Having a backpacking knife makes life ten times easier when you’re on the road or in the great outdoors.
They help you open, chop, and whittle things, create sparks for campfires, and just generally get by when you’re out and about.
However, you definitely need the best backpacking knives for the job! The last thing you want is one that’s too flimsy, quick to blunt, and/or incapable of performing key bush-craft tasks.
Yet there’s no shortage of knives available nowadays, making it much harder to pick one that’s fit for purpose. Finding the best hiking knife, the best camping knife, or the best backpacking knife can be a challenge.
Are you looking for the best knife for backpacking possible for your upcoming adventures? Well, this post should help!
Check it out for 8 comprehensive reviews of the best knives for camping, backpacking, hiking, and travelling I could find on the market.
[Last Updated: February 2021]
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The Best Backpacking Knife – Summary Table
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Best Backpacking Knives Buying Guide: 8 Backpacking Knife Reviews
1. Gerber Paraframe (Best Ultralight Backpacking Knife)
The minimalist, stripped back design of the Gerber Paraframe makes for a beautiful and lightweight pocket knife.
Weighing only 2.6oz, it’s easily the lightest pocket knife on this list, meaning it’ll take up very little precious weight in your backpack/pocket. That’s why it’s my pick for the best ultralight knife for backpacking.
Safety frame lock
You won’t have to worry about any accidents happening with the Gerber Paraframe 1 in your pocket. The frame lock is simple yet super secure. It allows you to open the knife with ease while protecting against unintentional opening.
The 3-inch blade of the Gerber Paraframe 1 is coated with titanium nitrate, making it capable of withstanding a lot of pressure and hard use.
The blade is also partially serrated, towards the lower end, while the top end is smooth and pointed. The result? This a versatile camping blade that can be used for a variety of different key tasks. It’s also said to be extremely easy to clean after use and will last you for years to come.
- Minimalist yet high performing design is easy on the eyes
- Backed by a limited lifetime guarantee in North America
- Easy to clean and carry thanks to a handy carrier clip on the side
- Opening mechanism can be stiff to open with one hand
2. Kershaw Clash Folding Pocket Knife (Best Hiking Knife)
Feels Great In the Hand
The Kershaw could easily take the title of the best backpacking knife on this list.
It features a sturdy, durable handle that feels great to hold. With a groove at the front end for your index finger and a curve that naturally hosts the other three fingers, the knife is said to feel like an extension of your hand!
The manufacturing material of the handle is glass-filled nylon, making it able to withstand heavy-duty use.
High performing blade
The blade of this folding camping knife is perfect for doing anything on a backpacking trip.
Made with 8Cr13Mov steel, the knife is both budget-friendly and high performing. It’s been heat-treated to withstand abrasive and adhesive damage and offers excellent wear resistance.
Secure locking system
The two steel liners on the inside of the handle prevent unintended closure of the knife from pressure when in use.
These steel sheets keep the knife propped open by creating a bias locked position. One would have to apply force manually and move the lock bar to the side to close the knife.
All told, this seems like one of the best survival pocket knives available.
- Attractive blade coating
- Opens smoothly and easily
- Convenient to store and carry
- Multipurpose backpacking knife
- Needs to be sharpened after every couple of months of use
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3. Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman (Best Lightweight Pocket Knife)
All in one design
The Victorinox Swiss Army Knife offers you fifteen different functions – all in a single design.
There’s the blade itself, of course, with a bottle opener, screwdriver, wood saw, scissors, and even a nail file! It’s a one-stop-shop for anything you might need on a camping trip.
This multi-tool offers numerous functions and saves space at the same time.
With the total length of 3.6 inches, the compact size of this swiss army knife makes it easy to carry anywhere in your pocket.
Easy on the pocket
The best backpacking knives often come with a hefty price tag on them.
But if you are on a budget, the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife is undoubtedly not a bad purchase. With 15 different tools in one, this is excellent value for money.
