One of the crucial tools needed in an EDC, BOB, GHB or 72 Hour Kit is a good flashlight.  I recently purchased a FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight.  I purchased the flashlight through amazon for $4.20 and received free shipping as part of my total purchase.

So far I am amazed at the quality and operability of this little light.  It is bright and has what they call an adjustable focus zoom which allows you to adjust from a flood to more narrow beam.  The flashlight only requires one AA battery and operates via a tail/thumb push button.  With one full push of the button the light turns on to full brightness.  A second slight push dims the brightness and a third light push produces a strobe effect.  The order may vary depending on which cycle you are currently on when you fully depress the button to to power off.  Another nice feature is that this flashlight includes an installed belt clip.

From the Manufacturer

Features: Super mini size, bright, blinding effect. Skid-proof design & waterproof design. Output bright can come to 300 lumens (MAX). Adjustable focus range for different usage, stretching to adjust its focus. Clip for convenience carry. Working voltage is wide and can utilize the batteries in the largest extent. Suitable for hunting, cycling, climbing, camping and outdoor activity etc. Specifications: Colour: Black Lumens: 300LM Reflector: Convex Lens Material: Aluminum alloy Model of LED: CREE Q5 LED Switch: Tail-cap press ON/OFF Battery: 1 * AA / 1 * 14500 3.6v Battery (not included)

  • 7W 300LM Mini CREE LED Flashlight Torch Adjustable Focus Zoom Light Lamp
  • Super mini size, bright, blinding effect
  • Skid-proof design & waterproof design.
  • Output bright can come to 300 lumens (MAX). This mini flashlight can use AA size Alkaline, NiMH, and lithium 14500 batteries.

I am impressed with the quality and features of this flashlight especially for the low available purchase price.  If you are like me with your budget for gear being extremely low or virtually non existent I recommend this flashlight for your preparedness needs.

You can purchase one now through amazon just click the link below.


FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight Torch Adjustable Focus Zoom Light Lamp

My wife and I decided to have a fire in our back yard fire pit last night so I took the opportunity to start the fire like I would in a survival situation.  I chose to use the parafin wax coated jute twine tinder I prepared a couple of months ago.  I carry this type of tinder in my Altoids survival tin and wanted to see how easy it would be to start a fire with it.  As you know there are many ways to give birth to fire such as a match, lighter, fire steel, magnesium bar, fire bow and so on.  For this attempt I used one match and one length of jute twine about 8 inches long to start the fire.

In the past I have used a fire steel to ignite sawdust and wood shavings as well as cotton balls coated in Vaseline to start fires.  The parafin wax treated jute twine is by far the quickest and most effective tinder I have used so far.  A couple benefits of this tinder is that it is waterproof and burns for a longer period of time than the cotton balls tend to.  Please view my Single Match Survival Fire video which demonstrates the effectiveness of parafin coated jute twine as tinder.

 

In my last post I had mentioned that putting together your own Altoids survival tin may be a benefit to you.  This is especially true if you are new to prepping and are overwhelmed with the many EDC, BOB’s, GHB’s and various other kits you may build or buy.  Which type of kit should I prepare?  What equipment do I really need in it?  How do I afford it?  If you have asked yourself these questions and feel overwhelmed I suggest you start small by putting together your own Altoids survival tin.  I enjoyed gathering the items for my tin together and having to arrange the items in such away that they all fit.  You can put your tin together for a very low cost and you may already have a lot of the items in your home or garage.

What you put in your tin depends in part on where you expect to need it.  For instance do you live in a more rural location or explore the forest and wilderness occasionally?  Or do you live in a city or more urban environment?  You may want to consider the following items as a minimum for either location.

