best fixed blade knife

How To Pick The Best Fixed Blade Knife For Your BOB

best fixed blade knifeThere are a great many types of gear that make up a well-rounded bug out bag (BOB) but few are as versatile and reliable as a good knife. Finding the best fixed blade knife is frequently at the top of the list when building your survival kit for good reason. A quality fixed blade knife can be used for many survival applications, it doesn’t take up much space in a pack, and is simple to take care of.

There are a lot of options out there and to get you started we have done testing and research to save you time and money when finding your own fixed blade knife.

In this article, not only are we are going to share our top picks of the best fixed blade knives, we’ll also explain the the anatomy of a knife and the different factors that may impact your decision.

Our Picks For The Best Fixed Blade Knives

Best Overall Fixed Blade Knife: KA-BAR Becker 22

Best Fixed Blade Knife

The KA-BAR Becker 22 is a solid, heavy duty field utility knife that can be used in any environment.  Its medium size (10.5”) is a great compromise between the heft of a larger knife and the control afforded by a smaller, lighter blade.

The KA-BAR Becker 22 is proudly made in USA, highlighting the commitment to quality that Ka-Bar is known for.  It has a full tang and integrated glass-breaking tip in the pommel.  The Becker 22 uses a drop point and flat ground blade to maximize versatility and edge retention.  This is a knife that will stay sharp as you use and abuse it in real-life survival scenarios.

The Becker 22 has a Grivory (glass reinforced nylon) grip that is nearly indestructible and a quality MOLLE compatible nylon sheath that features a cargo pocket for storing a sharpener or magnesium fire starter.

The KA-BAR Becker 22 is a fantastic, high quality knife that is designed with versatility and hard use in mind.  It will faithfully serve its owner for many years to come.

Best Fixed Blade Bushcraft Knife: Tom Brown Tracker

Best Fixed Blade Bushcraft Knife

The Tom Brown Tracker is the most versatile bushcraft knife that I have come across.  It is extremely well made and features a multifunction blade that has a two stage front edge and a serrated spine.  This makes it highly versatile for bushcraft tasks including cutting rope, chopping branches, skinning, butchering, hunting, and shelter building.

The Tom Brown Tracker is a large knife (11.9”) that is heavy enough (1.75lbs) to split wood, butcher game, and perform light chopping duties.  The micarta handle includes a lanyard hole to ensure tool retention when swinging the blade.  Its wide belly makes the Tracker excellent for accurate slicing and pushing cuts.  The knife’s serrated spine allows for rapid slicing of rope, plastic, and many other manmade materials.

The Tom Brown Tracker comes with a kydex sheath that is secure enough to be worn horizontally or vertically, allowing for rapid deployment as you see fit.  This is an awesome knife that will get you through your wilderness survival scenario with flying colors.

Best Urban Survival Fixed Blade Knife: Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool

Best Urban Fixed Blade Knife

The Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool is the ultimate in urban survival.  It is large enough (12.5”) to be an effective pry tool for forcing doors and levering debris out of your path.  The Becker BK3 has enough heft (1.3lbs) to chop through most materials and the glass breaker in the pommel doubles as an effective hammer for pounding nails or anything else.

The Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool has a feature rich blade that greatly multiplies its versatility in the field.  It integrates a partial serration, rope cutter, and pry tip, none of which feel like they were thoughtlessly tacked on.  Each of these options mesh well with the overall design and make this a tool that can assist with nearly any urban survival task.

This knife screams quality, it is made in USA and features a full tang and indestructible Grivory grips that offer fantastic control over the 7” blade.  This is a heavy duty knife that can pry, hack, split, cut, and hammer equally well.  The Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool is a perfect choice for urban survival or search and rescue applications.  Its wide versatility would even make it a great addition to any tool kit.

Fixed Blade Knife Practical Uses

best fixed blade knife

A fixed blade knife is one of the most versatile tools you can add to your survival kit.  Its uses are not limited to bushcraft or wilderness survival either, there are a great many urban tasks that can be simplified by having a great knife at your disposal.  Some of these tasks include:

  • Prying doors and windows
  • Breaking glass
  • Cleaning game
  • Hunting
  • Lash onto a stick to make a spear
  • Shelter building
  • Self defense
  • Cutting rope
  • Chopping wood
  • Batoning through branches
  • Opening containers and cans
  • Preparing food
  • Eating
  • Hammering

Fixed Blade Knife vs Folding Knife

You may be asking “why a fixed blade knife instead of a folding knife?” It is a valid question. After all, folding knives are generally more compact and lightweight than a fixed blade knife, which is usually preferable for a survival kit you will need to carry with you.   There are however some big advantages that a fixed blade brings to the table in a survival situation.

small fixed blade knife

Fixed blade knives are generally far stronger

This is essential if you are going to be putting your survival knife through hard use such as the majority of the applications listed above.  The hinge that a folding knife pivots around is a major point of weakness in its design.  This is OK if you are using it for fine, detailed cuts or general every day use.  However, if you are intending to use your knife to force a door open or split wood you will want the strength of a fixed blade.

Size Advantage

Even a small fixed blade knife will generally be longer and heavier than a folding knife.  This is an advantage again for hard use work.  Longer length will allow for greater leverage when prying and additional range in self defense or hunting.

