Do you enjoy backpacking? If so, you know that there is a lot of important gear that you must pack in order for your backpacking experience to be a success. One of the most important pieces of equipment that you’ll need for backpacking is a knife. A knife allows you to open food packets, cut cords, and cut just about anything else you need on the trail. If you are shopping for the best knife for backpacking, you have come to the right place. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about choosing the best knife for backpacking, as well as the top ten best backpacking knives available. Let’s begin!
Things To Consider When Shopping For the Best Knife For Backpacking
There are many important features that you should look for in a knife for backpacking. Features like a short length, lightweight, and durable steel make your knife easier to work with. Below, let’s take a look at the top considerations to keep in mind as you shop for the best knife for backpacking.
1. Do You Need A Knife Or Multi-Tool?
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The first consideration to ask yourself is whether you need a knife or a multi-tool. A knife is designed with only one blade, while a multi-tool is equipped with multiple blades, tweezers, and even a hammer. If you only plan on hiking, a knife is probably all that you need. But if you plan on camping for a long period of time, a multi-tool can come in handy. Keep in mind that multi-tools can weigh more and be bulkier since they are designed with so many more features. Therefore, a multi-tool may not work for you if you want something that you can easily stick in your pocket. Consider which tool will work best for you.
2. What Length Would You Like Your Knife To Be?
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The next consideration to ask yourself is how long you want your backpacking knife to be. Usually, for backpacking, you’ll want something that is small enough to fit in your pocket. Whether it is fixed or foldable, it is recommended to get a knife that is about five inches long. Keep in mind that if you end up purchasing a multi-tool instead of a knife, it may measure longer than this since it has more features.
3. Do You Want A Fixed Or Foldable Knife?
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Next, consider if you would like a fixed or foldable knife. Surprisingly, it doesn’t make much of a difference if your knife is fixed or foldable. While a foldable knife can be folded to fit in your pocket, there is also the danger of it closing around your fingers. Foldable knives are also not as sturdy. Fixed knives, on the other hand, cannot close around your fingers and they are much stronger. If you do choose to get a foldable knife, be sure to choose one that locks into place. That way, there isn’t as much of a chance of it closing on your fingers.
4. How Much Does the Knife Weigh?
Once you do choose a knife, you must consider how much it weighs. When you’re backpacking, it is important that everything you have is as light as possible. That said, the blade may not be as sturdy and strong if it is lightweight. Large, thick knives are capable of cutting large branches for building fires, whereas small, lightweight knives can only break small items like food packets or thin branches. If possible, try to purchase a knife that is both lightweight and durable.
5. What Shape Do You Want Your Knife Blade To Be?
Knife blades come in many different shapes. The most common shapes include drop-point, tanto, needle-point, clip-point, and sheepsfoot. The drop-point blade is the most popular blade shape, as it is durable and easy to use. Another common option is the tanto, which features a blunt tip which makes the blade stronger for scraping and prying. Many people use tanto blades for surviving instead of just camping or going for a quick hike. The needle-point knife features a symmetrical point with double edges. Once again, the needle-point is a great knife for survival. The clip-point knife has a blade that curves to a point for puncturing. Last but not least, the sheepsfoot knife features a curved tip that avoids accidental stabbings. It is recommended for using this blade for preparing food, as it easily slices.
Not only must you choose a blade shape, but you also need to choose a blade edge. The most common cutting edge options include flat, serrated, or combo. A flat edge is very durable and is easier to sharpen. A serrated edge is recommended for cutting rope and softer material and shouldn’t be used for cutting hard materials like wood. Also, unlike the flat edge, it is much harder to sharpen a serrated edge. If you can’t choose between a flat edge and a serrated edge, then a combo edge may work well for you. A combo edge is a combination of flat and serrated edges. It features a section of serration near the grip and the rest of the blade edge is flat.
6. What Do You Want the Handle To Be Made Of?
Once you have chosen what you want your blade shape to be, you must decide what you want your handle to be made of. It is important that you choose a handle that is easy to grip and comfortable to hold. Metal, wood, antler, plastic, and rubber are the most common materials to be used for making handles. Metal handles are usually made from aluminum, titanium, or stainless steel. This type of handle is durable and lightweight. Wood handles are beautiful as they have a natural look to them. However, they do require more maintenance than other handles. You have to be careful not to get your wooden handle wet or it will be ruined.
