For outdoor enthusiasts, camping is a way of life. There’s nothing better than a day spent among the company of trees, rushing water, and wildlife. Activities abound, from whittling wood and hiking trails to pitching tents and preparing food, and that’s why every camper needs an excellent camping knife.
Camping knives come in all shapes, sizes, and designs, but the best ones are heavy-duty survival knives that can be used for a variety of tasks, including splitting wood, cord and rope cutting, food prep, clearing brush, and batoning firewood.
- What to Look for When Choosing the Best Camping Knives
- 6 Best Camping Knives on the Market
- Final Thoughts
From fixed to foldable, there is no shortage of outdoor camping knives on the market. When you begin your search to find the best camping knife to toss into your backpack or carry in your pocket, you may feel overwhelmed at the possibilities. We’ve put together this list of the best camping knives we could find to help you with your decision.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Camping Knives
Whether you’re a seasoned trailblazer, casual camper, or just beginning your journey into the wonderful wild outdoors, you may find that shopping for the best outdoor camping knife comes with its share of obstacles.
Not only are there loads of products on the market (which can be overwhelming), but descriptions, ads, and articles are laced with all kinds of verbiage that can boggle the mind (which can also be overwhelming).
Instead of juggling jargon, let’s get down to the basics, which are really the essentials. When you look past all the fancy words and the marketing bells and whistles, these are the things to look for when choosing a camping knife that gets the job done.
Of course, you want your knife blade to hold up during your outdoor activities, so those made of strong steel should be at the top of the list. But what exactly is “strong” steel? You may see words like “high carbon” or “ultra-high carbon steel,” which is all fine and good, but what you should actually be looking for are the five key properties found in steel:
- Toughness – ability to resist damage (chips, cracks) due to impact
- Hardness – ability to resist deformation due to applied force
- Wear Resistance – ability to withstand abrasive and adhesive wear
- Corrosion Resistance – ability to resist rust due to the elements (moisture, salt, humidity)
- Edge Retention – how long the blade will retain its sharpness (a combination of wear resistance and hardness)
Different steels will exhibit different properties. You won’t ever find a perfect balance, but understanding these key properties will better guide you in finding the kind of blade material you need.
There are a variety of knife blade designs, each shaped for specific purposes, so it’s in your best interest to consider the blade style when choosing a camping knife. The three most popular blade designs are the drop point, the clip point, and the trailing point.
The drop point is one of the most popular designs for outdoor enthusiasts because of its control over precision cutting. The blade is usually thick and tapers along the length. Clip point blades are great for general purpose, and trailing point blades are best for long, slicing strokes.
Other knife blade shapes include:
- Tanto: Angular tip with a strong point, useful for prying, piercing, and scraping tough materials
- Needle (Spear): Double-edged blade ideal for puncturing and throwing
- Sheepsfoot: A rounded spine and straight cutting edge designed for food prep
A majority of camping knives are drop-point because of the strength it provides and the effectiveness of the convex curve.
A person may need a serrated knife in certain situations, but camping isn’t one of them. When searching for a camping knife, look for a fine-edge blade over a serrated one. It’s easier to control a long, fine-edge blade, and they are more effective at woodworking, animal skinning, and common camping activities.
Handle Material and Design
A camping knife handle should be rugged, comfortable to grip, and not easily slip from the hand. Comfort is relative, but most find that synthetic materials like rubber provide a firm but comfortable handling, and the material is made to last. Plus, it’s water-resistant.
Some people prefer wooden handles (although these are prone to water damage). There are also handles that incorporate storage space for survival supplies like fire starters, whistles, paracords, and sharpeners. These things aren’t necessary, but they are worth considering.
Lightweight and compact knives are your best companions on a camping trip. Why would you want to bother yourself with extra weight or fussy items while hiking, climbing, fishing, and the like? Consider the blade length, blade thickness, and overall knife length when choosing your knife. Generally, you’ll want a blade length that’s between 4 and 6 inches and a blade thickness of 5/32 or 8/32. You can find these numbers in the specs listed on the product’s page.
Fixed or Folding
Whether you choose a fixed blade camping knife or a folding knife is really a matter of preference, as they each have their benefits and drawbacks. Some things to consider:
- Fixed blades are securely attached to the handle and stay in the same position.
- Fixed blades are generally better equipped for heavy-duty cutting.
- Fixed blades can be bulkier than folding knives.
- Fixed blades need to be protected with a sheath after use.
- Folding blades fold back into the handle, making them more compact.
- Folding blades aren’t as strong as fixed blades, but are ideal for food prep and lightweight cutting.
- Folding blades are protected when folded into the handle, so no need for a sheath.
