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7 Best Camping Knife Picks of 2021: Fixed, Folding, and Pocket

7 Best Camping Knife Picks of 2021: Fixed, Folding, and Pocket

Hardcore survivalists and casual weekend warriors alike need the best camping knife in their toolkit. In this ranking, we break down seven of the very best in categories like fixed blade, folding, and the best camping knife under $50. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll be on the cutting edge of what makes the best knife for camping. You’ll also feel confident that you’ve found the perfect blade for your next adventure. The wilderness awaits, so let’s get started. 

Our Top Picks: Best Camping Knife

Let’s cut to the chase with a brief overview of what we liked about each camping knife in our ranking:

  • Best Fixed Blade: Ontario Knife Company Rat-3 Fixed Blade. With a carbon steel blade and black nylon sheath, the Ontario Rat-3 is undoubtedly the best fixed blade camping knife in our ranking.
  • Best Folding: Opinel No. 12 Explore Survival Knife. For a folding blade, look no further than the Opinel No. 12, hands down the best folding blade camping knife in our ranking.
  • Best for Hunting: Buck Knives 110 Hunting. After thorough research, we present the Buck Knives 110 as the best camping knife for hunting.
  • Best Swiss Army: Victorinox Soldier Swiss Army Knife. Don’t go on your next adventure with the Victorinox Soldier, our pick for the best swim army knife for camping.
  • Best Survival: Morakniv Companion Knife. The best survival knife is the Morakniv Companion — no glamping allowed.
  • Best Under $50: SOG Fixed Blade. Get more knife for less money with the SOG fixed blade, the best camping knife under $50 in our ranking.
  • Best Pocket Knife: Benchmade Mini Barrage. Compact and portable, our research shows the Benchmade Mini Barrage is the best pocket knife for camping.

1. Ontario Knife Company Rat-3 Fixed Blade

The best fixed blade camping knife

Ontario Knife Company Knife

Manufacturer: Ontario Knife Company | Blade: Fixed | Blade Length: 3.5″ | Edge: Plain | Sheath: Nylon | Price: 💰💰💰

Taking the honor of best fixed blade camping knife is the Ontario Rat-3. This knife has a 3.5” plain blade made from carbon steel and a cool looking black sheath made from nylon. The handle is Micarta. Also catching our attention, the knife is made in collaboration with Randall’s Adventure and Training Team, the RAT in the RAT-3. Suffice to say, when it comes to being a total badass in the wild, this team of professional survival trainers, expedition guides, and outdoor gear researchers know what they’re talking about. Have no doubt: this knife is the real deal.

The knife fits well in hand, and the carbon steel sharpens better than super-steel knives, though some find the edge retention to be lacking. Nevertheless, once sharpened, this blade keeps its edge. The Micarta handle grips well, and blood washes off the handle easily if you plan on using the Rat-3 on your next hunting trip or for butchering. But don’t just take our word for it. One enthusiastic fan of the knife calls the Rat-3 the best American-made fixed blade knife for the money. After our own exhaustive research, we can’t help but agree.

  • Razor-sharp out of the box
  • Sheath is basic, but functional
  • Dressed a dozen deer without resharpening

  • “3-finger grip” for bigger hands
  • Non-responsive customer service

2. Opinel No. 12 Explore Survival Knife

The best folding camping knife

Opinel No. 12 Explore Survival Knife

Manufacturer: Opinel | Blade: Folding | Blade Length: 2.87″ | Edge: Drop Point | Sheath: N/A | Price: 💰💰

With a drop point, 2.87” blade, the Opinel No. 12 Explore Survival Knife is up next in our ranking. The No. 12 earned its spot as the best folding camping knife because the classic carbon steel blade holds an edge exceptionally well. The handle is beautifully varnished beech wood. The Opinel No. 12 knife is durable, designed for camping, hunting, farming, and general work applications. Opinel’s been in business since 1890, and that’s saying something. For safety, we appreciate the stainless virobloc safety ring with two sections, one fixed and one sliding — for extra security. 

