Camping is one of the most popular pastimes in the country, whether you’re going it alone or enjoying a weekend with friends and family. There are many important things to take along with you on your camping trip, but a camping knife is at the top of the list.
A good camping knife can help you with many different tasks and make your camping trip more enjoyable. In this article, we’ll look at how to choose the best camping knife for you, as well as some of the top options available.
How to Choose the Best Camping Knife
It’s important to understand that the best camping knife for your buddy might not be the best camping knife for you. It all depends on what you consider important in a camping knife and what tasks you plan on competing with it. Let’s look at some of the most important features to consider when searching for the right camping knife.
The Type of Knife You Need
There are two basic types of camping knives that you have to choose between.
- Fixed-blade knives
If you don’t have to worry about the size of the knife or how heavy it is, fixed-blade knives are preferable. Fixed-blade knives usually come with a holding sheath to protect the blade and yourself since you can’t fold the blade down. This type of camping knife is usually larger and more versatile than other camping knives.
- Folding knives
If you’re tight on space or don’t need a giant knife for most of your tasks, a folding knife is another excellent choice. Folding knives are smaller and more compact than their fixed-blade counterparts and can usually fit nicely into your pocket for easy carrying. You won’t be able to do as much food prep or heavy cutting with a folding knife, but it’s an excellent option for light packing.
The Best Camping Knife Material
The material that the blade and handle are made of is extremely important, especially that of the blade. Most blades are made of steel, but there are various types of steel, ranging from soft to hard to carbon steel. If you don’t plan on doing heavy cutting, soft steel is a decent choice because it’s easier to get razor-sharp.
However, harder steel or carbon steel is much more durable and heavy-duty and will give you more working and cutting options.
The Best Camping Knife Blade Coating
A special coating for your blade is a bit of a Catch-22 for your camping knife. A protective or enhancing coating on your blade will make it sharper, protect it better, and increase its beauty, but at a price. Having a special coating on your blade removes any possibility of using it as a fire starter.
If you plan to take matches or a lighter with you, this isn’t a big deal. If you were planning on roughing it and living the life of a true outdoorsman, you’d need your camping knife as a fire-starter.
The Versatility of the Best Camping Knife
Versatility plays into the same thought process as having a blade coating. Fire-starting ability and multiple-blade options will determine how versatile your camping knife is and could play a factor in the one you choose. If you’re tight on packing space and need tools to perform multiple jobs, versatility should be at the top of your priority list.
The Best Camping Knife Budget
As with most things in life and camping, however, your final decision often comes down to your budget. It’s important that you purchase a trustworthy and reliable camping knife, but not at the expense of going broke. Remember, you’ll need to purchase many other tools and items to make for a good camping trip, so don’t blow your entire budget on a single item.
Overall Best Camping Knife
1. Gerber Strongarm
Gerber is a brand becoming synonymous with quality outdoor gear, and the Gerber Strongarm is no exception. It’s considered by many as the overall best camping knife because of its versatility, durability, and price point.
The Gerber blade is partially serrated to aid in sawing wood or smaller branches, and it’s also ceramic coated. Keep in mind that since it’s coated in ceramic, the blade will last longer, look better, and stay sharper, but you also can’t use it as a fire starter. However, not being usable as a fire starter is pretty much the only downside of this bad boy.
The blade is 4.8″ long, razor-sharp, and made of 420 HC steel that’s full-tang and built to last. Weighing in at just over 10 ounces, the Gerber Strongarm is also very lightweight and easy to wield. The handle is coated with rubber and extremely grippy and even features a pummel on the bottom for pounding purposes, making this a best camping knife contender.
- Versatile as the serrated edge and bottom pummel make it usable as a saw or a hammer
- The blade is the perfect length as it’s long enough for most uses but not so long as to be unwieldy.
- The ceramic coating of the blade makes it durable and sharp.
- High-quality steel that’s meant to last.
- Very grippy handle that’s easy to use.
- The solid price point at between $75 and $90.
- The ceramic coating means that it can’t be used as a fire starter.
Best Camping Knife on a Budget
2. UST Full-Tang Paraknife
Despite its extremely low price point, there’s a lot to love about the UST Full-Tang Paraknife from Ust. It’s surprisingly versatile and of decent quality, considering that it only costs $20 to purchase. The partially serrated blade is made of stainless steel and is 4″ long, and stays surprisingly sharp after little to moderate use.
The Full-Tang paraknife is very lightweight and well-balanced and features a handle that’s wrapped in 6′ of paracord. The paracord is easy to grip, but it can also be unraveled if you need an extra cord for fishing, tying, or sewing. Keep in mind that the paracord tends to be looser than most people like right at first, and you may have to tighten it.
This knife also has a built-in magnesium component on the sheath that makes for easy fire-starting. If you’re looking for a camping knife that can do almost anything, the UST Full-Tang Paraknife is one of the best camping knives without breaking the budget.
- The magnesium fire starter is a plus
- Very affordable at just $20
- The knife is well-balanced and surprisingly sharp
- 6′ of paracord on the handle is also a plus
- The blade is rust-resistant, partially serrated, and stainless steel
- There have been complaints that the paracord on the handle is too loose and unwieldy.
