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
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!