Best Hiking Knives: For people who find themselves amidst nature too often, being ready for all kinds of situations is a must. From being able to prepare wood for fire and food to be ready to survive in life-threatening conditions – hikers and campers always have to be ready with the proper tools that can serve them well. Irrespective of whether you are an amateur or a pro hiker, you will need to have a hiking knife in your arsenal so that you do not have to struggle while you are on your hiking trip.
What are Hiking Knives?
Hiking knives are a multi-purpose tool that you can use for cutting wood for the fire, clearing off areas for making tents/camps, building shelter, slicing or preparing food, protecting against animals, and much more. In short, hiking knives are a must-have when you plan a hiking trip to ensure convenience and safety at all times. However, the choice of the knife must be made very carefully to ensure maximum utility at times of need. Before we proceed to know more about how to choose the best hiking knife, let’s see which of the two types – fixed and folding – is the best pick.
Fixed vs Folding Hiking Knives – Which one is Better?
Though hiking knives were traditionally of the fixed type, things have changed over the course of the last several years as folding hiking knives were introduced in the market. Though these knives came with added features and easy to store benefit, they were considered to be a poorer pick, at least initially. The main reason for this was that they were comparatively weaker than the fixed type; the weakness being the pivot around which the knife folder. That, however, is a story of the past as folding knives are no longer weaker than their fixed counterparts. So, buying a folding knife is an equally good choice as that of a fixed knife, as far as strength is considered. That said, each type still has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that are as follows:
Fixed blade hiking knives:
- Strong and sturdy
- Easy to use
- Safe to be used for batoning
- Fixed blades weigh more
- Blade styles are limited
- Inconvenient to carry
Folding hiking knives
- Can be carried in belt sheaths, boots, sleeve folds, or anywhere you want
- Variety of scale and blade styles available
- More risks of failure (due to multiple parts)
- Cleaning is difficult
- Not suitable for batoning
How to Choose a Good Hiking Knife?
Hiking knives are a common item on most stores that sell camping and hiking gear. Naturally, you will have a great many options to choose from when you are out to buy a hiking knife. But how do you actually buy the one that would be best for your trips and your budget as well? Well, here we will discuss a few factors that contribute greatly towards making a knife the best for hiking, camping, and even survival.
Well, what your knife is made of primarily decides how good it will serve you when it comes completing common chores such as chopping or feathering woods, clearing your trail and camp, and more importantly, making it out alive when in grave danger. In this regard, you will have to consider the quality of both the blade and the handle, though the blade is much more important. The blade decides what you can actually get out of your knife. The two most common blade materials are stainless steel and high carbon tool steel, each suitable for different purposes. However, stainless steel comes in various qualities, from junk steel such as 420C and HC to fantastic ones such as S30V and CPM154. In fact, you should never accept anything below 440C though Chinese CR8 is the best to start with and you can go high as per your requirement. Some steels are costlier than others; however, price is not a measure of the steel quality. Steel like the Chinese CR8 come cheap but are of high quality. High carbon steel is a preferred material for the blades if you want a knife good for heavy use.
The type of blade that you want for your knife is mostly a matter of preference. These knives usually come in two blade types – drop points and clip points. Some prefer to have a clip point knife while others prefer a drop point. In general, a drop point is suitable for detailed work while clip points offer better slicing power. That being said, the blade type isn’t a very important contributing factor in determining the best hiking knife for your need.
Apart from the blade material, you also have to consider the material that the knife scales or handles are made of. Wooden handles look good and classy as scale material, but it will require some regular maintenance on your part. You can also opt for stacked leather, but it, too, will require TLC quite often. Scales made of horn and bone look good as well, but they are prone to breakage. As such, they are not ideal for frequent and rough use. For pro users, scales made of materials like Zytel, G-2, Griv-Ex, Grivory, etc. are ideal choices; they being shock resistant and element resistant. This said, handles made of synthetic material can also work well if they are rugged, durable, and long-lasting.
When looking for a hiking knife, it is best to choose a model that comes with an ergonomic handle. The handle must be comfortable enough to allow easy grips even when your hands are wet or cold or you are wearing gloves. It must also be wide to allow easy grip and prevent slipping. Knives with a relief for the inset finger would also be an added advantage.
Modern folding knives, as well as some fixed blade ones, come with added features such as choils, lanyard holes, compasses, ruler marks, serrated spines, etc. However, these features make the knives expensive. So, if you are not willing to spend the extra dollars, you can just choose a model that comes with the basic features.
Best Hiking Knives for your Next Trip
1. Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Fixed Blade:
This particular knife from Fallkniven is one of the best high-quality drop point camping knives. This knife comes with a nice blade length, quality bolster, and nice finer relief as well. The design of this knife suits a modern hiker pretty much. The tang of the knife is bit extended beyond the handle which can be really useful if you wish to use it as a hammer.