Antler handles are also a great option for those who want something that is natural. If you are shopping for comfort, a rubber grip may work well for you. It is not as durable as the other options, but it is much more comfortable. Last but not least, plastic is an affordable and durable material that many knife handles are made from. Consider which handle you think will work for you.
Why Do I Need A Knife For Backpacking?
One question that you may be wondering is why a knife is necessary for backpacking. While it is possible to hike without a knife, a knife makes your life much easier. As I’ve already mentioned, it can be used for opening packets of food or breaking branches for building a fire. If you happen to get hurt along the trail, your knife can be used to cut bandages and open up bags/bottles of medication. When you’re camping, you also never know when you need a knife for cutting cords that you use for tying down objects or using as a clothesline. Some people also use their backpacking knives for preparing food such as spreading jam, peeling fruit, or slicing food. Even if you don’t think you’ll need a knife for backpacking, it is always good to have one as a backup.
Best Knife For Backpacking – The Top 10 Best Options Available
Now that we’ve taken a look at considerations and the importance of a knife for backpacking, it is now time to start shopping! Let’s take a look at the top ten best knives for backpacking. Remember to keep the considerations that I gave you earlier in mind as you shop for the best knife for backpacking. With that being said, let’s start shopping!
1. Buck Knives 284 Bantam One-Hand Opening Folding Knife
- Razor sharp & lightweight - 2-3/4" drop point 420HC steel blade delivers excellent strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. Closed length 3", weight . 6 oz
- Convenient one hand opening - a thumb stud on the blade facilitates a smooth one-handed opening action. The lock back mechanism locks the blade open for reliable strength and safety while you work
- Secure grip - the finger swells in the grip make this knife easy to hold, and provide a sure grip in any Condition. The Bantam series is available in a variety of sizes and colors
- Convenient carry- the 284 Bantam fits into any carrying configuration - key rings, pockets, backpacks or lanyards. It's lightweight, stylish and compact
- Made in the USA - Forever - since 1902 Buck Knives has offered a Lifetime on our knives because we believe in the integrity of our products. This knife is proudly made in the USA
Featuring a 2-3/4″ drop point 420HC steel blade, this backpacking knife delivers excellent strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. It is a foldable knife, which gives you the option of folding it in your pocket. The closed length is 3-3/4″. This backpacking knife only weighs 1.5 ounces. The thumb stud on the blade allows you to easily open this folding knife with one hand. Another nice feature is the lock back mechanism which locks the blade open for while you use it. This prevents it from folding down and closing on your fingers. The finger swells in the grip make this backpacking knife easy to hold. This knife will easily fit in key rings, pockets, backpacks, or lanyards. The Buck Knife 284 Bantam One-Hand Opening Folding Knife is made in the USA. It comes with a lifetime warranty. All in all, this is a great backpacking knife to consider purchasing.
2. Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Every Day Carry Locking Pocket Knife
- This essential tool is unchanged since 1890 and is a must have for outdoorsmen and handymen alike
- The Stainless Virobloc safety ring has two sections, one fixed and one sliding for secure locking
- Opinel's stainless steel blades are made of Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel
- Handle is made from hard, durable Beechwood from France
- Opinel products are guaranteed under normal use and exchanged in case of manufacturing defects
This next backpacking knife has excellent cutting quality, good wear resistance, and easy regrinding. The handle is made of beech, which is hard, durable, and easy to work with. It also has a natural look to it, making it extra stylish. 95% of the wood for handles comes from sustainably managed forests to prevent a negative impact on the environment. In addition to being able to lock the blade when it is open, you can also lock the pocket knife when it is closed. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the knife blade opening and causing damage to your backpack or injuring you. This folding knife features a carbon steel blade that is resistant to wear and tear and is easily re-sharpened. Overall, this is a great option for those shopping for the best knife for backpacking.
