If somebody asked us at Survival Life, “Are camping hacks worth the effort?” our answer would be a resounding YES!
These camping tips and tricks will make your next journey into the outdoors even more exciting and fun.
When the season calls for some time away from it all, no one else is more excited to put the preparedness or survival skills to the test, there is no better way to approach camping than with these unique and surprising hacks.
Of course the traditional Boy Scout survival skills are always welcome, but it’s also refreshing to think out of the box sometimes. No camping trip is perfect, however hard you try. That’s one of the charms of the experience but it’s always a good thing to be prepared.
Check out these camping hacks that we have pulled from our previous posts plus some new ones. Just remember, the great outdoors does not belong to you. The plants and animals have as much right to it as you do. Let’s share and enjoy nature together.
In today’s culture, if we need something, we buy it. Fortunately, improvisational skills can be learned and thanks to the vastness of today’s resources, it’s never been easier. Books on the topic of Survival abound, but the real boon lies on the World Wide Web. A Google search for “survival tactics” yields 10,600,000 results! The following improvised lantern how-to was actually passed on to me by a friend some years ago. Read more…
These break-proof cups are campsite friendly as they are easy to use, wash, and transport. See more…
Make this out of a wash cloth and a bar of soap for convenient campsite scrubbing. Continue reading
The basic idea of a cowboy roll is a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag all rolled up in a big piece of canvas. This makes sleeping on the ground, under the stars comfortable, warm, and weather resistant. The canvas is a waxed canvas that is not waterproof, but if dew falls that night, you will not get soaked. So the canvas should be a little more than twice as wide as your sleeping pad and a little more than twice as long. Read more
Too often situations occur when a properly packed outdoor toiletry kit is truly needed. These times mostly occur when we’re outdoors, far away from the comfort of home or during desperate scenarios commonly labeled as emergencies. In short, everybody knows of that uncomfortable and vulnerable feeling of having to use an unfamiliar latrine or simply having to go outside. Fortunately though there is a way to beat such a terrible dilemma by keeping properly prepared outdoor toiletry kits in the car, at home, and even with various outdoor gear in case such an emergency arises. See more
Make your own grill out of a tin can. Learn how.
Throw a bundle of sage in the fire to keep away those annoying bugs. Keep reading.
This is a fun little project for a rainy or cold day, any day. You just need a paper egg carton, wax and dryer lint. Takes an hour from from start to finish to make them, and only about 10 minutes of your time. (Your wax will be cooling most of this time) Making fire starters is pretty cool, and I needed some motivation to get my laundry done, anyway. Two birds, one stone. These light amazingly well. I never knew dryer lint would do that! Be sure to check out my burn test at the end of this post. Awesome stuff. Read more…
Use frozen water jugs for long lasting cold in your cooler. Continue reading
Don’t sleep on the hard, uncomfortable ground! Put down some of these cheap and easy tiles for ultimate camping comfort. See more…
You can create this one on your own or buy one like it off the internet! If you’re interested in the homemade version, find the full instructions, click here.