- This knife is pretty much durable and sharp
- If you are a hiker or a jungle survivalist, then this knife is perfect for you
- It serves the military level sharpness and toughness
- Performs well even in extreme temperatures
- Well engineered functionalities fitted in the handle along with a sharp blade that makes it one of the best survival knives
- With the use of Thermorun material, this knife can resist heat, cold scratches and even hard use as well.
- According to the hiking knife reviews, the ergonomic design of the handle allows you to grip the knife perfectly
- The blade is made out of cobalt steel and convex grind which makes it a lot tougher and keeps the edge sharp for really long time.
- The knife is designed to work on heavy duty works as well as small detailed works as well.
- The sheath included in the kit ensures that the knife stays dry and in condition even when you are in a bad weather condition
- Being made out of cobalt steel makes it difficult to sharpen
- Since the sheath does not include any sharpener, it can be difficult to get it sharpened when you are in the wild
- The design of the sheath is not really great and is somewhat weak
- The grips of the knife to become a bit tacky
- Somewhat expensive compared to other products in the same category.
2. Benchmade – Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife Made in USA:
When it comes to top class handmade knives, Benchmade is one of the best and well-known manufacturers in the field and the best part of these knives is that they are pretty much affordable. But if you consider the standard knife costing, then you might be a bit disappointed as they will cost more than that for sure. But if you take into account the craftsmanship and quality of the product, it seems pretty much worthy. The knife comes with a gentle taper and a wide bevel and the camping-friendly design makes it a lovely utility knife. The handle of the knife includes anti-slipping and finger relief grip, so even if you are having to use it for a long time, you won’t feel a thing.
- Quality of this knife is really great
- Rugged and aggressive
- Does not require a lot of maintenance
- Made out of strong steel which makes each and every tool a bit tougher
- When it comes to carving and cutting, this is the best tool that you can use
- The quality of the sheath is not that great
- A bit expensive compared to what you get
3. Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool, SwissChamp Pocket Knife:
If you are looking for a Swiss army knife that can work better than your expectation, then this particular multipurpose pocket knife from Victorinox can be really useful to you. This knife includes a scissor too that works fine and is capable of working through any cloth or hard material you need to cut. As per the hiking knife reviews, this knife is truly a multipurpose tool that can be used as a screwdriver to a cork screw even. The blade design is pretty good and if you compare the quality of the knife, this pocket knife can surely find its place at the top of the list. Basically, this can certainly provide you the perfect tool at the right moment but you will have to remember each of these tools and the functionalities they can perform.
- All the essential tools are included
- Every tool works effectively
- Opening and closing of each tool is super easy
- It’s a complete kit engineered to the perfection to fit in your pocket knife
- Quality of the material used, and the design is really great
- When it comes with multipurpose usability, nothing can beat this knife
- This knife is a bit more thick and large in size compared to other traditional pocket knives
- The overall design is really good and its compact look and feel gives you the best pocket knife ever
- Also, the weight of this knife is not as much as it should be
- The build quality is perfect and is durable
- It can be a really good buy in the long run
- This knife comes with a lifetime warranty as well
- The knife includes 33 different tools that can surely be of your help when you are camping or going for a rescue mission in a difficult situation
- The Can and Bottle opener works really great and the scissor included cuts through any cardboard, foil or cloth with ease
- The knife blade does not have the central position which makes it a bit difficult to grip and control
- With so many tools included it might get a bit problematic to find the right tool when you need it urgently
- Some of the tools are completely useless and you might never have to use them
- No locking joint for any of the tools included in the pocket knife, which might make some users uncomfortable
- The red casing is not of that great quality
- The scissor may tend to bend a bit while cutting through difficult metal or piece of cloth
4. StatGear 99416 Surviv-All Outdoor Knife:
This knife from StatGear is made of stainless steel. It comes with a drop point blade and does not include serration. The handle is well rugged and comes with wide bolster and finger relief feature. The sheath includes a webbing cutter, unlike the Gerber knife where they use serrations. The knife comes with a fantastic design which is really great for a survival knife and when you add to the fact that it comes with yellow-green strips for better visibility, you have to put it on the top of your list. The sheath also includes a sharpening stone which enables you to have a quick touch up session while working. with a built-in knife sharpener, fire starter and a knife that’s more than just a cutter, this kit can surely be your best choice while you go for camping.
