I love camping. There’s really not much better than heading out into the woods and finding someplace as far away from humanity as possible. It’s relaxing, full of recreation, and stress-free… usually.
Of course, you’ll want a decent knife when you head out into nature. For some, that knife is their normal EDC. For others, we like to have some good, dedicated camping knives.
Once again, I don’t actually make a list and designate one knife as being ‘the best’ as so many blogs like doing. This is because what I think the ultimate knife is and what you think the ultimate knife is can be way different. These are my favorite knives that I recommend, but it’s up to you to decide which ones, if any, are your favorites.
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What's the Difference Between Camping Knives and Survival Knives?
A lot of people combine the two (sometimes throwing hiking knives under this umbrella, too), but I consider camping knives to be a broader category than survival knives.
If you’re looking for a survival knife, you want something that will aid you in an emergency. While the kind of emergency you expect to find yourself in will dictate which kind of knife you want to carry, it’s still fairly narrow. There are hard and fast rules, such as full tang, rubber grip (if you’re going to be around water), etc.
Camping knives, on the other hand, don’t have that many rules. A lot of it depends on what you want to do while camping. If you just plan on cooking, then maybe all you need is a good outdoor cooking knife. If you’re a boy scout or planning on doing some work that may require some other small tools, maybe a Swiss Army Knife.
The possibilities are endless. As such, I don’t presume to know every little thing you want to do while camping, but this list will hopefully get you thinking.
Thinking About What You Want in a Camping Knife
Again, there aren’t as many rules when it comes to camping knives. Instead of saying, “This is what you should look for!” I’m going to just let you know what kinds of things you should consider when finding the right knife for yourself.
Length and Weight
Planning on doing a lot of chopping? Cooking? Fish flaying? You might want to look for a longer blade. Longer blades are great for this kind of work, often being heavier and just better at removing large swaths of things (like fish scales) in one go than your little Spyderco Ladybug 3.
Fish flaying should be done with lighter blades, but if you’re doing a lot of chopping you’ll definitely benefit from a heavier knife.
On the flip side, if you enjoy whittling or plan on doing many smaller tasks, like cutting line or rope, then a shorter, lighter blade will be ideal. They’re easier to carry on the go and offer greater control.
Fixed Blade or Folding Knife
Generally, a fixed-blade knife (with full tang) will take more abuse than a folding knife. If you plan on doing heavy work around your campsite, then a fixed blade will be your best companion, the downside being that they aren’t always very portable.
A folding knife is more portable, but it’s best left to smaller tasks usually. Sure, I can saw through branches, whittle, and slice through a surprising amount of material with a folding knife or SAK, but sometimes a fixed blade just works better and will survive longer under harsher conditions.
Best All-Purpose Camping Knives
This category is going to need some explaining, especially as it’s the largest category on this page. By “all-purpose”, I mean that these knives, whether fixed blade or folding, are meant to serve multiple purposes. That’s not to say that other knives on this list can’t be used in unconventional ways, but these are typically what people think of when they think of camping knives.
They plow through brush and kindling, they can help you strip logs for firewood, they can cut through rope like twigs – basically, they can do almost anything. If you wash them frequently (beware of corrosion), you might even be able to cook with them.
If you’re looking for just one knife to take on your camping trip, then one of these is probably what you’re after.
- Overall Length: 15 inches
- Blade Length: 10 inches
- Thickness: 5/32 inch (3.8 mm)
- Weight: 16.8 oz
- Blade Shape: Clip Point
- Handle: Rubber
- Steel: 440C Stainless Steel
I said earlier that there’s a difference between a camping knife and a survival knife. This knife is meant for survival, but I find that it’s an excellent camping knife. It just happens to have some bells and whistles ready in case you get in trouble. This knife didn’t make my best survival knife list, but it does make my best camping knife list!
This top-heavy knife has a 10″ fixed blade, though you may have to sharpen it when you get it. Even so, it comes with a sharpener and even a fire starter that can be struck against the blade. I managed to get mine fairly sharp using the supplied sharpener.
This knife is particularly adept at slicing, even with the partially-serrated edge. I’m normally not a huge fan of blades that combine a straight edge with a serrated edge, as you get less space to work with, but this blade is long enough that I had no problem with it.
It had no trouble slicing through rope or meat (yes, I experimented with cooking, and, yes, I cleaned it first) and the serrated edge came in handy for sawing through branches.
