The Best Camping Knives For Any Outdoor Application In 2022

Support us! Explorersweb may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn more.

A camping knife should be strong and versatile, but compact enough to carry easily. It should cut rope, carve stakes, clear brush, and help with food prep. It should also be durable.

The reality is that there is no single, perfect camping knife. However, there are quite a few options that might be right for you. Our favorites were tested camping in at least three seasons, some as everyday carry knives and some for foraging. We wanted to ensure that our tested models had been put in a variety of situations and that they were suitable for all sorts of campsite uses. Our focus was on quality and versatility but we also paid special attention to ergonomics and size. Without further ado, here are some of the best fixed-blade camping knives and folding camping knives on the market.

The best camping knives

Editor’s choice: Benchmade Bugout

  • 3.24in blade lengthbenchmade bug out
  • Grivory handle
  • Manual opening
  • Drop point blade

The Benchmade Bugout is a power-packed solid knife in a pocket knife package. I’ve had this knife for years and have used it for camping, backpacking, gear repairs, foraging, and more. It’s razor-sharp to this day, comes backed by an incredible company, and the grivory handle is highly textured.

The blade length is a bit short at 3.24 inches, but that makes this versatile knife more discreet and easy to tuck into a pocket, bra, sleeve, or bag. While you won’t be splitting wood with it, it works well for food prep and easy tasks around camp. Benchmade is a leading knife manufacturer, so if you aren’t a fan of this knife or would prefer something more heavy-duty, check out their selection. Read the in-depth review here.

See Benchmade Bugout on Benchmade

Most versatile: 5.11 Ferro Knife

  • Serrated edge and smooth sharp edge5.11 ferro knife
  • Included Ferro rod and cover
  • Great as a bushcraft knife

The 5.11 Ferro Knife is geared toward the survivalist and bushcraft community. I love having this in my arsenal. In addition to the stainless steel blade and serrated blade, there’s an included Ferro rod for creating fire, making this a perfect bushcraft knife. There’s also a Teflon coating for easy cleaning and a cover to keep everything safe.

See 5.11 Ferro Knife on Amazon

See 5.11 Ferro Knife on 5.11

Large handle: Morakniv Companion Camping Knife

  • Swedish Sandvik 12C27 steelmorakniv companion camping knife
  • 8.6in overall length
  • Friction-grip handle
  • Color-matching sheath

The Morakniv Companion has a four-inch blade that actually feels much larger because of the solid, high-friction rubberized grip and the 12C27 stainless steel it’s made from. The Companion uses a partial stick tang that may someday betray itself, but you will have no trouble putting this knife to work carving tent stakes, clearing bush, and hacking firewood.

With its affordable price point, true Scandi grind, and lifetime warranty, this may be the best all-around value camping knife available.

See Morakniv Companion Camping Knife on Amazon

See Morakniv Companion Camping Knife on Blade HQ

Best for foraging: Opinel Carbon Steel Camping Knife

  • 3.25in carbon steel bladeopinel carbon steel camping knife
  • Beachwood handle
  • Virobloc safety ring
  • Can be exchanged in cases of manufacturing defects

The Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife provides an excellent cutting edge that stays dangerously sharp for a long time. The Beachwood handle looks simplistic but is surprisingly effective from an ergonomic standpoint. And of course, all Opinel knives sport the Virobloc safety ring which ensures your fingers won’t fall victim to a blade that closes accidentally.

If you want to, you can purchase a sheath that will allow you to carry the knife on your belt. You couldn’t call this a survival knife, but for most tasks around the campsite, it will do the trick. We love this blade, particularly for foraging, and it is an excellent mushroom companion.

See Opinel Carbon Steel Camping Knife on Amazon

Best fixed blade: Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade

  • 4.8in 420 high carbon steel bladegerber strongarm fixed blade
  • Glass-filled nylon with rubber overmold handle
  • Durable multi-mount sheath system
  • Made in the USA

The Gerber StrongArm features a 420 high carbon steel blade with full tang. There’s a rubberized handle for a sure grip and a striking pommel at the base you can use to break glass or soften up frozen earth without having to ruin your blade in the process.

