Outside Edges: The 10 Best Camping Knives

Survival knives are fine if you’re stuck in the wilderness, naked and afraid. Tactical knives will do the job if you’ve been air dropped behind enemy lines and need a combination weapon and rescue blade. Since most of us will never see either of those circumstances, we might need something a little more pedestrian, like a camping knife. These knives are a touch more tame and built for handing the day-to-day work that takes place at a campsite. Cutting wood, snipping fishing lines, and cooking up some grub over an open fire are the tasks allotted to the standard camp knife.

Representing the need for a wide range of tasks, picking up a good knife for camping is about finding balance. You can get a pocket knife if you plan on backpacking and need to keep weight and size to a minimum. For standard trips where you load up your tent, the family, and a cooler full of imported lager, you can go with a straight edge, full tang blade that’s bigger. For both ends of the spectrum, and all the lovely shades of sharp in between, we’ve whittled it down to the 10 best camping knives for any trip.

Opinel No8 Pocket Knife

Opinel No8 Pocket Knife

Pro: Virobloc lock keeps blade closed or open
Con: Rusts quickly if not oiled

Weightless: Opinel took a less-is-more stance with their No8. The entire system has just five parts and is unusually rudimentary in the age of complicated folding pocket knives replete with latches and gears. Don’t let the crudeness fool you. The carbon steel, 3.25-inch blade can be honed to near scalpel levels for campsite surgeries or cutting fillets. Made of beechwood, the handle weighs next to nothing but feels comfortable and allows for slick, balanced wielding. [Purchase: $18]

Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Knife

Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Knife

Pro: Great out of the box sharpness
Con: Quality control

No Brainer When you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, this knife stands toe-to-toe with the best of them. Just about any Morakniv blade will provide everything you need to survive in the great outdoors, and the best part is it won’t break the bank if you end up losing it. The sturdy 1/8-inch thick carbon blade coupled with the ergonomic, soft high friction grip handle stand up to the toughest tasks. The ultra portable knife weighs just 4.8 ounces, and comes with a plastic sheath with belt clip to take it anywhere. Our only complaint – quality control. While most praise the out of box sharpness of the blade, it seems a handful of customers have received poorly finished, dull blades. [Purchase: $18]

Gerber Blades Big Rock

Gerber Blades Big Rock

Pro: Designed by Bill Harsey
Con: Terrible sheath

Most for the Money: Gerber is easy to write off as a B or C-list knifemaker that creates cheap gear that barely passes muster. To classify the Big Rock with some of their weaker offerings would be a mistake. Its full tang 440A steel blade with serrations is good for stripping bark or cutting down saplings. To make heavier work easier, it has a glass-infused nylon handle with Softgrip rubber overlay, complete with a pistol-esque finger guard reminiscent of tactical knives. For an affordable fixed blade, you’d get less for much more dough. [Purchase: $29]

Wicked Hand Saw

Wicked Hand Saw

Pro: Cuts through thick and hard woods
Con: Tooth gaps are narrow

Hackery Most Foul: You had damn sure better be focused when you whip this out. From the moment it unfolds, it is ready to do damage to trees, limbs, branches, and your own flesh and bone if you aren’t cautious. High carbon steel gives this an edge like a serrated butcher’s knife. The handle has a molded rubber grip over cast aluminum that positions your arm perfectly for cutting. Locks down like Riker’s Island to prevent folds and accidents. [Purchase: $37]

Kershaw Ken Onion Blur

Kershaw Ken Onion Blur

Pro: Spring-assisted opening
Con: Liner lock can fail during heavy, repeated use

Flip Top: This category of knives usually doesn’t carry an element of protection with them, since they aren’t meant to be self-defense knives; but the Blur from Kershaw knows that you might be called upon to defend your campsite, and it is more than equal to the task. Using either a straight or hybrid blade with serrations, you can get a little sawing along with your straight slashing. The SpeedSafe opening allows it to be deployed with one hand while the reversible belt clip allows you to carry it anywhere for a rapid release. [Purchase: $55]

Buck Vanguard

Buck Vanguard

Pro: Includes Buck’s forever warranty
Con: Factory sanding and polishing leaves ridges

Skin Deep: As far as hunting knives go, there are few that can compare to the Vanguard. While it is ideal for cleaning and field dressing a kill, its sharp edge and straight makeup also makes it an outstanding camp knife for those who need to keep an edge. Using a 4-1/8″ blade of 420HC stainless steel, it won’t degrade quickly for less time on the whetstone. Cut rope, chop up steaks, and then pass it on to your kids. [Purchase: $64]

SPYDERCO Endura 4

SPYDERCO Endura 4

Pro: Boye dent prevents accidental closures
Con: Closed spine makes cleaning difficult

Deadly Accurate: We love SpyderCo as our EDC for wandering through dangerous neighborhoods, but we never expected these urban warriors to be able to shed their deadly roots and become equally effective workhorses. The Endura 4 has the high-carbon, razor sharp VG-10 steel that you would expect, coated with durable titanium carbonitride for enhanced resistance to rust and troublesome weather. Carry it tip up or tip down, deploy it fast, and know that when it is open, it’s staying that way until you clean the blood or the wood shavings off of it. [Purchase: $67]

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp

Pro: Much, much more than just a camping knife
Con: Awkward

Tool Kit: Victorinox is the original Swiss Army knife, but they haven’t rested on their success. The SwissChamp is a hard-core toolkit with 32 various options made of stainless steel all embedded in a cellidor casing. From a small saw to screwdrivers, pliers, a nail file, and the all-important bottle-opener and corkscrew, this will have you ready for anything, Scandinavian-style. [Purchase: $75]

Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter

Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter

Pro: Clean grind and rugged build
Con: No jimping for thumb traction

Fittest for Survival: The 162 marks a foray by Benchmade into the world of bushcraft, which is a hybrid style of ancient and modern survival tactics intended to help you live off the land. As with everything else the company does, they have entered the arena with vigor. Slotted into a handle made of G-10 scales with flared titanium tubing, the S30V stainless steel blade with its drop point grind is easy on your digits without causing hotspots. It’s a fixed blade knife that handles basic camp duties with ease and can go into survival mode seamlessly. [Purchase: $183]

Fallkniven A1

Fallkniven A1

Pro: Laminate steel construction
Con: Large

Action Ready: Like a survival knife, your campsite blade needs to be ready to cope with whatever job it is given. It will have to hack, trench, stab, slice, saw, skin, grind, drill, and pry. The A1 can do all of these. Made from VG-10 and 420J2 steel in a sandwich construction, this longblade can withstand plenty of lateral pressure and yet use its convex grind to keep cutting away. A pocket knife sharpener should be all you need to keep this shaving sharp for every job. [Purchase: $193]

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