While I wouldn’t recommend going on a camping trip with a single knife and no other tools, the best camping knife for campers should be able to take care of numerous tasks related to wilderness survival and camping.
The knife should be one that you are very comfortable using and carrying at all times. In an emergency scenario, your camping knife might become your survival knife so it should be able to stand up to the rigors.
We have some of the best camping knives on the market on our list. Tell us what you think about our choice of the absolute best camping knife for campers!
Our Top Picks
ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife
Gerber Strongarm Fixed Blade Knife
Best Folding Knife
Ontario Knife Company Rat I Folding Knife
Morakniv Craftline Basic 511 Fixed Blade Knife
The Absolute Best Camping Knives for Campers
ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife
Our top pick for the best camping knife is the ESEE 6-P. This knife is a powerhouse and hits every criterion we established for a top-tier survival and camping knife. With an overall blade length of 6.5 inches, it falls well in line with what we are looking for. The knife is full tang and made of 1095 high carbon steel.
The Micarta handles are textured and removable. They can be changed out with other models from ESEE. The metal pommel is perfect and has a place to tie some paracord.
Though this is an excellent long blade, and the knife is nearly 12 inches in total length, it only weighs 12 ounces or less than a pound. This model even comes with a polymer molded sheath.
The Gerber Strongarm is a LOT of knife. It is basically a weapon. Any knife can be a weapon, but the Gerber Strongarm looks and feels like it was made that way on purpose. This has its benefits of course. If you like carrying a knife with some heft, then this is the best camping knife for you.
This full tang blade is made of 420 high-carbon steel. It features a wide blade that is just under 5 inches in length. The diamond textured handle is a great feature and improves grip.
I am not a big fan of the spiked pommel in general. I prefer a flat pommel and especially for a camping knife. I can appreciate its ability to break glass, but outside of that and hurting people with it, I do not see much utility.
The blade has a black Cerakote finish which is always an excellent feature, and you can get this knife in black or coyote tan.
The Gerber Strongarm is a serious knife and might be intimidating for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with knives.
Best Folding Knife
Ontario RAT 1
While I am partial to the full tang blade, there is always room on a list of the best camping knives for an affordable folding knife. This is a very affordable knife and a very effective one, too.
Despite the fact that it does not meet all the criteria as being one of the best camping knives by our standards, it is essential to note that sometimes our criteria aren’t the same as yours. Maybe a folding knife is your preference.
The Ontario RAT 1 is just 3.5 inches and is made of carbon steel alloy. This is carbon steel that is mixed with other types of steel. It makes a durable blade, and that is important. The handles are micarta.
This knife does not come with a sheath because it is a folding knife that takes care of things. It’s a beautiful folding knife that could help anyone at the campsite.
Morakniv Basic 511
While the basic is not the size we want for our perfect camping knife, this knife features such quality at such an affordable list that I thought we must feature it in our search for the best camping knife for campers.
If your budget is as razor-thin as the Scandi grind on this knife, then the Morakniv Basic 511 might turn out to be the very best camping knife for you.
The 3.6-inch blade is high carbon steel. It is partial tang and fits into a meaty and grippy rubber handle that does the job well. The blade is also fitted into a hard combi sheath which slips right onto your belt to make this knife simple to carry.
Morakniv is always making fine survival and camping knives at an incredible price point. This knife is the best deal on the market!
Kershaw Camp 5
I am a big fan of Kershaw knives. I think they do a great job and make innovative knives available for any budget. The Kershaw Camp 5 is no different.
With a blade of 4.75 inches in length, it falls just below the necessary length to be considered the very best camping knife, but this full tang knife does have many features that make it an incredible option.
This knife is not made from high carbon steel but is instead made from much harder D2 or tool steel which is harder to sharpen and is more brittle than 1095 high carbon steel. The entire knife is just over 9 inches and comes with a custom molded sheath with a double retention system.
Sheaths for the Best Camping Knife for Campers
As we mentioned having an effective sheath is one of the most important parts of carrying the best camping knife for campers. When you reach down for that knife, it should be there. It doesn’t matter if you are at the campsite or tipped over in a canoe.
I like kydex sheaths. They have always done me well. I like the fit and the way they hold the knives I carry. There are also hard plastic sheaths like the Mora that we featured above. These can be very effective, too.
