When the stuff hits the fan, there are a few essentials you want in your kit to ensure peace of mind and soundness of body in the way-backcountry. A lot of us carry a multi-tool on shorter outings, but if you're going to the field for an extended period of time you need a beefy workhorse of a fixed – not folding – blade. The ability to take abuse and not break is the key concept here.
Ka-Bar is synonymous with survival knife, and the Ka-Bar Becker Campanion BK2 knife is a perfect example of why that is. Pick it up and you immediately know this knife means business. At 10.5 inches long with a 5.5 inch blade, and weighing in at 14.6 ounces (knife only, sheath is 3.6oz) the Campanion feels balanced and ready for serious work. The quarter-inch thick spine is just asking to be batoned into tree. Not familiar with good batoning technique? Watch this video.
The Campanion falls into the medium-sized category of survival knife, not a machete and not a dressing knife, although it could be used for the latter purpose if needed. It will perform camp duties from meal prep to cutting down small trees to making kindling. The pommel will pound all day and the 1095 steel is plenty durable, sharpens up nicely and resists the elements thanks to the black coating.
The kydex sheath with snap retention and two-inch webbing is just as overbuilt, and will be around long after the world has crumbled into dust and the only things left are cockroaches and Keith Richards. The retention is, if anything, too stiff, requiring a stout pull to free the blade, but it seems to be softening a bit over time. For inverted carry, you definitely don't have to worry about premature ejection. The handles can be tightened manually should the need arise. We haven't been able to put a dent in the Campanion, but it's been a pleasure trying. Knowing a tool is this gorilla-proof makes for a good night of sleep, whatever might be happening outside your shelter.