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Fire, Food and Shelter using your Survival Knife

Fire, Food and Shelter using your Survival Knife

This article is going to be a bit of a story. We will follow the humble survival knife from the moment it is unsheathed to the creation of an emergency shelter and how the survival knife plays a crucial role in all aspects of this process.

Let’s imagine a day hike to a lookout. Maybe a 3-mile hike that takes someone up and up and up in elevation, to a well-known lookout point. Let’s imagine a fall from that lookout point. Not fatal but painful.

Our survivor is completely off the trail that leads back home. The rock face is sheer and he cannot climb back. However, he can climb down, and our story starts with a dangerous climb on a sprained ankle that leaves our survivor surrounded by thick woods without any sign of a trail. The climb down forced him to move around the mountain for footing, so he wasn’t even sure where, exactly, he had started his climb down, which meant he wasn’t sure which direction the next path might be.

He looked to the sun first, this could help him with direction. Unfortunately, it was already falling to the West. Lost and in danger, his priorities change from getting home tonight to surviving the night.

That is when the Survival Knife was unsheathed

Survival Knife Basics

When deciding on a survival knife, quality is key. Here are some defining characteristics of a quality survival knife.

Fixed Blade

You do not want to be worried about a mechanism malfunction if you are using a pocket knife or a spring assisted knife. You will be hitting the back of this knife and really beating it up.

Full Tang

This means that your survival knife is made of one piece of metal. Some survival knives are two parts and the blades are fixed into the handle. Instead, look for a survival knife where the handle and the blade are one piece.

Wide Blade

A wide blade means that you have a lot of surface area to work with. This will make a significant difference when it comes to things like butchering, filleting and processing wood.

90 Degree Spine

Many survivalists use the blade of their survival knife to spark their ferro rod and scrape natural materials. A 90-degree spine can be just as effective and that will preserve that survival knife blade.


Now let’s get back to the story…

The first thing our survivor considers is shelter. He seeks out a quality, level campsite. He looks up to make sure there aren’t any large limbs that could potentially fall on his campsite. But, he had one big problem. His shelter was in his bag which he now doesn’t have.

Still, he has his survival knife.

He found two trees that were about as far apart as he was long. Here he would build his leanto. He found a hard wood ridge pole that would be affixed between the trees. He could use his survival knife to scrape some bark and braid it into cordage but lucky for him he had 550 cord that laced his boots.

He laid about 30 limbs against his ridge pole at enough of an angle to cover himself and his gear. He drove the poles into the ground, so they were stable.  Now he would weather proof the shelter by collecting pine boughs.  


Using a Survival Knife to scrape bark

This shelter was good, but it wasn’t good enough for a cold spring night. That meant his next move was to create fire. With the leanto a fire could be created just outside the shelter and the heat would affect him as long as he kept the fire alive.

With his baton and survival knife he began breaking down some of the remaining pine wood he had harvested. He was breaking these small pine branches into pieces that was going to be his starter.

In about an hour our survivor had created a pile of kindling, hardwood fuel and fatwood tinder or the inside scrapings of the sappy pine branch. He also used the back of his survival knife to scrap away soft bark and expose many fibers. He wrapped this with some long dead grasses and more shredded bark. Placing the fatwood scrapings into the grasses and bark he was ready for fire.

From his pocket he produced a thick ferro rod. This was a vital piece of survival gear that he kept on his person at all times. Using the 90-degree spine of his survival knife he showered sparks over that bird nest and the fatwood within. A few embers started to glow in the bird nest and the survivor began to blow them to life. In moments the bird nest was a blaze.



We will leave our survivor with his fire and his shelter. It is important to understand how critical the survival knife is to your collection of survival gear. Long story short, don’t skimp on your survival knife.

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