- Durable construction
- Lifetime guarantee against defects in material and artistry
- Fifteen tools in one
- The blade is not as high performing like the others in the list
4. Tac-Force Tactical (My Pick: Best Knife for Backpacking)
Tired of having a folding backpacking knife that gets stuck when you need it?
With the Tac Force Tactical Backpacking Knife, you’ll no longer have anything to worry about. The spring-assisted mechanism ensures a smooth and fast deployment of the blade from its sheltering case.
Half serrated blade
With a half and half blade, this is a versatile knife that’s ready to tackle almost any cutting task.
Use the smooth, pointed edge to slice up fruit on a camping trip, and use the serrated part of the knife to tackle ropes, branches, or anything trickier. That’s just one reason this as my pick for the best all around survival knife on this list.
With its liner lock and stable grip, this knife is extremely easy to use anywhere too.
The compact size allows it to be stored in any small space and carried along wherever you go. The multipurpose handle includes a bottle opener and a screwdriver as well, making your life even easier.
The pocket clip’s another great touch that ensures you know where it is and have access to it at all times.
- The multipurpose tool includes a glass breaker, screwdriver, and a bottle opener
- 8.4 inches overall length when open
- Excellent, non-slip grip
- Smart, non-closure liner lock
- The switchblade might not be legal in some states of the USA
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5. Smith & Wesson SWFRS Folding Knife
Durable and dependable blade
The superior blade of this Smith and Wesson backpacking knife is made of reliable 7Cr17MoV High Carbon Stainless Steel; the stainless steel handle’s made with G-10 inlay.
This assures you that the knife will perform well whenever you need it, and the blade will stand the test of time.
Ambidextrous thumb plate
The ambidextrous thumb plate makes it easy to handle this backpacking knife with either hand.
You can quickly flick it open without having to worry if you are right-handed or left-handed. With the security of the liner lock, you are guaranteed that the knife will not slip while it’s in use.
Because it has a partially serrated blade, you can use the knife to perform different tasks with greater ease.
Whether it’s carving a wooden ornament or slicing through ropes/twine, this knife would do a brilliant job. And with the strap cutter and glass breaker, you get even more added benefits and versatility to enjoy.
- Drop serrated point blade
- Great value for money
- Covered by a limited lifetime warranty
- Does not include a pocket clip for easy carrying
6. The Morakniv Companion (Best Backpacking Knife Fixed Blade)
Whenever it comes to knives and other sharp objects, safety is one of the biggest consumer concerns – and rightly so!
This Morakniv Companion Outdoor Knife addresses this by providing a plastic safety sheath to house one of the most popular and highly rated knives on the market. A belt clip on the sheath allows for easy carrying, and a drain hole makes sure no water accumulates and damages the blade.
The patterned high functioning grip of this knife performs equally well in all weather conditions.
Whether it’s wet or dry outside, you’ll have no trouble keeping control over the knife. That added strength and versatility makes it one of the best camping knives too.
Exceptional blade quality
The high-quality stainless steel blade is corrosion and wear-resistant. It stays sharper for a much longer period than most other blade materials.
Oiling the blade occasionally is all you need to do to keep it in perfect condition. All told, the Morakniv could easily take the prize as the best fixed blade backpacking knife overall out there.
- Versatile design allows for many functions
- Great to look at
- Requires minimum to no maintenance
- None that I could see!
7. Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife (Best Knife for Hiking)
Ergonomic textured rubber grip
The high performing handle on the Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Knife allows for a stable and smooth grip.
The textured rubber stops the knife from slipping in your hand, even when it’s wet. It also ensures you’ll stay comfortable for prolonged periods of use.
Dual-sided thumb stud
The dual-sided thumb stud allows you to use either hand to flick open the knife. Once the blade’s open, an automated liner lock prevents it from collapsing under pressure.
