Best Camping Knife – Editors Choice
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
Much like the eponymous survivalist himself, the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is excellent in a pinch and accomplishes so much with seemingly so little. This is one of the few camping knives few came across that includes both a fire starter rod as well as a signal whistle to help you get out of sticky jams.
On top of that, this fixed blade camping knife is made out of high carbon steel, which is both good at keeping an edge as well as resisting rust and corrosion. To further ensure that the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife keeps its edge, the nylon sheath features an integrated diamond knife sharpener.
Even the pommel serves multiple purposes being made out of stainless steel, so you can use it to hammer or break as needed. To ensure that you do not have to worry about the knife’s general durability, the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife uses a full tang.
Bottom Line: The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife skirts the line in almost every way to offer you a wide range of functions and features not often found at this price point.
Whether you are a weekender or a dedicated outdoorsman, having the right tools for the job in the wild can make things significantly easier or even help keep you alive. That said, with all of the different types of camping equipment out there, you often need to whittle down your decisions to the necessities.
While great arguments can be made for a wide variety of different tools and pieces of equipment, the camping knife is arguably one of the essential tools you should bring. From cutting rope to bandages to food to firewood, there are numerous reasons for taking knives camping with you.
That is why we put together a list of the 5 best camping knife reviews of 2020, highlighting what each one does best. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can figure out which campsite knife best suits your needs.
Why You Should Carry a Camping Knife
Camping knives are some of the most versatile and vital tools that you can take with on a camping trip. The sheer number of different situations when you might need to cut something preclude camping knives as a necessary piece of equipment.
Even better, some of the best camping knives can serve numerous functions and tasks, such as food prep, trimming kindling/branches for fire building, whittling tent stakes or for general repairs. Thus, potentially removing the need to pack additional tools with your camping gear.
Anatomy of a Knife
The drop point is essentially where the bulk of the blade tapers into the tip. The larger the drop point, the more narrow the tip of the blade. This allows you to make more delicate cuts, but it also increases the tip’s likelihood of breaking. A shorter drop point may limit some of the fineness to your cuts, but it is significantly more robust and can handle cutting thicker or denser material.
The fine edge is the standard edge of a camping knife and is used for all of your slicing motions. This is also the edge that is easier to sharpen when it dulls.
Not all camping knives come with a serrated edge, but those that do can cut denser material easier than blades with just a fine edge. Serrated edges tend not to run the entire length of a camping knife’s blade unless it is specifically designed to be used as a saw. Serrated edges do not work well for making delicate or subtle cuts and are more difficult to sharpen when dulled.
The spine is the back of a single-edged blade and generally ground to a smooth finish. Sometimes, the spine’s edges are rounded for comfort and appearance.
The crossguard is the part of the handle that prevents your hand from sliding off of the handle and up the blade, potentially cutting yourself. Not all camping knife handles have cross guards, so be extra careful when using a knife without one.
This is the part of the knife where you hold the blade.
How to Choose the Best Camping Knife for Your Needs
Types of Camping Knives
A fixed blade knife does not retract the blade, which necessitates a sheath to protect it and others when not in use. This type of knife is sturdier and more durable than a foldable knife, though that depends on whether it employs a full tang.
A foldable blade is hugely convenient as the blade folds into the handle and can often be clipped on to your clothing. However, the folding mechanism and lack of bracing full tang mean that a folding knife is not as sturdy or durable as a fixed blade knife. Foldable knifes don’t need a sheath, and generally can be stored much more easily.
Features to Look For
Dimensions and Weight
For camping knives, in particular, the weight can be important, especially if you hike to your campgrounds. Thankfully, most camping knives weigh 1-pound or less and can often be carried outside of your pack.
Dimensions can be a bit trickier because you want to make sure that the knife is large enough to handle the tasks you need it for. On the other hand, you do not want a knife that is too bulky or too large for delicate dexterity tasks.
The tang is the part of the blade buried and connected to in the hilt or handle. While there are technically a few different configurations, the primary classification is full tang or not full tang. Full tang blades run the entire length of the handle and are far sturdier and more durable than knives without.
