Bear Grylls Knife

by Mark on November 9, 2010

Bear Grylls, of Man Vs Wild fame, uses a survival knife to make himself at home in the wilderness.

Bear Grylls - Desert Island

Bear Grylls – Desert Island

From folders to full tang blades, the knives all tend to be lightweight, and generally reasonably priced.  Bear uses a variety of knives in his episodes that aren’t necessarily the best knife for the situation.

Grylls shares with us that you may find yourself stranded without the perfect blade, or possibly with no knife at all; as in the ‘Sierra Nevada’ shoot.

If you are interested in survival knives, check my article out – Survival Knife – and make sure you follow the thread on the Bear Grylls survival knife on the link above.

Half the fun I have with survival knives is testing them in the field and putting the knife through its paces.  Not to abuse but to see how well they perform in real outdoor survival conditions.

I generally make use of a knife in the field for two important applications.  One, is for heavy chopping of small poles and tree limbs for shelter construction.  Using a knife that has some heft to it can make this job easier on hands, arms, and the weight makes a real positive impact when we really need to get through wood quickly.

The other main use for a knife is carving.  Its difficult to whittle with a giant honking Texas Bowie knife, when all you need is a strong thin blade with a comfortable handle to do the job.

One that fits in your pocket is nice, or maybe a little bit bigger carver that fits in a sheath on your hip.  The thin blade knife is not for prying, even the best can bend or be broken, prying does not suit small knives or any knife for that matter, though I myself am guilty of this type of abuse at times.

We’re always interested in hearing your experience about your survival knife, what knife you really like, or about the knife that ended up being a disappointment to you as well.  So leave us a comment here if you wish to and let folks know about your experience; special deals on knives, or how you like the “Man Vs Wild” show.


{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

mark r June 22, 2007 at 10:23 pm

i’ve found a heavy durable knife such as an original ka-bar to be most helpful with trees and brush for shelter, yet can be made sharp enough out of the box to slice fresh meat,……BUT I HAVE BEEN THOROUGHLY DISAPPOINTED WITH BENCHMADE KNIVES, they break like twigs under any kind of real pressure, advice “buy a big strong knife for big strong work”

Mark June 23, 2007 at 9:31 am

Mark r,
would you mind explaining what kind of pressure you applied to your Bench Made?
Your comments on owning a strong blade for tough applications is absolutely correct!

Check out SOG knives; for some very tough blades.


JOHN June 27, 2007 at 12:17 am

The knife used during the everglades episode by Bear was a Buck knife. Not sure which model but I will check into it and let you know.

Paladin July 10, 2007 at 10:38 pm

My quest for the perfect knife or best knife started in the 70’s. Back then for a combat knife the general choices were a KaBAR, a custom Randall which at that time had up to a two year wait period after the order was placed, or a knife by Gerber (the Mark II or Command II). Between the articles I’d read and word of mouth I had chosen the Gerber Mark II. Initial tests of the blade with chopping and cutting showed it to work well, but in its first use when it really counted had the tip break on a rib and it nearly cost my life. Since then I’ve been trying to find the best blend of a knife that could fill the shoes of a survival, camp, hunting, and combat use. Through the years I’ve come to the conclusion that the “best” knife is a long short straight curved blade that is light and heavy and is both carbon and stainless steel. 😛 In other words, it don’t exist. While the designs of some blades may overlap in their suitable tasks there isn’t really “one” knife that covers everything. It’s all a compromise and one should look to the primary intended use for the main design and then give or take the compromises depending on the likely secondary uses for the blade. In the end the user should purchase the best quality knife they can afford based on the compromise they’ve chosen.

In the US I’ve been in various environments from Florida swamps and Everglades to Montana’s Bear Tooth Mountains to the South Dakota Badlands to the deserts areas of the Southwest (Big Bend, Palo Duro Canyon, as well as New Mexico and my present home in Arizona). I’ve spent a good deal of time in various areas of Africa and central America and have put more than a few knives to rigorous if not extreme tests, most of which border on abuse.

I’m like Mark in that I prefer a heavy knife and I like mine with a long blade (7″-9″). Tasks such as skinning require a bit more care and a different technique as Mark mentioned but with experience a large knife can accomplish just about any task a small one can do, but it doesn’t always work in reverse.

