Planning on hitting the great outdoors sometime soon? You’ll probably want to pack light. There’s no bad weather or unfortunate accidents in nature — only unlucky circumstances combined with improper gear. You don’t want to get stuck in the great outdoors without the right gear — whether it’s ill-fitting hiking boots that cause blisters or a dull camping knife that won’t readily cut cords and branches.
Camping knives make the great outdoors much more accessible and safer, as you can do everything from building a shelter to protecting yourself with them. Some are sharp, some have serrated blades, and some combine forces with other camping tools to provide you with the multitool you need to do everything you want in nature, safely. They all take up very little space in your hiking backpack and will be quite useful in a pinch.
Which Camping Knife Is Best For Me?
The short answer when considering the best camping knives is that it depends. Survival knives are often highly useful, some of them featuring a folding design and handy add-ons like a flint fire starter or a carrying clip. Others are designed more like multi-tools, with both a knife and other attachments designed to help you build your tent, start a fire or cut small segments of rope — to name but a few uses. The best camping knife is the one that can take on multiple functions at once.
Some fixed-blade knives, for instance, might be useful for cutting rope or were made to skin animals or take on hunting tasks, but they aren’t as compact or multi-functional as a pocket-sized camping knife. There are even handsome knives that mimic culinary qualities but aren’t quite as useful for more standard, camping-related tasks (these knives are also slightly bulkier).
If you ask us here at SPY, sometimes, the best camping knives are the ones you least expect: ones that fold up and slide with ease into the pocket of your work pants or trucker jacket, and then prove handy when you need them the most. Ideally, your camping knife of choice should fit the needs you’ve run into in the past — when you haven’t had one of the best camping knives nearby, but could really have used one.
With all of that being said, it’s time to gear up and get out there. Here are the best camping knives for surviving and thriving on your next venture into the wilderness.
1. Wren River Hawk Folding Knife
The best camping knives, for starters, need to be compact and easy to haul in a jacket pocket or your day pack. Beyond that, it helps if they’re built to last and ready for outdoor activities like fishing. Wren’s River Hawk Folding Knife checks all these boxes and then some, with a utility-minded one-handed opening system and a comfortable, textured G10 handle. The drop-point stainless steel blade is highly durable, too. The blade itself is also corrosion-resistant, not a bad design touch for outdoor excursions.
2. Smith & Wesson Folding Survival Knife
This camping knife from Smith & Wesson is a best seller in the tactical knives section on Amazon for good reason. The blade is made of durable high carbon stainless steel and has a sturdy, black aluminum handle that’s dependable to hold. The knife has a finger flipper that’s convenient and easy to access, and it has ambidextrous thumb knobs that make it ideal for everyday carrying. There is also a liner lock that keeps the blade secure inside when you’re not using it.
3. Benchmade 945BK-1 Mini Osborne Knife
Benchmade’s knives are about as good as it gets in terms of standout design and impeccable quality, with plenty of history behind it (the Osborne style has been in Benchmade’s rotation for two decades). The straight-edge stainless steel blade is specifically made for camping and finished off with a cool, tactically minded black Cerakote finish. But it’s the black G10 handle with blue barrel spacers that really catches our eye, not to mention the one-handed opening design and useful, sharp blade.
4. CRKT Tuna Knife
Switching from a fixed-blade knife to a foldable knife, depending on your camping plans, can be a game-changer, especially if you’ve got limited room in your jacket pockets or your tackle box. CRKT’s high-carbon stainless steel blade is designed to last for years, and the thumb stud makes it especially easy to deploy if your hands are full. You can certainly use it as an EDC knife when you’re back from your camping and fishing trip, but it’s going to be at its best when taking on all of life’s adventures on the banks of a flowing river.
5. The James Brand Elko Knife
Keeping your everyday carry streamlined is the name of the game even if you’re back in town and not trekking off the grid. It can be trickier than you might think the more you start to add to your daily haul, especially when packing up for a camping trip. The James Brand solves that problem quite readily with its famed Elko Knife, a fan favorite and best-seller. The Micarta handle is innovative and easy to hold, while the drop point blade is strong and sturdy, yet not overly heavy. The rugged design also blends in nicely with the slimmed-down profile.
6. Snow Peak Santoku Field Kitchen Knife
The idea of fine dining and camping needn’t be mutually exclusive — in fact, there are better tools than ever to cook excellent meals over an open fire, especially if you’re camping for a slightly longer period of time than a quick two-day getaway. Snow Peak specializes in ingenious ways to deliver quality craftsmanship and thoughtful design, best seen in this surprisingly elegant yet useful Field Kitchen Knife. You can use it to filet freshly caught fish and dice vegetables, and it comes complete with a stylish carrying case for easy transport.
7. Barebones Hori Hori Ultimate Knife
Oftentimes, what you need when camping is a knife that can take on multiple tasks, one after the other, without missing a beat. The Hori Hori Ultimate was designed with this in mind, modeled after Japanese gardening knives, you can use this camping knife for anything you need. Use it to dig spaces for tent stakes, then use the thick handle to pound those stakes in — did we mention you can also use it to whittle and saw branches? It’s made for just about anything your next camping trip requires.
8. Opinel No. 8 Beechwood Handle Knife
The classics have a way of staying strong and true through the years, none more so than one of the best camping knives out there. Opinel’s approach has hardly wavered when it comes to sturdy designs and old-world design, best evidenced by the stunning beechwood handle and sharp stainless steel blade. It’s a combination that looks great, sure, but it can also be used as a classic pocket knife for small chores around the campsite. It also weighs only 1.5oz., all the better to transport with ease.
