As amazing as it is to be out camping, you should never take nature for granted. Although it is not very common, you should never rule out the possibility of coming face-to-face with a situation where all of your belongings and gear are lost. We genuinely hope that you never have to deal with a scenario like that, but if you ever do – then we suggest that you prepare well beforehand. And even if you are not able to prepare, the best thing that you can do is to have your survival knife with you.
A knife is one of the most versatile gear that you can have in hand. To many people, a knife may sound like a common household utensil that is mainly used for cooking and cutting. However, if you ever get stranded in the woods and have nothing but a knife to fend for yourself, then you’re in luck as we are about to give you an in-depth guide on how to properly use it to survive.
Guide On How To Survive In The Wild With Only A Knife
Having a knife with you when you are out in the wild could be the difference between life and death. However, just having a knife is not enough as you need to know how to properly use it as well. We suggest that you use a survival knife for these tasks. Here is a guideline on what you can do with a knife and how to properly use it.
Build A Shelter
You can use a knife to build a shelter for yourself. Collect leaves, bark, sticks, moss, foliage, and whatever else you need by harvesting it with your knife. Once you are done, pile it all together until it looks like a mattress. This will help you to preserve body heat during those cold nights. If possible, construct the mattress so that it is at least 5 feet high. But we understand that may not be possible as a lot of material is required for it.
When you are ready to hit the hay, quite literally, lie on top of your mattress and tuck yourself in by pooling some of the debris you have collected throughout the day over your body. Although it may not be the most comfortable way to sleep, it’s a better alternative than having nothing at all. Also, in the case where it starts to rain, you can use your knife to chop up some boughs and lean them against a tree to create a shelter. Use some of the materials you collected to fill up the holes in your shelter to prevent rainwater from leaking in.
Start A Fire
To start a fire, you will need a fireboard and spindle. Look for some soft, dry, and sapless pieces of wood like yucca, cottonwood, poplar, cedar, cypress, or elm, as they are easy to create friction with. You can use your knife to collect them. As for the spindle stick, you will need a 16-inch long, 3/4-inch thick straight piece of wood. It won’t be possible to get the exact measurements, but a rough estimation will work just fine. Remove any jagged or rough areas from the shaft with the knife. Then sharpen the bottom end like a pencil tip and sand it down to form a smooth surface.
Use your knife to cut a hole in the fireboard. If you’ve gathered a couple of spindle sticks, then the hole should be carved to approximately fit the tip of the spindles. Next, put a thin piece of bark or some leaves beneath the board to catch any falling coals. In addition, you need to collect some dry materials and tinder before you can begin the process of starting a fire. Use the materials you have gathered so far to create a bird’s nest. And make sure you are not too far away from it when igniting tinder.
After that, set up your spindle by placing it into the cutout grove of the fireboard and begin rotating it to create friction. Start slowly and then gradually increase your speed as you put more pressure on the spindle with your hands. Using this method, you can start an ember in no time which you will need to transfer over to your tinder. To keep the fire burning, blow it gently and add some dry sticks to it. With that, you should have a fire going at your campsite.
After you have made a shelter and started a fire, your next target should be to find some food. Your knife will come in handy when foraging for food. Look for fruits, nuts, and edible herbs around you. You can also use a long stick to make a spear which you can then use to hunt for small game or do some fishing if you are near a body of water.
To construct a makeshift spear, you will need a stick that is about 8 feet in length and 2 inches thick. Otherwise, your spear may not be strong or long enough to be properly used. Use your knife to sharpen the tip and then harden it by placing it onto some hot coals or fire. Furthermore, you can also use your knife to prepare your meal, i.e. cleaning fish, skinning animals, cutting through meat, etc.
Look For Water
Humans cannot survive without water for more than a few days. So, it is essential that you find a source of fresh drinkable water, especially if you get stranded in the wild. Many would even argue that finding water should be your foremost priority. Keep an eye out for shady regions at the foot of hills, areas of green vegetation, tree trunk holes, gatherings of birds or insects, etc. These are usually signs that there is water around.
However, if you are not able to find anything, there is another approach you can take. Water can generally be found around slopes, gullies, and the base of trees. In these cases, you will have to resort to digging out the water. If you have no other viable options, then you can start digging with your knife. It’s not the most effective technique as it requires a long time to complete the task but at least it’s better than having to dig with your hands.
Other Uses Of A Knife In The Wild
Apart from the uses mentioned in the previous section, there are a few other ways you can use a knife in the wild. These uses are outlined below:
- You can use a knife to craft tools and utility items. For instance, you can cut long strips from tree bark to make rope by weaving them together.
- In case you get hurt, cut bandages from your clothes using your knife.
- A knife can be used as a can opener. All you have to do is place the blade of the knife on the top of the can and then use a small rock to lightly hammer the other end of the knife until you make a hole in the can. This makes opening a can much easier.
- Sometimes you will need to go through dense vegetation. In these situations, attach your knife to a long stick and use it like a machete to clear your path.
- Place the knife’s blade against a log you wish to split, then strike the rear end of the blade with a rock until the piece of wood is cleaved in two. However, for this technique, you should ensure that you have a very high-quality, sturdy knife. Otherwise, it may break.
- Another unique aspect of using a knife in a survival situation is you can use it as an SOS signal by reflecting the light of the sun to get the attention of passing boats or airplanes.
- Finally, you can use a knife for self-defense purposes as well. But we do not recommend this. Unless you have proper training on how to wield a knife in a fight, then you should avoid any type of physical altercations at all costs.
Although it is not ideal to be stuck somewhere with nothing more than a knife, it is better than having nothing at all. You can do plenty of things with a knife that you normally wouldn’t be able to do with any other tool. Whether you are making a shelter, starting a fire, hunting for food, etc. a knife can come in handy in all of these situations, which in turn will improve your chances of survival in the wild.
Diana Miller, is a dedicated nature enthusiast and an outdoor adventurer. She began leading groups for excursions in her teens and never stopped. Following her passion for nature, she gathers her friends for outdoor trips every now and then. And for the last 10 years, she has executed workshops on backpacking, snow kayaking and traveling that included her main motive of lightweight packing while outdoors. During leisure, she loves planning for her next adventure.