The Best Backpacking Knife Buyer’s Guide: Reliable Sharp Knife On-Hand

Best backpacking knife

Anyone who spends time in the great outdoors can find a use for a backpacking knife. These knives, which can include your basic pocket knife or a fixed-blade knife, will often have features that make them a lifesaving tool both in the woods or while off the hiking trails.

 

If you plan to spend any time in the woods or mountains, whether you are taking a short hike, camping, or backpacking throughout rugged mountain terrain, having a reliable sharp knife on-hand could have a great impact on your ability to survive if things go wrong.

 

Nature isn’t kind and there have been many instances where both novice and experienced outdoor adventurists have gone out for a hike or a climb up the mountain only to find themselves stranded due to an accident, injury, or natural disaster.

 

Having a good sharp and strong knife with you all the time can help ensure that you will be safe in any type of situation you find yourself in until help arrives.

 

There are many different types of knives that can be considered a good backpacking knife. With so many sizes, features, blade materials, and popular brands to choose from, buying a new backpacking knife for the first time can be an overwhelming experience.

 

This review is designed to give you more insight on the many different types of pocket knives out there, so that you can decide for yourself which is the best backing knife to use.

 

How To Choose The Best Backpacking Knife

While you may want to carry a fixed-blade knife if you are a hunter or angler, a pocket knife is generally the best choice for a backpacking knife. That is simply because of their compact design making them easy to use and keep up with while on the go.

 

When you purchase a pocket knife, it is a good idea to think about how you will be using it. Will you carry the knife daily to help out with common tasks? Or do you want a backpacking knife that will only be used while you are out hiking or exploring? This will help you determine which type of pocket knife to buy and what features are important to you.

 

The weight of the knife is essential if you will be carrying it around for long distances. You may want a lightweight knife to take on backpacking excursions to help decrease the amount of weight you have to haul around.

 

However, a lightweight knife isn’t always a good choice if you need a strong and durable blade to cut through strong materials without damage or breaking.

 

A lightweight knife that will provide you with a good level of strength and stability will often be more expensive than a light knife without the same guarantee.

 

Once you start to search for the best backpacking knife, you will notice that there are many knives designed for specific activities.

 

You may want to purchase a knife designed for skinning or to cut meat if you are a hunter. Or a multi-tool if you plan to go camping or backpacking for several days.

 

What Are The Different Types Of Backpacking Knives

There are many different types of backpacking knives available, all with their own unique features that can make various outdoor tasks easier to complete. Here is some more insight on the multiple types of knives that may be used for camping, hunting, or hiking.

Single Blade Folders

Single blade folders

A single blade folding knife has a compact design which makes it easy to carry in your pocket or backpack. They are lightweight and often easy to use. If your biggest concern about choosing a backpacking knife is the weight, you should look into buying a single blade folder.

 

These knives range in price from budget-friendly to expensive depending on various factors like the brand, features, and durability. One of the most lightweight single blade folders is the Gerber LST. If you want a knife that is light, but also much larger than most single blade varieties, you should check out the Spyderco line of FRN handled knives like the Endura or Dragonfly.

 

Most hikers enjoy the security of having a single blade folder in their pocket for easy access. The folding lock blade can be safer than a fixed blade, especially if you are traveling with children.

 

Just be sure that if you choose to carry a locking knife, you understand the laws in your current area. There are some locations and countries such as the UK where locking knives are illegal.

 

Multi-Tools

Best backpacking knife

A multi-tool is a great item to carry around anytime you are exploring the outdoors, but they can be especially handy while camping or backpacking in the woods.

 

The Swiss Army knife is perhaps the most popular in this category. The brand has been around for many years and is known for creating high-quality, useful multi-tools designed to last throughout decades of use. But there are also many other multi-tool brands out there that manufacture premium knives ideal for backpacking.

 

Most multi-tools that you find today are designed for use in everyday situations. However, if you want to use a multi-tool for backpacking purposes, you don’t want a large or bulky knife with tons of extras you will never use. Therefore, you should look for a multi-tool designed for the outdoors that include just the extras you need.

 

Multipurpose Survival Knives

Multipurpose survival knife

Multipurpose Survival Knives are available in many different sizes and include useful features that can help during a survival situation. Most have a durable cutting blade along with a whistle to call for help, a built-in flashlight, and a Firestarter.

 

You may find some survival knives with all of these features, and others with just one or two. Perhaps the most useful feature on these knives aside from the blade itself is the whistle, which can be extremely useful if you get separated from your backpacking group.

 

Neck Knives

Neck knives

Neck knives are not as popular as many other types of backpacking knives, but they can be resourceful. They are designed to be carried around the neck using a lanyard, or you can choose to carry them in a sash.


These knives are available in various sizes such as the small and compact OKC Little Bird, or the much larger RAT RC-3. While they aren’t as commonly known today as they were in the past, these knives are still being made by many popular knife manufacturers such as Cold Steel, Boker CRKT, and Esee.


The modern neck knife often features sheaths made from hard plastic. These knives are a good choice because they are lightweight and easy to access.

 

Sheath Knives

Sheath knives

Although neck knives are also sheath knives, there is another category of sheath knives that are carried on a belt.


These are good for hiking, but not so much for mountain climbing or backpacking since you often have other gear attached to the belt area. Adding a large sheath knife to your climbing gear may be a hinderance for some.


You may want to find an alternate way to carry a sheath knife such as using a shoulder strap from a backpack or a military drop leg platform.

 

What Materials Are Backpacking Knives Made From?

The type of material that your backpacking knife blade is made from will help to determine the quality and price of the product. You want your backpacking blade to maintain a sharp edge and be capable of resisting rust or corrosion.

