I always know that a worthy adventure is about to unfold when I clip the Kydex sheath for my bushcraft knife onto my belt. I do not carry my bushcraft knife every day but on hunting, hiking, camping, and fishing adventures I keep it on my belt.
I have used that knife to start a fire in the Appalachian Mountains and filet fish in the wetlands of Virginia. It was made by a brand named Arthos which no longer produces knives. However, the knife has long outlasted its brand and was well worth the $70 price tag.
We are going to explore the best bushcraft knife under $100 through a list of knives that I have found and used over the years. I am a happily admitted budget outdoorsman. Not only am I keen on buying affordable gear, but I also do not carry the gear junkie gene.
While we will discuss what makes a good bushcraft knife, we will also discuss the importance of preference. Both are critical in your search for the best bushcraft knife under $100.
What Is a Bushcraft Knife?
There are different knives for different purposes. You probably use a few different kinds of knives for preparing food in your kitchen. These are kitchen knives with blades and handles that are designed to be effective in the preparation of food.
The purpose of the bushcraft knife is to perform in the woods and wild places. It is a knife that is designed to be sturdy, easy to sharpen, and durable. You won’t spend a lot of your time slicing herbs with your bushcraft knife.
However, you could find yourself using a baton to bash the blade of that knife through some wood to split it for your fire. This is a practice called batoning and it is not something you can do with your average pocket knife.
Above all, your bushcraft knife should be dependable because in a survival situation it could be the tool that keeps you alive.
You have to understand what a good knife is if you are going to find the best bushcraft knife under $100.
Bushcraft Knife Criteria
With so much riding on this bushcraft knife, how do you even begin to choose the right one? There are tons of knives on the market today. There are some really beautiful knives that are handcrafted but would not be up to snuff as a quality bushcraft knife.
Just because a knife is big does not make it a bushcraft knife. A beautiful Damascus blade does not mean it qualifies as a bushcraft knife.
There are some tried and true criteria for choosing the very best bushcraft knife under $100. These were mostly laid out by Dave Canterbury of the Pathfinder School. This set of criteria is how I choose my bushcraft knives and I have always had great success in the woods with all my bladed tools.
You should know the criteria if you are going to decide on the best bushcraft knife under $100. It gives you a good base to start from.
Full Tang Fixed Blade
A fixed blade knife is a knife that does not fold and the blade stays stationary. Folding pocket knives are not fixed blades. A chef’s knife or a butter knife are examples of a fixed blade.
In the world of fixed blade knives, there are two types. The most durable fixed blade knives are full tang. These full-tang blades are basically made completely from one piece of metal. In other words, the knife and the handle are all one piece of metal. The handle is basically wood or plastic that is affixed to the metal handle portion of the knife.
A partial tang knife is different. This kind of knife is made up of a blade and a short tail extending off the blade. That tail is then driven into and secured to the handle of the knife. The metal blade and the handle are two different pieces.
The full tang knife is what you want for a bushcraft knife. This is because a partial tang knife can separate under the stress of things like batoning or even just wear and tear. If your knife blade pops out of your handle then you have a new project behind bushcrafting or survival.
If you were depending on that knife in a survival situation then you now have some real trouble.
5-6 Inch Blade
Your bushcraft knife should have some length to it. You want a knife that is long enough to handle some tough tasks but also not so long that you are carrying a machete on your belt. There is a balance to achieve with any bushcraft knife and that balance is right around 5-6 inches.
This is long enough to baton wood and short enough to complete fine carving tasks.
High Carbon Steel
High carbon stainless steel is a great metal for knife making. It makes a blade that holds an edge really well which adds to the durability. A high carbon steel blade will also throw sparks if you strike it with a piece of flint, chert, or glass.
These sparks act just like a flint and steel firestarter if you need to get a fire started in a survival situation. A knife that can do a variety of tasks is always a candidate for best bushcraft knife under $100
90 Degree Spine
One of the most important parts of any best bushcraft knife under $100 is the sharp 90-degree spine. This design allows you to strike a ferrocerium rod on the spine of your knife rather than on the blade. Striking with your blade will quickly affect the sharpened edge.
The 90-degree spine also allows you to process tinder for fire with that sharp spine. Tearing things like bark up and breaking it down is easy with that 90-degree spine.
The pommel on your knife is the small metal portion that sticks out at the bottom. This is a great tool to have at your disposal. It can also be used to process tinder for fire. It can mimic the blunt end of something like a hammer where that might be needed.
Having a way to protect and carry your bushcraft knife is also very important. You should be able to hike, climb, run, and get around without worrying about your knife falling off your hip. Not to mention it is a much safer option to have the knife in a sheath rather than bouncing around in your pack.
