Camping is a lot of fun. However, there are many things to consider packing before you set out on your next outdoor expedition. One of the most versatile tools you should carry with you is a camping knife.
A good camping knife will come in extremely handy for a variety of tasks, such as:
- Splitting firewood
- Setting up a tent
- Skinning and slicing meat
- Cutting ropes
- Setting up game traps
- Peeling tough tubers
- Plus a whole host of others
In order to buy the best camping knife for the money, it is important to know that not all camping knives are created equal. In this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know in order to choose from the top 10 best camping knives available right now.
If you’re in the market for a top-performing camping knife, then continue reading this article until the very end. This article is jam-packed full of information, useful tips, and recommendations for choosing the best camping knife for you.
In an effort to save you time, the table below outlines the 10 best camping knives available right now for the money. Keep reading for a detailed review of each of our selections.
How to Choose the Best Camping Knife
Some thought should go into choosing the best camping knife for you. Of course, the choice is mainly going to depend on how you intend to use the knife and your budget.
Here is a quick view of things you need to consider before buying a camping knife. And don’t worry if you’re not familiar with everything listed in this table. We will explain everything later on in this article.
|1. Knife design|
|2. Shape of the blade|
|3. Type of blade grind|
|4. Steel used|
|6. Handle material|
|7. Cutting edge angle|
Now let’s explain what each of these important factors are so you can make an informed choice.
Fixed or Foldable blade?
A camping knife can have either a fixed or foldable blade. Just like the names suggest, a fixed blade has no moving parts, just a rigid straight knife. On the other hand, a foldable knife can have the blade folded onto the inner side of the handle when not in use.
A fixed knife is ideal in most camping situations, except that you need to have a sheath for the blade and a belt to carry it. Fixed blades exhibit superior strength, cleanliness, and safety. when cutting a tough object, you don’t risk the blade closing on your fingers.
Do not forget that pitching a tent, skinning game, and preparing some foods can best be done with a fixed blade. It’s also easier to clean a fixed blade knife after use, as there are no moving parts.
Some fixed blade knives are forged from a single piece of steel. Without an attachment point for the handle and the blade, the knife is strong enough for just about any campfire task.
A foldable blade is ideal for lighter duties. You can carry the blade in the pocket when walking the trail.
Most foldable knives are designed with a bottle opener or corkscrew. If you need these features, you certainly need a foldable knife.
In most camping situations, both foldable and fixed blade knives are necessary in equal measure. Just have the two, or at least the fixed blade-type, before hitting the road.
Weight and length of the knife?
As insignificant as the weight might sound, it’s one factor that can mess with your camping experience if not carefully considered. A heavy knife is hard to work with, especially on small tasks that require precision.
The size of the knife is equally important. A small knife, e.g., a pocket knife, offers limitless transportation possibilities. Nevertheless, you could lose this small knife and not realize it until you need to cut something. Small knives are still limited in the number of tasks they can perform.
The best camping knife should be not less than five inches long, although 8-10 inches is considered the ideal length for heavy chopping activities around the campfire. These long knives are harder to work with around tighter spaces that require precision.
Small activities such as slicing fruits and tubers, gutting fish, cutting stakes and notches, and skinning smaller game require a shorter knife. A 3.5 – 5-inch knife would be ideal for this work.
If you want a knife that strikes a good balance among length, strength, and utility, a 6 – 7.5-inch blade is a great choice.
Since the weight increases proportionally to the size of the knife, you should weigh these two factors concurrently.
After a few camping trips, you’ll be able to pinpoint what knife size fits your deal instead of having to carry two for different tasks. You’ll also learn how a single knife can be used easily, even in seemingly inconvenient situations.
Type of steel used?
The material- type of steel- used to make a knife determines how well the knife holds when tested to various cutting needs. There are generally two types of steel used to make camping knives. This too should be in your mind for you to choose the best camping knife.
Non-stainless, high carbon steel and stainless steel are the two types of steel used on knives for different reasons and uses. The fundamental difference is the percentage of chromium in either steel.
High carbon non-stainless steels are generally more rigid and thus more resistant to breaking. These steels are, however, susceptible to rusting and corrosion. This is why they tend to lose an edge quickly.
Non-stainless steels are easier to sharpen.
Stainless steels are less tough than high carbon steels but generally hold the edge well. These steels are resistant to corrosion, and the material has a high machinability characteristic allowing easy sharpening.
The two types of steel are further classified according to their Rockwell Hardness (HRC). Tough blades fall between 50 to 54 HRC, while blades with 58 to 52 HRC are excellent at holding an edge. If you want a balance between toughness and edge holding ability, steel with Rockwell Hardness of between 54 and 58 HRC would be good.
