02 Oct Best Knives for Backpacking and Hiking
We round up some of the best pocketknives for hiking and backpacking from our own personal trips. Every knife on the list we have used in the backcountry, so we know first hand that they are the best choices for hiking and backpacking knives.
Recently I focused on the common question: “Do I Need A Knife For Backpacking.” Well, by now you know the answer is a resounding yes! But, what kind of knife should you take backpacking or camping? Honestly, that’s not an easy answer; the type of trip or adventure you have planned will dictate the type of knife you should pack. I am breaking down some of the best choices when it comes to picking a backpacking knife.
These aren’t just a quick look at what’s popular, but pulled from my own personal list and collection. I have experience with every knife listed below and have taken them on multiple backpacking, camping and off trail adventures. These choices are all solid and personally tested.
On a side note, there are literally thousands of pocketknives you could choose from when picking a great backpacking knife, so if you think a particular knife should be on the list, let us know.
On our list of best knives for hiking, we broke it up into a few categories as follows. Traditional Pocketknives and Multi-tools, folding knives, camp knives and large survival knives. All of them will suit you well.
An ideal tool for everyday survival situations, the Gerber Dime is more than a knife; it’s a multi-tool accessory that fits right into your pocket. It consists of 12 tools packed into one compact design, including the likes of a blade, wire cutter, needle-nose pliers, a package opener, mini scissors, a bottle opener, file and more, and each tool is easily accessed via a butterfly opening style.
If preparation is your goal, the Gerber Dime has all of the accessories you need to be prepared for a variety of situations. And with a closed length of less than three inches, you can keep it easily concealed and ready for when you need it.
Though it has a bit larger footprint than some of the other multi-tool options that are out there, the Case Stockman knife still makes for a great everyday knife. It’s 4.25 inches closed – still compact enough to fit into your pocket – and includes three blades: clip, sheep’s foot and spey.
Each blade is chrome vanadium steel, meaning they’re durable and easy to sharpen. CV steel is also resistant to rust and other types of degradation, ensuring that it’s long lasting for whatever you’re using it for.
Victorinox Swiss Army Trekker
There are Swiss Army Knives…and then there’s the Victorinox Swiss Army Trekker, which takes things to an entirely new level. This Swiss-made pocket knife comes with 12 tools, including: a large blade, bottle opener, screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick and wire stripper, among others. These tools make it versatile for everything from routine tasks to survival situations. And weighing just 4.6 ounces and with a length of 4.4 inches, it’s never going to slow you down.
For more rugged everyday use, the Benchmade Bugout is a single-blade knife that can easily fit into a backpack or belt loop. Featuring a one-hand opening and closing mechanism, and a tough, yet comfortable, handle, it’s highlighted by a CPM-coated stainless steel blade that cuts well and won’t dull easily.
With a blade length of nearly 3.25 inches, it can handle more than what a compact knife usually can and it still weighs less than two ounces for a lightweight footprint. The knife is backed by a lifetime warranty and Benchmade will sharpen your blade free of charge for as long as you own the knife (so long as you’re willing to send it to them). They’ll even ship it back to you free of charge.
The Spyderco Delica4 and it’s cousins probably make every list know t man. That is because is just a great design that has years of reliability behind it. The Delica4 is one of the first knives I recommend to people when they ask me what knife to buy. The great thing about the Delica4 is how useful and just all-around great it is. From EDC to camping, this knife can do it all.
The Delica4 is a sturdy folder with a strong back lock. Great VG-10 blade steel that is easy to sharpen and holds a decent edge for long periods. It comes in a number of colors and has a easy to grip fiberglass reinforced nylon handle. It’s one of those knives that is very unassuming in looks, but a monster in performance. If you could just have one folding knife for the rest of you life, this is an option for sure.
Cold Steel Recon Tanto
If you’re ever in a survival situation, we don’t need to tell you how handy certain tools and accessories, like knives, can be. But some smaller, less-quality knives have a tendency to fail quickly. The Cold Steel Recon Tanto is not one of those knives. Commonly utilized by first responders to perform the toughest jobs, it’s crafted from premium steel and offers a tough, comfortable handle to ensure you have the necessary support to get the job done.
The only downside to this single-blade knife is that it’s a bit larger in size than many of the others on this list, with an overall length of about 9.5 inches. Still, if you’re ever in a survival situation, the Cold Steel Recon Tanto (used by police officers and firefighters in life or death situations) is a great ally to have on your side.
Cold Steel Finn Wolf
Another larger option at nearly 8 inches in length, this folder knife offers brute strength to stand up to the toughest environments. The blade is made of Japanese 8A steel with a zero ground edge, making it easy to sharpen wherever you are. The Cold Steel Finn Wolf features a tri-ad lock for enhanced safety and security, and features a handle clip so it can secure to your belt loop.
The Condor Bushlore is designed for optimum performance and durability, with the 4.25-inch blade made of high carbon steel and finished in blasted satin, and a handle crafted from hardwood. However, one downside to this premium survival knife is that at 9.25 inches in length, it won’t fold to store. Instead, it comes with a leather case to ensure proper safety; those looking for a more compact, versatile solution may opt to look elsewhere.
Another option that stores, rather than folds, the Ontario TAK-1 comes with a nylon sheath to easily clip to belt loops, backpacks and more. This hunting knife, equipped with a full-tang 1095 steel blade, is durable, and its Zinc-coated finish helps it look great too. The blade length is 4.75 inches and the knife’s overall length is 10 inches. It features a drop point blade, which makes it ideal for butchering, skinning and carving out in the field…all essential tasks that will need to be performed in a survival situation.
The ultimate camping and hunting knife, the Becker BK2 is great for hunting and kindling. The fixed, drop point blade knife is 5.25 inches in length and the knife is 10.5 inches long overall. For enhanced safety and security, the knife easily locks into its sheath and it can only be removed by applying pressure to release it from its hard shell case. This added security feature helps it stay secure and prevents it from falling out during any kind of strenuous activity.
Ontario RTAK-II (Non-Serrated)
One of the larger knives on this list with a 16.75-inch overall length, 10.5 inches of which is the 5160 steel blade itself, the Ontario RTAK-II is another great knife for survival situations. It comes with a black nylon sheath for storage, which offers a strap to connect to backpacks and other accessories for storage and transportation convenience.
Terävä Skrama 240
A heavy-duty bush knife, this essential survival accessory can do everything from chop wood, help build makeshift shelters, carve sticks into spears and arrows, and complement any hunting and food preparation efforts. It’s nearly 17 inches in size and weighs about 18.5 ounces. The carbon steel blade, specifically, is 9.4 inches in length, and a molded rubber handle makes it comfortable to work with for long periods of time. It’s the closest knife that you’ll get to an axe.
This seven-tools-in-one knife is an ideal survival accessory. Weighing in at just 5 ounces, but packed with a knife, bottle opener, bit driver, wire cutters and more, the LEATHERMAN Skeletool is a versatile accessory that is ideal for camping, hunting and other outdoors activities.
With a 2.6 inch blade length and a total closed knife length of 4 inches, it’s a bit larger than some of the other multi-tools listed here, however still compact enough to slide into your pocket or clip onto your belt. All you need is one hand to safely activate any tool on the LEATHERMAN, and the product comes with a 25-year warranty to offer peace of mind purchasing.
Picking the best knife for backpacking is a very personnel and subjective task. Some people like small folders, some like tradition Swiss Army Knives while other will only take a fixed blade knife. There is no wrong answer as to what works best in the backcountry. What you will find is your ideas and taste’s will evolve the more miles you put in on the trail. You may start out thing something is perfect only to never pick it up again in a few months or years.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.