3. Kershaw Clash Black Serrated Pocket Knife (1605CKTST) 3.1” Stainless Steel Blade with Black-Oxide Coating
This pocket knife features a stainless steel blade with Blank-Oxide coating. It has a textured glass-filled nylon handle that is easy to grip and comfortable to hold. The handle includes SpeedSafe assisted opening, built-in flipper, secure locking liner, and convenient reversible pocket clip. The SpeedSafe assisted opening feature means that you can flip open the knife with one hand. It can be used by both left-handed and right-handed users. The handle can also withstand heat. It can be locked open so that the knife doesn’t close on your fingers.
4. Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife, Fine Edge, Stainless Steel
- Lightweight open frame perfect for everyday carry
- Easy to clean, carry, and open
- Frame lock holds blade open and safely closes
- Sturdy pocket clip
- Full fine edge blade
If you are shopping for an inexpensive backpacking knife, the Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife is a great option. It is the smallest of the eight knives in the Paraframe series. This knife features a fine-edge blade that is lightweight, easy to clean, and opens effortlessly. It is built with a smooth stainless steel handle and a clip for secure travel. It weighs 1.4 ounces, which is the perfect size for packing it in your backpack or pocket. This knife locks in place to prevent it from hurting your fingers. It is a great option if you are shopping for a lightweight and cheap knife for backpacking.
5. KIZER Knives Pocket Knife with Green Clip G10 Handles Material EDC Folding Knife
- Blade material:154CM
- Overall Length:5.77 inch(14.66cm)
- Weight:3.17oz (0.20 pounds)
- 154CM stainless steel takes a razor sharp edge.Textured G-10 handle ensures excellent grip security.
- Caged ceramic ball bearing pivot for swift, responsive blade deployment.
Featuring a reversible spring pocket clip and stainless steel liners, this pocket knife is perfect for backpacking or camping. It locks securely into place with the liner lock, which prevents the blade from closing on your fingers. This 3.5″ blade has a drop point shape and gray titanium coating. The bronze washers allow the blade to open smoothly. Weighing 3.69 ounces, this knife is slightly heavier than many of the other knives that I have gone over in this article. The overall length is 8.17 inches, and the blade length is 3.58 inches. Even though this backpacking knife is larger, it is still great for backpacking.
6. Benchmade – Mini Crooked River 15085-2 EDC Manual Open Hunting Knife
- BUILT FOR THE HUNT: Simplicity and style meets unmatched function, no matter the application; An ideal hunting knife capable of countless tasks in the field.
- AMERICAN MADE CPM-S30V STEEL: For first-rate edge retention and corrosion resistance; Clip-point construction for easily controlled cuts.
- STABILIZED WOOD HANDLE: Is made from a durable composite material that's been backfilled with resin; Stands up to a range of harsh elements and environments; Stronger than natural wood.
- AXIS LOCKING MECHANISM: Ensures safety and a smooth open and easy close; Reversible, split arrow clip; Lanyard hole for versatile carry options.
- CLASSIC PROFILE, MODERN TECH: With its lightweight design, the Mini Crooked River 15085-2 is the perfect addition to your EDC collection, backpack, survival kit, tackle box, and more.
This backpacking knife features a clip-point blade. It has edge retention and corrosion resistance. The clip-point construction allows for easily controlled cuts. It is also great for making holes in material such as leather. This knife is made from a durable composite material that is stronger than natural wood. It easily folds so that it can fit in your pocket. All in all, this is a great backpacking knife to buy.
7. OutNowTech Vantage Folding Pocket Knife – Multi-Purpose One-Handed Easy Open Survival Knife
- 7 SURVIVAL FEATURES IN ONE POCKET KNIFE! This survival knife gives you everything needed to handle an emergency, with straight and serrated cutting edges, a built-in bottle opener, a recessed blade for cutting cords or belts, a glass breaker tip, detachable firestarter rod, and a detachable LED mini-flashlight. NOTE: Remove protective insulation from flashlight before first use. For details see instruction sheet included in package.
- STYLE IT YOUR WAY - Tactical Black or Brilliant Blue. Main blade and detachable tools are finished in black. COMPLETE WITH POUCH - high quality molded pouch with belt loop.
- MULTI-PURPOSE MAIN BLADE FOR SO MANY USES Folding 3.75 inch knife blade has 2.5 inch straight edge and 1 inch serrated edge plus built-in bottle opener. It’s spring-assisted for easy one-handed opening, with a lock to hold it in place once open. You use your thumb to release the lock, and close the blade with the other hand.
