The 7 Best Camping Knives

Published on 04/03/2023 · 13 min readA camping knife is a useful piece of gear to have on any camping trip! Read on for everything you need to know about camp knives and the top 7 recommended knives!
Hunter Reed, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Hunter Reed

Photo by Thom Holmes

You're sitting around the campfire on a clear night, surrounded by the sounds of nature. You reach for your trusty camping knife to carve some wood for marshmallow roasting, only to find that it's dull and useless!

Don’t let this be you and don't let a blunt or unsuitable camping knife ruin your outdoor adventure! Investing in a high-quality knife can make all the difference in your experience—not to mention safety—when out in the wilderness. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one for your needs. That's why we've compiled a list of the best camping knives that are durable, versatile, and reliable. From fixed-blade knives to folding knives and multi-tools, we've got you covered. So read on and discover the perfect camping knife to enhance your next outdoor adventure!

Types of Camping Knives

Photo by Markus Spiske

There are three main types of camping knives: fixed-blade knives, folding knives, and multi-tools.

Fixed-blade knives are the most traditional and durable option for camping. They have a solid, one-piece construction with a blade that doesn't fold or retract. This design makes them sturdy and reliable for heavy-duty tasks such as chopping wood, cutting rope, or preparing food. They are also easy to clean and maintain. However, fixed-blade knives tend to be bulkier and less portable than other types.

Folding knives, on the other hand, have a blade that folds into the handle for easy storage and carrying. They are lightweight, compact, and convenient to use for various tasks such as slicing, carving, or whittling. Folding knives have mechanisms that lock when the blade is open to keep it securely in place during use, which adds to their safety and durability. On the downside, these moving parts can make them less long-lasting than other options, since it’s easier to get dirt, sand, and other stuff stuck in the moving parts. They also aren’t as sturdy as a fixed blade for heavy-duty cutting.

Finally, multi-tools are versatile camping knives that incorporate several tools into one compact package. They usually feature a folding knife blade, along with pliers, screwdrivers, scissors, and tons of other tools. Multi-tools are ideal for those who want to carry a variety of tools in one convenient package. However, the knife on them is typically not as big as it would be on a dedicated camping knife, and it’s again easier for them to get dirty compared to a fixed blade, making them harder to clean.

Overall, the choice of camping knife ultimately comes down to personal preference and intended use. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it's essential to consider your needs and priorities before making a decision.

Features to Consider in a Camping Knife

Blade Material and Length

The material and length of the blade are important things to take into consideration when choosing a camping knife.

Different materials have different properties, such as durability, corrosion resistance, and edge retention. Below are some common blade materials used in camping knives, along with their pros and cons.

  • Stainless Steel
    • Pros: Resistant to rust and corrosion, easy to maintain, relatively affordable
    • Cons: Can be softer and less durable than other materials
  • High Carbon Steel
    • Pros: Strong and durable, holds an edge well, relatively easy to sharpen
    • Cons: Prone to rust and corrosion if not properly maintained, more expensive than stainless steel
  • Damascus Steel
    • Pros: Beautiful and unique pattern, extremely sharp and durable, holds an edge well
    • Cons: More expensive, more difficult to sharpen, may require special care and maintenance
  • Ceramic
    • Pros: Extremely hard and durable, holds an edge well, resistant to rust and corrosion
    • Cons: Can be brittle and prone to chipping or breaking if dropped or mishandled
  • Titanium
    • Pros: Strong and durable, lightweight, resistant to rust and corrosion
    • Cons: More difficult to sharpen, may not hold an edge as well as other materials

Blade length can also impact the knife's versatility and intended use. Below are some general guidelines.

  • Short Blades (Under 3 inches)
    • Pros: Lightweight, easy to maneuver, good for detail work and precision cutting
    • Cons: May not be as versatile for general use or heavy-duty tasks
  • Medium Blades (3-6 inches)
    • Pros: Good balance of versatility and maneuverability, can handle a variety of tasks
    • Cons: Heavier and less precise than shorter blades, not ideal for heavy-duty tasks
  • Long Blades (Over 6 inches)
    • Pros: Excellent for heavy-duty tasks, good for chopping and slicing
    • Cons: Heavier and less maneuverable, not be ideal for detail work or precision cutting

Ultimately, the material and length of the blade should match the intended use of the knife to ensure optimal performance and efficiency.

Handle Material and Design

The handle material and design can impact the comfort, grip, and overall performance of the knife. Handles can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and rubber. The design should also be ergonomic and easy to grip, especially in wet or slippery conditions.