Those interested in an excellent quality production knife should check out Cold Steel. ( ) I came across this company in the 80’s when they introduced their Tanto line and over the years find that they have many standards that are in line with my own ideals. I have several different models from this company but their Trailmaster and Ghurka kukri knives have followed me into the wild more than any other and they have proven themselves over and over again. My trailmaster has been with me for ten years or so and has never required more than general sharpening even after splitting wood or shopping down a dozen saplings up to 5″ thick or clearing debris from tornadoes and Hurricane Charlie. The same goes for the Kukri, which has cleaved trees and branches up to 4″ thick in a single blow.

I’m not an accomplished climber like Bear, so I’ve been known to wedge my knife in for a hand or foot hold so I can get that perfect shot with my camera. I’ve also used their thick spines to hammer nails and break through concrete and they have held up far beyond expectations.

I’ve owned and tested their Master Hunter, Recon Scout, Recon Tanto, and SRK knives among others and they each perform oustanding. The Recon Scout is a 7″ version of the Trailmaster by the way and it’s lighter than the Trailmaster’s 9″ blade. Their SRK knife, by the way, is now the issue knife for US Navy personnel going through BUD/s training (training to be SEALs).

Their folding knives are one of the few makers I will carry and quite frankly I haven’t ever found anything negative about the company in all of the years I’ve dealt with them and their goods. There are other companies products I like and I will write more on them later, and if anyone is interested I’ll give detailed field test information on any of the ones I’ve dealt with. I should have some photos up within a few days.

Thanks for having this site and for the open discussions!

Sarah T July 19, 2007 at 9:32 pm

Thanks for the great info about the knives.

The question I really had about Bear’s equipment however, was, what kind of a water bottle does he use? It looks like he has one with a metal cup or case attached that he uses for boiling. How does this metal bottom fasten to the bottle? and do you know where I could find a bottle like it?

Also, how does he secure both his water bottle and his knife? it looks as though he keeps the bottle on a cord across his shoulder, but does it attach to his belt as well? He does quite a bit of sliding down slopes and across ledges, and it seems that this kind of movement would rip off anything you had attached to your waist. I’m always wondering how he doesn’t lose his gear…

any insight would be much appreciated! thanks for this great site!

R. P. Baskin December 15, 2007 at 2:57 am

Thanks to both Mark W. and Paladin regarding knives.

I appreciate what Mark had to say at the end of his statement regarding Bear’s Knife; sometimes the knife used isn’t always the best choice! Amen. That is the sign of an instructor who truly enjoys passings his wilderness skills onto his students, and is the definitive voice of experience.
Sometimes people make purchases of outdoor gear based solely on the looks of a piece of gear or just because they saw a favorite actor use it in a recent movie. Remember when sales of Baretta’s 92F pistols exploded during the “Die Hard” movie series?
Also I agree with Paladin’s comments on Cold Steel High Performance knives. There again is the voice of experience. I am a firm believer in Cold Steel’s products.
I have used many Cold Steel knives in both a profesional environment as a mountain search and rescue team leader and as a wilderness safety and survival instructor. Your knife truly is your life in an outdoor setting, especially when the situation becomes compromised and things go south. Suddenly you are cast into survival mode and all of your training and quality equipment you are carrying at the time come into play!

My wife and I have a faith based outdoor skills and survival training ministry here in Southern California. We teach wilderness skills to kids, families, and those folks who may have mobility issues but still hunger for the outdoors experience.
Students inquire frequently, as Mark can attest I am sure, as to what type of knife is best for survival and camping. The best advice we can offer is to buy the best equipment that you can afford but only after you have spent considerable time thinking through exactly what it is you intend to use your knife (or knives) for, what you expect of said cutting tool and talking with folks who use knives on a daily basis. Remember, the guy at the local gun counter or sporting goods store is looking to move product and may not, though not always, be your best bet for information.
Talk to your local search and rescue professionals. Seek out hikers or backpackers at local gear stores. Speak to policeman, firemen, or even the farm laborers. Ask what works for them and how they use the particular knife they carry. I prefer fixed blade big steel and specifically use Cold Steel’s SRK, Trail Master, LTC Kukri and Recon Scout. They all work well for shelter building, digging, splitting wood, some field dressing and other big tasks that are required to get the job done. Yes, a big knife can do smaller jobs but things can get real ugly so I also carry a smaller Voyager (a folder) for the more detailed tasks. My wife and I also carry multi tools and in some cases heavy duty medical type shears. The environment we operate in basically determines the knives we use or carry during those times. For additional camp chores we use Cold Steel’s special forces shovel. Also, know the local laws in your community. That six inch folder you carry in California may not receive as such a warm welcome in Pennsylvania!
I hope this information is helpful. Yes, we share the same zip code with Cold Steel but are in no way sponsored by this company. We trust Cold Steel products! I have spoken with Lynn Thompson personally, a very approachable guy who does it right when it comes to making cutting tools. If you have any questions drop him a line or write an e-mail. Lynn is a hands on, experienced outdoorsman. I think he’ll speak highly of those Cold Steel blades. He and his staff will not stear you wrong. Good Luck and Stay Safe Out There.
Thanks to Mark and the Lifesong troops for allowing us to share a post with you!
Merry Christmas.
The Baskin Family