As a manufacturing practice, long heavy-duty knives are forged from tough non-stainless steels with a Rockwell Hardness of between 50 – 54 HRC. Smaller knife blades meant for higher hygiene standards should be made from stainless steel.
You may not find the HRC code anywhere on the product description page. However, the material grade is mainly indicated to show you what steel the knife is made of. Below are some great options for high carbon steels and stainless steels.
High carbon steel:
The above codes will give you an idea of how capable the blade is.
Blade thickness – An important consideration?
The thickness of a blade is synonymous with its strength. The thicker it is, the more resistant it is to bending or breaking.
Thicker blades are usually heavier, making them the most ideal for demanding campsite activities such as drilling. These thick knives are also short to adapt their high strength with a small size to handle precision work better.
If you expect to use your knife for more challenging tasks such as prying, chopping wood, or even batoning, a tactical knife between 3/16 and 1/4 – inch thick would be ideal.
Why shape of the blade matters?
Camping knives are manufactured for different uses. As such, the shapes of the blade vary depending on what the knife is primarily meant for. Here are the common knife shapes and their intended purposes:
Clip point knife: This shape has the blade tip curving slightly upwards. Such a knife is ideal for almost all piercing tasks, among other functions.
Drop point: This is the shape of a kitchen knife and thus multifunctional.
Needlepoint: A needlepoint looks like the cross-section of a double-edged sword. Both sides can be sharpened. This style is mainly used in ranged weapons such as throwing knives. A needlepoint knife is ideal for hunting.
Tanto point: This type has a specialized tip for a variety of uses. The knife can be challenging to sharpen, which is why the knife is primarily a tactical knife. Hunters and experienced campers are very likely to have such a knife in their gear.
Sheepfoot blade: This blade features an entirely straight blunt edge and is mainly used to trim hooves and carving. It’s not an ideal option for a camper.
Trailing point: This knife has a rounded belly. It’s thus suitable for filleting and skinning.
Understanding the different Blade types?
The type of grind is simply the cross-section shape of the knife’s cross-section shape perpendicular to the cutting edge.
The grind determines how well a knife adapts to its use and the skill required to maintain the blade. The common types of blade grind are:
Types of grinds:
Flat grind: The blade is sharpened on both sides, from the spine to the edge. The result is a very sharp blade, but one that doesn’t hold the edge for long.
Sabre grind: This grind is similar to a flat grind, the difference being that the angle starts closer to the edge. The result is a blade edge resembling a chisel edge.
Hollow grind: This is the sharpest grind but also the weakest. The edge is beveled to a concave shape on both sides.
Convex grind: This is technically the opposite of a hollo grind. The blade is edged on both sides in a rounded convex curve, thus the name.
Chisel grind: Chisel grind has only one side edged. This results in an excellent hunting knife.
Double bevel: This grind resembles the flat grind but has a secondary slope in between the edge and the spine. The result is an edge that appears ‘stepped.’
Full tang vs Partial tang – What’s the Difference?
If you choose to have a fixed blade knife, you cannot afford to ignore the tang type. The tang of a fixed blade is the metallic part that extends into the handle.
The knife blade is weakest at the point where the tang and the blade separate. This is where the different tangs originate, i.e., full tang, partial tang, hidden tang, and stick tang.
The best camping knife is one with a full tang. A full tang is as broad as the blade and extends the full length of the handle. This eliminates the weak point where the handle meets the blade.
The tang may be contoured like the handle, and then the two opposite handle scales are glued onto it with epoxy or are riveted.
A hidden tang resembles the full tang. This tang extends through almost the entire handle length and is short of the blade’s width by a small margin. This results in a tang that can be slid and glued into the handle.
Partial and stick tangs are the weakest types. These tangs may extend the entire length of the handle, but they are usually narrow compared to the blade. Knives with such tangs are generally not ideal for any laborious work.
Different Handles to Consider?
The knife could be your only cutting tool out in the wild. You need a knife that is comfortable to hold for extended periods.
Although most knife handles are made smooth without hot spots, the end of the handle could give you blisters if your palm is too large for the handle. The handle should be long enough to maximize the moments about the cutting point. This way, you cut easily and comfortably.
The size of the blade and that of the handle should be proportional for the best cutting experience.
The handle material should also offer sufficient and comfortable grip across various working conditions. If you were skinning some game, the wetness should not make the handle slippery.
