Bushcraft Knives vs Survival Knives: Choosing the Right Tool for Your Outdoor Adventures

Bushcraft knives and survival knives are both essential tools for outdoor enthusiasts, but they have distinct features and intended uses. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two types of knives and help you choose the best one for your needs.

Criteria for Choosing a Knife

When selecting a knife, consider the material of the blade and handle, the weight and bulk of the knife, the type of blade, and the design.


Bushcraft knives are often made of high-carbon steel, which is tough and holds an edge well. Survival knives can be made of various materials, including stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic. The handle material is also important, with materials like micarta and G-10 offering durability, while wood and bone provide a traditional look and feel.

Weight and Bulk

Bushcraft knives are lightweight and compact, making them easy to carry and maneuver. Survival knives can be heavier and bulkier, but they offer more versatility in terms of the tasks they can perform. Strike a balance between weight and durability to ensure comfort during extended use.

Full-Time Blade

A full-time blade extends through the handle, providing added strength and durability. Bushcraft knives typically have a full-time blade, while survival knives may or may not. A full-time blade is preferred for heavy-duty tasks.


Bushcraft knives have a simple, traditional design, while survival knives may have a serrated edge, pointed tip, and other features for versatility. Choose a design that aligns with your intended use, such as a straight edge for chopping or a curved edge for carving.

Pros and Cons of Bushcraft Knives and Survival Knives

Bushcraft knives are designed for wilderness survival and outdoor skills such as wood carving and shelter building. They are versatile and lightweight, but may not be as durable as survival knives for heavy-duty tasks.

Survival knives are designed for emergency situations and can perform a wide range of tasks, such as chopping, cutting, and digging. They are stronger and more durable than bushcraft knives, but can be heavier and bulkier.

Ultimately, the choice between a bushcraft knife and a survival knife depends on your needs and preferences. Consider the criteria for choosing a knife and the intended use to make an informed decision.

Choosing the right knife is crucial for your outdoor adventures. By carefully considering the pros and cons of bushcraft knives and survival knives, as well as the criteria for choosing a knife, you can select the best tool for your needs and make the most of your time in the great outdoors.

Bushcraft Knife Use

Bushcraft knives are versatile tools that can be used for a variety of outdoor tasks, including carving, skinning, delicate tasks, and crafting. The short, thick blade of a bushcraft knife makes it easier to control when carving wood, allowing for precise cuts. The sharp, curved blade is also well-suited for skinning game animals and getting into tight spaces. For delicate tasks, the fine point of a bushcraft knife allows for precise cuts. Finally, the thick blade is ideal for crafting tasks, such as making wooden spoons or bowls.

Survival Knife Use

Survival knives are designed to be versatile and durable, making them ideal for a range of tasks in a survival situation, including chopping, sawing, slicing, heavy-duty tasks, and self-defense. The thick, heavy-duty blade of a survival knife provides the necessary weight and power to chop through even the toughest materials. It can also be used for sawing through branches and creating notches in wood. For slicing tasks, the sharp, sturdy blade is reliable for filleting fish or cutting through rope. Survival knives are also designed to handle heavy-duty tasks, such as prying open cans or breaking through ice. In a self-defense situation, some survival knives can be used for defense with a pointed or serrated tip, or a heavy, blunt end for striking.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Bushcraft and Survival Knives

Bushcraft and survival knives each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Knowing these can help you choose the best knife for your specific needs.

Advantages of Bushcraft Knives

  • Durability: Made of high-quality steel, bushcraft knives are tough and can handle heavy use.
  • Versatility: These knives can handle a wide range of tasks, from carving to skinning.
  • Control: The shape and size of bushcraft knives provide excellent control for detailed tasks.
  • Comfort: Many bushcraft knives have ergonomic handles for a comfortable grip, reducing hand fatigue.

Disadvantages of Bushcraft Knives

  • Size: Bushcraft knives are larger and can be difficult to carry and maneuver in tight spaces.
  • Weight: The weight of bushcraft knives can be a disadvantage, making them less ideal for extended use or long hikes.
  • Cost: High-quality bushcraft knives can be expensive.

Advantages of Survival Knives

  • Size: Survival knives are smaller and easier to carry than bushcraft knives, making them more convenient for everyday carry or emergency situations.
  • Versatility: Survival knives can handle a wide range of tasks, from cutting to prying.
  • Durability: Many survival knives are made of high-quality steel, making them durable and able to withstand heavy use.
  • Value: Survival knives are often more affordable than bushcraft knives.

Both types of knives can be useful in outdoor situations, but the decision of which knife to use ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific tasks at hand.

Making an Informed Decision on Which Knife to Use

When choosing a knife, consider your specific needs, the environment you’ll be in, and your personal preferences.

Bushcraft knives excel at tasks that require precision and control, such as carving and skinning. Their compact size and lightweight design make them ideal for wilderness activities where portability is key. However, they may not be the best choice for heavy-duty tasks such as chopping or self-defense.

Survival knives are designed to handle a wider range of tasks, from chopping and sawing to slicing and self-defense. They are generally larger and heavier than bushcraft knives, which makes them better suited for heavy-duty tasks. However, their larger size and weight may make them less portable and harder to control for delicate tasks.

When choosing a knife, consider the blade material, weight and bulk, blade shape, and handle design. Look for a knife made from high-quality materials that can withstand heavy use and abuse, and be sure to properly maintain and care for your knife to ensure its longevity.

Ultimately, the choice between a bushcraft knife and a survival knife comes down to your specific needs and preferences. If you’re mainly processing wood for firewood or camp furniture, a traditional bushcraft knife may be the best option. However, if you’re in a more versatile environment, such as an urban or desert setting, a survival knife that is more versatile and useful in different scenarios may be the better choice.

Remember, many knives fall somewhere in the middle, so it’s important to do your research and choose the best knife for your specific needs. Whether you’re camping, backpacking, hunting, or in a survival situation, having the right knife can make all the difference.


To help you choose the perfect survival or bushcraft knife, learn how to use it effectively, and maintain it for long-lasting service, there are many resources available. Here are some helpful ones to consider:

Online Forums

Connect with other knife enthusiasts and learn from their experiences by joining popular online forums like:

Books, Magazines, and YouTube Channels

Survival vs Bushcraft Knives. What is the Difference? by Art of the Outdoors

Get access to a wealth of knowledge on knife selection, use, and maintenance from these popular resources:

Knife Manufacturers

Visit the websites of popular knife brands like Benchmade, Gerber, and ESEE to access online resources like product manuals, care and maintenance guides, and instructional videos.

By taking advantage of these resources, you can make informed decisions about which type of knife is right for your needs and learn how to care for it properly. Remember, a good knife is an investment in your safety and well-being.

About the author

Jack Thompson is a seasoned outdoorsman, bushcraft expert, and knife aficionado. With over a decade of wilderness experience, Jack is passionate about teaching others essential outdoor skills and providing insights on bushcraft knives. As a writer for Best Bushcraft Knife, he shares his knowledge and adventures, inspiring readers to embrace nature and thrive in the wild.

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