Common Survival Tin Contents

  • Lighter, matches or both
  • Candle
  • Fire tinder (cotton, jute twine etc.)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Small flashlight or micro light
  • Small knife, blade or razor blade
  • Cordage or twine
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread or dental floss
  • Safety pints (2 0r 3)
  • Bandaid
  • Duct tape
  • Pen or pencil
  • Paper
  • Rubber band(s)
  • Coffee filter
  • Alcohol pad
  • Pain relievers
  • Allergy medication

Wilderness Survival Tin Content Suggestions

  • Signaling whistle
  • Signaling mirror
  • Snare wire
  • Button compass
  • Fishing line
  • Fish hook(s)
  • Split shot sinkers

Urban Survival Tin Content Suggestions

  • Cash
  • USB drive (thumb drive)
  • Can opener (p38 or similar)

It is your survival tin so you can build it the way you want it with what you want in it.  My tin does not have some of the items I have listed however it is always evolving and may at some point.  You can modify and or reorganize your tin as often as you like. And if you think of any other items put em in if you think they are a benefit.   I recommend that you have your survival tin with you or on you at all times.  These kits may also be called PSK’s (personal survival kit) and without yours you will be more at risk in a time of need.  Put one in your pocket or purse and get used to having it with you.  Please view my Altoids survival tin video below and feel free to comment here or on YouTube.

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Here in part 3 of my 72 Hour Kits and Survival Bags post I discuss tips and information which may  help you to choose and build or purchase a kit/bag of your choosing.  My personal belief is that there is no wrong kit or bag nor one all encompassing mega survival ensemble.  Sure, some individuals may pack so much gear that there bag is too heavy for them to pack around; however it doesn’t mean it is wrong.  I will say if your bag is on the heavy side it would be advisable to hike/walk with it regularly to become acclimated and fit with it.  A survival kit or bag should be balanced with the suggested minimal amount of gear and tools to accomplish any survival task you may find a need to accomplish.

Again a belief of mine in regards to tools and equipment/gear is that the key items such as the following should be comprised of quality brand/researched items.

  • Knife(s) (survival/bushcraft, hunting etc.)
  • Multi-tool
  • Compass
  • Bottle
  • Paracord
  • Flashlight
  • Radio (transmitter and or receiver)
  • Fire Steel or Magnesium Bar

Other items may be comprised of lessor quality or more inexpensive items again my personal belief.  The reason behind this is that the key items are items which you may really need to depend on and use repeatedly.  You do not want any of those items to fail.

What kind of survival bag should I build or buy?  This really depends on what you intend for the kit/bag.  Do you want a bag that has the tools and equipment you need on a daily basis?  Then you may want to consider an EDC bag which would have the tools and equipment you may need daily such as a multi-tool, flashlight, pens and pencils, cell phone, camera and so on.  Is preparedness for disasters, disturbances, emergencies or road side mishaps your focus?  For these types of situations you may want to consider a 72 hour survival kit/bag for longer lasting more survival oriented scenarios.  Or do you desire a bag that will get you home (get home bag) from work on foot if necessary provided you live within walking/hiking distance of your work place.  Maximum walking distance per individual is variable dependent on fitness level, shoes and other factors such as whether you are carrying a pack but may be 6-20 miles in a day.  See the following article for more information and please conduct your own research on this topic.

http://walking.about.com/b/2007/03/19/how-far-can-a-healthy-person-walk.htm

My current survival bag is a morph between a 72 hour bag and get home bag however it also has items minus the cell phone and camera that could be used daily if needed.  Some individuals may consider a bag like mine heavy at 25-30 pounds which to be honest probably is.  I personally would rather have the items I need when I need them as opposed to needing the items I should of had.  One way to reduce the weight of your pack/bag is to pack it with items that have multiple uses such as a pencil sharpener which may sharpen a stick for a spear and provide shavings for fire tinder.  A good survival knife can skin an animal, baton down a tree and split kindling for a fire eliminating the need for an axe, and hunting knife.

If all of this information seems overwhelming to you I suggest you start small literally.  Begin with putting together your own Altoids survival tin which is an affordable way to have basic items you would need for survival that can be kept in your pocket or purse.  You can fit 15-30 or more items in the tin and many of them you can find around your home.  In my next post I will share my Altoids survival tin and suggest items to fill yours with.  Thank you for reading my posts.

 

This is a short post on waterproof fire tinder you can prepare yourself.  I recently prepared my own waterproof fire tinder that works very effectively.  It is important to have good tinder and to practice with it before you need it in an emergency situation.  The reason for this it that your finger dexterity and ability to do so may be reduced or diminished  in a survival situation.   This project was not my idea and I obtained the information on how to prepare the fire tinder from Hedgehog Leatherworks which has a great article on the topic.  I found the material to make the tinder at our local super market for under $7.00 and prepared it in about 15 minutes.

