23 Best Camping Knives in 2020 Review and Buying Guide

No real outdoorsman is leaving the house set out on an adventure without a good camping knife, period. A camping knife is one of the most versatile tools you’ll ever put in your pack or throw in the truck and really, there is no replacement.

Whether the task at hand includes setting up camp, hiking, hunting, fishing, self-defense or even starting a fire, a camping knife is beyond valuable but finding the right knife can be difficult since there are literally thousands of choices. I’m here today to help all my fellow campers outfit their gear arsenals with top-notch knives that are guaranteed to perform in the field no matter what style of camping and outdoor activities you enjoy partaking in!

In this guide we’ll define what makes a knife a good camping companion, we’ll discuss how you can determine quality and craftsmanship, and finally, I’ll do all the leg work and help you find the best camping knife for you at the best price so you can get back to planning your next trip.

Choosing the Perfect Camping Knife (Buying Guide)

This section is for those of you who want to learn what to look for when choosing a camping knife. We’ll cover blade steels, blade shapes, and how to distinguish between quality and crap knives. If you already know all about those things and want to skip straight to my reviews, use the navigation menu above or simply keep scrolling!

Our Definition of a Camping Knife

Best Camping Knife Featured Image

The definition of a camping knife is kind of arbitrary due to the very nature of the word “camping”. There are so many different types of camping across so many different environments that it’s pretty difficult to tell you exactly what style and design of knife is perfect for each and every scenario.

Knives come in different sizes, lengths, materials, blade styles, and may utilize other built-in tools to help you on your journey.

I’d personally recommend a knife whose blade length is a little longer than 4” but no longer than 11”. A small blade may leave something to be desired in terms of performance and ease of use and a blade too long is simply a waste of space and weight, not to mention difficult to travel with and possibly illegal depending on where you are.

Fixed blades perform much better in terms of camping than folding or flip-out pocket knives. Simply put, pocket knives have a lot of moving pieces prone to failure and when used in a rigorous fashion, can be dangerous. I’ve personally had decent pocket knives fail me when I’m out and about in the wilderness and that can be a major drag. A single piece constructed fixed blade is by far the most reliable and practical when used while camping!

Camping knives are often bundled with other helpful tools you may need such as fire starters, compasses, buoyancy devices, lanyards, etc. Not all camping knives come with additional features and usually the additional features are subpar compared to what you could get if you bought each tool alone, however, having a knife capable of being used in multiple different facets of camping is always a big plus, even if its used as a backup to your primary tools.

Camping knives are much different than what you would expect to find on a soldier being deployed into combat or a knife you’d regularly use around the house. Camping knives have blades that are made to cut through a variety of different materials both hard and soft. Camping knives have specific points and curvatures that make them decent all-around knives for the variety of tasks they’ll be used for. Many camping knives will utilize a serrated section of the blade to ensure you have the tools necessary for the task at hand.

Camping knives aren’t designed to kill, however, most knives on my list would be more than ready to be used in a self-defense situation if needed and some of them even utilize drop points, which are especially useful for defense and hunting.

We’ll talk about points, blades, and construction later on in the guide in further depth but I just want you to understand that not all knives are created equally and that camping knives are by far some of the most versatile pieces of metal you’ll ever purchase!

Blade Types Explained

Knife Blade Types and Shapes Chart

When shopping around for a knife you may notice several different “points” being utilized across many different brands and styles of knives. If you’re new, this can seem odd and confusing and the names of these aren’t very descriptive themselves so its important that you know what to look for! Different point styles determine the behavior of your blade, so it’s imperative you choose one that will benefit you for the things you plan to do. I’ll briefly cover the most common shapes you’ll find with camping knives, but for a more in-depth guide as well as the pros and cons of each, check out our guide on knife blade types. I think you’ll find that guide extremely useful.

Drop Point

This is definitely the most popular style I’ve stumbled across and trust me, I’ve looked at thousands upon thousands of knives in pretty much every knife category! The drop point is a convex curvature along the spine of the blade that curves down from where the handle is to the point of the knife. These are meant for multi-purpose usage and for the most part, are probably the best style for a general camping knife.

