Best Backpacking Knife(Buying Guide)
An essential for every hiker, camper, or adventurer is an awesome backpacking knife. This versatile tool comes in handy with endless tasks on the trail, whether that’s preparing food, making repairs, cutting wood, or even in emergencies. That is exactly why we’ve created this comprehensive review of the Best Backpacking Knife options on the web. And that’s not all, we’ve also included a handy guide to Finding the Best Backpacking Knife in 5 Steps, allowing you to determine exactly what you are looking for before you start shopping.
From pocket knives to fixed blades, folded blades to multi-tool devices: the possibilities are endless. We’ve included options for every budget, scenario, and style, ensuring there’s something for every outdoor-explorer. Let us navigate you towards the Best Backpacking Knife products worth your time and money, and discover which items have made the cut now!
Best Backpacking Knife Overview
Finding the Best Backpacking Knife in 5 Steps
With so many options on the market, it can seem daunting to pick the best knife for your exact needs. Don’t worry: we’ve made it easy. Simply follow these steps to determine which backpacking knife will cut it for you.
Decide where you will use the knife
Firstly, it’s important to note that the location of where you plan to use your knife, has a big impact on the type of blade you need. If you’re planning to camp out in the backcountry and are facing cold conditions, you will need to build a fire. Therefore, you’ll need a blade durable enough to cut through wood. If you want to go backpacking in humid, moist climates, you’ll need a corrosion-proof option, etc. Or if you want an all-in-one solution for every type of situation, a multi-tool backpacking knife or Swiss army knife could be your ideal match.
Decide between light-weight and heavy-duty
For every hiking, camping, or backpacking trip, the weight of your bag is something to consider before you set off on your adventure. This is exactly why it’s important to take the weight of your knife into account when shopping for your perfect match. From super-lightweight options to heavy-weight designs: products can vary greatly in weight.
For the average hiker, a small knife under 5oz should work just fine. However, for those planning on chopping their way through thick bushes and undergrowth, you might want to consider a slightly heavier, and more durable, full-size alternative.
Regardless of how much weight you plan to carry, always make sure to check how heavy a pocket knife, folded blade, or fixed blade is before you purchase. As you don’t want to be caught out when you suddenly receive a heavy-weighted option in the mail…
Decide between a fixed blade or a folding blade
Backpacking and hiking knives can feature a fixed blade or a folding blade. Each has its benefits. For example, a fixed blade knife is simple to use and contains no moving parts, making it more durable and sturdy, plus easier in maintenance. A folding blade, on the other hand, is compacter, easier to store anywhere (for example, some come on a keyring or clip), and may also be available in a multi-tool version with even more versatility in one device. For example, a multitool might also contain extra accessories such as scissors, a toothpick, tweezers, a screwdriver, a compass, and more.
Once you’ve decided whether you prefer a fixed or folding blade, your search time for the perfect backpacking knife is cut in half!
Decide on a type of blade material
Just as there are different styles of fixed and folding knives, there are also different types of blade materials. Yes, most blades will be metal, but there can be a big difference in the actual quality of the metal. If you don’t consider this when shopping for your knife, you might end up with a low-grade blade that already starts rusting, or deteriorating after a few uses. These are the main blade materials you should know about:
You’ll see that most of the backpacking knife, pocket knife, and hiking knife options all feature a stainless steel blade. This alloy is resistant against rust and corrosion, making it an easy to maintain and durable choice for long-term enjoyment. Though, be warned, even stainless steel has different gradations, meaning that one stainless steel knife might still be superior to another. For example, 420HC stainless steel is an affordable option that offers reasonable edge retention and is corrosion-proof.
Another option is S30V stainless steel, a premium choice of metal that contains a special rust-resistant compound called vanadium. This high-quality type of steel allows for maximum blade edge retention and ultimate durability, making it a superior choice when it comes to the blade materials, but also making it more expensive. That said, it’s hard to go wrong with stainless steel, even if its a ‘cheaper’ variety.
Another material we often encounter when reviewing backpacking knives is high-carbon steel. We fully understand why some brands chose to use this type of metal: as it has outstanding edge-retention, and amazing hardness. However, it is also prone to corrosion as it is non-stainless steel. And, therefore, requires a bit of extra care and maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape. So, if you want a low-maintenance knife, try to avoid high-carbon steel and stick with stainless steel instead.
