Camping knives are essential tools for survival, as well as utility.
You’d be amazed to find out what goes into a proper camping knife, from full tang blade designs to serrated edges, carbon coatings and all.
We’ve done all that research and planning for you, so you can just pick an excellent camping knife and quickly expand your knowledge on them in a single, simple guide.
Let’s take a look at the number one camping knife right now.
Quick Overview Of Our Best Camping Knife After 14+ Hours Of Research
Why is it better?
5 Best Camping knives
With that in mind, let’s now take a closer look at our top picks.
Let’s dive into the specifics and review each camping knife individually. You can use the list below to jump and review specific models, or you can read along and go through all the information.
Best Overall: Bushcrafter 162
Benchmade simply does it best, and a wide basis of previous users agree.
This fixed blade is designed to withstand anything you throw at it, thanks to the 530V steel construction, and durable no-slip grip on the handle.
It’s built in a diamond weave pattern to grip your skin, and maintain your dexterity while in use.
The inclusive sheath is, unfortunately, a bit weak. You’ve got a sharp knife here, and it doesn’t exactly hold it well.
While this knife is pricey, you should also budget to get a more durable sheath.
That being said, the knife itself has no flaws, and as a gesture of good faith, Benchmade also includes a lifetime sharpening service for absolutely no cost to you.
You don’t even have to pay the postage on the return. Just contact them, get the necessary information, and you’ll get a knife coming back to you that’s as good as new.
That’s also built on top of the lifetime warranty, so you’ll want for absolutely nothing when you side with Benchmade.
- Diamond weave handle provides essential dexterity
- Free sharpening services for life (no postage cost)
- Includes a lifetime warranty
- A bit of weak sheath
- Little bit pricey
- Type: Fixed blade
- Dimensions: 11” x 3” x 2”
- Weight: 7.72 lbs
- Blade Material: CPM-S30V Steel
- Handle Material: G10 resin fiberglass
- Blade Design: Single-sided straight edge
Runner Up: Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
Gerber is one of those ultimate outdoor brands that you just can’t get away from, and who would want to?
They produce affordable, high-end outdoor camping gear, and their collaboration with Bear Grylls might just be the best thing they’ve done in years.
This knife features a textured rubber grip, with a specific area for your index finger to bolster additional support. Given that it’s made with the master of survival in mind, we are a bit surprised that they didn’t make the blade design a full tang.
Basically, that means the blade material runs all the way through the handle, providing stability and support.
The black coating on the blade itself will also wear off in time, but the point (pun intended) remains: it’s a sharp knife that won’t let you down. You’ll get added benefits, such as the steel striking pommel on the base of the hilt for emergency situations.
While they’re traditionally used for breaking windshields during a crash, you can use them to strike tent stakes into the ground, and other tasks around the campsite. There’s also a military grade nylon sheath enclosed, as well as a lanyard through the loop in the hilt’s base.
- Features stainless steel pommel on the hilt
- High carbon steel blade cuts through just about anything
- Includes a military grade nylon sheath
- Coating will wear off over time
- We expected full tang blade design
- Type: Fixed blade
- Dimensions: 13” x 5.5” x 2.2”
- Weight: 5.62lbs
- Blade Material: High carbon stainless steel
- Handle Material: Textured rubber
- Blade DEsign: Partially serrated edge
Best Under $50: Morakniv Fixed Knife
Fixed blades are the preferred type of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere, and Morakniv does true justice to everyone looking for something a bit more tactical.
Starting from the bottom up, you’ll get a high friction rubber grip that helps you retain your dextrous hold on the knife in any situation, and a full hand-to-point blade.
That’s made possible by the extended handle with an ergonomic curve to hold onto your index finge.
They fell flat on the sheath, though. Plastic is never our first choice for a knife sheath, and while it’s thick, the knife sits a little loose in there.
It includes a strap that comes over the hilt, but it’s just a cheaply made addition. We would have actually been happier if they hadn’t included it, but thanks to the cost, you can budget for an additional sheath right off rip.
You’re also able to get it in nine different colors, though we’ve read that brighter colors (orange, lime, sky blue) have been known to wear down very easily. You’ll also get a lifetime warranty straight from the manufacturer, so there’s no dealing with middle management to get your warranty fulfilled.
