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Whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsman or just a weekend camper, an outdoor knife is a handy tool you don’t want to leave home without. Perfect for backpacking trips and camping, these knives come in handy in a bind. From what we’ve seen, there’s a lot of spirited debate over which is the best backpacking knife. At the end of the day, it depends largely on your personal taste.
From splitting wood to skinning game, the best backpacking knives make invaluable tools on any kind of adventure . They run the gamut from small and simple to complex and multi-functional. But they all serve a distinct purpose. You’ll want to have one of these backpacking knives if you go hiking, camping, or climbing. But the best backpacking knives have a way of growing on you, and you just might adopt them for everyday use.
- Quick Overview (comparison)
- The Ten Best Backpacking Knives in 2021
- 1 – Spyderco Delica 4 (Best Pick 🥇)
- 2 – Benchmade Bugout 535
- 3 – ESEE Knives Izula-II
- 4 – Bubba Sculpin Lock Folding Pocket Knife
- 5 – Leatherman FREE T4 Multi Tool
- 6 – KA-BAR Becker BK2 Companion
- 7 – Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knife
- 8 – Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
- 9 – Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD
- 10 – PETZL-Spatha Knife
- A Simple Buying Guide To Determine The Best Backpacking Knife
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Final Verdict
Quick Overview (comparison)
The Ten Best Backpacking Knives in 2021
As with other specialized knives, a quick search reveals that there are more than you can count. First, you want to choose a fixed blade knife, folding knife or pocket knife.Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to look at more detailed features like blade material, handle design, and craftsmanship. It’s a lot to absorb, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to narrow the field. Below, we highlight the best backpacking knives of 2021.
1 – Spyderco Delica 4 (Best Pick 🥇)
The Spyderco iDelica 4 s an impressive folding backpacking knife that you can customize with a huge assortment of colors. It make a great gift too. Nearly everyone can appreciate a good backpacking knife and you can gift them according to “favorite” colors. Aside from aesthetics, the Spyderco Delica 4 has a lot to offer. First, the blades are flat-ground VG-10 Steel. This is durable, sturdy craftsmanship that you can depend on for decades. Because it’s so lightweight, you’ll forget you’re carrying it.
But when you need it, the Spyderco Delica 4 rises to the occasion. The slip resistant jimping is another stellar feature, as is the FRN handle with bi-directional texturing. Spyderco has been making a version of this knife since 1990. It’s one of the most popular styles they have and it’s easy to see why. All things considered, this tough but lightweight knife is a great selection for backpacking, hunting, camping and survival scenarios.
- Flat-Ground Steel Blade
- Plain Edge Grind
- FRN Handle
- Comes in Many Colors
- Secure Grip
- Can be quickly deployed thanks to the Emerson opening feature.
- Superior craftsmanship.
- Higher price.
2 – Benchmade Bugout 535
This high-quality manual open folding knifewith drop point blade is a strong contender for best full size backpacking knife. The durable stainless steel blade will hold up in any kind of weather and keeps its edge. Although it’s lightweight, the Benchmade Bugout is plenty sturdy. It comes with a strong, ambidextrous AXIS lock and can be opened with one hand. Benchmark is a reputable company that consistently produces high-quality knives for a wide variety purposes. The Benchmark Bugout is designed with outdoorsmen and survivalists in mind and it makes an outstanding backpacking knife that holds up in survival situations. The reversible pocket clip is just one more added feature that elevates this knife above the rest.
- Coated Stainless Steel Blade
- Glass-Filled Grigori Handle
- AXIS Lock
- Comes with Lifetime Warranty & Life Sharp Service
- Reversible Deep-Carry Pocket Clip
- Specially designed for the outdoors and survival situations.
- The blade holds its edge well.
- One the small side.
- Somewhat expensive.
3 – ESEE Knives Izula-II
ESEE Knives brings us a tough-looking, compact fixed blade knife with a molded sheath. Made with high carbon 1095 steel, ESEE pride themselves on manufacturing knives that are “used and abused worldwide”. And you can depend on these knives to take a beating while maintaining their functionality. The Izula-II lives up to to ESEE’s reputation with durable carbon steel and an easily concealable, compact design. It makes a good pocket knife and a great survival knife. Able to perform heavy-duty outdoor tasks, the ESEE Izula-II is specially designed for survival, backpacking, hiking, and more. It comes with a high-quality molded polymer sheath, a Micarta handle and a 100% Unconditional Lifetime Promise. The removable clip plate makes for further versatility and accessibility. Although it looks small, this knife packs a punch.
- Fixed Blade Knife
- Micarta Handle
- Removable Clip Plate
- Molded Sheath
- High Carbon 1095 Steel
- 2.63” Blade Length
- Specifically designed as a survival companion.
