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A camping knife performs dozens of different functions, from cutting wood and prepping tinder to preparing food, slicing rope, and scaling fish. There are many different kinds to choose from, each with its own set of pros and cons. A folding knife is great for smaller jobs and is convenient to carry on long trips; while a fixed blade survival knife offers superior strength and reliability. When it comes to blade shape, a drop point knife is the best all-rounder for camping; while fine edge blades are generally more versatile than serrated ones. In this article, we look at our top picks for a handful of different categories.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife, Fine Edge
Approved by celebrity outdoorsman Bear Grylls, the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife takes the top spot on our list. It combines the strength of a fixed blade with the versatility of a multitool, thanks to a series of clever extras incorporated into the knife handle and sheath. The stainless steel fine edge blade measures 4.8” and has a general purpose drop point. The ergonomic textured rubber grip ensures your hands won’t slip, even when they’re wet or sweaty.
Use the steel pommel for hammering recalcitrant tent pegs and the lanyard’s built-in whistle for summoning help in an emergency. The sheath is made from military grade, mildew resistant nylon, and includes a diamond blade sharpener. It also carries a ferrocerium rod which you can strike against the notch built into the back of the knife blade to start a fire. The knife measures 10” in total and weighs 14.7 ounces in the sheath. It’s covered by a lifetime warranty and comes with Bear Grylls’ Priorities of Survival pocket guide.
One of the best knives on the market for under $20, the Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife is our favorite entry-level option for campers on a budget. Ideal for preparing food or cutting tinder, it has a 4.1” fixed blade with a three-quarter tang. Made of Swedish stainless steel, the blade boasts excellent hardness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and can be made razor sharp.
The ergonomic handle is shock resistant, with a textured grip that prevents your hand from slipping even in the cold and wet. It is color-matched to the plastic sheath, with nine shades to choose from including military green, desert tan, and magenta. A drain hole stops the sheath from collecting moisture and a belt clip makes it easy to keep the knife handy at all times. The knife weighs 4.1 ounces in the sheath, has an overall length of 8.6”, and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Folding pocket knives are a space-saving solution for light work around camp. The Kershaw Blur Pocket Knife features SpeedSafe-assisted one-hand opening at the touch of a thumbstud. Thereafter, a liner lock keeps the blade securely in place. The slightly recurved, drop point blade measures 3.4” and is great for general slicing and piercing. Made from diamond-like Carbon-coated stainless steel, it has an attractive matte appearance and is exceptionally durable and corrosion resistant.
The knife handle is made from aircraft-grade anodized aluminum with Trac-Tec grip tape inserts for a solid grip. The knife weighs just 3.9 ounces, has an overall length of 7.9”, and a closed length of 4.5”. Make use of the pre-drilled lanyard hole and wear it around your neck, or use the clip to attach it to your pocket. The clip is reversible, so you can decide whether you want to carry the knife tip-up or tip-down. Choose between serrated or fine edge versions in black or olive.
Multitools may not stand up to bush clearing or animal skinning but their highly versatile nature makes them the perfect solution for trips that require you to pack light. The Leatherman Super Tool 300 Multitool fits easily into your pocket with a closed length of 4.5”. It weighs 9.6 ounces and folds out into 19 different tools, including needlenose pliers, a saw, can and bottle openers, three types of replaceable wire cutters, and four kinds of screwdrivers. It has two knives — a primary fine edge blade perfect for prepping your evening meal and a serrated blade for cutting rope and small branches.
The primary blade measures 3.2” in length. Leatherman’s all-locking technology means that all tools (except the plier heads) lock when fully opened, keeping them securely in place and preventing any accidental injuries. All multitools come with a lanyard ring and a sturdy sheath. The sheath is made from leather or black nylon while the tool itself is either silver or black anodized stainless steel. Whichever you go for, your purchase is protected by a 25-year guarantee.
Swiss Army Knives are also multitools, but they’re so revered in outdoor circles that we felt they deserved a category of their own. A useful camping knife, the Victorinox Swiss Champ Pocket Knife has no fewer than 33 functions. Essentially, it gives you a tool for every conceivable camping scenario without adding any significant weight to your backpack. In terms of knives, you have a large 2.45” drop point blade and a smaller drop point blade for more finicky work.
Other tools that come in especially handy in the wilderness include a fish scaler, a wood saw, a magnifying glass, pliers, a can opener, and five different screwdrivers. The corkscrew and bottle opener ensure that you’ll be able to celebrate another day on the trail with a cold beer or a glass of wine. All tools are made from strong, corrosion-resistant stainless steel and are encased in ABS plastic. Colors range from classic red to transparent ruby or sapphire. When closed, the pocket knife measures 3.58”.
Generally speaking, fine edge blades are best for most camping scenarios. However, serrated knives have their uses too - think cutting rope and webbing, or sawing through branches. The Gerber Prodigy Survival Knife offers a serrated blade and a piercing drop point, giving you the best of both worlds. Made of American stainless steel, the full tang fixed blade is exceptionally strong. The blade is also coated with ceramic for corrosion resistance and reduced visibility (the latter adding to its value as a tactical knife).
The handle is made from glass-filled nylon and over-molded with SoftGrip rubber for a secure grip in all weather conditions. For your safety, the MOLLE-compatible sheath has a friction-release thumb lock; while the included leg strap gives you options when it comes to transportation. The blade measures 4.75”, giving the knife an overall length of 9.75”. It weighs 12.45 ounces in the sheath and 7.2 ounces on its own.
More than a casual camping knife, a survival knife is specifically designed to keep you alive in the wilderness and is a sensible addition to your emergency kit. Strength, durability, and versatility are a priority and the StatGear Suviv-All Survival Knife excels in all three areas. The high carbon, stainless steel blade has a full tang for added strength and a drop point for maximum usefulness. The handle is made from textured non-slip rubber with a stainless steel pommel that doubles as a hammer when necessary.
The heavy-duty sheath is designed to be worn on your belt and incorporates a magnesium firestarter rod and a cord cutter. The latter saves you from having to unsheathe the knife for minor cuts including paracord and fishing line. With a sharpener stone integrated into the back of the sheath, you can keep your blade razor sharp no matter how long you’re out in the bush. The knife measures 9.5” in total with a blade length of 4.25”. It weighs 7.5 ounces on its own and 13 ounces in the sheath.
If you’re heading off the beaten track, you will need a machete to help you blaze a trail or clear bush for a new campsite. The Condor Tool & Knife Bushcraft Parang Machete is made in El Salvador and boasts great chopping power. It’s also relatively compact, with a 13” blade and an overall length of 19.75”. This means that although it has the swinging power needed to cut through thick brush and sizeable branches, it is still conveniently sized for campers who like to travel light.
The full tang blade is made of high carbon steel and is exceptionally sharp, while the high impact polypropylene handle is both comfortable and durable. Some users recommend wrapping it with grip tape to prevent sweaty hands from slipping. When not in use, the blade (and your fingers) are protected by the machete’s ballistic nylon sheath.
Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular camping knives on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different knives overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 35 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 2 of the knives themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.