9. Gerber StrongArm Serrated Fixed Blade Knife
BEST FIXED BLADE
Figuring out which of the best camping knives will serve your needs day in and day out can be tricky, but not if you know you need (or prefer) a fixed blade knife. A fixed blade knife can be easily carried on your belt or in an oversized pocket with a sheath, and this one goes a step further. Gerber’s StrongArm Fixed Blade comes complete with a nylon webbing sheath, plus removable and snap-in loops for customized transport. Plus, the rubberized handle grips with ease, and it’s also designed with a striking pommel for extra utility.
10. Leatherman Skeletool KBx Pocket Knife
BEST POCKET KNIFE
The pocket knife has long been a camping staple, perhaps even since your days on family camping trips or in the Scouts. It’s getting a modern yet well-considered upgrade in the hands of the Leatherman brand, which uses a skeleton design and a blade with strategically placed cut-outs to slash down the overall weight (pun intended) to below two ounces. The bottle clip feature also helps secure the knife, and yes, it can even open bottles for a cold beverage of choice at the end of a long day on the trail.
11. CRKT Facet Knife
BEST STAINLESS STEEL
A knife made out of stainless steel could be just the supremely tough camping knife your EDC needs. CRKT, as with the Tuna Knife featured earlier, doesn’t cut corners in terms of incredibly precise design, and that means turning that all-stainless steel design into an ergonomic handle that’s easy and comfortable to grip. The flipper-assisted blade is a smooth touch that makes this knife easy to open and use on the fly, too.
12. Outdoor Tanto Knife with Fire Starter
BEST FIRE STARTER
This beautiful tanto knife is every survivalist’s best-kept secret. At a little over four millimeters thick, the three-inch blade is extremely durable. Plus, the nylon wristlet, reinforced sheath and an emergency fire starter kit make this one survival knife you don’t want to leave at home.
13. Tac Force Assisted Folding Steel Knife
This folding knife/EMT tactical opening tool is a great and inexpensive blade to keep in your backpack or car. With a three-inch stainless steel serrated blade and durable aluminum handle and built-in seat belt cutter, this rescue knife is a must-have.
14. Camping Utensil and Bottle Opener Set with Storage Case
BEST FOR MEALS
Because there’s nothing worse than sitting down to a nice meal around the campfire only to realize you forgot the utensils, this stainless steel fork, knife and spoon camping utensil is great to have and takes up very little space. It also comes with a built-in can opener so you can cook those beans without having to spend countless hours trying to open the can.
15. SOG Knives Aegis AT Knife
Every one of the best camping knives on this list is versatile and extremely useful in its own right, but there’s just something about this durable knife that’s a cut above the rest (pun intended). It’s designed for all manner of outdoor pursuits, from camping to hiking and hunting, using rapid-deployment technology for ease of use. The company itself was inspired by Special Forces knives, and they’ve turned that inspiration into impossibly rugged and highly functional knives (including this one, featuring a “cryogenically heat-treated, D2 stainless steel blade”). You can’t go wrong with this multi-faceted camping knife.
16. GVDV Pocket Folding Camping Knife
This knife from GVDV is made of 72C17 stainless steel blades for a top-notch cutting performance that’s resistant to corroding, so you can bring it with you into the elements without concern for rust. It has an ergonomic wooden handle that’s comfortable to hold, and it has a locking mechanism that’ll keep the blade secure and prevent it from accidentally opening. It has a wide range of uses from camping to survival, self-defense and even crafty housework. It also has a potable belt clip so you can attach it to your backpack or belt easily.
17. Titan International Damascus Skinner Knife
BEST FOR HUNTING
Titan International’s knives might look more like works of art than knives you can use in the wild, but they manage to strike the balance between both quite well. The beautiful Damascus steel blade was specifically designed for skinning, with a hand-forged blade described as both “ultra-sharp” and “extra-durable.” The rosewood handle is also impressive, as is the rugged-as-can-be leather sheath.
18. Gerber Gear Ultimate Knife
BEST FOR SURVIVAL
Gerber and Bear Grylls teamed up to bring you an extra sharp camping knife. The carbon blade features a serrated edge, making it easier to cut through harsh wires, branches and cables. With an ergonomic textured grip and a stainless steel pommel, this is the ultimate knife for survival. It also has a Ferrocerium Rod Fire Starter attached so you can easily start a (safely contained) blaze on the striker notch.
19. Oerla Tactical Stainless Steel Camping Knife
This knife is SHARP. It’s made with a 420HC steel blade that’s razor-sharp for cutting. It has a black G10 handle that’ll give you a secure grip on it. It’s designed in collaboration with a retired veteran who knows which materials work best out in the field. It has black radian in it which is more suitable for cutting purposes as well as lightweight Kydex built into the handle so it’s sturdy but still portable. The blade has also been treated with cryogenic tempering to increase its crystalline structure over time so it holds up its edge, despite harsh treatment in the elements.
20. RoverTac Camping Multitool
This is more than a camping knife, it’s a multitool that includes a camping knife in addition to a hammer, ax, pliers, screwdriver, bottle opener and more. It’s made of stainless steel. It’s strong enough to accomplish all of your essential tasks in nature and comes with a nylon pouch that fully covers the blade so you can transport it safely.