How To Make Waterproof Tinder For Fire Starting, click the link to the left to view the article and video at Hedgehog Leatherworks.

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I caught hold of the prepping bug and began to put a BOB together three years ago.  At first the bag was just a black back pack I found in our closet which I slowly stocked with the gear I believed that I needed.  I started purchasing items a little at a time from places like Walmart as I did not have funds to buy the name brand high end gear I desired.  You can actually obtain some fairly good items/gear from the mega marts fairly inexpensively however.  The Maglite, Energizer WeatherReady crank LED flashlight and Buck 110 folding knife are the best name brand buys I scored from Walmart.  Another excellent way to get great deals on your gear is to make purchases through Amazon.  If you pay attention and place only the items that offer free shipping at Amazon in your cart you can have an entire order ship for free.  I had an order for gear that totaled over a hundred dollars which shipped for free.  

The BOB pictured above is my current configuration of gear and bags.  I say current because as I mentioned in part 1 of this post BOB’s tend to evolve over time or carry on as a work in progress.  Some individuals even change up there BOB’s gear with the change of seasons.  I chose a Maxpedition Sabercat VersiPack in olive drab as my BOB and later added the Condor H2O bottle pouch in order to carry all of my gear.  The H2O pouch carries my two pots, water bottle, Leatherman Wave multi-tool, emergency blanket, some paracord and a magnesium bar.  For day hikes I split off and carry my H2O pouch with gear inside and have the basic survival equipment needed in an emergency.  The picture below shows all of my gear with the exception of my tarp and sleeping gear.

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My BOB contains the following items:

  • Maxpedition Sabercat Versipack bag
  • Condor H2O water bottle pouch
  • Nalgene water bottle
  • Two cook pots/drinking cups and forks/spoons
  • Folding cook stove and  2 Sterno fuel cans
  • Food for 3 meals per day with a snack
  • Fire starting kit with fire steel, tin foil, water proof matches, Vaseline soaked cotton and a pencil sharpener
  • Fleece beanie cap, pair of work gloves, mosquito head net/fishing net and 2 bandanas
  • 1 crank LED flashlight and 3 other flashlights
  • Ham radio and FRS/GMRS radio
  • 4 AA batteries
  • Toilet paper, tooth brush, tooth paste, bar of soap, compressed towels and bug repellent 
  • Compass, emergency whistle/thermometer, knife sharpener and lip balm
  • Sunscreen, duct tape, pain relievers, tent stakes, thread and needles
  • Signal mirror, lighter and birthday candle
  • First aid kit, poncho and emergency blanket
  • Gallon size plastic bag, coffee filters, local map and navigation instructions
  • Shovel and hand saw
  • Survival knife
  • Hunting knife
  • Multi-tool
  • Paracord
  • Notepad, pens, pencil, and sharpies

My BOB is kept in the vehicle I drive and there is also another different one in the vehicle my wife drives.  Our two daughters that are still at home with us each have a 72 hour kit that I am continuing to build on as well.  If you are new to prepping or are just getting started with a BOB, or 72 hour kit hang in there and build on it a little at a time.  Before long you will have a fully functional BOB with the gear you need.

Danger Sign 2

To increase the odds of your survival in any extreme situation you must start with some knowledge in regards to survival.  Knowledge of survival tips, tricks and skills provide you with the foundation with which you can begin to build on.  This post is intended to give you some of the basic survival knowledge that you should be aware of.

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In my opinion first you must keep calm and avoid panic.  Panic can cause you to make irrational decisions which could jeopardize your life.  Along with keeping calm practice maintaining a survival mindset believing you are going to survive and thinking about survival.  A good survival mindset involves managing your thoughts, fears and anxieties so that you can make good judgements and stay positive about your situation.  Survivors of horrible ordeals have been able to overcome all kinds of obstacles and fears and survive in a large part due to a survival mindset.  There are numerous recounts of documented survival feats such as one individual who overcame all odds to survive 76 days adrift in the ocean.  A survival mindset coupled with the will to survive can help save your life.

