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Best Backpacking Knife: Definitive Guide 2022

September 9, 2021 // 25 minute read

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Best Backpacking Knife: Definitive Guide 2022

Best Backpacking Knife - Bugoutbill.com

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One of these durable and versatile pocket knives might just be your next backpacking buddy.

Welcome to the world of bugoutbill.com and my recommendations for some super cool shiny, sharp things to complete your backpacking adventure!

We mean knives, buddy.

In this article…

We give you the top ten best knives to bring on your next backpacking trip. We have tried and tested each one, so now you’ll see:

    • Which knives have the best overall quality and usefulness;
    • Our Editor’s Choice, Best Value, and other awards;
    • How we came up with our verdict;
    • How each item compares to others in terms of each metric;
    • Other tips and recommendations in choosing a backpacking knife; and
  • Lots more!

Not everything on this list is expensive. Read on to see which ones may very well be within your budget.

And if you’re here to find the knife that you can use for hiking or camping too, you won’t be disappointed!

Get your backpacks ready…

Onward we go…

Introduction

A backpacking knife comes in two main types – the folding and fixed-blade types. It’s also called a pocket knife because it’s made to be so compact that it fits in your pocket.

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

It’s figurative, but sometimes quite literal.

The point is…

Backpacking knives will complete your backpacking gear – they cover a multitude of uses and you should never be without one. 

Its uses in the outdoors are countless. You need to be able to cut rods and ropes, open packages, even defend yourself with something reliable. And a backpacking knife can do all that stuff and more. 

Oh, wait.

Actually not all knives were created equal. There are many different brands on the market, promising you a knife that can withstand the outdoors – as well as you do.

We took it upon ourselves to test their claims, and here we are… 

Go ahead and look at the top ten best knives for backpacking that we found on the market. You’re sure to find what will work best for you, so go ahead and check each one out!

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1 - Best Performance Backpacking Knife - Editor’s Choice Award

Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife

Editors Choice - Bugoutbill.com

Value for Money

10

Blade And Edge Integrity

10

Handle and Grip

9

Versatility

9

Construction Quality

10

Overall Score
96

Bottom Line: The Kershaw Leek knife is perfectly compact without compromising the quality of the steel and sharpness of the blade.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

At first, we thought this knife was too expensive. It looked so simple and small. We didn’t even give it much thought. 

But when we tried it…

We all just fell in love with this Kershaw Leek item. So much so that it became our Editor’s Choice!

With its durability, sharpness, and edge retention… We didn’t mind the cost at all. The overall quality gave it high scores on each metric – and it towered over the others.

What else?

It passed the paper test with flying colors. We were able to skin some kindling with it. And when it was time for us to go, the knife just sat in my pocket, safe and snug. But, drop-point is not the most versatile of blade styles. And three inches of the blade might be too short for some, but it made this knife compact. 

The locking mechanism works well too. And the handle…you might have a little trouble if your hands are big because this knife’s grip could be too flat for you. But it’s very durable and less bulky than most pocket knives.

Just one thing…

My friend thinks it’s too sharp to put inside his pocket. If you’re one of those people who are uneasy with things that can cut, you might not want to carry this in your pocket.

Still, you’ll like that you can clip it on. It sure looked cool for us.

And overall, this is a quality knife that exceeds expectations.

2 - Best Budget Backpacking Knife - Best Value Award

Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knives

Best Value - Bugoutbill.com

Value for Money

10

Blade And Edge Integrity

10

Handle and Grip

9

Versatility

9

Construction Quality

9

Overall Score
94

Bottom Line: The Opinel is the most budget-friendly folding knife with excellent quality.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

Compared to other blade styles, there are only a few things that you can do with a straight back. But there’s a lot that you can do with a very durable blade that retains the sharpness of its edge even after several uses.

Needless to say…

We were surprised by the quality that the Opinel folding knife has. It’s one of the cheapest we could find on the market, so we didn’t expect much.

Yes, there was the ring lock problem – you’ll need to find the best way to slide the ring up and back down. And you can’t expect a wooden handle to be as durable as steel.

But…

We simply forgot about all those when we found out how sharp the cutting edge is. And the stainless steel blade is just as durable as the others.