The popular options for camping knife handle include plastic, rubber, wood, aluminum, stainless steel, and fiberglass.
Aluminum, steel, and wooden handles are tough and durable but perform poorly in wet conditions. Plastic and fiberglass are lightweight options that can also be durable but are slippery when wet. Rubber offers an excellent grip in wet conditions but doesn’t last like the other materials.
There are composite materials that have proven to work better than the above materials. Rubber, for example, can be textured to offer more cushioning to the hand when chopping hardwood. Examples of such rubber include Hypalon and Krayton rubbers.
Plastic may be fiber-reinforced to impart strength and durability. A good example here would be Zytel and G-10 plastics.
The other composite, mainly applied in survival knives (which are great camping knives, by the way), is linen Micarta. This is simply canvas that has been impregnated with resin and then heated to liquefy. The molten canvas is then pressurized and cooled to solidify, resulting in rigid and stable material.
Some handles have a blank grip where you can conceal some survival items. Other handles may have a protruding tang that forms into a mini-hammer.
Again, you need to consider the purpose and expectations during camping to decide on the best handle material.
Importance of the blade cutting edge?
The type of cutting edge is as important as the type of the knife. There are two main types of cutting edges- the straight and the recurved edges.
Straight cutting will come in either positive, negative, or neutral rake angles depending on the intended use.
A positive rake angle edge has the bolster extending downwards at an angle. The result is an increased angle of attack, which simplifies cutting and slicing.
A negative rake angle edge extends upwards from the bolster. The reduced angle of attack makes the cutting edge advance effortlessly through the material being cut. You’ll apply lesser pressure on the knife when cutting.
A knife with a recurved edge has a straight section from the Ricasso, which changes to a positive rake angle as it nears the blade center. The rest of the edge has a negative rake angle. A recurved edge is thus ideal for both cutting and slicing as well as heavier tasks.
It’s also common to find knife edges described according to the exact angle, considering that the edge is beveled on both sides.
An angle of between 10 and 17 degrees produces a soft but very sharp cutting edge. A knife sharpened to within this range is most suited for lighter jobs due to the softer edge. Fish filleting, cutting, and slicing meat are suited for such a blade edge.
The ordinary kitchen knife has the edge sharpened at 18-25 degrees. The resultant edge is sharp enough for most activities and retains sharpness for fair usage.
Angles beyond 30 degrees are better for cutting tools that need some force during work. Such tools may include axes and machetes.
Although any camping trip may have its unique requirements, a sharpening angle of between 25 and 30 is ideal in most cases.
Best Camping Knife – Our Top 10 Picks
The Morakniv Garberg fixed blade knife is perhaps the most wear-resistant brand in the market. Made from carbon steel, the Morakniv comes with a sharper edge compared to the stainless steel counterpart and is a bit harder at 12C27.
With a blade measuring 4.3 inches, this Morakniv is suitable for food preparation, cutting tinder, and carving. Its handle is patterned to offer high friction for a tight grip.
Just so that you don’t hurt yourself while carrying, this knife comes with a matching plastic sheath, with a belt clip so you can hang it around your pants.
- Fixed blade design
- Matching-color plastic sheath
- Tough razor
- Patterned grip
- Overall length: 8.6″
- Blade length: 4.3″
- Blade thickness: 0.1″
- Weight with sheath: 5.76 oz
- Weight without sheath: 4.1 oz
- Belt clip
- Easy to sharpen at any angle
- Has durable carbon steel blade
- Patterned grip for greater control and performance
- Has a belt clip
- Blade is exceptionally tough
- Highly versatile
- Corrosion resistant
- Gets blunt easily
Billed as an ultimate king of fixed blade knives, the GERBER strongarm was made with the idea of survival knife. Anyone would understand that for a knife to be fit for the survival category, it must possess an extremely tough blade, preferably fixed. This is what the GERBER strongarm is.
Weighing only 0.4 kg, the knife is made of a ceramic fine-edge and full tang 420HC blade and a metal handle. GERBER’s has striking pommel that enables you to break through hard surfaces in case of emergencies, or when need be.
This product of the Oregon factory USA proudly comes with a sheath and four mounting pieces.
- Ceramic blade
- Metal handle
- Multiple mounting design
- Weight: 7.2 oz
- Blade length: 4.8″
- Overall length: 9.8″
- diamond texture rubber handle
- Multi-mount system
- Exceptionally tough: cuts even hard ground
- Sharp blade
- Strong grip under any conditions
- Beautifully modeled for the aesthetic lovers
- Has relatively thick spines
The CRKT M16-14SFG EDC Knife is arguably for the perfection-loving user. The knife has a G10 fiberglass handle which provides unmatched grip in all conditions. the automated liner safety adds an extra layer of safety when using the knife.