Keep your TP clean and rolled up with this easy DIY. Read more…
One of the biggest challenges when planning your camping meals is keeping food cold in advance. A great way to plan for this is to eat the food that needs to be kept cold first. Plan a meat-based dinner for the first night and then try to use canned or dry goods for the next day. Try to think outside the box when it comes to refrigerated foods. You need to have protein at some point, but rather than worrying about keeping meat at the required cool temperature, pack a few different types of canned beans. They can be added to chili as a substitute for ground beef. Also, most almond and soy milks don’t need to be refrigerated before opening so consider bringing those instead of dairy milk. If you buy them in one-liter packages and open one at a time, your family should be able to go through most of it in one sitting without wasting too much. Continue reading
Poisonous plants are everywhere. They’re in the woods, the forests and the mountains. In fact some of them may even be in your garden. This makes bugging out look like a dangerous proposition when the SHTF. However, these plants would not cause harm if you did not eat or touch them. As you read our guide, you will realize that it is actually simple and easy to avoid these poisonous plants. Just stick to your regular food and avoid the bitter stuff. Avoid eating seeds and flowers. See more…
Whether you are getting ready for a weekend camping trip, a natural disaster, or the end of the world, you are going to need something to start a fire with. A fire starter is possibly the most important item that you should have in your backpack or bug out bag. Learn more…
If you’re camping in or near a sand-river, dig yourself a nice pit and line it with a groundsheet — and voila, you have a makeshift bathtub. Heat some water on your campfire and pour yourself a whiskey as you fill the tub. Recline under the stars for the ultimate al fresco soak, and watch as the night unfolds around you. Read more…
As any Boy Scout knows, knots aren’t a one-type-fits-all deal. Learn a few, and it’ll make your camping (and your life) easier. Continue reading
You’re dealing with a ton of crap when you’re camping: millions of little things, gloves everywhere, socks lying around, a penknife, you have your boots lying somewhere. It’s really easy to lose stuff. Having a really well thought-out system for where you put stuff once you’re inside the tent means you don’t risk losing things. See more…
Popcorn in a Beer Can. Pour some popcorn kernels into an empty beer can (about ¼ of the way full), add some popcorn oil, and place the can on the edge of the fire. Allow the kernels to do their thing until the pops slow down to more than a couple seconds apart. Cut the can in half, and enjoy! Read more…
Your choice of shelter is up for debate, be it a big tent, small tent, hammock or tarp. But don’t you dare skimp on an A-list sleeping bag and sleeping pad. They are the two most important deciders of your comfort when in the wilderness. Continue reading
Firepits get hot to the touch almost instantly. Use rocks to surround the firepit. It makes the pit look great (style points!) and creates a bit of distance between kids and the flame.
Explain the process of fire building to your kids so they understand what you’re doing and how it all works. Giving them an activity like collecting tinder can make them feel included.
Establish a “one poker” rule. Kids will want to poke the fire but that can be avoided when the poker is in the hands of an adult.
Consider what your children are wearing. Some synthetic garments can be dangerous when exposed to an open flame. Read more…
I take a reflective cord for my bear bag. It lights up like day when your headlamp hits it and makes it easy to find at night or for an early morning departure. Tie your aluminum cup up with your bear bag near the clip so if something tries to get at it, you will hear it. See more…
Surprise your family with pizza on your camping trip! Using pre-made pizza crust that comes in a tube makes it a snap to prepare. Remember, any type of pizza that you can make at home, you can make in a Dutch Oven! Learn how…
Duct tape can be a lifesaver. But carrying an entire roll takes up valuable space inside a backpack—and you probably won’t need that much tape. Wrap a couple feet around a Bic lighter, so you always have a short supply inside your pocket. Read more…
Because I’ve grown somewhat tired of freeze-dried fare, these days I often cook something I like at home, something in the one-pot category, and freeze it in plastic, let it thaw in my pack, and warm it up over the old MSR XGK set on low heat. See more…
Do campfire recipes really have to consist of burgers and corn on the cob every night?
We don’t think so.
We like to mix things up and try out exciting and unconventional campfire recipes. Whether you prepare your meals beforehand or start from scratch on site, camping and survival food no longer have to be lame. These are killer recipes that are sure to please on your next camping trip. Plus, if you can master campfire cooking, you’ll have an invaluable skill to use when the SHTF.
Before you plan your next camping trip, or bug out, be sure to check out these killer recipes. You’ll be glad you did.
Here are 20 of our favorite campfire recipes.