Plus, it’s only 0.11 pounds in weight and 4 inches in folded length. That’s a compact knife that’s perfect for your backpacking trips.

All these qualities for as low a price can be – no wonder it’s our Best Value award winner!

3 - Best Multi-Purpose Backpacking Knife - Top Pick

Spyderco Honeybee Non-Locking Knife

Top Pick - Bugoutbill.com

Value for Money

9

Blade And Edge Integrity

10

Handle and Grip

10

Versatility

9

Construction Quality

9

Overall Score
94

Bottom Line: Spyderco Honeybee is a pocket knife that can pose as a keychain or a pendant.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

This knife is about the size of a thumb when folded and weighs like a feather. In other words, it’s very compact.

Usually…

Small knives are more good-looking than useful. But this one’s an exception to that stereotype. Why? Because the sharpness of its cutting edge passed more than just the paper test.

It might be only over an inch long, but this blade can slice small kindling and cut ropes.

The exceptional make of its blade made this knife our Top Pick awardee.

Plus…

It has a really cool frame shape. You can put a chain through the hole at the butt of the handle and hang it around your neck – just like a pendant. Or use it as a keychain – whatever works for you.

You just have to be extra careful, though. It has no lock other than the slip joint, and the blade is very sharp.

But to a backpacker, that’s an advantage.

4 - Best Lightweight Backpacking Knife

Spyderco Delica Signature Folding Knife

Value for Money

8

Blade And Edge Integrity

10

Handle and Grip

10

Versatility

8

Construction Quality

10

Overall Score
92

Bottom Line: This super lightweight Spyderco model is the best both for your next backpacking trip or simply for everyday carry.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

Unlike other knives from Spyderco, the Delica has a back lock. And we’re all for it!

We think…

It has a very sturdy blade with excellent edge retention and a comfortable handle. But the added locking mechanism completes this knife.

So there’s durability, comfort, and then security. We’d like to say it’s more than what we expected…

But…

To be honest, the price says it all. It’s not disappointing, but we thought it could’ve offered more. It’s just too expensive when it’s not the only knife with all these features.

That said, this ultralight backpacking knife is still worth your money.

5 - Best Heavy Duty Backpacking Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

Value for Money

9

Blade And Edge Integrity

8

Handle and Grip

9

Versatility

10

Construction Quality

9

Overall Score
90

Bottom Line: You’ll have a tool for every task that awaits you on your backpacking trip with this swiss army knife from Victorinox.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

It’s no wonder that this is a versatile pocket knife. You just don’t know what chores are waiting for you on your backpacking trips. With this one, you won’t have to worry about that.

What should you expect?

Of course, you’ll have a knife blade. Then a nail file, screwdriver, scissors, keyring, tweezers, and a toothpick. Yes, that last one’s included.

Also, don’t expect too much about the blade. Let me tell you – it’s short, thin, and very flat. So, it’s not as durable as most knives on this list. But the other tools in this swiss army knife are very sturdy and useful.

And the knife blade is effective in cutting, skinning, and other jobs.

Plus…

This product falls at the lower end of the price range. That’s a huge plus for us.

6 - Best Material Backpacking Knife

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC, Drop-Point Blade Knife

Value for Money

8

Blade And Edge Integrity

10

Handle and Grip

8

Versatility

9

Construction Quality

9

Overall Score
96

Bottom Line: This Benchmade item has a very durable stainless steel blade that retains the sharpness of its blade edge.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

Who doesn’t love an ultralight backpacking knife? Better yet… Here’s a very compact knife of excellent quality!

It’s a little expensive.

Or maybe not ‘little.’ It’s very expensive compared to other such knives on this list. You’re sure to find something cheaper somewhere.

But not with the best of the blade steels that we’ve ever seen!

It doesn’t look like much because of its thin blade. But surprisingly, the durability of the Benchmade blade can compete with carbon blades. 

Plus…

Its sharp edge cuts through almost anything and doesn’t quickly go blunt.

7 - Best Fix Blade Backpacking Knife

ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife

Value for Money

8

Blade And Edge Integrity

10

Handle and Grip

9

Versatility

8

Construction Quality

9

Overall Score
88

Bottom Line: This Esee knife is your best non-compact choice for heavy chores during your camping trips.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

If you’re looking for an incredible knife with a razor-sharp blade, the Esee 6P is the one for you. That’s if you don’t mind that it’s not compact.

