5 Best Survival Tin Knives

Okay, it should really be called “The 5 Best Survival Tin Knives I Ran Across And One Multi Tool. But you can see how that doesn’t really work for a title. I hope you’ll forgive me.

But, to the subject at hand! There is shockingly little information out there on the inter webs on what knives to use in (urban) survival tins. To add to that, practically every survival tin shown on YouTube doesn’t come with a decent knife option. Time, I thought, to list a few great knives that work well in your tin and show them inside one so you can see what’s possible and make an informed choice.


Picking a knife for a tin you’ll have to work within certain size constraints that limit you options. The use case you have in mind for yourself determines the eventual knife to pick. Roughly said you’re looking for a knife that works well in an urban-, office- or rural environment. Knowing that part you can quickly home in on your knife of choice.

These are the things that I look for piking an (urban) survival tin knife:

The inside of an Altoids tin is 9.2 cm or 3.5 inches long. So that is the maximum your knife option can be in closed length. Even a single millimeter longer and your knife will get stuck, seriously hampering the ease of use of your tin. You could of course stick it in diagonally, but that is a serious space waster. So, the length should be no longer than 9.2 mm. Thickness is another important dimension to think about. I’ve noticed that it’s actually a good idea to pack your tin without a knife and than judge how much vertical space you have left. The Pioneer for example is a really great choice adding not just a knife but also a bunch of tools to your tin. It’s also a bit thick because of that. A tin is 19 millimeter high to the brim, no knife that fits in a tin is that fat. So it comes down to space the left inside more than it fitting in the tin when it’s empty.

I can be very short here. Don’t go for a knife that has a non-removable clip. These things take up a lot of space. Luckily though most knives do have clips that can be removed. The Sanrenmu B4-717 that I show here for example has the clip still on but is every bit as great a knife without that clip.

I could have added the Sanrenmu B4-762 to the list if it weren’t for the weight. It has the right dimensions (be it a bit bulky for a tin),  a good blade and great office safe looks. But it’s just a little to heavy if you ask me. Since in the office environment you want to be as discrete as possible you don’t want things being noticed. When it weighs to much your pants or jacket start to really sag and show it. Let alone the discomfort. The CRKT Mk5 and the Bear Grylls Compact Scout Knife score very good on this one with just 26 and 40 grams respectively.

However strange the topic ‘Looks’ might seem to you, it is important. Well to me, inner city down town office dwelling urbanite at least. The same thing goes here as with picking an office safe urban EDC folding knife. You have o keep the other people in mind that are not used to knives. Most office types normal folks like yourselfs and I as knife wielding Neanderthal types you best stay away from. Not a stigma you need, right. It’s different when you live in a more rural setting. The looks don’t matter that much, which makes that you can focus on function alone.

Use Case
What are the scenarios you expect you’ll be using the knife in the most? Outdoors making fuzz sticks to start a fire and constructing shelters? Are you a hunter and will you be dressing game most of the time? Or maybe you envision yourself mostly pealing apples at the office? Whichever it is, there is a corresponding choice of knife.

My (urban) survival in knife picks

CRKT Ritter RSK Mk5
Undoubtedly one of the best choices when it comes to picking a knife for your survival tin. I find it easy to use, in spite of my rather large hands. It does exactly what you want it to do. I think it’ s a great knife to use in case of an incident where I need to survive for 12 to a maximum of 24 hours in the city. It’s great for making fuzz sticks to start a fire and for constructing shelters. Of the knives shown here this one is by far the best knife to dress game. I’ve been cutting up chickens using all knives shown in this article and against my expectations this one wins, hands down. The curvature of the blade almost makes dressing game an easy job.

Gerber STL 2.5
Made by Gerber you can expect a high quality, durable and solidly build knife. The STL 2.5 delivers on that expectation. This tightly packed knife doesn’t take up much space and still feels very solid in your hands. It does well on making fuzz sticks, cutting open all kinds of packages, it even does well at preparing a meal. I’ve cut all kinds of veggies with this one and even cut up a chicken. I did well. With my use case being a decidedly urban one the Gerber STL 2.5 made the cut for me. It’s a great, safe looking apple peeler that if needed has a serious kick to it. This one made into my urban survival in.

Bear Grylls Compact Scout Knife
This one surprised me the most. At first I thought I made a mistake buying it. It came across as a cheap little toy knife the second I opened the package. It has no weight to it and together with a handle handle that feels and looks plasticy it didn’t impress much. My first impression was wrong though. The lack of weight implies weakness, but it’s actually a pretty strong knife. The handle, despite feeling plasticy, has a great shape to it. It locks right into your palm making cutting jobs lots easier then with, say, the Berger STL 2.5. It’s a much more serious knife. The half serrated edge, the gimping on top, the shape of the handle. It’s all in all a very good option for a survival tin. I would say that this is one is good to go into a survival tin meant for a more rural setting.

Sanrenmu B4-717
Sanrenmu B4-717 urban survival guy h150This one is a hidden gem of a knife. I’ve seen very few people talk about it and that surprises me. It really is a great knife. It is rock solid, no play in the frame, the blade is with 66 mm big for a survival tin knife. The all metal skeleton frame makes it easy and nice to hold in your hand, partly because ofthe frame that is 5 millimetres bigger then that of the Gerber STL 2.5. The use is just as great as the STL. It easily cuts through meat, veggies and wood in case you need to make a spear. So if you’d like to have a little more knife to hold, go with the Sanrenmu B4-717.

Victorinox Pioneer
victorinox pioneer urban survival tinThe Pioneer is enclosed in a stylish ribbed silver Alox housing that provides a good deal of grip. The blade is nice and big for a pocket knife as it comes in at 2.5 inches. Its very sharp out of the box, ready to be used. If you want a few tools to go with your knife you’re well of choosing this one. I’ve used the reamer to make holes in my belt, shoe straps and in branches to loop paracord through it. The can opener is second to none. If you want to know more, I’ve got a review up on it.

Leatherman Micra
leatherman micra urban survival tinWhy mention a multi tool when talking about knives? Well, it has a small knife on it that is quite capable. It is great for cutting open boxes and other small cutting jobs. The thing about it though is that it is a very small package with a lot of very nice to have tools. It comes with scissors, nail file, screw drivers, tweezers, nail cleaner, bottle opener and of course a small knife. I like it so much that I have it in my urban survival tin, next to my knife.

9 thoughts on “5 Best Survival Tin Knives”

    • Hi Phil, the Chive does look like a nice knife. Isn’t it to bulky for a survival tin though? Judging pictures I get the idea that it is a little to big for one. Did you try it inside a tin (got pictures)? I’d love to know.

      • It fits well and the clip is removable. For comparison I have 4 quarters stacked up next to the knife to illustrate the thickness. I also have a pic that has the knife in the tin. Now if I can only figure out how to upload them..?


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