admin December 15, 2007 at 11:07 am

Thanks R. P.,
for you’re informative post and for passing on lots of great information.

If you have a web site for your survival school please leave us a link, or a phone number if you like where folks can reach you.

Happy Holiday’s to you and your family as well.

person June 29, 2008 at 10:35 pm

his first knife was a swing gerber and now he does have a fixed blade probly a durable knife much like what he used in th special forces

Philip November 14, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Hi Sarah T! To answer the Bear Grylls “water bottle question”… It is a standard issue NATO one liter Water Bottle. The cup is also a standard NATO issue steel “Crusader Cup” that is made to fit over the end of the bottle for compact carry. I believe both items are manufactured by a company named “BBC”. He puts the bottle down in the cup, then uses 550 Parachute Cord (which he has loop-braided in what we always called a “daisy-chain braid”) to secure the entire unit, then slings over his shoulder, routes back around the unit, then around his waist and ties it off. If you double the cord and braid it properly, you get pretty much thee universal way to carry up to 100ft of excellent cordage into the field for emrgencies (although it appears from a distance that he has only loop-braided a single strand so he may only have 50ft). Regards!

Philip November 14, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Oh, I almost forgot… You can find the bottle by googling “BBC NATO Canteen or NATO Water Bottle or Crusader Cup” on-line, or you could look in a surplus store if you have one local. I also believe that http://WWW.Bestglide.COM sells them. I have bought Bestglide products in the past (Bestglide Standard Survival Fishing Kit) and have been very pleased with the quality of both the products and the customer service.

Philip November 14, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Sorry, the company that makes the bottle is “BCB” not “BBC”… (Sadly, they still haven’t found a cure for my Lisdexia… )

Craig February 24, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I have SAS experience of 4 years and i know a lot of places you can buy most items such as paracord and BCB Waterbottles and Crusader cups pretty cheap. My email address for information only os
Any questions answered. Thanks.

Joe February 25, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Paladin, I’ve been reading your posts trying to find the right “survival” knife. A friend of mine turned me on to a site he found. The knives are a bit pricey but look great! Curious to know what you think. The site is

admin February 26, 2009 at 1:38 am

we haven’t heard from Paladin for a while. We hope he will join in the forum as soon as he is able to.

Joe February 26, 2009 at 9:30 am

My apologies to the admin,I should of directed my question to you and the other viewers. Thank you for your response though!

admin February 27, 2009 at 11:29 am

No worries Joe, Paladin has excellent knowledge on knives, and he frequents this thread whenever he can. Many of out other viewers are great resources as well to answer your question. On the daggett knive, they look interesting and heavy if you need that type of knife. Also they are expensive, no joke,
but then they are a specialty knife. We’re partial to SOG knives and K-bar has been around for a long time. The carbon blades are harder to care for but much easier to produce a spark.

Lee June 11, 2009 at 10:17 am

Thanks for the tip Joe, I bought the BCT-2 from TLDaggett knives to replace the K-Bar I broke last summer. ( Yes, I tend to ask alot of my knives). I liked the traditional look with a modern feel. I’ve used and abused it ALOT and it just keeps asking for more! Quite possibly the last knife I’ll ever need.

JC August 21, 2009 at 11:48 am

On the survival knife issue I suggest a combo set. I bought a Gerber BMF in 1986 (the older ones are the best if you can find one) and have carried it ever since. It is a bit of a beast sometimes but you can’t beat it for heavy work. The grip is excellent and the knife is well balanced for chopping motions. The sheath has both a built in diamond stone and a front pocket that a medium folder fits in nicely for small work. I am also able to keep a mag stick in there with it as well for backup fire starting. Unless you plan on using it to open embarkation crates in a war zone (it works well for that by the way) I would go for the version without the saw-back.

