Best camping knife 2021: Thrive in the wild with these compact and tough blades

We pick the best camping knives for everything from cutting a path to peeling vegetables and making emergency repairs

Best camping knives
(Image credit: Getty)

It's a fact that a successful camping trip depends on having the right gear along for the ride, and many times that means packing one of the very best camping knives (as well as a decent tent, camping stove and good sleeping equipment, of course). A versatile and valuable tool in many outdoor situations, the camping knife comes in many shapes and sizes, so choosing the right one for your adventure is essential. 

Although there are a wide range of camping knives on the market, designed to suit all tastes and situations, the key rules are to aim for quality, and don't get bamboozled into thinking that a bigger blade is better. Indeed, the best camping knives and everyday blades are usually relatively short in length, but easy to control, robust and multi-purpose – that massive machete should stay safely at home till the Borneo trip visa comes through. 

More widely, opting for a quality blade is a genuine investment, far outlasting cheap copies, staying sharp for longer, and being better designed, they'll last a lifetime or several with ease. In addition, that better design usually means a good balance and more comfortable grip, which add up to less chance of a dangerous slip in use, as well as looking aesthetically pleasing. 

Best camping knives: the most common types

There's plenty of overlap among the best knives for camping, mainly due to the sheer range of activities associated with outdoors living, as well as the levels of 'seriousness' in camping itself. Glamping in the Cotswolds probably requires a normal kitchen knife for opening the cheese biscuits, while constructing a quick basha for the night in the rainforest calls for a machete or parang.

In between those extremes you’ll find a knife that's jolly handy to have around the campsite, whether it be a small and robust fixed blade affair, or a multi-tool that opens bottles and has the various attachments for tackling a range of outdoors tasks. In addition, you’ll find a host of specialist camping knives that are versatile enough to slice through tomatoes one minute, then aid in rescue situations the next.

Best camping knives: a knife sat upright in a tree log positioned infront of a tent

Do camping knives have different blade points?

Yes – there are a range of different blade points, all engineered for different purposes. The most common types of blades are:

  • Drop-point
  • Sheepsfoot
  • Clip-point

Generally speaking, drop-point blades are a good compromise between strength and utility, but it’s also worth considering sheepsfoot blades. They’re both strong, solid shapes that can withstand huge amounts of abuse. 

The sheepsfoot profile lowers the risk of you stabbing yourself, and is often used for woodcutting work, as well as in dedicated watersport knives designed to cut rope.   

Another other common type of camping knife blade is the clip-point, which has a crescent drop at the top of the blade to allow for more precision. It might not be as strong as a drop-point blade, but it’s worth considering if you need a blade for more delicate work. 

Choosing the best camping knife for you

Camping knives are handy for keeping on you around the campsite, ready for those moments of need. In practice, this means you’ll either want a compact knife – stored away in a solid sheath when not in use – or a mini folding or locking knife. 

A fixed blade offers extra support when you're tackling bigger tasks – the blades on these are more robust, so you’re likely to have a stronger grip on the handle. If you’re planning any kind of woodsman-type activities, you’ll want a fixed blade for cutting branches, trimming sticks and whittling. The downside of a fixed blade is that it’s just that – there's no corkscrew or pliers, and longer versions can fall foul of the law. For other outdoor activities, multi-tools are an excellent choice. That's because they're essentially a mini toolbox in your hand, making short work of any campsite repairs. 

A word of warning: keep a watchful eye on locking blades and be very careful as to where and how you use them, because even though it's legal to carry a folding blade under three-inches long, locking knives are not regarded as ‘folding’, so you’re not generally allowed to carry them in public. If you’re unsure, check out GOV.UK for current UK knife laws before you buy.

The best camping knives to buy now

best camping knife: Barebones No.6 Field Knife

(Image credit: Barebones)

1. Barebones No.6 Field Knife

The best camping knife for all-round outdoorsing

Best for: Durability
Style: Fixed blade
Size of blade: 146mm
Weight: 453g
Reasons to buy
+Simple but effective+Beautiful fittings

A simple but beautifully crafted blade the Barebones No6 Field Knife radiates competence. A practical-size 146mm fixed blade in high-carbon steel with a decent point, full-tang and a thumb depression make for a highly-usable package without unnecessary frills. That said, there's lots of visual pleasure on offer in the shape of the high-end walnut handle and copper lanyard ring, the latter adding a touch of colour and a utilitarian yet timeless design cue. 

