of the knife. The serrated knife is durable, well-balanced and provides everything you need for basic survival in the wilderness. 

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Best by Category

Best Survival Knife with Flashlight

87

The Freehawk Multifunctional Knife is our recommended pick for those looking for a knife with an integrated flashlight. This foldable knife is designed for survival and emergency situations and includes an LED flashlight, a window breaker and seatbelt cutter.

Read full review.

Best Survival Knife with Screwdriver

91

The Survival Hax Folding Knife is an excellent everyday carry knife that packs a lot of functionality into a pocket-sized product. The integrated screwdriver features four separate screw heads that can be attached to the magnetized holder with ease.

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Best Survival Knife Kit

90

The Survive Outdoors Longer Survival Kit is a compact waterproof case packed with survival essentials. Everything you might need in a survival scenario in the wilderness is included in this kit, including an integrated knife combo, fire starting kit, flash signal mirror and much more.    

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Best Full Tang Survival Knife

94

The Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife comes out on top as the best full-tang survival knife. Capable of cutting, slicing, battening, chopping and carving, this is a real multi-purpose knife for outdoors enthusiasts from amateurs to professionals. 

Read full review.

Survival Knives BUYING GUIDE

  • KEY CONSIDERATIONS

    Fixed or Foldable Blade

    There are two distinct styles of survival knives—fixed and foldable blades. A fixed knife is rigid; a foldable knife has a hinge that allows it to collapse into itself. For those looking for a strong, durable knife, a fixed blade is preferable because there is no weak point vulnerable to breaking under pressure. A foldable blade, however, is preferable to those looking for a knife with more portability and added functionality that may come in handy in the wilderness.

    Additional Functionality

    Survival knives are an essential item for those embarking on camping and hiking expeditions. It is important that survival knives have features that might be helpful in bushcraft and emergency situations. Foldable knife solutions usually feature other useful components such as flashlights, screwdrivers and flintstones to start fires. For those looking for something that can do more than just cut, saw and hack then it is important to look for products that feature additional components that add to the overall functionality of the knife.

    Tang

    If it’s a single purpose knife you are looking for then tang should come into consideration. A full tang blade is preferable as it means the knife is made from one continuous piece of steel. This means there is no weak point as the handle encloses the blade itself. Tang will be advertised as either 1/2-tang, 1.4-tang of full-tang, with full-tang being the most expensive and durable.

  • PRICE BREAKDOWN

    Single purpose fixed blade survival knives start at around $10. For this price, you can expect a blade that isn’t the highest quality and sharpness but will manage menial tasks and work for beginner survivalists. From $20-$30, you can expect to have additional features integrated into the product, such as LED flashlights, screwdrivers and hammers or an improved single purpose blade capable of tackling more difficult tasks. Upwards of $30, you can expect a blade of higher quality, usually a full tang blade made from high quality steel or carbon, or a full survival kit with all the required essentials included with the knife. From that price point upwards, you are a looking at knives of various sizes made from higher quality material with textured grips, as well as included sheaths to keep the product protected in the wild.

FULL product reviews

We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.

891 products
considered
106K RATINGS
ANALYZED
28 research
hours

Best Overall

TOP PICK

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife

With a stainless-steel blade and a high-friction, anti-slip rubber handle, the Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife tops our list as the best overall survival knife. The product comes with an integrated ferrocerium Firestarter rod that twist locks into the handle, plus a heavy-duty plastic sheath that protects the knife and serves as a means to attach the knife to a belt or waistband. The sharpness of the blade straight out of the package makes it appealing for those looking to get the most out of their survival knife and its lightness makes it easy to carry around in your bag or attached to your clothing.

  • 97overall
  • 97quality
  • 96value
  • 94brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Sharp Blade. Many users are impressed with the sharpness of the blade straight out of the package and praised the edge retention with no signs of corrosion or rusting after long-term use. 
  • Lightweight. Weighing just under 3.4 ounces, users appreciated that it is portable without losing any capabilities. Those embarking on long hiking and camping trips are happy about the lightness of the knife, allowing them to pack more items in their rucksacks.
  • Good grip. The textured rubber grip handle received high praise from users who find the knife comfortable to wield. The material and design provide a non-slip grip, ensuring stability while using the knife for different tasks. 
  • Sheath included. The knife comes with a heavy-duty plastic sheath that users said the knife fits in snugly. Some users point out the sheath makes carrying the knife easy as it can be attached to a belt or waistband with ease.

