Survival knife in leather holster on denim with red flannel.

With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve decided to republish a classic piece each Friday to help our newer readers discover some of the best, evergreen gems from the past. This article was originally published in November 2011.

This is a guest post from wilderness survival expert and instructor Creek Stewart. 

I don’t remember my first kiss or even who it was with. I can barely recollect getting my license to drive. I vaguely remember my high school graduation and my entire time spent at college is a blur. However, I remember exactly where I was, what I was wearing, and how I felt when I got my first survival knife over 20 years ago. Just thinking about it brings back some of my fondest childhood memories. It was the RAMBO knife with the hollow handle that housed a little fishing kit along with a few other miscellaneous items. My love affair with knives began at a young age, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Movies seem to always have the coolest survival knives, but does the survival knife really have a place in the “real world”?

That was a rhetorical question. Yes, it most certainly does.

Despite our advancements in medicine, technology, travel, and communications, millions of people across the globe face disaster and its merciless consequences each year. In addition, thousands of individuals are thrust into unexpected and unpredictable life or death situations where survival depends on experience, knowledge, and the resources on hand. My point? It is wise to keep important survival resources close by — just in case. One of your most important survival tools is a quality knife.

The cutting blade has carved itself an indispensable place in survival history. For thousands of years, man has depended on a cutting tool of some kind to help meet basic survival needs: food, water, fire, and shelter. Now, in our modern society, we casually refer to this blade as the “survival knife.” It has certainly earned that name. However, not all survival knives are created equal.

I have the privilege of strapping a survival knife to my hip on almost a daily basis here at Willow Haven. I completely understand, though, that this isn’t practical for most. At a minimum, a survival knife should be kept accessible. You might be surprised how often you’ll use it — even if not in a survival situation. I never travel without my survival knife. I pack it in my checked baggage on the plane. I keep it on my hotel nightstand. It’s always in the console of my truck when road-tripping, and I never set off for an adventure without it. Whether fishing, backpacking, hunting, boating, skiing, hiking, or camping, my knife is a trusted companion. I’m rarely more than a stone’s throw away from it at any given moment.

Survival knife in leather holster on floor of car.

A knife holster in a suite case with a book.

A “survival knife” is just as it sounds — a knife that can help you survive. It is a tool with literally hundreds of survival-related functions. Below is a short

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