Deciding on what tools to pack in a BOB can be exhausting.
There can be many aspects to a tool or piece of gear that must be decided upon even after choosing the tool itself.
In the case of this article, a knife.
Some people may think a knife is just a knife and any old one will do. But when you consider that the contents of a BOB could save your life, I want a knife that I know I can depend on.
Among outdoorsmen, a knife is a highly personal tool. There may be features that I like in a knife that someone else downright hates.
For the above reason, the knives suggested in this article are suggestions. They are my picks because I feel they make great bug out bag knives.
Generally, I do not own super expensive knives so, many of the options on the list are going to be quite affordable.
Part of the reason for this is that I like a BOB that is more tool heavy. Even though a BOB is meant to get me from point A to point B as quickly as possible I always plan for the worst case scenario. So, you should have more than one knife.
The more affordable a knife is, the easier it is to have multiples.
After the list, I will briefly discuss some of the features you should be looking for in the best bug out bag knives.
Best Bug Out Bag Knives: My 7 Hands-On Reviews
I know, you are probably thinking, “what, a folder?” In the case of the Pocket Bushman, absolutely!
I will admit that it is kind of an ugly, simple looking knife but it is probably the toughest folding knife I have ever owned.
It is also quite large. When fully extended the overall length is 10 ¼” which makes it almost feel like holding a fixed blade.
I have owned this knife for years and used it for tasks I would not normally use a folder for. As much as I have abused this knife its lockup is just as tight as the day I bought it.
The one downside is that this is not a knife you can quickly fold back up. A piece of cordage attached at the end of the handle must be pulled straight out while holding the blade to disengage the lock.
This is a bit tricky and takes some getting used to but it doesn’t take away from how great this knife is.
- Blade length is 4 ½ “
- Overall length is 10 ¼”
- The blade material is German 4116 stainless
- Handle material is 420 stainless
- Stainless steel pocket clip
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 08:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This knife would not be one of my first choices for a long-term scenario simply because it is not as solid as I would like. Given that it is not full tang and has moving parts it should be packed as a secondary blade.
However, this is another one I have used for years and it has come in handy because it has two cutting tools in one.
On one side it has a 4.75-inch blade with a gut hook that can be used for general cutting tasks and processing game.
By pressing a button on the handle, the knife revolves around into the handle and a 4.75-inch wood saw comes out.
I have used the wood saw extensively with minimal sharpening and have chewed through a lot of wood with it.
As I mentioned above, the lockup of the tool isn’t that great but then again I have never had any problem with it. Getting multiple uses out of a single tool helps a lot in saving weight in a BOB.
- Blade length is 4.75 inches with gut hook
- Saw length is 4.75 inches
- Weighs in at 6.1 ounces
- Glass-reinforced nylon handle with a lanyard hole
- Black nylon sheath
- Revolving blade outdoor knife for taming the wilderness
- Switch between double tooth saw and straight edge knife
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 17:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The Companion is one of my favorite knives to use for almost any task.
The great thing about them is that they are so affordable that having more than one in a pack is very doable.
If you want two of these, I choose a stainless steel model as well as a high carbon steel model. The stainless makes a great food prep knife while the high carbon blade is great for everything else, including starting a fire.
The Scandi grind on these knives has become one of my favorites. The cutting-edge bites into the material which prevents the knife from slipping. It is also a dream to sharpen because it requires little effort and skill.
- Blade made from 12C27 stainless steel or high carbon steel
- Blade length 4.1”
- Blade thickness of 0.1”
- Overall length 8.6”
- Weighs in at 4.1oz
- Scandi grind
- Hard plastic sheath included
- Many different colors to choose from!
- Versatile fixed-blade outdoor knife with a 4. 1-inch hardened Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade is...
- High-quality Swedish steel is razor sharp and exceptionally tough; stainless steel blade stays sharp...
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 07:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The Bushcraft is like the Companion but beefier.
It has a thicker spine and an overall larger frame. This makes it better suited for rougher tasks.