After several whacks through MRE cardboard, reports say the No. 12 held its edge, remaining sharp through 550 cord and even small wood. The handle is smooth and ergonomic. In its folded position, though, the knife is a little large for most pockets. Some found they needed an edge re-grind after receiving the knife, but the blade sharpened up quickly. The blades are thin enough to cut at least a 12.5 degree per side angle without much effort. As well as camping, many find the No. 12 an excellent choice for kitchens. No sheath included.

  • Good choice for dressing game
  • Can hack through a finger-thick sapling
  • Balance very natural for general purposes

  • Larger than expected
  • Bit sensitive for a true survival knife
  • A few sharpening cycles required to get past temper problem

3. Buck Knives 110 Hunter

The best camping knife for hunting

Buck Knives 110 Hunter

Manufacturer: Buck Knives | Blade: Folding | Blade Length: 3.75″ | Edge: Drop Point | Sheath: Leather | Price: 💰💰💰

We settled on the 110 Hunter as the best hunting knife for a variety of reasons. Made by Buck Knives, the 100 Hunter has a drop point edge, 3.75” blade, and it comes with a genuine leather sheath. The handle is a lovely indigo blue with nickel silver bolsters. What we liked about the 110 as a hunting knife, though, is that it feels great in the hand, with nice weight and performance when it’s time to cut. According to many users, the drop point on the 110 is a nice upgrade from other classic clip points.

Otherwise, We were especially encouraged by reports that the knife offers all the finish, fit, and quality that many expect from a company like Buck Knives. Many use it for fishing and hunting scenarios, and it comes sharp from the factory. And although appearance doesn’t mean much when you’re dressing an Elk, the knife looks great. Over time, however, the silver nickel does tend to turn yellow, according to some users. 

  • Buck Forever Warranty
  • Classic legacy, nostalgic knife brand
  • Smooth blade lock up and movement

  • Lock spring too strong for some
  • Stain thick in some areas, thin in others
  • Some find the blue handle a little more turquoise

4. Victorinox Soldier Swiss Army Knife

The best Swiss Army Knife for camping

Victorinox Swiss Army Soldier Knife

Manufacturer: Victorinox | Blade: Folding | Blade Length: 3″ | Edge: Varied | Sheath: N/A | Price: 💰💰💰

Campers need to prepare for anything, and no tool is better suited for the demand of the wild than a Swiss Army Knife. Topping our list of the best Swiss Army Knife for camping is the Victorinox Soldier. From one of the longest-lasting and most trusted brands in the business, this 10-function knife offers crucial versatility like a large, 3” blade with a wavy edge, a bottle and can opener, a 5-millimeter lockable screwdriver, a reamer and punch, and a wood saw, among others. If there’s a function missing that you’ll need while camping, we can’t fathom what it is.

The main blade can be opened with one hand using the thumb assist — after a little practice. The Soldier offers a bit more heft than standard Swiss Army Knives from the same brand. The knife and saw blades are long and heavy, and a notable safety improvement is the locking blade. Otherwise, there are both straight and serrated edges to work with, and the saw is beyond handy while camping. We like the rubber inserts in the handle, adding comfort to the grip.

  • Serrated edge in front works well for camp food
  • Screwdriver/bottle opener lock set flush against side
  • Locking mechanism on opposite side, good choice for lefties

  • Some righties don’t like it
  • Price went up substantially
  • Color differs from image, some say

5. Morakniv Companion Knife

The best survival camping knife

Morakniv Companion Knife

Manufacturer: Morakniv | Blade: Fixed | Blade Length: 4.1″ | Edge: Plain | Sheath: Plastic | Price: 💰

When you camp, you’re all in for weeks on end in the wild. To stay safe, you need by your side a knife that’s up for the task. The best knife for survival in our ranking is the Morakniv Companion Knife. The fixed blade is long, at a little more than 4”, with a plain edge, and the knife comes with a plastic sheath. The blade on this affordable, well-reviewed knife is Sandvik stainless steel, perfect for tasks like food prep and cutting kindling for a fire. We also like the high-friction grip for safety and control, especially in inclement weather. The sheath clips securely on a belt.

