Choosing The Correct Cutting Tools For Your Survival Bag

Survival Knife

A question I get a lot is what knives and cutting utensils do I carry in my Bug Out Bag (BOB).  There is a great deal of personal taste that goes into choosing the correct cutting equipment to include. 

You must know what type of equipment you need to have before choosing a brand or type.  Let’s take a moment to discuss the type of equipment you need, then we shall look at some good products to include.

When in a survival situation, a person needs to be able to accomplish the following tasks:

  1. Perform felling and chopping actions.
  2. Perform fine cutting and shaping actions.
  3. Perform punching and drilling actions.

Let’s further define each of these topics.

Performing felling and chopping actions.  This is the act of gathering larger pieces of firewood, or larger pieces of wood for other means.  Whether that consists of timber already laying on the ground, or cutting standing dead timber, (which is my first choice, because it will typically be drier), you need a means to accomplish this task quickly and efficiently.   The choices are a hand saw, bow saw, cutting chain, axe and machete.  In a typical survival situation, the average size tree or log you will be processing will most likely be under 12” in diameter.  I like timber in the 8”-10” range myself.  If you build a long burning stack style fire, you will get about an hour of burning time per inch of diameter.  I carry a 15” Fat Max standard crosscut handsaw for this task.  It’s lighter than an axe, and flat, so it straps onto the outside of my pack, and handles my larger cutting needs.  I also have a good quality hatchet for my mid-size work, and delimbing operations.

Performing fine cutting and shaping actions.  This is the act of processing the larger pieces of wood further, producing tinder, dressing game, and all other cutting needs.  For this, you need a quality, high carbon, fixed blade knife.  Preferably one with a 90-degree spine with an adequate blade length.  This knife is your primary survival tool, so choose it well.  High carbon steel typically isn’t coated, and will require maintenance to keep it from rusting and corroding.  I suspend mine in vinegar periodically to produce a patina like coating on it that helps protect the surface.  A note here, I see so many people using the cutting edge to strike their fire sticks and such. Use the spine of your knife for this.  It will keep the cutting-edge sharp, and protected from damage.  If your knife is high carbon, and uncoated, the spine will produce a good spark. 

Perform punching and drilling actions.  This is the act of punching or drilling holes in bark, wood, leather or other materials for sewing or another task.  You can utilize a stand-alone tool for this, or one that is incorporated into another tool, which is what I have done.  I have a US Army issue knife from the Army Surplus store which has a punch, can opener, bottle opener, knife blade and flat blade screwdriver.  It works for what I have needed so far.  My Leatherman Multi-Purpose tool also has a punch in it. 

Your location governs your survival equipment needs more than any other factor.  I’m from the Ohio/Kentucky area, so my preferences and needs are based upon that.  If you are in the South, or in a jungle area, your equipment could be very different than mine.

Here is what I carry in my Bug Out Bag (BOB), and where I got it from:

Hand Saw-Stanley 15” Fat Max Hand Saw

Utility-WORKPRO Hatchet and Bowie Knife

Primary Knife-Schrade SCHF9N

Fillet Knife-Rapala

Skinning and Dressing-Mossberg

Pocket Knife-Army Surplus store near you   

For a list of everything in my Bug Out Bag, click HERE

About Marty

Marty was born in Eastern Kentucky, and is from a generation that played in the mountains and woodlands growing up, social media and computers simply did not exist. He is retired from the military, and has practiced survival and kept in touch with his backwoods heritage for over 50 years now.

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