Just take note:

It’s not like a pocket or swiss army knives. This is a fixed-blade, full tang, 11.75-inch knife. It weighs over a pound, which makes it absolutely not an ultralight backpacking knife. 

Though it’s not going to weigh you down too much, we still think that the best hiking knives should be lightweight.

And it’s a very expensive knife too.

But…

The pros definitely outweigh the cons!

High-carbon steel is a very durable kind of blade steel. Its straight-back blade shape might’ve made it less versatile than others. But you can use this knife for chopping thin logs, splitting wood, and even batoning.

The blade doesn’t rust easily, too, so its edge will remain sharp for a long time.

In other words…

You wouldn’t mind it being a fixed-blade knife because it’s very sturdy and useful on the field.

8 - Best Backpacking Knife Under $100

GERBER StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with Fine Edge

Value for Money

9

Blade And Edge Integrity

9

Handle and Grip

9

Versatility

8

Construction Quality

9

Overall Score
88

Bottom Line: Of all the fixed blade budget knives on the market, the Gerber StrongArm is the most durable and convenient to use.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

We get that you’d rather have a small knife when out on your backpacking trip. And a full-size knife of about a pound heavy might be a little too much for you.

But with this Gerber…

We overlooked all that, and so should you. 

It’s not the cheapest on the list, but it’s still affordable. And the best part is that it has a rubberized diamond, a textured grip that prevents the knife from slipping from your hand.

The convenience of using this knife augments the effectiveness of its sharp blade. We used it for batoning, and it survived the ordeal. That was impressive!

And…

Although the plain and fine edge isn’t as versatile as the others, it’s very sharp. You won’t have to hone this knife regularly too.

9 - Best High Friction Backpacking Knife

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife

Value for Money

10

Blade And Edge Integrity

8

Handle and Grip

9

Versatility

7

Construction Quality

8

Overall Score
84

Bottom Line: The Morakniv Companion has a high-friction grip that makes it very comfortable and convenient to use.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

It’s not as feather-like as an ultralight backpacking knife. But as far as full-tang fixed blade knives go, this Morakniv Companion is pretty lightweight.

It’s also shorter than other fixed-blade knives we’ve tried. So, we can say that this one’s a relatively small knife. It’s one of the things we liked about this product.

However…

It’s less durable than the others. And the edge needs honing now and then. The sheath, handle, and blade material can be improved too.

But all these are expected given the cheap price that we paid for it.

Despite that…

This is a very recommendable item as an extra tool. It’s the perfect knife for light-duty tasks such as food prep. And you can even use it for detailed cutting.

Its high-friction grip makes it very convenient. You won’t easily tire out when using this knife.

10 - Best Durable Backpacking Knife

Benchmade - Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife

Value for Money

8

Blade And Edge Integrity

9

Handle and Grip

8

Versatility

7

Construction Quality

9

Overall Score
82

Bottom Line: The Benchmade Bushcrafter’s durability makes it the best knife for heavy-duty outdoor tasks.

Pros

Cons

You might be wondering why we’ve included these non-compact knives on our list. 

It’s because some of us prefer a longer blade than a short one. True enough, there’s only so much that you can do with a small blade.

That’s why…

This Benchmade item – even though it’s an expensive one – is included in this list.

We couldn’t just pass up the durability of this knife. The blade, handle, and sheath are all very sturdy. That’s why you’ll have to shed a few dollars off of your pocket for it.

And the edge retention is excellent as well.

Of course…

Most of us still prefer a knife’s closed length to fit in our pockets. But this one’s the right knife for those looking for heavy-duty tools.

That’s if you don’t mind it falling at the higher end of the price range.

Why Trust Us

Not to boast, but we’ve had our fair share of backpacking, hiking, and camping trips over the years. 

My colleagues and I are outdoor enthusiasts. We love nature, we love getting out of the comforts of a traditional home, and we love knives.

Now, don’t get us wrong.

Best Backpacking Knife - Bugoutbill.com

When I said ‘love,’ I meant that knives for us are more than just tools. They’re our handy and helpful outdoor companions. So we take choosing backpacking knives very seriously.

