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Would a knife or a gun serve me better in the Alaskan wilderness?


Survival Knife Uses
In the Alaskan wilderness, heat is a must for survival. You have multiple options for starting a fire with the help of a knife.
In the Alaskan wilderness, heat is a must for survival. You have multiple options for starting a fire with the help of a knife.
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Alaskan law requires pilots to carry a survival kit containing a knife on their planes. Likewise, a majority of survival guides and books recommend including some sort of knife in every good kit. Even TV's "Survivorman" host Les Stroud doesn't set off into the wild without one. Because of its myriad uses, some survival sources name the knife as the most important tool that you can take into the wild.

It slices, dices, carves, cuts, whittles, hacks, plies and even removes fleas from your toenails. The knife made sliced bread what it is today, and can mean the difference between life and death for you in the Alaskan wilderness.

­Perhaps the most important survival necessity your knife can supply in Alaska is heat. Hypothermia poses a serious danger to people stranded in the wilderness since temperatures in the state's interior can drop to more than minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius), and the wind and rain of the coastal and northern regions can also send your body temperature plummeting.

To stay w­arm and dry and avoid hypothermia, you can strike flint against a steel knife blade to create a spark. Other methods also include sharpening the tip of a stick and making a fire plow or bow drill, described in detail in How to Start a Fire Without a Match. Once you have fire, you can also cook, boil and purify water, clean your clothes and produce smoke billows to signal rescuers.

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Since glaciers cover parts of Alaska, and snow and ice blanket some of the 3 million lakes and other bodies of water during the winter, you may be wondering how a knife could possibly assist with protecting you from a frozen fate. First, you can chip away ice and snow to hollow out a snow cave shelter. It can also keep you from drowning if you fall through an ice-covered body of water. By stabbing your knife in nearby thicker ice, you can get enough leverage to pull yourself out of the freezing cold, and extremely dangerous, water.

­If you have a knife ­with a longer blade, you can test the compactness of snow on a mountain side. Avalanches claim lives every year in Alask­a, and testing whether the snow is dense or layered can save your life. Loose and layered snow means a greater chance for avalanche, and you should probably choose another path down the mountain.

These examples represent only a few ways a knife can serve you in the wild. If you want to learn more ways that knives can help you survive in the wilderness in Alaska and beyond, read the links on the next page.


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