A bushcraft knife is designed for doing any wood-related task in the wilderness, including feathering and making notches on wooden surfaces. It is also used for general woodwork and carving tasks.
However, this knife is not confined to woodworking. It is also useful for making food, igniting a fire, and ensuring survival in the backwoods.
Thus, a bushcraft knife is versatile. With it, you can harvest wood for bonfires, craft tent stakes, cut small branches for making a shelter, and even defend yourself in adverse situations.
It is an all-purpose knife but comes with the ability to perform more heavy-duty chores than the standard Swiss army knife. This guide will help you choose the best bushcraft knife.
2020’s 3 Best Bushcraft Knives for the Money Reviewed
Morakniv Bushcraft Knife, Black
Reliable and sturdy, this Swedish Morakniv knife is a light-to-medium duty tool for some serious bushcrafting. It features a partial tang with a 4.3-inch long blade made up of high-carbon steel and having a drop-point shape.
The steel is extra hardened to deliver additional strength for enduring the harsh outdoor conditions. To ensure more durability, the DLC anti-corrosive layer is applied to the blade. As a result, it is resistant to the impact of snow, rain, and moisture.
The Scandi grind ensures additional traction to prevent being stuck. Although the blade is thin, you can expect good control and power for batoning. The spine is useful against a firestarter for igniting sparks.
The handle is ergonomic and comes with rubber grip and high friction to ensure control while slicing or carving.
- Good edge retention
- Sheath with belt loop included
- Great value for money
- Partial tang
TOPS Knives B.O.B. Brothers of Bushcraft Knife
This bushcraft knife is a tested one! It has been tested in the wild areas of Canada. Thus, it is a must-have knife. Designed for hard tasks, the drop-point blade is 4.5-inch long, 3/16-inch thick, has the Scandi grind, and is made using toughened 1095 steel to endure harsh situations.
The blade’s pommel is such that the handle can endure the batoning impact. It can act as a scraper for lighting Ferro rods safely.
The handle is ergonomic and is made using canvas micarta that is comfortable and grippy. More control and comfort come from the thumb scallops on the handle. Further, the frictionless, bow drill divot helps in igniting fires.
- Great design
- Thick blade
- Good edge retention
- Kydex sheath, lanyard hole, and rotating belt clip included
- Value for money
Schrade SCHF36 Frontier Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
Consider this Frontier bushcraft knife if you want a compact yet heavy-duty version at an affordable rate. This Taiwanese knife features a blade layered with 1095 high-carbon steel, full tang, and a vertical spine for igniting an included Ferro rod.
The 5.05-inch long blade has a solid thickness, drop-point profile, finger choil, and a hollow grind. The spine thickness is such that the knife can perform heavy-duty chores such as batoning. You can even chop wood whose diameter is small to medium. The hollow grind facilitates great detailed cuts. The TPE handle features a contoured design and texture for a superb grip.
- For both delicate and heavy-duty tasks
- Sharpening stone, Ferro rod, polyester sheath, and lanyard hole included
- Hollow grind but not problematic
The Difference between Bushcraft Knives and Survival Knives
These tools are believed to be the jack of all trades; you can rely on it for breaking glass, cut thick items, and open doors. On the other hand, bushcraft knives are specially designed for woodcutting. They feature a relatively shorter edge than that of survival knives for more maneuverability.
How to Choose the Best Bushcraft Knives
If you are buying a bushcraft knife for the first time, it can be bewildering for you to identify the best model for your needs. The market is filled with different varieties, which can confuse you. To smoothly choose the best model, it is essential to find and compare the promising bushcraft knives.
This comparison is based on their features, which are also known as the buying factors. The one whose maximum features are useful to you, along with an affordable price tag despite having one or two limitations, is likely to be the best bushcraft knife for the money.
So, let’s check out the features or buying factors to consider.
There are only two working mechanisms for knives, which are fixed and folding. Several travelers and adventurers prefer fixed blades for the beginners. This is because a fixed blade is sturdier than a folding blade due to which the former can perform many more chores.
A fixed blade is built using only one piece of solid steel. It also does not take much effort to retain the sharpness of such a blade while being amidst the woods. On the flip side, you cannot easily hide such a blade due to its larger footprint.
This issue is not there with a folding blade. It is smaller and easier to carry than a fixed blade. So, the choice is yours. Most bushcrafters prefer durability or sturdiness over these benefits of a folding blade.
The length of a blade will help you determine whether a specific knife is a standard bushcraft knife or not. Such a knife will come with an extremely sharp blade that is three to six inches long. It will also not look like a tactical knife.
When you are shopping for this knife, ensure that the blade is a minimum 3.5-inch long. Avoid a knife whose blade is over six inches in length. Such a knife then belongs to the machete category. For heavy-duty chopping, a machete is what you need.
Some knife users and outdoor enthusiasts believe that a machete is ideal for chopping wood. However, nobody can precisely predict when an emergency shall come. Thus, it is wise to stay prepared with a bushcraft knife that is smaller in blade length and easier to maneuver.