Other Considerations

  • Ferro rod breakage. Some users are unhappy with the integrated ferro rod used to start fires. They claim it was easy to break pieces off the rod when striking with the knife to create a spark, rendering it unusable for future use.

Best Value

TOP PICK

Whetstone Cutlery Vermillion Survival Knife

The Whetstone Vermillion Survival Knife is our best on a budget survival knife, kitted out with a knife handle compartment packed to the brim with survival kit essentials. Included in the compartment are a compass, matches, a bandage, a fishing line, a hook and a sharpening stone. This well-balanced knife is well-built and is an excellent solution to survival for those looking to protect themselves in the wild without breaking the bank.

  • 87overall
  • 87quality
  • 88value
  • 80brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Sturdy build. Many users say the sturdiness of the knife, saying they were surprised, given the low price, at how strong and well-balanced the knife is.  
  • Hollow handle compartment. This knife has a hollowed-out handle that acts as a compartment for the survival kit essentials. Users are happy with the extra items featured in the product and pleased to find that the compartment held up well against water. 
  • Added accessories. Users praise the knife for coming fully equipped with survival kit essentials, including a compass, matches, a bandage, a fishing line, a hook and a sharpening stone all fit snugly in the handle compartment.

Other Considerations

  • Poor compass quality. Many users say the included compass leaves room for improvement.
  • Dull on arrival. Some users point out that the knife was not sharp when it arrived and requiring sharpening.

BEST BY CATEGORY

Best Survival Knife with Flashlight

why buy?

Survival knives and flashlights are two essential items that should be included on any camping trip inventory, making a combination of the two items a sought-after commodity. A reliable flashlight can go a long way to help navigate through low-light while camping out in the wild. One that is integrated seamlessly into a high-quality survival knife provides the user with a portable and convenient tool that can be used in a variety of situations. For those looking for a knife combo with an integrated torch, see our pick for best survival knife with flashlight.

Top Pick

Freehawk Multifunctional Knife

The Freehawk Multifunctional Knife is great for outdoor adventure activities but also doubles as an excellent emergency knife. A foldable knife, there is extra room for added functionality with an LED flashlight, window breaker and seatbelt cutter integrated into the product. The Freehawk can be used for an array of survival scenarios and suits people looking for a holistic survival knife solution for general-purpose use and for camping, hiking and hunting trips.

  • 87overall
  • 90quality
  • 73value
  • 80brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Excellent locking mechanism. The blade folds out smoothly from the stem and features a safety lock mechanism. Users praise the implementation saying it is easy to use and worked well to prevent hazards.  
  • Perfect emergency knife. With a seatbelt cutter and an integrated glass breaker, this knife is well suited in emergency scenarios. Users praise the glass breaking capabilities saying that it was able to do the trick with very little force, and they liked the idea of having a seatbelt cutter for emergency car accidents.
  • LED flashlight. Users are happy with the multifunctional nature of the knife and praised in the integrated LED flashlight, especially on camping trips where it could come in handy.  

Other Considerations

  • Complaints about sturdiness. A handful of users say the knife does not feel as rugged as more expensive models.

Best Survival Knife with Screwdriver

why buy?

The best survival knives provide added functionality that will come in handy in times of need. Many survival knives supplement the primary implement with practical utensils, such as screwdrivers. These additions serve to extend the overall usage of the knife and prevent the user having to carry unnecessarily bulky tools or toolboxes with them at all times. This section includes our top pick for best survival knife with a screwdriver.

Top Pick

Survival Hax Folding Knife

The Survival Hax Folding Knife is a lightweight pocket knife solution that doubles as an excellent screwdriver. The screwdriver features four separate bits (two Philips and two flathead) that can be easily attached to the magnetized holder. Suitable for those looking for something compact with an array of functionality, this foldable knife from Survival Hax works well during DIY projects, outdoor activities and as an everyday carry knife.