You’ll also encounter blades made of titanium allow, an ultralight material that is rust-proof. Though most brands do not use titanium itself, as it’s a ‘soft metal’, they may elect to add a titanium coating to the blade or use a titanium alloy (a ‘harder’ variety). The main reason to use titanium in the blade is to reduce the weight, creating super lightweight options that don’t add a lot of bulk to your bag. Be warned though that titanium blade is less suited to more strenuous task such as woodcarving.
Titanium blades get the job done when opening food packaging, cutting ropes, or in meal prep, but if you want to go full McGyver and cut your way through the bush: this is not the recommended material for you. Simply remember: titanium is lightweight, for ‘light’ tasks.
Decide what your budget will be
The good news is that there are backpacking knives at any price-point. From cheap, yet functional basics to high-end multi-tool designs with incredible features. However, we would recommend you to determine what you’d like to spend before you start shopping. It can be tempted to ‘upgrade’ to an expensive knife, but we’re confident you can find a great knife within your envisioned price-range, without having to stretch your budget.
Also good to know: if you’re willing to spend a bit more on your knife, ensure that you’re paying that bit extra for quality, not merely because it looks fancier. Higher-priced options should feature premium blade materials such s S30V (mentioned above), and have great user reviews.
And that goes for cheaper products as well. If a product fails to mention the type of material or only has limited/average reviews, don’t take the risk. There are plenty of trustworthy, highly-rated sharp edge knives on the market, so make sure to spend your money wisely and go for a reliable brand in hiking/camping/hunting essentials. Established brands, recommended by outdoor experts are, for example, Gerber, Benchmade, Victorinox, Spyderco, Opinel, Morakniv, Kershaw, SOG Knives, KA-BAR, Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT), etc.
To help you get a better idea of the different price-points, and what you’ll get for your money, we’ve ensured to include options for every budget in our Best Backpacking Knife review. Check it out below!
Best Backpacking Knife
Keenstone Tactical 5-in-1 Pocket Knife
The 5-in-1 pocket knife includes a stainless steel hunting knife with an unfolded length of 200 mm, a bottle opener, a glass breaker, a seat-belt cutter, and a saw clip. The 5-in-1 knife sharpener includes a carbide V-shaped sharpening slot, a diamond tapered rod, a ceramic v-shaped fine honing slot, a whistle, and a compass. Both devices are compact and come with a pocket clip/belt clip for easy carrying.
The pocket knife and sharpener have a combined weight of approximately 6oz, making them slighter heavier than standard options on the market. That said, if you’re only going on a day hike or short trip, you can also elect to leave the knife sharpener device at home to reduce the weight you’re carrying.
One of the big selling-points of the Tactical Knife & Pocket Knife Sharpener Set by Keenstone is its pricing. For the price listed, we think it’s simply a steal. Admittedly, some reviewers do state it is not the most durable quality set, but still, praise its functionality in everyday outdoorsy situations. With overall great user reviews and a very affordable price-tag, this is a great choice for leisurely hikers and campers. For more intense, hardcore outdoor adventures, we’d recommend a sturdier option – but for ‘light’ usage, this is an excellent set.
- Excellent value-for-money
- Bonus knife sharpener
- Slightly heavier than other knives
The Atomic Bear Folding Knife
- GETS THE JOB DONE - Deploy the sharp semi serrated SWAT blade to cut through cardboard, rope, wood, fish, fishing line, deer, seatbelt, etc. Praised for its mission versatility, with this innovative design blade you won’t go unnoticed. With this fearsome tactical knife, you don’t need to be a big fish to bite like one.
- A BLADE THAT COMMANDS RESPECT - Made of 420B stainless steel and coated with a black oxide layer, this sharp blade is built to last. The fine edge will pierce through anything. The belly is perfect for precision slicing while the serrations will let you cut through harder material quickly and easily.
- CONFIDENT & SWIFT ACTION - Altered to satisfy many national and international two hand opening regulations, you can flick open this folder ONE handed using the dual sided thumb studs. The liner lock system gives confidence during use. Watch: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KLT8WV6?ref=dp_vse_rvc3
- G10 PERFORMANCE HANDLE - Better grip than any metal handles. The beautiful skeleton style and textured G-10 handle ensures a secure and confident grip during use. It is light and very resistant. Multiple unique ergonomic features like a thumb groove, finger guard and multiple dented area. Made to be used in forward or reverse grip.
