6 Best Camping Knives of 2021

Last Updated: January 2021

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This guide to the best camping knives covers everything you need to know, with picks for different budgets and needs.

A knife is a must-have part of any camping gear packing list. As one of the “10 essentials,” a knife can be useful in day to day tasks or a critical tool in survival situations.

However, there are quite literally thousands of knives out there today, so it can be tricky to determine which model is best for your needs.

Camping knives are also fairly complex pieces of gear, with high-end materials and technology packed inside.

All this means that it can be challenging to narrow down your options and find one knife for your upcoming adventures.

We understand how challenging this situation can be, so we’ve put together this list of the six best knives for camping on the market today.

Then in our comprehensive camping knife buying guide we’ll provide the essential advice for choosing the right blade for your outdoor escapades.

Best Overall Camping Knife

Benchmade Mini Barrage

When it comes to knives, you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Instead, you just need to be sure that the wheel is as perfect as possible. That’s where the Benchmade Mini Barrage really shines and wins our top pick for the best camping knife.

The Specs:

  • Weight: 3.4 oz (96.4g)
  • Type: Folding
  • Blade Material: 154CM Steel

Pros:

  • Lightweight and compact for a blade this size
  • One-handed opening for convenience
  • Compact size is perfect for camping

Cons:

  • Expensive for a plain edge folding knife

Simple to the core, the Mini Barrage features a 2.91” (7.39cm) long blade made from durable 154CM steel. The blade itself comes with a plain edge, which holds its edge well and is easy to resharpen after a trip.

With a closed length of just 4” (10.16cm), the Mini Barrage is among the most compact options around that doesn’t sacrifice blade length. You can also choose from three different handle types, including a G10 composite and a G10/aluminum mixture for added durability.

Designed specifically with everyday and camping use in mind, the Benchmade Mini Barrage also has AXIS Assist technology. This allows you to open the knife quickly and easily with just one hand. Finally, this knife has a reversible pocket clip so you can customize it to suit your needs.

Best Overall Runner-Up

Spyderco Delica 4 FRN Lightweight

Spyderco is world-famous for its knives, and the Delica 4 FRN Lightweight is no exception.  It offers an impressively lightweight and compact size at just a fraction of high-end knife prices

The Specs:

  • Weight: 2.5 oz (71g)
  • Type: Folding
  • Blade Material: VG-10 Steel

Pros:

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Can choose between serrated and plain edge
  • High-grip FRN handle for added dexterity

Cons:

  • No assisted opening technology

When it was first introduced, the Delica 4 FRN Lightweight was revolutionary, because it offered an impressively lightweight and compact size at just a fraction of high-end knife prices.

The knife is made to the company’s exacting standards in Japan from high-quality VG-10 Steel. While this knife certainly isn’t cheap, by Spyderco standards, it’s one of the more affordable options available.

Campers can choose from a plain, serrated, and combination edge, all of which are flat saber-ground for a stronger tip and added durability. It also comes with Spyderco’s classic circular opening at the bottom of the blade to make it easier for you to open the knife with one hand.

Moreover, the handle on the Delica 4 FRN Lightweight is made from fiberglass-reinforced nylon. It’s modeled using Bi-Directional Texturing, which provides ample traction for precision knife work or chopping kindling.

Best Budget Camping Knife

Kershaw Chill

Quality doesn’t have to come with a massive price tag, and the Kershaw Chill proves just that. This budget-friendly folding blade comes with a backpacker-approved weight of just 2oz, making it a good companion for more extended expeditions. 

The Specs:

  • Weight: 2 oz (56.7g)
  • Type: Folding
  • Blade Material: 8Cr13MoV Steel

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly price
  • Very lightweight and compact
  • G-10 handle for durability and weight savings

Cons:

  • Thin handle design can be difficult for larger hands

The Kershaw Chill is a budget-friendly folding blade that comes with a backpacker-approved weight of just 2oz, making it a good companion for more extended expeditions. It boasts a G-10 handle, which provides ample grip without adding a ton of weight to your pack.

As far as the blade goes, Kershaw made this knife with burly 8Cr13MoV steel, which holds an edge well and resists rusting. While it lacks an assisted opening mechanism, the Chill does have an easy to use manual washer opening system.

Moreover, although the thin handle on this knife can be challenging to use for people with larger hands, the Chill does come with an ergonomic grip for better traction. To top it all off, this knife has a reversible pocket clip for added comfort in transport.

Runner Up: Gerber LST

Another option, when cost savings are of the utmost importance, is the Gerber LST. This knife is among the most affordable on the market and weighs just 1.4oz, so it's ideal for long-distance hikers. 

It’s made in the USA with an all synthetic handle and durable 420HC steel blade for a lifetime of adventure.

Best Camping Knife for Backpacking

CRKT Homefront EDC Folding Pocket Knife

CRKT is known for its innovative knives and, we have to say, the Homefront EDC doesn’t disappoint. Designed by award-winning knife maker Ken Onion, this blade is one of the best for prolonged use in remote environments.