The small additional weight will not significantly impact your ability to carry your BOB but will come in handy if you need to chop or hammer anything.

Ease of maintenance

This is another weakness of a folding knife that is eliminated by choosing the best fixed blade knife that you can find.  The hinge and locking mechanism in a folder can be prone to clogging by dirt and sand or corrosion.  These problems can make a folding knife difficult if not impossible to use.  A fixed blade has no hinge or lock to fail on you.  Simple is better in this case.

Folding knives do have a place in many survival and EDC kits.  I would recommend picking a folding knife for your secondary or backup blade in a bug out bag (see our folding knife guide here).  For your primary workhorse you will want the best fixed blade knife that you can find.

Fixed Blade Knife Handle Options

When finding the best fixed blade knife your handle options can be split into two categories – tang and grip.  I will break these down for you to help decide what is best for your particular environment.

Knife Tang – What is it and why is this important

The tang is the part of the knife that extends from the base of the blade guard to the butt of the knife, it is commonly covered with the knife’s handle or wrapped with paracord.  There are 3 varieties of tang in all knives, which are the Full Tang, Partial Tang, and Hollow Handle.

best fixed blade knife

Full Tang

A full tang knife will have a solid piece of metal that extends from the hand guard all the way to the butt of the knife.  Generally full tang knives are a single piece of steel comprising of both the blade and tang.  A full tang will make your knife far stronger than any other option.  This is the best choice for a heavy duty knife that will be used for tasks such as hammering, prying, chopping, batoning, and butchering animals.

Partial Tang

A partial tang is when the blade steel extends only part way down into the handle.  This is generally sign of a cheap knife as manufacturers often use this approach to cut costs.  This can be OK if you are looking for a blade to display in your home.  However if you intend on using and depending on your fixed blade knife in a survival situation leave partial tang knives on the shelf.

Hollow handle

There is much debate among the survival community about the utility of hollow handled survival knives and whether it is worth the trade off.  A hollow handle will always be weaker than a full tang option but some people think this is worth having as it allows them to carry some of the gear mentioned above.  To make this judgment you would need to first assess what you will be using your fixed blade knife for.  You can get away with light duties with a hollow handle knife but if you are going to be hammering or prying anything you will want a full tang for sure.  As survival is a highly dynamic and unpredictable environment by nature I recommend playing it safe and going with a full tang when finding the best fixed blade knife for your kit.

A hollow handle allows you to store items in the cavity such as:

  • Map
  • Fishing kit
  • Fire Starter kit
  • First aid items
  • Paracord

Fixed Blade Knife Grip Options

There are a great many materials that can be used for knife grips.  Some of them are as old as recorded history and others are cutting edge technology.  Here are some examples of commonly used knife grip materials:

best fixed blade knife

You can go traditional or flashy but the most practical and cost effective in my experience are made from Micarta, Glass Reinforced Nylon, G-10, or Zytel.  The overwhelming majority of modern day fixed blade knives will come in one of these options and for practicality they can’t be beat.

The other big factor in finding the best fixed blade knife grip is how it actually feels in your hand.  Is the grip (regardless of material) designed with finger grooves to give you good purchase?  Can it be used easily both bare handed and with gloves on?  Is the knife comfortable in your hand when used for longer periods?  Does moisture affect your hold?  Look for a good guard and a healthy choil on the fixed blade knives that you are considering.  Maintaining a good grip in wet conditions is also essential.  Getting these elements right are vital to finding the best fixed blade knife for your kit.  Getting them wrong will have serious consequences, turning your ultimate tool into a liability.  Take the time to research carefully and read up on your choices.

Size & Weight For The Best Fixed Blade Knife

First off, there is no “perfect” length or weight for a bug out bag knife.  The ideal size for you will depend on what you intend to use it for and assessing this is all part of the process of finding the best fixed blade knife for your survival kit.  Let’s take a look at how knife size impacts your choices:

Knife Length

A longer fixed blade knife (one greater than 10” in overall length) will be heavier and take up more space in your pack.  However, longer knives are better at hacking, chopping, splitting, prying, and self-defense.  A shorter knife by comparison is better at finer detail work such as skinning, carving, scraping, and will be lighter and take up less room.  As you can see it comes down to what you intend to use your knife for.  Weigh these costs and benefits when identifying what knife is best for you.

Knife Weight

It is important to find the right balance when assessing knife weight.  No one wants to carry around more gear than they need and this includes choosing a heavy knife when you could use a lighter one.  As with longer vs shorter blades finding the best weight comes down to what you will be using your knife for.  A lighter blade will cause less fatigue both while carrying it in your bug out bag and when actually using it.  It is also generally better for detail work.  A heavier blade will impart greater force when hammering, copping, or breaking glass.  Make a careful assessment when choosing your fixed blade knife.  Look for one that weighs less than 12oz for lighter work and more than that if you will have a lot of brute force tasks ahead of you.