Last but by no means least, a solid waxed canvas and leather sheath protects the blade from both the elements and the edge from dulling, as well as providing a belt clip for cowboy-style hip carry. In short, the Barebones No6 Field Knife is a reliable companion for all species of outdoor adventure.  

Best camping knives: Mora Garberg

2. Mora Garberg

The best camping knife for all outdoors chores

Best for: Longevity
Style: Fixed blade
Size of blade: 109mm
Weight: 326g
Reasons to buy
+Epically strong+Stainless blade resists rust

The Mora Garberg is one monster of a blade, not in length but in build. It sports a 3.2mm-thick treated stainless steel blade designed to take a serious beating when camping and during general outdoors activities. However, it’s far from a blunt tool, with a Scandi-ground edge crafted especially to stay razor sharp, so it's always ready for whatever you throw at it. A neat addition is how the spine of the blade has been ground specifically for use with a firestarter, enabling you to set up camp quickly whatever situation or weather you find yourself in. A genuine leather sheath completes the minimalist yet incredibly durable package.

best camping knife: Benchmade Mini Barrage camping knife

(Image credit: Benchmade)

3. Benchmade Mini Barrage camping knife

The best camping knife for everyday use

Best for: Ease of use
Style: Folding blade
Size of blade: 73mm
Weight: 96.39g
Reasons to buy
+Handy everyday folder+Customisable options for the perfect fit

The Benchmade Mini Barrage is a lot of knife in a small package, even offering a range of customisations (aluminium handle construction, serrated blade and colours) to ensure you get the perfect camping EDC (Everyday Carry) knife. The assisted-opening makes one-handed operation simplicity itself, ideal for those fiddly camp-site tasks, while the robust drop-point blade will make short work of anything from food preparation to stick-whittling, and everything else in between. A lightweight but rugged build, this isn't a budget option, but will stand the test of time with ease and is already on the way to becoming a timeless classic – especially bolstered with the formidable reputation of the rest of Benchmade's range. 

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool

4. Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool

The ultimate multi-tool for camping

Best for: Field repairs
Style: Folding blade
Size of blade: 660mm
Weight: 198g
Reasons to buy
+Fixes pretty much anything+Brilliant toolkit

Any expedition toolkit needs a Leatherman of some stripe, and the Wingman is one of the best. Providing a huge range of usable tools in a lightweight package, the Wingman squeezes 14 tools into a sub 200g block of stainless steel, which is an impressive feat in itself. While the smaller tools are broadly comparable to the excellent Victorinox Swiss Army knives, the needle nose pliers are sometimes the only tool for the job, and have got many an adventurer out of a tight spot. For the small investment they’re an absolute no-brainer for any outdoors lover. 

best camping knife: Gerber Gator Premium Outdoor Hunting camping knife

5. Gerber Gator Premium Outdoor Hunting Knife

The best camping knife for bushcraft

Best for: Hunting
Style: Fixed blade
Size of blade: 4inch
Weight: 249g
Reasons to buy
+Finger groove for ease of use+Premium leather sheath 

Hunters don’t seem to be able to fault this blade when it comes to both form and function, which is why we've include it among our picks for the best camping knives. This fixed blade knife has a relatively small blade but is regarded as sharp enough to skin animals if that’s what you’re looking for. What makes this camping knife slightly different to the others is that the curved handle, making it easy to hold. This is done by the finger groove at the bottom of the blade, which will stop your fingers from slipping.

best camping knife: Victorinox Huntsman Swiss Army Pocket camping knife

6. Victorinox Huntsman Swiss Army Pocket Knife

A classic Swiss army knife for all camping eventualities

Best for: All eventualities
Style: Folding blade
Size of blade: 3.5inch
*Weight: 45.4g
Reasons to buy
+14 tools-in-one+Durable blade and body

This tiny Swiss army knife may look out of place amongst the otherwise rugged-looking camping knives in the list, but never judge a book by its cover as they say. The blade of the knife is said to be surprisingly impressive despite all of its 3.5 inches, and the thirteen other components to be equally as handy in a variety of indoor and outdoor situations. Ok so you might not be able to skin a deer with it, but backpackers, campers and hikers are likely to find this tool incredibly handy when exploring the great outdoors. The Victorinox Huntsman Swiss Army Pocket Knife is made from stainless steel, comes with a lifetime warranty, and most importantly; it’s got a bottle opener and a corkscrew so you’ll always be able to enjoy a cold one on your camping trip! 

best camping knife: Accusharp Rust Resistant Sport Outdoor camping knife

7. Accusharp Rust Resistant Sport Outdoor Knife

The best camping knife with a folding handle for carving

Best for: Carving
Style: Folding blade
Size of blade: 2.5inch
*Weight: unknown
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight and compact+Affordable

This little camping knife is rated highly for its precision blade that is often used for carving and carrying out other small tasks. It is a locking blade, which can make it tricky to open. It's also important to remember that despite the blade size, a locking blade is illegal to carry in public, so be sure to keep this camping knife for private use only. Accusharps' best camping knives entry is a trusty blade that's also surprisingly effective in a range of outdoor situations. It will serve you well for many years. Plus, it’s an absolute steal.