Secured in a nylon sheath, this best backpacking pocket knife option can be stowed safely away when it’s not being used. This lightweight, military-grade sheath is mildew resistant and allows you to carry the knife either horizontally or vertically.
- Partially serrated blade
- Bear Grylls approved!
- Ideal for edge retention and cutting rope
- A tad pricey
8. Atomic Bear Folding (Best Camping Knife)
Built to the last blade
The stainless steel camping blades on the Atomic Bear folding knife has a high chromium content which makes it extremely rust-resistant. It also responds great to sharpening when needed, but that’s something you’ll rarely have to do given the superior edge-retention of this knife. These attributes make it my pick for the best knife for camping on this list.
G10 performance handle
The lightweight backpacking knife has been designed to feel comfortable in all hands- big or small- meaning anybody should be able to use and enjoy it. The highly-textured handle allows for a superior grip in all weather conditions and environments.
Made with great attention to detail
The manufacturers have made sure that each little thing in this knife contributes to its performance. This goes from designing a partially serrated blade to choosing a phosphor bronze washer instead of a silicone washer. You’d benefit from a more durable opening mechanism and better blade stability as a result!
- Sleek and stylish look
- Covered with a lifetime warranty
- Ergonomic anti-slip design
- High-quality materials and attention to detail
- Might rust with prolonged use in and around saltwater
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Key Considerations for Finding the Best Knife for Backpacking
Wondering how to choose the best backpacking knife possible? Be sure to take the following factors into consideration.
1) Best Backcountry Knife Type
Backpacking, camping, hiking, and survival knives come in two main varieties: fixed blade and folding.
Ultimately, the right type of backpacking knife for you will depend on personal preference and practical constraints. The following definitions and pros/cons should help you decide which will be better for your needs!
FIXED BLADE KNIVES
Fixed blade varieties are the classic knife that’s been used forever and a day by outdoorsmen. They’re made from one solid (aka ‘fixed’) strip of steel, which runs down into the handle.
i) They’re Strong, Sturdy, and Reliable
Fixed blade knives are best in terms of strength and rigidity.
After all, there are no moving parts or intricate mechanisms to worry about. It’s literally just a strip of sharpened steel with a handle on the end!
A ‘full tang’ knife is best in this regard. It means the steel extends the whole way down the knife’s length (from the tip to the bottom of its handle). The result? There’s no point of weakness in sight.
Even fixed blades with partial tangs (where the steel stops at a certain point inside, e.g. midway down, the handle) are known for their added strength though.
ii) Long-Lasting Usage
The added strength and durability of fixed blades makes them less likely to break!
A one-time purchase should, in theory, last well into the future with no need for frustrating (and expensive) repairs or replacements.
That’s handy from both a practical and financial perspective. It means you’ll always have a high-quality knife for upcoming expeditions and shouldn’t have to pay out for replacements any time soon.
iii) Great for Survival Situations
There’s no room for weak and unreliable gear in survival situations and harsh conditions. Everything in your pack must serve its purpose without letting you down.
Whether you’re lighting fires, chopping wood, or fighting off wild animals, having a strong, functional backpacking knife that’s at no risk of breaking is a serious boon.
That’s precisely what you get with a fixed blade knife. That’s one reason they often make the best rated survival knives out there.
i) Safety Issues
Having a razor-sharp, fixed blade laying around can be something of a safety hazard if you aren’t careful!
You have to be mindful of having an exposed blade around and make sure you both have and use an effective sheath in which you can stow the knife whenever you’re not using it.
ii) Extra Size & Weight
With more steel and no means of folding them up, fixed-blade knives are generally bigger and heavier too.
Their size and weight might make them impractical for some people- especially ultralight backpackers where every ounce counts.
Folding knives are arguably the most popular knives for backpacking. The blade folds down into the handle when you don’t need it, keeping the blade safely out of harm’s way.
i) Compact & Lightweight
The primary advantages of folding knives are their size and weight.
