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Best Camping, Hunting & Survival Knives

Outdoor knives are essential and versatile tools for hiking, camping, hunting and survival. These knives vary by blade length and cutting function. Popular outdoor styles include Bolo, Bowie, Ganzo, Karambit, Kephart, Kukri, Machete, and pocket knives.

Our Top Outdoor Knife Picks

A hiking trip isn’t complete without a versatile camping knife. When you are up against the elements, this survival tool will help you to hunt, skin game, cooking and to defend yourself. Camp knives come with foldable or fixed blades. Foldable knives are safer for family camping trips and every day carry.

Best Survival Knife for Camping

Survival knives are traditionally thick with heavy blades that are able to cut through tough materials. These days, smaller, more lightweight versions are available which are easier to carry when camping or trekking. Specialist survival knives also feature a hollow handle to store small and easy to lose items.

Best Bowie Knife for Hunting

It’s rare to acquire a knife with a rich history. The Bowie Knife is certainly an exception to this rule. Bowie knives are one-of-a-kind and are deeply rooted in American history. The Bowie features a strong blade that is ideal for hunters, anglers, preppers, survivalists and self defense.

Best Machetes for Survival, Hunting

The best machetes are all designed with a single purpose in mind. Quality. They are built to allow you to easily grip and the blade is made with stainless steel or equivalent metal. Importantly, the blade is full tang. This means the blade continues into the handle to make it well-balanced, sturdy and easier to handle.

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best kephart for outdoor survivalists

Best Kephart Knives for Outdoor Survivalists

Not every knife is beautiful. Some knives are rugged with a strong sense of toughness inside. More often than not, these are the knives that are designed to be practical. These are the knives that every outdoorsman wants on their toolbelt. For serious outdoor survivalists, few knives can match the utility and power of the Kephart knife.

best bolo knife for survival

Best Bolo Knife for Cutting

The Bolo knife, or Bolo machete, is one of the best outdoor tools for trail blazing survivalists and outdoorsmen. The Bolo hails from the Philippines and was originally used in agriculture. This blade is perfect for chopping, cutting, and hacking away at thick green landscapes.

best damascus folding knives

Best Damascus Pocket Knives

Pocket-knives are useful for a wide variety of tasks, so they need to be built to last. Damascus steel folding knives are a great solution. They are strong, durable, sharp, and beautiful. The downside is that they require careful maintenance, and of course, not all Damascus knives are created equal.

best ganzo knife for hiking trip

Best Ganzo Knives for Your Next Hiking Trip

Ganzo Knives are famous for their top-notch quality and affordable price. While some knife buyers may look for higher-carbon content levels, it can cause rusting. The Ganzo’s stainless steel blend is perfect for wet environments and is a popular choice for hiking, camping and hunting.

best double edged karambit knives

Best Double-Edged Karambit Knives to Buy

If you’re looking for a good quality multi-use knife, the double-edged Karambit is one of your best choices. This knife gives you the same function and service as a larger knife, but in a more compact size. The Karambit is popular with fishermen, rock climbers, law enforcement, and search and rescue responders

what is a kiridashi blade

Best Japanese Kiridashi Knives

These Japanese utility blades are compact yet sharp, making them excellent for everyday outdoor use. Traditionally, Kiridashi blades were used as wood carving tools. The blade’s thin flexible design makes it very easy to slowly chip away unnecessary excess bark and wood from a branch or tree.

What Makes a Good Camping Knife?

Camp knives can be used for whittling tent stakes, splitting kindling for a campfire, shaping roasting sticks, food preparation and skinning game.

Is Harder Steel Better for Camp Knives?

Your purpose for buying a camp knife will determine if a hard or soft steel will suit you best. Camp knives used for fine cutting should be made of softer, stainless steel as this material will last longer in wet, outdoor environments. Stainless steel knives are highly resistant to corrosion and easy to sharpen but they will not hold an edge well.

In contrast, hard steel camp knives are best for chopping and hacking tasks. Hard steel blades are less resistant to rust but are more difficult to sharpen.

Best Camping Knife Types

Camping knives come in a range of shapes, sizes and blades:

Fixed Blades are ideal for cutting wood for shelter and fire. Some knives have hollowed handles to house matches and other useful survival items.

Folding Knives such as pocket knives are popular with nature lovers as the blade can be safely folded away when not in use. These knives can include a clip to attached the handle to your belt or backpack for easy access.

Bowie Knives are excellent survival and hunting tools to get you through your toughest adventures. This style features a crossguard, a clip point, and a sheath to safely store your knife.

Machete Knives features a long, heavy blade that is designed for slashing through thick forest. They are great for clearing ground for a camp site and cutting wood for a shelter. However, they are not suitable for detailed cutting.

Multi-Tool Knives such as Swiss Army Knives are ideal for camping, trekking, fishing and other outdoor trips. This tool can include a self-contained folding blade, a flint, and pliers.

READ MORE in the Best Camping Knife buyers guide.