To see the full recipe, simply click the blue “via” link under the photo.
via Year Zero Survival
via Whimsy Love
via One Sweet Appetite
via Tony Spilsbury
via Apron Springs
via Thoreau’s Daughter
via Dirty Gourmet
via Ninth and Bird
via Y Travel
via Y Travel
via Rhodes Bread
via The Bald Gourmet
via Martha Stewart
via Rhodes Bread
via Echoes of Laughter
via JS Online
via Taste of Home
via Bon Appetit
via Come Together Kids
Now go master these campfire recipes and you’ll be way ahead of the game in an emergency situation. Being a campsite chef will make you your family’s SHTF VIP.
Redneck Recipes and Camping Food
DIY Survival Foods You’ll Actually Want To Eat
Beer Keg Rocket Stove Instructions
Thinking about a Joshua Tree camping trip?
What are you waiting for?
Joshua Tree is one of the most popular and beautiful national parks in the US. Located just a few hours from San Diego, LA, Las Vegas and Phoenix, the fall weather is particularly perfect for camping in Joshua Tree’s 792,510 acres. Best of all, with its unique terrain and sometimes extreme weather patterns, Joshua Tree is a great place to put your survival skills to the test.
If you’re interested in taking a camping trip to Joshua Tree, there are a few things you need to know.
Joshua Tree is beautiful, but it’s not without its dangers. The location in the California desert poses certain risks that campers should always be aware of when planning a trip. Here are a few things to consider.
While spring and fall in Joshua Tree tends to be mild, the summers are extremely hot, and winters can be chilly with occasional snow. In addition, flash floods and strong winds can pose a threat to people and shelters. Check the forecast before your trip and prepare for the weather accordingly, and always pack extra tie-downs to hold your tent in place.
Don’t rely on your phone in Joshua Tree. It isn’t likely that you’ll have service in much of the park. Prepare by bringing an alternate mode of communication, such as Walkie-Talkies, in case your party gets separated.
Joshua Tree is quite isolated and there are no gas stations, stores or lodging once inside the park. Plan your trip accordingly and stop for any necessary supplies before you get to the park.
The desert sun in Joshua Tree is no joke, especially during the summer months. Dehydration, sunburn and heat exhaustion are all possibilities for the ill-prepared. Stock up on sunscreen, plenty of water, sunglasses, protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat in preparation for your trip. Finally, remember to avoid strenuous activity and take frequent rests during times of extreme heat.
(List courtesy of JustAhead)
Now that you’ve prepared and packed for your trip, it’s time to explore some of Joshua Tree’s beautiful sights. Here are some of our favorites.
Arch Rock itself is nestled in the White Tank Campground next to site 9 and it is about a half mile walk to the rock. It is very easy to get to and almost everyone should have no problem with it. When you turn the corner and see arch rock with its 30 foot across arch resting on top of a pile of rocks it is pretty amazing. You can climb on top of the rock and even get up close for some great pictures. After that you simply head back the way you came to complete the hike. (Via californiathroughmylens.com)
Skull Rock is accessible from the roadside — it was immediately apparent that a lot of people park solely to visit and climb up this rock. Prepare to wait a few minutes if you want to actually climb Skull Rock, because there was a steady stream of people. But it’s not a hard climb at all; you’ll see that kids especially like to climb up into the skull’s eye sockets to get their picture take. (Read more at greeneadventures.com)
The artificial lake is beautiful, and you may want to spend time just gazing into its reflection. You travel through the wonderland of rocks, and can try your hand at boulder hopping if you wish. Do try to be careful of the plant life. Lots of people come here, it doesn’t take much to destroy. (Read more at localhikes.com)
Perhaps the cutest cactus on the planet, the cholla has been nicknamed the “teddy bear” cactus, but this is one teddy bear you do not want to hug! The cactus is covered in spines that will latch in to your skin on the slightest touch. This defense mechanism is effective for desert survival but can create an unpleasant experience for those who don’t stick to the trail. There is a pamphlet at the trailhead that provides more information about this unique desert plant. The short easy hike is well worth the stop. (Via hikespeak.com)