Here are some common materials used for camping knife handles, along with their benefits and downsides:

  • Wood
    • Pros: Beautiful, natural look, comfortable grip, can be affordable
    • Cons: Usually requires maintenance and oiling to prevent cracking and warping, not as durable as other materials
  • Plastic
    • Pros: Lightweight, affordable, durable, easy to clean
    • Cons: Typically not as comfortable to grip as other materials
  • Rubber
    • Pros: Excellent grip even in wet conditions, comfortable to hold, shock-absorbing
    • Cons: More prone to collecting dirt and debris in the texture
  • Micarta
    • Pros: Durable, lightweight, comfortable to hold, resistant to moisture
    • Cons: More expensive than other material
  • Metal
    • Pros: Durable, long-lasting, can be aesthetically pleasing
    • Cons: Not as comfortable to grip as other materials, heavier than other materials, can become slippery when wet

Blade Shape and Style

Blade shape is an important factor to consider when choosing a camping knife, as it affects the knife's intended use and versatility. The choice of blade shape will depend on the tasks the knife will be used for while camping.

The most common blade shapes are drop point and clip point. Drop point blades are the most common due to their versatility and durability. With a curved edge that gradually slopes to a strong tip aligned with the center of the blade's width, they are ideal for heavy-duty tasks such as chopping wood, preparing food, and slicing through ropes or cords. Clip-point blades are the second most common blade type in camping knives and are a better option for those looking for more precision and control. There are some other blade shapes if you’re looking for a more specialized type of knife, but these are the two most common shapes you’ll see when shopping around for a camping knife.

Weight and Balance

The weight and balance of the knife can impact comfort and ease of use. A well-balanced knife will feel more comfortable and easier to control during use. The weight of the knife should also be appropriate for its intended use.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let's move onto the list of the top most recommended camping knives!

1. Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool

The Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool is a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts who need a versatile and reliable multi-tool. It features 19 different tools, including pliers, a saw, a screwdriver, a hammer, and a replaceable wire cutter, and also comes equipped with a fire starter rod and an emergency whistle. The 420HC steel blade is partially serrated and has a length of 2.73 inches. The stainless steel handle is durable and features a diamond-texture pattern for a comfortable and secure grip. For the camper looking for a reliable, one-stop-shop in terms of tools and a camping knife, this is a great option.

  • Knife type: Multi-tool
  • Handle material: Stainless steel
  • Blade material: 154CM stainless steel
  • Blade length: 2.73 inches

2. Leatherman Wave Plus Multi-Tool

Building upon the success of the Signal Multi-Tool, the Leatherman Wave Plus Multi-Tool offers 18 different tools and is also a top choice for campers and other outdoor adventure seekers. While the Wave Plus has one less tool than the Signal, it offers a more compact and streamlined design. It features a variety of tools, including pliers, wire cutters, knives, a saw, scissors, and more. The stainless steel blades are incredibly sharp and can easily cut through tough materials. The handles are made from durable stainless steel and feature a comfortable and ergonomic design, much like the Signal. With the Wave Plus, you still have everything you need to tackle any outdoor adventure, in a more compact package.

  • Knife Type: Multi-tool
  • Handle material: Stainless steel
  • Blade material: 420HC stainless steel
  • Blade length: 2.9 inches

3. Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife

This classic and versatile multi-tool includes a variety of useful tools for camping, such as a saw, can opener, and scissors. It offers a variety of functions in a compact design. Its 3.58-inch blade is made from high-quality stainless steel and features a sharp, serrated edge for cutting through tough materials. In addition to the blade, the knife includes a range of other tools, such as a wood saw, scissors, can opener, bottle opener, and more. The handle is made from durable and lightweight ABS scales and features the iconic Swiss Army knife logo. Unlike the Leatherman multi-tools, the Huntsman Pocket Knife does not have pliers or a wire cutter, but it does offer a more compact and lightweight option for those who want a versatile tool that can still handle a variety of tasks outdoors.

