Hiking knives are versatile tools that are handy for cutting wood, slicing food, making tents, and clearing areas. Hikers need a light, versatile, and dependable knife while progressing on the trail. This guide exactly helps in selecting one such knife.
2020’s 3 Best Hiking Knives
Fallkniven A1 Fine Edge Fixed Blade Knife, Black
The perfect knife for you if you are a hiker or a survivalist in the wilderness. The nicely integrated functionalities and a sharp blade make this tool ideal for survival. It is an all-purpose knife made for small, detailed as well as heavy-duty chores.
You can use this knife constantly without any change in its strength and power. Thanks to the powerful blade that is made up of tough VG10 steel, which is extremely hard and endures the impact of hard use. It also features a liberal sweeping belly with a reformed drop point. The ergonomic grip and full-tang design make this tool ideal for finer cutting chores.
- Military-like tough
- Reliable in extreme conditions
- Resistant to cold, heat, scratches, water impact, and hard use impact
- Great grip
- Strong sheath
- Powerful performance
- Tough to sharpen
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
Made in the USA, this knife is specially designed for marine workers and fighters. Yes, it is made for outdoor adventures. This is evident from the fixed, heavy-duty, 5.5-inch long blade that is proving ideal for most camping and hiking chores, including medium bush-crafting.
It can cut, split, pry apart, skin, and chop! The knife comes with the ideal size and thickness for deep penetrations. The drop point blade made up of 1095 cro-van steel renders the finest cutting experience. Even the cutting edge stays sharper for a long time.
The handle is ergonomically designed and is made using Grivory that ensures a balanced grip while whatever you do.
- Heavy-duty build
- For light to medium tasks
- Ergonomic handle
- Versatile blade angle
- Complaints of sheath blunting the edge
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife, Serrated Edge
This hiking and survival knife will never let you down if you are an average hiker. It comes with a partially serrated, 4.75-inch long blade with a drop point, which is made up of stainless steel having high carbon. Such a blade ensures efficient sawing and cutting tasks and retains its edge well.
The overall durable build facilitates quick handling of fibrous materials. It comes with an ergonomic handle that comes with a textured rubber grip to maximize both safety and comfort. Other tools included are, namely, fire starter, whistle, and stainless-steel pommel present at the handle’s base for hammering.
- Good look
- Adaptable to different situations
- Great grip
- Whistle, fire starter, and sharpening stone included
- Extremely affordable
- Not for extreme hikers
- Not that durable
How to Choose The Best Hiking Knife
While there are many knives suitable for hiking, each one tends to differ in some way even though they do look similar. They are likely to differ in size, weight, blade material, and so on. Thus, each hiking knife is distinct.
So now, how do you choose the best hiking knife? Well, it is simple! You start by identifying your requirements based on what kind of hiking you will do, what shall be its intensity, and how much will be the distance.
For example, if the distance is long, you will require a multipurpose hiking knife that is light and perform different tasks, ranging right from cutting to whittling.
Once you identify these expectations, you need to compare the shortlisted or promising knives based on their features. These features are buying factors that help you decide which knife is the best one for you. So, let’s explore these features.
Type: Fixed or Folding
For most of us who have used knives before in the outdoors, folding models are more convenient to take and use. However, this cannot deny the fact that the fixed models are the best tools in many situations in the wild.
Hiking knives with fixed blades are crafted to endure a lot of pressure because of the stronger pivot point. They have a longer lifespan, as they are not prone to friction-induced wear and tear. They are also instantly accessible in a sudden adverse situation. As there are no moving components, the risk of an injury is low.
On the contrary, folding knives are prone to breaking because of the side forces. They are a bit tough to take care of and access. If mismanaged, it is likely to result in an injury.
Nevertheless, folding models are more compact and easier to move around with. There is no need for a sheath. Further, most models are meant for multiple uses, as they come with the integrated tools.
Most experts recommend a fixed hiking knife. However, you may choose a folding model if you desire it.
This feature is essential to consider, even if you will be hiking for a short distance. Frankly, you will prefer a knife that is as light as possible. The recommended range is 0.8 to 23 ounces.
To decide the right weight for your knife, consider the purpose of your knife. If you are not going to do heavy-duty chores such as gathering firewood, a weight of below two ounces is sufficient.
If you choose a heavy knife, you are likely to slow down and find it hard to complete small tasks. So, it is wise to select a light model.
You need to check the handle and blade size regardless of the folding or fixed model you choose to buy. It is essential to do so for safety and comfort. Due to different palm dimensions, it is worth choosing a handle that can comfortably fit into your palm. This will ensure the right leverage.
Similarly, for wielding easily and safely, you need the blade of the right size. A too big blade when in use can make it tough to wield, while a too-small one can hurt you. A good hiking knife is around 10 inches long when it is in use.