Morakniv has an outstanding customer service team that genuinely want to help you get through whatever issue it is, and get you back to using your knife.
Apart from that, it doesn’t exactly hurt that you’re getting that level of brand dedication from one of the most inexpensive quality camping knives we’ve ever used.
- Great price
- Designed for cooking, carving and all-around utility use
- Includes a limited lifetime warranty
- High friction grip keeps you in control in survival situations
- Plastic knife sheath
- Brighter colors wear off
- Type: Fixed blade
- Dimensions: 9.1” x 1.8” x 1.4”
- Weight: 5.60 lbs
- Blade Material: 12V27 stainless steel
- Handle Material: High-friction rubber
- Blade DEsign: Single-sided straight edge
Best Pocket Knife: Kershaw Blur Knife
Kershaw is another name that you hear a lot when talking about outdoor goods.
This time around, they’ve gone ahead and created a rather simple and affordable knife with a straightforward design.
You get a durable handle-to-point straight edge, crafted out of the S30V steel that makes up the rest of the knife.
Before we get too into it, the handle leaves a lot to be desired. It’s good for now, but leaving you knife out in moderate heat on the campsite will result in it feeling sticky and eventually coming off.
The handle is mostly made out of steel with rubber grips embedded in key areas, and they just don’t hold up the way we would have expected from Kershaw.
Even with that, this knife is still designed to last for lifetime use. They spared no expense at the grade of steel, and made the blade 3 ⅜” long, so you shouldn’t run into any concealed carry issues or strict laws.
The clip is tempered and won’t encounter any overbending problems, and you get a pre-drilled hole in the hilt to attach a lanyard. Great utility knife, just not the king of the hill.
- Gripping thumb stud provides faster deployment
- Blade length meets nearly all national laws
- Designed to last for lifetime use
- Rubber grips are not durable
- Type: Open-assisted knife
- Dimensions:3 ⅜” blade
- Weight: 4.21 lbs
- Blade Material: S30V steel
- Handle Material: Steel and rubber
- Blade DEsign: Single-sided straight edge
Best For Backpacking: Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife
We’re really excited to talk about this one. Excellent products are centered around solving a problem, and in this case, it solves two at the same time.
Light My Fire is appropriately named for the lanyard and dual flint striking stick that you keep in the handle.
With it, you’ll be able to start roughly 3,000 fires (or at least, 3,000 strikes/attempts) before it ends up running out of material.
That should keep you in ample campfires for years to come. The only rough part is that the flint isn’t in there all too well. It is at first, but after a bit of use, it gets a bit looser.
Light My Fire should also consider upgrading the sheath, since this basic plastic one gets tattered fairly easily.
You’ve got a 3.7” sharp blade here, and the plastic just doesn’t do it justice. It also only supports 1” belts, and the average US belt is 1.5” – 2”, so that’s also a problem.
But where Light My Fire comes back is with their excellent price. The spine on the knife is designed specifically to strike the flint, but also works well as a standalone blade for carving, cleaning game and basic utility use.
You do only get a one-year manufacturer warranty though, and since other brands outdo that with lifetime ones, that’s a bit disappointing.
- Features a fire starter that fits into the handle
- No-slip grip is also friction resistant
- Able to help start up to 3,000 campfires
- Questionable quality of flint
- Type: Fixed blade
- Dimensions: 8.86” x 1.77” x 1.5”
- Weight: 3.35 lbs
- Blade Material: Stainless steel
- Handle Material: ABS plastic
- Blade DEsign: Single-sided straight edge
What To Look For In A Quality Camping Knife?
Blade Size and Length
This matters for legality, but also for your personal handling skills.
If you’re not comfortable wielding a blade, then getting a smaller blade edge and overall length is going to benefit you.
This decision will impact price, utility use, viability in a survival situation, and whether or not you’ll effectively be able to use it to clean game or fish in the wild.
There’s different materials, then there are different grades of said materials.
If you’re going with some kind of steel, you’re already doing well, but there are higher grades such as 316L and 420L, which basically describe different levels of carbon, sulfur, nickel, nitrogen and other materials, and their percentage values.