Specs:

  • Weight: 4.3 oz (121.9g)
  • Type: Folding
  • Blade Material: 1.4116 Steel

Pros:

  • Field strip design allows for cleaning on the go
  • Durable materials
  • Ergonomic handle for comfort

Cons: 

  • Somewhat heavy

The CRKT Homefront EDC Folding Pocket Knife boasts a plain edge made from 1.4116 steel with a stonewash finish. It tips the scales at 4.3oz (121.9g), so it’s not the lightest option on the market, but it’s certainly not the heaviest, either.

Where the Homefront EDC really shines, however, is with its innovative “Field Strip” technology. Thanks to this high-end feature, you can easily disassemble the entire folding knife into its individual components with just the flip of a switch.

This means that you can quickly and easily clean your knife out, even while in the backcountry for an extended period. Additionally, the Homefront EDC is made with a glass-reinforced nylon handle, so it’s designed to last through years of use.

Runner Up: Kershaw Leek

For a slightly lighter and more affordable option, the Kershaw Leek is a good companion on any backpacking trip. Boasting a 3” blade made from Sandvik 14C28N steel and a 410 stainless steel handle, the Leek is durable enough for any adventure. Plus, it weighs in at just 3oz, which is light enough for nearly any camping trip.

Best Camping Knife for Food Preparation

GSI Outdoors Santoku 6" Chef's Knife

While we often resort to pocket knives for our food prep, they’re never as good as a quality kitchen knife. Thankfully, the budget-friendly, GSI Outdoors Santoku 6” Chef’s Knife is ready to help.

Specs:

  • Weight: 3.8 oz (108.9g)
  • Type: Fixed
  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Rockered blade for food chopping and general kitchen prep
  • Rubber handle for a secure grip

Cons:

  • Bulky packed size

 Let’s face it: Mealtime is one of the best parts of camping. After a long day on the trail, getting to enjoy some quality backcountry gourmet is a great way to lift anyone’s spirits.

While we often resort to pocket knives for our food prep, they’re never as good as a quality kitchen knife. Thankfully, the budget-friendly GSI Outdoors Santoku 6” Chef’s Knife is ready to help.

This purpose-built Santoku-style knife is made with a stainless steel blade that’s perfectly rockered to provide a smooth, comfortable chopping experience. It also has a super grippy rubber handle so you can prep your food without worry.

Although the GSI Outdoors Santoku 6” Chef’s Knife is a bit bulky for everyday carry, it does come with a snazzy protective sheath. This makes it easier to pack along on car camping and short backpacking trips where eating well is a top priority.

Honorable Mention: GSI Outdoors Santoku 4” Paring Knife

If you want a knife to use around the camp kitchen that’s a bit more portable than the GSI Outdoors Santoku 6” Chef’s Knife, the GSI Outdoors Santoku 4” Paring Knife is a reliable alternative.

This knife is lighter and more packable than its bigger cousin, and it comes with its protective sheath. Plus, it’s even more affordable so you can stay on budget while shopping for new gear.

Best Multi-Purpose Camping Knife

Leatherman Charge+ TTi

If functionality is your top priority, the Leatherman Charge+ TTi should be a multi-tool at the top of your list. This fully-featured multi-tool boasts 19 different functions so you can handle any problem before it gets out of hand.

Specs:

  • Weight: 0.8 lbs
  • Type: Folding
  • Blade Material: S30V Steel

Pros:

  • 19 different tool options available
  • Three different blades
  • Titanium build for maximum durability

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive

Featuring 3 different blades, including a saw, a plain edge, and a serrated knife, the Leatherman Charge+ TTi is perfect for handling any situation that might require a knife. It also boasts a full complement of different screw bits, pliers, wire cutters, scissors, and a can/bottle opener.

One of the coolest things about this multi-tool is its titanium construction. Although it’s not exactly a lightweight multi-tool, the Charge+ TTi’s titanium build allows it to save a bit of weight while still maintaining its status as one of the most durable in the industry. 

Plus, the Leatherman Charge+ TTi is backed by the company’s 25-year warranty and is made in their factory in Portland, Oregon. To learn more, check out our article on the Best Leatherman Multi-tools.

Runner up: Gerber Crucial 

Compact, yet functional, the Gerber Crucial is another reliable option for campers that want one knife/multi-tool that can do it all. This model boasts a burly combination blade that’s one of the longest we’ve seen on a multi-tool.

Although it doesn’t have nearly as many functions as the Leatherman Charge+ TTi, it has the essentials, and a much more budget-friendly price point.

camping knife log

Camping Knives Buying Guide


Knives are pretty intricate pieces of gear, so you must know what to look for as you’re shopping around.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when buying a camping knife.

Types of Camping Knives

There are multiple types of knives out there, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. This is what you need to know:

Fixed Blade

Fixed blade knives are the simplest option available. Since they don’t have any moving parts, they’re often the most durable choice for rugged adventures.

