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One thing you’re guaranteed to find on any decent list of survival supplies is a knife. It’s easily one of the most versatile pieces of equipment. So much so, in fact, that many survival experts believe it’s the most important tool you can have with you.
To the non-prepper, this might seem a little strange. What’s so great about knives? All they do is cut things. But that is only one of many survival uses for knives. In this article, I’m going to list 19 ways a knife could come in handy during a disaster.
1. Self Defense – First and foremost, a knife is a weapon. It can be used as a defensive tool against both people and wild animals, and thus provides you with instant security the moment you pick it up.
2. Clear a Path – If your knife is large enough, you can use it to cut your way through dense shrubbery while you’re on the move. For better reach, tie it to the end of a strong stick.
3. Hunting – Not only is a knife a good close quarters weapon, but when lashed to the end of a pole, it makes for a great spear to throw at an animals (admittedly, this is much harder than it sounds).
4. Dressing Game – If you’re lucky enough to catch small game or fish while out in the wild, the knife will be the easiest tool to use for skinning or gutting your catch.
5. Splitting Wood – To split wood with a knife, you’ll also need a wood baton. Place the blade of your knife against the tree or log you intend to split. Then take your wood baton and whack it against the back of your knife’s blade. Eventually, the log or piece of wood should split. Take note that double edged knives don’t work well for this as the baton could dull one of the edges. You’ll also need a high-quality knife that won’t break under the stress.
6. Fire – Let’s say you have no matches, lighters, flint strikers, or any other fire starting devices. Many people would suggest using your knife to make a bow drill. But unless you’re already well practiced with this method and are able to find the right kind of wood, it’s going to take a very long time to get a fire going. Fortunately, the blade of a knife can produce sparks much more quickly. Just get your tinder ready and start striking your blade against a stone to produce sparks. The sparks will get caught in the tinder which will hold the heat and develop into a coal. This method also takes some practice.
7. Utensil – Don’t have a fork? Just eat with your knife. But make sure you clean it thoroughly if you just used it to dress game or gut fish.
8. Can Opener – Although you should have a can opener in your supplies, if for someone reason you don’t, you can use a knife instead. Any halfway decent knife can open a tin can or any other basic container with supplies in it.
9. Digging Tool – Assuming your knife is well constructed, it can also serve as a mini shovel if necessary. You can excavate your own fire bit, dig a hole to dispose of waste, or carve out a distress signal in the dirt or snow.
10. Hammer – The butt end of any sturdy knife is great for hammering stakes into the ground or nails into wood.
11. Stake – If you don’t have stakes with you, who’s to say you can’t use a knife itself as a stake? Simply hammer it deep into the ground where the blade can serve as an anchor for your shelter.
12. Emergency Modification Tool – Whenever you need to make quick modifications to your gear, whether it be cutting apart clothing, turning screws in your equipment, or prying something open, a knife can easily get the job done.
13. Tool Making – We’ve gone over examples of how a knife can serve as an excellent utility tool, but remember that a good knife can also make tools for you. For example, you could use a knife to shave the end of a stake or a spear. You can also use a knife to make other tools like snares, fish hooks, tent pets, and so forth.
14. Rope Making – Use your knife to cut long strips of bark off of trees, then cut those strips into smaller strips and start weaving them together to make a rope.
15. Shelter Making – When it comes to making shelter, you’re better off using a hatchet or a saw. But if you don’t have those, you can use a knife. As we’ve seen, it can cut apart wood, help you make a stakes or rope, and you can also use it to make notches through which to place cordage.
16. First Aid – Your knife can be an invaluable tool during a medical emergency. Using your bare fingers to tear apart bandages or get pieces of wood or metal out of a wound is painful and time consuming, but a knife can do these things easily.
17. Rescue Tool – If someone is trapped in their vehicle after an accident, you could use your knife to break the window and cut through the seat belt.
18. Signaling Device – If your knife is shiny enough, you could use it as a signal mirror to get someone’s attention.
19. Target Practice – Practice throwing your knife at trees or some other wooden target. Once you master hitting a target at a certain distance, take a couple steps back and keep trying. Odds are, you’ll never actually use this skill for hunting or stopping attackers, but it sure is fun.
As you can see, survival knives are versatile and dependable, which is why you should have at least one (and preferably two or three) of them. I strongly recommend you have a fixed blade knife with a large blade for the more heavy duty work such as splitting wood or digging into the ground, and a smaller folding blade knife for when precision is required.