The edge should be not only sharp but also be able to sustain its sharpness and be easy to sharpen. The blade material should be sturdy enough to prevent chipping at the time of use. Following are the two types of edge you can see in hiking knives:
- Flat: It is smooth and provides the benefits of easy handling, sharpening, and cleaning. It is perhaps the most versatile edge to have, as it gives tidy cuts of soft items such as cheeses and cords. It is a widely-used edge for hiking. It is excellent for carving and splitting wood to convert into pieces for making a bonfire. You can even expect a precise output. On the flip side, a flat edge cannot sustain its sharpness for long, unlike a serrated edge. You also cannot easily see via a tough material such as firewood. If your hiking will not have tasks related to these items, a flat edge is ideal.
- Partially Serrated/Blend: Includes serration close to the handle, after which the blade is flat until the tip. This combo ensures a sturdy grip. It is ideal for enjoying excellent sawing and rope-cutting abilities along with the push cutting traits of a flat knife. In case of any confusion, it is worth choosing a combo. The combined benefits of both types are highly admired for versatile and efficient applications. On the flip side, it can be hard to sharpen such a blade. In most cases, while you can sharpen the flat part, the serrated one calls for professional sharpening to regain its original sharpness. While partially serrated models have their benefits, they are not as many as that of the straight edge ones.
Blade Shape and Tip
Regardless of the blade shape, it is vital to have a sharp tip, as it then has a reliable stabbing potential. It is ideal if your hiking trail passes through a forest, and you choose such trails regularly. In case you use only the blade, it suffices not to have the sharpest point. However, it is essential to maintain the point and blade, which means you need to sharpen both.
Frankly, you cannot survive in the wild without an angled blade. This is because of most chores, including cooking, shaving, whittling, and digging need it.
When it comes to choosing the right blade shape, consider one of the following options as per your preference and requirements:
- Drop-point: This is useful for many purposes and is admired for its sturdiness and overall efficiency. It features a sharp, smooth edge, but its tip is less reliable for penetrating.
- Clip-point: It is ideal for penetrating, but the point is not that strong and is thin. Herein, the rear edge goes up to the blade and bends a bit towards the tip. Serration is present on the other edge.
- Spear-point: It is full of spear-like traits, is double-edged, and has a recessed edge. This makes it ideal for stabbing. It is ideal for throwing a knife. The tip is sturdy. On the flip side, you cannot rely on it for smooth slicing.
The material of the blade is a significant contributor to the hiking knife’s durability, sharpness, and overall performance. Thus, it is a critical factor to consider.
The material you choose should be sturdy and of high quality to carry out any activity such as defending, cutting, and carving. It should also be resistant to rust and corrosion and be able to retain sharpness for a satisfactory, long period.
Hiking knives are usually made up of steel. However, there are varieties here. A cheap steel form is not desirable, as it easily breaks and blunts, although it is simple to sharpen. However, the cons make it unsuitable for usage in the wilderness.
The alloys of stainless steel are the most reliable, as they are more durable and sturdier than the pure form of metal. Knives made up of high-carbon stainless steel are sturdier and easier to sharpen than stainless steel. However, stainless steel itself is resistant to rust due to which it is reliable for use in humid settings and water.
Steel with chromium is resistant to rust and is known for its longevity and strength. If titanium is present with stainless steel, you get the benefits of lightweight and amazing hardness apart from rust resistance.
Some modern blade materials to consider are S30V (stainless steel + vanadium) and VG10 (stainless steel with chromium, molybdenum, and carbon). 154CM (molybdenum with stainless steel) and 420HC (high carbon presence) are also reliable options.
This is another critical factor to consider, as it is responsible for giving you a comfortable and safe grip while handling the knife. A wrong handle can result in an injury. So, to avoid it, you need to choose the right handle material. For hiking knives, following are the handle materials in use:
- Glass-reinforced nylon as a lasting and economical option being malleable and resistant to the impact of harsh conditions
- Wood as a conventionally attractive and sturdy option but vulnerable to humidity
- Plastic as a natural grip giver
- Bones as an attractive option but not for animal lovers
- Metal as a solid option with aluminum being light and resistant to heat, stainless steel being heavy but resistant to corrosion, and titanium being lighter than other metals
Where should I store my knife at the time of hiking?
You should store your hiking knife at such a place that it is easy and quick to access yet safe for you. If the blade is big (fixed), keep it in the backpack’s knife section. In case you do not want to carry a backpack, a folding model is what you should carry. You can easily store it in your pocket. For a fixed blade, the best storage medium is the strong sheath that you can attach to your carrying belt.
Do I have to lubricate a hiking knife regularly?
Yes, for a folding hiking knife! You will have to lubricate it regularly so that it does not rust from the section of the pivot and facilitates smooth moves.
An ideal hiking knife is the most valuable tool for any hiker. Thus, you should invest in one such knife only after proper consideration, so that you obtain what you want.