The diamond-textured grip never lets you down even when the mercury has plunged and you can barely feel your fingers. The blade has a ceramic coating that keeps corrosion at bay and the serration near the handle helps you hack through the toughest bush.

See Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade on Amazon

See Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade on REI

All-rounder: Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge

  • G-10 laminated handlespyderco tenacious plain edge
  • 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade
  • Four-way pocket clip

The Spyderco Tenacious sports an 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade that will more than live up to its responsibilities and an overall balance that is quite good for a folding knife. The blade is 3.39 inches long, and the knife tips the scales at a svelte 4oz.

The handle is comfortable and offset to maximize leverage while inside there are steel liners that work to increase the rigidity of the handle so you can take advantage of that leverage. Great for cutting stakes or cutting steaks.

See Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge on Amazon

See Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge on Blade HQ

Best for bushcraft: Smith & Wesson SWA24S 7.1

  • Double-edge serrated bladesmith & wesson swa24s 7.1
  • Thumb knob for easy opening
  • 7Cr17MoV black oxide stainless steel

The Smith & Wesson 7.1 inch SWA24S Stainless Steel Folding Knife is an aggressive-looking device, although it doesn’t sacrifice function for some silly notion of looking “extreme”. It’s a beautifully balanced piece of camping kit with a 3.1-inch blade fashioned from 7Cr17MoV black oxide stainless steel.

You’ll have no trouble cutting tinder, whittling stakes, or clearing brush. The inner lock on the handle ensures the safety and longevity of your fingers and the light weight of the SWA24S means you won’t tire from using it for long stretches.

See Smith & Wesson SWA24S 7.1 on Amazon

See Smith & Wesson SWA24S 7.1 on Smith & Wesson

Budget-friendly: Schrade 10.4in Stainless Steel Fixed Blade

  • 1095 powder-coated high-carbon steelschrade 10.4in stainless steel fixed blade
  • Overall length of 10.4 inches
  • Textured handle with upper and lower jimping
  • Full tang design

The Schrade SCHF36 blade is fashioned from 1095 high-carbon, powder-coated steel and is razor-sharp right out of the box. That fixed blade is five inches in length and sits atop a textured TPE handle that provides the kind of secure, comfortable grip you want with a fixed-blade camping knife.

Every effort is made to ensure you always have a firm hold of the knife. There is the forward finger choil, a thumb and finger jimping, and a forward quillon, which prevents your hand from accidentally slipping forward and engaging the blade.

See Schrade 10.4in Stainless Steel Fixed Blade on Amazon

Great for food prep: Benchmade Bushcrafter 162

  • CPM-S30V Steelbenchmade bushcrafter 162
  • Overall length 9.15 inches
  • Included leather sheath
  • Fixed blade knife

With the Bushcrafter 162 from Benchmade, one could be forgiven for thinking they had grabbed one of their kitchen knives by mistake. That said, the 4.4-inch drop point blade is full tang which means it’s not going to shy away from the more down-and-dirty campsite responsibilities.

The scales on the handle are molded G-10, very comfortable, and able to provide a firm grip. The flared tubing in the handle is designed to pull the handle material in on the tang and ensure that it won’t come loose following the repeated application of lateral force.

See Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 on REI

See Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 on Cabela’s

Everyday carry-turned camping knife: ESEE 4P with Molded Polymer Sheath

  • 1095 HC steel bladeesee 4p with molded polymer sheath
  • Micarta sure grip handle
  • Full tang

With an overall length of nine inches, you wouldn’t call the ESEE 4P a piece of everyday carry but based on the quality of the knife, the toughness and effectiveness of the blade, and the sure, comfortable grip, you’d do just fine calling it your go-to camping knife.

The blade is fashioned from high-quality 1095 carbon steel with a cutting edge of 4.1 inches. That 1095 carbon steel sharpens up well and holds its edge through thick and thin. The 4P comes with a Kydex sheath that this EDC knife slips into easily and snugly.

