THE BEST 9 CAMPING KNIVES OF 2018
Out of all the camping knives on our list, we’ve decided to award the Gerber Strongarm with our pick for the best overall camping knife.
A major reason for this decision has to do with the Gerber Strongarm’s powerful 420 high carbon blade, which is ideal for chopping and slicing work. While the knife feels lightweight in your hands, it can tackle challenging tasks due to the blade’s high quality and full tang support. The Gerber Strongarm also boasts a diamond-textured grip handle that prevents slippage.
Thanks to its high carbon blade, expertly designed grip handle, and affordable price, the Gerber Strongarm earns our pick for the best overall knife for campers.
Our pick for the second best camping knife goes to the Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Fixed Blade.
Fallkniven only uses the finest quality Japanese VG-10 and 420 stainless steel in its knife’s construction. While it won’t have the same degree of strength as a high carbon blade, this blade will take a far longer time to rust and won’t break down on you while using it. Campers who need a sharp point to do detailed work will really enjoy working with the Fallkniven A1’s blade.
While this certainly isn’t a value product, you get what you paid for in the Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Fixed Blade. This expertly designed product was built to last a lifetime.
People in the market for a value play should take a look at the KA-BAR BECKER BK2. This blade offers a good balance of strength and price.
Designed by legendary knife expert Ethan Becker, the KA-BAR BECKER BK2 has a thick 1095 cro-van steel blade. The best three words to describe this blade are wide, thick, and heavy. You’ll get good use out of this blade if you do a lot of heavy-duty chopping tasks.
The KA-BAR BECKER BK2 is a full tang product, which only adds to its superior support. At 0.25-inches thick, the BECKER BK2 is almost indestructible. Another nice feature on this blade is a choil by the handle which can help you with blade sharpening and striking rods.
The KA-BAR BECKER BK2 is a good option for people who want an expertly designed heavy-duty blade at a fair price.
A great camping knife can be a hiker’s best friend. While you probably won’t use your knife for fending off lions, you will need a stable knife to complete many tasks around your campsite. From cutting wood, skinning game to preparing food, you’ll be amazed how many uses you can put your camping knife to.
In this article, we’ll go over the things every camper needs to know before purchasing a camping knife. We’ll also share a few of our favorite camping knives to help you on your quest for the perfect blade.
StatGear 99416 Surviv-All Outdoor
440 stainless steel
KA-BAR BECKER BK2
1095 cro-van steel
Benchmade Bushcrafter 162
CPM-S30V stainless steel
VG-10 stainless steel
Spyderco Endura4 Lightweight FRN
VG-10 stainless steel
5160 spring steel blade
420 high carbon steel
Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty
high carbon steel
1095 high carbon steel
Anyone who has watched too many survivor TV shows might have the false impression that knives are necessary for ridiculous tasks like warding off bears and felling trees. In the real world, however, your camping knife will be used for more banal, but nevertheless important, purposes.
The second most common use of a camping knife is to prepare food for cooking. If you’re going out into the wilderness for hunting or fishing, then you’ll obviously need a knife to field dress deer or slice up fish.
In the extremely rare instance that you might need to use your camping knife for self-defense against wild beasts, then follow this guide.
Even experienced hikers aren’t immune to the allure of a huge camping knife that serves no other purpose than looking cool. In the world of camping knives, however, bigger doesn’t always mean better.
Please keep durability and portability at the forefront of your mind when looking for a good knife.
Just because you’re avoiding a huge Rambo-style knife, however, doesn’t mean you should pick up a tiny knife. Don’t try to cut corners in your survival kit with a lightweight camping knife. It’s important that your camping knife has a moderate amount of weight to provide it with better stability while you’re splicing wood.
Obviously, the greater weight and thickness your blade has, the higher chance it will be able to handle more challenging tasks in the wild. Have a clear idea whether you’ll need your knife for less intense tasks like trimming kindling or larger tasks like hacking apart larger pieces of wood. Looking over your needs, you should get a better sense what blade is right for you.
Helpful hint: remember the number four when hunting for your perfect camping knife. Most pro hikers agree a decent length for a camping blade is four inches and the ideal weight should be at least four ounces.
As with any other trade, there are specific terms used only in the world of camping knives. Knowing a bit of the camping knife lingo will go a long way to helping you make an informed purchase.
One phrase you’ll come across a few times in this article is drop point. Drop point blades, which have a convex curve that slopes back to the blade’s point, are the most common design style used in camping. If you’ve ever seen a Swiss army knife before, then you’ve seen a drop point blade.
Although they aren’t as popular, you might run across clip-point and spear-point blades in your search for camping knives. As the name suggests, clip-point blades are “clipped” in the back, which makes them useful for piercing or picking.
