Backpacking is one of the best ways to get you out of the house and away from the buzz of the city. It can be one of the ultimate ways to simply break away and enjoy what nature has to offer without having all the stress. However, it can also be daunting this means that you need to be fitted correctly to ensure that you can make the most of your trip.
We have studied the top backpacking knives to find out how they work and why they are so highly recommended. This will help you when selecting one and out buyer’s guide will give you all the important info for your selection process. Additionally, we have also included a backpacking checklist. This will ensure that you are ready the next time you venture out into the wild.
Key Features To Consider When Selecting The Best Backpacking Knife
Before we simply jump into the top backpacking knives, there are a couple of important things you need to keep in mind. These features are what set the backpacking knife apart from the other knives on the market and once you understand them, the selection process will be that much easier. Here are the most important features to keep in mind:
Fixed Blade vs. Folding Blade:
The first aspect you will need to decide on is the knife type. The fixed blade is much larger and does take up a little more space when it comes to carrying it around. However, it is much more functional and due to the larger blade, you can also do a little more with it. If you plan on hunting on your trip, the fixed blade will be the best option to consider.
Additionally, you can choose the smaller and more compact folding blade. These knives are quite the opposite of the fixed blade and they tend to be a little smaller. The major benefit of them is that they will not take up too much space in your backpacking kit. If you don’t need to craft or hunt, this small tool will be really efficient for all your backpacking needs.
The materials of the blade are also fundamentally important and these are generally broken up into three separate categories. When selecting the right blade, you need to decide between the alloy, steel, and ceramic options and these will affect the strength and the overall flexibility of the knife. Here is a small breakdown of each:
- Steel and alloy: Steel and alloy will be the more affordable options and they are also a little harder. This means that blade has the capacity to cut through virtually anything with real ease. However, they might not have such a long lifespan.
- Carbon: The carbon blade is the most expensive of the lot and you need to choose this only if you are a serious backpacker. These blades are not as hard, but they are extremely durable and they have much more flexibility as well. It is also worth mentioning that they are much easier to sharpen and have a longer lifespan.
- Ceramic blades: These blades are quite functional outdoors, but you need to consider the purity of the knife. We recommend it should be at least 95% pure to ensure the best use and durability. If you do choose a ceramic blade, you should avoid lamming it into tough objects and this knife is mostly used for camping and not bushcraft in general.
Smooth or Toothed Blade:
Once you have that out of the way, you should consider whether you need a smooth blade or something with teeth. The smooth blade is the general option and it is ideal for gutting through most things in the wild. It is also much easier to keep sharp and has a longer lifespan due to the teeth not wearing out over time.
If you prefer hunting, the knife with some rugged teeth will be your best option. These knives are really easy to find and they make cutting g much easier. This is especially true if you consider yourself to be an avid hunter and you need to get some meat out of your pray. For beginners, we would recommend the smooth blade to get started with their backpacking kit.
Considering the weight is another important aspect of the knife and with the right weight, the blade will be easy to handle and to use. The weight plays a great role in ensuring that you can use it correctly and it does not drag you down when backpacking. If you need to get through tougher objects on your trip, the heavier blade might be useful. It will also be recommended that you choose a fixed blade for tougher jobs.
Knives can be found with a variety of different handles and each handle will be better-suited for the right person. When selecting a knife, the handle is an important aspect to keep in mind and with the right handle, you will have more comfort and grip as well. We recommend testing the handle material before you buy to ensure that you are comfortable with the feeling in your hands.
While most folding blades are rather small, the fixed blades can come in a wide range of sizes. The size will make a difference if you did not know it. The longer the blade, the more versatility it will offer you and with more versatility, you should be able to get more done as well. If you are a serious backpacker, a longer blade is recommended.
Storage can be found in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes. The types will also greatly vary. You should be comfortable with the pouch or the case that is included. Moreover, it should also be durable and keep your knife safe. One of the best materials that are used for a good pouch is leather. However, this can also be a really expensive material and ramp up the overall costs of your knife.
The final part of the selection process is to have a look at the warranties that are offered. When you pay a lot for an expensive knife, you certainly want some protection and this is where the warranty should give you some peace of mind. We do recommend having a decent warranty and if you can find a lifetime warranty, it will be even better.
Best Backpacking Knife On The Market Today
Now that you have a much better understanding of the best backpacking knives and what makes them stand out from the rest, we have decided to help you find the best options. With some in-depth research and testing, we did manage to track them down and here is our selection of the top backpacking knives on the market today:
Gerber LMF II Survival Knife
The Gerber LMF II Survival Knife is an extremely durable knife that is originally designed for freeing pilots from a down aircraft. It is made from durable 420HC stainless steel and the blade features an overall length of 10.59-inches. This is long enough to be used for hunting and bushcraft purposes all at the same time.