The short but challenging trail up Ryan Mountain leads hikers to some of Joshua Tree National Park’s best panoramic views. Centrally located and perched high above the landscape, visitors will see landmarks such as Mt San Jacinto (10,804′), Mt San Gorgonio (11,499′), the Wonderland of Rocks, Pinto Basin and Lost Horse, Queen and Pleasant Valleys. (Read more at protrails.com)
The ranger-guided tour of the ranch includes the colorful story of the 60 years Bill and Frances spent working together to make a life and raise their five children in this remote location. The ranch house, school house, store, and workshop still stand; the orchard has been replanted; and the grounds are full of the cars, trucks, mining equipment, and spare parts that are a part of the Desert Queen Ranch story. (Read more at nps.gov)
Cottonwood Spring is approximately 7 miles from the Southern entrance to the Park near the Cottonwood Springs Visitor’s Center. When I first drove into the parking area at Cottonwood Spring my eyes were drawn to the brilliant gold tones and shimmering green of the cottonwood trees. It was a sight to see . . . brilliant fall colors in the desert. It was such an odd contrast, yet so beautiful and breathtaking. (Via desertusa.com)
The trail is extremely well-signed and easy to spot from the parking lot. You’ll enter through Keys’ original portal and almost immediately hit the sign for the loop trail (stick to the main path and ignore the unmarked climbers’ trail that leaves on your left). Hidden Valley is a great introduction to the northern, Mojave Desert portions of the park. You’ll see Joshua Trees, pines, oaks, yucca, and maybe even a bit of desert wildlife along the way. (Via modernhiker.com)
The Wonderland of Rocks is a large labyrinth of granite formations and meandering corridors. It’s an easy place to get lost, but it’s also full of secret, picture-postcard settings, wide-eyed views, and any number of natural surprises. Spend an enjoyable day hiking and scrambling through this rare place, feeling the rough texture of its timelessness underfoot and in the finger tips. More than just a day of outdoor adventure, this Desert Institute hike includes introductory instruction in how the Wonderland formed, why it looks the way it does, and how this unique environment helps support a diverse and interesting community of plants and animals. (Learn more at joshuatree.org)
and of course…
The Joshua Tree (Yucca Brevifolia) grows mostly in the Mojave Desert. It is a very specialized type of palm tree that has a wide ranging shallow root system that takes advantage of as much ground moisture as possible. Ancient Indians used the fibers from the plant to make baskets, sandals, and sleeping mats. Birds made nest from the fibers and hung them from the branches, or lived in holes the made in the trunks. Many types of animals eat the flowers, fruit and seeds produced by the plant. The Joshua Tree is a very intesresting example of how a plant can adapt to its environment. (Via virtualtourist.com)
Looking for long distance shooting tips?
Want to hone your skills for a future long distance shooting competition?
Our friends at Gun Carrier have a weekly show called Everything Guns, hosted by competitive shooter Amy Jane. In the latest episode, Amy takes a trip to the desert to put her shooting skills to the test as her friend Kevin helps her shoot at 1255 yards with an average hunting rifle.
As Amy Jane herself could tell you, even an experienced shooter has room to improve. In this case, Amy tries to beat her personal best in distance shooting with the help of distance shooter Kevin, and the Applied Ballistics cell phone app.
When nature calls, a DIY outdoor toilet can really save your tush.
Check out our tutorial on how to make your own DIY outdoor toilet (courtesy of King of Random on Youtube) and be sure to check out the full video at the end!
This DIY outdoor toilet is great for a weekend camping trip. It can also be kept with your emergency preparedness supplies to use in a SHTF survival situation.
Check out our survival gear review of the Chest Rig MOLLE Belt (CRMB) by Beez Combat systems.
Survival expert Alden Morris gives you the scoop on the Chest Rig MOLLE Belt. Check it out below, and don’t forget to watch the video at the bottom to see the belt in action!
