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Camping knives are among the ancient tools and are believed to be introduced during the Stone Age. Thus, originally, these tools were plain stone knives. As technology advanced, they evolved significantly to make themselves available in different designs without changing the purpose.
A fully-equipped and developed campsite might not need a heavy-duty camping knife. But having a good one makes it a breeze to perform normal chores such as opening a box, clearing a campsite, making firewood, sharpening sticks, cooking meals, and cutting a rope.
A good camping knife is capable of performing a variety of tasks. Thus, it makes sense to invest in a camping knife if you are a camping enthusiast. This post aims to guide you in easily choosing one such knife without any confusion.
2020’s 3 Best Camping Knives Reviewed
Morakniv Companion Outdoor Knife
Morakniv fixed-blade knife is a small surprise for all campers. With a 4-inch long blade, you can rely upon it for tackling finesse work. The blade is made using the Swedish 12C27 stainless steel that is razor-sharpened and hardened for cutting wood, making food, and carving. It is more durable than carbon steel and less vulnerable to rust.
The handle is using sturdy plastic and features high-friction grip to ensure comfort, safety, and performance even in cold and wet environments. You also get a plastic sheath that is less vulnerable to mold and water impact.
- Not so strong sheath
Kershaw Blur Folding Knife with Speed Safe
This is the conventional folding knife for camping and other adventures with a 3.4-inch long blade composed of Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel known for edge stability, sharpness, toughness, and corrosion resistance. Its Diamond-Like-Carbon (DLC) coating provides great appearance, more hardness, less friction, and wear resistance.
The handle is of anodized aluminum and ensures extra strength. The Trac-Tec inserts go in hand with the scales and are designed for a strong grip. The Speed Safe assisted opening ensures blade management by one hand via a thumb stud.
- Easy opening and closing
- Perfect grip
- Reversible pocket clip
Morpilot Pocket Knife & Fire Starter Set
This is an ideal blade for any outdoor or emergency. It comes with a 3.14-inch long blade that is strong, durable, resistant to rust, and has a drop point shape. For campers, it comes with a fire starter that is made using waterproof material and is sealed to prevent dampness inside. This tool also acts as a magnetic compass and a 120db whistle, which is commendable.
You also get other tools such as saw, seat belt cutter, portable clip, bottle opener, and glass breaker. The pocket knife has an anti-slip handle design and a safety lock to keep the blade firm in place.
- Five tools included
- Safe design
- A bit of learning curve
Types of Camping Knives
Believe it or not, many of us are not aware that camping knives themselves are split into different categories apart from fixed and foldable blade knives. Yes, there are different varieties of camping knives, each of which has its benefits and limitations.
The first step to the best camping knife is to know these different types and find out the one that best meets your requirements based on its capabilities and benefits. So, here are the different types of camping knives to be aware of before you go out for shopping or search online:
- Fixed Blade: This is a knife with a blade that remains straight and is preferable when size and weight are of least significance. A quality model is more durable and sturdier than a folding knife. Designed for heavy-duty purposes, a quality, full-tang tool with a fixed blade is almost indestructible. A full-tang design is where the blade’s steel reaches up to the handle’s end to ensure more longevity and safer performance. However, these knives are likely to have legal issues, and a carry permit might be required for taking it to campsites. Go with a fixed blade model without thinking anything further if you will be traveling more in the backcountry.
- Folding Blade: Is a knife preferred for whom size and weight are on priorities. It is more compact and lighter than fixed blades. It folds into the handle and easily slips into the pocket so that you can access it instantly. Although a fixed-blade one is easier for heavy-duty camp chores and food preparation, it cannot overcome the convenience of a folding knife. As the sharp edge goes inside the handle, there is no need for a sheath here. On the other hand, a fixed blade knife will need a sheath for protection. A folding knife comes with a locking mechanism, such as a frame or a liner lock for retaining the blade firmly in place until you release the lock to unfold. Depending on the opening mechanism, the following are the two more categories:
- Assisted Opening: Has a latch or a button for swing-opening the blade. Usually, it is the dull edge blows outward. In most areas, it is legal to use this kind of knife. More on assisted opening knives here.
- Clip Fold: Requires you to use a thumb to release the pressure inflicted on the blade by a safety latch. In simple words, you flip manually to open the blade.
- Multitool: Multi-tools like a Swiss army knife.
How to Choose the Best Camping Knife for You
Once you decide the right type of camping knife, it is time to analyze and compare the different models available in that type of category. Certainly, no two camping knives are identical, even if they are of the same kind. Each one in the category has pros and cons.
Selecting the best knife for camping is dependent on your purpose of using it and how productively and safely the knife features will help you accomplish the same. Thus, you need to check out the features, also known as the buying factors, to choose the most suitable camping knife. Let’s explore them.