The knife is also lightweight at just over 11-inches and it comes with a glass-filled nylon handle that ensures the ultimate grip in all weather conditions. It features a combination of smooth and toothed blades to ensure that you have more in terms of the overall versatility. Ballistic nylon has been incorporated into the sheath and this makes it impervious to virtually all weather conditions.
According to the manufacturer, this blade is also tough enough to cut through materials that are used on an aircraft. We did not get the opportunity to put this to the test, but with numerous testimonies, we do believe that this is actually true and it can be used as the ideal survival knife as well.
While the blade is extremely functional, it does come with a high price tag and this does make some people a little skeptical. However, it is designed for military purposes and this means that it has been tested all over the world. To give you some peace of mind, Gerber has also thrown in a limited lifetime warranty to keep you safe from any possible defects.
Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife
The Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife is highly rated amongst many backpackers and it is also one of the most common choices for those who love backpacking. It is also constructed from 420HC stainless steel and features a blade length of 4.8-inches. This might not seem like much, but it is definitely more than enough for backpacking purposes.
The weight is just under 8-ounces, giving it a lightweight feeling for all day carries. It does not take up too much space in your kit and with belt loops attached to the sheath, the blade can be carried on your person at all times. The handle is also made from glass-filled nylon and this makes it perfect for having great grip in all conditions.
The sheath is one of the best parts of this knife and it can be mounted in virtually any way that you see fit. Thanks to the nylon webbing, it can be placed horizontally on the belt and this gives you the opportunity to easily access it. It also offers great opportunities for concealed carry during everyday life in the city.
The best part about this knife is the price. Yes, Gerber is an expensive brand and we understand this, but the Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife is one of the more affordable options for backpacking. It is also backed by the Gerber limited lifetime warranty to ensure that you have peace of mind when you are using it.
SOG SEAL Pup Elite Fixed Blade
Next, we have the SOG SEAL Pup Elite Fixed Blade and this blade is certainly one of the top blades that you can choose if you are backpacking. The blade has been constructed from AUS8 stainless steel and it has been heat-treated over and over again at temperatures of more than 300-degrees Fahrenheit. The blade has an overall length of just under 5-inches, making it small and compact.
The overall weight is a mere 5.4-ounces and this makes the blade ideal for carrying all day long. The Kydex sheath might be a little large compared to some of the others and it could lack some flexibility, but it will keep the knife safe and out of the weather. With another glass-filled nylon handle, you can be sure the handle will be comfortable. The design is also ergonomic, which means it will comfortably fit in your hands.
The best part of this blade is the combination of serrated and smooth on the blade. It gives you much more overall versatility and should enable you to use the blade for both cutting and hunting purposes. Moreover, the blade is available in both the silver and the black color to help you get exactly what you need.
The biggest downside is also the price and this knife is one of the more expensive backpacking options you can choose. It is backed by a massive limited lifetime warranty to give you some peace of mind, but we would mostly recommend it to the more advanced backpacker who loves going outdoors quite often.
BlizeTec Titanium Pocket Folding Knife with G10 Handle
The BlizeTec Titanium Pocket Folding Knife is one of the more affordable knives we have on our list. The knife is somewhat smaller and it is foldable to make it much more portable and compact. Stainless steel is used for the construction of the blade and it features a combination of serrated and smooth edges for more functionality when used.
The coating of titanium is what stands out the most and this coating adds another level of durability to the knife. It will make it impervious to weather conditions and this means you can use it in the rain as well. The knife features an overall length of 8.62-inches once it is open and can easily be stored when you are done.
The handle is another great part of the knife and this handle has been designed to fit in your hands ergonomically. This will give you excellent grip and should enable you to use it without having to fear any slips. As mentioned, the knife is really affordable compared to some of the others and it is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
Columbia River Knife and Tool's Special Forces Spear Point Knife
CRKT is one of the top brands when it comes to outdoor knives and the Columbia River Knife and Tool’s M21-14SFG Special Forces Spear Point Knife is something that people often forget about when looking for a decent backpacking knife. The blade has been constructed from 8Cr14 stainless steel and features a combination of both serrated and smooth edges.
With the spear point design, this blade is perfect for defense as well. You might not think about this, but when I buy a new knife, I look for versatility in the hopes of everyday carry as well. This knife offers the perfect combination of outdoor use and defending yourself in precarious situations during everyday life.
The blade length is around 3.87-inches and this might not be much, but for outdoor use, it will be ideal. It can be folded if you need to store it after you are done and the titanium coating on the blade will make it more durable and impervious to any weather conditions. The only thing I don’t like is the handle and this does feel like it could be slippery in wet conditions.
Overall, this blade does offer some great value for your money and if you need something multi-functional from an extremely reputable brand, this will be the knife that you should choose. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty and we would definitely recommend it for the quality and the value it offers.