The newest addition to the tactical inventory provided by Beez Combat Systems is the Chest Rig MOLLE Belt; or CRMB for short. The CRMB features a dual padded interior held comfortably in place by two male one inch GSI buckles. The exterior of the CRMB features three horizontal rows and four vertical rows of MOLLE webbing held up to MIL-Spec Velcro and webbing standards and allows for attachment of any MOLLE/PALS style gear.
The Chest Rig MOLLE Belt is made from genuine Cordura materials and is adjustable for any waist size 30 inches and higher. The dual pads featured on the CRMB allow for ease of access to additional gear or a sidearm on both the left and the right side of the hips. This unique design allows for a range of gear to be easily accessible when in a “fight or flight” situation while still remaining snug and secure along the waist and hips.
Whether standing, crouched, or in prone position the CRMB acts as a tactical belt all while remaining a part of the Chest Rig unit. This feature allows the wearer to keep down the number of unit assemblies necessary for the mission all while providing the same reliability. The CRMB easily snaps into place once adjusted to the wearer, maintains a low-profile design, and can be accessorized to fit any additional gear for the job.
The CRMB is produced with one inch male GSI buckles and can be added to any Chest Rig offered by Beez Combat Systems. Whether running the AK Chest Rig, the AR Chest Rig, the 7.62 Chest Rig or even the Tactical Shotgun Shell Chest Rig the CRMB can be added to your specific Beez Combat Systems rig. If already operating a Chest Rig the CRMB completely eradicates the need for an additional tactical belt while carrying all the same tools and supplies. The CRMB is perfect for additional ammunition, medical supplies, a sidearm, canteens, and any other gear that may be needed.
Be sure to check out the Beez Combat Systems website. The CRMB is optional with any style Chest Rig and can be ordered separately if a Beez Combat Systems Chest Rig is already in possession. The Chest Rig MOLLE Belt also comes in a variety of colors including the latest Kryptek and can be styled to fit your color needs.
Beez Combat Systems Homepage
Purchase the CRMB here
Beez Combat Systems on Facebook
Chest Rigs as opposed to Plate Carriers serve to provide the wearer with as much munitions, if not more, while remaining as light as possible. More munitions and a lighter rig allow the wearer to advance further and preserve more energy and adrenaline. In a Survival Life situation a Chest Rig would be just as much needed as a Plate Carrier in order to counter all scenarios that may act as an obstacle in your path.
Wondering what should be included in bug out bags for women?
Are you a woman looking to put together your own bug out bag?
Look no further.
Many survival blogs and products are focused on men (but don’t get us wrong — there is some great stuff for women out there!) As a result, women’s needs are often overlooked on lists of items to be included in your bug out bag.
So we’ve decided to put together a list of essential bug out bag items and considerations for women. Check out our list below, and be sure to let us know in the comments if we forgot anything!
A bug out bag is one of the most essential supplies for any survivalist. In fact, many preppers have several bug out bags – one for the home, the car, the office, etc. The more you prepare and gather supplies ahead of time, the easier a time you’ll have when SHTF.
When packing your bag, there are several things to consider. Such as…
Here are the essentials for bug out bags for women.
Packing your Bug Out Bag is the first step toward preparedness.
A well-stocked bug out bag provides peace of mind. It lets you know that no matter what happens, you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice and will have everything you need to survive for several days, even without traditional sources of food, water and shelter.
Remember that it’s important not to over-stuff your bug out bag. Make sure that it’s not too heavy for you to carry for miles if you should have to. A good rule of thumb is your bug out bag should weigh around 1/4 of your own body weight.
So be smart — stock your bug out bag now and be prepared for whatever lies ahead!
Looking for the best survival tips?
You might find them in unexpected places.
Gaye Levy from Backdoor Survival is back today to share some “Survival tips from Grandpa” — age old words of wisdom to carry with you for any survival situation you come across. Check out her survival tips below, and be sure to visit Backdoor Survival for more.