You need to know your vulnerabilities in order to protect yourself and as humans we all have the same basic vulnerabilities.  The Rule of Threes will help you remember that in any extreme situation you cannot survive for more than:

  • 3 minutes without breathing (drowning, asphyxiation)
  • 3 hours without shelter in an extreme environment (exposure)
  • 3 days without water (dehydration)
  • 3 weeks without food (starvation)

You need air to breath, shelter to stay warm and dry, water to stay hydrated with and food to maintain your energy.  The order in which they are prioritized with the exception of breathing may change depending on the circumstances or situation.  Memorize the rule of threes; however allow for flexibility of their priority.  If it is extremely hot or cold fighting the threat of exposure will be your highest priority.  Exposure is simply your body being exposed to extremes in temperature, the elements or environment.  If it is cold outside you could succumb to hypothermia with your heart ultimately stopping if no action is taken.  If it is extremely hot outside you may suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke and ultimately die.  So in these instances shelter and fire for the cold and shelter and water for the heat your priorities may be.  However you may need to consider whether in the heat of day it is advisable or detrimental to your health to look for water.  Instead it may be better to look for water in evening as the sun is going down but then it may be too dark and you may get hurt or further lost.  Or maybe you have the material to make a solar still for water which may not take as much energy in the heat of day as foraging for water may.  These are some of the things that you may need to think about and judge in your situation.

Preparation is a key element in your ability to survive as knowledge alone will not generally save you.  You will need some basic tools and equipment to aid you in your survival.  You should always have access to or carry the items that will help you in the event that you need them.  The items needed are directly related to the rule of threes in that they give you the ability to protect yourself from the elements, find or gather food, make shelter or provide warmth,the ability to cook and provide some security.  Items such as a good knife, a fire steel, emergency whistle, and emergency blanket are items that you may want to consider keeping on you or with you daily.  I have researched a lot of equipment and in doing so combined the high quality items together to form what I call an Every Day Carry (EDC) Survival Kit (pictured below).  The kit is meant to be kept in your vehicle or carried with you every day so that you are always prepared by having the basic items you may need.

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The above EDC Survival Kit is small in size and weight so it is easy to take along on hikes, kayaking, biking and camping trips or just any time your in the woods.  If you have a kit and don’t need to use it you will be at ease; however if you don’t have a kit and need one you will wish you had one.  Whether you research, find and buy items to build a kit on your own or purchase a ready made one like mine I Recommend that you do so now.  All of the items in the EDC Survival Kit that I sell are quality made items with very good reviews there are no imitations or poorly made items included.
The EDC Survival Kit includes the following items:
  • Water Bottle Pouch/Bag
  • 32 oz Water Bottle
  • Stainless Steel Pot/Drinking Cup
  • Filter Straw
  • Fire Steel/Striker
  • Pocket Cook Stove & Fuel Tablets
  • Bushcraft Knife
  • Mini L.E.D Flashlight
  • Heat Reflective Emergency Blanket/Survival Blanket
  • Compass
  • Emergency Whistle

I also include a list of additional items that you may find around your house to include in and enhance your kit even more.

The items in the kit enable you to perform the following:

  • Drink from a puddle, river, stream or lake with the included filter straw
  • Use the utility/bushcraft knife to process firewood/kindling and fire tinder or build a shelter
  • Start a fire
  • Use cooking pot and cookstove to boil water for safe drinking
  • Use the flashlight for signaling and in the dark
  • Use the emergency blanket for a reflective shelter to stay warm under or to wrap up in
  • Use the compass to navigate
  • Use the emergency whistle to alert rescuers

Thank you for reading my post I hope this post spurs your interest in preparedness and helps you become prepared if you are not.  If you are already prepared and have this knowledge thank you for reading my post.  Either way feel free to comment.  Be safe be prepared and be alive.

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Before I buy most products especially those related to prepping I perform extensive research and review of the product.  So when I decided to purchase a very well made and dependable multi-tool for my BOB (Bail Out Bag) my review process was again utilized.  About 7 years ago I had a Leatherman Wave multi-tool and had performed research at that time.  After only having it for a few months I lost it which really bummed me out.  I eventually grasped the fact it was gone forever and moved on.