See ESEE 4P with Molded Polymer Sheath on Amazon

Tiny but mighty: Fallkniven F1 with Thermorun Handle

  • VG-10 stainless drop point bladefallkniven f1 with thermorun handle
  • Checkered Thermorun elastomer handle
  • Comes with black Zytel sheath
  • Official knife of the SAF

The Fallkniven F1 is standard issue for pilots of the Swedish Air Force. The blade is a 3.75-inch VG 10 stainless steel beauty with a satin finish and is sandwiched in the handle by dual slabs of 420J stainless. The Thermorun elastomer handle material is a mixture of rubber and plastic that retains the latter’s long-term durability while also exhibiting the sure grip qualities of the former. In other words, it’s perfect for outdoor applications.

Whereas a folding knife may suffice for the state park, camping in the deep woods calls for something like the Fallkniven F1.

See Fallkniven F1 with Thermorun Handle on Amazon

See Fallkniven F1 with Thermorun Handle on Blade HQ

Why trust us

We have combined decades of gear testing and reviewing experience under our belts. I’ve had a pocket knife as an everyday carry item for at least 10 years and have been camping since I was a child. My dad taught me how to properly handle a sharp blade when I was young and I hope other folks get the same education so we can use our camping knives safely and responsibly.

Who this is for

This guide is for anyone who needs camping knives. Some folks may need a full-on survival knife for splitting wood, survival tasks, meat preparation, and so much more. Others may need to prepare foraging finds. We have fixed blades and folding knives, top-rated camping knives, knives with full tang construction, and high-carbon steel. This guide features a little bit of everything because the world of knives is vast and this guide merely nicks the surface.

How we picked

Selecting the best camping knives involved extensive market research and years of testing. Selecting the best camping knife is no easy feat, and your needs will vary greatly depending on how you’re planning to use your knife — for bushcraft work, processing game, campsite repairs, or something else entirely.

How we tested

We tested our favorite high-quality knives while foraging, camping, and as everyday carry options. Our editor’s choice model has spent years as a trusty sidekick and has rightfully earned the title of the best camp knife. Our newer favorites were still put through rigorous testing all over the Pacific Northwest in a variety of weather conditions and terrain.

Features to look for in camping knives


A knife tang is the portion of a fixed-blade knife that extends into the handle. Both full and half-tang knife models are available and you’ll see these notations only on fixed-blade knives.


Most camping knife models will be either a stainless steel blade or a carbon steel blade. Stainless steel blades are often found on folding knives and smaller fixed-blade knives while carbon steel is often on knives built for heavy-duty tasks and larger fixed blades.

Blade coating

Blade coatings offer a few benefits: They change the look of the knife, make it more durable, harder, or resistant to scratching, and can often make it more resistant to corrosion. Some common blade coatings are mirror-polished offering great corrosion resistance. Stonewashing hides scratches and is less reflective than other coatings. Bead-blasting gives you a router blade surface that is more prone to corrosion but is not reflective. A satin finish is arguably the most popular and is right in the middle of bead blasting and mirror polishing.

Fire starting abilities

Some camping knives listed, like the Ferro knife, come with specific fire-starting abilities. However, most knives can be used to start a fire if you know how. Usually, you need a rock and your blade. With a folding blade, you can strike the edge of the folded blade against a rock to create sparks. A fixed-blade knife can also be used like this, but keep in mind this option can damage it. You can also use your knife as a striker with a Ferro rod.


Whether or not you’d like a choil on your blade edge is personal preference. Some like to have a large choil as a forward finger grip for tasks like carving wood. Smaller choils are to create a stopping point when sharpening to protect the handle. Some blades do not have a choil at all.

Drop/clip/spear point

A drop point blade offers additional strength and control at the tip with a slow curve that lowers the point at the tip of the knife. This makes for an excellent hunting, tactical, and survival knife. A clip point is better for piercing tasks but offers less strength. Spear point knives are great for piercing and stabbing and are often used as throwing knives. When it comes to finding a good knife that can handle heavy-duty tasks, drop-point blades are the primary choice for the best camping knives.

man holding camping knife

Types of camping knife

Fixed-blade knives

Generally, a fixed-blade knife is stronger than a foldable knife. The fixed blade and handle provide strength and tactical advantages that are quite valuable in a survival knife. These blades are easier to clean and less prone to breaking. However, a fixed-blade knife is harder to conceal and takes up substantially more space than a folding knife.