Fixed Blade Knife Blade Options

There are countless blade options in modern fixed blade tactical, bushcraft, and hunting knives.  This wide selection is a great additional way to customize your knife to perfectly suit your particular needs.  Here are some blade options and their typical uses:

best fixed blade knife

Drop Point

A drop point blade is a great all around option for a multipurpose knife.  Drop point knives typically have a gradual curve along their spine and a wide belly, which makes them easy to control and highly versatile.


Full or partial serration on a knife will allow for faster cutting of rope, cloth, plastic, and other man made materials.  Serrated blades also typically stay usably sharp for longer.

Gut hook

A gut hook is a special type of blade where the back of the blade (also called the “spine”) has a sharpened indentation or hook.  This is designed to be used when opening the abdomen of an animal when field dressing.  Once inserted into an incision in the belly and pulled through the skin this acts like a zipper on the carcass.  A gut hook is a popular option for a fixed blade hunting knife for this reason.


A tanto blade has a flat (rather than a curved) edge that comes to a triangular point.  This design gives tanto blades superior strength when piercing tough materials.  This increased penetration potential makes tanto points popular among people looking for a good tactical fixed blade knife.

Chisel Tip

A chisel tip is a flat tip that has been sharpened to allow for digging cuts.  This wide tip option is also very strong in situations where the knife is being used as a prying tool, making it a popular choice for search and rescue or urban fixed blade knives.

Clip Point

A clip point has a curved or straight section running from mid-spine to the tip of the blade.  This cutout allows for maximum control in the point when cutting as well as good piercing potential.  The clip point in another popular option for people looking for a bushcraft knife or fixed blade hunting knife.

What Are The Best Fixed Blade Knife Sheath Options?

I have spoken at length now about every detail of finding the best fixed blade knife for your bug out bag except what you will be carrying it in…the sheath!  Many people focus their search on finding the perfect knife and then just assume that the sheath will take care of itself.  While most quality knives come with a reliable sheath it is worth considering some options to look for when finding a great sheath for your ultimate fixed blade knife.


How do you intend carrying your knife?  Are you going to keep it in your BOB?  Attach it to the outside?  Are you going to clip it to your belt or strap it to your body?  Any of these can be good options but it is important to find a sheath that can accommodate whatever style you intend to use.  Most good knives come with a sheath that has more than one carry option.  Look for a sheath that has multiple options or MOLLE integration to keep your choices open.

Sheath Material

The most common materials used in sheath making are:

  • Kydex – This is a type of plastic that is molded to fit the shape of the knife.  It is lightweight and nearly indestructible.  Kydex sheaths generally come with straps to attach them as you see fit.
  • Nylon – This is a woven material that is lightweight, inexpensive, and very durable.  Nylon sheaths often come with MOLLE integration and either Velcro or snap-secured straps for attachment to a belt or bag.
  • Leather – This is a classic style of sheath material.  Leather is typically very tough but not as lightweight as nylon.  A leather sheath should come with straps and buckles for attachment.

Secondary Pouch

Although not a necessity many higher quality sheaths have a secondary pouch integrated into them.  This is most frequently used to store a sharpening stone, fire starting kit, or folding knife.


Make sure to check your local Ownership and Carry Laws before making your purchase. Either contact your local police department and/or refer to this wikipedia page which summarizes knife legislation around the world.

Finding The Best Fixed Blade Knife For YOU

As you can see there are a lot of factors to consider when finding the best fixed blade knife for your bug out bag or survival kit.  Remember to focus on the basics that we have discussed and to take into account the particular tasks you are most likely to use the knife for.  Will you be in an urban environment where you will be prying open doors, containers, and windows?  Will you be in the wilderness where a fixed blade hunting knife will serve you best?  Do you anticipate using it as a self defense tool?  If you do, maybe you should consider a fixed blade tactical knife with a tanto tip.  Best of luck finding the best knife for your needs, feel free to take another look at our recommendations above to get you started, thanks for reading!

Your Thoughts?

Do you have a fixed blade knife that you love?  Is there anything else you would look for when finding your best fixed blade knife?  Please let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks again!

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How To Choose The Best Survival Flashlight for Your Bug Out Bag

Best Survival Flashlight

Emergencies can happen in any place at any time, and it’s always better to be prepared in case the unexpected happens.

The last thing you want is to be left out in the dark.

Finding the best survival flashlight for your bug out bag is an important part of assembling your kit. There are a lot of options out there, and it can be difficult to find a good flashlight among all the noise.

In this guide, I will step you through the process of finding the best survival flashlight by looking at features, size, weight, battery type, and materials.

To save you time sorting through the huge variety of options out there I have made some recommendations to help you narrow down the best survival flashlights on the market.

