Top 5 Survival Knives – Outdoor Tools

Whether you’re camping, hiking, backpacking, or hunting, an avid survivalist is never without their trusty blade. A trusty survival knife is an outdoorsman’s best friend; the one tool that will never be left behind. While you might find limited uses for these knives at home, any nature enthusiast would be a fool to venture without one. These knives are generally prized for their ability to tackle a wide range of work (woodworking, skinning game, etc), hardiness, and compactness of design. We’ve tested a wide range of survival knives and culled the pack to bring you only the most reliable of tools.  


Benchmade Design Nimravus Tanto Knife

The Benchmade Design Nimravus Tanto Knife is a partially serrated survival knife with a textured. Ergonomic grip and a MOLLE (modular lightweight load-carrying equipment) capable sheath. The blade measures at 4.5 inches in length and is made out of 154CM stainless steel. The blade is hardened to 58-60 HRC and finished with a nonreflective coating. The handle measures at 4.95 inches in length with a prominent finger groove. The MOLLE sheath is made out of nylon and is capable of attaching to other MOLLE military gear.


Key Features:

  • 9.45 inches long (4.5 inch blade, 4.95 inch handle)
  • MOLLE sheath matches military gear
  • Very sharp tanto point


We found the Nimvarus to sit nicely in our hands. The finger groove and the notches along its back spine allowed our hands to control the blade with power and precision. The blade seems to hold its edge well, though the serrated edge and tanto design is understandably harder to maintain. The tanto style blade has a much steeper and sharper point than its competitors. This blade will pierce and stab through anything like butter.


Matching the tool to the user:

The Nimvarus is a tanto style survival knife with a serrated edge and notches along its back spine. As a shorter blade, the serrated edge seemed isn’t the most useful for real sawing motions. The knife point, however, is extremely sharp and capable. Those that don’t have a use for the serrated edge and sharper point might find it simply easier to use and maintain a knife with a more standard curved edge.


SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SE37-N Seal Team Elite Knife Partially Serrated Fixed Heat Treated 7-Inch AUS-8 Steel Blade and GRN Handle, Black TiNi

The SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SE37-N survival knife features a blade crafted into a clip point shape; the back spine of the blade reaches an apex toward the middle of the blade. The SOG company draws inspiration for their knives from the classic SOG Bowie Knife. The 7 inch fixed blade measures at .24 inches in thickness and is made with AUS-8 steel with a hardness rated at HRC 57-58. The blade is partially serrated on its cutting edge and on its spine. The ergonomic grip is made with glass-reinforced nylon for superior tensile strength and measures at 5.3 inches in length. While the handle features a loop at its end for lanyard attachments, the knife comes with a nylon carrying sheath.


Key Features:

  • Clip-point blade with a serrated back spine
  • Partially serrated cutting edge
  • Ergonomic glass-reinforced nylon grip


The SE37-N aligns with the philosophy of being a functional, yet aesthetically pleasing tool. We very found the knife to be well crafted and wonderfully designed. The handle fit well in our hands and was a pleasure to use over longer durations. SOG has put their knives through rigorous testing to ensure that the tool survives and performs through the elements. We found this to be true, but you are better served with a different knife if you intend to take this diving.


Matching the tool to the user:

The SE37-N has an answer for most tasks, with its partially serrated edges and serrated back spine. It can perform a number of tasks like skinning game and sawing notches in wood. However, as a generalist tool, it may not exceed on specific tasks and environments. Consider this knife capable of being the single tool you use the most on your excursions. Your uses and environment might not require the more prominent serrated features.


Tops Knives Stryker Defender Tool, Micarta RMT Handle, Black Combo Blade

The Tops Knives Stryker Defender Tool is a lightweight survival knife with a multitude of features, something we found surprising because the blade itself looks rather chunky. The knife measures at 10.25 inches in overall length but weighs in at only 1.24 pounds. The 4.75 inch, 1095 high carbon steel blade is hardened to HRC 56-58 and has a serrated section along its cutting edge. The knife’s back spine has a wide tooth saw back, giving it that chunky look. The Stryker Defender Tool has what Tops calls a “rocky mountain” grip tread; we found the handle to be very pleasing to hold. The knife comes with both a sharpener and a simple nylon sheath.


