The best hiking knife should be ultralight, affordable, and durable. If you are looking for the best knife to carry while backpacking then it should be reliable and easy to use too.
People who go hiking have a few things in common. They spend a lot of time outdoors, they enjoy the beauty of nature and they have adventure in their hearts. However, people who spend even more time outdoors tend to be more particular about the gear they carry. This is because when you’re outside, you’re quite literally carrying everything you need with you, so there’s no room for error if important gear breaks or fails.
When you’re doing outdoor activities, it’s best to be prepared. And a good hunting knife is at the top of that list of things to prepare yourself with. We live in a fast-paced world, so we almost always take shortcuts. But when it comes to your safety, don’t take shortcuts! Hiking can be a very dangerous activity if you aren’t properly equipped with the right gear.
Below we discuss the different types of knives you can use while hiking and offer recommendations on our Top 3 picks for folding knives.
In This Article
Types of Knives To Carry While Backpacking
You can never have too many knives, right? – Joking aside, having a good knife with you while hiking is very important. You may need to defend yourself against wild animals and other hikers, or you may need it to gather food for your supper. Knives are an important part of a survival kit.
Generally speaking, there are 6 main types of knives and their uses: survival knife, tactical knife, pocket-knife, sporting/hunting knife, Swiss army knife, and a filleting knife.
In this article, I’ll combine these into five categories: Pocket knives, Fixed-Blade knives, and Utility knives, Belt knives, and Neck knives.
1. Pocket Knives
The pocket knife is one of the most common knives available.
I remember the first pocket knife I got as a kid. It was from a friend of my dad’s who was a police officer. He gave me a small Case (brand) pocket knife. If I remember correctly, it was a short yellow handled knife.
From that moment on I loved pocket knives.
My dad was a collector for a while. Mostly pocket knives although he did wind up with a collection of other knives as well.
A pocket knife, as the name suggests, fits in your pocket. I rarely go anywhere without one. Probably from my days of growing up on a farm. I always seemed to find a use for having one handy.
2. Fixed-Blade Knives
These knives are usually too big to fit in your pocket and the blades do not fold, so they are carried in a sheath that hangs from your belt. These knives generally fall under the category of a hunting knife.
They come in a variety of blade lengths and styles.
The advantage of carrying a sheath knife is (for one) its size. We will talk about why knives are useful later, but having a bigger knife has many advantages.
3. Utility Knives (Swiss Army Knife)
Utility knives could fall under one of the previous categories; they can be pocket size or sheath knives.
As the name implies, they have many purposes other than just using a blade to cut something.
When I was young I carried a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ my cousin gave me. It had a dozen or so blades. This is the classic utility knife.
The world’s record for a utility knife with the most blades stands at 314. That is one big utility knife. Not sure I would want to carry that around.
Most Swiss Army knives have between 3 to 15 blades. Some much more. According to Guinness World Record, the knife with the world record is a knife with 314 blades.
4. Neck Knives
A neck knife is simply a knife that worn around the neck using some type of cord. There are several styles, but the jist the same – a knife worn like a necklace.
Here is a great video from Blade HQ discussing the types of neck knives and if you should wear one or not.
Before you purchase or use a neck knife, check your states laws pertaining to them.
For example, in my state (Tennessee) it is legal to carry a concealed knife (belt knife, belt knife, etc).
The latest Tennessee Statutes in 2017 focus more on the issue of the intent of the carrier (see more on that below). In a nutshell, neither open nor concealed is illegal if your intention is not malicious. In other words, you can carry nearly anything open or not.Knife Laws
The Condor Bushnecker is a beautifully designed knife that comes in a variety of colors. The frame is made from aircraft grade aluminum with the blade made from high quality S35VN steel. The Bushnecker has an ergonomic handle with finger holes right for your index finger and thumb. It features a belt clip that can be easily removed and used as a neck chain. The Bushnecker knife was designed to be carried on the belt or hanging from the neck, making it an ideal companion for outdoor activities.
This is (according to many) the single most durable knife you can buy. It was originally designed for bushcraft, but is a great knife for anyone who needs a dependable blade that works in extreme conditions. The Bushnecker was one of our first designs and has been around for over 15 years. It’s proven itself time and again in the field to be a tough, durable, handy little knife with an unbeatable price/performance ratio.
Thumbper knife? Not the most sophisticated, but this little guy is strong and sturdy and probably will survive just about anything you can throw at it. The blade is high carbon steel with a satin finish, the handle is black fiberglass over an anodized aluminum tube, and it comes with a leather sheath.
The perfect knife for every outdoor enthusiast. This handy little blade features an ergonomic handle that fits easily in the palm of your hand. A multipurpose blade that can be used for cutting rope, slicing fruit, opening cans and much more. The Thumbper is compact and lightweight, allowing you to carry it in a pocket or pack without weighing you down. Perfect for the avid outdoorsman, this is a must have in any survival kit!
5. Belt Knives
The term belt knife can refer to a knife in sheath connected to your belt; but the type of belt knife I’m referring to is a concealed knife usually hidden in the buckle of the belt.
Are they legal? Check your states requirements and laws about knives here.
For a limited time we have partnered with Gear Tool Club to offer a free belt knife (pay S/H) to our readers.
Click here to find out more and see if they are still available.
What Are Hiking Knives Used For?
When looking for the right hiking tools for your needs, first look at what you will be doing. Will you be traveling in an area that has very cold temperatures, deep woods, or dangerous wildlife? Do you live in an area that has extreme weather? These conditions can make it difficult to complete your planned activities, so having the right protection is necessary.