Recently I asked some of the book festival authors the following question:
It has been interesting to read the answers and I am always surprised that the responses are so different from each other. That just goes to show you that we all live our lives within a different context. We have different family situations, live in various geographical areas, have varying degrees of health and wellness, and span a wide range within the economic strata.
One of the more interesting responses came from Ron Brown, author of the Non Electric Lighting Series of books and eBooks. He submitted his response and then, after the fact, he submitted an alternate version. By that time it was too late to include the alternate in the article. Instead, I share with you today, the three most important survival skills according to Grandpa.
We all want to “live a long time” but we don’t want to “get old.” Funny thing, language. “Survival” is the same as “living.” If we don’t survive, we die. If we don’t live, we die. Same thing, no?
When the SHTF, modern technology (cell phones, microwave ovens) will disappear and our lifestyle will return to an 1800’s lifestyle, to Grandpa’s era. What skills did Grandpa need to survive? Not just survive and hang onto life by a whisker, but survive and prosper?
The answer is simple. There are three skills that Grandpa took pains to learn: reading, writing, and arithmetic.
This is not a cute or silly answer. This is the real answer. You wanna survive in Grandpa’s era? Learn Grandpa’s skills.
You will need the ability to read directions. “Turn the adjusting screw clockwise.” Today, my neighbor’s kid doesn’t know how to read an analog wall clock. She doesn’t know what “clockwise” means.
You will need to keep a diary. “A short pencil is worth a long memory.” What was the date you started the tomato seeds last year? And what were the results? And the year before that? And what was the variety name? And how much did you pay?
Cursive writing is three times faster than printing. It’s much more efficient than printing. My neighbor’s kid cannot do cursive writing. Nor can she read it. Nor can my doctor’s receptionist read cursive writing. She’s edjumacated. She’d have a hard time in the 1800’s.
You can always hire somebody with a strong back for stoop labor. Always. You can today. You could in the 1800’s. But finding somebody who can “do” numbers. Without a calculator? Different story.
The three skills that Grandpa valued – reading, writing, and arithmetic – are the same three skills that you, like Grandpa, would need to live in Grandpa’s era. Everything else you can figure out as you go along. If you have those three skills. Next question?
Perhaps because of my age and because I am not around young people much, it did not occur to me that the three Rs (the three “Rs”—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic) were becoming lost in the digital age. If what Ron is saying is true, however, then indeed, these are definitely skills that need to be promoted as survival skills.
In these days of computers, smartphones, eBook readers,tablets and Xboxes, it is easy to become seduced by technology. We all need to do our part to ensure that these three vital skills are not lost.
You can read Ron’s complete interview in the article Ron Brown and The Non Electric Lighting Series.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Want to learn how to start a fire with a method that will work every time without fail?
Check out this tutorial from “Above Average” Joe and Survival Life.
The ability to start a fire and keep it going is one of the most critical skills for a survivalist. Fire is crucial for cooking, light, and keeping warm when SHTF.
But starting a fire in the wild can be difficult. I think we’ve all had those moments of frustration when we just couldn’t get the fire to light and stay lit.
Looking for the best survival knives?
Not sure which survival knife you should buy?
In previous articles, we discussed choosing a fixed blade survival knife (click the images below to read them.)
A knife is one of the more important pieces of equipment you can have with you in a survival situation. As such, a good, survival appropriate, fixed blade knife is your best choice for inclusion in a survival kit or BOB (Bug Out Bag) or equivalent, and/or to be strapped on when an emergency is likely. In this article, we will consider a contender for one of the “Best Survival Knives.”
As mentioned in the general articles, there are two classes of fixed blade knife which can be most appropriate for survival scenarios, the “bush” (medium) knife and the “field” (large) knife. This knife belongs to the bush class, sort of. In this particular case, the knife is thick enough and heavy enough that it might be better than many bush knives at chopping, and might not be as good at preparing food or other slicing tasks as some bush knives.
