Backpacking is one of the best ways to experience the wilderness, and having the best backpacking knife for your needs should be a critical part of your plan. Experienced backpackers know that you need to pack light and effectively when out in the wilderness. Backpacking combines hiking and camping to give you the ultimate woodsman experience.
The first step to any backpacking trip is prepping your pack. To do this properly you will need to examine a few important factors. The first thing to consider is the type of environment you planning to hike through. You need to understand the type of trail you are traversing as well as the distance you plan to hike. Will you be hiking for hours or days? Are you expecting dense forest or a leisurely stroll through the woods?
You should also consider, what time of the year you are hiking. Every location has it’s prime hiking season, this is the time of the year when the weather is the most moderate.
Hiking during the moderate times of the year allows you to pack less gear and wear lighter clothing. You can pack less water than in the hot summer months, and you can pack fewer clothes and supplies than in the winter.
No matter what time of the year you decide to go backpacking, you need to study your maps. The more familiar you are with your terrain the less likely the chances are of you getting lost. You should also study what permits and laws are in the area. You need to know if you can have a campfire, or if you need hiking permits.
The Best Backpacking Knife – Why You Need One?
Depending on where you are hiking, a 3″ blade should be sufficient to meet your needs. A multi-tool EDC knife can be the perfect hiking companion because of its lightweight, small profile, and added functionality. You may also want to consider a fixed blade tactical knife if you need more cutting power. When I’m on a long hike I use my backpacking knife for everything under the sun, including…
- Prepping Game
- Carving Tent Stakes
- General Repair
- Fire Starting
The best backpacking knife for you is the knife that most closely meets your needs, and one knife may be better suited for one journey over another. If you are like me, you will opt for dual blades; this gives you the widest array of functionality. The most popular backpacking knives come in these configurations.
Single Blade Folders
This knife style comes in a lightweight format that makes it ideal for backpacking. Many versions include a belt clip that increases overall access and portability. The most common versions of this knife have a blade that ranges in length from 3″-5″.
Perhaps one of the most valuable tools in any backpacker’s kit, a multi-tool knife gives you access to a variety of tools in a ultra-portable design. New design configurations, such as pliers, have allowed this trusted tool to become even more useful.
This type of knife attempts to give you more power than a small EDC knife, by providing a longer blade, crossed with the functionality of a multi-tool. A fire starter and whistle are common additions to this style of knife.
This style of knife is characterized by its necklace style sheath. I am not a huge fan of placing anything around my neck, but I must admit, this style of knife offers unmatched blade access and strong cutting power.
I try to have one of these knives on me at all times when I’m hiking or backpacking long distances. The solid design and length give this style of blade added capabilities in the wild.
The competition is tight, in terms of quality backpacking knives and finding the best backpacking knife for the money takes a little research. Since not everyone is a knife aficionado, such as myself, I have cut out the subpar models and narrowed the search down to the 5 best backpacking knives for serious hikers. I have tried to include a variety of styles to fit whatever journey you may embark on.
The Best Backpacking Knife – My Top 5 Favorites
SOG PowerAssist Multi-Tool B66N-CP – 16 Tools, Black Oxide, Nylon Sheath, Assisted 2.75″ Blade, Compound Leverage
The SOG PowerAssist Multi-Tool gives you instant access to 16 heavy-duty 420 stainless steel tools that make getting any job done, easier. The patented PowerAssist mechanism provides you with rapid access to the blades and SOG uses a Compound Leverage Design to improve grip and cutting power.
- 16 Tool
- 420 Stainless Steel
- 2 Cutting Blades
- Compound Leverage System
- PowerAssist Open
- Stiff Blade Locking Mechanism
I originally got this tool as a gift and I liked it so much I purchased another as a backup. The folds out tools are made from superb quality and the grip is solid. I am also a fan of the black finish over the stainless steel because it shows fewer signs of wear and tear. The blade on this multi-tool is sharp enough to cut through wood, meat, or wires. I think this is a “must-have” for any serious backpacker who is planning a long trip into the wild.
KA-BAR Fighting/Utility Serrated Edge Knife with Hard Sheath, Black
The KA-BAR Fighting/Utility Serrated Edge Knife uses a 100% synthetic design to increase the strength to weight ratio of this blade. All branches of the military use this blade, so you know it can take a beating. The 20-degree edge angle is perfect for slicing and the 7″ 1095 Cro-Van steel blade can cut through bone with ease.
- 1095 Cro-Van Steel
- 20 Degree Angle
- 100% Synthetic Materials
- Kraton G Handle
- Sheath Feels Bulky
I love the feel of this blade. The Kraton G handle gives you a comfortable grip and I like the fact that it is partially serrated. This is one of the best backpacking knives for someone planning to encounter rough terrain. The Mil-spec design is rugged and this blade stays sharp, even after extended use.
White River Knife & Tool Backpacker Hunting Knife Black Paracord Handle WRBP-BL
The White River Knife & Tool Backpacker Hunting Knife comes in a neck knife configuration. This blade is ultra-light, weighing only 4.3 ounces when in the sheath. This knife was designed with the serious backpacker in mind. The blade is CPM S30V Steel with a Drop Point design.
- CPM S30V Steel
- Plain Edge Drop Point
- Kydex Sheath
- Rope Grip
I think the manufacturer really hit on this design. This knife works great and in most cases, I use it before I reach in my pocket. This solid blade stays sharp during the toughest jobs. Are you planning a long hiking trip? Or backpacking the wilderness? Few other blades will provide you with the comfort and usability of this knife.
Spyderco C187CFP Rubicon Folding Knife, Orange, 3.04-Inch
The Spyderco C187CFP Rubicon Folding Knife provides you with a solid S30V steel blade that can slice anything that you put in front of it. This is one rugged small folding knife that gives you maximum cutting power with a 3″ blade. The ball bearing pivot system gives you a smoother opening and the decorative pivot adds to the overall aesthetics of this blade.
- S30V Stainless Steel
- Carbon Fiber Handle
- Razor Sharp
- Ball Bearing Pivot System
- 16 Tools
- Blade Release Could be Larger
This is one of my favorite EDC knives because, the quality materials used in the construction of this blade. You can feel the quality in this knife from the very second you handle it. Spyderco is known for producing quality products and this blade is no exception. If you need serious cutting power from a small package, look no further than this knife.
Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ SOS Set Pocket Knife (Red)
The Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ SOS Set Pocket Knife gives you access to a wide array of tools in an extremely portable design. I always carry some form of multi-tool as my EDC knife when I go in the wild. You can’t beat the well thought out design of this knife. It’s this design that made Swiss Army Knives famous in the first place.
- 100% Stainless Steel
- Acid Resistant Plastic
- Includes Sharpening Stone
- Requires Sharpening to Be Razor Sharp
This is a legendary knife design that has stood the test of time. This unit includes some added bonuses such as a sharpening stone, sewing tools, pressure pencil, and other survival essentials designed to keep you always prepared for whatever tasks you encounter along your journey.
Backpacking is one my favorite ways to see the world. Nothing compares to the freedom and tranquility of a long backpacking trip. I hope this guide helps you to find the backpacking knife for your needs.
As always, John here, keeping you up to date on everything you need to know to transform yourself into the ultimate woodsman. Make sure to check back soon to see what new and exciting topics we will be discussing in the future.