The higher the L rating, generally speaking, the better,
Durability is going to depend on the grade of your material, but it’s also going to heavily rely on the handle material, edge, and the brand you get it from.
This is something that’s solely tactical; companies aren’t slapping on aesthetics to sell it, they know that you want something reliable.
That’s the demand, and the supply of durable camping knives is far-reaching, so long as you don’t dip down to rock bottom budgets.
We describe five different edge styles that you’ll find in camping knives further on in this guide, each having their own uses.
Watch this great video that explains different types of knife edges:
Edge style traditionally doesn’t affect the cost of your camping knife, but getting the wrong edge style (for your specific needs) can make the knife feel a bit lackluster. Pay attention and grab the right one for your intended use.
Explaining The Different Types Of Camping Knives
If you look up knife handler and collector resources, you’ll know that there’s more than a dozen different primary knife type categories.
For the sake of the subject matter of camping, we’ve disclosed the best types for basic outdoor functions and explained them in detail.
Fixed Blade Camping Knife
There’s no assisted opening, no clip, just a durable sheath attached to your belt or boot.
These run into more legality issues, and usually require a concealed carry permit for travelling outside of campgrounds.
The best fixed blade camping knife for your needs is intended to feel like an extension of yourself.
Assisted Opening Camping Knife
Different from a switchblade, these have a button or latch that help the blade swing open, but generally the dull edge is what swings outward.
These knives are not designed with a tip for stabbing motions, and in most situations are completely legal.
Clip Fold Camping Knife
No assisted opening, but the same design as the aforementioned knife type.
You’ll have to use your thumb to remove the pressure held on by a safety latch, and manually flip the knife out.
Multitool Camping Knife
The blade found in a Swiss Army Knife or similar construction.
These generally aren’t the best camping pocket knife to have for perilous or potentially dangerous situations, but still get basic tasks done.
This type of knife is best for beginners in camping because it’s so universal. They can use it for sponging, making shelters, and so on.
Camping Knife FAQ
We’ve answered all your questions regarding what really goes into the best knife for camping and hiking, explaining blade lengths, materials, edge designs, and laws.
If you have a question about what your ideal camping knife should be, you’re likely to find an answer here.
What Size Knife Should I Buy?
You want to keep a few things in mind when picking a camping knife, such as local laws, and specific campground laws depending on where you’re going.
A 3” knife length should do for most camping-related activities, but if you’re also hunting or fishing while you’re out there, you’ll need something larger to help you clean game and fish.
In this instance, upgrading to a 5” blade or more, when lawful and applicable, is your best bet.
What is the Best Material for a Camping Knife Edge?
You’ll find that the best backpacking knife models use a base of steel: this could be stainless, alloy, carbon, and you will see different grades of them, such as 316L, 420L, and things of that nature.
But what does it all mean?
Unless you’re an avid collector who wants to know the specific details, they don’t mean much: steel is excellent, and while carbon and alloy are stronger, a traditional stainless steel camping knife should handle everything you could ever need in a wilderness setting.
The best pocket knife for camping is one that suits your individual needs, and meets some survival-based scenarios as well.
The only major factor that comes into blade edge materials is their overall lifespan.
If you use your knife a lot, a carbon edge will need to be sharpened less often than a stainless steel one, and therefore you’ll get more use out of it over the years.
Why Are Some Edges Different Material Than the Rest of the Blade?
You’ll find that many good camping knife brands and lineups have different edges.
Some may have a porcelain edge, others may have a carbon steel edge, but there’s two reasons why this is a commonality: cost and effectivity.
You could make the entire camping survival knife blade out of that one material, but it would cost a crazy amount of money.
High carbon steel makes a sharper, more durable edge, but you’re not going to whittle down your knife’s edge all the way to the other side of the blade.
It makes sense for cost-effectiveness, but it’s also far more effective while in use. You can actually see when your edge begins to falter, whether it’s from dozens of sharpenings or simple misuse.
Those edges are colored differently, whether through intervention or the natural material color, so you can keep an eye on the life of your knife.
While we’re here, there’s also something that we usually can’t see, but impacts our camping knife use greatly.