- This is a well-made knife and does have multipurpose usability
- The cord cutter included works fine on any fishing line or paracord
- You can even use it to cut seat belts
- It comes with a magnesium fire starter which works really well
- To use the fire starter, you need to use the metal part included on top of the knife blade
- If you go through hiking knife reviews you will see that the sheath and the knife handle are well constructed
- The handle is made out of rubber which protects it from slipping and also makes it easier to hold even when the weather condition is not so friendly
- The sheath has a nylon belt loop that ensures that the sheath is always tied on your belt and does not go loose while you are on the move
- The knife blade is thick enough to use it for a long time
- The kit includes a fire starter, sharpener, and a sheath
- And most importantly the kit comes at an affordable price as well
- The paracord strap holding the knife is not really required
- The presence of the strap makes it difficult to use the knife quickly
- The sharpener included is nothing but a stone include in the sheath, but to use it you will have to take the sheath off your belt which might not be convenient all the time
- Pulling out the fire starter might feel like a bit difficult than it should be
See Also: Best Folding Trauma Shears
5. Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife:
This particular knife from Gerber Bear is one of the best in its category. Due to its ergonomic handle, smooth blade, and the color, this knife has earned a lot of good reputation from its users. This is basically a camping knife that can be used for different purposes. This knife comes with a nice ergonomic bolster and anti-slip feature as well. This knife also includes a ferro rod and a striking notch, just to ensure that you get to use it as a fire starter. And the best part of this knife is that, in case you do not like to use a serrated knife blade, you can opt for a Fine-edge model as well. Overall, this can surely be termed as one of the best camping knives that you can buy.
- Capable of performing a different type of tasks apart from cutting
- Helps you in adopting to different difficult situations
- Ergonomic is the best term to describe this knife
- The handle is made out of textured rubber which makes it easier to grip and work in any weather condition
- Comes with anti-slip feature and really easy to grip as well
- The knife construction is sturdy and durable in nature and it is made to serve you for a long time
- It comes with a stainless steel pommel that you can use for hammering if necessary
- You can also choose to use this as a fire starter
- Comes with a protective sheath made of nylon which is really light in weight
- The edge of this knife is completely serrated which makes it even more useful
- According to hiking knife reviews, the sheath includes an emergency lanyard whistle as well
- The sheath also features a sharpener, which allows you to keep working for long hours without having to worry about your blade getting blunt
- The handle is coated with textured rubber and features ergonomic grips. You can use this knife while it’s wet, and it still won’t slip out of your grasp.
- Having a serrated edge make it difficult to sharpen the knife
- The Velcro band included is not really of the best quality
- A bit expensive compared to other products in the same category
Taking Care of your Hiking Knife
Your hiking knife will be your savior in every sense of the term, provided that you take good care of it at all times. Unless you have a well-maintained hiking knife in your backpack, your trip may turn out to be a disastrous one. So, here are a few tips that will keep your knife ready for all situations:
Keep your Knife Clean and Dry:
Whether you have used your knife for slicing wood for the fire or for preparing your bacon, it ought to get dirty after every use. Nothing abnormal there! However, you have to make sure that it does not remain that way. After every use, remember to thoroughly clean the knife so that all dirt, grime, and moisture are removed from the surface of the knife. Allow the knife to dry completely before you store it away.
Sharpen the Blade Regularly:
What good is a blunt knife that wouldn’t be able to do what it is meant for? You surely wouldn’t want to be in an inconvenient or dangerous situation with a knife that has run blunt. That is why, it is imperative that you sharpen the blades of your knife from time to time, even when you are on your hiking trip. Not only that, but you should also hone the blade each time you use it so that the knife blade stays sharp and crisp for each use.
Do not Misuse the Knife:
A good hiking knife will undoubtedly assist you in all tasks that a hiker may need to carry out – from clearing the trail to protecting oneself against attack from unforeseen enemies. Some knives are specially built for heavy use. But that does not, in any way, mean that it can withstand abuse or misuse. Using your knife like an ice pick, screwdriver, or a hammer is not recommended at all. Also, never use the knife to practice throwing. Even the best hiking knife will give way when abused repeatedly.
If you have a folding hiking knife, be sure to lubricate it at regular intervals. This will prevent rusting at the pivot and allow smooth movement at all times. However, after you have oiled your knife, remove any excess oil that may be sticking to the knife to prevent deposition of the same.
A good hiking knife is, undoubtedly, the most prized possession of any hiker, whether amateur or pro. That is why the purchase must be made after proper deliberation to ensure that you get exactly what you are looking for in your knife. Another point of consideration is whether you buy just one or more. While a single hiking knife can get most of the jobs done, yet it is preferable to carry at least two – one with a high-quality stainless steel blade, another with a high carbon blade. This will keep you well covered on all your hiking trips. So, go ahead and make your purchase today.