Clip Point

Knives with a clip point blade have sort of a cut out towards the point of the knife that is concave in nature. Usually, starting from the handle, the blade comes out straight for a majority of the blade, and then suddenly dips in harshly around the ⅔ mark, like its been cut out to form a sort of a C shape. On some knives, this cut out is actually sharpened and used for cutting or increasing its piercing effectiveness.

Gut Hook

These are knives with a hook on the top of the blade towards the point. These are mainly used for hunting and fishing, especially when field dressing. A lot of people buy these because they look really cool, and I can’t argue with that. They also do well with cutting fishing string quickly and things like that, and for that reason, I guess they’d be alright as camping knives but probably wouldn’t be my first, or second choice.

Talon Claw

These blades are very similar aesthetically to an actual birds talon. They curve inwards with the sharp side on the inside curvature of the blade. These are excellent for when you have to cut backward, towards you. You’ll likely not use these for camping knives, so make sure you don’t accidentally pick one up! They’re usually used as utility blades, such as for carpentry or electrical work.

Spear Point

These blades are extremely simple in design and position the point of the blade in-line with the center of the knife itself. This shape increases the strength of the blade, especially the point, in cases where you’re spearing or stabbing. I would not recommend this type of blade for a general use camping knife.

Needle Point

These are typically double-edged knives that jut out from the handle in a perfectly symmetrical fashion, tapering down as you get closer to the point. These blades are excellent for jabbing and stabbing but do lack overall strength, making them not so great for camping.

Trailing Point

These are blades who, nearing the end of the knife towards the point, curve upwards creating an elevated point over the handle of the knife. These are excellent for slicing, filleting, skinning, etc. These are great knives if you plan to hunt while you camp, making them rather multi-purpose!

Tanto

These blades are a miniature version of the Samurai Tanto short swords used in Japan. The blade is rather flat and symmetric at first, and then roughly halfway out the belly of the blade tapers in towards the point with the spine remaining flat and straight. These blades have incredible strength near the point, making them excellent choices for piercing thick objects. They aren’t the absolute best camping blade but you could go with it if you really like the aesthetics of them.

Choose Your Metal Wisely

Knife Steel Hardness Tradeoffs Infographic

Knives aren’t simply “made out of metal” and the actual composition of the metal itself is extremely important to both the knives performance and its price tag. There are always new options arriving in the market so it can be confusing as to what the knife is actually made of, so if you aren’t sure, ask the seller or manufacturer first before buying! We actually have a very in-depth knife blade steels guide here if you’re interested in learning about all the common steels and the trade-offs with each.

In this guide, I recommend knives that are all made out of some form of steel or stainless steel. There are several different levels of hardness and quality metrics that you need to know so that you can pair yourself with the right knife.

The hardness level of the materials used to construct a blade is measured on the Rockwell C Scale, which can be found here. Hardness will determine the blades overall resistance to deformation, damage, and wear and tear during usage.

Remember, there is no “best steel” for knives. Choosing one material or the other usually consists of a tradeoff, such as economically priced versus hardness, wear resistance versus weight, and so on. Of course, some knife materials are certainly better than others and I’ll try to outline what to look for in a category style basis.

Tier One – The absolute cutting edge of technology and material acquisition.

CPM S110V, CPM S90V, M390, ZDP-189, Elmax, CPM-20CV:

By far some of the most expensive materials used in mass-producing knives, S110V is the most durable, but not by far. If you break one during regular usage, post a comment because I’ve never seen a broken blade constructed from this! Beware, though, although they hold an edge like no other material, they are very difficult to sharpen once they do lose their edge.

These materials all cost lots of money because they contain mixtures of expensive stuff. For example, the CPM S90V is a carbon mixture containing a lot of vanadium, which is not only costly to obtain but costly to manufacture and craft into a blade.

Tier Two – Popular materials used in the creation of high-quality knives.

CTS-XHP, CPM M4, CPM S35VN, CPM S30V:

Second but certainly not of low quality whatsoever. These materials are actually considered top tier for most people, as these are probably among the highest-priced knives most people are willing to fork over the cash to obtain.

These knives encompass incredible edge retention with a focus on creating a knife that is both durable and cost-effective. CPM S30V is largely known in the world of knives to be one of the most commonly used materials for the construction of high-quality knives.

Tier Three – What most manufacturers and knife owners would consider decently priced and relatively decent quality.

