Cut to the Truth: What Bushcraft Knives Do You Really Need

There is a lot of debate when it comes to what bushcraft gear you really need. One area of such debate is what knife. But everyone can agree on one thing- a knife is a must. I say “Why limit yourself to just one?”

Surviving in the bush without a blade is difficult, if not impossible. Having one will allow you to cut cordage, chop fire wood, clear your campsite, prepare food and perform a thousand other tasks that would be unnecessarily draining otherwise. This is why most experts agree a blade is a must, but they still argue about which blade you should have- a small knife or folder, large fixed blade or ax. I say take all three!

Small knife or Folder

I always have a folder in my pocket, probably a product of when and where I grew up. When I go hunting, camping or fishing I often add a small fixed blade to my belt or pack as well. Not only is it habit but, should the need arise, there are plenty of tasks either of these two can perform.

  • Cut small branches or vines
  • Skin game & fish
  • Carve small tools

The list of possibilities is endless, and if you do not have one when you need it so is the list of things you will not be able to do.

Large Knife

A large knife or machete is more than a bonus when in the bush, it is a game changer. If I could only take one blade with me this would probably be the one. It is an almost perfect combination of the knife and ax, allowing your to perform many of the tasks each of those other options might be used for.

  • Digging small holes
  • Chopping & sawing small logs
  • Clearing larger areas
  • Cleaning game & fish
  • Self defense

There is a reason that Hollywood always depicts the jungle explorer carrying a large, sharp knife- they work and all their experts said it is expected.


It is possible to get by without an ax, after all a quality machete can chop and even saw medium size timber. But eventually the serious bushcrafter will encounter a situation which is too much for even the best large blade- and that is when you will be happy you have an ax handy.

  • Felling trees
  • Hammering
  • Building larger, more permanent structures
  • Chopping large quantities of wood

Having an ax, or in most cases a hatchet, will make jobs that might have been handled by another blade easier. It will also protect those blades from breakage due to too much strain, leaving them for the valuable tasks for which they are truly designed.

Tips for keeping your blade functioning and ready

1. Keep it clean

A clean, lightly oiled blade with function better and resist rust or corrosion.

2. Keep it sharp

A sharp blade not only functions better it is also safer as it will not skip and accidently cut you.

3. Keep it handy

3 blades or 15, it does not matter how many blades you have or what they might be if you can not get to it when needed. It is recommended you carry each on your body and accessible at all times.

For more information on the benefits of multiple bushcraft knives check out this YouTube video.

Updated: February 20, 2018 — 3:48 am
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