Knives are a tremendous tool.  Blades can be used for many outdoor activities. Whether you are preparing food to cook, cleaning fish, field dressing game, repairing gear, bushcraft, etc… knives can be invaluable when in the outdoors.

There are different type of knives to accomplish different tasks. Some knives are very specific. An example would be a filet knife. Filet knives are thin blades that are flexible and extremely sharp. They are designed to be able to manipulate the blade around the spine and ribs of fish. The knife is light and blade is not good at many other tasks. There are general purpose blades. These blades may be decent at many tasks. Camp knifes are a knife I think of which can do many tasks. When choosing a knife to use in the outdoors you should pick one that you are able to to carry and can accomplish the tasks you may encounter.

Whatever knife you have with you there are some principles to be aware of to keep you and others safe when using these tools.

Keep your blade sharp

A sharp knife is safer because you do not need more force when making a cut. When using a knife I always try to remember finesse not force. If I’m forcing a blade I’m likely to have a part of my body now be exposed to injury. Sharp blades help with giving us finesse by cutting more effectively.

Right blade for the task

As we discussed before filet knives are terrible at many other tasks but are great to filet a fish. Utility/Razor knives are fantastic at repeated fine cuts, but can’t be used for general task around camp. Another thing to consider are some knives have full tang (blade runs all the way through the handle) and hand guards. These knives can be used more aggressively. The full tanged blade can handle heavier strikes and hand guards keep the hand from sliding into the blade.

Handle with care

Have a good grip on the handle. When using for bushcraft use a hammer grip. Dry your hands and the handle of the knife. Move the object you are cutting not the knife if possible. Knee lever and chest lever create a cutting motion but keep the blade controlled and away from the body.

Stay focused on task at hand

If something pulls your attention away stop using the knife. Do not be distracted while cutting. If you are extremely fatigued do not use until more rested.

Be aware of your surroundings

Know who is around you and where they are. Anyone near you can become injured if they walk near you while cutting and the knife accidentally slips while cutting. Blood Bubble/ blood circle are a few terms which describe the area that encircles  someone using a blade. If anyone approaches you while using your blade stop. Be aware of children who may run about without notice.

Knives are for cutting

Never use a knife as a pry, a screw driver, etc… knives are for cutting. Period.

Triangle of death

When seated with a knife and using the knife around your legs you should be aware of area from you knees to groin. This triangle holds many arteries and veins. A cut in this area could be fatal. Work with your elbows just behind your knees. Doing so puts the knife in front of the triangle. You can also work to one side or the other on the outside of your thigh.

Never catch a falling knife

If you drop a knife never try to catch it. That’s it. Nothing else here.

Store knives folded packed away or in a sheath

When done using a knife clean the blade and store it away. Setting a knife down unprotected can be hazardous for children. A child is curious in nature and will be tempted to pick up a knife. If it is not sheathed or folded the child is handling an exposed blade. If you set the knife on the ground or in a seat could cause cuts or puncture wounds if someone was to sit or step on it unsuspectedly. Never walk or run with an exposed blade. If you trip you could fall onto the blade. If in the backcountry a serious injury could be deadly. Putting the blade away when done you are less likely to lose the knife.


Carrying an axe may not be feasible. Axes are heavier and bulkier than knives generally. If you need to split wood for any reason you can use a baton method to complete the job. This is accomplished by placing the edge of the blade on the end of the wood you are wanting to split. You wood then use a another piece of wood as a hammer to strike the spine of the blade. The force of the strike into the blade splits the wood. In this method it is arguable this technique is safer than using a hatchet or axe due to the blade is fixed and not being swung with the baton technique.

Knives are great tools. If you follow these principles you can use them more safely and are less likely to cause injury to yourself or other.

If you like knives and are interested in the large variety that is out there check out #Kyle_Carries on instagram. He posts regularly and has displayed a wide variety of knives there. 

Plan, Prep, Explore.