The Importance of Your Knife and a Backup Bug out Bag

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from D. Couger. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

Let’s first deal with the easier of the above listed two points: the backup bug out bag. I was talking to my best friend a while back and I brought up the bug out bag that I had made him as a birthday present and I asked him if it’s still in his car. He said no and I asked why not and where it was? He stated that it’s at home and that if the SHTF that he would be rushing home to his wife and it would be there. I then said, you may not make it home without having that bag. What if something happens to your car and you need to hoof it (I then had to list a couple of possibilities of what might happen to the car, auto accident, roads closed or impassable, EMP, etc.). Then I explained that if you’re forced to walk or jog and something else causes you to be out there longer than a couple of hours, you will be damn glad that you have that backpack full of all the supplies you need to survive. He was quiet for a minute then said that he hadn’t given that much thought and he would put the bag back in the car.

I won’t go into details about what is in the bag as various preppers have gone through the bug out bag checklist many times in the past but I will tell you this. I have two cars and two motorcycles (one each for the wife and me) and I have a bag for each vehicle. I also have another bag ready in the house in the event that I need to grab and run and don’t have time or the opportunity to get to the cars or bikes. The bags for the cars and house have all the exact same things in them but the bags for the motorcycles are by necessity smaller, and thereby have fewer items in them. They do have all the most needed items in them and I could get by with just those and of course, during the course of surviving, I would hope to pick up a bigger bag and add more needed things as I came upon them. I also have my computer bag with me at work and that has the bare essentials in it just in case I have trouble getting out to the parking lot where my car is.

The point of all of this is, you need a bag for any possibility that may arise for exactly where you might be at any given time. It would be terrible if after all the thought, time and effort put into making a bug out bag, that when you need it the most, it’s not within easy reach. That would be the epitome of Murphy’s Law, so prepare ahead of time by thinking all of the possible scenarios that could keep you from reaching your bag(s).

The Importance of Your Knife

The Importance of Your Knife and a Backup Bug out Bag - The Prepper Journal

StatGear 99416 Surviv-All Outdoor Knife with Firestarter, Sharpener & Cord Cutter

Now onto the importance of your knife(s), as my best friend (yes, the same one as mentioned above) once said, if you need a knife then you’d better have more than one. A knife is not just a hand-held weapon, nor should it just be a survival tool. For our purposes (preppers) it needs to be both as well as a third option-an offensive projectile. Most folks would say that a really effective survival knife is not suited for throwing and they would be partially correct, except for the fact that ANY knife can be thrown.

The best survival knife will have a blade length of between seven and ten inches with serrations on the top edge of the blade (to be used for sawing). However, the best knife for offense will be double-edged and can be as short as three inches and still be a deadly weapon and usually balanced nicely for throwing. I cannot offer any quick insights into how to throw a knife, but I can tell you this, again, any knife can be thrown (just like most tools can be thrown). Do a search on you tube for “how to throw a knife” and you will find many great instructional videos that will help you learn this.

Here is a VERY important thing to remember, do not go with a cheaper priced knife, no matter if you use it for survival or for combat, as your life might depend on this knife and a cheaper priced one will definitely let you down (and of course, when you need it the most). Having a sharp, easy to deploy survival knife can help you face almost any obstruction you may face in the wilderness. Your knife needs to be able to help you procure food, and help to cook it as well. It needs to be strong enough to help build your shelter, dig a hole and assist with the cutting of wood for a fire.

I have a ten inch survival knife, complete with a hollow handle that holds the basics: fishing line and hook, water-proof matches, compass, etc. and it is made from high carbon steel. I do not recommend stainless steel as it doesn’t retain its edge very long and is susceptible to bending and/or breaking. I also have a hunting knife with a six-inch blade made with a full tang (made of one single solid piece of metal) which are superior to partial tang or rat-tail tang blades and are capable of performing heavy-duty tasks like prying, digging and pounding. Also, make sure the grip around the handle is not made from a slippery substance as that can either cause you an injury or worse, your death. Hard rubber or a polymer is recommended as it won’t get slippery and will absorb some of the shock if you are using it as a tool. If you are buying a knife for your backpack, bug out bag or just for your camping/hunting supplies, make sure it fits comfortably in your hand. If the handle is too big, you won’t get the full benefit of the knife’s capabilities. If it’s too small, it could become a dangerous item for you (when a knife slips from your hand, they have a tendency to cut something that you didn’t want cut, usually another part of you).