One cool thing about choosing the Bushcraft is that it comes as a kit. Integrated into the hard-plastic sheath is a Swedish-made ferrocerium rod for starting fires and a diamond sharpener for keeping a good working edge on the knife.
The blade on this model is covered with a black coating that helps to protect the metal. But through wear and tear, these coatings begin to flake off and they are not food prep friendly.
These coatings are one reason I believe in having multiple knives in your BOB.
I would use the Bushcraft for all non-food related tasks and a stainless steel Companion when it comes to mealtime.
- Blade length 4.3”
- Blade thickness of 0.126”
- Overall length 9.1”
- Weighs in at 5.4 oz
- The blade is made from high carbon steel
- Scandi grind
- Plastic sheath with integrated diamond sharpener and fire steel
- Fire steel rated for 7,000 strikes
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 15:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This four-inch clip point knife is best used as a skinner, but I have used it in so many more ways that I wanted to add it to the list.
I have carried this on my belt and the little knife is a breeze to whip out, use for quick cutting tasks, and replace into the sheath.
It holds an edge very well and is easy to sharpen.
Given its small size, it can be carried in several different ways discreetly.
- Blade length 4 inches
- Overall length of 8.6 inches
- Weight 6 ounces
- Blade material 7Cr17MoV high carbon stainless steel
- Sawcut Delrin scales
- Leather or nylon sheath included
- DIMENSIONS: 7.1 inch (18 cm) overall length with a blade length of 3.3 inches (8.4 cm) and a weight...
- DURABLE: Blade is made of reliable 7Cr17MoV High Carbon Stainless Steel with sawcut delrin handle...
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 05:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This is a tactical fixed blade knife that has two cutting edges. The entire knife including the handle is a single piece of hot forged 1050 carbon steel.
This means there are no scales or other hardware that can be weak points in a knife.
The Sting is going to be well suited for more protective tasks than it would be processing wood or wild game.
The knife and the sheath are designed as a boot knife but by removing the Velcro straps it can be carried in other ways.
I love how this knife feels in the hand. It is lightweight and changing your grip is quite smooth.
- Blade length is 3.2 inches
- Overall length is 6.85 inches
- The blade and handle material is 1050 carbon steel
- Weighs in at 3.9 ounces
- Nylon sheath with glass-reinformed nylon insert
- Enhanced Protection: Black coating improves corrosion resistance
- Useful Utility: Classic blade shape provides proven utility
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 07:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you are looking for a heavy-duty knife that you can be run over by a truck and beaten to high heaven, then look no further than the LMF II.
I have done things with this knife that no knife should have to put up, like driving nails into wood and chopping through 2x4s.
While I am not a fan of turning a knife into a spear in the field, there are three holes in the handle that make doing so super easy.
This is one of the few knives I have used that holding it makes it feel like you could not break it if you wanted to.
- Blade length is 4.84 inches
- Overall length is 10.59 inches
- Blade material is 420HC stainless steel
- Drop point with partial serrations
- Glass-filled nylon handle
- Ballistic nylon sheath that is MOLLE compatible
- Originally designed to free an aircrew from a downed aircraft
- Tough enough to cut through the fuselage of an aircraft
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 11:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Features to Consider in Best Bug Out Bag Knives
When it comes to BOB knives there definitely are some features you will want to be aware of.
Most outdoorsmen will agree that a full tang knife is the best option because the knife metal runs all the way through the handle. This makes a knife much stronger in the handle end so that overall, it can be used in a heavy-duty manner.
Another reason I like full tang knives has to do with the scales. If they partially or completely break, the underlying knife metal can still be used easily and effectively as a handle.
Blade Length and Thickness
The length and thickness of a knife are primarily going to depend on what it is being used for.
While I like large blades and they do have their place, most huge “survival” knives are overkill and unrealistic.
Personally, I like a knife that is between four to six inches long. This is large enough to handle most tasks without being overly large and difficult to handle.