And we didn’t just buy them, chopped some stuff, and decided on a verdict. These items, we tried out on the situations we usually face when on a backpacking trip.

Buyers Guide: How To Choose The Best Backpacking Knives

1 - Different types of backpacking knives

  • Folding knife – the kind of knife that folds at the middle to secure the blade inside the handle.
  • Fixed-blade knife – a full-length knife that doesn’t fold. It makes use of a sheath to secure the blade.
  • Multi-tool – the knife blade is only one of the many tools you can fold into the handle.

2 - Features to look out for

  • A fire starter is a very handy additional knife feature.
  • Say what you want, but for backpackers, a bottle opener is one of the essentials. Knives with this added feature are good ones.
  • The assisted opening feature makes the knife mechanisms smooth.

3 - Backpacking knives and specifications explained

A backpacking knife is sometimes also called a pocket knife. It’s a compact blade specifically designed to be effective for different uses but light and easily carried.

Backpacking knives have the following specifications;

  • Blade material – the most common ones are carbon or stainless steel. The former is generally more durable, while the latter is easily sharpened.
  • Blade design or style – some blades have straight edges while others have serrated blades. The serrated part allows for versatility, but it’s more difficult to hone.
  • Length – a long knife is not necessarily more useful than a short one. For most backpackers, a short but sharp knife is better because it’s lighter and more portable.
  • Weight – a heavier knife usually is thicker. It may also mean that it’s stronger and less brittle.
  • Locks – different manufacturers make use of different locking techniques to keep the knife blades open or shut.
  • Back lock – a very stable lock that uses a metal piece at the handle’s back. You may need both your hands to press and release the lock.
  • Liner lock – a metal liner inside the knife frame keeps it open. This mechanism provides for a one-handed opening.
  • Frame lock – a piece of the frame is slid up to keep the blade up and pressed to the side to fold it back.
  • Axis lock – a spring-loaded bar slides to the opposite ends of a slot to lock and unlock the blade.
  • None – some folding knives don’t have locks. Needless to say, they’re unstable.
  • Other locks some brands have unique locking mechanisms. Sometimes they make use of rings, tip sliders, etc.

4 - These are things to consider

  • Some knife sheaths make the blade blunt. So a good sheath is also important.
  • There are a lot of innovations and choices on the market. That calls for a very detailed search to find what you’re looking for in a knife, specifically.
  • A knife’s blade shape and grind are crucial to its versatility and usefulness.

5 - Jargon buster

  • Grind – the blade’s cross-sectional shape.
  • Belly – the blade’s steeply concave part.
  • Paper test – cutting through paper cross-sectionally to test blade sharpness.

6 - Backpacking knives Top Tips

  • A multi-tool might look cool, but let’s face it – you’re not going to use every option when you go backpacking. It’s the safe choice, but the lighter choice is the simple knife.
  • The best knives don’t need assisted opening because they’re smooth enough, to begin with.
  • Before going anywhere, check the place’s knife laws first. You don’t want your loyal backpacking companion abandoned somewhere as you move along in your adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Why do you need a knife backpacking?

A - First and foremost is for your protection. Next are simple chores like cutting cords, opening food packets, skinning games, etc.

Question 2: What should I look for in a backpacking knife?

A - Your knife should be compact, made of durable steel, stable, and can be used for many outdoor chores.

Question 3: What kind of knife do I need for backpacking?

A - The answer depends on your specific needs and wants. But, generally, backpackers choose knives that are easily carried, safe to use, and versatile. Check the metric scores of each knife listed in this article to see which one suits you best.

Our Analysis. Comparisons & Test Results

Best Backpacking Knife - Bugoutbill.com

1 - Value of Money

Your budget is important. That’s why this metric goes at the top of the list. It’s the measure of how satisfied we were with the product we’ve tried considering the price that we paid.

It’s a huge point for us if the knife is cheap but can well compete with the expensive ones. On the other hand, it’s a huge turn-off when an expensive knife is just as good as the humbly priced ones.