154CM, ATS-34, D2, VG-10, H1, N680, 440C, AUS-8, CTS-BD1, 8CR13MoV, 14C28N:

Simply put, these are knives that most people will probably look to buy unless they’re passionate about their blades. Knives in this category are affordable for pretty much anyone keen on buying something that will last and perform well. A lot of these use a mixture of chromium and/or nitrogen for better wear resistance, especially against corrosion.

Tier Four – Basically, these are either really old materials that are no longer as good as the above-mentioned materials or are extremely cheap to obtain and manufacture. 

440A, 420HC, 13C26, 1095, 420J, AUS-6:

These are considered low end by most knife manufacturers and knife aficionados. With that said, it doesn’t mean you should totally count out knives made of these materials, as they are generally pretty cheap and easy to replace. Knives in this tier are great for beginners or first-time knife owners that don’t have an appreciation for top quality edge retention and won’t be abusing their knives on a regular basis.

For a better, more in-depth understanding of these materials, check out our full knife blade steels guide that I linked to above.

Distinguishing Between Quality and Crap Knives

Determining the quality of a knife from the perspective of someone new to the industry can be extremely difficult. Years ago had you set out a bunch of knives on a table and told me to choose the best ones, I guarantee I would have chosen the most aesthetically pleasing looking ones without much consideration to the metal stamps, edge, blade, handle, etc.

Unfortunately, most of the super cool looking knives that are affordable are actually junk and nearly useless in the field. Most high-quality knife manufacturers take a lot of pride in their blades and pair them with very neutral and simple styling. Function over form!

Furthermore, marketing on behalf of the junk knives is just so good nowadays and the misleading copy they use can be misleading to the untrained eye.

One of the most important things to look for is single piece construction. I don’t think I’ve ever spent good money on a high-quality knife for camping whose entire construction wasn’t derived from a single piece of metal. Knives put together from multiple pieces of metal have a significantly higher chance of breaking and are flat out just not as strong and durable as a single piece knife.

Spend Serious Cash or Cheap Out?

Most of the knives on my recommended list are quite expensive and may actually cost more than most of your other camping gear. This seems a bit crazy because even the best camping knife will be beaten, abused, and used in so many ways that it’s impossible to keep them in pristine condition.

You could always spend like $8 on cheap knives and simply replace them every so often. That is definitely an option you can go with and I know many people who do this. The problem here, though, is reliability in the field and overall user experience.

I’ve seen countless instances where someone mocked me for spending $200 on a quality knife, only to be left out in the wilderness with a knife that has decided it wants to be more than just one piece. Buying cheap knives may save you some money and may allow you flexibility in designs and such, but is it worth the risk?

In my opinion, no, going the cheap route and buying garbage knives is simply not worth it, especially if you’re a serious backpacker going out on heavy trips alone. Your knife is one of your best all-around camping tools, useful in nearly all survival scenarios. Spending the extra money to have a knife you can trust could very well be the difference between life or death and to me, the extra $192 is worth having a knife you can depend on no matter what.

Yes, I do own several knives above $100, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend that much to get a quality knife, it’s just a personal example. You can find very high-quality knives around $50 that would fare much better than an $8 dollar store knife. I’d be wary of spending any less than what a case of beer would cost me.

Do your research, figure out what the blade is made out of, try and stick to single-piece blades, and purchase from brand names that are trusted by campers, backpackers, military personnel, etc. There are a lot of shady marketing tactics that cheap overseas companies use to try and hype up their cheap junk. Don’t fall for it and end up knifeless in the wilderness!

Camping Knife Reviews

Alright, time to get you a camping knife so you can be on your way to new exploration! Of course, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of options here, so it’s impossible for me to review each and every knife you could possibly use for camping. What I’ll do here is select some of my favorites and give you the rundown on why I like them, then you can choose the best camping knife within your budget!

If you have a trusty blade you never go on a trip without, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to get my hands on it! The knives I recommend will all be fixed blade knives and come with sheaths! If you need something else, check out the many other guides I’ve written on knives, such as my combat knives guide or my throwing knives guide!