I suggest that you strike the firestarters against the serrations instead if you want to use them to start a fire.
The rubber handle is great for grip, especially if you get caught in the rain or are taking this knife out on a lake.
- Total Length: 9.4″
- Blade Length: 4.1″
- Blade Material: 12C27 stainless steel
- Blade Shape: Drop Point
- Grind: Scandi
- Handle Material: Plastic
This is one of my favorite knives to take camping. It does just about everything I need it to do despite being a knife that could double as a fixed-blade EDC. This knife isn’t for chopping up wood; the blade is only 4.1″ long and the fact that it’s not a full tang (the tang extends 3/4 of the way) keeping it from doing the most heavy-duty of tasks, but you’d be surprised at just how versatile the Morakniv Companion Sandvik is.
We’ve used this knife for whittling, cleaning fish, kindling, chopping vegetables, slicing meat, cutting rope, and even cutting through birch branches to make a makeshift basket. It does a lot and is usually my go-to knife on a campsite.
If there are any cons it’s that the 12C27 stainless steel loses its edge after a month or two of constant use. It can also bend a bit if you use it for too many intense tasks. That being said, resharpening this blade is super easy. I use my whetstones, but you can probably use a strop or any other sharpener you want.
- Height: 0.8 in
- Weight: 3.5 oz
- Width: 1 in
- Length: 3.6 in
- Material: ABS/cellidor
- Color: Red
- No. of features: 15
- One hand blade: No
- Blade lockable: No
- Large Blade
- Small Blade
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Can Opener with
- Small Screwdriver (also for Phillips Screws)
- Bottle Opener with
- Large Screwdriver
- Wire Stripper
- Key Ring
- Tweezers and Toothpick
- Multi-purpose Hook (parcel carrier)
- Wood Saw
The Victorinox Fieldmaster SAK has been featured on this site countless times, and that’s because it’s a fantastic knife. It has enough tools that you won’t feel lost if something comes up, and those tools are, for the most part, durable and ready to take anything on.
There’s a reason why boy scouts tend to take Swiss Army Knives camping with them and that’s because they’re very handy. They aren’t great at chopping firewood, but you can open cans, cook, repair equipment, saw through wood, and more. The blades need sharpening from time to time, but there really aren’t too many cons other than that.
Best Heavy-Duty Knives
Wanting to hack your way through a log? Do you intend on using your knife to do things you wouldn’t dare do with your folding knife? These are what you’re looking for!
- Blade Length: 5.25″
- Overall Length: 10.50″
- Blade Steel: 1095 Cro-Van, 56-58HRC
- Handle Material: Zytel
- Weight: 16.00 oz.
- Sheath Material: Heavy-Duty Polyester
There aren’t too many knives that qualify for the title of ‘beast’, but this knife definitely does. It’s not the longest blade on this list at just over 5″ (you should still check your local laws) but it functions at basically the same level as a hatchet or machete. Weighing a pound and having a full tang, the Ka-Bar Becker Companion feels virtually indestructible.
This is the knife you take with you when you want to split logs and plow through branches to make firewood. Its thick blade can made chopping and cutting feel a little slow, but I don’t really care. If I have the Ka-Bar Companion, I don’t have to pack larger knives just to hack through wood.
This blade is made of high carbon, so try not to get it soaking wet. Also, if you do a lot of hiking to get to your camping spot, keep the weight of this knife in mind.
All in all, the Ka-Bar Becker Companion is easily a knife you can fall in love with.
- Blade Length: 4-5/16″
- Blade Thickness: 1/8″
- Overall Length: 9-5/16″
- Blade Material: 1075 High Carbon Steel
- Blade Finish: Blasted Satin
- Handle: Hardwood
- Sheath: Handcrafted Welted Leather
- Weight: 0.77 lbs.
- Made in El Salvador
Need a knife for carving and batoning? The Condor Bushlore Camp Knife is right up your alley. Not quite as heavy as the Ka-Bar Becker Companion, the Condor Bushlore Camp Knife can still pack a punch without weighing you down much.
This is a full tang knife that can accomplish just about anyone you task it with. In fact, it could almost place in the first category, but I haven’t ever used it for cooking or small woodcraft projects. This knife is mostly used for heavy tasks when I’m out camping.