CRKT 2125KV Ultima 5-Inch Razor Edge Fixed Blade Knife
The CRKT 2125KV Ultima 5-Inch Razor Edge Fixed Blade Knife is the ideal survival knife that can be used for backpacking purpose as well. It has been constructed from 1.4116-stainless steel and this will give it some excellent durability when used. The titanium coating adds to the durability and should make it impervious to virtually all weather conditions.
As mentioned in the name, the blade is fixed and it is around 5-inches in length. With this much blade, you should not have any problems when it comes to versatility and overall flexibility of the blade. The biggest downside might be the weight and the blade is around 12-ounces in total weight. This might be a little too much.
The feature that does stand out most is the handle and this handle is one of the best on the market today. It comes with more than 70 different patterns and this will enhance the overall grip in your hands when used. It is also impervious to weather and should not slip out of your hands in any conditions when used.
The biggest downside is the price and this is one of the elite knives from the CRKT brand. The knife might be a little expensive for the beginner, but should still be a great option for the avid backpacker. It comes with a limited lifetime guarantee and we would definitely recommend it for the quality and the value it offers.
Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife
Last but certainly not least, we have the Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife and this knife has been constructed from carbon steel, which might be a little lighter and more flexible than stainless steel, but it is also a little more durable. The blade features an overall length of 4.3-inches, which is small and compact for backpacking.
What makes this knife so impressive is the overall kit that you will receive when you make the investment. This is not only a standard knife, but it comes with a fully loaded kit that you can use when backpacking. A flint and steel have been incorporated with a diamond-edge sharpener to ensure that your blade is always sharp and ready to use.
The one thing we have some concerns about is the sheath and this has been made from plastic. Yes, it will be impervious to the weather conditions and keep your blade safe, but it does not have such a long lifespan. You might need to consider upgrading the sheath when it does start to wear out. Alternatively, buy a new one they should be cheaper.
The blade does not come with a lifetime warranty, but it has been reasonably priced. The handle is functional and the design is ergonomic, which means it should fit in your hands quite comfortably and offer you great grip in all conditions. This is a great buy for the backpacking beginner looking to start out in nature.
Backpacking Checklist Before Taking On The Wild
Now that you do understand how to find the best knife for your backpacking venture, you should also have all the other equipment ready to use. We have done some more research and found all the needed equipment for a successful backpacking trip. Here are the most important things to keep in your checklist.
The knife is certainly the most important part of the kit and without it, you could make the trip much harder than it needs to be. The above-mentioned knives should make life somewhat easier for you and they offer great value for the money as well. We recommend selecting the knife first to ensure that you have it ready.
If you are staying in nature for a couple of days, you need some shelter and unless you feel like building a shelter, the tent is the ideal option to take along. Tents will vary in size, but a decent pop-up tent should keep you ready to go. They are easy to setup and won’t take up too much of your time or energy when backpacking. The Coleman Pop-up tent should be a great option to consider.
- Food and Water:
Planning is a very important part of backpacking and you need to plan your route ahead of time. When you do the planning process, you should pack enough food and water to ensure that you will remain safe on your journey. You should stick to canned foods that cannot spoil easily when not refrigerated and in the sun.
- Sleeping bag:
Some night might be a little cold and you have no business sleeping on the ground. A decent sleeping bag will be your best option and you need to decide between down and synthetic materials. For beginners, a great synthetic sleeping bag like the Marmot Trestles 15 Cold-Weather Mummy Sleeping Bag should keep you warm and dry.
- Medical Supplies:
Nature can be really unpredictable and by having a decent supply of medical additions could have you protected. You only need the basics like an antiseptic cleaner for wounds and something to stop the bleeding. Having an emergency radio to call someone when you have been trapped or you are alone and in danger, could also be really helpful.
This is the one part we cannot really help you with as everyone will have a different taste in clothing and style. However, it is fundamental that you do wear the right clothing for the job. This does not only mean taking along enough layers to keep you warm, but the right shoes should also be a must. The Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe is an affordable and durable shoe for all outdoor ventures.
- Fire Starter:
Fire can be a great morale booster but is also perfect for helping you cook food or boil water to make it drinkable if found. You will need something practical to start a fire with while matches can be used, the weather can easily make the useless. Having a strike and flint is the best option and these are lightweight and will never die on you.
The backpack is one of the most important parts of your kits and you need something to carry along with you. We recommend something that is waterproof and can take a beating from the sun and different conditions. The Teton Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack is perfect for all journeys and weather conditions.
Are You Ready For Your Backpacking Journey?
Now that you have a better understanding of backpacking knives and the right kit, you should almost be on your way to get outside and explore. In terms of the best knives, we would recommend the Gerber StrongArm for the quality and value on offer. It meets most of the needs of a backpacker and the price is affordable as well.
We would like to thank you for reading this article and we would like you to share your thoughts on these knives. Please let us know in the comment section which one you would choose and if we might have missed anything you feel is important for lightweight backpacking.