Camping is not only good during summer; in fact, some can dare to go camping even in the worst of weather. Hence, choosing durable and trusted gears plays a crucial role in every outdoorsman lifestyle. A camping knife, for instance, is a workhorse. If you have a gear that works tirelessly to serve you, it better be a gear with a promising performance. So, what are the best camping knives out there, and how do you pick the best one?
Seasoned campers ran tests on camping knives through a lot of methods to test their sharpness, cutting speed, ferrocerium, chopping, and splitting capability. These are the brands that showed outstanding results.
- Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Camping Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel
- Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Serrated Edge Camping Knife
- Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Blade Camping Knife
- Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool Pocket Knife
- KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Camping Knife
Types of Camping Knives
Before we look into the top picked brands of camping knives, let us differentiate the two types of camping knives.
Or also known as non-folding knives are much more durable and stronger when compared to the folding knives. The quality of a fixed-blade knife, especially the full-tang, is specially designed to survive heavy-duty usage. A full-tang knife is where the steel or blade comes in one solid piece, and the material used for a handle is just pinned on both sides. We will talk much more about that as we move along. A Fixed-blade knife can serve as a combat knife, dive knife, hunting knife, boot knife, survival knife, throwing-knife, among many others.
Sometimes called a pocket knife. Although the sturdiness of a fixed-blade knife is incomparable, there is still plenty to be said for the folding knife. It is compact and lightweight, thus, easy to carry around in your pocket for quick access. There is a myriad of available types of folding knives one can choose from depending on their usage. There is the traditional pocket knife, primitive folding knife, tactical knife, custom knife, and a whole lot more.
Best Camping Knives Brands
After a series of tests done to measure each performance, these are the best brands of camping knives you can invest in.
Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Camping Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel
The knife is made of Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade, and blade length is 4.1” (104mm) with 8.6” overall length (218mm), blade thickness is 0.1” (2.4mm), and weighs 4.1 oz or 116g. This camping knife can pretty much be used in all-around camping chores. The design is simple yet versatile. It has a rubberized handle that offers a great grip shape. Its uses can start simply from slicing onions, tomatoes, and vegetables and cleaning fish, to carving, batoning wood, fire preparation such as hacking firewood, clearing bushes and whittling. If you are looking for an all-around camping knife, this is a good pick.
- Durable that it can survive intensive tasks
- High friction handle offers a comfortable grip for better control, performance, and safety.
- Requires a bit of maintenance
- Requires re-sharpening from time to time
- Although it can survive intensive tasks, it is not designed for heavy-duty tasks like taking down a small tree.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Serrated Edge Camping Knife
The knife is made of high carbon stainless steel (7Cr17MoV), blade length is 4.8” (121.92mm), and weighs 14.07 oz or 398.87g. The Gerber Bear Grylls is considered a survival camping knife due to its several tools. And with many tools, comes many functionalities. If you do not fancy a serrated blade, you can still purchase a Fine-Edge model, which is basically non-serrated. And if you think the name is too familiar is because it is. The product is sponsored by one of the most popular survival gurus, Bear Grylls.
- Multiple features:
- The textured rubberized grip provides comfort in handling the knife, especially in wet conditions.
- Bolster minimizes slippage and protects your hand from sliding onto the blade.
- It has a Ferro rod and striker notch that serves as fire starters
- It comes with its own knife sharpener.
- It has a hard stainless steel pommel you can utilize as a hammer.
- An emergency whistle is even included.
- Serration is useful when sawing small branches.
- A survival guide with instructions on how to transmit your condition in case of emergency via Alpine distress signal.
- Not designed to survive heavy-duty tasks.
Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Blade Camping Knife
It may appear like your regular kitchen knife, but this utility camping knife has got a lot to show off. It is made of CPM-S30V stainless steel, length of the blade is 4.4” and with an overall length of 9.5” (241.3mm) and weighs 7.72 oz or 218.85g. It is as robust as it is versatile. This full tang blade has no serration on the blade nor coating, enabling it to glide smoothly and predictably, which makes it extra safer. If you are one a seasoned outdoorsman looking for serious woodsmanship, this is one perfect bushcraft knife for you.