The blade is intricately engineered to give the serrated edge superior cutting ability. Since the blade is made of high carbon stainless steel, the edge holds exceptionally well.
The knife comes with a lifetime limited warranty. This is a good gesture on what the CRKT M16-14SFG EDC Knife is capable of.
- Foldable design
- Open-chambered fiberglass handle
- Automated liner safety
- High carbon stainless steel blade
- Tanto point blade shape
- Plain/serrated edge
- 5.9 ounces
- 5″ long blade
- Offers superior safety
- Has an extremely tough and durable blade
- Deploys smoothly
- Easy to use
- Has a lifetime limited warranty
- Excellent grip handle
- The crossguard is too large to carry in the pocket.
If you’ll be hunting through most of your camping period, you’ll most definitely thank yourself for having a Mossy Oak hunting knife. as the name suggests, while the knife can perform other tasks such as food preparation, its specially designed for hunting.
The knife is made of stainless steel thus will not rust even when exposed to the basic nature of blood. This however doesn’t mean that you should leave your knife uncleaned after a catch. The stainless steel substance also helps in extra hardening of the knife.
The knife’s clip point blade is razor sharp and has a saw back and a black anodize. the knife weighs 16.8 oz and has an overall length of 15″.
- Fixed blade
- Overall length: 15″
- Blade length: 10″
- Blade thickness: 3.8 mm
- Comes with sharpener and fire starter
- Heavy nylon sheath
- TRP rubber-coated handle
- Snug uninterrupted grip
- Easy to sharpen
- Highly versatile
- Very sharp blade
- Amazing spark stick
- Durable nylon sheath
- Comes relatively dull
The Morakniv Companion MG is popular for its compact handle and strong blade both of which contribute to the great versatility of the tool. The knife is designed to offer high-edge performance, coupled with high performance of the grip.
This Morakniv brand comes in military green color and its blade is made of high carbon steel. The knife weighs a cool 3.9 oz, so you’ll have no bulk in carrying it around.
Morakniv Companion MG is approximately 8.6″ long, and comes with a plastic sheath and a belt clip.
- Fixed Blade is extremely hard and tough
- Classic scandi grind
- Patterned high-performance grip
- Matching sheath and belt clip
- Weight: 3.9 oz
- Blade length: 4.1″
- Overall length: 8.6″
- Blade thickness: 2.0mm
- Color: military green
- Light weight
- Compact sheath
- Grips well on hands
- Easy to sharpen
- Tough blade may be used to cut wood
- No gimping
The Kershaw Clash Knife blade is made from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel. The edge is then coated with an oxide finish to prevent oxidation. The result is an extremely tough blade that holds an edge reasonably well.
The handle is made of contoured glass-textured nylon material. This makes the grip firm and comfortable.
You can do multiple things with this knife, given the partially serrated edge and an enhanced handle. The serrated part can help cut ropes and any other tough stuff, while the smooth cutting edge can do the rest that a knife does.
For safety, the Kershaw Clash Knife handle has a SpeedSafe assisted opening feature and a locking pin to keep the blade in place when cutting.
- Assisted opening
- Pocket clip
- 8Cr13MoV Stainless Steel material
- Glass-reinforced nylon handle
- Drop point blade design
- Plain/serrated edge
- 3.1″ long blade
- 68 grams
- Made of high-quality stainless steel
- The oxide coating effectively resists corrosion
- Lightweight and easy to use
- It can be carried around in the pocket
- The smooth blade length feels too short
- It’s more suited for right-handed campers
The Kershaw Brawler Folding Pocket Knife (1990) is a foldable midsized knife that stretches to 7.4 inches. The blade is 3.25 inches, while its weight is under 4 ounces. Combined with the 4-inch length when folded, the low weight makes it an ideal compact knife to have in your pocket.
Notably, the short blade (3.25″) is compliant with regulations across most states. You’re far, much less likely to land in trouble with this knife.
The blade shape is tanto point. Although this blade tip might be challenging to sharpen, it is one of the best lightweight, heavy-duty compact knives.
- Glass-reinforced handle material
- V grind edge
- Tanto point blade
- 3.25-inch long blade
- 8Cr13MoV steel
- It’s a tactical knife
- Has a frim-grip handle
- Short blade conforms to regulations in many states
- Excellent performance and edge holding
- The coating can come off, exposing the blade to corrosion and rusting
- The pocket clip is very tight.