The blade grind is an essential factor to consider. It refers to the shape type of the cross-section of the blade. In simple words, it is the shape over the cutting edge or how thin the blade is along this edge. This shape significantly contributes to the knife’s overall maintenance demands and performance quality.
If the grind renders a too thin edge, the blade’s strength drops considerably. Thus, a too-thin grind is not meant for bushcraft knives. The grind for bushcraft knives should be versatile and resilient. It should also be easy to sharpen while in the wilderness.
Typically, different types of blade grinds exist, namely, Scandinavian, hollow, flat, chisel, and double bevel. Although the knife users have their preferences, the Scandinavian grind is tagged to be the most versatile grind.
Featuring a flat and wide single-bevel grind, a Scandi edge cuts with a grander power. It is also capable of enduring twisting and hardwood hacking. This grind makes the tool an ideal wood carving knife. Sharpening this knife is easy. A few, nevertheless, prefer a flat grind due to its stronger steel and better batoning jobs.
The greater the angle, the stronger is the edge. A steeper angle is likely to result in a weak edge. However, a strong edge can result in cutting difficulty.
A thin edge is reliable for preparing food but not for harder chores such as splitting barks. However, a thick edge is ideal for these harder tasks. So, you need to know the tasks to be done in the woods to select the most suitable edge.
You also need to consider the shape of the blade. When it comes bushcraft knives, an ideal shape is a long and flat edge. Technically, many blade shapes exist, such as clip point, drop point, spear point, and needlepoint.
The clip point is not preferred for bushcraft knives, as it makes the tip quite thin and fragile. Bushcrafting chores are such that the knife’s tip will be put to arduous use or abuse. Thus, you need a sturdy and strong blade shape.
Keeping this in mind, it is wise to choose the spear or drop point for these tasks. These shapes tend to sustain a sturdy, easily controllable tip and support a large cutting surface needed for chopping and slicing.
A thinner blade is ideal for carving, slicing, and making precision cuts easily, while a thicker blade is ideal for enduring more beating. The best bushcraft knife is the one that has best of both the worlds (versatile enough to give precise cuts and strong enough to endure)
With the flat and long cutting edge of a bushcraft knife, a thick blade is recommended. It is admired not only for heavy-duty chopping or cutting but also for its ability to last for several years.
The most effective thickness range for the blades of bushcraft knives is 3/16 to 4/16 inches. They are versatile and strong enough to face diverse situations in the wilderness.
The blades of bushcraft knives are made up of steel. The primary types of steel used for these knives are stainless steel and high-carbon steel.
- High-carbon: This is for those who need tools for bushcraft, survival, and brush clearing. The high-carbon steel is softer due to which it is easy to grind or sharpen. It is also less susceptible to dulling, which means it will retain its sharp edge for long. On the flip side, this material rusts quickly. To make it rust slowly, especially in wet surroundings, it is necessary to oil the blade frequently. Some of the common high-carbon steels you will come across are 1045, 1085, 1095, 5160, D2, W2, 5160, O1, and O6.
- Stainless: Is resistant to rust, although it needs more sharpening. It is also a bit tough to sharpen this steel due to its higher level of hardness. While it endures more abuse and requires less maintenance, it does not hold its edge as the high-carbon one. Choose this material if you want just one knife, ensuring you least maintenance with higher versatility. Some of the popular stainless steels are VG10, S30V, 440c, AUS series, CPM series, and 400 series.
This section refers to the blade portion that reaches the handle. The best bushcraft knife comes with a full tang, as it renders the desired power and strength.
There are models with partial tang wherein the blade’s portion is attached to the handle’s topmost area. However, such knives will not give you a lasting grip.
If you cannot feel a solid grip in different situations in the wilderness, that bushcraft knife is just not ideal. The grip comes from the handle material.
A handle of a bushcraft knife can be made using fiberglass or G10, hardwood, Micarta, or dense rubber. Hardwood is ideal as it is dense enough to be converted into a sturdy handle with a stunning, spontaneous swirling design. However, any wood material, if wet, can become slippery.
The better options are fiberglass, dense rubber, glass-filled nylon, and Micarta (canvas). Micarta is a highly-durable silicon resin that ensures quick grip and resistance to slipping when it is wet. Even dense rubber feels comfy, gives proper grip, and is highly durable. Fiberglass, light, and sturdy material is resistant to moisture.
Another handle material named Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) is also famous and ideal for a bushcraft knife. It is a blend of different polymers that imitates the traits of rubber. In other words, this material renders a solid grip.
The material you choose will depend on the tasks you intend to do. Overall, the making of bushcraft handles does not focus more on the grip, unlike the tactical knives. Rather, it is focused more on giving you a superb ergonomic design to fit comfortably in your hand.
The best bushcraft knives feature a minimum 3.5-inch long fixed blade that is thick, full tang design, drop point shape, flat grind, and the ability to be held securely in any situation. The shorter edge makes it more maneuverable than longer blades for survival. You should invest in one such model.