0 Best Backpacking Knife

When you're heading out on a backcountry adventure, you want to be sure to take gear that’s useful, lightweight and serves multiple purposes.

One of the most versatile tools to take when backpacking is a knife. The best hiking knife can serve as a cutting tool when setting up camp, processing any game you may catch, or just help to chop veggies and prepare a meal to cook on the fire. Whether you’re a backpacking chef or you’re out on a survival trip, finding the best knife to carry will make your backpacking adventures easier.

Let’s take a look at the best knife for backpacking, first examining what to consider when choosing one.

Material 

The best outdoor knife is made of some type of steel, with carbon steel being one of the most popular. In reality, there are many varieties and weights available, of different strength and weight.

A hiking knife made of a soft steel will be easy to sharpen to a razor’s edge, but may lose that edge more quickly and not be as durable. Harder steel pocket knives are harder to sharpen but tend to be more durable.

The best knife for hiking will be strong enough for a variety of cutting needs, and retain its edge long enough to last throughout your trip. And like anything else, some types of steel are more expensive than others, so you may be choosing between a high-end knife and the best budget pocket knife.

Weight

If you’re doing exceptionally long hikes, you’ll be looking for an ultralight backpacking knife to ensure it’s easy to carry long distances. Check the total weight, and remember that a fixed blade knife will have the added weight of a sheath. A lightweight pocket knife or lightweight folding knife might be better suited for long hikes, but all of our choices are relatively light.

Types

Hiking knives typically come in two different styles: fixed blade, or folding. It can be difficult to find an all in one knife, so it’s good to examine which type is best for you.

Folding knives tend to be more compact and lightweight, because they don’t require the added weight of a protective sheath like knives that don’t fold. You can store them anywhere, since the sharp edge folds away. 

And if you want to choose the best multi purpose knife, you can look at a lock blade knife that also includes other tools. The best backpacking multi tool may even include a key ring or pocket clip, allowing you to clip it anywhere. If you do want a multi-tool, consider carefully what other tools you really need, otherwise you may sacrifice a quality knife for a bunch of tools you won’t use.

Otherwise, a folding knife is one that folds up with the blade tucked into the handle for easy carrying. If you do choose a folding knife, be sure it includes a locking mechanism for added safety. You don’t want the knife folding in while you’re whittling a tree. And if you want added convenience, look for a design that allows you to open the blade with one hand. 

A fixed-blade knife may be heavier but they provide greater strength when it comes to cutting. You don’t have to worry about moving parts, or cutting yourself if the lock mechanism slips. The best backpacking knife with a fixed blade will be extremely durable, especially if it has a full tang, which means the steel of the blade goes all through the length of the handle.  This type of heavy-duty knife is almost indestructible if you look after it.

And then there are some hikers who decide that the best backpacking knives are one of each type of knife. 

Uses

This is probably the most important consideration in choosing a knife. The answer to “what is the best backpacking knife” is actually “it depends.” In other words, it depends how you’ll be using it.

If you’re looking for the best survival pocket knife, you may be looking for a knife that will clean small game, prepare kindling or whittle a fire stick. The best wilderness knife will allow to do heavy duty work, but will likely cost you more money than a simple pocket knife for light chores like cutting twine or opening packages of food.

If you won’t be doing heavy cutting, like trimming branches or dressing game, you can look for the best inexpensive knife that will suit your simple needs.

Size

Another consideration which can impact your decision is the size of the knife. Depending on how you’ll use the knife, and how much room you have in your backpack, you may be choosing among knives based on size. 

If you need a knife for heavy duty use, you may want a larger, fixed blade knife. But if you need to save room in your pack, and will use your knife only occasionally, you’ll be looking for the best small knife, or the best small folding knife that you can find.

You can also get a sense of the ergonomics by considering the size of the knife handle. If you have large hands, a small handle might be uncomfortable, and even the most amazing pocket knives will be frustrating for you to use.

Now that you know what to look for in considering a knife, let’s look at some of the best rated pocket knives and why we like them.

0 Best Backpacking Knife

Carla Arbuckle
Carla Arbuckle

Carla is a staff writer for Fishing.org and Shooting.org. She is an avid outdoors enthusiast and photographer. She can be found most weekends fishing and exploring the wilderness.