The length of camping knives ranges from being a bit longer than a scalpel to that of a short sword. Typically, you should choose the length that comfortably fits your hand and productively helps in doing the work you want to do.
For a small task, a small camping knife of around 3 to 4 inches is fine. There is no need for a large or long model. No one would need the longest or largest model. Such a knife can, on the contrary, harm you if you try to use it as a naïve user to perform small finesse work for which a smaller knife is better.
When it comes to camping knives, the ideal blade length is between 3 and 5 inches, as it strikes a perfect balance between maneuverability and strength. Anything shorter cannot do difficult tasks, while anything longer is likely to be impractical.
Still, for those who need a multi-purpose, general tool to perform almost anything, a 6-inch model is fine. It can handle the most delicate tasks and can cut larger items.
Knives are available with half- or full-tang. In models with fixed blades, the term tang is the distance up to which the steel material extends into the handle as a single, sturdy piece.
Models having half- or quarter-tang are just sufficient for most chores at campsites. If you get a quality model, it can also prove to be quite stable. On the other hand, full-tang knives are admired for more longevity and greater stability when it comes to heavy-duty handling tasks. They are also most difficult to break.
Camping knives are available as straight and serrated blades. So, should you choose a serrated edge? Well, a serrated edge may appear cool and sharper than a straight edge. However, a straight edge is more productive as well as effective.
You can hardly do anything with a serrated edge. Rather, a nicely-sharpened straight edge can perform far better than a serrated edge when it comes to identifying the best knives for camping.
Indeed, serrated edges can be troublesome at a camping site and are more difficult to sharpen than straight edges. They get stuck quite frequently as they tend to become dull. However, straight edges will yet easily slide through.
In short, a sharp straight edge will do all camping tasks better than a serrated one.
The blades of camping knives are available in the following shapes:
- Drop Point: Are strong, thick, and versatile. It is easy to use and is ideal for chopping, cutting, and heavy work. The spine is curved due to which puncturing, poking, or penetrating by mistake are kept at bay.
- Clip Point: Feature a crescent drop and a narrow, sharp point. This shape is ideal for detailed, finesse, precision, and puncturing work. On the flip side, they are not as strong as the aforementioned camping knives.
- Sheepsfoot / Santoku: Come with a straight blade and a rounded spine. Santoku knives are ideal for food preparation. It is not for piercing or puncturing.
- Tanto: Come with a strong tip and heavy-duty design. Tanto knives are best for splitting and piercing. However, it is unreliable for food preparation.
- Needlepoint (Dagger): Come with an extremely sharp point and double edges. This shape is less seen.
Camping knives are typically made using steel material. Different types of steels are used in producing them. Softer steels are easily transformable into a razor edge and are simpler to sharpen. However, the sharpness is not retained for a satisfactory period and that they are less durable.
On the other hand, harder steels last more but are tough to sharpen. Many quality models are made using non-stainless steel. These steels can be sharpened on the site without using any tools. They also tend to sustain their edge better.
On the flip side, they are susceptible to rust and need a bit more care. On the other hand, stainless steels are simple to maintain but tougher to sharpen. As a rule, harder steel gives a stronger knife.
If your camping tasks are taxing, you need a knife that is made up of high carbon steel. This is because this steel is quite sturdy and does not demand frequent sharpening.
As a fact, knife blades are made up of a mix of stainless steel and carbon, manganese, silicon, vanadium, chromium, or molybdenum. While chromium is highly resistant to corrosion and wear, carbon ensures the highest level of hardness.
The stainless steel materials typically have more chromium and less carbon. As per the alloy that makes them, they are given a number. For example, 420HC steel indicates high carbon and chromium.
Knives are measured on the Rockwell scale (HRC) to determine how strong they are. Most folding knives are between 54 and 64 HRC. The more the HRC level, the tougher the steel is, which is desirable for camping knives. In short:
- Carbon steel is known for edge retention and hardness but can rust or corrode
- Stainless steel offering great resistance to rust and corrosion (420HC as softer and prone to dent, 154CM as very hard and sharp, and S30V resistant to rust and corrosion)
The handle material should be comfortable and ensure a good grip while in use, even if you are underwater. Most users prefer a rounded handle due to its high level of comfort and reduced blisters risk.
Should I carry more than one best camp knife?
No, if there will be people surrounding you at the site. If you are alone in the wild, it is wise to keep one short and one long knife, better get a multitool knife.
Is it okay to choose a pocket-size?
Yes, it is okay! This is a matter of your preference.
How a camping knife differs from a standard knife?
A camping knife is made with features that will make your camping smooth going. These features are not there in a regular knife, such as hardened steel and sharp blade point.
The best camp knife is the one that has a fixed blade, straight edge, length of 4 inches, and is made up of hard stainless steel. Still, it is recommended to choose as per your requirements and budget.