Value for Money Rating

Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife

100%

Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knife

100%

Spyderco Honeybee Non-Locking Knife

90%

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

90%

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife

80%

Spyderco Delica Signature Folding Knife

80%

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC, Drop-Point Blade

80%

ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife

80%

GERBER StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with Fine

80%

Benchmade - Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife

80%

2 - Blade and Edge Integrity

Nobody wants a knife that splits into two as it tries to cut stuff, right? We sure don’t! So this metric considers the durability of the blade itself, the sharpness of the cutting edge, and how effective it is in different chores like cutting, skinning, etc.

Edge retention is an essential factor too. We note how much activity we did first before we had to hone the blade’s edge again.

Blade and Edge Integrity Rating

Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife

100%

Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knife

100%

Spyderco Honeybee Non-Locking Knife

100%

Spyderco Delica Signature Folding Knife

100%

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC, Drop-Point Blade Knife

100%

ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife

100%

GERBER StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with Fine Edge

90%

Benchmade - Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife

90%

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

80%

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife

80%

3 - Handle and Grip

Knife users can find comfort and convenience in the handle or grip of the knife. We want our hands free of blisters and our wrists safe from soreness after using our knives. We also want to keep using the knife without worrying if the blade’s going to fall off.

All of those depend heavily on the handle and grip.

Besides that, their durability and integrity are important factors too.

Handle and Grip Rating

Spyderco Honeybee Non-Locking Knife

100%

Spyderco Delica Signature Folding Knife

100%

Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife

90%

Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knife

90%

ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife

90%

GERBER StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with Fine

90%

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife

90%

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC, Drop-Point Blade Knife

80%

Spyderco Delica Signature Folding Knife

80%

Spyderco Delica Signature Folding Knife

80%

4 - Versatility

You’ll never know what might come your way when you’re on backpacking trips. You might find yourself cutting rods, dressing meat, opening food packets – even fighting off immediate harm! The best pocket knives can be used in all of these.

A knife’s versatility depends on its grind, blade shape, edge design, and additional features. We considered all these upon deciding on this metric’s scores.

Versatility Rating

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

100%

Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife

90%

Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knife

90%

Spyderco Honeybee Non-Locking Knife

90%

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC, Drop-Point Blade Knife

90%

Spyderco Delica Signature Folding Knife

80%

ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife

80%

GERBER StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with Fine Edge

80%

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife

70%

Benchmade - Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife

70%

5 - Construction Quality

The overall quality of the knife includes the durability of the blade, handle, and grip materials. The balance of the weight and precision of the length are also part of this metric.

And, of course, this is where we consider the design and aesthetics of the knife.

Construction Quality Rating

Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife

100%

Spyderco Delica Signature Folding Knife

100%

Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knife

90%

Spyderco Honeybee Non-Locking Knife

90%

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

90%

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC, Drop-Point Blade Knife

90%

ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife

90%

GERBER StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with Fine Edge

90%

Benchmade - Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife

90%

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife

80%

Our Final Verdict: Best Backpacking Knife

Kudos to our Editor’s Choice awardee… The Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife!

It has the durability, versatility, and sharpness that you need for a backpacking knife. This will prove very useful for you on your adventures.

But if you’re tightening up your belt a little, the Opinel folding knife is perfect for you! It’s our Best Value awardee for the best reasons.

And of course…

All the knives on this Top Ten list have the best features and for the most reasonable prices!

Best Backpacking Knife Rating

Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife

96%

Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knife

94%

Spyderco Honeybee Non-Locking Knife

94%

Spyderco Delica Signature Folding Knife

92%

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

90%

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC, Drop-Point Blade Knife

82%

ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife

88%

GERBER StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with Fine Edge

86%

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife

84%

Benchmade - Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife

82%

Conclusion: Best Backpacking Knife

Best Backpacking Knife - Bugoutbill.com

We’re wondering…

What did you choose to bring to your next backpacking trip? 

Benchmade knives are pretty popular in the knife industry. But if you’re keen on versatility, Victorinox surely made a scene on this runway with their swiss army multi-tool.

We get that it’s a difficult job to pick from these excellent options.

But you can’t go wrong with our Editor’s Choice, Kershaw Leek. Also with the durably sharp blade of our Top Pick, Spyderco Honeybee

And of course, if you’re on a budget, our Best Value Opinel will give you competent quality for a low price.

Hopefully…

This guide here will help you make up your mind. So it’s all up to you, from this point on.

And who knows… Maybe we’ll meet out there on the road!



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