Greatest Backpacking Knives of 2023, Examined and Reviewed

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Written By Travis Smola Revealed Jun 23, 2023 3:00 PM

Backpacking knives are important for survival in distant wilderness. They may also help with something from meals preparation and tent restore to cleansing sport and beginning fires. However what distinguishes a backpacking knife? Like every other piece of substances you deliver into the backcountry, your knife must be light-weight and low profile. This helps shed weight in your pack whereas remaining ready for any state of affairs mom nature throws at you.

Most trendy tenting and survival knives are case-specific. That means your knife must be tailor-made towards an supposed use within the area. However irrespective of the pursuit, all high quality knives are constructed from light-weight, sturdy metal. It also needs to characteristic an ergonomic design that feels comfy in hand. With this in thoughts, we did some in-the-field testing of a number of blades to search out the perfect backpacking knives for quite a lot of makes use of and budgets.

How We Picked the Greatest Backpacking Knives

Any knife that’s light-weight with an ergonomic design is good for taking into the backcountry. And it doesn’t matter if the pursuit is searching, fishing, or tenting—the blade needs to be light-weight, sturdy, and very sharp. So to assist us discover the perfect of the perfect, we referred to as in an array of high quality knives made. Then we put every knife by means of its paces—wooden carving, spark testing, splitting wooden, and different camp upkeep chores—to see how they carried out in real-world conditions.

After that, we kicked it up a notch. To find out the sting retention for every blade, we subjected the knives to some further abuse past their regular makes use of. Most notably, we used them to chop extremely abrasive cardboard to check edge retention. Which will appear odd, however cardboard dulls blades faster than most supplies resulting from its development. Thus, it was simple to see which blades held an edge longer than others.

Since totally different backpacking pursuits name for various wants, we additionally thought-about the next components when deciding the place to rank every blade:

Blade Materials: What kind of metal is the blade constructed from?

What kind of metal is the blade constructed from? Tang: If it is a mounted blade, does it have a full tang for further energy and leverage?

If it is a mounted blade, does it have a full tang for further energy and leverage? Edge Retention: How effectively did the sting maintain as much as our most abusive assessments? Is the blade simple to sharpen?

How effectively did the sting maintain as much as our most abusive assessments? Is the blade simple to sharpen? Ergonomics: How comfy is the deal with? Does the knife really feel balanced?

How comfy is the deal with? Does the knife really feel balanced? Worth: Does the value of the knife match its development and efficiency?

Greatest Backpacking Knives: Opinions and Suggestions

Greatest General: Benchmade Bushcrafter 162

Key Options

Blade Materials: CPM-S30V Metal

CPM-S30V Metal Blade Size: 4.40”

4.40” General Size: 9.15”

9.15” Tang: Full


Lovely appears

Ergonomic large deal with

Extraordinarily sharp out of the field


No ferro rod included


Benchmade continues to be the usual within the out of doors business for bushcraft and tenting knives. The Bushcrafter is proof of that. This knife has a wider deal with and a thicker blade than any of the opposite knives we examined. That large deal with offers this knife glorious really feel and stability in hand. I wasn’t afraid to place some heavy strain on the total tang for more durable jobs. The CPM-S30V metal has a pointy edge straight out of the field. It sliced by means of massive items of cardboard prefer it was butter. I did ultimately put on the sting down, nevertheless it took a while. Longer than the opposite blades within the take a look at.

It’s a little bit puzzling Benchmade doesn’t embody a ferro rod, particularly since there’s a loop for it on the sheath. Nonetheless, I examined it with an affordable rod and located the sharp backbone does make a hell of a spark if referred to as upon for that process. I additionally tried batoning wooden with the Bushcrafter. I did this after the sting retention take a look at, so the blade was beginning to get uninteresting. However that didn’t matter due to the beefy development, which break up the wooden moderately effortlessly with none seen injury to the blade. The Bushcrafter comes with a $300 price ticket, however after the abuse I subjected it to, I believe it’s value each penny.

The Bushcrafter’s beefy blade will baton wooden if referred to as upon. Travis Smola

Greatest Worth: Morakniv Kansbol Mounted Blade

Key Options

Blade Materials: Swedish 12C27 Stainless

Swedish 12C27 Stainless Blade Size: 4.29”

4.29” General Size: 9”

9” Tang: Partial


Reasonably priced

Nice fireplace starter

Extremely light-weight


Not a full tang

Low-quality metal

Whereas the Morakniv Kansbol doesn’t look particular, it’s a surprisingly succesful mounted blade knife, particularly contemplating the sub $60 price ticket. The blade is a bit skinny, and the 12C27 metal goes to attract loads of comparisons to different kinds of low-qualitysteel. However I don’t assume that’s essentially a draw back. It is a knife I haven’t been afraid to abuse as a result of it’s so low-cost. Whereas it doesn’t have a full tang, it does really feel surprisingly strong for a finances knife. I wouldn’t baton wooden with it, however it might do nearly each different bushcraft approach. The deal with can be surprisingly comfy, and I just like the grip it supplies for more durable jobs.

