A knife is an important element of any survival kit. While you can make do without one, having a good blade just makes things so much easier. Personally, I keep three blades in my larger kits. First, a pocket knife, such as a Swiss Army knife or a lockback like my Bad Monkey folding knife. Many common camp chores can be accomplished with just a small blade, after all. Easy to carry and easy to use.
Second, a high quality fixed blade knife, such as the TOPS Brothers of Bushcraft or the Condor Bushlore. The fixed blade knife is used for the jobs the pocket knife can’t quite handle, such as cleaning game.
Moving up one more notch gets us to the choppers. While there is no absolute definition of this size of a knife, I consider a chopper to be a tool that fits between a standard fixed blade and a machete. So, maybe 9″ to 12″ in blade length or thereabouts. The chopper is there for cutting brush, cutting firewood, and shelter building. It also makes for a dandy self-defense weapon in a pinch. Typically, these blades are not only long but thick and sturdy. They are made to take a beating.
My current chopper of choice is the Becker BK-9 but there are many others out there, from the Condor Varan to the Ontario RTAK-II.
Packing a full-size machete is doable in some circumstances. I know I’ll sometimes grab my Cold Steel kukri at load out if I have room for it, either on my belt or in my pack. But, sometimes you need something just a bit smaller and that’s where a chopper comes into play. They are small enough to fit into even a medium-size pack without a problem, yet will provide you with a formidable tool for handling just about anything that comes your way.