Blade and Handle Dimensions
With blade dimensions, the length and thickness of the blade often impact how dense or tough of material you can easily cut with it. For instance, shorter or thinner blades do not work as well for cutting wood, though they can be used to dress caught food. The handle’s dimensions are important for maintaining grip and should not be considered a big deal unless they are too large or small for you to hold securely and comfortably.
Drop Point – The spine of a drop point blade curves down the taper to the tip and is one of the thicker shapes. This kind of blade shape provides excellent strength and durability, allowing it to cut everything from rope to wood.
Clip Point – A clip point blade features a crescent drop at the taper that allows for a sharper point. This kind of blade often allows for finer cuts but is not as durable as the thicker drop point design.
While helpful, this should not be the first thing you look for in a camping knife as you likely have multiple fire starting redundancies. That said, if you go on a lot of extended camping trips where you hike long distances, this feature is a great way to shed carrying weight.
Looking to Fill Out Your Backpacking Toolbox?
- Chopping firewood doesn’t require a heavy hatchet with the best backpacking axe on the market.
- If you want to keep your weight down but retain functionality with your toolset, then take a look at the best multitool for backpacking.
- Removing branches and trimming firewood is an easy job with the best backpacking saw.
- For all your around camp needs, if you want a lightweight knife, then take a look at our top pick for “Best Backpacking Knife“.
The Best Camping Knives Reviewed
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion
Largest Camping Knife
People might be more familiar with the traditional KA-BAR, famous for its use in the United States military and action movies across the world. However, the KA-BAR company offers a wide range of knives for different purposes while still holding to the quality and capability that makes the original so iconic.
The KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion demonstrates this first with the largest blade on our list at 5 ¼” long and 6.3 mm thick and a hilt that is another 5 ¼”. This means that this heavy duty fixed blade camping knife has more than enough blade for your cutting needs while also providing enough hilt to handle even tougher cutting tasks.
To ensure that the build can handle the abuse the blade can take, the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion features a full tang design. That said, this is also one of the more expensive knives that we reviewed, though it arguably offers more knife than any of the others we came across.
Even better, the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion is made out of 1095 Cro-Van steel, which provides for modest corrosion resistance. On top of that, this knife also comes with a glass-filled nylon sheath, so you do not have to worry about it losing its cutting edge as quickly as others.
- 1095 Cro-Van steel construction
- Has a 5 ¼” blade
- Has a glass-filled nylon sheath
- Low end price tag
- Is a heavier knife
Bottom Line: Like its classic namesake, the KA-BAR Becker BK2 is a large knife with plenty of durability and cutting versatility.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
Best Survival Knife
Gerber is a renowned maker of cutting tools, and Bear Grylls is an iconic survivalist, so it only makes sense that the two would get together to make the best survival knife we encountered. By far, one of the best qualities about this camping knife is its fire-starter system, which strikes a ferro rod down the spine of the blade.
Of course, fire starting is only the beginning as the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife includes a signal whistle as part of its lanyard, further cramming great features into a single tool. Even better, this camping knife has the second-largest blade on our list at 4 ¾” and a 5 ¼” handle to provide plenty of support.
Going further still with support, the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife employs a full tang design, so it can handle the toughest heavy duty tasks you throw at it. Of course, this camping blade offers even more versatility thanks to its stainless steel pommel that can double as a hammering surface if necessary.
It is worth noting that the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is one of the heavier knives on our list at 11 oz and is a bit more expensive than other “budget-friendly” models. Still, the nylon sheath with a diamond knife sharpeners and half-serrated blade means this might be the only cutting too you need for years to come.
- Made of high-carbon 4034 stainless steel
- Has ergonomic rubber grip
- Great for survival situation
- Knife sharper built into the sheath
- Is a more expensive knife
- Is a heavier knife
Bottom Line: The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife lives up to its name with multiple edges, a great all-around build, and survival knife tools that can tackle a range of camping tasks.