It’s value getting the survival package sheath bundle that features a ferro rod, as a result of, out of all the hearth metal suitable blades I examined, the bottom backbone of this blade threw the largest spark. If I would like to start out a fireplace shortly, I’d need the Kansbol in my pack. Whereas it doesn’t supply a lot within the appears division, I can’t argue with the performance and glorious edge retention. It’s the excellent starter knife for somebody simply moving into backpacking.

The Kansbol’s greatest energy is its fire-starting means with the included ferro rod. Travis Smola

Greatest Funds: Reapr Brigade

Key Options

Blade Materials: 420 Stainless Metal

420 Stainless Metal Blade Size: 5”

5” General Size: 10”

10” Tang: Full


Nice value level

Good sharpness out of the package deal

Inflexible sufficient for more durable bushcrafting jobs


The sheath may very well be higher

Reapr remains to be a comparatively new firm, and I solely turned aware of their knives within the final 12 months. They despatched me a couple of blades to check, however I like the straightforward and easy nature of the Brigade essentially the most. It has a 5-inch drop level, and the 420 stainless-steel blade got here out of the package deal surprisingly sharp. The Brigade was the thinnest blade of all the total tang knives we examined. Nonetheless, the scaling of the deal with felt nice for a $30 knife. And with a full tang, I shortly discovered it was strong sufficient for many bushcraft jobs.

Whereas the Brigade does have a thinner blade, I nonetheless determined to topic it to a wooden batoning take a look at. And it was greater than up for the duty. There have been some noticeable marks within the end afterward, however that doesn’t hassle me. This blade is a workhorse, not a showpiece. And since the value level is so low, it’s not a blade I’d fear about abusing or shedding whereas deep within the backcountry. It additionally holds an edge surprisingly effectively for a finances knife.

The Brigade did present everlasting indicators of damage after the wood-splitting take a look at, however the edge was nonetheless there. Travis Smola

Greatest Grip: Uncharted Provide Co Empire Knife

Key Options

Blade Materials: 420 Stainless Metal

420 Stainless Metal Blade Size: 4”

4” General Size: 10.5”

10.5” Tang: Full


Extremely ergonomic grip

Hefty, however balanced really feel

Nice leverage for heavier bushcrafting


Some backpackers may discover it too heavy

I first acquired my arms on the Empire knife as a part of the Decked X Uncharted D-Bag emergency package and shortly realized that is an impressive knife for quite a lot of out of doors situations. The largest promoting level of this blade is the unbelievably comfy rubber grip. If in case you have butterfingers like I do, you’ll adore it. There’s simply the tiniest quantity of “stick” to the grip that makes it simple to regulate, irrespective of the circumstances. Mix that with a superb weight for actually flawless ergonomics.

For a $40 knife, it has a surprisingly thick blade that simply dealt with a batoning take a look at whereas protecting its edge. I discovered the small, serrated edge additionally does a helpful job sawing by means of small limbs. Backpackers clearly received’t want the emergency glass breaker on this knife, nevertheless it does include a helpful bonus bottle opener, excellent for when you get again to civilization to have a good time with associates.

The sheath for this knife is respectable, however the actual added worth comes with the included sharpening stone and ferro rod. After extreme use and testing, I nonetheless didn’t must sharpen it. Uncharted put a superb edge on this knife straight from the manufacturing facility. It’s much more spectacular given my blade got here from a pre-packed bug out bag. Given the standard of the blade and the deal with, it makes me surprise how Uncharted can afford to promote this knife for under $40.

The Empire knife saved its edge and end even after getting used to cleanly baton a chunk of wooden. Travis Smola

Greatest Compact Mounted Blade: CRKT Minimalist Drop Level

Key Options

Blade Materials: 154CM or 5CR15MOV

154CM or 5CR15MOV Blade Size: 2.16”

2.16” General Size: 5.25”

5.25” Tang: Full


A number of metal choices for various budgets

Weighs virtually nothing

Versatile for quite a lot of camp duties


Deal with is tiny

For backpackers who’re obsessive about limiting weight of their pack, the Columbia River Knife & Instrument Minimalist is the reply. Coming in at simply 1.8 ounces, this tiny, full tang knife packs loads of performance right into a small package deal. The very first thing I seen was that I couldn’t get my pinky on the deal with due to the small dimension—measuring simply over 5 inches lengthy. However I discovered it doesn’t actually damage the performance an excessive amount of. Though the management on finer wooden carving or meals prep duties might bemore difficult for these with bigger arms. I additionally discovered it’s going to additionally spark a ferro rod properly in a pinch.

The great factor about this small knife is that CRKT presents it in two several types of metal and handles. The upper high quality 154CM metal with a Micarta deal with ended up dealing with each process I gave it, massive or small, regardless of the tiny blade dimension. Nonetheless, I additionally love the actual fact CRKT presents a 5CR15MOV metal with a G10 deal with variant that prices lower than $40.