Spear-point blades, on the other hand, have the blade point in center with the edges symmetrically leading towards the point. Daggers commonly use spear-point blades, which is the main reason they have such a powerful penetration strength.
One handy feature you’ll find on a few camping knives is called a “choil.” Basically, choils are tiny cutouts or indentations on the blade usually located near the handle. Choils can be used for helping to sharpen your blade’s edge and light sparks with a ferro rod.
Another key term to be familiar with is “full tang.” Blades that are full tang run all the way from the tip to the bottom of the handle, which gives the knife superior stability.
While there are a few exceptions to this rule, stainless steel is the preferred choice for a camping knife. It’s extremely easy to sharpen stainless steel blades and, unless you do a great deal of arduous cutting, it’ll take a long time for stainless steel to corrode.
Any campers reading this article who are looking solely for strength in their blade should look for high carbon steel. These blades are well known for being tough and easier to get an edge back on. However, carbon steel blades tend to rust faster than stainless steel and require more maintenance.
If you go online, you’ll find dozens of articles arguing the pros and cons of serrated versus straight edge blades. Although there’s no “right or wrong” blade, experienced campers tend to side with straight edge blades.
Since there are no indentations in straight edge blades, it’s simpler to get a more precise cut. Most hikers find that it’s easier to handle a straight edge knife, especially when doing more detailed work with the knife’s tip. Also, it’s nowhere near as difficult to clean and sharpen straight edge blades compared to serrated knives.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that serrated knives don’t have any benefits. Indeed, serrated knives are often praised for their ability to make slice cuts into rope and tough food items.
All of the blades on our list are straight edge, but don’t let that stop you from exploring the benefits of serrated knives. In fact, there are many half-serrated knives available today, so you can enjoy the benefits of both blades in one!
It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid multi-tool camping knives. Manufacturers who try to cram a ton of do-dads into one product often sacrifice on the quality of the actual blade and/or end up with a poorly weighted device that performs poorly across the board.
If you’re a casual camper going out with friends to a well-maintained campground, then a multi-tool knife might be useful. On the other hand, if you’re a serious camper going out into the wild alone, you really should invest in a professionally designed camping knife.
For experienced campers, fixed knives are a better option than folding knives. Firstly, fixed knives are sturdier than folding knives and won’t break as easily. Secondly, since a fixed knife has no moving parts, it’s far more efficient to use when performing difficult tasks like cutting wood.
Inexperienced campers often believe folding knives are safer than fixed blades. However, the truth is that more campers get cut by unintentionally opening folding knives than by fixed blades.
So, what are folding knives good for? Well, folding knives certainly have the convenience factor. You can easily fit a good folding knife in your pocket without discomfort. Also, since folding blades are made more for convenience than durability, they’re often less expensive than fixed blades.
The StatGear 99416 Surviv-All Outdoor Knife comes with a 440 stainless steel drop point blade that measures 4.25 inches. This product is full tang and the blade has a stylish black finish. With the handle, this knife measures 9.5 inches.
As for weight, the StatGear 99416 will only add 7.5 ounces to your travel sack out of the sheath. In the sheath, look to carry 15 ounces.
Speaking of the sheath, it’s one of the Surviv-All Outdoor Knife’s highlights. In addition to protecting your knife, this nylon sheath includes a ferro rod, blade sharpener, and strap cutter. All of these included features make the Surviv-All Outdoor Knife a superb package for novice campers who don’t already have a ton of hiking materials.
The Surviv-All Outdoor Knife locks into its sheath, so you don’t have to worry about it falling accidentally. If you want to be extra cautious, you could strap the tight paracord around the knife handle while it’s in the sheath.
Designers of this knife put a few green glow-in-the-dark strips on the top and bottom of the handle to help you find your knife at night. You’ll also notice ergonomic curves near the blade to help you get a firm grip.
Novice campers will most likely enjoy the Surviv-All Outdoor Knife package thanks in large part to its handy, although a little bulky, sheath.
Next on our list is the KA-BAR’s BECKER BK2, which is a fine-edge survival blade manufactured in New York.
In case you’ve never heard the name before, “Becker” refers to the popular American chef Ethan Becker. Becker, who graduated from the prestigious Cordon Bleu, is behind all the designs at KA-BAR Knives. Suffice it to say that the KA-BAR brand is a big deal in the camping world. Luckily for consumers, this KA-BAR knife won’t break the bank.
KA-BAR’s BECKER BK2 is full tang, measures a total of 10.5 inches, and weighs 1 pound. The 1095 cro-van steel blade has a 20-degree angle and measures 5.5 inches long and 0.25-inches thick. While it’s not an official high carbon blade, the KA-BAR BECKER BK2 added chromium and vanadium to the blade to achieve comparable strength. There’s also a choil on this blade.
