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How to Use a Survival Knife


Using a Survival Knife
A fire can make the difference between life and death on an icy winter night -- and a survival knife can be a big help in the process of building one.
A fire can make the difference between life and death on an icy winter night -- and a survival knife can be a big help in the process of building one.
©iStockphoto.com/Kativ

Now that you have your survival knife picked out -- and you're good and lost in the wilderness -- let's go over some of the ways your knife can help you out.

Depending on the situation, some of the first things you'll probably need to accomplish include bandaging wounds, starting a fire and building a shelter. A survival knife can help with all three. Whether it's cutting thread and gauze; collecting tinder, kindling and firewood; starting the fire; or fashioning the shelter and lashing down a windproof material with appropriate lengths of rope, you'll often find your knife handy.

At this point your stomach is probably rumbling, so let's consider how a survival knife can help you snag some grub. You can use it to collect edible plants; carve spears, fishhooks and components of animal traps; skin game; gut fish and avoid eating with your fingers (as long as you're very careful about it, of course). Beyond these common uses, you may stumble across others particular to your specific survival scenario. For example, if your knife is shiny enough you can use it to signal distress.

Don't be tricked into buying a gimmicky knife like the ones with hollow handles for storing other emergency supplies. Not only do you sacrifice strength by reducing the tang, what happens if you lose it? You're out a lot more than a knife! Keep other survival gear in a separate wilderness survival kit, which you can read more about in the article How Wilderness Survival Kits Work.

It can't hurt to carry a spare either. This can be another survival knife like the type we've been talking about, or it can be a folding knife or a multipurpose utility tool, which while less strong than a fixed blade, can still be useful for tasks that involve slicing and skinning. If you lose your main knife this one won't be able to fully replace it, but it'll be better than nothing. Just be careful -- these blades are less reliable and may pose a safety risk since they can snap shut on your fingers, even with a locking mechanism.

Find more safety tips for using your new survival knife on the next page.