When it comes to survival gear, we all have different tastes. And even though we may agree on some issues, we’ll likely disagree about many more. Take survival knives as an example. There are more survival knives on the market than there are environments in which to survive, and your favorite knife may be very different from someone else’s top choice (though I’ll wager that these tools still share some of the same qualities). A knife worthy of being someone’s favorite must be durable, able to hold an edge, feel good in your hand, and be able to accomplish the tasks your region demands in order to survive. So in the jungle, your favorite survival knife may be shaped more like a machete or kukri, and in the woodlands, it may be a wood carving bushcraft-style knife. When the editors at Outdoor Life asked me to profile my ten favorite survival knives, I was happy to oblige since this topic is one that I am passionate about. So read on, and see if any of your favorites are also mine.
10. CRKT Ultima
While all of the knives in the CRKT Ultima series are meant to resemble the first Bronze Age daggers of 4000 years ago, the Martinez Ultima is the farthest thing from a relic. Michael Martinez packed some very modern features and technology into his tanto pointed version of this knife. The Martinez Ultima features a 4.95 inch full-tang blade made of 1.4116 stainless steel with a slick, black titanium nitride coating. It also bears CRKT’s exclusive and patented Veff™ serrations (can you say “shark teeth”?). The black, glass filled nylon handle scales feature over 70 triangular grip segments for a phenomenal hold whether wet or dry, muddy or bloody. Martinez’s Ultima comes with an amazing custom sheath with two separate snaps to secure the knife, and it even has an exterior pocket that buckles closed to carry extra gear. This knife weighs 8.4 ounces by itself and it’s made in Taiwan.
I’m a fan of design, in little knives and big ones. And on the bigger side, the Ontario Knife Company’s line of Ranger knives are essentially pocket-sized machetes. My favorite among them is the RD-6. This solid and beefy knife has a 6.5 inch blade shaped from 5160 steel with 53-55 Rockwell C hardness. An impressive piece of steel, the knife’s profile has a thickness of .26 inches; and it has the same powder coating as other Ontario knives. To complete the rugged tool, you’ll find black Micarta handle scales and a black, M.O.L.L.E. compatible nylon & Kydex sheath with a generous utility pouch. My favorite aspect of this mighty knife is the balance between its weight and its handling. The 18 ounce knife has the mass behind it for chopping, but it still remains nimble. If this knife was a person, it would be a linebacker who can also line dance. This fine knife is made in the U.S.A.
8. SOG Seal Pup Elite
Not every survival knife needs to be super-sized, and this mid-sized knife bears many of the fine features we’ve come to expect and rely upon in a SOG. The best feature of this knife is the longevity of its sharpness. I know that even if I use this knife for some daily tasks, it will still be sharp if I have to use it in an emergency. This long-lasting edge is due to the hardness of the AUS-8 steel blade, and the manner in which it is hardened. SOG uses a cryogenic (cold) hardening process, which gradually drops the heated blades to -300°F. I’m also a big fan of SOG’s injection-molded, glass-reinforced nylon handle. The tiny diamonds molded into this handle offer an outstanding grip, in wet or dry conditions. Other nice features include the blade’s hard case black TiNi finish, a lightweight (only 5.4 ounces), and a blade spine rasp for notching, filing and thumb placement. The overall knife length is 9.5 inches, while the blade length is 4.85 inches. The low profile nylon sheath has a pocket for gear, eyelets for tie down; and it is modular compatible. The SOG Seal Pup Elite is made in Taiwan.
Who says that survival knives have to be fixed blades? For years, one of my favorite everyday carry knives has been a folder, the CRKT M16. They’re light, sharp, streamlined and they do a great job cutting all sorts of materials. They also stay sharp for a very long time. Out of the CRKT family of knives, the Kit Carson’s M16 designs have been the most popular series. The M16-02Z has all of the durability you’d expect from the brand, and a 3 inch blade that is carefully designed for self-defense. The overall open length of this knife is 7.375 inches. The closed length is 4.25 inches, and it weighs 3.6 ounces. The pocket clip has just one position, but this is the position the vast majority of buyers prefer. The hollow grind blade material is AUS 4 steel with a hardness of 55-57 Rockwell C hardness. The handle material is glass-filled nylon. This knife locks with a liner lock and CRKT’s proprietary AutoLAWKS Safety System (the…