When I initially put my BOB together I did not have much money and I built it over time.  In order to have the key tools and equipment my purchases consisted of inexpensive items from places like Walmart knowing the quality and dependability was at stake.  I ignored my usual review process and bought a Berkley brand fishing oriented multi-tool for about $12 as I figured something was better than nothing.  Shortly after buying it I realized that if my life depended on the tool it would not last long and I knew I needed something better however I had to wait until I could afford the upgrade.  When the time for upgrade approached I put some time into review of different multi-tools despite the fact I had already tentatively planned on purchasing another Wave.  After two to three hours of Youtube, amazon and other reviews my decision regarding the Wave was solidified.  One significant factor which aided the affirmation was the fact that the newest model of the Wave included a locking mechanism on all of the blades and tools.  This was something that only the main blades and tools of the previous model had.  Another factor was the new bit socket which replaced the fixed in place screw drivers on the older Wave model (see picture below).

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Last year my wife purchased a Leatherman Wave with pouch and an included Monarch 400 flashlight for my birthday.  She paid about $62 with shipping for the combo which was a good deal.  The combo as pictured below is very good for an EDC because the sheath carries the flashlight and has room behind the knife for the extra bit kit.  In my case I used the bit kit pocket for a magnesium bar and striker which fit snugly inside effectively providing the tool and ability for fire and a light source.  You could carry a lighter in place of the magnesium bar in the pocket if desired.

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It is my opinion that the Leatherman Wave is the best choice for quality, value and dependability when compared to all the similar multi-tools available.  Currently you can purchase a Wave through Amazon for about $52 with free shipping.  There is no shortage of reviews available on the web should you choose to conduct your own research of the various available multi-tools.  The  capabilities of the Wave are listed below for your convenience.  And oh yeah to my elation last year I found my old leatherman Wave which was left in a paint sprayer box 7 years prior.  So now my wife and I both have Leatherman Waves in our BOB’s.

Multitool Capabilities:

 

  • Needlenose pliers
  • Regular pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Hard-wire cutters
  • 420HC knife
  • 420HC serrated knife
  • Saw
  • Scissors
  • Wood/metal file
  • Diamond-coated file
  • Large bit driver
  • Small bit driver
  • Medium screwdriver
  • 8-inch (19-cm) ruler
  • Bottle opener
  • Can opener
  • Wire stripper

Key Tech Specs:

  • Length closed: 4 inches
  • Length open: 6.3 inches
  • 100 percent stainless steel blades and tools

 

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In this post I discuss skills drawing on my 20 plus years of fire service experience in order to explain situational awareness as I believe it relates to your  preparedness and survival.  Situational awareness as defined by Wikipedia is the perception of environmental elements with respect to time and/or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event.  I am going to simple that definition down a bit as I had trouble relating it to what I know as situational awareness.  Think of situational as a combination of circumstances that changes over time or simply what is going on around of or in front of you.  Look at the photo above.  If this was happening next door to your home that would be a rapidly changing combination of circumstances that you would surely need to address.  Dictionary dot com defines awareness as the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness.  So in short situational awareness is to have knowledge of a situation; however I believe you should have awareness of your surroundings and what is going on around you at all times.

Situational Awareness is something you can use everyday to help ensure your readiness for the circumstances that could potentially occur whether it be while driving down the road or dealing with the aftermath of an astroid impact.  Being prepared by having the tools, equipment, food and supplies needed to sustain yourself or your family during an emergency is the core of preparedness; however you should also be knowledgeable of circumstances during and after an event.  For example earthquakes can occur anywhere so it would be to your advantage to know about what to do prior to, during and after an earthquake.  The information you need to know for earthquakes may be more in-depth depending on your geographical location such as near oceans or coastal rivers due to potential for tsunamis.  By obtaining knowledge of earthquakes you would be aware of how to protect yourself and your family through the entire event.  There are many natural disasters that could potentially happen and knowledge about each one will greatly enhance your ability to endure through them.  Human caused events such as terrorism, shootings, riots, civil disturbances, economic collapse as well as potential accidents are other areas that would benefit your being prepared for.  The day to day potential accidents are probably the most likely threat to your life.  Something as innocent  and mundane sounding as a child playing on a drift log at the beach have transformed into life changing tragedies for families of accident victims.  Had those family members know that it only takes a few inches of water from the ocean surf to float a drift log weighing a ton or more the accident and horrible tragedies may not have occurred.  There is literature and some warnings posted of potential log roll accidents or deaths however it is limited and ultimately it is up to individuals visiting coastal areas to learn of the potential dangers. I suggest that anyone planning on visiting areas more potentially dangerous than those encountered day to day do some research on the environmental hazards specific to those areas.  Examples of some of those areas may include lakes, rivers, mountains, deserts, in the snow, and at the oceans and beaches.  In future posts I will be writing about potential dangers associated with geographical areas and the knowledge needed in order to avoid the specific hazards.  The truth is you can not be 100% prepared for every possible circumstance that may arise as the future is unknown and anything is possible.  By learning about the events or circumstances most likely to occur and especially by having general awareness of your surroundings at all times you will have the best chance for longevity.  Thank you for reading my post and as always feel free to comment.  Be safe, be aware and be a survivor.