  • 91overall
  • 92quality
  • 84value
  • 85brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Multiple screwdriver attachments. Users are happy with the magnetized hex head bit holder that keeps the screw heads secure during use with the two Philips and two flathead bits for small and standard screw heads.
  • Compact design. Weighing just over five ounces and four inches in length when closed, this knife is compact. Users confirm claims made by Survival Hax that this can be used as a pocketknife or attached to a belt or waistband.
  • Durable knife. Users say the knife is well-made and durable, and they praise its high-quality steel and sharpness straight out of the box.

Other Considerations

  • Loose flashlight. Some users say that the integrated LED flashlight is loose and therefore difficult to use.
  • Locking mechanism issues. A handful of users say the locking mechanism doesn’t always function as it should.

Best Survival Knife Kit

why buy?

For those looking for a holistic solution to outdoor survival, a knife kit should be seriously considered. An advantage of the full survival kit is that there is not the same space restrictions as there are on a knife, meaning manufacturers can focus on the practical components with more freedom. From small things like rope and safety pins to knives and compasses, survival kits will provide you with most, if not all, the necessary tools to keep you safe and prepared during your trip into the wild.

Top Pick

Survive Outdoors Longer Survival Kit

The Survive Outdoors Longer Survival Kit is a fully equipped holistic solution to outdoor survival and emergency situations. Included in the palm-sized compact kit are a knife combo with an integrated whistle and LED light, a fire starter, braided nylon cord, steel wire, a flash signal mirror, compass, emergency sewing kit and a survival instructions manual. Perfect for challenging camping and hiking trips, plus an excellent addition to the glove compartment for emergency situations.

  • 90overall
  • 92quality
  • 75value
  • 85brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Compact design. Roughly palm-sized, users say the kit fits easily into their backpacks; others said it fits comfortably in the glove compartment.
  • Includes all survival essentials. Users are impressed that the manufacturer didn't cut corners with any of the survival essentials, saying the kit provides a good comprehensive solution to survival outdoors and emergency situations.
  • Knife combo. To save space, the knife has an integrated 100-decibel whistle positioned on the base of the knife. A fixed LED light positioned on the front of the blade points down the knife to aid low-light cutting tasks.
  • Audio and visual signaling. The survival kit enables audio signaling with a whistle plus visual signaling with a signal mirror that is revealed when the lid is flipped open. Users are happy with the positioning of the mirror, which makes it easy to access when needed.

Other Considerations

  • Access to compass. The kit is both compact and brimming with survival kit essentials, making easy access to all the items difficult. A handful of users was unhappy at how difficult it was to access the compass positioned at the base of the kit.

Best Full Tang Survival Knife

why buy?

The 'tang' represents the part of the blade that extends into the handle of the knife. A full-tang blade is a blade that scales the full length of the grip portion of the handle. This is considered the strongest of the tang types as the blade and handle are constructed from one continuous piece of metal. For those looking for the strongest survival knife without additional functionality, full-tang knives provide the buyer with the assurance they are purchasing a durable, well-built product that can be used for a variety of bushcraft tasks.  

Top Pick

Schrade SCHF9

The Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife is a well-designed full-tang blade for amateur and professional use. The textured handle allows for excellent grip and, at just over 12 inches, the knife offers great durability with its high carbon steel blade. Designed for bushcraft and outdoor activities, this knife would be a great addition to any survival kit; it is capable of carrying out most knife-oriented tasks with ease.

  • 94overall
  • 96quality
  • 87value
  • 89brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Durable. Made from high carbon steel, the blade is durable and, according to users, holds an edge for a very long time. Users praise the build quality, saying it is designed to be a long-term knife for both basic survival and bushcraft.
  • Textured grip. Many users say how well they are able to wield the knife using the large textured grip and are impressed with the finger grooves provided for extra traction.
  • Multi-purpose. Being a strong, fixed-blade knife, the Schrade SCHF9 can handle a multitude of tasks. These claims made by the manufacturer are backed up by users who say the knife is capable of cutting, slicing, battening, chopping, carving, thumping, breaking and hacking.
  • Well balanced. Being on the larger scale of survival knives, it’s important to have weight that is balanced and easy to wield. Reviewers say they are impressed with how well-balanced the knife is.

Other Considerations

  • Sheath complaints. Some users are not impressed by the included sheath, describing it as low quality and too bulky.