My survival knife hangs in a leg sheath at my side and I have a few other knives in and on various spots on my back pack, my belt and on my web gear. These other knives are smaller, some are folding knives and some are fixed blades but all are the best that I could find as even a small folding knife can be used for almost anything that the above listed survival knife can do so I wanted the best quality available. Make sure that you have at least one knife that is a skinning knife, to be used as a cutting tool for removing the hide of game animals or for cleaning a fish. This will usually have an extremely sharp short thin curved blade that will keep the tip from puncturing the hide or spearing the meat. A gutting knife is also good to have but most fixed blade knives can serve this purpose if you are trying to keep your bags overall weight down.

I have two smaller fixed blade knives that are spear pointed with nylon wrapped cord for a handle. These are for making into a spear for fishing, hunting and/or as a long defensive/offensive weapon. These can be attached to the end of a long branch by using the cord to secure it. I also have one machete type knife that has a 17 inch blade (stored in a sheath attached to my backpack) to use for a brush clearer and also as a longer defensive/offensive weapon.

In conclusion, no matter how many knives you get, or the type, remember these basics: 1. If you need a knife make sure you have more than one. 2. Get the best quality that you can afford. 3. Think about what uses you can get out of the individual knife. And lastly, make sure it fits your hand!

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Robert Frazier

tried to rate it a 5but it didn’t take it.can i send this article to friends?


I counted at least six knives, not counting un-defined folding options. I’m not sure I can embrace the idea of so much excess metal in a bug out bag. If I counted right, there are: 17″ machete 10″ hollow handle knife 6″ full-tang knife Skinning knife 2x woven handle knives for spears un-defined folders possibly a gutting knife That is a lot of weight to carry, not counting pack, water, food, filters, compass, weapon(s), magazines, extra ammo, tent/poncho, clothing, etc… Utility and redundancy are good, but if you are moving more than a few miles, this could be a detriment.… Read more »


Good points about machetes. I keep a 12 inch ‘Ontario Knife’ machete and a 10 inch Gerber machete in my BOV at all times. I’ve used both countless times in the field, and either one fits conveniently in a backpack. They both hold a good blade. If (God forbid) I ever had to resort to a knife for personal defense, I would much rather reach for my machete than a smaller fixed blade knife. Like yourself, I always have other fixed and folding blade knives with me to address specific needs while in camp or on the move.


While I do have machete, it is a very cheap Harbor Freight model purchased while heading out to cut trail for dirtbikes years ago. Last year, I found a sweet deal on a SOG hatchet. Despite not putting my due diligence into putting a good edge on it, I’ve been terribly impressed with its cutting ability while camping and cleaning up storm damage around the house. Its compact, feels good in the hand, swings well, and despite being used by a 9 yo to chop wood, remains like new. I’ll be on the lookout for another one on the cheap… Read more »


Best machete I ever had one one a friend made from an old truck leaf spring, it lasted for years until it was stolen. flat sections of old truck leaf springs make really good work blades that are strong, easy to sharpen and pretty darn heavy duty.


Dang UK rednecks! What you have there is a goldurned slingblade.

And yes, leaf spring steel is tough stuff.


Mmmmm… biscuits and mustard.


I’ve been thinking on this for the past day. I think its certainly situational, but can agree with the longer blade in a ‘defend yourself’ situation for a majority of people. In a no ranged weapon situation, the ‘chete provides reach, and general intimidation to make a knife wielding aggressor think. It doesn’t negate the need for a 3-4″ fixed blade cutter, but rather adds to capability. With the addition of a SOG hatchet to my inventory, and that ‘history of the samurai’ show I watched last night, I’m wondering about a quick handling sword,short sword, or even a Nakanata… Read more »


I don’t see anything wrong with a long blade in one hand and a short blade or hatchet in the other. That pretty much defines the history of the human race, dating all the way back to when we discovered sharp and pointy things.


