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 backcountry. Not only will a camping knife come in handy when it comes to meal prep and making small repairs to your 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 very best 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 folding 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 blade widths and lengths.
On the other hand, a folding 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, wood, or vines. 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 carbon 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 fire at your campsite. And while some of these extra features may seem a bit superfluous at first, they can prove to be extremely useful in the backcountry.
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 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)|
Lightweight, well-balanced, and extremely well-crafted, the Morakniv Companion Spark is an excellent option for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels. Its relatively compact design makes it easy to carry, while the 4” (10 cm) blade allows for a level of precision that isn’t common in larger models. The stainless steel blade holds an edge quite nicely, but be warned—the Companion can get very sharp. This makes it perfect for use in preparing meals at the campsite or cutting small kindling to start a fire, but if you get careless you might get cut.
Thanks to its rubberized handle, the Companion is comfortable to use and easy to hang on to. It comes with a match sheath to carry it in and a fire starter, which comes in handy when sparking a blaze after a long day on a trail or in wet conditions. The combination of features, quality, and price make this an easy knife to recommend, particularly for those shopping on a tight budget.
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)|
Often times when a celebrity lends their name to an outdoor product it ends up being a disappointing purchase. That isn’t the case with the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife from Gerber, a company with a long history of making excellent knives for use in the outdoors.
Everything about this model feels good, from the textured and ergonomically contoured rubber grip to the durable high-carbon stainless steel blade. And because it comes with both a fine and serrated edge, this knife proves to be extremely versatile in the field, making it a good choice for use on day hikes, weekend camping trips, or extended backpacking excursions.
Other nice features include a bold, colorful design, and an included custom sheath, sharpener, and fire starter. But the most outstanding feature of the Ultimate Survival Knife has to be just how good it feels in your hand. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another knife that comes anywhere close to the level of comfort that this one offers, which is why it has been a best seller for Gerber over the years.
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)|
The Spyderco Tenacious stands out from most other folding knives for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is its incredibly sharp blade. Straight from the box, this model is ready to start slicing a precision level. Better yet, it can hold that edge for an extended period of time, requiring very little maintenance to its stainless steel blade, which features a dark, non-reflective coating, giving this model a more tactical look.
Thanks to its extremely lightweight, the Tenacious isn’t just a nice option to have around the campsite but serves very well as an everyday carry too. When folded up, it is just 4 inches (10.16 cm) in length, making it easy to tuck into a pants pocket.
It even comes with a four-way pocket clip to hold it securely in place. But don’t let its diminutive size fool you. This is a tough and rugged blade that is comfortable enough for use in a variety of settings from the campsite to the job site to the backyard.
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)|
Another folding knife that is great for EDC, the Kershaw Clash is a useful tool that fits nicely in your pocket both on and off the trail. Its sharp blade offers both a fine edge of course but also features some serration. That isn’t especially common in a knife of this size, nor on a blade that is relatively short in length. Still, this is a knife that handles extremely well, making deft cuts with an outstanding level of fine control.
The Clash’s textured nylon handle provides a solid grip on the knife at all times and it’s one-handed flipper opening system allows you to get it ready for action, even when your hands are full. A well-built locking mechanism ensures that it stays in place when closed too, with an integrated pocket clip to keep it close at hand at all times.
Best of all, the Clash feels exceedingly satisfying in your hand, conveying the sense of stability and strength that you would expect from a much larger model. Add in an affordable price point and you have a folding knife that stands out in an extremely crowded field.
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))|
Another excellent option from Gerber, the StrongArm excels in comfort, durability, and edge retention. This fixed blade model is lightweight and offers outstanding precision, balancing the length of the blade and the handle nicely. The StrongArm’s contoured hilt is very easy to hold on to, even in wet, slippery conditions. Not to be outdone, the 420 high-carbon stainless steel blade features a ceramic coating, which not only keeps oxidation to a minimum but greatly enhances durability too.
In designing the StrongArm, Gerber took a no-nonsense approach, creating a knife that looks simple, yet still manages to pack in plenty of functionality. That same approach applies to the included nylon sheath, which not only provides for ambidextrous use but also offers multiple ways of carrying the knife too. Available in both coyote brown or tactical black, this is a knife that is refined and ready for an adventure.
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)|
Benchmade is another company that has a reputation for making outstanding knives for use in the outdoors and the Bushcrafter 162 is no exception. In fact, this knife is a showcase for the level of thought and design that the company puts into his products. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Bushcrafter’s resin-soaked fiberglass handle, which feels great in hand and allows you to maintain a solid grip, even in the worst weather conditions imaginable.