The Minimalist is a really tiny mounted blade knife. Travis Smola

Greatest for Meals Prep: CRKT S.P.E.C. Cleaver

Key Options

Blade Materials: 8Cr13MoV

8Cr13MoV Blade Size: 2.44”

2.44” General Size: 5.63”

5.63” Tang: Full


Nice deal with

Reasonably priced value level

Versatile sufficient for mild bushcraft


Low-grade metal

Wants sharpening usually

Connoisseur meals aren’t often on the menu within the backcountry. However I additionally know there are many hikers who discover methods to deliver contemporary fruit and different meals with them. And the tiny CRKT S.P.E.C. Cleaver is an effective alternative for many who want to cut meals. The tiny blade is constructed from low-grade 8Cr13MoV metal, however my take a look at pattern was given a superb edge from the manufacturing facility that made meals prep simple. I additionally subjected this blade to the rugged cardboard take a look at, the place it handed with fly colours. This cleaver can be splendid for different small camp duties.

Similar to the Minimalist drop level, it is a surprisingly tiny mounted blade knife (see picture under). Nonetheless, I just like the G10 deal with on this knife a little bit higher than the one on the Minimalist. It has a fantastic texture that I discovered simple to grip, even with moist arms.

The CRKT S.P.E.C. Cleaver is a particularly small and light-weight—excellent for camp duties. Travis Smola

What to Take into account When Shopping for a Backpacking Knife

The previous saying: “You get what you pay for,” largely rings true on the subject of knives. Nonetheless, there’s something to be mentioned for not breaking the financial institution. Plus, you don’t have to fret for those who scratch, break, or lose a $40 knife such as you would for those who misplaced a high-grade, $300 knife. As a lot as I really like my Benchmade knives, it does make me a bit paranoid once I take them into the woods. That mentioned, each backpacker’s wants are going to be totally different, so it’s essential to think about these components earlier than deciding on a knife.

Metal High quality

There are numerous kinds of metal that knives are constructed from. And the standard of a selected kind of metal will instantly have an effect on the value of a knife. Most inexpensive knives make the most of 8Cr13MoV metal. It is a high-carbon metal that gives glorious corrosion resistance and is straightforward to sharpen. Nonetheless, it isn’t sturdy and can seemingly require loads of upkeep.

On the flip facet, higher-grade metal like S30V often presents significantly better sturdiness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance than finances knives. The draw back, apart from price, is that metal like S30V is often harder to sharpen. For newbies, these more durable metal blades will be downright irritating to place an edge again on them.

Blade and Deal with Sorts

It’s additionally value contemplating the kind of blade you want. A easy drop level will likely be greater than purposeful for many hikers. Drop factors characteristic a deeper blade that’s versatile for quite a lot of chopping situations you may encounter within the backcountry. This blade kind can be often thicker, which makes them strong sufficient for bushcrafting actions, particularly whittling, carving, and fire-starting.

A easy razor edge will likely be positive for many backpackers. Nonetheless, many survival knives now characteristic a serrated edge which makes it simpler to noticed by means of small branches and wooden. They work positive for backpacking, however simply bear in mind the serrations are a lot more durable to take care of in the long term.

For mounted blade knives, I like to recommend a full tang—that means the development of the blade extends all over the deal with. This lends extra energy to the blade, particularly for those who plan to baton wooden or do different main woodworking actions. I personally like a deal with that’s wider as a result of it simply presents quite a lot of management whereas making exact cuts.


Q: What kind of knife is finest for backpacking? It is a matter of private choice. Some hikers are going to be extra targeted on meals prep, whereas others want a knife for woodworking or bushcraft initiatives. Mounted blade knives are a good selection for bushcraft fans who plan to construct shelters, begin fires, or break up wooden. Backpackers who simply want a knife for chopping paracord, mild meal prep, or gear repairs can often make do with a small folding knife. Q: What’s the finest dimension knife for backpacking? As a result of each backpacker could have totally different wants relying on their model, it’s arduous to pinpoint a selected “finest” dimension. We like two- to four-inch blades backpacking adventures. When you plan to baton wooden, do bushcraft, or mild a fireplace, a barely longer blade is often higher. On the similar time, backpackers should be cautious about going too massive as a result of longer blades are more durable to take care of andwill add extra weight to their pack. Q: How do I retailer a backpacking knife? Smaller backpacking knives are simple to retailer inside a pocket on their pack. Nonetheless, backpackers ought to verify the knife concealment legal guidelines of the state they’re climbing in. Each state has totally different rules on what they take into account a hid knife. For many mounted blade knives, particularly these over 5 inches, your finest wager is to hold them in a sheath on the skin of your pack or a belt loop.

Greatest Backpacking Knives: Last Ideas

There are numerous nice choices for backpacking knives, however the Benchmade was a straightforward alternative for our greatest total. The standard of the metal mixed with edge retention and total versatility of the blade is extraordinarily arduous to beat. It’s a knife that may excel in any state of affairs, together with searching, fishing, and tenting adventures.

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