Vizeri LED Flashlight

High: 2304.25"
3.68 oz
Includes a diffuser to convert the flashlight into a lantern. Flexible battery options.$
SureFire E2D Defender
High: 200
Low: 5
3.68 oz
Crenellated front bezel & scalloped tailcap for self defense use. Switch has a "lock" mode to prevent accidental activation.$$$
Coast HP17TAC Flashlight

High: 615
Low: 64
16 oz
Adjustable beam, a great mid-sized light that is well built.$$
Fenix PD35 Tactical Flashlight
High: 8505.47"
3 oz
Extremely bright flashlight. Very light weight. Flexible battery options.$$
Surefire P2X Fury

High: 500
Low: 15
5.7 oz
Very high lumens for a small light. Switch has a "lock" mode to prevent accidental activation in a pocket or bag.$$$
Streamlight Survivor

High: 140
Low: 47
13.1 oz
Designed to be used by firefighters in search & rescue. Rugged clip for attachment to your bag or person.$$
Coast HP21 Flashlight

High: 1317
Low: 207 lumens
Adjustable beam size from flood to spotlight.$$$$
Smith & Wesson Galaxy

High: 25
Low: 6.5
6.08 oz
Lens contains 10 white LEDs and 3 red LEDs for multiple modes.$
Streamlight Protac Tactical Flashlight

High: 260
Low: 13
4.8 oz
Comes with 3 modes but can be reprogrammed by the user. Great value.$

Our Picks For Best Survival Flashlight

Best Overall Bug Out Flashlight: Vizeri LED Flashlight

Best Survival Flashlight

The Vizeri LED Flashlight is a fantastic choice for a bug out bag flashlight.  It is a compact powerhouse that will not take up much room in your BOB, coming in at 4.25″ long and weighing less than 4 ounces.

This hand sized light still manages to pump out 230 lumens, more than enough to blind an attacker, light up a large area, or scare off an aggressive animal.

Additionally, it can take either AAA alkaline or 18650 Li-ion batteries to give you flexibility when trying to scavenge replacements in the field.

The Vizeri LED Flashlight proves its versatility again with its 5 output modes (high, mid, low, SOS, strobe), giving you the ability to signal for help, blast out a blazing light, or conserve energy.

On top of all this, the Vizeri LED Flashlight is weatherproof rated up to IPX-7, giving you confidence that it will illuminate your path in all conditions.

The features listed above are typically found in lights that are in the $150-200 range. The Vizeri LED Flashlight provides all this at a fraction of that.

Overall, a great survival flashlight at an amazing price.

Best Self-Defense Flashlight: SureFire E2D Defender

Best Self Defense Flashlight

The SureFire E2D Defender is an ideal self-defense flashlight that excels in both of its required tasks.

First off, the SureFire E2D Defender is a dual mode flashlight that can shine at a blazing 200 lumens for tactical situations or be toggled down to 5 lumens for discrete or energy efficient applications. The flashlight will shine for 1.9 continuous hours while in high mode and an astounding 76 hours in low mode.

The SureFire E2D Defender has also been smartly designed with a lock mode in the on its switch to prevent accidental activation while on the trail to keep your batteries saved for when you need them.

As for the self-defense potential of the SureFire E2D Defender, it has been thoughtfully crafted with your protection in mind.

The crenelated front bezel and scalloped tail are designed to intimidate on sight and magnify the force of a strike. There is no doubt that a blow from the SureFire E2D Defender will stop an aggressor in their tracks, whether animal or human.

Overall the SureFire E2D Defender is a fantastic multipurpose tool, providing outstanding illumination and effective self-defense options to any bug out bag or EDC kit.

Best Full-Size Flashlight: Coast HP17TAC Flashlight

Best survival flashlight

If you are looking for a full-size light for your BOB, the Coast HP17TAC Flashlight is an outstanding choice.

First off, it is extremely bright, pumping out a blinding 615 lumens in high mode and a respectable 64 in low.  The Coast Flashlight will effectively throw its beam a whopping 882 feet, just shy of 3 football fields.

The Coast Flashlight’s larger size allows for it to carry a larger battery supply. This translates into the best lifetime of any of the flashlights that we looked at. It will operate at its high setting for over 15 hours and coast along on low for more than 51 hours.

The other advantage of the larger size of this flashlight is that it can easily double as a blunt self-defense weapon. Measuring just over 13″ and weighing 1lb, you can swing this with confidence if your back is up against a wall.

The Coast HP17TAC Flashlight is powered by 3 D size alkaline batteries which make scavenging for replacements a relatively easy proposition in any populated area.

This is a great flashlight that is built well enough to light your way for years to come.

Flashlight Features and Considerations

Weight and Size

One problem that many people have when trying to figure out what to put in their bug out bag is dealing with the weight and volume constraints of their backpack.

Even small bags can get extremely heavy when they’re filled with survival gear.  Large bug out bags that become overly heavy can be far too difficult to carry and may even rip due to the weight.

To estimate the weight of your BOB, try our free bug out bag tool here.  Ideally, a bug out bag flashlight will weigh 16 ounces (1 lb) or less when fully loaded with batteries.

Another issue that is especially prominent in small bug out bags is the issue of space. A bug out bag is not very useful if a few large items are eating up all of the space. The key to dealing with this isn’t putting in fewer items, it’s finding smaller items that work just as well. Many people choose to buy small flashlights that fit easily in the palm of your hand such as mini-flashlights and keychain flashlights to have lightweight and effective lights that take up little space.

If you have plenty of room to spare, a rugged tactical flashlight can be a good choice. While being heavy is a benefit for flashlights that double as billy clubs, it’s best to avoid a bulky survival flashlight if you do not intend to use if for this purpose. Look for a light that is 8 inches or less in length to keep your BOB uncluttered, this should suit most survival needs.  If, however, you are looking for a flashlight that can double as a self-defense item you may want a larger model, as mentioned above.