Ethan Becker is a famous chef, cookbook author and outdoorsman, who externalized his interest in outdoors knife design through his company called BK&T, or Becker Knife & Tool. His concept of survival knives was that they should be “a sharpened crowbar”. Perhaps the ultimate knife of this philosophy was the Becker Brute. But Ethan decided to close down BK&T. Some of Becker’s knife designs were available through Blackjack and then Camillus until they shut down. Some designs are currently licensed to Ka-Bar.
Ka-Bar has been around “forever” (or at least since 1898), and are known for their quality. Their USMC Ka-Bar is one of the icons of knife history. Thus, at least some of the Becker designs live on. But not the Brute, unfortunately.
The BK-2 (BK-22) or “Companion” is like the not-so-little brother of the Brute, and is one of the more enduring models, having been available from Blackjack and Camillus as well as currently from Ka-Bar. The only difference between the BK-2 and the BK-22 is the type of sheath included. To have a knife of this size whose blade is a quarter inch thick is impressive. Since it seemed like it would meet my criteria for a survival knife, I was eager to give it a try. And, serendipitously, I lucked into a good deal on a used BK-2.
1095 Cro-Van is a workhorse Carbon Steel, commonly used for knives because it is easy to shape and heat treat. It’s also fairly inexpensive. As such, it is a decent choice; durable except rather susceptible to rusting. The coating should help protect the steel from rust, except for the edge and the logos engraved on the blade, and any place where the coating is worn or scraped away. It would be wise to treat these areas with a rust inhibiter, preferably a dry one, and protect the knife from moisture as much as practical. When it does get wet, dry it off as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Note that since the grips are removable, you should check under them when practical after use. I found goo (water? oil?) under mine after testing.
The knife takes a decent edge, easily. Just a few strokes of my Smith’s Pocket Pal got it sharp enough to easily slice paper and a tomato. After fifty slices through cardboard it did not suffer any ability to slice tomatoes and paper. Although it may be possible to get a true “razor” edge on this knife with a top notch sharpening system (the steel is up to it), it appears that this is not practical with a field sharpener (or at least one that I have); investigate this further if this will be a problem for your situation.
To summarize, it appears that the steel has low rust resistance (compensated for somewhat by the blade coating), very high strength (enhanced by the thickness), good edge capability, excellent ease of sharpening, high resistance to chipping and very good edge holding capability.
The blade is a bit short to be exceptional at defense, and the built-in half guard provides essentially no protection for your hand from your opponent, and so-so protection from your hand slipping onto the blade. This is definitely not a fighting knife.
Now, if you use the saber grip, hammer grip or reverse grip, and improve the slip resistance of the grips, it can be used for defense if nothing better is available. However, if you use the side grip, you will likely find this even less suitable for defense (you might be able to make custom grip panels to improve this since the biggest problem with this is at the pommel end). Due to the thickness and width of the blade, it probably will not stab efficiently, and although it should slice well, the deeper the slice, the more effort it will likely take. The textured blade coating may have a negative effect as well.
The BK-2 sheath version is a very nice one, Kydex or equivalent, molded to the grips which provides good retention. The belt loop is a nylon strap which bolts to the sheath, and has a grip retention strap mounted to it for even more secure retention. The strap is fastened with an easily fastened snap, and it swivels so you can select which way it opens. The belt loop can be bolted to either side of the sheath, allowing for a left handed carry. The sheath has a number of holes and slots along the edges to facilitate attaching accessories and belt mount systems.
In use, you find that the grip strap is more to keep the sheath from falling over sideways than retention, as the captured grip panels provide very good retention, and the belt loop is too floppy to resist the weight of the grip portion of the knife. There are two eyelets at the bottom of the sheath for a cord or thong to tie around the leg, and you will probably find it necessary to do so. Or replace the belt loop with a custom stiff one of leather or Kydex, or a secure clip like the Tek-Lok. Note that if you replace or modify the grip panels, you will need to maintain the stock shape at the front of the panels so the retention continues to function well. Speaking of which, I’ve seen an early or modified version of this sheath which provides NO retention; the knife fell out if all you did was hold it upside down. So make sure you get a modern, unmodified sheath, and test the retention before strapping on the knife.