If you are looking to step back in time, then you should consider wearing a leather sheath such as this Leather Straight Knife Sheath. These sheaths come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. The best thing about a leather sheath is that it can hold different knives. At the same time, plastic and kydex are fitted to one specific type of blade.
What Makes the Best Camping Knife?
The best camping knife will have several distinct characteristics that allow it to help you out around the campsite. These characteristics are very similar to what you would expect if you were in the market for a survival knife.
High Carbon Steel
High carbon steel holds an edge well and is also pretty easy to resharpen. These are two things that you want from your camping knife.
The high-carbon steel blade can also be used to start a fire. If you strike it with a sharp stone like flint or even a sharp piece of glass, it will throw a single spark. With charcloth, you can make a fire with your knife by doing this.
90 Degree Spine
The best camping knife needs to have a 90-degree spine. This is because the 90-degree spine is a tool by itself. When it comes to starting a fire, it just cannot be overstated.
The 90-degree spine can throw sparks off a ferrocerium rod. It is also an excellent tool for processing tinder for fire, too!
Having a camping knife with a pommel at the bottom of the handle allows you to drive the pommel into things like a hammer. The pommel can be great for hammering in stakes for your camping tent.
A good metal pommel will find many uses on a camping trip. It’s good to have one and not need it rather than the other way around.
If you are going to invest in a quality camping knife, then you should have a sheath to match. The best camping knife is one that is going to be on your belt and within arm’s length.
Kydex is the hard plastic sheath, and the leather sheath with a button is another great option.
Between 5-7 Inch Blade
The best camping knife will have a blade between 5-7 inches. 7 inches is the high mark. That’s a big knife. Keep that in mind.
A knife between 5-7 inches will allow you to do several things. You can use that knife to baton wood, slice meat, or even perform intricate carving tasks.
A full tang knife is made from one piece of metal. Partial tang knives are a blade with a small tail that is sunk into the handle. The rigors of camping can take a toll on your knife and over time partial tang knives can come loose from the handle.
This is not an easy problem to fix at camp. So, to avoid it altogether we are going to
Indeed, a great camping knife doesn’t have to meet all these criteria, but I think the best camping knife for campers would.
The Best Camping Knife: Blade Shapes
Camping knives can come in several different shapes. Most of them are modeled after certain blade types. The shape of the blade gives aesthetic but also has benefits to how it can operate.
Let’s look at some of the most common blade shapes for the best camping knife for campers.
Drop Point Blade
My choice for the best camping knife is always the drop point blade. All of the knives that I own are drop-point blades. I just think it is one of the easiest to sharpen and the very best for the many jobs that your knife needs to be capable of.
The clip-point blade is one where the blade’s spine makes a dramatic sweep downward. This dramatic sweep downward meets the slightly curved edge of the blade creating a more exaggerated point.
The tanto blade is beautiful and takes an extremely flat main edge and runs it into a hard-angled edge. The tanto blade has no rounding edges. It’s angular and modern looking. It is also a great utility blade.
The trailing point blade is a more extreme version of the clip point knife. This knife is what you would expect to be seen from a larger Bowie knife. The trailing point blade is kind of intimidating but a big knife with a trailing point can be very effective.
Knife Blades That Aren’t Great For Camping
If certain blades make the best camping knife, then there have to be some blades out there to avoid, too! Well, we have a few of them listed below.
The double-sided dagger is a dangerous blade for someone without experience to handle it. Both sides of a dagger blade are sharp and can cut you. This affects this blade’s utility.
The hawksbill blade looks like the bill from a bird of prey. The blade’s tip points straight down. It makes certain tasks almost impossible because of its unique design.
The spearpoint is very similar to a dagger in that both sides are sharp, so the knife is harder to handle and manage for things like carving tasks. It is a blade you cannot use to baton wood and is even tricky to process tinder.
Even if you are just using it to slice a chunk off that ribeye, it is always good to have a quality knife by your side when camping. I want your camping knife to be there for you when you need it most or when you just wanna unsheath it to show off to a buddy.
While we have offered up our picks and a stringent criterion for you to stick to, this is about your preference. You should have the knife that you favor most at your side. If it is a knife that you are comfortable with, then it is the right knife to carry.