- Stands up to hard outdoor use and abuse.
- The coating isn’t really designed for striking.
- The sheath is somewhat bulky.
4 – Bubba Sculpin Lock Folding Pocket Knife
Bubba Sculpin are famous for their fillet knives and their product is built to for durability on sea and land. But, the Bubba Sculpin isn’t just a smart knife on the water. It also makes a great outdoors and backpacking knife. At 8.5” overall length, it’s a folding knife that easily becomes compact and accessible. There’s a finger flipper for ease of use and a lanyard hole for secure ECD carry. For added safety, the Bubba Sculpin features a guard to protect from the blades and spines of fish.
It’s a great outdoors knife whether you’re a fisherman or not, and it performs a wide variety of functions very well. In fact, it’s specially designed for precision cutting. The pocket clip allows for close carry and the tanto-style G10 handle has superb “non-slip grip.” A tanto style blade is one that is known for being strong and powerful with a sharply angled chisel-point tip.
- Folding Pocket Knife
- Compact Liner Lock
- Tanto Style Blade
- G10 Handle
- Lanyard Hole
- Quick-Access Finger Flipper
- Secure Grip Guard
- Bubba Knives are famous for their non-slip grip.
- The blade is non corrosive and razor-sharp.
- Great Price considering thehigh quality.
- For an outdoor-carry knife, it’s on the heavy side.
5 – Leatherman FREE T4 Multi Tool
If you’re looking for am outdoor-capable multitool, the Leatherman FREE T4 might just be the backpacking knife for you. You’ll get 12 tools in 1, including 420 HC knife, spring-action scissors, small & extra small screwdriver, bottle opener, and wood/metal file. All of these tools can come in handy when hiking, backpacking, or insurvival situations. The Leatherman FREE T4 also makes a great everyday knife. It’s compact, relatively lightweight, and easy to use. Best of all, Leatherman stands by the quality and craftsmanship of this product with a 25 year warranty. The Leatherman FREE T4 is by far one of the most multi-functional pocket knives on our list. And one-hand access makes it intuitive and easy to use.
- Universal Tool – 12 Tools In One
- One Hand Access
- 420 HC Knife
- Magnetic Locking
- 25 Year Warranty
- Incredibly multi-functional with tons of options.
- Great for use in the outdoors or as a survival knife.
- Slightly bulky.
- The plastic parts in the tool detract from the quality aesthetic.
6 – KA-BAR Becker BK2 Companion
This companion knife is a fantastic choice for backpacking because it’s specifically designed for camping and other outdoor activities. It’s a fixed blade knife that comes with a hard shell black nylon sheath for blade protection. KA-BAR Becker is made in New York, USA and it has a stylish, tough-looking design. This all black knife was specifically created as a companion for campers, hunters, and anyone else who finds themselves outdoors. It pries, skins, and chops like a champ – everything you need in a backpacking knife. Because it’s not a folding knife, you’ll need to wear it. Luckily, it comes with a MOLLE compatible sheath. The KA-BAR is a heavy duty survival knife capable of performing even the most demanding outdoor tasks. The 1095 cro-van steel blade is durable and sharp with a 20-degree blade angle.
- Full Tang
- Fixed Blade Knife
- Black Hard Shell Nylon Sheath
- MOLLE Compatible
- 1095 Coo-Van Steel Blade
- Great for heavy-duty outdoor action like splitting wood and skinning game.
- Comfortable Grivery handle with secure grip.
- Not ideal for sparking.
- The sheath seems a little flimsy.
7 – Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knife
This high quality, classic knife has had the same no-nonsense design since 1890. Created with outdoorsmen in mind, the Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knife makes for a great everyday knife and a formidable backpacking knife. The craftsmanship is nice, with a durable Beachwood handle made in France. The blade is reliable and long-lasting, with blade material fashioned from Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel. The Opinel also has a safety twist lock mechanism to boost versatility and safety. It’s simple but elegant and more than capable of meeting your outdoor and survival situation needs.
- Stainless Steel Blade
- Folding Knife
- Beechwood Handle
- Stainless Viroblock Safety Ring
- Secure Locking Mechanism
- High Quality
- Attractive, turn-of-the century design.
- This knife was created for outdoorsmen and handymen in 1890.
- Locking ring is somewhat gritty.
8 – Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
If anyone knows the outdoors, it’s Bear Grylls. And the knife that bears his name does not disappoint. The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is a superior hiking, backpacking, and hunting companion. Designed as asurvival knife, it’s got some really unique features like a loud emergency whistle and quality stainless steel pommel. Grylls is the undisputed expert on all things survival-related, so we were immediately interested in his collaboration with Gerber.