The steel is hard. Very hard. This means it’ll retain its edge well, but the high carbon means you should try not to get it wet. If it does get wet, dry it quickly. Try to keep the leather sheath dry, too.
I can almost guarantee that you’ll fall in love with this knife.
Best Cooking Knives
Did you catch some fish while relaxing on the lake? Did you pack prime meats and hearty veggies for your weekend in nature? Assuming you’re not living on those just-add-water meals alone, then you’ll want a good cooking knife.
This is especially true if you already have one of the knives above but would still rather keep your cooking cutlery separate from your look-at-me-sever-this-log type of knives.
- 10 in blade
- Full Tang
- Advanced Vented Sheath System
- HydroTread Grip
- 9Cr18MoV Steel
- Built-in Sharpener
I have a confession to make. I own the freshwater edition of this knife, which apparently has been discontinued. However, the corrosion-resistant saltwater version is likely of comparable quality, so that’s where I’m pointing readers to.
Anyway, this is a 10″ knife that comes sharp right out of the box. What I like about mine is the grip. I’m not a big fisherman, but the few times I’ve actually caught fish to fry, this knife didn’t slip around in my hand. The blade, however, was a bit too large for the little fish I was working with.
If you like a fillet knife to use for meat, this blade will absolutely cut through larger pieces of meat.
I have a friend who does a lot of fishing, though, and he recommended this knife.
The friend that recommended the previous knife also recommended this one. I haven’t used it myself, but I trust his word, so I’ll give you the rundown.
This knife comes in three sizes: 4″, 6″, and 7″. The specs beyond that are a bit of a mystery (the handle is apparently birch), but he swears it’s one of the best fillet knives he’s used. It’s a fraction of the cost of most knives out there, but cheaper doesn’t mean lesser in quality, necessarily.
It gets the job done efficiently and Bern says it’s one of his favorite fillet knives.
- Overall Length: 11.75”
- Blade Length: 6.5”
- Blade Steel: 1075
- Blade Shape: Standard
- Blade Grind: Convex
- Handle Length: 6.5”
- Handle Material: Micarta
- Weight: 10.98 oz
- Sheath: Kydex with leather strap
Much to Sam’s chagrin, I’ve used the Condor Bush Slicer to chop wood to great effect. However, it’s obviously designed for cooking, so it makes this category instead of all-purpose (although it could totally be the only camp knife you need).
Now, this is called the Condor Bush Slicer, but it’s better for chopping, in my experience. That could just be me, though. I also notice that my food typically doesn’t look particularly pretty when I use this, but there’s so much edge that I can use the knife as a makeshift spatula, so I don’t really care if my meals don’t look like they were prepared by a five star chef.
I also love the sheath on this knife. It feels very secure.
Basically, if you want a good camp knife that can help you chop meat and veggies and has a lot of edge to work with, you really can’t go wrong with the Condor Bush Slicer.
Grizzly V2 Camp Kitchen Chef Knife with Sandvik 14C28N Stainless Steel
- Overall Length: 12.75”
- Blade Length: 6.125”
- Blade Steel: AUS-8
- Blade Shape: Reverse tanto
- Blade Grind: Flat
- Handle Length: 4.75”
- Handle Material: G-10
- Weight: 11.1 oz (12.9 w/ sheath)
- Sheath: Kydex
The Grizzly V2 Camp Kitchen Chef Knife is made by Off-Grid Knives, and these guys really know what they’re doing when it comes to designing blades with specific tasks in mind. This is my favorite chef knife to take camping, and Sam loves it because it feels like a proper kitchen knife and not as a bush knife that’s cosplaying as a kitchen knife.
The steel is on the softer end, which doesn’t bother me. Just know that you might want to make sure it’s sharp enough before you head out. I’ve brought it to the Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area for about a week’s vacation and it worked beautifully.
Be aware that there is no belt loop on the sheath, which is made of Kydex. This isn’t the kind of knife you want to take hiking or bush crafting. This is for cooking, and it should remain in your camp’s ‘kitchen’ area.
These are my favorite knives to take camping. Of course, Sam had some input here, as did my buddy Bern. Remember, this list is to get you thinking about what you want out of your knife when you go camping, and that’ll depend heavily on what kinds of activities you plan to do while relaxing out in the great outdoors.
If you have any suggestions, add it in the comments!