Key Features:

  • 10.25 inches long (4.75 inch blade, 5.5 inch handle)
  • Surprisingly light knife weighs 1.25 pounds
  • Excellent and comfortable “rocky mountain” tread grip


We were surprised to enjoy the Tops Knives Stryker Defender Tool as much as we did. I will admit that the knife’s form and design were a bit perplexing at first. Its shape is very different from the rest of the knives we reviewed, especially with its wide-tooth saw back. However, looking at the blade and holding the blade are an entirely different story. The grip is phenomenal, you can maintain your hold even if the handle gets wet. The blade is fairly thick at certain points (around a quarter inch in thickness at its widest).


Matching the tool to the user:

Don’t be fooled by how thick the blade looks. Users will find the knife capable of the typical survival knife tasks. Where this knife stands out is in its unorthodox wide-tooth saw back spine. You won’t really use this to saw through wood as the blade is only 4.75 inches in length. The saw was included and designed to saw through tin like materials (aircraft aluminum). It’s chunky body can be used to wedge logs for firewood.


Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife with Fire Starter and Sheath, Black

The Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife with Fire Starter and Sheath is a hardy and simple knife with a feature packed sheath. Yes, you read that correctly; the sheath is what carries most of tool’s features. We don’t usually spend a lot of time reviewing sheaths, but this one deserves our time. The sheath is embedded with a 7000 strike fire starter and a diamond knife sharpener. The knife itself measures at 4.3 inches in blade length and .126 inches in thickness. The knife’s edge does not have a serrated edge, unlike many of the survival knives we reviewed. At 9.1 inches in total length, the knife weighs in at 5.4 oz.


Key Features:

  • 9.1 inches in length (4.3 inch blade, 4.8 inch handle)
  • Included 7000 strike fire starter capable of creating sparks while wet
  • Diamond sharpener integrated into sheath


This knife will and is expected to take a beating. The spine is used for the sheath’s fire starter and even works while wet. We found it comforting having a knife sharpener included in the sheath. Two items we usually carry with us are conveniently packaged with this tool.


Matching the tool to the user:

The Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife is for those that are seeking a simple and traditional knife without giving up modern features. The knife itself is durable and simple; the blade does not have any outstanding features besides its reliability and its thinness. The sheath exists to complement the blade’s simplicity, providing tools to ensure optimal use in the field. Many survival knives feature serrated edges. If sawing features are not useful to you (or if you want to carry a separate tool for those uses), this Morakniv knife is meant for you.


Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife

We found the very popular Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife to live up to its hype and fame. Measuring at 10.5 inches in total length and 1.5 inches in weight, this blade is indestructible. The 1095 cro-van steel blade is 5.5 inches long and .25 inches thick. Its 5 inch handle is made out of “grivory”, a material used in place of metal. This workhorse tool includes a kydex sheath and holds the blade snugly. It is always a plus when a well crafted tool is manufactured in the USA.


Key Features:

  • 10.5 inches in length (5.5 inch blade, 5 inch handle)
  • .25 inch thick 1095 cro-van steel blade meant for brute work
  • Kydex sheath sits firmly around the blade and does not retain moisture


While many of our reader’s enjoy having a survival knife on them as their everyday carry tool, we don’t recommend it with the Ka-Bar Becker BK2. This knife is meant for the wilderness and for survival purposes. Take it with you into the woods, you’ll be able to really get the most out of it in harsh environments. It is a knife meant for chopping, cutting, and tanking through brute actions. It’s a large, thick blade, and is not really suited for Our only complaint is that the handle is not as grippy as we’d like when wet.


Matching the tool to the user:

We recommend this tool for those that are purchasing their first survival knife. You can’t really go wrong with a reliable and sturdy workhorse. As you continue to develop your own sense of requirements for a tool, this knife will serve you well. It’s simple and streamlined. We’re certain that you’ll keep the knife around and ready even if you purchase a replacement with specific features in the future.

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