After all, you can fold ‘em up! They take up far less space than fixed-blades as a result. You can keep the knife attached to your pack, on a key ring, or in a pocket until you need to use it.
Their folding functionality also makes them lighter to carry around. They use less material and don’t need a sheath to tuck the blade away.
ii) Safe Storage
Being able to stow your knife’s blade inside the handle is a helpful safety measure too. It means you’re at less risk of accidentally cutting and stabbing yourself!
i) Weaker and Less Durable
Folding blades lack the strength, rigidity, and durability that you enjoy with fixed blades.
Compared to a solid strip of steel, they rely upon a locking mechanism to keep the blade in position. Most folding blades still provide high levels of strength and stability. Yet they’re undoubtedly weakened as a result of their design.
Particularly in lower-quality knives, you may feel the blade jiggle in its frame and struggle to cut harder materials. You risk breaking the knife if it’s put under excessive pressure.
ii) Potential Safety Issues
Folding blades can cause safety problems too.
If you’re unlucky, the locking mechanism that keeps the blade in place might fail- or never have engaged properly in the first place. In either case, there’s nothing stopping the blade closing your fingers while you’re using it.
Smaller folding knives can also be fiddly to fold up and down. That’s bad news when you’re holding a razor-sharp blade between your fingers!
2) Backpacking Knife Locking Mechanism
Folding knives use a variety of locking mechanisms with which to keep their blades in position.
This is a crucial part of the knife! It keeps the open blade in position and stops it slamming shut onto your fingers in use. Make sure you pick one that’s both effective and easy to use.
Each locking system has its advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a useful guide explaining the options and going into depth on their relative pros and cons.
3) Backpacking Knife Material
Most backpacking knives are made from one type of steel or another.
And there’s a reason for that! Steel’s renowned for its strength and durability, which makes it the perfect choice for a tool used for cutting, hacking, slicing, and chopping all day long.
Stainless steel and carbon steel are two common variations used to make them.
Stainless steel is a versatile metal that most people are familiar with already. It’s corrosion-resistant, which makes it great in wet and humid conditions, and fairly strong too.
However, it isn’t as strong, durable, or hard as carbon steel. This material takes some blunting! It’ll stand up to rough treatment and stay sharp for longer, but require more effort to sharpen when the time eventually comes to do it.
I recommend doing some further research in order to truly understand the merits of one steel type over another. Only then can you know for sure that a knife in question will suit your specific needs.
4) Backpacking Blade Length
The length of the blade is worth thinking about too.
As you’d expect, longer blades are better at cutting larger items. But they are, of course, bigger and heavier to carry as well.
Smaller knives are the opposite. They’ll struggle to hack their way through anything larger/thicker than the blade itself.
Think about the tasks for which you’ll be using the knife.
A smaller blade should be fine for basic tasks like cutting veggies, opening food packages, and even making kindling. But for more serious tasks it can pay to have a larger blade at your disposal.
5) Backpacking Knife Versatility
The best knives for backpacking are often the most versatile too!
They should be well-suited to any of the jobs you need them to do.
You may need the same knife to chop through all manner of materials with ease, strike a spark on a Ferro rod, split wood for a fire, and so on.
At the same time, it needs to be small and lightweight enough to carry, capable of withstanding rough treatment on the go, and durable enough to last long into the future.
Keep all that in mind to help you find the best backpacking knife possible.
Pick the Best Knife for Hiking, Backpacking, and Camping Possible!
Hitting the road or venturing into the great outdoors in the near future?
Packing a high-quality backpacking knife is sure to make a positive difference! These key bits of kit will help you perform all sorts of essential tasks, making your life far easier in the process.
The trick is finding the right knife for the task!
Alas, not all backpacking knives, camping knives, or hiking knives are made equal. With tonnes of variation in quality and style out there, it’s important to choose the best backpacking knife possible for your particular needs.
I hope these reviews of the best knives for backpacking will help in that regard!