One slight con with this blade is that it tends to rust quickly without frequent maintenance. To alleviate this problem, manufacturers have included a black coating which you can place over the blade. Of course, this black coating makes it rather difficult to work with the BECKER BK2 at night.
One nylon sheath is included with this product. Note, this sheath’s retention strap is extremely thin and doesn’t offer as reliable protection as some of the other products on this list. Also, the plastic material in the sheath’s container can dull your knife over time. If you wish, you can purchase a higher-grade sheath from KA-BAR for extra.
Anyone who wants a name brand thick blade for heavy-duty work at an affordable price should check out this KA-BAR product.
The Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife is another full tang, drop point blade, this time made out of CPM-S30V stainless steel.
Bushcrafter 162’s blade length comes in at 4.4 inches and the whole blade measures 9.15 inches. The blade thickness is about 4.4 millimeters. One of these knives will only add 7.7 ounces to your travel gear. Manufacturers included two layers of red paddings along the sides of the blade as it runs down the handle for added stability.
Green G10 handle scales ensure you won’t drop this knife while using it. For even more support as you hold your Bushcrafter, there are two thumb indentations where the blade meets the handle. These thumb scallops really help with detailed work.
The buckskin leather sheath included with this product has a belt loop attachment. To ensure your knife is safe and secure as you’re hiking through the woods, manufacturers have provided a D-ring and a tight retention strap. There’s also a convenient loop for a ferro rod, however a ferro rod isn’t included with the Bushcrafter.
As you might’ve guessed from this description, the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 is a luxury purchase intended for serious hikers. It’s highly recommended you already have a few years of hiking experience under your belt before you invest in this product. This knife isn’t aimed at occasional hikers or novices.
Any experienced campers willing to splurge on a luxury camping blade made of superior stainless steel should consider investing in the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162.
Another well-known stainless steel camping knife on our list is the A1 put out by Fallkniven. This fixed blade is made with VG-10 stainless steel and a layer of 420 steel on the sides for added support. All of the steel used in this blade is manufactured in Japan.
Here are the A1’s specs: the blade measures 6.3 inches and the total length is 11 inches. The A1 weighs approximately 14 ounces and the blade’s thickness is 0.24 inches. This makes the A1 one of the thickest and heaviest knives on our list, definitely not well suited for beginning campers.
As you could see, the A1 has one of the longest blades on our list. This means it’s exceptional for heavier tasks like chopping or cutting. Anyone looking for a knife that’s better suited for precise work like finer carving should look elsewhere.
The knife’s kraton handle was designed for durability. Kraton, which is a kind of synthetic rubber, is well known for its non-slip surface and ability to handle extreme temperatures with minimal wear. You won’t have any problems gripping this handle no matter what region of the world you find yourself in.
Fallkniven’s A1 Survival Knife Fixed Blade is a great option for experienced hikers who are in the market for a long, strong, stainless steel blade.
The Spyderco Endura 4 is the only folding knife on our list.
Every Spyderco Endura 4 knife measures 5 inches when closed and weighs less than 4 ounces, so you should have no issues comfortably fitting this knife in your pocket. When you open up your Endura 4 it will measure 8.75 inches. Spyderco Endura 4’s flat saber-ground blade is made of Japanese VG-10 stainless steel that measures 3.75 inches long and 0.125 inches thick.
For safety, manufacturers have placed a 0.5-inch diameter hole on the blade as well as a pocket clip on the handle. You can put your finger through the smooth spider hole to safely push in the blade when you’re done using it.
There’s also a nice thumb ramp in between the blade and handle for additional safety when you’re doing sawing work. If you prefer, you can easily switch the tip up or down to suit your preference.
As for the handle, it’s made out of fiberglass-reinforced nylon and measures almost 5 inches long. There are traction scales on this handle to help you get a firm grip.
This product won’t be able to complete heavy-duty tasks with as great speed and efficiency of a full tang product. Instead, The Spyderco Endura 4 is perfect for campers who go on occasional trips to well-maintained areas with family and friends.
The Buck Compadre Camp Knife is USA-made drop point knife with a 4.5-inch 5160 spring steel blade. This blade is full tang and the entire knife measures 9.5 inches. Each of these knives weighs 10.4 ounces, so it’s in the mid-range weight department.
The Buck Compadre is one of the most balanced knives on our list. It falls in a mid-range weight and has a full tang, both of which help with difficult chores. On the flipside, this blade also has a smaller blade that helps with finer tasks.
For the handle, manufacturers chose a more subdued walnut with two visible screws. Note, there are no special ergonomic features on this wooden handle to help with grip support. Campers who want a more “traditional” feeling knife, however, might like the walnut texture.
One interesting feature of this blade is found at the top near the handle. Here you’ll notice a slight serration by the handle. This thumb-sized serration was created to help you get a good grip while working with the knife on point work.
