When you’re out camping, your knife is as much a tool as it is anything. Spend any real amount of time in the wilderness, and your knife will be relied on to split wood, cut through rope, and serve in any number of other campsite tasks.
As such, you need a knife that can hold up. A knife that will last through mud and muck, rain and snow, and anything else you throw at it.
More so, you need a knife you can depend on before, during, and after all of this. That is why our review team has carefully examined the top-selling knives out there and selected one each for Best Overall, Best Value, and Best Budget camping knives.
But first, let’s have a brief look at the criteria they use in deciding which camping knives make the cut, and which don’t.
How to find the Best Camping Knife
As we already touched on, camping knives have to be built to stand up to a different standard. Unlike a delicate kitchen knife or the utilitarian box cutter, the camping knife never knows what might come up that requires its use. Ranging from mundane tasks like slicing onions for the campfire stew to defending one’s self from an attacker or skinning a deer – camping knives have to be able to do it all.
The take-away is, we depend on a camping knife. We strap it on or throw it in a pack, and there it sits until we need it. When that time comes, we expect our knife to work quickly and effectively – no matter what it might be we ask of it. The only way to be sure a camping knife is reliable enough to fill this role, we have to hold it to a higher standard than we might use to judge other knives.
Full Tang Fixed Blade
The first and most important thing to consider when looking at camping knives is that they are fixed-blade knives, and even then, preferably full-tang. Full-tang means that the knife is forged from one solid piece of steel, and thus much stronger and more useful in fieldcraft.
While folding knives can be easier to carry in “civilian” attire (for lack of a better way of putting it), while out in the field a fixed blade is easily strapped on and carried everywhere and much better suited for the work. Full-tang fixed blade camping knives can double as pry bars, splitting wedges, firestarters, and more, and still hold up for years of use.
Folding knives, on the other hand, have bearings that can vulnerable to grit and moisture. They have pocket clips that can break off or bend, taking away their main benefit of being easy-to-carry. They have moving parts that can fail, and you can’t depend on something subject to failure.
Corrosion Resistant & All-Weather Grip
Of course, if we are going to have this tool out in these precarious conditions all the time, it stands to reason that we want it to be able to endure them. We need the steel it is made from to be resistant to rusting and corroding. The edge needs to keep, as sharpening in the field is not always desirable. We also want to make sure that the grip allows for sufficient control in all conditions, even wet ones.
Certain steel alloys are superior in terms of both corrosion resistance and edge retention. 1095HC is high carbon steel that is favored by premium knife makers for its hardness and edge retention, but you need to make sure it is properly coated and even then must keep the exposed sharp edge oiled. Modern synthetic grips such as G-10, Micarta, and even simple rubberized compounds can offer amazing grip even underwater, but understand that cheap knockoffs aren’t likely to perform as well.
Ability to Spark on Ferro Rod
Another important thing to consider (one that is often overlooked!) is how well the knife throws sparks on a Ferro rod. Many people depend on their knife for this task specifically, and it can put you in quite the bind to take an untested blade in the field only to learn it doesn’t throw sparks without grinding.
Carbon steels will typically throw sparks better than stainless steels, so if you are relying on the knife exclusively for fire-starting, you may want to keep this in mind.
Camping Knife Reviews
The blade is formed from 1095 High Carbon steel and coated in a matte tactical black, making this knife versatile in its role as either a camping, survival, tactical, or EDC (Everyday Carry) knife. This is top-shelf camping and survival equipment and would be an amazing addition to anyone’s gear collection. The G-10 handle features an orange inset that creates an aesthetically pleasing contrast, giving this knife just enough accent to illustrate its serious nature. This is a blade that means business, and it shows.
Best of all – all of this comes in a beautifully arranged case that turns this incredibly versatile camping and survival tool into an heirloom gift that will be cherished for generations.
This selection features a ¾ tang, which is partly why it can be offered at such a value. Morakniv knives are Swedish made and renowned as camping and survival knives. Made from heat-treated high carbon steel to reach hardness 56-58 to better hold its edge, which comes from the factory with a “Scandi” grind. This grind is very well-suited to campsite tasks such as batoning wood for fire kindling and feathering sticks as well, which it completes without chipping or rolling the cutting edge.
It’s rare to find a premium knife like this at such an affordable price, and, as such, our review team didn’t have much choice. This camping knife really is the best value you’re going to find.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is a quality knife that stands up under scrutiny as a camping knife. It features a semi-serrated, high carbon, stainless steel blade that is a ¾ tang set in a dense rubberized handle. The sheath features an integrated Ferro rod for fire-starting, using the spine of the knife to do so. Also included with the sheath are a diamond whetstone and an emergency whistle, rounding out this knife’s utility as a camping or survival tool.
This knife may not be built to endure quite as much as more expensive offerings, but it still does a mighty fine job in the field. Despite being 3/4 tang, the blade feels firm and solidly embedded into the dense rubber handle. The knife feels heavier than it looks, and is an amazing tool with a lot to offer for this price.
This selection comes with the buyers’ choice of either a leather sheath (which includes a sharpening stone) or a Kydex sheath, with each including a Ferro rod and a means for securely holding it. We lean towards the handcrafted leather sheath – not only does it come with a stone for sharpening, which can come in handy while camping, but it offers a much more exquisite presentation of this fine blade. The Kydex sheath may be better for tactical carry or for use in more demanding elements – it just can’t help looking plain.
Speaking of demanding elements, the Jeo Tec no. 39 features a full-tang MoVa stainless steel blade set into a Micarta handle. This all translates into a highly anti-corrosive blade and a handle that can endure almost anything you throw at it. This is a very fine camping knife and was a strong contender for our Best Overall spot, but Holtzman’s Gorilla’s presentation was above and beyond.
With a 420 High Carbon steel blade running in full-tang and wrapped in a heavy-duty synthetic rubberized coating, this is a very solid knife. It lacks some of the other features that may appeal to campers, such as the inclusion of a Ferro rod or a built-in place to store one. This knife is a solid performer and a very popular choice for use in military, law enforcement, and other tactical situations but will make for an affordable camping knife that can last forever. Just plan ahead and bring your own Ferro rod.
Our Final Thoughts
To conclude, let’s briefly look back at our top picks for Best Camping Knife. First, we looked at the Holtzman’s Gorilla Survival Knife, which took our spot for Best Overall Camping knife. This beautifully crafted knife is built to be outdoors, and it comes with an incredibly versatile assortment in a well-presented arrangement. This is a perfect gift for anyone that spends time in the wilderness, and they will cherish this high-quality knife forever.
Second, we chose the Morakniv Bushcraft Survival Knife for Best Value in a Camping Knife. This is a finely constructed blade of Swedish design and works well in camping, EDC (Everyday Carry), and tactical situations. Its versatility and inclusion of Ferro rod and sharpening stone make it particularly well-suited for camping and survival, and the blade design is engineered for abusive campsite tasks. This knife offers tremendous value and will make a fine addition to any outdoor gear collection.
Lastly, our Best Budget Camping Knife was the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife – an affordable knife that will keep up with all your camping chores without busting the budget. A perfect choice for survival purposes, the knife includes a Ferro rod and whistle for emergencies. The rugged construction uses less expensive rubber and nylon to accomplish the same thing at a lower price. If you’re looking for an affordable knife to add to your camping gear, check out this Gerber signature series blade.
We hope that we are able to help you decide on the right camping knife, or maybe you even found what you were looking for right here! Stay safe out there, and thank you for reading!