- While the quality is surprising for a $20 knife, it’s not as good as knives at higher price points.
Best Camping Knife for Heavy Duty Purposes
3. KA-BAR Becker BK2
If you’re familiar with outdoor knife brands, you’ve probably heard of the legendary KA-BAR Becker BK2. This sucker is one of the best overall camping and everyday purpose knives on the market. It also happens to be one of the most heavy-duty and durable options at your disposal.
The Becker BK2 features a full-tang construction and weighs in at exactly one pound, making it one of the heavier options on this list. Its weight and size mean that you can use it for traditional carving and cutting or as a chopping tool. You’ll be able to cut through anything two to three inches in circumference and smaller with this bad boy.
The blade is made of 1095 Cro-Van steel, which is hard and durable. The bottom of the handle can double as a mallet for hammering in tent stakes or pounding a nail or two. The thickness and strength of the blade make it great for chopping wood, but it also makes it harder to use for food prep and sawing purposes. All-in-all, however, it’s definitely the best camping knife out there for heavy-duty jobs.
- A thick, heavy blade makes for easy chopping.
- The blade is high-quality, durable, and very heavy duty
- The bottom of the handle doubles as a mallet
- The 5.25″ blade is long and sharp
- Its size and weight help with certain things but impede its fine-cutting ability.
- There are also several complaints that the sheath is too tight, which is a minor inconvenience for most.
Best Camping Knife That Folds
4. Sog Salute Mini Tactical Knife
If you’re super tight on space and don’t have room for a fixed-blade camping knife, the Sog Salute Mini is a knife that you should consider. Sog is another brand known for producing high-quality and durable knives, and the Salute Mini is a prime example.
This is a knife that I have personally owned and used for several years now, and I don’t think I would ever consider buying a different brand or style, especially when it comes to EDC pocket knives. The blade is right at 3″ long, and the full folded length is 4″, meaning that it will fit snugly into your pocket.
This best camping knife also features a handy-dandy clip to clip it inside or outside your pocket or onto your backpack. The design is very sleek and modern and meant to make the knife durable and stand up to heavy use and cutting. The blade is made of stainless steel, and the handle consists of rustproof and waterproof fiberglass.
- The totality of the knife is waterproof and rust-resistant.
- It’s designed for everyday use and carrying and features a handy carrying clip.
- The blade is razor-sharp and rarely needs resharpening.
- You can open and close the knife with one hand if necessary.
- This is a knife that you feel safe and protected while carrying, despite its small size.
- Because it’s a folding knife, it won’t be able to fulfill all the chopping and cutting needs of a fixed-blade camping knife.
Other Types of Best Camping Knives
5. Morakniv Companion
While the Morakniv Companion only earns an honorable mention on our list, it takes the top place on several other reputable camping websites. There isn’t a lot to dislike about anything that Morakniv makes, and the Companion is one of their best camping knife options.
The stainless steel blade is ideal for a wide variety of tasks, including meal prep. It’s razor-sharp, high-quality Swedish steel, and meant to last. The blade is 4.1″ long and the entire knife weighs only four ounces. If you’re tight on space or looking for a lightweight, sharp camping knife, the Morakniv Companion fits the bill.
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Razor-sharp, similar to a filet knife
- The stainless steel blade is rust-resistant and durable
- Very affordable at right around $20
- The blade is slightly thin and isn’t meant for heavy cutting or chopping
- The blade requires fairly frequent sharpening
6. Helle Utvaer Knife
If you’ve got a couple of hundred dollars burning a hole in your pocket and want to buy a camping knife that will never give out, the Helle Utvaer Knife is the one for you. Handmade and specially-crafted in Norway, there isn’t much to dislike about the Helle Utvaer outside of the $200+ price tag.
The blade is 4″ long, made of Sandvik 12C27 steel, and features a full-tang design that’s durable and versatile. One of the first things you’ll notice about this knife is the intricate handle made of curly birch wood and is finely shaped to fit perfectly into your hand.
The Helle Utvaer is prized as much for its good looks and sleek design as it is for its use as a camping knife. You can do a lot of different types of cutting, including carving, food prep, light wood-cutting, and using the bottom of the handle as a mallet. It’s the perfect knife to double as a filet knife and a camping knife.
- One of the best-looking and most appealing designs for a camping knife.
- Handmade and crafted in Norway with high-quality steel and wood.
- Razor-sharp and rarely needs to be resharpened if you handle it properly.
- Perfect for gritty and difficult cutting jobs despite its sleek appearance.
- At over $200, this is by far the most expensive camping knife on this list.
Wrapping Up the Best Camping Knife
While there is a lot to consider when choosing the best camping knife for you, any one of the options on this list is excellent. It’s important to consider what your needs are with a camping knife so that you can choose between razor-sharp cutting versus heavy-duty chopping and fire-starting capabilities. With a little planning and forethought, however, choosing the best camping knife is easy and fun!
When it comes to chopping up kindling though, having an axe on hand is a good idea no matter how strong your camping knife is. An axe will cut through thick wood better and leave your camping knife in good shape for appropriate jobs. You can read all about the Best Bushcraft Axe to find the right one for you.