This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I'll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you.*
A tool that has been around since mankind first began chipping rocks into weapons, few items are more essential to an outdoorsman or survivalist than a quality knife.
As with any versatile tool, though, knives serve a wide range of purposes – some better than others, depending on the blade you choose. From skinning an animal to chopping up kindling for a fire to defending yourself in hand-to-hand combat, there are plenty of reasons to have a good knife during a disaster.
In fact, since there’s a wide range of functions any given knife can excel at, it’s a good idea for serious survivalists to have a range of knives available that they can employ depending on what the situation calls for.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the eleven best knives to have in a disaster as well as an explanation for why each one made the list. Far from the dime-store pocketknives that are so common, these quality knives are all blades that would be great to have disaster scenario.
The ever-popular Ka-Bar is a knife that owes its fame to none other than the United States Marines. Since 1942, the Marines have trusted the Ka-Bar to be their standard issue knife, and with good reason.
This knife is razor sharp, it’s blackened so it doesn’t reflect light, and it’s tough enough to handle utility jobs as well as serve as a deadly means of self-defense.
If you want a knife that is more battle proven than any other, you can’t go wrong with the Ka-Bar, and in a disaster scenario, any knife that is good enough for the Marine Corps is sure to come in handy.
Bear Grylls may be as much of an entertaining celebrity as he is a serious survivalist, but there’s nothing “for show” about the knife that bears his name.
The Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife features a waffle-head hammer on the pommel, an emergency whistle, and a spark rod and striker notch all integrated into the knife as well as a quality 7Cr17MOV stainless steel blade that comes in fine-edge or half serrated.
In a disaster, the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife gives you all the functionality of a sharp, fixed-blade knife plus the ability to start a fire and signal for help.
The unique looking Spyderco Civilian enjoys a history that is just as unique as its design. In the late 1980’s, US federal law enforcement approached Spyderco with an interesting challenge: design a self-defense knife for undercover agents who could not carry a sidearm that could be effectively used by someone with little or no knife-fighting training.
The design that Spyderco came up with is one that turns a person’s instinctive self-defense motions into deadly slashing attacks. To this day, if you want a knife that gives someone with no knife-fight training the best possible chance of defending themselves, you turn to the Spyderco Civilian.
While this knife’s unique shape and needle-tip point limit its use as a utility tool, its effectiveness in a hand-to-hand combat situation is devastating. If you are in a disaster scenario and are carrying a knife as a primary or secondary means of self-defense, this knife is an excellent choice.
For those who want a high-quality, multi-purpose folder that is still sharp enough to use in a self-defense scenario, the Cold Steel Recon 1 is a fine choice. Cold Steel has built a reputation for producing knives that are razor sharp and built to withstand extreme torture testing.
The company’s patented Tri-Ad lock gives the Recon 1 the strength of a fixed-blade knife in a folding design, leading to this knife being billed as “sharp as a scalpel and tough as a tank”.
If you want a razor-sharp workhorse folder that is up to any task, you can’t go wrong with the Cold Steel Recon 1. In a disaster scenario, the Cold Steel Recon 1 is able to serve a wide range of functions, making it a good EDC knife.
The fact that the SOG Seal Pup Elite is often the knife of choice for Navy SEALs and other elite special forces from around the world says all you need to know about this quality blade. The Seal Pup Elite features a long, ergonomic handle, a thick blade for tearing through a range of tasks with ease, and a wicked sharp edge and needlepoint.
The result is a versatile knife that is just as at-home on the campsite as it is in a covert operation, making it ideal for a wide range of disaster scenarios.
The Kukri knife was (and in many cases still is) the standard knife of both the Nepalese people and the Nepalese military, serving as their primary tool for jungle survival and hand-to-hand combat. Featuring an inwardly curved blade, the Gurkha Kukri is one part knife and one part machete.
Few designs over the years have been able to rival this blade’s sheer chopping power, and Cold Steel’s take on this classic knife is one of the best available.
Whether you are chopping your way through the jungle or fending off attackers, the razor-sharp Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri is up to the task, making it ideal to have around should disaster strike.
The classic Swiss Army knife might not be the blade you turn to in a knife-fight, but for almost every other imaginable scenario, it’s a handy tool to have in your pocket.
While there is a wide range of Swiss Army knives available–from tiny minimalist versions that feature only a few basic tools, to giant bulky versions that feature hundreds of different tools–the SwissChamp Swiss Army knife by Victorinox is somewhat of a happy medium.
This knife is small enough to be convenient and easily used while still large enough to contain all of the tools you could possibly need. In a disaster scenario, you never know what tool could end up being useful, making this multi-purpose knife a great one to have around.
In the right hands, any decently sharp blade is capable of dressing out a kill. However, some knives do it better than others. With the Gerber Field Dress Kit, you get two knives that, together, will make quick work out of any game, big or small.
The first knife in the kit features a thick blade, curved edge, and a gut hook for tackling the toughest tasks involved with field dressing a kill, while the second blade is much thinner for tasks that require a little more finesse.
Both knives piggyback into the same sheath, a sheath that also features a built-in carbide sharpener. If you plan on hunting for game should disaster strike, you will need a quality hunting knife like the Gerber Field Dress Kit.
The Spyderco Tenacious remains one of the most popular folding knives of all time for the simple reason that it’s got everything you could want out of an EDC folder: a sharp edge, quality locking mechanism, and a design that allows the blade to quickly and fluidly be opened with a single hand.
The Spyderco Tenacious is one of those knives that is good for everything a knife is used for instead of being great for one specific thing, making it ideal for having on you at all times should you find yourself caught up in a disaster.
If you like a knife with a little bit of an intimidation factor, then the Cold Steel Espada is the knife for you. The Espada is one of the largest folders available, featuring a 7.5-inch blade that is sharpened to a razor edge. For being such a large knife, the Espada is surprisingly concealable, with a slim profile and a relatively lightweight, making it easy to carry so long as you’ve got roomy pockets.
Arguably the best thing about this knife is its wave open feature which, with a little practice, allows you to open the blade automatically the second you pull it out of your pocket, springing the massive blade into action with a satisfyingly solid click.
To top it all off, the Espada–with its polished aluminum frame, stainless steel blade, and polished G10 handle–is simply a beautiful knife. In a disaster scenario, this knife shines best as a means of self-defense, though it is sturdy enough to put to work on a number of other tasks as well.
One of the most famous names in the knife world, Buck has a reputation for producing high-quality knives geared towards hunters and outdoorsmen. The Buck SELLKIRK Survival Knife features everything you would expect out of a Buck knife, from its wood handle to its razor sharp blade, as well as a sheath that features a removable fire striker.
A combination that offers you the quality of a Buck fixed-blade knife, as well as the ability to get a fire started, is a hard deal to pass up, making the SELLKIRK a survivalist favorite and a good knife to have around when disaster strikes.
What’s your favorite survival knife? Tell us why!