Unlike a lot of other knives, this one is actually suited for starting fires. You’ll find the striker notch right on the back of the blade. Great for cutting rope, spearing fish, pounding or hammering, the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is a strong entry on our list of best backpacking knives. It has an overall length of 10” and it’s sturdy, durable, and high-quality. If you’re going to be in nature for an extended period of time, you want a knife like this in your arsenal of tools.
- High Carbon Stainless Steel Drop Point Blade
- Textured Rubber Grip
- Fire Starter
- Stainless Steel Pommel
- Military Grade Nylon Sheath
- Lanyard With Loud Emergency Whistle
- Durable, high-quality construction specifically designed for the outdoors.
- Easy to handle in survival situations.
- It’s possible for the fire starter to fall out of the sheath.
9 – Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD
Always a classic, the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife conveniently performs 7 different functions. One of the most beloved knives of all time, the Victorinox Swiss Army comes in a huge variety of colors. It’s a handy compact knife, scissor, key ring, toothpick, tweezer, nail file, and screw driver all rolled into one. Swiss stainless steel construction makes this backpacking knife durable, dependable, and sturdy. It’s a perfect pocket knife, lightweight and multi-functional. Attach it to your keychain and make it your everyday multi tool.
However, don’t forget to take your Victorinox on all your outdoor adventures as that’s where it really shines. Because it does so much, this Swiss Army Knife is a great companion on backpacking trips and survival situations. For such wildly popular and well-respected knife, it has a surprisingly modest price tag. Even if it doesn’t meet all your heavy-duty survival needs, you should probably own a Swiss Army Knife anyway.
- Performs 7 Functions
- Swiss Made Stainless Steel Construction
- Compact Carry
- Made in Switzerland
- Lifetime Guarantee Against Defects
- Performs a wide variety of functions handy for everyday use.
- Can easily be carried in your pocket or purse – not bulky.
- Knife is not intended for heavy-duty outdoor functions.
- Can be awkward to use while attached to your keyring.
Are you interested in Swiss Army Knives? We reviewed 10 Swiss Army knives to find the Best Swiss Army Knife of 2021.
10 – PETZL-Spatha Knife
This is a unique knife in that was created just for climbers. The easy to use PETZL-Spatha has a large cutout hole designed for your climbing needs. The first thing you’ll notice is the smooth, serrated combo blade perfect for cutting through rope and cords. You can attach it to your harness with a tool holder of carabiner. The PETZL-Spatha locks in the opening position for added safety and functionality. The blade is constructed of durable stainless steel that holds up in the elements. Whether your gloved or bare-handed, it’s a breeze to open this knife. When gloved, just use the unique textured wheel. If you’re a climber, you probably won’t want to leave home without this knife. Although it’s lightweight, it’s impressively sturdy and strong.
- Serrated Combo Blade
- Locking mechanism
- Stainless Steel
- Carabiner Hole
- Textured Wheel
- Perfect for climbers.
- Specially designed for cutting straps and rope.
- Some carabiners won’t fit.
A Simple Buying Guide To Determine The Best Backpacking Knife
Choosing the best backpacking knife can be a lot of fun. You get to take into consideration all of the potential your knife has to accentuate outdoor adventures like climbing, camping and hunting. The exact knife you choose will depend on its intended purpose, whether you prefer fixed blade or folding, desired size, and more. Certain knives are specially designed for climbers while others are perfect for outdoors fishing and hiking. Whatever your needs, there are some excellent, exciting options when it comes to the best backpacking knives of 2021.
What To Pay Attention To When Buying This Product
Before you select your knife, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions. Do you prefer fixed blade or folding? Are you looking for a multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife or do you want a knife that excels at a single task? Below, we’ll highlight some of the most important things to consider before buying a backpacking knife.
Folding Knife VS Fixed Blade Knife
There’s no clear consensus on which kind of knife is “better” for outdoorsmen. There are passionate fans on both sides. One will fit in your pocket and the other has to be worn on your person. Many folding knives can be opened with just one hand, making them just as accessible as your standard fixed blade. Think about where you want to store you knife, how you want to attach it, and which option seems most intuitive to you. Both styles made it onto our list and neither is superior simply because of its style.
There’s a lot of variety among the knives on our list. Some knives excel in the water and are designed to be rust-resistant and slip-proof. Others are multi-tools with up to 14 functions. There are knives that are designed as climbing companions and others that can be classified as heavy-duty backpacking knives. These knives are capable of splitting wood, skinning game, starting fires, and even calling for help! The more time you spend in the outdoors and the more use you’ll get out of a knife, the more it’s worth it to invest big.
If you regularly find yourself in survival situations like Bear Grylls, you don’t want to play around with a flimsy knife. If you’re looking for a knife to take along on your annual camping trip, you can probably go a little more casual with your selection. You should also keep in mind that the average person gets loads of use out of a multi-tool, regardless of how much time they spend in the wild.
