If you are planning a camping trip or just going into the wilderness and expect to stay there for quite some time, your pack will definitely include a knife. For obvious reasons, you cannot carry too many because not only is that impractical, it’s also worthless because you won’t be using all of them at the same time anyway. There are things that you do have to consider before buy a knife like the size, weight, materil and use of the knife. Of course you will not bring a machete when backpacking unless you have a Jason complex. Backpacking is about having fun, not scaring the living Jesus out of the other backpackers. At the end of the day, the best knife of choice for survival is the one you have. It all boils down to skills and not simply equipment. But with that aside, let’s talk about what makes a great backpacking knife.
Size. A great backpacking knife is one that can easily be carried around and fits perfectly with the rest of your gear. Words like “tactical” or “everyday carry” comes to mind and the knives that often gets these words associated with them incidentally would work well as backpacking knives because they are not too big to cause problems and yet not too small to do anything other than open up boxes.Blade. This is a great plus and is almost a requirement since you will not have a lot of time to spend maintaining your knife in the wild. Having a low maintenance blade like a stainless steel one would make it easier for you to focus on other more important tasks in the camp.Construction. The ideal backpacking need not only be manageable in size and low maintenance. It also needs to be immensely durable and strong. This is because you will not have a lot to rely on in emergency situations like going up against a wild animal except your knife. A 2-inch blade knife is hardly a good choice for this task.With all three considered, here are seven of the very best backpacking knives in the market today. All these knives have made quite an impact in the knife world and would fit perfectly as a great backpacking companion for anybody who appreciates and requires the best of the best.
Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical Knife
This tactical looking bad boy comes in four sizes. Micro, mini, standard and XL. For the purpose of this list, we will focus more on the standard sized Recon 1. Cold Steel had hit a homerun with the Recon 1 because it pretty much ticks all the boxes for a perfect backpacking knife. A 4-inch long 3.5 mm thick blade made from AUS 8A stainless steel that is coated with black Tuff-Ex for that acts as another layer of protection as well as making the knife look wicked cool. The tip of the Recon 1 comes in many variations like a clip point, modified drop point, tanto and spear points.
The handle strength and Triad locking mechanism of this folder is strong enough that it can carry 350 lbs. when fully opened without giving out and simply snapping shut. A solid handle, great locking mechanism, a premium choice blade and at 5.5 ounces makes the Recon 1 a great backpacking knife choice even for beginners.
The name Spyderco is almost synonymous to folding knives but they do occasionally produce fixed blades and when they do, it is nothing short of remarkable. The plain edged Spyderco Bushcraft with its contoured G10 handles is a fixed blade, full tang knife designed by legendary bushcraft expert Chris Claycombe. It uses an O-1 high carbon tool steel with a Scandinavian grind which gives it a tougher blade which then improves it edge retention properties. It can go through wood as easily as it would with meat. If you want an all-around knife that you can expend on over and over again, you want a Spyderco Bushcraft.
The contoured G-10 handles exponentially improves the control you have with this knife and the fact that it is a full tang fixed blade knife puts doubts about its strength to rest. While it is relatively heftier at 7.72 ounces, the monster 4.40” blade makes it ideal for most camping tasks from batoning to game preparation.
It’s hard to make a list of camping or survival knives without having the ESEE 4 in it and for good reasons. The ESEE 4 is perfectly sized for backpacking with a 4.5 inch long, 0.19 inch thick 1095 carbon steel blade that can handle pretty much anything you can think of in the wild. The overall length of the knife is at 9 inches and by no means is it a pushover. It has a full tang construction with an extended tang that serves both as a lanyard hole and a pummel.
This behemoth is all you need when it comes to camping because the blade is strong enough to slice through most and retains its edge very well. The Micarta handle is very light which means most of the 8 ounce weight of the ESEE 4 comes from the blade steel itself. The size and strength of the ESEE is simply a deadly combination.