There is a “polyester” sheath available as a $25.00 accessory, or with the knife as model BK-22 for an additional few dollars. This is actually a superior example of the nylon/polyester sheath, with a small, Velcro flapped, pocket on the front and two grip retention straps. The retention straps are closed by snaps, which are more reliable than Velcro, but in this case are harder to fasten. The belt loop is quite good, closed with Velcro and a snap so it can be installed or removed without affecting anything else on the belt. Below the belt loop is a Molle attachment strap. The blade protection sleeve appears to be rugged, and is sewn in, so should not be coming out at inopportune moments. It is well fitted, so there is no rattle. Astonishingly, it was also adequately fitted when the knife was inserted “backwards”, which means this sheath could be effectively used by for a left-handed carry. This sheath also has a pair of holes at the bottom to allow attaching a thong or paracord to tie around the leg if you find it desirable to reduce sheath flop.
From Ka-Bar, you can get Zytel/Grivory (stock) grip panels in various colors, micarta grip panels, and the BK-2 molded, BK-22 polyester or a “custom” Boltoron Kydex sheath. Several sources (check eBay) offer accessories for Ka-Bar/BK&T knives, including this model. This includes replacement grip panels and hardware, particularly stainless steel replacement hardware (a good idea), as well as custom sheaths and sheath accessories (such as a fire rod loop). For the factory sheath, you can get the Tek-Lok locking belt clip, or a custom leather belt loop replacement for the stock belt loop, as well as a pouch which mounts via straps through the slots in the edges of the sheath.
The list price of the BK-2 at this point in time is $127.24 and the BK-22 is $131.24, but you can generally find the BK-2 on eBay for $75 or so.
Click here and here to see these knives, and here to visit Ka-Bar’s website.
They are both listed as being in stock at the company, and there are multiple people selling the BK-2 for under $80.00 on eBay as of this writing. There are fewer people selling the BK-22, and the “street” price tends to be $15 or $20 higher despite the small difference in list price.
As mentioned, the only real concern with this knife is the grip panels, which should be relatively easy to fix. Panels just bolt on, so you can find or make just what you want. Or, if you are cheap, excuse me, economically prudent, and don’t care about appearance and longevity, you can just wrap the grip with grip tape from your favorite sporting/tennis goods store. It is not sticky, except to itself, so it won’t mark up the knife. The BK-2 sheath can be made adequate with a leg tie, or improved significantly with aftermarket upgrades, and the BK-22 sheath is pretty good as is.
All in all, this is a very good knife and a superior value; and should be essentially invulnerable to damage. The weight and thickness of the blade is both admirable and a bit of a concern, so as part of a field/bush knife set, I don’t consider it the best choice, being much less different from the field knife than many other bush knives would be. As your sole (fixed blade) knife though, this would be a good choice, capable of pretty much any reasonable task you needed of it, to at least some degree. It would be particularly suitable if the tasks you expect to be doing most involve chopping or prying, where the extra blade thickness would be of significant benefit, yet having a true field knife would not be appropriate. If it was me, I’d also have a good folding knife along with this, for more efficient performance of light duty tasks.
If you like this knife, but decide it is just too big or too heavy for your needs, alternatives from the same company might be the BK-10 (Thinner blade, different tip) or the BK-16 (Shorter, thinner blade) which should be otherwise fairly similar to the BK-2 Not having seen either model yet, I can’t say that for sure. These models do not have a molded sheath available, only polyester or Cordura nylon ones. Stay tuned for reviews of these models as soon as I find a deal on them.