Folding knives

A folding knife folds easily into a pocket for concealment and transport. A small folding knife can be a great tool for backpackers, those looking to save space, or for those who want something as an everyday carry option. These models can also provide a small layer of safety around children, given that the blade is not exposed without effort. However, these blades require more maintenance, are not as strong as a fixed-blade knife, and take more time to be ready for action.


While multi-tools like a Swiss army knife are handy for their versatility, as camping knives they often fall short and we recommend having a backup on hand. The blade edge available is often short and doesn’t offer much working area. These can be helpful in a pinch but not as primary survival knives.

Drop-point blade knife

A drop-point blade is one of the most popular choices for both a camping utility knife and a hunting knife. In a drop point blade, the back of the knife lowers in a slow curve offering more strength and control at the tip.

Camping knife care

A good camping knife is a precision tool that can not only cut your bacon but might also save your life in an emergency. As such, it deserves to be treated with the same respect you’d show your tent or hiking shoes. Therefore:

  1. Don’t put your knife away until it’s clean and dry – Your camping knife is a workhorse so it’s going to get wet and dirty. That’s unavoidable. What is totally avoidable, however, is putting the knife away when it’s in such a state. Always make sure that before you sheath your camping knife it’s clean and dry.
  2. Make sure you hone the blade regularly  – Honing the knife on a regular basis ensures the blade is always crisp and sharp. Honing the blade is roughly akin to changing the oil in your car, while sharpening the blade is like bringing the car in for a tune-up. Hone after each use if you can.
  3. Don’t abuse the knife – A camping knife is designed to handle tasks around the campsite like whittling stakes, cutting rope, and perhaps cleaning fish. Unless it has a pommel built into the base it should not be used as a hammer. Also, don’t use the knife as a screwdriver or an ice pick, and don’t practice throwing it.
  4. Lubricate your knife – Folding knives need to be kept properly lubricated. Most will use some type of oil-based lubricant that is applied to the various moving parts. Don’t overdo it though and be sure to wipe away any excess.

camping knife

Camping knife FAQ

Q: What is a camping knife?

Regardless of whether you camp in a roadside campground where you pitch your tent next to the car or you saddle up and hike miles into the woods, your experience will be largely defined by the quality of your gear. It was true for Lewis and Clark and it’s still true today. Without a doubt, a high-quality camping knife will need to be among your gear, but just what is it that makes a knife a camping knife?

While there is bound to be overlap between the different categories of outdoor knives, the camping knife is loosely defined as a heavy-duty knife, typically full tang, whose blade is generally under five inches in length and which can be used for splitting kindling, cutting cord and rope, assisting with food prep, whittling tent stakes, batoning firewood, and clearing brush if necessary. While survival knives should always be fixed blade affairs, some knives used for camping are folding knives as they’re compact and easy to conceal.

Q: When is it a good idea to carry multiple knives?

If your outdoor excursions tend to center around state parks, roadside campgrounds, or summer weeks camping at the beach, a standard camping knife like any of the ones profiled above should be more than adequate. However, if you’re a dedicated fan of the great outdoors and regularly find yourself in those remote places known only to the deer and the antelope, you know the weather can change at the drop of a hat and a pleasant day in the woods can turn into a survival situation in under an hour. For that reason, the informed outdoor enthusiast always brings more than one type of knife with them into the deep woods. Why? Because it’s likely they’ll encounter situations where a standard camping knife will be too little and other situations where a survival knife will be too much.

Q: How do you properly clean a knife?

Cleaning a knife in the wilderness can be tricky, but a wash with soap and water is great. A more thorough scrub can be completed when you are home. Make sure that while you are at camp all visible dirt and debris are removed between uses.

Q: How sharp should the camping knife be?

A camping knife should be sharp enough to handle anything you throw at it, including food prep and bushcraft work. However, a too-sharp knife could pose a problem if there is a mishap and medical attention is far away. Balance is key.


  1. How To Choose Knives And Tools – REI Co-Op

Tuesday Kirby Kahl

Tuesday Kirby Kahl is a native Texan now residing in Portland, OR. In addition to her work as a writer, she’s a competitive climbing coach for youth and adult athletes. When she’s not working, you’ll find her rock climbing, exploring, skiing, and paddle boarding all over the Cascades. When at home, she’s usually tending to her collection or houseplants or painting with a cup of tea in hand.