Surviving a camping trip or emergency in the wilderness is much easier if you have a good knife. However, choosing the right knife for your needs can sometimes be an overwhelming prospect. Here are some tips and tricks to help you when shopping for the best knife for you.
Combat or military survival knives are not the sort of instrument you want to have for casual camping. The attributes that make it an effective weapon against others make it unsuited for wilderness use. Double-edged knives especially fall into this category. While perfect for thrusting, they are inferior for other uses due to their weaker blade, particularly towards the tip. The second knife edge is unnecessary for most camping uses and leads to a greater chance of injury. Large knives are also unsuited for most use. Unless you are flying over the jungle or some other heavily overgrown area, a large knife such as a machete is not a good choice. If you are inexperienced with a large knife, they can be “unwieldy and difficult to use”. Even if you do need a large knife, for more common uses, a second knife is usually necessary anyway. While hallow-handled knives are a good idea, they are not very practical. The way the knife is constructed, with a nut or glue holding the knife blade to the handle results in a tool that simply cannot hold up to the frequent use and abuse of field activities. Another reason not to use this type of knife is the danger of losing all the emergency supplies stored in the knife handle should your knife go missing.
The better the quality of a knife, obviously the better it will serve you. However, any knife is better than no knife in an emergency situation. Simply looking for the best quality you can afford is best. There are several different terms that are used in the world of knives that can be confusing to an amateur. “One piece”, “integral design”, “narrow tang”, “skeletonized” – how do you know which is what? The best knife should have “a full tang” which is also called a “one piece” or “integral design”. This just means the blade runs the full length of the knife and is covered to make the handle portion. If the blade material isn’t covered for the handle it is called “skeletonized”. A skeletonized blade reduces the bulk and weight of the knife. When the knife has a “narrow tang” it means that the blade narrows as it enters the handle. The particular style of knife you choose is not as important as ensuring that the blade extends the full length of the handle. “Full tangs are essential for maximum strength and utility.”