Top 15 Uses of a Survival Knife When in the Wild

Top 15 Uses of a Survival Knife When in the Wild

A survival knife is one of the first tools that comes to most people’s minds when they think of bushcraft. The versatility of this item both as a tool and as a weapon is what makes it one of those elite pieces of equipment that no outdoorsman or survivalist should be without. Just go watch any Rambo movie! If you do not get it then, go watch Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) in The Expendables.

Knives are highly valuable as portrayed by Joe Teti in Dual Survivor as well.

In fact, many authorities consider the survival knife the single most important tool when it comes to survival gear. Because it can be used in so many ways, a quality and versatile survival knife on the belt or in the hand is the best companion that you could have in the great outdoors.

15 Ways to Use a Survival Knife

Here is a look at 15 uses of a survival knife:


When you need to cut or slice vegetables or wood in the great wide open, the survival knife is your best friend. It will help you perform these tasks with ease. A survival knife will also help you easily slice off leaves and plants out of the way when you are traveling off the beaten path. No matter what you need to cut while you are out on your adventure, you can be sure that a high-quality survival knife will help you do the job with ease. Cutting and slicing anything requires a sharp blade and this is why a quality survival knife is perfect. Regardless of the situation you are in, make sure that you have a reliable and versatile knife that can help you will all of your cutting and slicing needs.


Ideally, it is best not to use your survival knife for digging. But if you have forgotten to pack your shovel, you will not have a choice but to use your knife for digging. A big knife is a terrific tool to help you in excavating a root or digging up worms for bait. If you have a survival knife that is well constructed, it can serve well as a shovel for a number of other tasks as well, including collecting edible roots and tubers, making fire pits, carving out distress signals in dirt or snow and disposing waste. There is nothing like having a stellar survival knife when you do not have a shovel in your kit – anything that you need to do with a shovel, your knife will do for you just as well, so you do not have to worry about handling those tasks.

You might want to also check our survival knife maintenance article

Splitting Wood/Batoning

If you are mostly accustomed to cheap, flimsily-made knives, you may have trouble picturing a survival knife as a substitute for an axe or hatchet. However, a large, full tang knife with a flat edge to the back of the blade can be a powerful wood splitting or batoning tool. A double-edged knife will not work as one its edges could get damaged by the baton. You should also make sure that you have a high-quality knife that can withstand and will not break under the stress like Paul Lassiter (Richard Kind) used to do on the show Spin City. If you are in need of a tool to split or baton wood while out in the wilderness, make sure that you have a top-notch survival knife.

Self Defense

Before anything else, a knife is a weapon. Your survival knife can provide a lot of security when you are out in the wilderness. You can use your survival knife to defend yourself against predators like wild animals, and even other people (hopefully it is not walkers!; that would be an unpleasant world to live in to say the least!). You can also use it as a weapon to procure food like small game and in some cases, even fish. A survival knife is a versatile tool that protects you and allows you to defend yourself against any threats. When you need a self-defense tool in the great wide open, there is nothing quite like your survival knife – it will not let you down.

First Aid Tool

When you are in a survival situation or camping in the wilderness, there is a lot that can go wrong. For example, you could injure yourself. If you cut yourself, you can use your survival knife to cauterize your wound. When you are in the wilderness, you are always at risk of infection so having a way to cauterize a wound is always good. Also, your survival knife can be helpful in cutting improvised bandages for your injury. With a survival knife’s versatility, it can be used as a first aid tool in different types of emergency situations when you are out in the wild.


Food Prep

As mentioned earlier, a survival knife is judicious for slicing and chopping. This does not apply only to wood. You can use this tool to prep food when you are out camping or in a survival situation. You can cut up vegetables and meat for your meals, and also for skinning game that you have caught, big or small. If you have forgotten to pack kitchen knives for food prep on your camping trip or when you are in a survival situation, you do not have to stress as long as you have your handy survival knife with you. It will help you get everything done in a jiffy.

Shelter Building

When it comes to building a shelter in the wilderness, you are better off using a saw or hatchet. But if you have not packed either of these tools, your survival knife will make an excellent substitute. It can easily help you cut wood and other materials that you need to build your shelter. You can also use it to help you with stakes and to make notches through which you can place cordage. Your survival knife will also come in handy when you have to pitch a tent – you can use it as a hammer to pound in tent pegs.

Making Tools

You already know that a survival knife serves as an impressive utility tool. However, you should keep in mind that a good, quality knife can also help in making other tools that you may need out in the wilderness. For instance, your survival knife can be used to shave the end of a spear or stakes. You can also use it to make fish hooks, snares, and so on. A survival knife also works terrific when you need to make quick modifications to your tools or equipment. If you find yourself in need of other tools while you are out in the wild, your knife will help you make them.

