When embarking on a trip that will involve camping, what's the most essential item?
If you're a guy, then the answer is obvious and has been since my days in the Boy Scouts, and even the TV show NCIS ("always carry a knife"),
You need a first rate survival knife.
In reality, probably not, but when camping and being out in the wild, it's the atavistic version of the smartphone.
Many might think that the current "survival knife" evolved from the Boy Scout or Swiss Army multi-purpose blades, but that's not true.
The real ancestor is the more glamourous and just as often useless bayonet.
What modern armies have found is that soldiers will only carry and use bayonets under direct orders and if they'd get in a lot of trouble if they were caught ditching it (like in the American Civil War).
What modern armies also found out was that if they could successfully make soldiers carry bayonets, the things would actually be used.
Soldiers found that as long as they had to carry a bayonet, the things were often quite handy to dig holes or pry things open, open cans, sort of saw or cut wood, hammer small objects, and modern bayonets often reflect this heritage in the design.
...and of course, whatever's cool in the military finds it's way into the camping and survivalist inventory. The things are fun to have, or maybe a guy thing...
So, does one need a survival knife? As a rule no, but there is a million to one chance a person will do something stupid or just have the plain bad luck of getting so lost that a search and rescue is required, and just happen to be only carrying the survival knife and nothing else.
One important question is how much do you have to spend to get a high quality survival blade that you can trust with your life?
My opinion is that it's like buying a guitar. If it's not going to be used much, don't spend too much. If it's going to be used a lot, or if you're a typical American, you'll tend to buy the most expensive and coolest one.
I chose a variation on the first course. Realistically, I'm not going to wear it on my belt at a public camp site or want to get it dirty unless there's good reason.
Also, I'm not a serious hiker and am allergic to poison oak so I won't won't leave the trail, and I'd be accompanied by a little white fluffy dog that picks up every thorn, tick, loose leaves, and twigs in her hair, so the odds of ending up in helicopter search country are almost nil.
So I picked the cheapest one that had good reviews, was on sale, and looked cool. I'm not paid to endorse, so I won't mention the brand, since as far these things go, one is as good as the other.
My experience from Boy Scout days into the present is that a knife does end up coming in handy and tends to get used.
Maybe not for it's intended purpose as a knife, but the things tend to be useful doing something.
Plus, it's part of the creed, always be prepared.