The main drawback to a fixed blade, however, is its size. Since fixed blades don’t fold, they tend to be quite bulky and awkward to pack, even if they come with a purpose-built sheath.

Folding Blade

Folding blades are popular among campers because they take all the fixed blade functionality and mush it into one compact package. However, the downside to folding knives is that they tend to be less durable.

More often than not, if a folding knife is going to break, it will do so at the hinge. Moreover, folding knives that don’t have a locking mechanism can be dangerous if they snap shut under pressure, so it’s important to use them cautiously.

Our top picks for best camping knives, the Benchmade Mini Barrage and the Delica 4 FRN Lightweight, are both folding blades.

Multi-Tool

The final type of knife that you may come across is the multi-tool. You traditionally get one or more blades with a multi-tool, plus an assortment of different scissors, pliers, drill bits, and other nifty tools. 

These models are popular among campers because they provide plenty of functionality in a remote environment where carrying around an entire tool kit isn’t exactly convenient. Our favorites are the Leatherman Charge+ TTi and the Gerber Crucial.

That being said, multi-tools tend to be the heaviest and most expensive option, so they’re not ideal for lightweight backpacking.

cutting firewood camping knife

Benefits & Uses of Camping Knives

Camping knives offer a wide range of different benefits and can be used for many different purposes, including:

Food Preparation

You can use a camping knife to chop veggies, cheese, summer sausage, and other food while outside. They’re also useful for preparing fish that you may have caught while camping.  If food prep is your main concern, we highly recommend you check out the GSI Outdoors Santoku 6” Chef’s Knife.

Cutting Firewood

Some knives, especially multi-tools with saws, can be used to cut small amounts of firewood so you can have a roaring campfire at night.

Gear Repair

Knives are surprisingly helpful for gear repair purposes. This is especially true if you need to cut thread or repair tape to fix a broken piece of gear.

Trail Clearing

Larger knives, particularly fixed blades, can help clear overgrown sections of the trail if you’re bushwhacking. Just remember to practice Leave No Trace and only to cut branches if absolutely necessary.

Campfire Preparation

With the right knife, you can easily make small bits of kindling to get your campfire going. Doing so can make the difference between a chilly evening and a nice night by the fire.

knife gloves camping

Camping Knife Buying Considerations

Camping knives are relatively complex pieces of gear, so there are quite a few things you should consider when buying your next blade:

Weight

Weight is an important factor in any piece of gear. When it comes to knives, models that weigh less than about 4oz (113.4g) would be considered lightweight.

However, keep in mind that many lightweight options have very small blades or thin handles, which can be difficult to use.

Blade Material

The vast majority of camping knives feature blades that are made with some form of steel alloy. There are hundreds of different steel alloys out there, so covering them all here would be rather impractical.

The main thing to remember is that steel with high carbon content tends to hold its edge better than low carbon steel. This is because it is very strong and durable, which makes it perfect for use in a knife. 

However, high carbon steel is more expensive, so many budget-friendly models will use stainless steel to keep prices down. We use stainless steel to make everything from kitchen appliances to surgical tools because it’s affordable and easy to shape when compared to high carbon steel.

With that in mind, stainless steel doesn’t hold an edge as well, so it needs to be sharpened more frequently. 

Handle Material

Most knife companies make their blades with either steel, titanium, or synthetic handles. Steel is a popular choice for durability and cost-effectiveness, but it is quite heavy.

Titanium offers the same durability and is lightweight, but is more expensive.

On the other hand, synthetic materials like nylon or G-10 are becoming more and more popular. This is because they are very lightweight and can be molded to create textures and more ergonomic grips.

The downside is that they tend to be less durable than metal alternatives.

Blade Design

You have three main choices when it comes to knife blade design:

Plain Edge

Plain edge blades have a single sharp edge that’s used for cutting. They are highly popular because they can be resharpened again and again with a whetstone.

Moreover, Plain edge blades are more versatile for things like food prep and wood chopping. However, they require more upkeep and are somewhat useless when dull.

Serrated Edge 

Serrated edge blades have sharp teeth, which allow them to cut objects more quickly, especially rope and cord. The primary advantage of serrated edges is that they dull out much more slowly.

But, serrated edges are difficult to sharpen with a whetstone and don’t offer as clean of a cut as a plain edge.

Combination Blades

Combination blades offer both a serrated and plain edge in one package. These knives are becoming more popular as campers look for a blade that can have the benefits of both a plain and a serrated edge.

This allows campers to quickly cut through cord and other objects while still getting the precision that a plain edge affords.

However, while combination blades can perform some of the functions of both plain and serrated edges, they aren’t as effective as either of the original alternatives.

man camping knife

Final Takeaways

A knife is a must-have part of any camping gear packing list. As one of the “10 essentials,” a knife can be useful in day to day tasks or a critical tool in survival situations.

However, there are quite literally thousands of knives out there today, so it can be tricky to determine which model is best for your needs.

After reading our reviews and buying guide you'll have no problem finding the best camping knife for you.

Happy Camping!

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