Best Survival Knife Guide

A survival knife is a vital tool for self protection and for living in the wild. Survival knives are used by the military, hunters and preppers for trapping, skinning, and cutting. This guide will help you pick the right blade, keep it sharp, and protect it from the elements.

How to Care for Your Survival Knife

A good quality survival knife can, quite literally, save your life. For this reason, your knife should always be treated with respect and should be cared for and stored correctly in order to make it last longer.
 
Reduce Knife Rusting – You should get into the habit of cleaning and re-sheathing your knife after every use to prevent rust build up. Use a little soap and water to clean the blade and dry thoroughly before placing it back into the sheath.
 
Knife Handling – If the blade of your knife is stainless steel, avoid, where possible, touching the blade with your fingers as oil from your fingertips can cause corrosion.
 
Avoid Cleaning Your Knife With Abrasives – Never, under any circumstances, use abrasives to clean your knife as this can cause irreparable damage.
 

Oiling Your Blade – Keeping the blade of your knife oiled can help to prolong its life. Use a little Dri-Lube or 3-in-one, taking care to avoid the handle as this can cause your hand to slip during use.

Storing Your Knife – When not in use, your knife should be stored in a secure, dry place away from moisture or humidity. Avoid storing the knife in its sheath for long periods of time as leather attracts moisture which could damage the knife.

READ MORE in the Best Survival Knife buyers guide.

How to Sharpen a Survival Knife

Keeping your survival knife sharp not only makes it more effective but also makes it safer to use. If you’re using your knife on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to invest in a professional sharpener for home use. If you need to sharpen your survival knife in the field, a portable whetstone or ceramic sharpener is an excellent accessory.

Add a Knife Sharpener to Your Survival Kit

Keeping your survival knife sharp not only makes it more effective but also makes it safer to use. If you’re using your knife on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to invest in a professional sharpener for home use. If you need to sharpen your survival knife in the field, a portable whetstone or ceramic sharpener is an excellent accessory.

A ceramic knife sharpener is a small tools that can be easily transported in a pocket or a bag. All you need to do is draw the knife through the rods on the tool in order to sharpen both edges simultaneously.

Use a Whetstone for Larger Blades

If you’re using a stone to sharpen your knife, soak or lubricated before using. To sharpen your knife, glide the blade up and down using a circular motion. For larger and curved blades combine with an ‘up and across’ motion. It should take around twelve rotations to sharpen your knife.

You’ll usually be able to tell that the knife is being sharpened by the accumulation of metal shavings around the blade. After sharpening the front of the blade, use the same motion to sharpen the back of the blade as well. Always make sure that you wipe off any metal shavings and dispose of these safely.

Once finished, you can test to see if your knife is sufficiently sharp by holding up a piece of paper – if the knife easily slices down the middle of the paper, it’s sharp enough. If not, you may need to repeat the process.

READ MORE in the Knife Sharpening buyers guide.

What is a Skinning Knife Used For?

Skinning knives are used to separate the meat from the skin of the hunted game. These blades are designed to keep the meat fresh and clean. For example, a drop point fixed skinning knife won’t puncture through the membranes of the hunted game.

Skinning blades are typically sharper than your usual blades. While any knife can be extra sharp when made out of high-quality materials and properly maintained, having a hunting-specific set will give you the edge you need to cut through coarse animal skins.

Gutting or Puncturing Features in a Skinning Knife

Gutting or puncturing features are offered on some skinning knives, usually towards the endpoint of the blade. These helpful points will help you seamlessly remove unwanted organs from the body of an animal so that you can get to the valuable meat. The gutting hooks are often curved at the top of the blade so that the exaggerated points do not interfere with the rest of the skinning process when not in use. And gutting features aren’t just for hunters. If you’re a fisherman, you will find these hooks handy too.

Skinning Knives are Excellent Slicers

Skinning knives are useful slicers as they are designed to cut through thick animal skin. Fixed or drop point blades are best for this task as they have an easy straight edge your hand can easily conform to.

READ MORE in the Knife Skinning buyers guide.

Buying Guide to finding the Best Swiss Army Knife

The Swiss Army Knife is versatile. It’s practical. It’s unique. If you are looking for the perfect balance of price and function this multitool is worth considering.

Swiss Army Knife Uses

The Victorinox Swiss Army Knives are incredibly versatile. Most styles come with a range of tools that you can get you out of a pinch.

Popular Swiss Army Knife tools:

  • Blade with spear point tip for cutting and slicing. Some styles offer a serrated blade edge
  • Can opener
  • Corkscrew to uncork wine bottles
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Wood saw
  • Scissors
  • Toothpick
  • Nail cleaner

The Swiss Army Knife is a knife that is versatile enough for most people. While some styles are designed for Survival such as the Victorinox Fieldmaster, others are designed for camping such as the Victorinox Swiss Champ. Other popular styles are designed for backpacking, hiking, and everyday carry.

READ MORE in the Swiss Army Knife buyers guide.

Best Outdoors, Camping, Hiking, Hunting & Survival Knives