The best camping knives: Gerber Ultimate Pro Outdoor Knife

8. Gerber Ultimate Pro Outdoor Knife

A durable drop-point camping knife for surviving in the wild

Best for: Beginner’s knife
Style: Fixed blade
Size of blade: 4.8inch
Weight: 567g
Reasons to buy
+Ergonomic handle+Emergency tools included

This drop-point knife by Bear Grylls is a versatile and durable blade that will enable you to do anything from carving wood to preparing food and kindling. Ultimate Pro Outdoor Knife is designed with a non-slip rubber grip, which should make it comfortable to hold even when carrying out the trickiest of tasks. It’s noticeably heavy, and comes with a tight-fitting sheath. This camping knife is a fixed blade, too, so you can really get to grips with it when a heavier hand is needed. 

Best pocket knife: Lansky World Legal Knife

A proper knife that’ll cut through pretty much anything outdoors

Weight: 153g
Length: 17.78cm
Blade length: 6.9cm
Reasons to buy
+Proper knife+Technically legal
Reasons to avoid
-Most likely to get you arrested 

The World Legal was created by Copenhagen’s Mikkel Willumsen – famed for his gritty Urban Tactical designs – with the idea that it would be technically legal worldwide. The result follows the letter of the law, but the aggressive design might well invite unwelcome attention if waved about in urban areas. The 2.75 inch Stainless Blade, nylon handle and pocket clip, combined with a traditional slip-joint, results in a robust cutting tool that’ll deliver anywhere. 

Best pocket knife: Spyderco C133P Bug Stainless Steel Slip Joint Micro Knife

10. Spyderco C133P Bug Stainless Steel Slip Joint Micro Knife

The best pocket knife with an ultralight feel

Weight: 17g
Length: 4.1cm
Blade length: 3.2 cm
Reasons to buy
+Tiny yet useful+Ultra light
Reasons to avoid
-Too small for heavy work

Renowned knifemaker Spyderco has applied themselves to the question of what to usefully hang on your key fob, and come up with this tiny work of art. Although the tiny 32mm blade is razor sharp, it's perfectly legal too, and for slicing into tricky biscuit packets, parcels and the like it’s absolutely ideal. A full stainless build will brush off key-chain scrapes, and there’s a small lanyard hole to keep it safely attached. Simple, useful and always in your pocket. 

Best pocket knife: Victorinox CyberTool Lite

11. Victorinox CyberTool Lite

An ideal choice for the workstation survivalist

Weight: 173g
Length: 9cm
Height: 3.4cm
Reasons to buy
+Amazing toolkit+Nothing else like it 
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy-Do you really need a pocket winch?

Taking the multi to multi tool, this Victorinox monster is aimed squarely at geeks, and other folk who might need a torch, torx wrench set, pliers, magnifier and a pen. Which frankly is just about everyone at some point in their lives. If there was a pocket toolkit to repair a MacBook, this would be it. With a dizzying array of 32 tools, a legal length blade, and the confidence that the components won’t snap off when you use them, this is the office toolkit to rule them all. 

best camping knife:

(Image credit: The James Brand)

12. The James Brand Elko

A stylish pocket knife for keyring carry

Weight: 37g
Length: 65.8mm
Blade length: 44mm
Reasons to buy
+Work of art+Super-handy
Reasons to avoid
-Pretty small

There’s a lot to like about this minimalist but modern design, but the desirability rating is really amped up in the Titanium/Damascus version, giving you a beautiful yet perfectly usable and legal blade. Superlight and super-simple, this is designed to slip onto the keyring of any well-equipped person and be forgotten until a tricky bit of string or overly-sellotaped package appears. The keychain eye doubles as a robust ‘pry tool’, itself a potential flathead screwdriver, bottle opener and general wranging device - ideal for all those moments where using the blade just isn’t cricket. While the Titanium/Damascus build is at the spendy end of pocket knives, the bill can be halved by going for Stainless instead, making this literally ideal for all pockets, in every sense.

Mark Mayne
Mark Mayne

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert.