When headed out on a camping trip, there are numerous pieces of essential gear to bring along to ensure you make the most of your trip — ranging from tents, to sleeping bags, to adventure coolers, and more. And while there’s plenty you’ll want to remember as far as amenities go, it’s also a good idea to make sure you have some handy tool in your camping kit, even just as a contingency plan.
As far as those tools are concerned, the best thing you can probably pack, as far as overall versatility is concerned, is a knife. Keeping a bladed tool on your person while you’re camping will give you the ability to tackle simple DIY fixes and improvements on-the-spot, they can help with prepping kindling and firewood, and they’re even great for self-defense in a pinch. Of course, some knives are more suited to outdoor usage than others. That’s why we’ve put together the following list of the 15 best camping knives.
Made For Adventure
Without any moving parts, fixed blade knives are ideal for outdoor usage (most of the time). They’re sturdy, reliable, and usually easy to clean and maintain. If you don’t have any restrictions, you’re almost always better off carrying a fixed blade when you head into the wilderness for any kind of adventures — be that hiking, camping, or even testing your mettle in a survival situation.
Ontario Knife Company Rat-3 Fixed Blade
The OKC Rat is one of the best folding knives for any budget, but (as mentioned) folding knives don’t always make great trail blades. Luckily, OKC has pared it into an outdoor-friendly fixed blade, as you can see here. This particular knife measures up at over 7.5″ in length, has a canvas micarta handle, and a black-finished 1095 steel blade. It’s also made in the USA and comes with a nylon sheath. For the price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another knife as reliable and versatile as this one.
Blade Steel: 1095
Handle Material: Micarta
Morakniv Bushcraft Survival Knife
Morakniv specializes in building some of the best outdoor fixed blades on a budget around. And while most people are familiar with their companion, when it comes to camping we’re more drawn to the brand’s Bushcraft Survival Knife. They share similar silhouettes and build qualities — like a carbon steel blade and a high-friction rubber handle — but there are some noteworthy differences. They include a tungsten DLC coating and, most noteworthy, a sheath that comes equipped with a ferro fire starter good for 7,000 strikes and an integrated sharpening stone. If that sounds too good to be true at this price point, the brand also hit it with a lifetime warranty to ensure you that they mean business.
Blade Steel: High Carbon
Handle Material: High-Friction Rubber
KA-BAR USMC Fighting Knife
Strictly speaking, the KA-BAR USMC Fighting Knife isn’t a fixed blade made for the great outdoors. Rather, it was made for the battlefield, which — if anything — makes it even more uniquely qualified for the comparative light use associated with camping. This same knife has been standard-issue for the U.S. Marines for generations, it’s made in the USA from 1095 Cro-Van steel with a leather-wrapped handle, and this particular version comes with a versatile partially-serrated blade. If we could only have one fixed blade to depend upon for the rest of our lives, this one would certainly be in the running as one of the top choices.
Blade Steel: 1095
Handle Material: Leather
ESEE Knives 4P Fixed Blade
ESEE is exceedingly well-known in the world of tactical and outdoor-ready blades, and their 4P Fixed Blade is one of their most popular designs of all time. Boasting the brand’s signature silhouette, this knife is well balanced, not too long for detail work but not too short for larger chopping tasks, and its silhouette is perfect for all-around campground usage. Mate that to a textured G10 handle (in a number of available colors), a black finish that adds a bit more durability and sinister styling, and a molded polymer sheath and you’ve got one of the most formidable camping-ready fixed blades in the world.
Blade Steel: 1095
Handle Material: G10
Filson Skinner Fixed Blade Knife
Though they’re primarily an apparel and soft goods brand, Filson has been expanding much of their hard goods — including an increasingly-impressive collection of knives. As far as camping fixed blades are concerned, however, their Skinner tops them all. Built from start to finish in the USA, this well-balanced backcountry knife measures up at 7″ in length — making it versatile and easy to handle without feeling small and flimsy — and features a corrosion-resistant 440M steel blade that also offers excellent edge retention. That steel is mated to a handsome linen Micarta handle that’s grippy and weatherproof, and the whole thing is topped off with a beautiful leather sheath.
Blade Steel: 440M
Handle Material: Micarta
Benchmade 202 Leuku Fixed Blade
For those who are unfamiliar, the Puukko is a traditional Scandinavian fixed blade silhouette that’s been widely produced by numerous knifemaking brands for generations. Benchmade actually makes one, but they recently took the Puukko concept and took the next step forward in its design with their 202 Leuku Fixed Blade. For the most part, the silhouette is intact — but the blade is a bit longer. This one also has a modern Santoprene handle, which is great for durability and grip in all conditions, and it boasts a high-end CPM-3V blade. At 9.69 inches in length, this is one of the larger camping knives on our list, but its no less suited to detail-oriented tasks, thanks to its slim, versatile, drop point blade.
Blade Steel: CPM-3V
Handle Material: Santoprene
Quiet Carry The Current Knife
Like their name suggests, Quiet Carry has been quietly producing some of the best everyday carry knives around. But they’ve also tried their hand at building a more outdoor-friendly fixed blade in their Current. As it turns out, they’re just as adept in this venture, as this bulldog-style knife clearly illustrates. It’s fitted with an LC200N blade, a high-end steel that’s practically corrosion-proof and widely used by NASA in space-faring equipment, and it’s attached to an ergonomic machined G10 handle that’s comfortable to hold and offers plenty of grip even when things get soggy. Available in a trio of finishes, this is an excellent all-around camping knife.
Blade Steel: LC200N
Handle Material: G10
Helle Knives Temagami Knife
If you want to get the best possible camping knife around, you should probably consider using what the experts use; and Les Stroud, host and star of Survivorman, is about as much of an expert as there is. So when he teamed up with the Scandinavian artisans at Helle Knives to craft the Temagami, we knew it would be something special. Crafted from a combination of thrice-laminated steel and genuine curly birch wood, this is an ultra-premium traditionally-styled camping fixed blade that could qualify as a family heirloom with the right treatment — even if you used it every day.
Blade Steel: Triple-Laminated Stainless
Handle Material: Curly Birch
Spyderco Proficient Fixed Blade Knife
After seeing Spyderco’s gorgeous Proficient fixed blade knife, we’re left wondering why more brands aren’t building camping and hunting knives with carbon fiber handles. After all, it’s super durable, completely corrosion-proof, and it looks spectacular when done right. Of course, that’s just one of the things that makes Spyderco’s bushcraft knife so spectacular. It also comes with a high-end CPM-S90V steel drop point blade, it comes with a leather sheath, it’s beautifully balanced, etc. Sure, it’s quite an investment, but that’s a one-time fee for a knife you’re going to use until you’re no longer around to use it. But that’s also okay because you can pass it down to your kids.
Blade Steel: CPM-S90V
Handle Material: Carbon Fiber
Terrain 365 Nautilus Alpha Knife
Terrain 365 was created with one idea in mind: to craft some of the world’s absolute toughest bladed tools known to man. And they’ve executed that idea brilliantly. Just look at their exceptional Nautilus Alpha fixed blade knife. For starters, its aggressive, harpoon-style blade is crafted from a proprietary Terravantium blade alloy that the brand guarantees will never, ever corrode or rust. But it also has a super-durable epoxy handle that’s even easy to grip underwater, thanks to both to the material itself but also the 3D contouring. Furthermore, its Kydex sheath is MOLLE-compatible, making this a great tactical option for those who prefer modular pack attachments and battlefield readiness.
Blade Steel: Terravantium Dendritic Cobalt
Handle Material: Epoxy
Most of the time, folding knives are not ideal for outdoor usage. Though there are numerous reasons, the largest of them is that folding knives have moving parts that can easily get gunked up by dust, dirt, mud. Their crevices can also capture moisture and, therefore, promote corrosion and rust. However, some brands have made folders specifically for the outdoors that are easier to clean, designed specifically to stave off corrosion and rust, and sometimes have some handy additional features.
Buck Knives 110 Hunter
One of the most iconic folding knives of all time, the Buck Knives 110 Hunter was, as the name suggests, made specifically with hunting applications in mind. And while some of its features have changed over the years, it still boasts its same silhouette. This one also features a responsibly-sourced ebony wood handle, a durable and reliable 420HC steel clip point blade, and a sturdy back lock mechanism. You’ll still be forced to deal with the pitfalls of a folding knife in the outdoors, but that’s what this knife was made for.
Blade Steel: 420HC
Handle Material: Ebony
Opinel No. 12 Explore Survival Knife
Like the Buck 110 Hunter, Opinel’s No. 12 Explore Survival Knife was built specifically with outdoor applications in mind. However, while this one also has a classic silhouette — older than a century, in fact — it boasts completely modern materials. That includes a Sandvik steel blade, a fiberglass-reinforced polyamide handle (which can survive even in extreme temperatures), and a number of other handy additions — like a 110-decibel survival whistle and a fire starter. For the price, this outdoor folder is nigh-unbeatable.
Blade Steel: 12C27 Sandvik
Handle Material: Fiberglass-Reinforced Polyamide
CRKT Homefront Folding Knife
While, at a glance, the CRKT Homefront folding knife you see before you looks especially tactical and maybe a bit too urban for outdoor usage, we assure you it has one major feature that makes this the perfect folding knife for camping: Field Strip technology. You see, complete without tools, you can take this knife apart for cleaning and maintenance and put it back together again when it’s like-new for more hard usage. Mate that to its partially-serrated 1.4116 steel blade and a glass-reinforced nylon handle, and you can see that this Ken Onion-designed knife is the perfect camping companion.
Blade Steel: 1.4116
Handle Material: GRN
Victorinox Soldier Swiss Army Knife
Perhaps no type of folding blade is more associated with the great outdoors than the Swiss Army Knife — thanks largely to organizations like the Boy Scouts of America. However, while most SAKs are passable for adventure usage, Victorinox’s Soldier Swiss Army Knife was actually made with camping, hiking, and exploration in mind. It boasts a suite of useful stainless steel tools (10, to be exact), it has durable dual-density handle scales, and the blades are even sized up to make them more friendly out on the trails.
Blade Steel: Stainless Steel
Handle Material: Two-Component Dual-Density Scales
Length: 4.4″ (Closed)
Spyderco Caribbean Folding Knife
Many of Spyderco’s offerings are probably tough enough to weather usage in the great outdoors, but few can compare to the durability imbued into their Caribbean folding knife you see before you. You see, while this high-end blade does somewhat resemble the brand’s legendary PM2, it has a couple of major legs up. For starters, this one is equipped with a rust- and corrosion-proof LC200N steel — making it perfect for maritime usage. It also has vibrant black-and-yellow G10 handle scales — making it more visible against the natural background, in case you happen to drop it (even underwater). You’ll pay a premium price, but you’ll get one of the toughest outdoor-ready folders around.
Blade Steel: LC200N
Handle Material: G10
The 15 Best Survival Knives
If these camping-ready blades aren’t quite hardcore enough for you, you’ll want to take things to the next level with our selection of the best survival knives around.