- Folding knives typically come with stop lock protection and an easy-open hinge.
A majority of campers prefer fixed blade knives over folding knives for their durability and strength. When choosing which one is right for you, think about how you plan on using it. If you only need a small tool to handle light cutting, a foldable knife may be just right.
6 Best Camping Knives on the Market
We’ve inspected the specs, read the reviews, poured over the rants, and whittled our best camping knives list down to these six, in no particular order.
1) Morakniv Outdoor Companion 860 Knife
The Morakniv Companion camping knife repeatedly finds itself on many “Best Camping Knives” lists and for a good reason. Outdoor enthusiasts love this knife for its comfortable, but sturdy grip, three-quarter tang, and the 104 mm (4.1-inch) stainless steel blade that’s sharp enough to cut firewood and carve tent stakes.
The Mora Outdoor Companion Knife is a fixed blade with a patterned handle that’s easy to grip, even in wet conditions, which means less chance for accidents in stormy weather or when you’re trying to catch your next meal. It’s an ideal knife for beginners and expert campers alike. You can use it to strip wood, cut paracord, prepare camp food, and so much more, and all without the worry of it losing its sharp edge.
2) Gerber Bear Grylls Paracord Knife
If you’re ready for a knife that can handle your outdoor adventures, then the Gerber Bear Grylls Paracord Knife is for you. Tough, innovative, and created with survival in mind, the Gerber Bear Grylls camping knife might be one of the only tools you need to weather the wild.
This fixed-blade beauty features a slim, lightweight design, full tang, and a 3.25-inch steel blade that’s perfect for precision cutting and slicing. The Bear Grylls Knife also has a 45-inch paracord wrapped around the open-frame handle, which can be removed and used for various camping and survival needs. Included is a reversible sheath that allows you to carry the knife with the tip pointing up, down, or sideways.
3) Opinel Carbon Steel Camping Knife
The Opinel Carbon Steel Camping Knife is a classic pocket knife that delivers precisely what a camper needs: a sharp edge for cutting, a practical handle for gripping, and a safety ring for accidental closures. The Opinel probably doesn’t belong in a hunter’s arsenal, but it will feel perfectly at home in your camper or your pocket around the campsite.
This French-style knife features a 7-centimeter steel blade, varnished beech handle, and is easy to open and close. The VIROBLOC safety locking ring protects your fingers from accidental closures.
4) Morakniv Craftline Outdoor Knife
Morakniv displays its craftsmanship in this high carbon steel fixed blade knife. Carbon steels are proven tough and hold a sharper edge longer than other steels, so fieldwork will be a breeze. Cut kindle, skin a fish, whack through thick brush – whatever the task, the Morakniv Craftline has your back.
A TPE rubber handle designed with coil-formed rounding offers extra gripping power, and a finger guard provides additional protection. The knife also comes with a tough plastic combi-sheath that features a quick-connect in case you want to attach a second knife and sheath. Brilliant!
5) Gerber Ultimate Survival Fixed Knife
Gerber’s Ultimate Survival fixed blade knife is a nice camping companion thanks to its robust, full tang blade with a partially serrated edge and drop point profile. The rubberized handle makes for a comfortable, non-slip grip, and the end of the handle is flattened to be used as a hammer. A small alarm whistle is also attached to the end of the handle.
The fun doesn’t stop there! Turn the knife over, and you’ll find a sparking notch for use with a firestarter. Also included is a plastic and nylon sheath secured with a pressure lock and loop strap, fire starter, and sharpener.
6) Camillus Reverb Folding Knife
If you want an outdoor camping knife that looks as cool as it cuts, the Camillus Reverb Folding Knife is for you. Featuring a blackout look, the Camillus folding knife has a 3-inch blade made of carbon titanium, which provides a level of toughness untreated steel can’t. Prepare meals, cut wood, clear brush, crack nuts – whatever your outdoor heart desires!
Other features include a glass-filled nylon handle that’s easy and comfortable to grip and a quick release that opens with the flip of a finger.
The great outdoors calls for a great knife, but with so many to choose from, it can be hard to know if you’re making a wise buying decision. After all, you don’t want to spend hard-earned money on an outdoor knife that will break, rust, or barely cut through the cardboard it arrives in.
We’ve done the hard work of bushwhacking through the jungles of camping knives found on the market to find the best of the best. The knives we’ve listed here received rave reviews from novices and experts alike and minimal negative reviews.
You can continue to do your own research, of course, and keep in mind what to look for in the best camping and outdoor knives, like the blade and handle material, design, and what activities you’ll use the knife for. In the end, if you sort through the knives listed in this guide and think about your needs and wants, you’re sure to find the perfect camping knife.
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