I’m no Rambo or McGuiever type, just someone who demands a lot out of a good knife. I have carried this Gerber through Desert Storm, Kosovo, and later Afghanistan. Not to mention a whole lot of hiking and hunting trips into the mountains and forests of the Northwest states and have never been disappointed.

BTW I also agree with those above who recommend the Cold Steel blades. Very good knives.

Chris S October 5, 2009 at 7:45 pm

I love my Ka-Bar. It’s well-balanced, has a nice thick blade, and the rubberized grip feels great in your hand; also, the nylon sheath that comes with it has a locking feature that utilizes the hand guard to keep it in place. My particular style has a drop point tip – the 1273. It was designed by Bob Dozier.

I’ve seen a knife online called the Bayley knife which Bear endorses. Does anyone have any feedback on it? It has a steep price: about $630.

Lee December 2, 2009 at 7:41 am

I’ve seen the knife Chris S spoke of on the Bayley knife site. What the heck happened there! The site states ” This knife is no longer branded as the Bear Grylls knife in any way”. I like the style and choice of materials , but I can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money without Bear’s brand on it .Sorry , just my opinion . BEAR ROCKS !

Mark December 2, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Hi Lee,
not sure what happened with the S4 model and all. But when the knife first came out as Bears preferred, I dropped Ron Bailey an email. It took him several weeks to get back to me he was so swamped. He makes them by hand, or did so.

Anybody see him with a new knife on the show?

John December 29, 2009 at 10:15 am

The new S4 knife formaly the Bear Grylls Knife from Bailey Knife (or any other kinfe from the company) now has a 5 year waiting list! I cant believe it! Yea he still makes them by hand.

Mark December 29, 2009 at 11:00 am

John, thank you for the info. I think that it is great that Mr. Bailey is able to continue to make the knives by hand and not give into the pressure of mass production. It is obviously a well made knife that will no doubt perform its job well into the future. And furthermore, for most, it has transcended to a long term investment; a collectors piece upon the mantle. Nothing wrong with that.

G.Herring February 6, 2010 at 11:23 am

My knife has gone with me in to the woods very often. I use a Buck knife and Swiss Army knife they work very good in building shelters making myself a home. I hunt and backpack a lot and do not like to carry a bunch of stuff just a fanny pack with a list . My knife has help me on the trail making walking stick spear to catch fish trap wild game . I like med. length blade holds a great edge my pocket knife is important to me all the time I use it cooking, fuzz stick . Check your knife edge before you get out there . That man on tv was trained like me know your equipment . Don,t wait to try it out there use your hunting knife in the kitchen and back yard first I try many kind of knives I own a SOG very good pocket knives. used rangers keep asking questions so I can learn be safe may God watch over you in these days

Semrad February 17, 2010 at 10:04 am

There are so many good knives out to choose from. For me, I personally collect military knives and have good luck with the good ‘ol kabar and the MK 3 MOD 0 USN knives. I own a Benchmade and have never had any issues with the 154 CM steel. But ….if I could only carry one knife to go out and survive a nuclear blast, it would have to be my Fehrman Last Chance.
You get what you pay for.

dylan007 February 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm

personoly i like my ol usmc kabar … its tuff if baton though some thick branches with it.i love its classic look and leather sheath.but as far as sea survival id take a SOG because there extremly water resistant.i think that the kabar is so cool because of its versitility, it does anything from splitting wood to widling spoons. as far as realy heavy work why not just take a hatchet?

dylan007 February 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm

hey semrad those fehrman knifes are cool and all but there kinda expensive tho… do you recomend any other knifes that are tuff yet affordable

Mark February 21, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Indeed, why not take an axe or hatchet along. That is the bush survival combo – good carving knife and a long handled axe; or hatchet if that is all you have.
Thank you sir for your comment and observation. Now what type of axe or hatchet would we take along?

dylan007 February 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm

anything thats heavy enough to make a raft from logs but light enough to be carried comfortably.