Battery Type

When you use a flashlight as your everyday carry (EDC) flashlight, the type of battery you choose comes down to your own requirements and how you plan to use the flashlight (see the article on choosing the best EDC flashlight for your needs here). However, a flashlight that you plan to keep as part of your bug out bag will have a different set of requirements to consider when it comes to batteries.

An EDC flashlight, for example, is going to be used often and probably for relatively short periods of time, whereas a survival flashlight for your bug out bug will only be used in case of an emergency situation. In such a scenario, chances are that there will not be power available and you will need to use your flashlight for long periods of time. For this reason, alkaline batteries (AA, C, or D sized) would be the battery option I would recommend. And here is why – alkaline batteries are generally much more commonly available than high-end battery types such Li-ion batteries, while still providing enough power to your flashlight for an extended period of time.

When your battery power runs out, you can simply replace the batteries with new ones you have with you or that have been scavenged and carry on.

Alkaline batteries are not perfect, though. You need to keep in mind that alkaline batteries can lose power over an extended period of time and could leak battery acid when left in your survival flashlight for a long period of time, ruining your light. So if you do go the alkaline battery route, check the batteries regularly for corrosion or leakage. If you spot leakage, replace the batteries as soon as possible!

Bulb Type

When it comes to flashlights, you can’t get much better than LED bulbs. They’re brighter, clearer, last longer, are more energy efficient and far more durable than traditional incandescent light bulbs.

All these factors make LEDs a great choice for many uses including survival flashlights. LED bulbs are also a favorite for tactical flashlights as their intense brightness is good for blinding enemies.

Best Survival Flashlight

Flashlight Brightness

When it comes to buying a flashlight for your bug out bag, brighter is almost always better. Visibility is vital when it comes to survival situations. About 45 to 150 lumen is the preferred amount for many survival flashlights, but be warned that increased brightness means more strain on the batteries.

Note that if you are looking for a self-defense flashlight, a minimum of 100 lumens is needed for blinding aggressors.

Having a focused beam and a good reflector are also necessary for getting the most out of your light. Bigger bulbs and wider reflectors allow a larger area to be illuminated, which is good for lighting up eating areas, car interiors or small rooms. However, when the beam is wider the light doesn’t reach as far. Focused beams with narrow reflectors don’t illuminate as much, but the light extends much farther.

Having an adjustable beam will allow you to have the best of both worlds, look for this feature when finding the best survival flashlight for your bug out bag.

Best Survival Flashlight

Weatherproof Rating

It’s always a good idea to ensure that the flashlight will stand up to water, cold and hot weather, mud, ice and other adverse weather conditions as natural disasters are a common reason to need a bug out bag.  Weatherproof flashlights are especially beneficial to hunters, hikers and anyone who plans on using their BOB for wilderness use. Weatherproofing is typically expressed as an IPX rating from 1 to 8.

Look for a flashlight that is advertised as rated IPX-4 for basic water resistance and IPX-7 or 8 for a survival flashlight that can be submerged without damage.

Best Survival Flashlight

Construction Material

Anodized aluminum is a favorite of tactical flashlight users, but is it as useful for your bug out bag flashlight?

Most metal flashlights are sturdy, but some plastics can also be very strong and stand up well to various forms of damage. Metal conducts both cold, heat, and electricity while plastic doesn’t get very cold or hot in intense temperatures.

Metal can be quite heavy while plastic is fairly light. If you’re merely using the flashlight for illumination, plastic may be a better choice.

If you have the ability to use it as a self-defense flashlight, anodized aluminum will be a better choice.

Self-Defense Features

There are many survival flashlights that can be used as a billy club or kubotan as a means of self-defense against animals or other people. If you already have a reliable weapon such as a firearm, pepper spray, machete or EDC knife, you may not need a self-defense flashlight that acts in this way.

However, they’re still good to have as you can never have too many means of protection.

Additional Flashlight Features

Additional features can be useful when finding the best survival flashlight to meet your particular needs. For example, some flashlights have alternating colors for signaling, night-vision, tracking blood and more.

  • Multiple brightness settings can be useful for saving battery life or when you want to avoid drawing attention to yourself.
  • Brighter beam settings can are useful for signaling and potentially blinding enemies.
  • Clips for belts, lanyards, hats and more are great for convenience purposes. Having a headlamp or a hat clip for a flashlight can also allow for hands-free use in emergencies.

When looking at extra features for your survival flashlight make sure to find elements that are well suited to your individual needs.  This will help you effectively find the best survival flashlight to help YOU survive.


When looking for a survival flashlight for your bug out bag, the one that is the best choice is determined by the ultimate purpose of the light and the main application of your bug out bag.

The most critical factors to keep in mind are quality, brightness, battery life, and durability.

No matter if it’s a small light for a bug out bag that you keep in your car or a large tactical flashlight for a large bug out bag meant for longer term survival situations and outdoor use, those four factors should be the most important aspects to keep in mind for any bug out bag survival flashlight.

About The Author

This article was written by John Bee, who is the author of The Flashlight Guide.