- CARRY ONE IN THE CAR FOR AUTO EMERGENCIES Can help escape or rescue with the built-in cord or seat belt cutter and glass breaker tip.
- OUTNOWTECH LIFETIME WARRANTY – as well as a 30-day no-quibble return period, OutNowTech offer a Limited Lifetime Warranty to cover any manufacturing faults. You can have peace of mind with our ‘Got You Covered’ OutNowTech Manufacturer’s Warranty
This next knife is considered a survival knife, but it can be used for backpacking and camping too. It features straight and serrated cutting edges, a built-in bottle opener, a recessed blade for cutting cords or belts, a glass breaker tip, detachable firestarter rod, and a detachable LED mini-flashlight. These features allow you to hike with everything you need to handle an emergency. It has a 2.5-inch straight edge and a 1-inch serrated edge. The built-in bottle opener can be used for opening bottles while out on the trail. It’s spring-assisted for easy one-handed opening, with a lock to hold it in place once open. The lock prevents the blade from closing on your fingers. This backpacking knife comes with a lifetime warranty.
8. Schrade SCHF45 Leroy 16.5in High Carbon S.S. Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
Unlike the knives that I’ve mentioned above, this backpacking knife is a fixed knife. This means that it doesn’t fold. While this makes it slightly more difficult to pack, it is also stronger and better for cutting branches for starting fires and other thick items. It measures 16.5 inches for the overall length with a blade length of 10.4 inches and a weight of 1 pound, 7.6 ounces. The blade is made of 8Cr13MoV Titanium Coated High Carbon Stainless Steel with black thermoplastic elastomer handle slabs. It features a finger guard, choil, and grooves. Overall, the Schrade Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife is a great option for backpackers and campers.
9. SOG Small Fixed Blade Knives – Snarl 2.3 Inch Sheepsfoot Blade
- 2.3 INCH FULL TANG KNIFE BLADE: The Snarl is a compact fixed blade tactical knife, hunting knife, EDC knife or neck knife with sheath; measures 4.3 inches in total length
- 1.9 OUNCE 9CR18MOV STAINLESS STEEL FIXED BLADE: This satin-polished full tang pocket knife, tac knife, outdoor knife and pelt knife is ultra-discreet and designed to be nearly indestructible
- KYDEX SHEATH AND UTILITY NECK KNIFE CHAIN: An easy-clip camping knife and hiking knife with fixed blade handle; clip this sharp knife sheath anywhere or secure with the neck knife chain
- MULTI-GRIP DESIGN BY JASON BROUS: An oversized blade ring finger choil, ring pommel and jimping offer solid grip variety for this tactical pocket knife and boot knife with sheath and clip
- SOG KNIVES FOR LIFE: Take care of your tactical knife and we’ll take care of you; SOG fixed blade knives with sheath are built to last; we consider all repair and replacement requests
The Snarl Small Fixed Blade Knife is a compact fixed blade knife that measures 4.3 inches in total length. It has a sheepsfoot blade, which is flat and recommended for slicing food. It weighs 1.9 ounces, which is fairly lightweight. This knife does not fold, but it is small enough that it doesn’t need to fold to be able to easily fit in your pocket or backpack. All in all, this is a great knife if you want something that is small and lightweight.
10. Morakniv Bushcraft Knife, Orange
The Morakniv Bushcraft Knife features a fixed blade knife that measures 1/8-inches. It weighs 5.4 ounces, which is heavier but not too heavy for a fixed knife. This knife has an ergonomic handle with a high-friction rubber grip. It comes with a cover for you to store this knife in. It is the color orange so that you don’t easily lose it. This knife comes with a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
Final Thoughts On the Best Knife For Backpacking
I hope this article has helped you find the best knife for backpacking. A knife is such a handy tool to have with you when you hike or camp. It can be used for opening food packets, cutting branches, cutting bandages, and slicing food. It is always a good idea to have a knife with you when you go backpacking. Backpacking knives come in many different styles and designs, which is why it can sometimes be confusing to pick the best knife for backpacking. Hopefully, this guide has helped you choose the best knife for backpacking that will fit your needs. Happy shopping!
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