  • Knife Type: Multi-tool
  • Handle material: ABS plastic
  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Blade length: 3.58 inches

4. Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife

The Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife is a military-grade camping knife that's built to withstand the toughest conditions. It has a 420 high carbon steel blade which is a full-tang shape and has an overall length of 4.8 inches. A full-tang knife is the blade metal that runs through the handle of the knife, providing a solid, continuous structure and maximizing the knife's strength. This knife is strong enough to handle any task, from chopping wood to cutting rope or even slicing vegetables. The blade is also coated with black oxide to prevent rust and glare. The handle is made from diamond-texture rubber that provides a comfortable and secure grip, even in wet conditions. The pommel at the base of the handle can be used for hammering or breaking through hard materials, such as a car window making this knife a versatile tool for any camping trip, and a great safety tool even to keep on hand in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

  • Knife Type: Fixed blade
  • Handle material: Diamond-texture rubber
  • Blade material: High-carbon steel
  • Blade length: 4.8 inches

5. Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife

The Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife is a classic camping knife that has been trusted by hunters and outdoorsmen for generations. Its 6-inch clip-point blade is made from 420HC steel and is known for its sharpness and durability. The handle is made from beautiful and durable phenolic resin and features an aluminum pommel and guard for added strength and protection. This knife also comes with a genuine leather sheath for safe and convenient storage. Compared to the Gerber StrongArm, the Buck Knives 119 Special has a longer blade and a different blade shape, making it more hunter oriented and better suited for tasks like skinning game or carving wood.

  • Knife Type: Fixed blade
  • Handle material: Phenolic plastic
  • Blade material: 420HC stainless steel
  • Blade length: 6 inches

6. Benchmade Mini Griptilian Folding Knife

The Benchmade Mini Griptilian Folding Knife is a popular EDC (everyday carry) folding knife with a lightweight design and excellent ergonomics. The handle is made from tough and lightweight polymer, with a textured surface that provides a secure grip. The blade is made from premium stainless steel, with a sharp and durable edge that can handle a wide range of cutting tasks. The blade is also easy to deploy with a smooth and reliable opening mechanism, and the knife includes a locking mechanism to ensure safe use. With a compact and versatile design, the Benchmade Mini Griptilian is a great choice for camping or day to day carry.

  • Knife type: Folding knife
  • Handle material: Metal and Nylon
  • Blade material: CPM-S30V stainless steel
  • Blade length: 2.91 inches

7. Gerber Vital Pocket Folding Knife

The Gerber Vital Pocket Folding Knife is another great versatile folding knife designed a bit more for hunting and outdoor use rather than everyday carry. It features a unique design with a replaceable blade, allowing you to easily switch out the blade for a fresh one when needed. The blade is made from high-quality stainless steel, with a sharp and durable edge that can handle a wide range of cutting tasks. The rubber handle is made from lightweight and durable materials, with a textured surface that provides a secure grip even in wet conditions. The knife includes a locking mechanism to ensure safe use, and it also includes a pocket clip for convenient carry on a pocket, belt, or backpack. With its unique design and practical features, the Gerber Vital Pocket Folding Knife is an excellent choice for hunting and outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Knife type: Folding knife
  • Handle material: Rubber
  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Blade length: 2.8 inches

Knife Care

And last but not least, taking proper care of your camping knife is essential to ensure it remains in good condition for years to come. Here are a few tips for caring for your camping knife:

Storage

  • Always store your camping knife in a dry and clean location. Moisture can cause rust and damage the blade.
  • Keep the knife in a sheath or a knife roll to protect it from dust, moisture, and other elements.
  • Avoid storing your camping knife in direct sunlight as this can cause discoloration and damage to the handle material.

Sharpening

  • Keep your camping knife razor sharp to ensure it performs at its best. A dull knife is not only less effective but can also be dangerous to use.
  • Use a sharpening stone or a sharpening tool to keep the blade sharp.
  • Hold the blade at a consistent angle while sharpening, usually around 20-25 degrees.
  • Always use light pressure while sharpening to avoid damaging the blade.
  • Check the manufacturer's instructions for specific sharpening recommendations for your knife.

Cleaning:

  • Clean your camping knife after every use with soap and water, then dry it thoroughly.
  • Use a toothbrush or a soft cloth to remove any dirt or debris from the blade or handle.
  • Use a rust remover or a specialized cleaning solution to remove any rust or stains from the blade.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials on the blade or handle as this can damage the knife.

By following these care tips, you can ensure that your knife has a long life and is always ready for your next outdoor adventure!

Final Thoughts

Photo by Markus Spiske

Finding a good camping knife is an essential part of any outdoor adventure. It can make a big difference in terms of safety, convenience, and overall enjoyment of your trip. Whether you're a seasoned camper or a beginner, there are plenty of options available to suit your needs. Each of the knives on this list has its unique strengths and features, so take your time, do your research, and choose the right camping knife that works best for you! And if you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to a Hiking and Camping Expert here on Curated for guidance. Happy camping!

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