The MTech USA is a black blade stainless steel folding knife with spring assist feature that allows faster deployment and folding. The deployment mechanism is further enhanced with a thumb stud. You just press the stud, and the blade deploys.
The locking mechanism is reliable to keep the blade from closing on your finger when using the knife. The blade is aluminum-made, guaranteeing longevity and good grip in dry conditions.
The knife is further enhanced with a pocket clip to simplify carrying the knife. You can save some space from your pockets. A seatbelt cutter and a glass breaker tip are other crucial features of this knife. You could deal with emergencies with ease if you have this knife.
- Stainless steel material
- Aluminum handle
- Clip point blade shape
- 4.75″ blade
- 6mm blade thickness
- Seatbelt cutter
- Glass breaker tip
- 6″ folded length
- 1.37 lbs.
- It’ a very durable knife
- It’s affordable
- Can handle most challenging jobs a knife can possibly handle
- It’s a versatile knife
- The blade may be too thick for some campers
- It’s hard to sharpen the blade
- Slippery handle when wet
Morakniv Crafline 511 is more about utility and versatility than it is about style. Nevertheless, do not underestimate Morakniv Crafline 511 visual appeal. It feels just like it looks.
The knife has a 3.6″ fixed blade. The blade is made of high carbon steel for extra toughness and easier sharpening. Due to the high hardness, the material holds an edge considerably well.
The handle is made from TPE rubber that cushions some shock when cutting.
- Fixed blade design
- Hard plastic sheath
- TPE rubber handle
- Carbon steel
- Blade length: 3.5″
- Overall length: 8.25″
- Blade thickness: 0.08″
- Weight: 3.9 ounces
- Drop point blade shape
- Plain edge
- It is affordable
- Durable high carbon steel blade
- Cushioned rubber handle
- Retains the edge even with repeated rough use
- The sheath can hold an extra knife
- Comes with a lifetime limited warranty
- Has a partial tang
This knife is a semi folding knife adapted for just about anything. The blade has a clip point and is sharpened on one side, making it the ideal all-around knife.
If your camping trip could involve fishing, bush crafting, or outdoor survival activities, this knife could prove the most useful among your gear. The knife is also used in military, defense, and DIY activities, so you can use it pretty much anywhere.
The blade steel is the Matte 440C grade stainless steel resistant to corrosion and holds an edge really well. You may not need to carry a camping knife sharpener along. The stainless steel finish is also resistant to scratches. You’ll have your blade looking new even after sharpening the edge a couple of times.
- Semi foldable
- Aluminum handle
- Stainless steel blade
- Blade length 3.42″
- Total Length 7.75″
- Weight only 4.40 oz.
- Clip point blade
- Visually appealing
- Has a locking pin for safety during use and when stored
- Has a comfortable grip
- Comes with a rigid sheath
- It is foldable and thus compact
- Needs to tighten the screws on purchase
- It’s heavier than other knives in the same line
Are camping knives legal?
Camping knives are legal, but the regulations vary from one state to another. Since these laws may vary considerably, always do research on the legality of carrying camping knives to the place(s) you want to camp.
How do you sharpen a camping knife?
You can sharpen a camping knife in various ways, including a dedicated and precise sharpening system to a simple hand-held tool.
Of course, you don’t need a complicated tool out in the wild. You could use either simple ceramic steel or a whitestone. Just don’t go for a heavy sharpener or a piece of equipment that takes up a lot of storage space.
How do you clean a camping knife?
A fixed blade knife is easier to clean than the foldable type. You need soap, water, and a non-abrasive scouring sponge. Handle the cutting edge with care as you clean, and dry the knife before storing it.
A foldable knife requires a Q-tip to remove the dirt trapped around the hinge. You may use another sharp-tipped object to remove excess dirt in the wild and then do a proper clean-up using a Q-tip and compressed air at home.
What are the best camping knife brands?
Over the years, camping knife manufacturers have distinguished themselves with quality. Some of the best brands to choose from include the American Spyderco, SOG, Morakniv, Buck Knives, Gerber, the Swedish Faumllkniven, the German Boumlker, the French Opinel.
A camping knife is one of the essentials for camping. Just like you wouldn’t carry a stove or boots that are too small or too big, ensure you bring along the right knife for the intended tasks.
The above review includes both foldable and fixed blade knives that are popular with campers. Before settling on the looks in an engraved handle, or a long, fancy-looking knife, have it in mind that you need the knife for serious work.
Do not expect just one knife to handle all the tasks. In fact, you can carry up to three different knives for different jobs.
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