Fire Making

If you find yourself in a situation where you do not have flint strikers, lighters, matches, or any other fire-starting devices. You do not have to worry one bit – your survival knife can help you make a bow drill. However, unless you already know how to use this method and have the right type of wood, it will take a while for you to get a fire going. Your knife’s blade can quickly produce sparks. All you need to do is get your tinder ready and strike your blade against a stone to get sparks. The tinder will catch the sparks and you will soon have a fire started.

Tapping for Sap

When you are out in the great wide open, there are certain things that can come in good use, such as sap. Apart from being a food source, sap can be used as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic ointment for wounds and cuts. You can also use it as glue, fire-starter, and for water-proofing various items. To tap sap from plants, you really do not need any special tools – your survival knife will do just fine. Make good use of it and start tapping for sap, which has a variety of poignant uses when you are in the wilderness.

Hunting Weapon

As mentioned earlier, a survival knife makes a stellar self-defense tool against wild animals and other predators. You can use your survival knife to hunt animals for food. You can lash it to the end of a pole and use it as a spear to hunt animals. This is easier said than done, but if you are an experienced outdoorsman, you will find it quite easy to hunt food this way. Your reach will be extended which is safer for you and a serious weapon against almost anything you will encounter though it is not equal to a gun and if you only have one knife you should not try to take on any serious animals since if the animal gets inside the spear’s range and close to you like Mike Tyson used to do to larger opponents you may be in trouble. You want to try to avoid any situation like what Ottway (Liam Neeson) faced in The Grey. You do not want to be one on one with a wolf, you want to allow that animal to go on its way. After you have your game though (you chose a smaller, less menacing and weaker animal), you can then use your knife to skin it, cut through joints and prepare it for cooking. A profound survival knife makes an excellent hunting tool when you do not have a rifle or gun.


As already mentioned, you can use your survival knife to make a fire, which you can use to signal rescuers. Additionally, you can also use it as a signal mirror to get people’s attention. Keep in mind, however, that your knife should be shiny to be able to this. Things can go wrong when you are in the wilderness and there may be a chance that you need emergency help or rescue. Having a survival knife can help you signal for help and alert rescuers to your presence and where you are located, and get the help you need.


We have already mentioned that your survival knife can be used as a substitute for various tools that you have not packed with you, including a hammer. If you have a tent to pitch, your knife can help you in hammering tent pegs to the ground. You may also need to hammer in other items in your camp site. If you have not brought a hammer along, you can use the blunt edge of your survival knife to perform these tasks. A sensational survival knife will be able to withstand the pressure of hammering with ease and without causing any damage to the knife.

Making Rope

If you are in need of rope because you have not carried enough or did not carry any, put your worries away. Your survival knife is an excellent tool for helping you make rope. You can use it to cut exceptionally long strips of bark from the trees and then further cut those strips into smaller ones that you can then weave together to make a rope. Whether you need a rope to build a shelter or to tie any gear, all you have to do is turn to your survival knife and start cutting the bark of the trees around you and make what you need.

Make-Shift Screwdriver

Many people often forget to include a screwdriver in their survival kit. You never know when you might need one when you are in the wilderness. If you did not pack one with you, you can use your survival knife as a makeshift screwdriver. You can use it to make modifications to tools that need loosening or tightening. You can also use it to turn the screws in some of the equipment you have or encounter and some of your devices perhaps as well. If you find yourself in need of a screwdriver, just turn to your survival knife. No matter what you need a screwdriver for, your survival knife will help you get the job done. It will not be a perfect substitute for a screwdriver but it should suffice.

Recommended Survival Knife:

Fallkniven A1 Fine Edge Fixed Blade Knife, Black
361 Reviews
Fallkniven A1 Fine Edge Fixed Blade Knife, Black
  • Blade material: lam. Vg10
  • Blade length: 160 mm
  • Total length: 280 mm


As you can see, a survival knife has many uses. It is a versatile tool that can help you with many tasks when you are out in the great outdoors, camping, or in a survival situation. This is one item that you should always include in your survival kit or camping gear. It can be an outstanding defensive weapon against anything you encounter out in the wild as well.

Good luck and Godspeed!

Image by: Johan

1 thought on “Top 15 Uses of a Survival Knife When in the Wild”

  1. Hi… I just happened upon your (basically) well written article regarding survival knives. The only aspect I have a different viewpoint on is your statement that a knife is first and foremost a weapon. From my perspective, a knife is primarily a tool. I would much rather defend myself against an animal with a good, stout hiking stick any day! It provides a “distance zone” that a knife would not. A “tap on the nose” at distance may well be all that is required to convince the animal to seek less of a potentially dangerous quarry. FYI… I’m 70 years old, been continuously involved in Wilderness Search & Rescue and Wilderness Survival for well over 60 years (to include Boy Scouts, Fire Service)… Mike

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top