Camping and Survival Knife Blades
Knives come in a variety of different blade shapes. While any knife can be used for a task, the different shapes of the blade make some better at particular jobs than others.
The most common twelve blade shapes range from the traditional straight back chef’s knife to the somewhat exotic tanto design. The different styles come from location of the knife’s spine (middle blade or back), type of point (trailing edge, clip, drop, needle, spay and tanto) as well as how the back edge is treated during manufacture.
Straight-back knives are the traditional chef’s knife. Hey have a curving edge and a flat back that allows the user to apply pressure more pressure to the knife tip for cutting, chopping and slicing.
Skinning knives have a point that curves towards the back of the blade (trailing point) they are often very lightweight and have narrow thin blades.
Spay points are another form of skinning knife; they have a long straight blade with a small clip near the point. The point of this knife is not suited for penetration due to the minimal curve of the blade to point.
Clip-point knives are a modification of the straight-back knife that has been optimized for piercing by having a concavity created by clipping the back to make the point finer and sharper. In some cases the false edge that is created is sharpened which increases its effectiveness as a piercing tool. The clip point is a very popular design for survival knives; the most recognizable model is probably the “Bowie” knife of old west fame. The point of the clip knife is the weakest part and care should be exercised to ensure that you do not break off the tip during use.
In contrast, drop point blades have a convex curve from the back of the blade to a point. In comparison to clip point knives they have a stronger point but are not as good as a piercing tool. Many camping and pocket knives follow a drop point construction as the added durability makes them reliable for long term use.
Spear-point and needle-point both feature a construction where the spine runs down the middle of the blade instead of along the back edge. The spear-point blades have a normal curve on both sides of the spine and can be single or double edged. Needle-points, often referred to as stilettos, have a long straight taper that provides an excellent penetrating tip that is very susceptible to breakage.
Tanto blades feature a long blade that has little or no curve to the point. They are stronger than most of the curved knives due to the thicker construction throughout the blade. Some feature a minor sharpened straight edge on the back of the blade that angles slight towards the point for added penetration.
Each of the knife design is a tradeoff of functionality and durability. Selecting the right knife is often as simple as identifying the task that it will be used for.
For a survival knife, I recommend a drop-point or tanto blade. These are great all-around blade styles.
For a camping knife, the drop-point will likely be your go-to style.