The design features a folding blade with a liner locking system for easy opening and maximum safety. To open, simply push the thumb stud and keep pushing until the blade is open and it snaps into the locking mechanism, securing the blade firmly in place. We also like the ergonomic G-10 performance handle on the knife. This skeleton style, textured handle with a thumb groove and finger guard allows for a comfortable, solid grip. And can be used in both a forward or reverse grip position.
Quality, rustproof blade
Another pro is the quality of the blade. The manufacturer has chosen to use 420B stainless steel, coated with a sleek black oxide layer, durable, rustproof, and with great longevity for long-term enjoyment out of your purchase. The Atomic Bear Folding Knife even comes with a lifetime warranty by the manufacturer, which serves as a testimony that this blade is truly made for the long-haul.
With over a hundred 5-star reviews, other outdoor enthusiasts give this sleek choice in Best Backpacking Knife options a big thumbs up. They rave about the knife’s sharpness, ease of handling, quality construction, and lightweight grip. Some confirm that it’s comparable to other high-end brands like Gerber, offering the same level of craftsmanship at very affordable pricing.
If you’re looking for a solid, sharp, knife blade to cut your way through any type of challenge, this may be your ideal, serrated survival knife.
- Outstanding customer reviews
- Lightweight and ergonomic grip
- Manufacturer Warranty
- Can be tricky to open smoothly
Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife
- ½ Serrated High Carbon Stainless Steel Drop Point Blade
- Ideal for edge retention and cutting rope
- Dual-Sided Thumbstud - For easy single-hand opening
- Ergonomic Textured Rubber Grip - Maximizes comfort and reduces slippage
The Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife is a compact design that folds for quick storage and portability. The silhouette features a dual-sided thumb stud for easy, one-handed opening on the go.
The blade length is 3.6 inches and features half-serrated detail. The drop point blade is made of high carbon stainless steel, allowing for maximum edge retention and ideal for cutting rope. It also comes with a nylon mildew-resistant sheath, rubberized grip handle, and Lockback feature for extra security.
This folding knife is perfect for those who want a durable, yet compact blade that can fit neatly into a sheath or on a belt when you’re on the move. The knife weighs 5.3oz, or 10oz when covered with the nylon sheath. It is not the lightest folding knife available, but we reckon it’s still a reasonable weight for adventurers who want a sturdy knife that handles well in every kind of survival situation.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife is a slightly more expensive choice in Best Backpacking Knife options, but we do think it is worth the extra dollars. It’s made of premium materials, comes with all the functionality you need, and is backed by survival experts for its premium performance. And don’t just take that from us, this best knife recommendation has hundreds of 5-star user reviews from fellow outdoor-enthusiasts! Praised for its balance, sharpness, durability, and handy nylon sheath covering, it’s a best-selling choice in hiking and camping essentials.
- A renowned brand in outdoor gear
- 5-star consumer favorite
- Made of premium materials
- Slightly more expensive
Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Knife
- Versatile fixed-blade outdoor knife with a 4.1-inch hardened Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade is ideal for carving, food prep, and cutting tinder
- High-quality Swedish steel is razor sharp and exceptionally tough; stainless steel blade stays sharp longer than carbon steel, and is less prone to rust
- Patterned, high-friction grip sits comfortably in the hand, for greater control, safety, and performance, especially in wet and cold conditions
- Blade length: 4.1 inches (104 mm), blade thickness: 0.1 inch (2.5 mm), overall length: 8.6 inches (218 mm), weight w/ sheath: 4.1 oz. (116 g)
The design features a 4.1 inch, three-quarter tang-hardened Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade. This material offers outstanding edge-retention and is corrosion resistant, ideal for outdoor activities where your knife is exposed to dirt and moisture. And according to other consumer reviews, the blade is razor-sharp and very durable.
The knife Includes a color-matching, hard plastic sheath to keep the blade secure. The sheath includes a handy belt clip for convenient carrying, and a drain hole to keep moisture out. The Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Knife itself has a blade length of 4.1 inches, a blade thickness of 0.1 inches, and measures 8.6 inches including the handle. When covered with its sheath, the total weight of the design is 4.1oz – lightweight enough for easy carrying.