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Map Reading Skills

Learn These Map Reading Skills To Never Get Lost Again

Map Reading Skills

If you’re navigating through unfamiliar terrain, a map is as valuable as gold dust. You may have planned your routes by them and will be relying on them throughout the course of your expedition or bug out. However, a map is next to worthless if you don’t know how to decipher it. Map reading and land navigation is are vital skills that can be applied to many survival situations.  This article will outline the basics to help you sharpen up your map reading skills.

Map Reading Skills: Using A Map’s Scale

First, your map should be at a scale which is useful. For instance, having a small-scale, detailed map will be of no use to you if you simply plan to drive through an area. In the same way, if you are on foot, then having a less detailed map can be next to useless. It is also important to understand the scale bar. This bar will show the size at which a kilometer or mile is shown on the map and is usually expressed as a ratio. For instance, 1:50,000 means that each measure on the map is 50,000 times smaller than the true distance. This will allow you to use the map to determine distances for land navigation.

Map Reading Skills

Map Reading Skills: Reading Contour Lines

A thorough understanding of reading contour lines is an extremely useful tool to add to your arsenal of map reading skills.  Because a map is 2D, different heights of terrain must be indicated using contour lines. These show the altitudes of the land and are recorded at regular intervals – usually 50ft (15m). Each point on a contour line’s ring is hypothetically at the same height, which is indicated with a number (in feet or meters). This tells you how high above sea level the terrain is. In general, contour lines which are closer together indicate a steeper gradient. However, it’s important to bear in mind the scale of your map so that you don’t over or underestimate the gradient.

Map Reading Skills

Map Reading Skills: Reading A Map’s Key

The key will explain what the symbols used on the map refer to. These will represent a range of manmade and natural structures, types of land (woodland, swaps or beaches, for example), rivers and water. There are some features which are not depicted to scale. For instance, roads, paths and waterways will often have a standard width which may not represent their exact measurements.

Map Reading Skills

Map Reading Skills: Understanding Map Grids

Maps will have horizontal and vertical grid lines which divide the map into squares. This division is either based on longitude and latitude or may be individual to the particular mapping authority. Grids will allow you to more quickly determine distances, since they are usually at a comprehensive scale (for example, the distance from left to right is often 1 kilometer). These grids will also allow you to explain to other exactly.

Map Reading Skills: Orientating Your Map

Important to remember is that the grids on a map do not necessarily indicate north and south, though they may provide a rough indication of this. You will need to also be aware that your compass does not point to true north, but to magnetic north. Most maps will also indicate magnetic north. The deviations between these can help you map-read your way across a landscape, as can taking note of your surroundings in relation to features on the map.

Map Reading Skills: Conclusion

Hopefully our crash course has helped you sharpen up your map reading skills.  If you ever have to execute your bug out plan or evacuate unexpectedly knowing how to use a map and compass will greatly increase your chances to make it to your rally point or bug out location.  As with any basic survival skill it is important to practice using your map reading and land navigation skills to find your way.  Master these and you will never be lost.

Author Bio

Roman is a former EMT living in NYC and co-founder of Ready To Go Survival. When he’s not working on the next big thing for preppers; he likes to go camping, shoot stuff at the range, archery, and ride his bicycle excruciating distances.

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Emberlit Stove Review

Emberlit Stove Review

Emberlit Stove Review

In any survival situation, the ability to prepare food and boil water are crucial. You need to make sure your bug out plan accounts for this. There are a variety of stove types you can add to your bugout bag and picking one that meets your needs while making the right compromises is an important decision.  Many space-conscious preppers look for an ultralight stove to solve this problem.  We came across a great example of a well made, compact backpacking stove in the Emberlit Stainless Steel Collapsible Stove.  Mikhail at Emberlit was kind enough to send one over for us to put through the paces.  The Emberlit backpacking stove weighs 11.3 oz (316 g) and folds flat to fit in a pack or even a pocket.  It utilizes a rocket stove style design which allows it to burn nearly anything and conduct heat in a highly efficient manner.  Finding a rocket stove that could pack down to nearly nothing seemed too good to be true.  As we conducted our Emberlit Stove Review we were impressed with the functionality and versatility of their design.

Emberlit Stove Video Review

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Emberlit Stove Review

The test I devised for our Emberlit stove review was pretty simple: make a cup of instant coffee-a trail favorite of mine. The Emberlit comes in a nice, reusable package with assembly instructions printed clearly on the front. I removed the Emberlit folding stove from its envelope, hastily ignoring the simple instructions and just assembling on the fly. The only real thing to note in assembly (pointed out in the instructions) is that the front (the side with the fuel feeder opening) goes on last. Beyond that, there’s basically only one way to put it together. This simplicity of design means you could put the stove together in a hurry, in a low light situation, or if your hands are numb from the cold or unsteady.

Emberlit Stove Review

Once I had the Emberlit assembled, I set about collecting fuel. As with any camp fire, you want to make sure you have all the fuel you’ll need set aside before you light your fire.  There are few things more demoralizing that getting some kindling lit and realizing you don’t have enough to keep it going. This is of particular importance in a crisis or bug out scenario.