The knife has been used for clearing a path of small tree limbs as well as filet a freshly caught fish. It’s even known for batoning smaller logs, around 4” thick. It’s not quite sharp enough to strike fire steel, but a little extra sharpening does the trick. We recommend a strop or a fine stone back, based on the advice of experienced users. The handle helps maintain grip and control while cleaning a deer, and the edge stayed sharp throughout the process. Considering the price, this is, without a doubt, the best-reviewed knife from serious survivalists.

  • Cuts paracord
  • Rubbery texture on handle
  • Serrated and serrated-with-blunt-tip option available

  • More of a splitting-wedge than a slicer 
  • When pressure applied, the blade tends to move sideways from handle 
  • Some knives ship with micro-bevel edge, rather than standard Scandinavian grind

6. SOG Fixed Blade

The best camping knife under $50

SOG Fixed Blade Knives with Sheath

Manufacturer: SOG | Blade: Fixed | Blade Length: 3.8″ | Edge: Tang | Sheath: Plastic | Price: 💰💰

The best camping knife under $50 is the SOG fixed blade. The knife has a tang or shank edge and a 3.8” blade made from corrosion-resistant steel in a stonewash finish. Don’t miss the clip-point tip and thick blade jimping, both contributing to the versatility and control for which SOG knives are known. There’s also excellent edge retention, and we learned the blade is incredibly rust-resistant. Also not to be missed is the clip sheath with a useful, cord-cutting groove built-in. 

Users report this well-balanced knife is comfortable with good ergonomics. In addition to camping, it’s been useful in a ranch setting for cutting hay cords and opening feed bags. Jimping can sometimes dig into your thumb, but that’s not the case with SOG. There’s also a nice spot on the handle for comfortably choking up on the blade. However, the handle completely encases the blade, so it is hard to tell if it’s a full tang. A few users claim to have confirmed full tang with a magnet, however. 

  • Not too big, not too small
  • Adequate size for most camp tasks
  • Suitable for both small and medium hands

  • Sheath clip too low
  • Grip a bit slippy with wet hands
  • Sheath top-heavy with the knife in it

7. Benchmade Mini Barrage

The best pocket knife for camping

Benchmade Mini

Manufacturer: Benchmade | Blade: Folding | Blade Length: 2.9″ | Edge: Drop Point | Sheath: Resin | Price: 💰💰💰💰

When it came time to choose the best pocket knife for camping, we settled on the Benchmade Mini Barrage. This high-end yet compact folding knife has a 2.9” stainless steel blade with a drop point, partially serrated edge. Blade length is 2.9,” and it comes with a pocket clip. (Closed the knife measures four inches, weighing only 3.4 ounces. The right size for most pockets). The handle is resin, resistant to moisture, and is very comfortable to grip.

Otherwise, this knife excels for both car camping and backpacking. There’s a spring assist for easy opening, and the blade locks for safety. The plastic pocket clip allows for discretion when carrying the knife. The clip is at the opposite end of the knife, away from the hinge, making drawing the blade one-handed a cinch. With a thicker blade than earlier Benchmade models like the 530, the knife also works well for light prying tasks. Otherwise, according to experienced knife users, it’s an all-around great backpacker and backup hunter, 

  • Zero play or wobble
  • Solid steel liners under the grip
  • Opens smooth after a year of heavy use

  • Too light for some
  • Rare opening action durability issues
  • No quick-open function like other Benchmade’s

Our Process

For this guide on camping knives, our team spent 5 hours researching the most popular options from over 35 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about sixty user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each knife. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 camping knives on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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Further Reading

Best Camping Hatchet
The 7 Best Camping Hatchets
Types of Knives
Types of Knives: Outdoor Knives
Best Ceramic Knife Set
The 7 Best Ceramic Knife Sets
how to stay clean while camping
How to Stay Clean While Camping
Best Folding Knife
The 7 Best Folding Knives
How to Sharpen a Fillet Knife
How to Sharpen a Fillet Knife