We like the special, high-friction grip on the handle of this Best Backpacking Knife option. The patterned, ergonomic design allows you to maintain full control in wet or cold conditions and provides extra safety when handled.
The Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Knife is made in Sweden, adhering to high-quality European standards for outdoor gear. This sleek, stainless steel version is compatible with a wide range of activities, includes carving fresh tinder as a fire-starter, fire kindling, or cutting wood for fires, and food prep such as skinning and filleting.
We’ve selected to highlight the stainless steel version of the Morakniv Companion Knife, but this popular design is also available in other blade variations. These include a carbon blade, a heavy-duty blade, and a stainless steel serrated blade option. Allowing you to still take advantage of the same ergonomic grip, durability, and quality standard, but also choose the blade that matches your personal preferences best.
The Morakniv Companion has outstanding user-reviews, with thousands of 5-star reviews. This best-seller in hunting, camping, and hiking knives is praised for its excellent quality, solid performance, extreme sharpness, and ease of handling. It is also backed by a manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty, ensuring long-term enjoyment out of your purchase.
- #1 Best-Seller in hiking knives
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Some users report receiving a slightly blunt knife
INONE 12-in-1 Utility Folding Pocket Knife
- Made of 3CR13 and 2CR13 stainless steel, compact, durable and practical.
- Integrated safeguard prevents the blade from accidentally closing.
- Integrated 12 tools: knife, pliers, can opener, bottle opener, wood saw, double side file, rope cutter, screwdriver.
- Ideal for outdoor activities like survival, hunting, camping, hiking, and home use.
The ergonomic design is still relatively lightweight, considering all the extra tools it contains. Instead of having to carry separate accessories in your pack, this 9oz knife combines them in one, streamlined and easy-to-use product. Its grooved handle design is also skid-resistant and ensures a comfortable, stable grip.
So, what tools does the INONE 12-in-1 Utility Folding Pocket Knife contain? This nifty, swiss army knife inspired design includes a knife, needle nose pliers, a wire cutter, a regular plier, and a wood saw. It also features a bottle opener, can opener, rope cutter, and a double-sided file. And, to allow for quick repairs of your gear on the go, this multi-tool contains 3 types of screwdrivers: a small screwdriver, a Philips screwdriver, and flat groove option.
Travel pouch included
The INONE 12-in-1 Utility Folding Pocket Knife is made of 420 stainless steel (also known as 3CR12), allowing for great edge retention, durability, and sharpness. The foldable blade measures approximately 2.8 inches when extended, which should be sufficient blade length for most ‘light’ tasks. The design includes a nylon travel pouch. This travel pouch with a belt loop is a handy bonus to keep your tool safe and protected on the go.
Order consumers rave about how much functionality this multi-tool style knife offers. For the price listed, you get a lot of bang for your buck, and the value-for-money appeal is simply outstanding. However, be warned that though it’s a good knife, it’s not a premium quality knife. Which we reckon is a fair trade-off for its affordability. That said, other reviewers give the product top marks for versatility, ease of usage, and compact silhouette.
Overall, we think this choice in Best Backpacking Knife options is great for those looking for a comprehensive, all-in-one solution on the go. But if you’re specifically looking for a durable, heavy-duty knife, we might recommend you to for a blade-only solution by an established brand such as the Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife (as listed previously).
- Multi-tool versatility
- Great value-for-money
- Heavier and bulkier than fixed-blade or folding-blade knives
Honestly, all the options listed in our Best Backpacking Knife of 2019 (Buying Guide) are a great choice for any backpacker. Highly-rated, great value-for-money, and affordable: you can’t go wrong with any of them. That said, which blade matches your needs best, depends on a variety of factors, as we explained earlier in our 5 Step Guide to Finding the Best Backpacking Knife. Firstly, we would advise you to review this information before making a well-informed decision. That way, you can be certain your purchase will not disappoint and match all your outdoor requirements.
Single blade or multi-tool?
We are big fans of the quality of Gerber, a renowned brand in outdoor essentials. The Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife listed is a solid, affordable, and durable option that allows you to tackle survival scenarios in style. However, if you’re more interested in an all-in-one option that ensures you’re prepared for any situation, the INONE 12-in-1 Utility Folding Pocket Knife might be a solution you’re after!
Best Backpacking Knife Overview