The other thing to keep in mind is that a knife, in my opinion, is not an outdoor chopping tool. A knife is meant to be used as a cutting, slicing, and penetration tool.
Chopping should be left to axes, hatchets, and hawks.
Using a knife to baton cut wood can damage or break the blade. But if you feel you must make sure that the knife spine is several millimeters thick.
Many knives that have the survival label on them tend to have black or other colored coatings on the blade.
This coating is meant to reduce glare, protect the underlying metal from environmental conditions, and I am sure to some extent “looks cool.”
I own several knives that have this coating and there is nothing wrong with for general use.
However, these coatings are not food prep friendly because after use and abuse the coating will eventually begin to flake off.
If you carry a coated blade it would be a great idea to pack a second knife that is not coated. The uncoated blade can be used for food and the coated blade can be used for everything else.
A lanyard hole in the handle is not a deciding factor for me when purchasing a knife.
But if I like a knife and it has one then it is a win-win situation.
I like to thread a piece of brightly colored 550 paracord through a lanyard hole to create a tool loop or wrist wrap.
When I am using the knife the loop goes around the wrist and helps me from losing the knife should my grip fail.
And in my experience, your grip will fail at some point because of fatigue or wet conditions or some other factor.
In a survival situation, you do not want to lose your most important tool. So if it has a lanyard hole, use it!
I like leather sheaths because they are durable, can be used for stropping, securely hold a knife in place, are easier to repair, and are beautiful.
Nylon sheaths are more widely used these days but just make sure that they have sufficient straps and snaps to hold the knife in place.
The third option are sheaths made from hard plastic or Kydex. Generally, I am not a fan of these because I have had them break on me and they don’t come with straps to hold the knife in place. But they are lightweight, more weather-resistant, and quite tough.
An entire article, and more, could be written on the different types of metal available and their pros and cons.
I am going to stay overly broad and simply stick with high carbon steel vs. stainless steel.
High carbon steel is going to be easier to sharpen and it throws sparks well when used with ferrocerium rods and flints. But being more susceptible to the elements, this type of blade should be oiled after every use to avoid rusting.
Stainless steel will hold an edge longer but will be more difficult to sharpen. Being less susceptible to the elements it is not prone to rusting as easily.
Both are good metals.
But considering that a BOB sits for long periods without being used, you will need to be diligent in your knife care if you choose a high carbon blade. Otherwise, months later you may get into your bag to find a rather rusty blade.
If you leave near the coast or in a humid region, a stainless steel knife would be a better choice.
When it comes to carrying a pack on your back, every ounce matters.
Therefore, most of the knives on my list are not large or heavy.
There is no number that I can tell you that a knife should or should not weigh. If you want a knife that weighs several pounds and you have no problem carrying it, then more power to you.
I only bring this up because if you are only carrying one knife, you do not want weight to become an issue after hauling it around for only five miles.
Open Questions About Bug Out Bag Knives
Q: Should my Best Bug Out Bag knives have serrations?
This is largely a personal preference. Serrations do well at sawing or ripping through materials but are more difficult to sharpen in the field. They also take away from the more widely used cutting edge of the blade. In my experience, a serrated blade is not used all that much.
Q: Exactly how many knives should be in my BOB?
Again this is a personal preference and what you plan on using your knives for.
I like a minimum of two knives. A slightly larger heavy-duty knife for general tasks and a small stainless steel knife for food prep and more detailed work.
Q: Should I pack a knife sharpener in my BOB?
A: Absolutely! A knife that is properly sharpened and properly used will hold a cutting edge for quite some time. But there are several great, lightweight sharpeners that can be packed to always keep your knife safe and efficient to use.
I am glad that I had the opportunity to share with you some of the knives I find useful in a BOB.
My choices are by no means the end all be all of knives. They are just the ones I have found to be quality tools, well suited for the task at hand, and within almost everyone’s price range.
Thanks for reading and stay prepared!
We would love to hear what kind of knife you carry in your BOB. Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!