How To Wear A Boot Knife: Tips for Carrying a Backup Survival Knife

Boot knives are handy survival tools. You don’t need to be Lara Croft or belong to an elite fighting force to wear one or use it.

For many survivalists, a boot knife is just the kind of emergency backup they need. When your survival rests on a blade, you want to have a backup just in case the first gets lost or damaged.

Concealing a knife in your boot means it’s there when you need it but easy to forget about when you don’t.

Getting a good-quality boot knife is only the first step. Learning how to wear it is also crucial – for your safety and survival.

Four Recommended Ways To Carry a Boot Knife

When we introduced the best boot knives for self-defense and EDC, we briefly mentioned four basic ways of wearing a boot knife.

Here, we’re going to explore those methods in more detail. These tips should give you a clear idea of how to wear your boot knife and may influence your decision about which knife is best for you.

#1 Inside Your Boot

In the movies, heroes and villains whip their boot knives out of the boot itself. This is an option for carrying a boot knife, but it’s not the most effective nor comfortable.

Even with a boot knife sheath, it can be troublesome.

To stow a boot knife securely inside your boot, you need to tighten your laces more than you normally would. That act alone can lead to discomfort, and when you’ve got a piece of cold steel digging into your leg, you’ll be lucky to last more than a few minutes before the pain becomes distracting.

Although there are sheaths designed specifically for boot knives, many of them are poorly designed. Often, the soft leather of the sheath that should, ideally, lie between the knife and your leg is on the outside, protecting the blade.

Not only is this uncomfortable, but it also makes it difficult to draw the knife as the sheath gets in the way.

To make the knife more accessible, many manufacturers use a simple slip sheath design, but this fails to secure the knife in place. The knife could easily fall out of the sheath without you even noticing, leaving you with no backup.

There are benefits to this approach, however. For one, the knife is completely concealed so no one will know you’re carrying it. You can also wear a boot knife in this manner regardless of what style of boot you prefer.

If you’re determined to wear your boot knife inside your boot, look for a robust sheath with a solid clip that attaches the knife to your boot. If you can’t find one, you can always have one custom-made.

According to Dave Hauser of Dragonthorn Leatherworks,

“any knife that is of the proper design and length can work as a boot knife if the sheath is properly designed and constructed.”

#2 Outside your Boot

Strapping a boot knife to the outside of your boot probably won’t go down well in an urban environment, but for survivalists, it’s a viable alternative to wearing it on the inside.

If you’ve got long boots and a short knife, it can be attached relatively easily using a standard clip sheath.

Some boots, like the 5.11 Men’s ATAC 2.0 8″ Military Tactical Boot, come with a built-in knife pocket that is very handy, as long as the knife you’ve chosen fits snugly.

You can attach smaller knives to your boots using the laces, but that may make it difficult to access. The last thing you want is to be hopping around on one leg, trying to wrestle your emergency backup knife from its hiding place!


Strapping a knife to the outside of your boot makes it more accessible but means it’s no longer concealed. Your knife could also get snagged on branches or roots, causing damage to both your knife and boot.

Our top pick of the best boot knives, the Gerber Ghoststrike, is available with a custom-made neoprene ankle wrap and sheath mount that keeps it safe and secure and makes it comfortable to wear.

Before figuring out the best way to attach your knife, think about how easy it will be to grab in an emergency.

For instance, if you’re right-handed, you want to strap the knife to the inside of your left leg or the outside of your right boot. For left-handers, it’s the other way around.

#3 On Your Calf

This is perhaps the most versatile way of carrying a boot knife and also means you could wear it with flip-flops if you wanted to. Depending on what else you’re wearing, the knife will either be completely concealed or, if you’re wearing shorts, clearly visible to all.

Most of the ankle sheaths you’ll find on sites like Amazon are designed for spearfishing and scuba diving. Made of neoprene, they come in various sizes, so are suitable for every type of knife besides a sizable machete!

Using a neoprene knife holder like this one also makes carrying a boot knife more comfortable as it puts a soft, cushioned layer between the knife or sheath and your leg.

#4 Around Your Waist

Admittedly, this isn’t what most boot knives were designed for, but it’s safer and more comfortable than carrying it inside your boot.

To carry a boot knife in this fashion, you’ll need some kind of horizontal carry system that secures the knife to the base of your spine and keeps it out of the way.

Not only will your knife be easy to access, but it will also be concealed beneath your clothes, adding the element of surprise should you need it.


How you carry your boot knife is a matter of personal choice. Some people prefer to have them concealed inside the boot itself, whereas others prefer the easy access afforded by an ankle sheath.

However you decide to carry your boot knife, there’s one rule that you should never break: always, always, always use a sheath.

Shoving a sharp blade into your boot is one of the quickest ways to injure yourself, which, if you’re trying to survive in the wilderness, is the last thing you want. Read about some other knife carry positions here.

Just in case that does happen, here are a few tips on how to treat a knife wound when you can’t call 911.

If none of these methods of carrying a boot knife sound appealing, you may want to consider the best neck knife for survival instead.

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