- Corrosion-resistant, thus, requires minimal maintenance even on changing climate.
- Its relatively thick blade is ideal for intensive outdoor tasks.
- Its textured handle is made of molded G-10, which is as equally sturdy and resistant as the blade.
- The finger guard and downward bent butt help in contributing security, stability, and comfort in grip.
- It can maintain its sharpness for a longer period of time.
- The metal D-ring on the beautifully crafted sheath can be used to hang the camping knife on your belt using a dangler.
- The thick blade may be more useful outdoors, but it is not ideal for thin cutting.
- Aesthetic wise, this may not look appealing to inexperienced campers, but you can guarantee a full house affirmation from seasoned outdoorsmen.
- Can be challenging to sharpen but manageable.
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Camping Knife
Probably the best and the beast among all camping knives mentioned. Its blade is made of 1095 Cro-Van steel, weighs a full pound or 16 oz, and has a blade length of 5.25” (133.35mm). It is specifically built for the wilderness. It can plow through a thick branch within seconds, baton through firewood, and can split hard cedar logs. This beast of a knife can work like a machete or hatchet. If you are looking forward to some heavy-duty work in the wild, the KA-BAR camping knives are your best “campanion”: camp and companion cleverly put together.
- A solid full-tang 1095 Cro-Van steel makes the knife hard and durable.
- The steel that extends a little beyond the handle can be used as a hammer.
- The coating does not chip or wear easily.
- Thickness of the blade enables the knife to cut through woods and branches.
- Solid but well-balanced.
- Prone to rust, so it requires high maintenance
- Although the coating is of high quality, it easily picks up gunks from wood and is not easy to clean.
- Not ideal to use for your food.
- Its sheath is tight, and taking the blade out of it requires a little patience.
Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool Pocket Knife
We have mentioned fixed-blade camping knives quite a bit that we feel it is time to shed light on folding knives. Although tiny, never underestimate what it can do for you while camping. It is made of high carbon stainless steel, the length is at 3.6” (91mm) and weighs 6.5 oz or 184.27 g. It got more than 30 functionalities. It will feel like you brought your home kitchen with you. It may not compete with the blades with the knives mentioned above but its multifunctionality can offer you the right tool for the right job.
- It has a total of 33 functions that fold along with the knife.
- Multifunctional. This pocket knife is like having a toolbox in your pocket
- Large/small blades
- Phillips large/small/fine screwdrivers
- Can Opener
- Bottle opener
- Wire Stripper
- Key Ring
- Multi-Purpose Hook
- Wood Saw
- Fish Scaler
- Hook Disgorger
- Nail File
- Nail Cleaner
- Metal File
- Metal Saw
- Pliers with Wire Cutter, Wire Crimper
- Magnifying Lense
- Pressurized BallPoint Pen
- Straight Pin
- Patented Mini-Screwdriver
- Sewing Eye
- Easy to carry
- Can be useful when camping, hiking or even in the house.
- The hardwood version has 31 functionalities and has no pen/pin
- Not built for heavy-duty nor intensive tasks
How to Choose
Finding the best camping knives is more than just about convenience; it also means safety when in the wilderness. The availability of camping knives is endless. You can select from the most affordable to the most expensive depending on your activity, lifestyle, preference, and, most importantly, budget. We have already saved you some time and listed the best picks, and now you just have to look into the factors that you think will work best for you.
This is the unsharpened solid piece of the metal part of the knife that runs through the handle. That solid piece of metal is where a full-tang knife gets its strength and structure. It comes in different sizes and shapes. They can be classified as full tang, hidden, skeletonized, rat-tailed, encapsulated, extended, push, partial and tapered.