It’s the actual edge style, not just the material. Your knife will likely fall into one of five different categories, depending on its marketed use (i.e., camping kitchen versus utility).
Hollow Edge – This is fairly common among hunting knives, and may be found on larger camping knives as well. This edge shape is better for carving and striking, such as finishing a hunt after an animal has been shot. They can be useful for hacking through a number of things.
Chisel Edge – You’ll see these on traditional Japanese kitchen knives. The Japanese are known to make some of the most high-quality kitchen cutlery ever, One side of the blade is flat, the other is sharpened, creating an uneven V shape. It has better use in the kitchen than the outdoors.
Compound Bevel – Compound bevels are extremely similar to a V-edge, which we’ll talk about in a minute. Instead of a perfect edge, it slightly bows inward towards the end of the blade, creating a broader contact point.
V-Edge – Plain and simple; picture a V, which is perfectly symmetrical on both sides with a harsh point at the bottom. These are knives that simply don’t have any difficult angles, though they generally need sharpening more often.
Convex Edge – A convex edge oddly appears round when you look at it up front, but when these bow together at the edge of the blade, it creates a much sharper point with more force behind it. They can be harder to sharpen, so it may not be good for a first-time knife owner.
How do I Clean my Camping Knife Properly?
Whether it’s designed for utility use or you have the best camping kitchen knife available, it’s going to get grimy, and seize up on you.
The way to avoid this (and bigger problems, like rust and corrosion) is to follow this simple cleaning method, and try to do it at least once every three months, or after every three camping trips where the knife was used.
1) Use the soft side of a sponge, and soak it in warm water. Apply two to three drops of dishwashing detergent to the sponge, and begin gently scrubbing the entire blade. You don’t want to dull it or cut through your sponge, so take it slow and steady.
2) Rinse it off entirely, until zero soap remains. Now inspect the blade, and ensure you’ve gotten all the grime off. You may need to repeat steps one and two a few times to take off the grime.
If you’ve cleaned it off so much that the hinge (folding knife) is beginning to be rough to use, don’t worry, we’re going to address that.
3) If your blade has rust on it, you can use a copper or nylon pad to gently scrape the area and remove the rust, revealing the steel underneath.
This of course will require you to sharpen your knife again before heading out to the campsite, but will keep it aesthetic and sanitary.
4) Use a brand of lubricant such as WD-40, and apply a few drops to the center of your blade. Using a gentle cloth, rub the WD-40 around the entire blade, focusing primarily on the hinge.
You want to grease the entire blade initially to prevent it from getting jammed or stuck after you’ve closed it.
Is It Legal to Carry a Camping Knife?
The best budget camping knife doesn’t necessarily make it the greatest of all time, but in some situations, having gone with a budget-friendly option can help you out.
You’re simply not going to find lengthy, quality blades at rock bottom prices, and you’re also not going to pass through every state and municipality with a certain length blade. Every state in the US has their own laws regarding knife lengths and edges.
To find out what those laws are, you’ll have to search your local government websites for further information, but first, we have a few nuggets of information to help you out.
Pop-up knives, commonly known as switchblades, are simply not legal.
Don’t buy these, don’t bring them anywhere outdoors, or you could face a fine and potential jail time. Instead, you’ll want to go with a fixed blade, or folding knife.
If you happen to find a folding knife with a spring-operated opening mechanism, that’s different than a switchblade, because it’s simply helping you unfold the knife instead of force the pointed edge outward with force.
As for length, the rule of thumb is to not carry knives with a blade length of more than four inches.
There are exceptions, such as if you get a concealed carry permit for a knife, which is definitely worth looking into.
Campgrounds and national parks also have different statues on what constitutes as an acceptable knife blade length.
Open carry in public is treated differently than use in a wilderness or survival setting.
Go Master The Outdoors
After reading all that, you know that camping knives require a much more tactical approach than simply selecting the first one you see online.
A quality camping utility knife can make all the difference in the great outdoors, and now that you’ve found the perfect one for your budget and expectations, it’s time to master the great outdoors like you never thought possible.
Be sure to handle your gear with care, and check out our other camping guides to stay on top of your game.