 

Here are the materials that are most often used with pocket knives.

 

High Carbon Steel

High carbon steel best backpacking knife

This material creates a strong and durable sharp edge on the knife which is a good thing. But it is also susceptible to corrosion when left out in the elements. Keeping the blade maintained by using oil can help to avoid this issue. Or you can choose to use a high carbon steel blade only in dry conditions.

S30V

Best backpacking knife

This material is a combination of stainless-steel and vanadium which helps the blade to resist corrosion. It also creates excellent blade retention.

154CM

Best backpacking knife

This material is a stainless-steel and carbon blend that creates a strong and durable blade for your knife and good blade retention.

420HC

Best backpacking knife

This material is a more affordable stainless-steel blend mixed with carbon. It makes the blade easy to sharpen but only provides a slight amount of blade retention.

Proprietary Blends

There are also several knife companies that use proprietary blends. This is a blend of any or all of the above materials.


The Different Knife Blade Shapes and Edges

Different knife blades

There are several varieties of knife blade shapes, yet the most popular fall into these categories. These are the blade shapes that are often found on high-quality backpacking knives.

 

Drop-Point

Drop-point knife

This is one of the most common blade shapes for backpacking and general pocket knives. It is preferred by many because it offers excellent performance and strength.

Tanto

Tanto best backpacking knife

The Tanto blade features a blunt tip that makes the overall blade stronger and more resourceful. It is a good choice for prying materials or scraping, which makes it a good choice for someone looking for a survival knife.

Needle-Point

The symmetrical point on these blades and the double-edge makes a needle-point blade a good option for hunting or wilderness survival. They can be used for throwing and spearing.

Clip-Point

Clip-Point backpacking knife

This type of blade curves to create a point for puncturing objects or detailed leather work.

SheepsFoot

This type of blade is ideal for backpacking and camping, it can be used to help you cook while staying in the wilderness. The blade is perfect for slicing and chopping food and the curved tip helps you avoid accidents or injuries.

 

A blade’s edge is just as important as the overall shape and the different types can be useful in various situations.

Flat Edge

A flat edge on a blade makes it easier to maintain and sharpen a knife. It also stands up to prolonged use as well.

Serrated Edges

A serrated edge is ideal for cutting rope or other soft materials. However, it is not useful when you need to cut harder items such as wood. The edge of a serrated knife is also difficult to sharpen.

Combo-Edge

Combo-Edge backpacking knife

A combo-edge knife features both a flat and serrated edge so that you can take on various tasks using one single tool. The section of the serrated edge is often near the grip and the rest of the blade’s edge is flat.

The Best Grip Material For A Backpacking Knife

When you are working with a knife, the last thing you want to deal with is a handle that is difficult to hold. That can lead to the knife accidently slipping out of your hand and cause a serious injury.

 

There are various types of grip material for backpacking knives. Here are a few more details about each one.

 

Metal

A metal grip is often made from titanium, aluminum, or stainless-steel. These grips are light weight and durable so that they can withstand years of use. But they are not as comfortable to hold or work with as other materials.

Wood

Wood knife handle

Wood handles can be very beautiful on any type of knife and provide your blade with a classic look. They are often comfortable to use but they will need to be protected and maintained to prevent damage from moisture exposure.

Antler

Antler knife handles

These strong and durable natural handles and grips are very popular with hunters and can add aesthetic value to any knife.

Plastic

Plastic is an affordable material that can help designers create a variety of grip shapes and textures. However, some plastic handles are not very durable and tend to crack or break.

Rubber

This is one of the most comfortable materials to have on a knife handle. And it provides a good grip, but it is not as durable as plastic.

What Is The Best Backpacking Knife?

There are many premium, well-made backpacking knives available for outdoorsmen to choose from. Here are a few of the best that would we highly recommend to others.

Sale
Gerber Ripstop II Knife, Serrated Edge [22-41616]
  • Sturdy pocket clip
  • Dual thumb stud for easy one-hand opening
  • Super lightweight, streamlined design

The Gerber Ripstop II Folding Knife has a futuristic style and a combo-edge blade to appeal to all types of hikers and campers. The blade is 3” which doesn’t add a lot of weight to the light and compact folding knife.


It is perfect for everyday carry as well as use while backpacking. The knife features dual thumb studs and a large cutout in the blade for easy opening.

Buck Knives 112 Ranger Folding Knife with Leather Sheath
  • Made in USA
  • Blade Length: 3 Inches (7.6 cm)
  • Blade Shape: Clip

Buck Knives have a classic, timeless look that resonates with many collectors. The large blade makes it a good choice for everyday carry. The handle is available in various materials such as antler, wood or synthetic. This knife weighs 5.6 oz. and has a blade length of 3”.

Sale
Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker and Classic Knife Combo,Red
  • Includes the Tinker and Swiss Army most popular knife--the Classic
  • Tinker comes with 6 handy implements with 12 features
  • The Classic offers 3 useful implements with 7 features

The Swiss Army Camper Pocket Knife includes all the feature that customers love about the brand in a compact and convenient size. There are 13 tools included with this knife that will be useful on your next camping trip.


Tools include 2 blades, a can opener, wine opener, saw, and screw drivers. The weight of this blade 3.2 oz. and the primary blade length is 2.5.

 

Comparison Table

Find The Best Backpacking Knife For Your Outdoor Adventures

When it comes to choosing the best backpacking knife, you should find one that includes features important for the task at hand. Choose a knife that will allow you to take on your favorite activities with ease. If you have more than one outdoor hobby, you may want to buy multiple backpacking-style knives to help with each activity.

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