Your “survival” knife has a number of aspects which make it less than optimal. First, the size is great for some things, but a little clumsy for others. Not a problem since you also have some smaller knives. The best lengths are 9 – 12″ for a “field” knife, optimized for chopping, and 4 – 6″ for a “bush” knife, for slicing and precision work. Avoid the saw back; most of them are poor at sawing wood, and they prevent using the knife for “batoning”; an important survival technique. The worst aspect is the hollow handle. Unless the knife is… Read more »


100% agree with absolutely everything John says on this issue


Excellent point regarding “saw back” blades. My alternative solution is to keep a collapsible bow saw in my BOV, as well as a 6.5″ Husky drywall knife. The latter item has two rows of saw teeth and cuts through tree limbs like butter. It is incredibly light weight and inexpensive, to boot. If I end up on foot, the Husky goes into my pack. And, if it comes down to it, it makes a nasty defensive weapon.


What kind of moron throws his knife and advises others to do so ? My knife stays in my hand . I will not throw it to someone else to use against me. Hollow handle knives are worthless and 3 to 4 inch blades are best. Who am I to say ? Will 20 yes in the spec ops community qualify me. how about my lifetime of outdoors hunting and trapping and camping experience ?


Thanks, Jeff. When someone says 10″ blade, hollow handle with ‘stuff’, I think of the cheap, flea market “survival” knives from the 1980s based on the “Rambo” knives from the movies.

While I certainly can’t speak to the author’s knife, to me, a 10″ blade with a hollow handle means that the handle is attached to the blade, creating a critical failure point.


I would NEVER buy a hollow handled large field knife only a full tang one piece blade and like Jeff I had long service in the Light Infantry to support that statement


The best knife is NOT a 6 to 7 inch whatever, its the blade you have with you when you need it, thats why one must be very selective and buy a knife that is well designed, well made and of decent material quality. And its the one that you EDC that is best suited to the environment you are in at the time. Try wander around you works or office with a 7 inch blade and see how quickly you get sacked. A large knife should be fine out camping or hunting but most people face TSHTF at home,… Read more »


It looks a common thread is: 1. its better to have a knife, than not. 2. have a sharp knife (learn how to sharpen a knife and not use it as a screwdriver or a spear). 3. have a good quality blade. (lots of cheap china stuff out there ). I typically carry a old timer folding knife in pocket, have a 4-6 inch blade in pack and my small Schrade SCAXe2 hatchet in pack. the hatchet has a nice flat hammer on butt side. weights a 1.3 lbs but built sturdy. has built in ferrite rod in handle.has really… Read more »


I always carry a push blade from Shrade as a EDC and I have one tucked away in my bug out bag. However, if push came to shove, I bring out the Gerber machete to fend off an attack in one hand, and have the push blade in the other. I’m not throwing a knife at anyone to probably provide the attacker with another weapon of opportunity.

O.M. Knutson

Friends, There is an old mountain-man credo that says, “Only a fool throws his knife away!” The trouble with throwing your knife is …the instant it leaves your hand, you are now unarmed. Besides, even someone hit with a “perfect heart hit”, will not go stiff or drop instantly as you see in the movies. It can take from several minutes, up to an hour or more from any large animal (including humans) to bleed out. Throwing a knife to hunt small game (at close range) is a-okay, as long as you watch where your knife goes when you miss!… Read more »


Dear Gods! Throw it! Assumes single attacker. Assumes you kill on impact. Both almost never going to happen. Learn to knife fight. It stays in your hand, you do not attack, you slice the wrists and pivot away. Once the wrists are both gone you wander in and finish it. Yes a knife in the get home bag could have a fire starter but has to be fixed blade, sharp, and at least five inches long. The bug out version should cost a fair amount and be six to seven inches, razor sharp, and solid with no weak points at… Read more »


Just a word about knife throwing from an expert point of view. It’s not like in the movies. You can throw a knife at someone, and IF you manage to make it strike point first (combat throw, on spin-counted) it’s much more likely to give your enemy a minor flesh wound than to post his mortem. Sure, a knife in the eye, throat, or heart could be lethal. But the eye is not an easy target: it’s the same size as a dime. Plus people have reflexes to duck or cover when something comes at their face fast. If you… Read more »

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