A black leather sheath with one tight button strap is included with every Buck Compadre. You can easily attach this sheath to a belt loop, which is also provided in this package.
Every Buck Compadre blade comes in a red powder-coat finish designed to preserve the blade from rusting. If you have more conservative tastes in knife design, you most likely won’t like this bold red color.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for knife that doesn’t go to extremes in either the heavy-duty or lightweight categories and offers the “best of both worlds,” you’ll probably enjoy the classic-feeling Buck Compadre.
Thanks to an endorsement from survival expert Bear Grylls, Oregon’s Gerber Legendary Blades has become a household name in recent years. Anyone interested in exploring this company’s extensive catalogue should start their search with a knife known as the Strongarm.
With a name like Strongarm, you’d better believe this blade is…well, strong! Designers used the highly durable 420 high carbon steel in this blade’s construction. This makes the blade an ideal choice for people who expect to do a lot of chopping and sawing while in the wild.
The Strongarm’s drop point blade alone measures 4.75 inches, which makes it long enough to easily handle many arduous chopping tasks. Including the handle, the total length of the Strongarm is 9.8 inches. For weight, the Gerber Strongarm comes in at about 10 ounces, which is fairly lightweight for a heavy-duty high carbon knife.
One nice detail of the Gerber Strongarm’s design is a curve on the handle that separates your finger from the blade. This safety holder will protect your hand from slipping down unexpectedly while using your knife.
Another positive in the Gerber Strongarm’s favor is that it’s one of the easiest to customize. First off, you could choose either a half-serrated or a fine edge blade design. So, if you think you’ll be doing a lot of sawing work, the half-serrated edge is a good option.
Besides choosing your blade’s style, the Gerber Strongarm comes in a wide array of color designs. For those who want their knife to be discreet, you could order an all black knife. There’s also a black blade/brown handle and an all grey design available.
Every Gerber Strongarm comes with a MOLLE strap in which you can lock your knife. Gerber’s designers say you’ll have no issues carrying this blade horizontally or vertically.
People used to handling a lightweight camping blade who are interested in transitioning to a high carbon product should consider giving the Gerber Strongarm a try. This knife has a slightly lighter feel than other high carbon products, but it has the weight necessary to perform all the tasks you’d expect of these blades.
The Morakniv Companion Knife is one of the smaller blades on our list measuring only 4.1-inch long and 0.125 inch. In total, this blade measures 8.8 inches and weighs only 4.8 ounces. Manufacturers tried to make up for this blade’s smaller size and lighter weight with the strength of a high carbon blade. Every one of these knives is manufactured in Sweden.
The rubber handle on this knife is quite large and offers a ton of grip support. As you feel this handle, however, you’ll soon notice that you’re not getting full tang stability.
Another drawback for the Morakniv Companion Knife is that the spine isn’t designed for striking a ferro rod. You will have to make a few modifications and sharpen the back edge if you want to get sparks going in the wild.
There are two main designs of Morakniv Companion Knives to choose from: discreet camouflage style or bright orange. Whatever knife you choose, you’ll get a lifetime warranty. In addition to the lifetime warranty, customers get a plastic sheath with a belt clip.
While there are obvious drawbacks to the Morakniv Companion Knife, this blade can handle basic tasks and is well suited for people who only go on occasional hiking treks. The powerful high carbon blade is quite durable, and the blade’s lightness makes it extremely easy to carry around.
Campers who are looking for a bargain knife and don’t mind sacrificing the stability of a full tang product might want to give Morakniv’s knife a try.
Last on our list is a very popular name in the high carbon knife world: ESEE-6
The whole length of the ESEE-6 is 11.75 inches, 6.5 of which make up this 0.188 thick blade. The drop point blade is made of 1095 high carbon steel and has full tang support with two red cushions on both sides of the blade. The ESEE-6 is one of the heaviest on our list at approximately 12 ounces. Every ESEE-6 is made in the USA.
One unique feature of the ESEE-6 is that the handle has luxurious micarta scales. Micarta scales help to significantly enhance your grip, especially if you’re working in a wet environment.
In addition to the micarta scales, the handle’s design overall has a number of nice ergonomic features. For instance, there are clear indentations on the handle where you need to put your hand. There’s also a convenient choil on the blade near the handle to add a bit of support while doing finer work.
Every ESEE-6 knife comes with a polymer sheath that has a belt dangler. Your ESEE-6 Knife will lock into place when you put it in the sheath. However, it’s not recommended to carry this knife inverted while it’s locked into the sheath.
The ESEE-6 rightfully deserves its reputation as one of the most famous high carbon blades in the industry. Hikers in the market for a strong blade that can handle a lot of heavy work are best suited for the ESEE-6.