Emberlit Folding Stove Review
The stove disassembled and laid flat after use

With my fuel gathered and set aside, I set about building my fire. I removed the grill section and added a couple of pieces of balled up paper, some of the smaller dry twigs on top to start.  I lit the tinder and commenced adding more small kindling. The rocket stove based design of the Emberlit makes getting your little fire going as easy as you could hope for. The walls protect the small fire and hold in heat, while the bottom vents draw in air creating a chimney effect. Once I’d gotten a good bed of coals, I replaced the grill and started feeding larger pieces of fuel through the Emberlit’s front opening. I set my canteen cup full of water on the grill and continued tending the fire. Since this is such a small fire, you do have to keep an eye on it and feed it as it consumes fuel. The grill section is flat and stable enough to accommodate a large pot or pan, should you need it.

After a few short minutes my cup had reached a rolling boil, and was ready for coffee. I extinguished the fire, allowed the Emberlit to cool and quickly wiped it down and packed it. The whole process was quick, easy and left hardly a trace of my passing.

Emberlit Stove Review
Coffee on the way

Emberlit Stove Review Pros:

  • Incredibly packable. You could fit this stove in your pants pocket.
  • Versatile fuel source. Use whatever is at hand: wood, moss, cardboard, paper, charcoal, dung, or any other biomass.
  • Easy to use. Simple, quick, and obvious assembly.
  • Rocket Stove design makes getting a good fire going easy.
  • Stability. The Emberlit is well built and stable enough to use in many cooking applications.
  • Solid build quality
  • No need to worry about carrying around bulky, unstable fuel canisters
  • The floor of the stove keeps your fire off the ground which is great in wet or snowy survival scenarios.

Emberlit Stove Review Cons:

  • Takes a little more time and care than a liquid or solid fuel stove to boil water.
  • Need to wait for it to cool before packing it up

Emberlit Stove Review

Emberlit Stove Review Conclusion:

Overall I would rate the Emberlit Stainless Steel Collapsible Stove very highly and recommend it as an addition to any camping kit or bugout bag.  Over the course of our Emberlit stove review it became obvious that its simplicity, durability and versatility make it an item you’ll use again and again.  It is worth noting that Emberlit’s stoves also come in a titanium version for those wanting a corrosion resistant collapsible stove.  Our testing showed that the Emberlit folding stove has a fairly easy learning curve to climb but as with any piece of survival kit, make sure you take it out and practice using it.  Mastering basic survival skills and tools BEFORE you need to use them is what preparedness is all about.

Your Thoughts?

What do you think of the Emberlit folding stove?  Is there anything else you would want to see as a part of our Emberlit stove review?  Please let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

About the Author

Oakley is an outdoor enthusiast and life skills student located in Northern New Jersey.

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Best Tomahawk Survival Tomahawk

How To Choose The Best Survival Tomahawk For Your Bug Out Bag

Best Tomahawk Survival Tomahawk

If you are building a bug out bag or even a general camping and bushcraft kit, it is worth considering adding a survival tomahawk to your gear.

The tomahawk has a storied history as a reliable tool and the modern day survival tomahawk has evolved rapidly to meet today’s needs.

In this guide, we will discuss this history as well as teach you how to pick the best tomahawk for your needs.

What Can I Use My Survival Tomahawk For?

Given the vast utility of a survival tomahawk, it is a tool that any serious prepper should be looking at. A survival tomahawk is one of the best multipurpose items you can have with you and can effectively carry out a great many tasks including:

  • Chopping wood
  • Kinetic building entry
  • Glass breaking
  • Vehicle rescue
  • Prying
  • Hunting/Butchering
  • Self-defense
  • Piercing/cutting sheet metal
  • Opening of metal, wood, and plastic containers

Few survival tools can offer as many practical uses in such a compact, simple package. One can see why a survival tomahawk is a favorite tool for hunters, police, firefighters, park rangers, farmers, and servicemen.

Best Survival Tomahawk: CRKT Kangee

Best Tomahawk

The CRKT Kangee gets our pick for best survival tomahawk because has a combination of the best characteristics.

It is a compact tool that does not sacrifice cutting power due to its forward weighting and multiple grip options. The fact that it weighs 1.5 lbs means that it will not cause undue fatigue if carried in a bug out bag and can still be swung with ease after a day’s travelling.

The G-10 handle scales come off for cleaning and will last several lifetimes.

The cutting edge design of the CRKT Kangee screams practicality. The sharpened spine is perfect for pushing cuts and the sharp beard makes it ideal for hooking anything just out of reach or for use as a climbing aid.

The tapered spike on the rear side of the Kangee is perfect for piercing tough materials and makes it an even more formidable self defense tool.

Overall the CRKT Kangee is a durable, well-made modern tomahawk that would be a welcome addition to any survival kit or bug out bag.

Best Tactical Tomahawk: Smith and Wesson Extraction and Evasion Tomahawk

best survival tomahawk

The tactical tomahawk space has become crowded as of late and finding the best tactical tomahawk from this crop can be a challenge. You could surely seek a more expensive, flashier option than the Smith & Wesson Extraction and Evasion Tomahawk but you really should not let that distract you.

This tactical tomahawk can be thought of like a tough old grandfather: It will simply get the job done every time. It won’t complain, or give up on you half way. It will do what you ask of it, full stop.

