Best Camping Knives of 2021
A good knife is one of the more useful and versatile tools that you can take with you into the wilderness. Not only will a camping knife come in handy when it comes to meal prep and making small repairs to your tent, sleeping bag, or gear but it can also be useful when collecting tinder to start a fire, bushwhacking through difficult terrain, and any number of other emergency uses.
In a pinch, a proper knife may even help to fend off a dangerous predator. If you’re in the market for a new camping knife, there has never been a better time to go shopping. There are literally dozens of knives on the market to choose from, coming in a wide array of sizes and with some surprisingly useful options.
Sorting through all of those different choices can be confusing, making what should be a simple process a lot more complicated. Fear not, however, as we’ve sorted through the top camping knives that are currently available, identifying the ones that are most worth your time and money. These are our picks for the best camping knives of 2021.
What to Look for in a Camping Knife
On the surface, a knife seems like a fairly simple product. After all, this is a tool that has been around in a wide variety of styles for thousands of years. As it turns out, there are a surprising number of things to consider when it comes to selecting the right knife for you. In fact, deciding which knife best meets your needs usually comes down to personal preference.
For example, one of the first choices you’ll have to make is whether or not you want a fixed blade or a foldable knife. A fixed blade knife tends to offer more stability, which is important when cutting through tougher materials. They also offer a wider variety of widths and lengths.
On the other hand, a folding knife, also known as an opinel or a penny knife is more compact and easier to carry. The fact that the blade collapses out of the way provides a measure of safety and convenience too. Most knives that fall into the EDC or “every day carry” category are folding models for this very reason.
The size of the knife will also play a role when it comes to deciding which knife is right for you. Many buyers make the mistake of choosing an overly large blade in part because they happen to look impressive. The reality is, most of us don’t need an extremely large blade, as they tend to be cumbersome and bulky. This can also make them less safe to use when compared to smaller, easier-to-manage options.
That said, you do want a knife with a blade that can be used to cut through thick materials, such as cloth, ropes, wood, or vines. Although we mention wood, cutting firewood would require a hatchet or ax. Once again, the overall size will come down to your personal preferences, but we have generally found that fixed and folding blade models that are 8-11 inches (20-28 cm) in length are the most useful and efficient.
Handle and Blade
Another factor to consider when purchasing a knife is what material the blade is made from. Obviously, you’ll want something that is durable and can hold a good edge, but beyond that, the type of metal used in the knife’s construction can have an impact on its overall performance. For instance, a high carbon stainless steel blade is lightweight, strong, and remains sharp even after extended use. But these types of blades also have a greater tendency to rust, requiring more diligent maintenance to keep them clean and functional. Meanwhile, a stainless steel blade will resist oxidation, but is also heavier and isn’t as adept at staying sharp. The quality of the metal varies greatly too, which is why we recommend only buying a model that uses 440 stainless steel or higher. While the blade tends to get the bulk of the attention, the hilt—or handle—of a knife is just as important. You’ll want a handle that is long enough to firmly hold in your hand and can be gripped comfortably for extended periods of time. It should also be made from a durable material, such as wood or stainless steel. High-quality plastic and rubber handles are reliable options too and perform especially well in wet environments. Try to avoid buying a knife with an ornately carved handle, however. These models may look nice, but they provide little in the way of added functionality in the field and can actually make the knife harder to hold. Finally, carefully examine any additional features or accessories that may be included with the knife. Most fixed blades—and many folding models—will come with a case for instance, but if they don’t, you may want to buy one separately. Some blades might feature a serrated edge for cutting through thicker materials, while others may include a fire starter that can help spark a campfire at your campsite. And while some of these extra features may seem a bit superfluous at first, they can prove to be extremely useful whether you are in the wilderness or state parks.
The Top 10 Best Camping Knives of 2021
Now that we have a better understanding of what we should be looking for in a camping knife we’re better equipped to decide which models are the right ones for us to carry with us on our outdoor recreation adventures. This is a rundown of our favorite knives that are currently on the market.
