The first thing I look at when I am thinking about a knife is how it interfaces with my hand. Is it comfortable, do I have control, does it provide me a variety of grips, and is the handle sturdy. If I can't get a good grip or use it comfortably then I am not interested no matter how nice the knife or how good a deal. I passed on a smoking deal on a smaller custom dozier not long ago simply because I couldn't get a good grip.
After that I look at the blade itself. For a general purpose knife I want between a 4 and 5" blade. I prefer tougher stainless steels that hold an edge well. I really dislike coatings as I find they can make the blade drag in the cut. I like a blade that has a strong sturdy point, and generally prefer a full flat grind since it allows you to run a thicker spine, but still cut weight. I also find they glide through the cut well. I do have a couple of knives were the final edge is a chisel grind and I have to admit they are very easy to touch up, and cut well. I like gimping on the spine and on the but and where the small finger falls. Finally, I want a nice full belly. There are lots of arguments for and against these preferences, but those are mine. Plenty of bush wise guys like Rod G, who KNOWS the riddle of steel like on of Krom's own, likes the Scandia style and makes phenomenal ones, but my tastes just lie elsewhere. It doesn't mean that they are wrong and I am right, but rather if the knife cuts and works for you then it cuts and works for you.
I dislike blades that are 1/4" thick especially if they don't have a full flat grind. They are heavy and in my experience only really good at chopping unless proper attention has been given to blade profile.
As far as particular knives, it is really hard to beat the esee line, but I would definitely opt for uncoated. If you can find them used the Cold Steel SRK and Master Hunter are worth a look, but they are a bit thick. Tops has some outstanding blade designs, and a lot of gimmicky crap to be fair, but I find their edge profile to be poor so expect to reshape the edge, and there sheaths vary from poor to great. In general CRKT makes great knives, and I think they might have some sheath knifes that fit your price range. I really like the looks of the new Boker Exodus, but don't have any hands on time with them. A couple of the other Beckers that Kabar has look like decent knives, but I haven't handled them. I was also serious about just a good old fashioned Kabar, but they are a bit long. Some of Blind Horses' knives are close to you price range and they have a great reputation. I have handled a couple but don't have any hands on time. After looking around most of what I like in knifes put them in the hunting knife category not the bush craft survival category.
Finally, the Blackjack 125 is a pretty faithful copy of my Randall Trapper, which is the do it all knife I keep coming back to after dalliances with other blades.
My current go to knives:
choppers/brush knives - Spyderco Hossom Woodlander and Kershaw Outcast
Medium knives - Randall Trappers Model (really my only complaint with this knife is it is a bit heavy)
Smaller/lighter knives - Surefire Echo, Halloran 360
Folders - Emerson Super Commander and Utecom
I also have a Spyderco Hossom Dayhiker that I picked up cheap without a sheath that I have put a lot of work into reshaping the edge, and I am using as a kitchen knife right now to see how I like it. Then I will have to source a sheath for it, or make one. That would fall in the Medium Category.
The reality is that my pocket knife gets 99% of my knife use especially if I am going to be wearing a pack belt. It is just to handy a way to carry a blade.