Your first step in determining your equipment needs is to determine where you are going to be. Once you have an idea of where you will be, look for the type of terrain that you will be working on. If you are going to be working in the forest, you will need a knife with a strong blade and large cutting teeth.
It is best if the knife you choose is one with a large cutting surface, since you may need to remove some of it to use as protection for your feet. Other considerations for what are hiking knives used for are the size of the blades, the weight of the knife, and the material the handle is made from. The weight is important, because you want to be able to carry the item without it becoming too heavy.
Why should you carry a knife while hiking? There are many uses for a knife, but the main reasons we consider are:
No matter what the purpose of your hiking or camping trip is, there is equipment that will provide you with the protection you need to enjoy it to the fullest.
We all know that ecosystem of the outdoors holds challenges for us. It is not like the workplace office; there are wild animals, terrain, and climate challenges that test us. This is one reason it is important to be prepared. Carrying a knife for protection can mean the difference in surviving a challenge or not.
2. Camping Needs
I’ve never been on a camping trip where something didn’t need to be cut or sliced. This is where a knife comes in handy.
Whether you are cutting branches to set up camp, opening cans of food (see below), or even digging in the ground, a good knife comes in handy.
We were hiking in Colorado once in a pretty remote area. We came across a family with young children (9-12 years old). One of their daughters had fallen and hurt her leg pretty bad. We came up on them not longer after her accident. They did not have a first aid kit and were not prepared.
We offered assistance and bandaged her wounds so she was able to travel back to their vehicle.
We always carry a small first aid kit when we hike. Many of the items in the kit require a knife to use or open. Wihtout my knife and kit we would not have been able to help them.
Emergency needs (although not frequent) do happen on the trail. It’s important to be prepared.
4. Food Preparation
To protect yourself from bites by ticks and other insects, the area you are working in should be free of brush, dirt, rocks, gravel, sticks, or anything else that can trip you up while you are hiking. In this case, having a folding knife is a good choice.
What Kind Of Knife Should You Carry On A Hike?
We’ve covered the types of knives you can carry while hiking. But which one is best? What kind of knife should you carry?
I always carry a pocket knife and a fixed blade knife. Plus, I always have a larger folding blade knife in a backpack. My theory: you can’t be too prepared. So I always have several knives on me. In fact, I carry a small pocket knife every day.
This could be because my father was a knife collector and introduced me to knives at a young age.
So, which should YOU carry? It depends on your needs and style – what you are comfortable with. I recommend to do as I do, carry both a pocket knife and a fixed blade knife – or a larger folding knife that is easy to access.
But the choice is really up to you.
Our Top Picks of the Best Knives for Hiking
There are many things to consider when choosing an ideal hiking knife. You need to think about essential factors like the blade, handle material, and weight. But these factors aren’t the ones that make a hiking knife a good choice. What actually makes it a good knife is whether it fits with the purpose for which you need it. Here we present you some of our favorites based on our experience.
It is hard to say which hiking knife is the best. Our list is constantly changing and depending on our preferences. Today, we are looking at 3 different knives available on the market. These knives are used in one form or another for hiking and camping, but some do have other features that separate them.
Rush Deer RG10 Folding Knife
This new pocket knife is the perfect companion for your next hike through the wilderness. The Rush Deer RG10 folding knife features a reliable locking Tanto blade to help with quick cutting tasks, a lightweight stainless steel handle that fits comfortably in your hand, and built-in fire starter rod in the back of the sheath for lighting campfires on the go.
It is a lightweight, folding knife, with a lock to secure the blade when in use, a black handle that is waterproofed with a built-in flashlight. Perfect to carry when you go backpacking or hunting as it fits conveniently in your pocket. It is also perfect for everyday use. Features Steep Incline CrMoV stainless steel blade, partially serrated 9CR18N stainless steel blade, 410 stainless steel liner lock frame and santoprene over-mold handle scales, Built-in oval belt clip.
Grand Way 6772 Tactical Folding Knife
The Grand Way 6772 has a blade made of beautiful stainless steel that is engraved with a Japanese style floral pattern. It is very sharp and makes a lovely display when it is not being used. The liner construction offers great durability, while the handle is poly resin based for comfort.
The knife is lightweight and very easy to use. It can be easily cleaned with soap and water; rinsing under running water will also work just fine at getting it sparkling clean. The blade comes off without any effort or tool, making this item incredibly easy to clean.
WEYLAND Tactical Survival Knife
Weyland offers a range of knives for outdoor enthusiasts, from fixed blade knives to survival knives. Carbon steel blades are hand forged in Sweden and feature a particular hollow ground for easy cutting. The blade is held in place by a durable plastic handle (don’t let that fool you, it’s strong), which is ergonomic and comfortable to use. This particular knife comes with a nylon sheath, giving the user an easy way to carry the knife on their person.
The blade is made of high quality 420HC stainless steel. The knife does not contain any cheap or inferior parts and overall has a solid, sturdy design. Weyland knives are backed by a limited lifetime warranty against all manufacturer’s defects.
The overall length of this survival knife blade is 22.5 inches long and the weight is 1.5 pounds. It is constructed of stainless steel blade with black powder coating that offers a sharp curved edge for making clean cuts.
Final Thoughts On The Best Knife To Carry While Backpacking
As the old saying goes, the best knife to carry while backpacking is the one you have!
That said, there are many useful knives that serve your hiking and camping needs. Our recommendations are based on products we are familiar with and have lasted the test of time.