Type of lock
One thing that’s easy to overlook is the kind of lock on your backpacking knife. On a knife, the lock actually holds the blade open to keep it from snapping closed.
Here are some different types of locks:
Back Lock – A back lock is a piece of metal on the back of your knife. When you press on the back of the handle, the lock is released. While some knives can be closed with just one hand, a back lock will require the use of both hands.
Frame Lock – When a piece of the frame slips into position behind the blade, it’s called a frame lock. If your knife has a frame lock, you will be able to close it with just one hand.
No Lock – You’ll notice that smaller knives often do not include any kind of lock. Obviously, knives with no lock are a little more risky, so you’ll need to be extra careful when handling an operating this kind of knife.
Let’s be honest – price is always a factor. While you can get a decent backpacking knife for fairly cheap, you might be justified in splurging if you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. You get what you pay for, so if you’re anticipating depending on your knife for survival, you’ll want the best the industry has to offer. But also keep in mind that classic, tried-and-true options like the Swiss Army Knife are relatively inexpensive.
Fire Starting Capability
This is actually a good feature to look for even if you’re not planning on camping. Warmth is necessary to survival and if you find yourself lost or stranded, you’re going to want to be able to create a fire for warmth and possibly cooking food. While many knives claim to be capable of striking a spark, further investigation sometimes reveals that they aren’t that well suited. Certain knives, like the Gerber Bear Grylls and the Spyderco Delica 4 are proven reliable fire-starters.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A good knife is recommended for anyone who is even remotely serious about backpacking. These knives perform a wide array of tasks: cutting rope, getting fires started, splitting wood, gutting fish, and more. A good backpacking knife goes a long way. It’s a multi-purpose tool that can get you out of binds, keep you warm, help feed you, and essentially keep you alive. No good outdoorsman steps into nature without a knife, and you shouldn’t either.
Always check your state’s knife laws. Rules and regulations will vary. Certain kinds of knives may be worn openly and certain kinds of knives must be concealed. Some knives, like switchblades, generally cannot be carried at all. But the wilderness is a great place for a knife, so just follow your state’s laws and you’ll be fine.
For camping, multi tools are great. Camping usually involves cooking, eating, and drinking. You’ll end up taking full advantage of all a multi tool has to offer, like a blade for splitting wood, a bottle opener, etc. Some people carry both a multi tool and a sturdier fixed blade backpacking knife. Because most of these knives tend to be relatively lightweight and they are arguable essential, carrying both types isn’t out of the question.
For our money, the Spyderco Delica 4 is the best pick. Folding knives are both convenient and compact. In survival situations, this knife is sturdy enough to get the job done. The blade is high quality VG-10 steel and the handle is slip-resistant for comfort and safety. Another really strong contender is the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife. It’s got some great features that are well-suited for any aspiring survivalist.
The Classic Swiss Army Knife is an all-purpose knife that easily made it onto our list of the year’s best. Probably one of the most famous and easily-recognizable knives in the world, the red and white Swiss Army Knife resides in many a pocket throughout the world. It’s a durable, lightweight multi-tool that’s surprisingly inexpensive. It includes a screwdriver, pocket knife and small scissors.
When it comes to backpacking knives, there’s something for everybody. Whether you’re an aspiring Survivorman or a novice climber, a good knife can be an invaluable tool when you head out. We took a lot of things under consideration. Most importantly, we researched which backpacking knives stood out in terms of quality, craftsmanship, durability, and ease of use.
Ultimately, our number one choice is the Spyderco Delica 4. Let’s revisit why it’s such a superior knife and a necessary companion for anyone involved in hiking, backpacking, hunting, or any other outdoor activity.
Although its a little on the pricey side, the Spyderco Dalico 4 is a wise investment. The no-slip handle is constructed from highly durable fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN). It’s comfortable with great grip, which is what you want out of your handle. The blades are full flat-ground VG-10 steel. The cutting edge is sharp, refined, and sturdy.
The Spyderco Delica 4 uses a back lock mechanism, an important safety feature to look for in any great backpacking knife. Plus, you can customize this knife by choosing from a great assortment of colors. Even though it has some steep competition, the Spyderco Delica 4 earns our top spot. It’s a high quality tool dispensed by a manufacturer known for their integrity. If you’re headed out on the trail, this is the backpacking knife you want at your side.
David Clarke is one of the most active authors for KnivesExpert. He has been working as a professional chef for 8 years now. In his spare time he is always looking for new tastes which he can use in his restaurant. David is also a real knife enthousiast and he only wants to use the best of the best. The search for the best knife resulted in the start of Knivesexpert!