The Best Bushcraft Knife Under $100
This list of knives contains some of the best names in knife making. There are also some smaller companies you may have never heard of. Each knife costs less than $100 and some considerably less. Read on to find the best bushcraft knife under $100 for you
1. Condor Tool Swamp Romper
Condor Tools makes a slew of different knives. They are very affordable. This 4-1/2 inch blade has walnut handles that are well finished and easy to grip. The Condor Swamp Romper is made in El Salvador. It is a full tang blade with that highly desirable 90-degree spine.
There aren’t a ton of knives of this quality that are sitting at this price point. For the bushcrafter, this is quite the find. I would not only check out this knife from Condor Tools but also take a look at its full page of offerings. They have many knives for sale under $100.
2. Morakniv Survivor
Mora has long made very effective and highly affordable bushcraft knives. The price of these knives has gone up consistently over time but what hasn’t? These are high-quality knives with razor-sharp scandi grind blades.
You cannot talk about the best bushcraft knife under $100 without mentioning Morakniv.
There are few Mora’s that meet all the above criteria for the ideal bushcraft knife but these knives are still very effective and have been used by people like Dave Cantebury on outdoor adventures.
This tool in particular is bright orange and features an included ferrocerium rod with the sheath. Mora Knives have very reliable sheathes. This knife also has a built-in knife sharpener on the sheath. It is a great option for any beginner bushcrafter and features some other bushcraft tools, too!
3. Ontario Knife Company Bushlore
The Ontario Knife Company is a highly respectable knife brand. What they have achieved with the Bushlore is a very affordable bushcraft knife that checks off a lot of the boxes on our criteria list. This is a 5-inch, full tang, knife with a comfortable grip made from American walnut. This survival knife is made from high carbon stainless steel and is a simple drop point blade.
The Bushlore even comes with a sheath so it really is hitting on all the high notes when it comes to bushcraft criteria. There is no doubt this knife deserves consideration as the best bushcraft knife under $100.
4. Classic Blades QR50
The QR50 by Classic blades is one of the most complete Bushcraft knives on this list. It is hard to believe you can put this knife in the category of best bushcraft knife under $100. You could easily spend $100 or more on a knife of this quality.
It features a 5-inch 1095 high carbon steel blade. The handles are beautifully crafted micarta. It even features the desired pommel and a well-crafted leather sheath.
If you are looking for a serious best bushcraft knife under $100 right out of the box this is a great option.
5. Gerber Strong Arm
This is a big boy knife! The Gerber Strong Arm is a lot of knife and it is a big much for me as a bushcraft knife. That is my personal preference. More on preference later. I do love the nice wide blade that is just under 5 inches. The handle is strange to me and I prefer the G-10 grips or American wooden handles on a bushcraft knife.
This knife does feature a great pommel, sheath, and is high carbon steel it certainly meets the criteria laid out. I know many people who carry it and love it. Gerber is a reliable knife brand and a solid option for the best bushcraft knife under $100.
It certainly has the potential to be your choice for the best bushcraft knife under $100.
6. Ottoza Handmade Bushcraft Knife
I am not familiar with this brand but this survival knife is a looker and the creators have done their homework. Ottoza deserves your consideration for the best bushcraft knife under $100.
They keep it pretty simple with this stunning Damascus blade and handmade sheath. The handle is five inches and the blade is five inches. It features a great pommel and while it doesn’t have the nice wide 90-degree spine you can work with it.
It took me a while to find it and I thought they would be more forthcoming but the handle is made of an actual ram horn which is an added bonus!
The Importance of Preference
Seeking out the best bushcraft knife under $100 might seem like a science or a process that involves rigorous criteria. It can be easy to listen to “experts” and forget the one key element in buying yourself the bushcraft knife under $100 for you. That of course is the person who will actually use the knife.
You are not buying this knife for me or some bushcraft instructor. This is going to be the knife that you use on your own adventures.
So keep the tips and criteria in mind but carry the knife that fits you and that you are really proud to carry. Remember, this is your journey above all so don’t forget to include your preference.
Have We Found the Best Bushcraft Knife Under $100?
All that is left to be seen is if one of these bushcraft knives makes its way into your backpack. Have we found the best bushcraft knife under $100? The hard part was certainly not sourcing several great knives.
We leave the hardest part with you. Which one of these knives will be yours? Remember the bushcraft knife criteria and, of course, do not forget about preference. If you are going to carry this knife into your own bushcraft camp then you should really like the thing!
Every knife on this list will give you the ability to practice your bushcraft skills in the woods and know that you have a durable knife that will go the distance for you. If you’d like to read more about bushcraft knives, bushcraft axes, and other bushcraft gear, check out my other bushcraft articles.