The Extraction and Evasion Tomahawk is extremely well built and makes for an intimidating self-defense option. Its hefty weight of 2.7 lbs and longer than average length (15.9″) will provide the leverage and force required to destroy a lock or silence an enemy’s weapon in a heartbeat.

The thick, full tang construction of the S&W Tomahawk makes this a great tool that can be applied to any hands-on tactical situation.

The fact that it retails around the $50 price point makes it a no-brainer for anyone looking for a reliable tactical tomahawk.

There are many other tactical tomahawks out there that deliver far less for 5 times the price.

Save your money and go with the Smith and Wesson Extraction and Evasion Tomahawk, it is our pick for the best tactical tomahawk.

Best Urban Tomahawk: Gerber Downrange Tomahawk

best tomahawk

The Gerber Downrange Tomahawk is the multitool of breaching tools. It ingeniously combines the cutting power of an ax with the sheer force of a hammer and the leverage of a pry bar.

It is an all-in-one urban survival tool for anyone looking for a compact option for defeating building doors and windows or a fast reaction vehicle extraction tool.

Gerber is renowned for making high quality gear with the practical user in mind. This is clearly a tool that is built to last and the all-in-one design makes it the most versatile breaching tomahawk on the market.

The Gerber Downrange would be a great addition to an urban bug out bag and would be an immense aid in scavenging or rescue efforts.

Solid build quality coupled with extreme versatility earns the Gerber Downrange our pick for best urban tomahawk.

How To Choose The Best Tomahawk

The first thing to consider when looking for the best tomahawk is what you intend to use it for primarily. A survival tomahawk that will be used mainly for chopping and breaching should have different features than one that will be a primary self-defense tool.

Let’s look at the parts of a survival tomahawk and examine what styles are best for which tasks.

Survival Tomahawk

Handle Length

Tomahawks range in length from 8-20 inches.

Determining how long your tomahawk should be will depend on your intended usage.

A longer handle will provide greater leverage when prying and increased force when swinging but will be less compact and heavier.

A smaller handle will enable more effective usage in close quarters and add less volume and weight to a pack.

Here are some applications that are ideally suited for each type of handle:

Long Handle Tomahawk

  • Splitting wood
  • Chopping trees
  • Opening doors
  • Breaking locks
  • Butchering large game
  • Forceful opening of vehicles for rescue
  • Piercing tough materials – kevlar, sheet metal, wood, heavy plastic
  • Prying

Short Handle Tomahawk

  • Long hikes (lightweight and compact)
  • Close quarters self-defense
  • Throwing
  • Precision chopping
  • Evacuating vehicles
  • Butchering small game

Best Tomahawk Length

Back Side

The rear of the tomahawk, also called the poll or butt is traditionally flat or rounded. However, many modern tomahawks offer the option of a spike on the back. Once again choosing what type of poll your tomahawk has will depend on what problems you intend to solve with it.

A bushcraft tomahawk will typically have a flat butt for hammering. If you are looking for the best tactical tomahawk for your kit you are probably going to be seeking a spiked back for effective piercing.

It is worth noting that both a flat but or a spike will effectively break glass. Here are some advantages of each option:

Flat back

  • Hammering
  • Pounding
  • Forcefully opening doors
  • Defeating locks
  • Easier to carry and deploy


  • Piercing
  • Prying
  • Self-defense
  • Intimidation

Cutting Edge

There are many options for the business end of your survival tomahawk. As with every element choosing the best tomahawk for your kit will depend on your intended usage.

Cutting Edge Length

A longer cutting edge will require a larger and heavier ax head. This added weight and edge length will, however, allow for greater force in your swings. This will make splitting wood and chopping doors easier. Many of the best tactical tomahawks have circular cutouts in their cheeks to save weight without sacrificing the cutting edge size. This may be a good option if you want the largest cutting edge without the added fatigue of a big, heavy tomahawk.

A narrower cutting edge will typically be able to pierce deeper with each strike as it will encounter less resistance. This will make a narrower cutting edge better for emergency vehicle extraction and for piercing heavy duty materials.

Spine and Beard Options

If you are looking for the best tactical tomahawk for your kit it is worth mentioning that modern tomahawks come with additional sharp edges beyond the traditional cutting edge.

This is thought to provide a tactical advantage as it opens up additional options for attack and defense when using a tactical tomahawk. Many modern tomahawk makers have started including these options and it is worth considering when finding the best hawk to meet your needs.

Best Tomahawk

The Best Tomahawk: Take Your Pick

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when choosing the best tomahawk for your kit. As with any survival tool you should consider what you are most likely to use your tomahawk for.

A survival tomahawk is an excellent all around choice for their high versatility and compact designs. If you have more specialized tasks in mind like breaching doors, extracting people from vehicles, or serious self-defense you may want to consider a more specialized tool such as a breaching or tactical tomahawk.

Hopefully, our guide here has helped you understand the many qualities that make a good tomahawk such a valuable addition to a bug out bag or survival kit.

To recap, here are our top picks for best tomahawks by category:

Your Thoughts?

Do you have a survival tomahawk that you love? What qualities do you think the best tactical tomahawk should have? Please let us know in the Comments Section below!

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