Mark February 22, 2010 at 11:50 am

Here are some very fine axes to ponder over….or drool over. Axes for every occasion.

dylan007 February 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm

im having trouble with my kabar… you see I just bought it and ive used it for small things like making a lean to, or a frame but im kinda squeemish about using it in fear it will break it because its realy my first survival knife. so if anyone could give any advice or stories about the abuse they put there knifes through it would realy help.thanks

Semrad February 22, 2010 at 10:03 pm


What are you going to use your knife for?
Marine environments? Prying? Chopping?
What is affordable? I like Fehrman because it is a very affordable. Let me explain…. Had I gone with a solid quality knife in the first place, I wouldn’t have spent so much money on several cheaper knives that have failed in the field. Besides Busses and Ferhmans really retain their value and resale price.
Here are a couple of cool pictures of the beast in action

dylan007 February 23, 2010 at 2:56 pm

well semrad i only said that because i saw those huge knifes on the products page from the site u left … i gess i only saw the expensive ones that were 100s of dollars.and i use my usmc kabar for mostly batoning and choping .and there’s nothing wrong with the knife its just its my first one and i dont know in general what knifes can handle.

Semrad February 25, 2010 at 10:28 pm

If you want to splurge a little and yet keep it under $200.00 I would suggest RAT RC4, Bark River Bravo 1 in A2 steel or Fallkniven F1 for a great bush knife. I’ve also heard of TOPS reputation as a great knife.
I’m a knife junkie and love my Bravo 1 SS. It’s a little thick (.215) great for batoning/ chopping, but since I have large hands the handle suits me better.

Semrad February 25, 2010 at 10:46 pm

As for the abuse the Ka-bar in general can handle? This site may help answer that question.
My Ka-bar has only sustained paint chipping off the butt end of the handle (from hammering) and scratches on the leather sheath.

dylan007 February 26, 2010 at 9:17 am

thanx semrad for the advice on knifes . i didnt know that you could hammer with them , i thought that if i hit the tang that’s showing that the knife could be seperated from the handle,is this true.and how do you feel on synthetic handles?

Jacob March 26, 2010 at 1:52 pm

When choosing a single knife for survival purposes I think it is important to not lose sight of what the knife is being used for. Survival. A individual won’t be spending too much time delicately carving in wood and as far as skinning game for survival I would not be concerned with making super perfect cuts. I am surviving and there are bigger concerns at hand. Having the most perfect knife still won’t help you if you lack the skills and knowledge to survive in a compromising situation. In my opinion purchase a knife that is made from an above average quality steel: ie coldsteele, fallkniven, RAT Cutlery. Don’t buy one with too long of a blade or too short, not too thick or too thin, not too light or too heavy. Once you have the knife stop wondering if it is the most perfect one for survival and get out in the bush and hone your skills. If you lose or break that knife you still need to know how to survive. Our ancestors 15,000 years ago did and they didn’t have access to all these super cool blade choices we have now. In a nut shell, learn survival and not where to buy the coolest gadgets on the market.

Mark March 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Well said Jacob.
In survival, if you have any knife with you, consider yourself lucky.
If you have a choice, bring a knife that carves well, because you need a carver in the bush, and a long axe for the heavy work.
Like Jacob says, hone your survival skills to the point that wilderness is not intimidating without a steel edge. The knife no matter the quality will not do the work for you. Better to equip yourself with knowledge.

The knives Jacob mentioned are all good. K-bar definitely tried and true. We like SOG knives around here. And for the price, its hard to beat Mora Swedish Steel for lightweight carvers.

Mark March 10, 2011 at 10:13 am

Read Marks comments on the latest Bear Grylls knife.

Bear has a new knife for the…kitchen.

blueskyy December 31, 2011 at 11:54 am

It’s funny how those TV survivalists always have some sort of knife on them. Bear grylls mostly used $700 custom job knife. He always “survivies” with a knife on him and that’s not realistic. ( I wonder what would those TV celebrity survivalists would do without a knife). Survival is not planned and many times people who find themselves in survival situation have no knife at all. IF they’re lucky , they may have a pocket knife. See movie: THE EDGE to know what I mean! That’s why real-deal survival experts teach soldiers how to improvise a knife out of stone.

Mark December 31, 2011 at 12:06 pm

The first episode I consulted for in Man Vs Wild, I had Bear use Obsidian in place of a survival knife to emphasize the point your making Blueskyy. There is a huge difference in the application between steel, bone, obsidian, slate, flint, and other types of raw material. Learning to use a modern knife and primitive edges are both important skills to have.

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