Typically, blades are made out of titanium, carbon steel, and stainless steel. Titanium and stainless steel are known to be corrosion resistant; thus, it requires little maintenance compared to carbon steel. In terms of prices, titanium tends to cost more than steel. It is typically used in ocean activities or light camping. All three are lightweight yet high on strength, nonetheless. The difference between softer steels and harder steels is that softer steels are much easier to sharpen and razor the edge. However, they tend to be less durable, and they quickly lose their edge. In contrast, harder steels are more durable but difficult to sharpen.
There are different chemical coatings used over steel. They help in protecting the blade, add durability, and enhance aesthetics. However, some prefer to choose blades without coating, for it stops them from utilizing the Ferro rod, and the coating can be difficult to clean as well. Some can also chip and grind, especially during sharpening.
Wooden handles are equally good with synthetic handles as long as they are rugged and made to last. This basically solely depends on the camper’s taste.
Not all knives have this feature on their blade because not everyone finds this useful. Serration is that jagged portion of the knife that usually starts in the mid part of the blade that extends to the handle. It is placed there to use in cutting ropes, sawing woods, cutting bone, or even seatbelts.
All, if not most, knives can ignite a fire on a Ferro rod, some brands just do it better compared to others. Some have spines that are even designed specifically to strike a spark effectively. For those knives with coating, you may need to resort to using the blade, which may later damage it from frequent use.
The best knife is only as best as to how you take care of it. It can do so much for you, so it is only right that treat it with the same care you would give to your tent and other gears. With that being said, here are the basic care instructions you can do for your camping knives:
Keep it clean and dry
Don not just put away your knife without patting it dry and clean. It is one of the gears that work all around all the time, so it can be expected that it gets dirty and wet at the end of the day. It is inevitable. What you can avoid, however, is storing it back to its sheath in that same state.
Hone blade regularly
For frequently used blades, especially those with soft steel, honing it on a regular basis is necessary to maintain its crispness and sharpness.
Do not abuse it
When we say do not abuse it, that does not mean you are not allowed to use the heavy-duty knives to split a block of wood or branch. It means use it to what it is designed for. If it does not have a pommel in the base of its handle, do not use it as a hammer. Do not use it as an alternative for a screwdriver.
This applies to folding knives. Lubricate it regularly since there is a lot of folding in and out motion with your blade. Use the right amount of oil-based lubricant and do it frequently without overdoing it.
Do I need to carry different variations of knives?
It depends on what kind of activity and level of outdoor setup you will be in. If your camping course will only be held around state parks, beaches or campgrounds, having one of the listed best camping knives is more than enough. But, if you often find yourself in the great wilderness and totally remote areas with unpredictable weather conditions, you can carry with you more than one type of knife. Especially when you are camping alone, you have to consider that your camping can turn into a survival situation. A lot can happen deep into the woods, so bringing multiple knives is not too much.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a full tang knife?
Compared to partial tang knives, full tang does not loosen when the blade is put under a lot of pressure in any intensive outdoor activities. And since it is a solid piece, it can be guaranteed that the movement of the blade will shadow the movement of the handle. With the full tang knife being robust, it is the top pick of outdoors and knives enthusiasts when levering, batoning, chopping, and pretty much doing intensive outdoor chores. The only disadvantage, if you can call it, one might experience from having a full tang knife is its weight.
What is ferrocerium, and is it important?
It is a synthetic pyrophoric alloy that, when struck, produces hot sparks that can start a fire. For outdoor people, it is essential to carry one in events that they lose their lighters or wet their matches. You can use it as a backup fire starter or main starter. Either way, it will help you when the weather condition is wet.
Choosing the right knife for you can be tricky and time consumable. What you just need to keep in mind in shopping for one is the features, its versatility, and the quality. Do not just focus on the blade design. Remember that the overall design of the blade and handle, size, shape, taper, angle, and material have a massive impact on the blade’s performance. Do not get easily persuaded by overwhelming terms that are used by manufacturers to sell them. Research, and if you do not have the luxury of time, check out the blogs and reviews of legit knives enthusiasts. The more you understand, the more informed your decisions will be.