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What do you know about survival knives?  Is the first thing that comes to mind the “Rambo”  like image of a wicked looking military style knife.  Whether you know nothing about survival knives or are fairly familiar with them this blog will  give you some insight on the subject.  Survival knives are perhaps the single most important piece of equipment required in a survival situation.  You may think of a knife as just something to cut, hunt, prepare food, or defend yourself with; however they are in fact a multi purpose tool used for much more.  Look at the above photo.  Which knife do you believe is the best survival knife?  Ok keep that thought to yourself we will revisit it a little later.

Some of the many uses of a survival knife include digging, chopping down small trees, making a shelter, processing fire wood and skinning an animal.  You may also need the knife to make tools by carving or shaping wood or to help start a fire.  With a good survival knife you can chop, also known as baton down a small tree two to four inches in diameter.  The knife will also allow you to split/process wood for a fire by making smaller pieces of wood that are drier towards the center.  By chopping down branches or small trees you can also build a shelter to keep you out of the elements.

Ok, which knife in the picture did you choose as the better survival knife?  While they both are survival knives and one is actually called a survival knife I would only want the one on the bottom with me in any survival situation.  What then makes a survival knife a survival knife?  There are many factors that contribute to a knife being considered a survival knife.  One of the most important concerns in my opinion is the tang of the knife.  The tang of a knife is the portion of the knife that the handle is attached to or is made up of.  Again it is my opinion as well as many others that a knife with a full tang is best.  A full tang means that the blade and the handle are forged from one solid piece of metal and the tang extends the entire length of the handle as shown in the picture below.  In comparison as pictured below the “Rambo” style knife has a hollow handle which is kind of nifty for storing items however makes for a much weaker knife.

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The tang portion of this knife only continues approximately one inch into the separate handle which is fastened together.  This attachment point is the weakest link in the knife and the area most likely to fail during chopping or processing wood.  While it is a good-looking knife and is very inexpensive at about $10 it is not suited for any serious long-term use.  The full tang on the knife in the top photo is not going to break without serious purposeful abuse as it approximately 1/4 inch thick at the tang on this knife.  A knife like this one can be purchased for $60 to $85 or so depending on where you purchase it.  You don’t have to spend that much however as you can obtain other good full tang survival knives for $20 to $40 if you shop around.  Just because a knife cost more doesn’t mean it is far superior, I would not spend the $200 and $300 for some of the available knives as mine will perform just as well.

The type of steel that the knife is made out of is a factor that some individuals consider when purchasing a survival knife.  There are two basic types of steel that the knives are generally made with they are Stainless steel and carbon steel.  Stainless steel blades can last a long time without rusting however according to some people they do not hold an edge as long as carbon steel blades.  Carbon steel blades tend to hold an edge longer but rust faster although you would need to leave it out in the elements and not take care of it for it to rust fast.

Another consideration when shopping for a good survival knife is whether or not you prefer a straight-edged blade or a serrated blade.  The straight-edged blades tend to be better for chopping and are easier to sharpen.  Serrated blades tend to cut through rope and other materials easier but typically require a special sharpener.   You can see the difference between the two types of blades in the photos below.

KaBar Straight EdgeSerrated Ontario Rat-7 Knife

Notice that the serrated blade is only partially serrated which is typical of the majority of the serrated survival knives available.  You can actually still chop and process wood with the partially serrated knife if you use the forward straight blade portion of the knife. The drawback to this is that you wont have as much of the blade to strike with a stick so you will not be able to process as thick of wood as a straight edge.

The length of most survival blades is from six to twelve inches however anything over ten inches or so in my opinion is not necessary unless you need something more like a machete for cutting your way through vegetation.  The blade length does need to be long enough to allow you to chop through wood thoroughly.