1 Morakniv Companion Spark
|Overall Length||9 in. (22.8 cm)|
|Blade Length||4.3 in. (10.9 cm)|
|Weight||9.6 oz (272 grams)|
2 Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife
|Overall Length||10 in. (25.4)|
|Blade Length||4.8 in. (12.1 cm)|
|Weight||14.7 oz (417 grams)|
3 Spyderco Tenacious Folding Knife
|Overall Length||7.75 in. (19.7 cm)|
|Blade Length||3.4 in. (8.6 cm)|
|Weight||3.2 oz (90 grams)|
4 Kershaw Clash
|Overall Length||7.25 in. (18.4 cm)|
|Blade Length||3.1 in. (7.87 cm)|
|Weight||4.3 oz (122 grams)|
5 Gerber StrongArm
|Overall Length||9.8 in. (24.9 cm))|
|Blade Length||4.8 in. (12.2 cm)|
|Weight||7.9 oz (221 grams))|
6 Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Camping Survival Knife
|Overall Length||9.15 in. (23.2 cm)|
|Blade Length||4.4 in. (11.2 cm)|
|Weight||7.7 oz (218 grams)|
7 Victorinox SwissChamp Swiss Army Knife
|Overall Length||Varies based on the tools|
|Blade Length||3.6 in. (9.1 cm)|
|Weight||6.5 oz (184 grams)|
8 KA-BAR USMC Straight Edge
|Overall Length||11.8 in. ( 30 cm)|
|Blade Length||7 in. (17.8 cm)|
|Weight||11.2 oz (317 grams)|
9 Helle Utvær Knife
|Overall Length||7.25 in. (18.4 cm)|
|Blade Length||4 in. (10 cm)|
|Weight||5.6 oz (160 grams)|
10 Buck Knives 192 Vanguard
|Overall Length||8.5 in. ( 22 cm)|
|Blade Length||4.25 in. (10.8 cm)|
|Weight||6.3 oz (179 grams)|
Are camping knives legal?
The short answer to this is yes, although if you live in the U.S. you may want to check the specific laws that govern your state. For instance, in California, most knives—including camping knives—are legal to carry. There are a few exceptions, however, as switchblades with blades over 2 inches, daggers, ballistic knives, are forbidden.
Where is the best place to buy camping knives?
There are a number of fantastic outlets online where knives can be purchased, including specialty knife sites and outdoor gear retailers. But, it is hard to beat Amazon, as the selection vast and the prices are usually the best around.
Do these knives come with sheaths?
Generally speaking, yes—most camping knives will come with a sheath of some kind. The exception to this could be some folding knives that are designed to be carried in a pocket. It is highly unusual for a fixed-blade knife to not come with a sheath, however.
What other accessories come with these knives?
While a sheath is easily the most common camping knife accessory, some models will come with additional items too. For instance, a ferrite rod that can be used as a fire starter is often included with a survival knife. A sharpening stone to keep the edge of the blade well-honed is another popular accessory. Depending on the style of the knife and the manufacturer, other included items could be matches, paracord, a small compass, or other survival-focused products.
What are the top camping knife brands?
There are literally dozens of excellent knifemaking brands that make high-quality knives for use in the outdoors. Some of the best include Gerber, Benchmade, CRKT, Buck, and Spyderco. This list just scratches the surface and there are plenty of other smaller, boutique brands making outstanding camping knives these days.
How do I sharpen my knife?
Keeping your knife sharp and ready for use is an important skill to know and we could write an entire article on that topic alone. In short, however, you’ll run the blade of your knife across a whetstone at an angle, slowly honing the edge as you go. Sharpening a camping knife is not a complicated procedure, but it does require a little practice and patience. You can read more about how to do it here.
How do I properly clean my knife?
Because their primary purpose is to be used in the outdoors, camping knives can get quite dirty, requiring a good cleaning from time to time. The process of doing that is easy and straightforward, although if you have a blade that isn’t made from stainless steel, you may need to do it more often. The easiest way to clean your knife is to simply rinse it out in hot water and use a mild soap to scrub it clean. This will remove most dirt, dust, and other debris that is has collected. But some knives, particularly pocket knives, have crevasses and corners that may require a bit more attention. Using a q-tip, toothpicks, or a small brush, scrub these hard-to-reach places thoroughly. You may be surprised at how much gunk can collecting in these areas. When you’re all through, be sure to use a soft cloth or paper towel to dry off the knife and to remove any excess moisture. If left to dry on its own, the moisture could promote corrosion, which is what we’re looking to avoid in the first place.
Are Bear Grylls knives any good?
We included one of Bear Grylls camping knives in our “best camping knives” round-up for a reason. Made by Gerber with input from Bear himself, these knives are excellent options for anyone looking for a versatile, high-quality model that is durable, comfortable, and thoughtfully designed. Grylls is careful about the products that he puts his name on and that approach shows through in the knives that carry his brand logo.
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