SMITH & WESSON Extreme Ops SWA24S
Best Foldable Camping Knife
Smith & Wesson might be better known for their firearms, but the company makes excellent outdooring products of many types. The SMITH & WESSON Extreme Ops SWA24S is a perfect example of this and is one of the few foldable blade knives we came across worthy of being put on our list.
In terms of portability, there is no other option we reviewed that even comes close to the SMITH & WESSON Extreme Ops SWA24S. For one, the folding blade design and pocket clip makes this the most compact camp knife to carry, while the handle clip ensures you can put it pretty much anywhere.
Even better, this is the lightest product that we reviewed at meager 3 ½ oz, though part of this is because it also features the smallest blade on our list at only 3.1”. Not only that, but because it is a folding knife, the SMITH & WESSON Extreme Ops SWA24S cannot employ the superior full tang construction.
Still, you do not have to worry too much about durability as this pocket knife is made out of 7Cr17MoV black oxide high carbon steel blade. This allows the SMITH & WESSON Extreme Ops SWA24S to maintain its water and corrosion resistance without sacrificing its hardness or durability.
- Is a less expensive knife
- Has a folding blade
- Is a lightweight pocket knife
- 7Cr17MoV Black Oxide High Carbon Stainless Steel Blade
- Has a small blade
Bottom Line: While folding knives are not always ideal, the SMITH & WESSON Extreme Ops SWA24S is easily one of the best options on the market.
Best Dressing Camping Knife
Morakniv is the most experienced company on our list focused exclusively on cutting implements made for harsh the Swedish environment. That being the case, it makes perfect sense that this would be one of the most razor sharp blades that we came across and fits perfectly as a great dressing knife.
A bit part of this comes from the combination of the blade length, which sits at a respectable 4.1” and its narrow thickness of only 2.5 mm– the thinnest blade on our list. This combination also allows the Morakniv Companion to be one of the lightest camping knives that we reviewed at only 4.1 oz.
Unfortunately, while the thin blade might allow for incredibly delicate cuts, it does not work quite as well when standing up to sturdier or denser materials. This is the only fixed blade knife on our list that does not increase its durability with a full tang design.
That said, the Morakniv Companion has a Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade, which not only provides excellent water and corrosion resistance but is also one of the hardest metals on our list. To further complement this camping knife’s design, a TPE rubber handle grip encases the handle to prevent slippage when cutting into organic material like fish or fur.
- Is a less expensive knife
- Heavy duty Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade knife
- Is a lightweight knife
- Has a TPE rubber grip
- Has thin knife blade
- Plastic sheath
Bottom Line: The Morakniv Companion combines solid materials and a good build, making it perfect for more delicate cutting like dressing game.
Benchmade – Bushcrafter 162
Most Durable Camping Knife
Benchmade is one of the top-tier knife manufacturers, known for producing high-end blades for pretty much every niche. The Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 perfectly encapsulates this principle by combining some of the best materials with excellent design to offer the most durable camping knife we came across.
This begins with the blade, which utilizes the durable full tang handle design with a solid 4 ⅖” length and a decent 4.1 mm thickness. This range of blade dimensions and build quality is further reinforced by CPM-S30V stainless steel blade material that has one of the highest hardness rating we came across.
The steel blade is so hard that you need to know what you are doing when sharpening it to avoid making mistakes. It is also worth noting that the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 is significantly more expensive than most of the other products we saw but skimps a bit on the thin leather sheath.
Thankfully, the company did not skimp out on the handle, which is made out of G10 resin-soaked fiberglass that resists water and extreme temperatures with ease. At 7.7 oz, the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 is not the lightest knife on our list but is still reasonably lightweight, given its durability.
- CPM-S30V steel blade
- Has a solid size
- Has a G10 resin-soaked fiberglass handle
- Is a more expensive knife
- Not the best sheath
Bottom Line: The Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 is easily the most durable knife on our list and can be used for years on end if properly honed and cared for.
Last update on 2021-10-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API