An equal amount of attention has been given to the fixed stainless-steel blade as well. Robust in its build quality and capable of resisting the elements in its own right, the blade features a slightly curved design, bringing added stability and safety. This unique design includes a slight curve where the blade and the handle together, which helps to prevent the hand from accidentally slipping onto the knife in slippery or wet conditions.
Rounding out the package, the Bushcraft ships with a simple—yet elegant—leather sheath that looks like a throwback from another era. Despite its no-frills design however, the sheath does a great job of holding the knife in place and keeping it well protected while in the backcountry.
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)|
There isn’t a knife that is more well known or recognizable in the entire world than the Swiss Army Knife. Known for its ability to pack in multiple tools in a compact design, the Swiss Army Knife leads the way in terms of functionality that you can fit into your pocket.
With more than 30 tools on its ample body, the SwissChamp keeps that tradition alive and well. Not only are there several different knife blades to choose from, but you’ll also find both a can and bottle opener, a small saw, an integrated screwdriver, and scissors. When it comes to versatility, this knife remains the undisputed champ.
Despite packing in all of those tools, the SwissChamp is surprisingly lightweight and compact. Tipping the scales at just 6.5 ounces (184 grams), it is an efficient piece of engineering.
It also happens to feature the Swiss-trademark production quality, which means it can take just about everything you throw at it, and continue to keep functioning. And while its relatively short blade length may seem limiting, this knife more than makes up for it with all of the other features it brings to the table.
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)|
Built to closely resemble the traditional knives of the United States Marine Corp., there isn’t much that is subtle about the KA-BAR USMC Straight Edge. Big, bold, and built for use in any environment, this is the model for those who are looking for substance over style. This is reinforced by KA-BAR’s use of 1095 cro-van steel in the construction of the blade, which actually runs the entire length of the interior of the handle, creating a different level of balance and feel in the process.
Although it was originally designed for use on the battlefields of WWII, the Straight Edge still has a lot to offer campers and backpackers. Besides being rugged enough for use in any environment, it includes both a fine and serrated edge. It also features a unique leather-wrapped handle that gives it a distinctive look and top-notch grip. Add in a sleek, Molle compatible sheath and you get a knife that you can absolutely depend on in the worst conditions imaginable.
9 Helle Utvær Knife
|Overall Length||7.25 in. (18.4 cm)|
|Blade Length||4 in. (10 cm)|
|Weight||5.6 oz (160 grams)|
If you’re looking for a high-end knife that has been handcrafted by an expert knife maker, the Helle Utvær should be on your shortlist. This fixed-blade model manages to blend sophisticated styling and design with a high degree of functionality. The result is a knife that looks like a work of art, feels incredibly substantial in your hands, and can cut through rope, vines, and wood with ease.
Everything about the Utvær screams quality. From its curly birch wood handle to its Sandvik stainless steel blade, the is a knife that is equal parts backwoods companion and family heirloom. Its lightweight and well-balanced design make it a joy to use, while its Norwegian craftsmanship gives it a level of durability that is beyond most other models on the market. That applies equally to the included leather sheath, which is simple and refined in its own right.
The Utvær’s price tag makes it a model that will appeal more to knife aficionados, rather than beginners. But for those who know and appreciate all of the fine details that help separate it from the competition, this is a truly outstanding product.
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)|
Buck Knives is another company that has been making high-quality knives for use in the outdoors for decades. That long heritage shines through across its product line, but is especially noticeable in the Vanguard, a knife that combines modern construction with a vintage aesthetic. This is most noticeable in the classic walnut handle, complete with an integrated finger guard that helps prevent accidental slips.
Made from 420 high-carbon stainless steel, the Vanguard’s blade is thoroughly modern, however. This gives it excellent edge retention and durability while resisting oxidation and corrosion. The razor-sharp edge easily slices through just about anything you throw at it, which is a big reason why Buck Knives have always been popular with hunters.
The knife proves its worth on the trail and around the campsite too, making short work of kindling while assisting in gear repairs and food prep.
An included leather sheath only adds to the premium feel of this product. It comes with a belt loop and a cover that fastens in place using a snap fastener. This too feels like something from a bygone era, bringing a touch of class to this already-outstanding product.
Camping Knives FAQ
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 camping 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 a camping knife?
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 best camping knife brands?
There are literally dozens of excellent 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 camping 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 camping 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 camping 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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