A backpacking knife is your best friend, closest companion, and most trusted ally while you’re out in nature.
Whether you’re camping with the family for the weekend, heading out on a fun trip, or roughing it by yourself for a few weeks, you need a backpacking knife that won’t let you down.
Your knife needs to be durable, lightweight, have a strong blade that won’t chip, and perform more functions than any other tool you’ll own.
That’s a lot of requirements for any knife to live up to, but a special backpacking knife must satisfy all of these parameters. It can mean the difference between having a successful backpacking trip and one that causes safety issues and frustration.
So, let’s take a look at the best backpacking knives available on the market, ready to go with you on your next trek or trip.
Best Backpacking Knive Reviews:
With its lightweight synthetic handle that has tactile texturing, a lock back design, and a blade made of 420HC stainless steel, this Gerber Ultralight Knife is fantastic for backpacking.
From its mechanical action, it folds closed to less than 3” in length, making it ideal for taking with you wherever you go off and on the trail.
When opened, the overall size is 4.62” long. There’s a hole built into the handle, so you can attach a cord and carry it with you securely in your backpack.
The 420HC stainless steel has a Victorinox polished surface and a taper ground edge. It also comes with a black polyester case that will keep it protected from the elements. This ultralight knife weighs just 1.2 ounces, so it’s definitely the lightest knife listed here.
2. Best Folding Knife for Backpacking - The Sportsman Folding Knife
The Sportsman Folding Knife has an incredible black color and notched blade with a spring-assisted opening mechanism.
This is a rugged and handsome backpacking knife that’s great for tactical and survival uses. There are a thick liner lock and a removable pocket clip on this knife as well. It’s resistant to rust and corrosion.
The handle is smooth stainless steel, and the blade has a titanium-coated finish with a 3.7” length. It’s contoured to fit nicely in your hand. Fully opened, the knife is 8.85” long and weighs 10.6 ounces.
3. Best Fixed Blade Backpacking Knife - MTech USA MT-086 Series Fixed Blade
If your preference is for fixed blade knives as opposed to folding or pocket knife varieties, then choose this MTech USA MT-086 Series fixed blade hunting knife.
It’s 12.25” in length, making it ideal for more rugged tasks that you’ll encounter on your backpacking trips. The full tang and balanced blade is notched near the handle, but it’s also straight edge, with a nice long, sharp point.
It’s the modern equivalent of older antique hunting knives. The overall appearance is very handsome, with a 7” long black stainless steel blade and an ABS handle that has wing walk inserts for a better grip.
It also comes with a black nylon sheath for easy carrying, and there’s a built-in hole at the very end of the pommel for stringing a cord through or hanging it. The pommel end also has a pointed glass breaker.
The Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with its Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade is definitely the best Mora knife for backpacking.
It comes with multiple sheath colors and also has a black blade option. The blade length is 4.1 inches, and overall, it’s 8.6” long. The total weight with the colored sheath is 4.1 ounces. The sheath has a belt clip, and the handle has a high-friction grip with a pattern to make sure it’s still usable in both wet and cold conditions.
The 75 percent tang blade has a ground spine and rounded edges to give it that smooth, finished look. It’s also under three ounces in weight, which is definitely a consideration when every pound counts while backpacking.
With a companion knife sharpener, you’re ready to use this outdoors while camping, hunting, fishing, and more. This knife is made in Sweden.
Backpacking Knife Buyer's Guide 101:
Types of Knives for Backpacking
There are many types of outdoor knives for all different purposes and levels of skill.
Larger blades aren’t often better, and you might find a smaller blade that’s strong and lightweight and makes up for versatility what it might not have in size.
There are pocket / folding knives that are quite small, a Swiss Army knife that offers more tools, small blade fixed knives that don’t fold, Bushman knives, belt knives, and the large Bowie knives.
What Do You Need it For?
It’s pretty difficult to imagine a wilderness scenario where you don’t need a knife!
It’s not just for opening spice packets, prepping vegetables, and slicing meat at tonight’s campfire dinner. You can also use your knife to chop, slice, fix, skin, sterilize, strip, split, or even dig. It also, of course, is used as a weapon to defend yourself or to hunt.
Backpacking knives can be used temporarily as a shovel to gather wild foods, excavate fire pits, or even create a distress signal in dirt or snow. It can rip through clothing and fabric easily, performing almost better than a pair of scissors. It can also keep you warm by making a spark when used with fire steel.
Your knife can double as a first aid tool, if a situation that calls for it arises. You can cut bandages with it or even sterilize a blister with the hot tip. Do take heed of all safety and first aid precautions before you use a knife in any medical situation.
The back of the knife, or pommel, can be used as a hammer to pound tent stakes, make snares, and set up shelters. It can also serve as a stake itself if none are available. One of the most popular ways a backpacking knife is used is to create other tools, such as a fire bow and drill.
If you’ve never had a really well-constructed knife, then you might be surprised to learn you can also use it as a smaller version of an ax, chopping off small branches, notching wood, splitting bark, and creating fire kindling. Make sure you choose a large, full tang version with a flat end to the blade back. Then you can pound the edge into a log or sapling.
A knife is only as good as its blade, since without a proper blade, it might as well be garbage.
Steel is the best material, as well as the most popular, and it can come in several varieties, including carbon steel, laminated steel, stainless steel, and 1095 steel.
Steel by itself is incredibly strong while also being lightweight and durable. Different materials are added to it to change the steel’s properties and make it less prone to rust, stains, or cracks.
The knife style itself, whether you prefer it fixed blade or folding, is definitely a consideration to keep in mind. You want to pay attention to how the knife feels in your hand, how it balances, and whether it might be too lightweight or too heavy. A backpacking knife is meant to replace other tools, so it must be well made.
You Need A Camping Hatchet For Your Next Backpacking Trip
Backpacking outdoors for days or weeks at a time demands that you invest in the best knife for not just your daily needs but also those exceptional situations that can suddenly arise.
You expect your knife to perform as well during your tenth year of owning it as on your first day. In the long run, it’s worth it to find the perfect knife for you, since that is going to be the best knife during all of your backpacking adventures.