Here Are the Best Camping Knives

1. ESEE Knives P6 or P4 (Best Value)

ESSE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife

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Estimated Price: $130

Steel Type: 1095-HC
Blade Shape: Drop-Point
Handle Material: Micarta
Overall Length: 11.75 inches
Blade Length: 6.50 inches
Cutting Edge: 5.75″
Weight: 12.00 Ounces

My Review: The ESEE P6 and P4 seem to make it to the top of every knife guide on Marine Approved and for good reason. These knives are extremely versatile and work well for everything from bushcraft to backpacking to survival purposes.

The 6.5-inch 1095 high carbon blade works well for wood processing, batoning, and everything else you’d expect a camping knife to do. These blades come razor sharp right out of and with a little maintenance are built to withstand years and years of use and abuse.

ESEE Knives is one of the most reputable brands in the knife industry, and I really like that manufacture them in the United States and back them with a no questions lifetime transferable warranty. If you somehow manage to break this knife, they will replace it for free no questions asked. You can learn more about their lifetime warranty here.

The handles are constructed of linen micarta and create an ergonomic shape with a choil that prevents the hand from sliding during chopping.

The 6P is larger than the P4 with an overall length of 11.75 inches and a weight of 12 ounces, while the smaller ESEE 4P found here has an overall length of 9 inches and weight of 8 ounces. Both are great for camping purposes and in terms of value almost impossible to beat.

The video below does a great overview of this knife and the sheath if you’re interested in learning more or seeing it in action!

Key Features:

  • Manufactured in the USA (Idaho)
  • 6.5 inch 1095-HC full tang drop point blade
  • Blade thickness of 3/16″
  • Backed by ESEE’s lifetime warranty

2. Gerber StrongArm (Best Under $100)

Gerber StrongArm Knife

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Estimated Price: $75

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 420-HC
Handle Composition: Glass-Filled Nylon with Overmolded Rubber
Blade Length: 4.80 Inches
Total Length: 9.80 Inches
Total Weight: 7.90 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon and ABS

My Review: Gerber makes a number of fixed blade knives that a great for camping applications. The two we’ll cover here are the Gerber StrongArm and Gerber LMF II. This knife is a workhorse and sports a 4.8” 420-HC/BDZ-1 stainless steel serrated or fine edge drop-point blade. This knife is primarily designed for military usage, however, I’ve found that this is one of the best camping knives that I’d consider affordable for everyone.

One thing that you’ll notice right away about the StrongArm is that that the handle allows for an extremely strong grip in any condition! It’s textured in a diamond pattern and is rubberized, making this one of the best overall grips I’ve ever witnessed.

These knives are available in either coyote brown or black and the sheath you get is color-matched. I also really like that this knife is designed and manufactured in the USA.

Note: Another knife that is fairly similar to the StrongArm that is excellent for survival and camping applications is the Gerber LMF II (reviewed below). The LMF II is slightly larger, heftier, and has some nice features for survival applications including a larger pommel and lashing holes that can be used to attach the knife to a stick in order to make a spear. I could talk about all the differences between the two, but one of my favorite YouTubers actually made a great video explaining the differences between them. I will link that video below.

Key Features:

  • 4.8” drop-point 420-HC construction and a rubberized aluminum diamond textured grip
  • Available in half serration or fine edge models that come in either coyote brown or black
  • Comes with a multi-functional MOLLE compatible strap mount sheath

3. Gerber LMF II Survival or Infantry

LMF II Knife

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Estimated Price: $80

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 410HC
Handle Composition: Electrically Isolated Glass-Filled Nylon with Overmolded Rubber
Blade Length: 4.48 Inches
Total Length: 10.00 Inches
Total Weight: 11.90 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

Note: You can find the LMF II Infantry on Amazon here.

My Review: This knife was originally designated as an aircrew rescue tool that can cut through seat belts incredibly fast and even the fuselage of a plane. This 10” monster features a 4.48” full tang 420 high carbon steel drop point style blade.

Something I thought was really neat is that the ballistic nylon sheath comes with an integrated knife sharpener, how thoughtful! Aside from that, the handle is a glass-filled nylon grip with a TPV over mold for additional durability and a rugged textured grip.

I found the grip to be among my favorites as I personally really enjoy the simple but textured design they’ve incorporated. Something to note, though, is that if you have extraordinarily large hands, the bevel at the bottom may be slightly uncomfortable.

With most of the high-end Gerber knives, you’ll be getting a lifetime warranty! Overall, I would say the LMF II or StrongArm is the best camping knife under $100. They are both great knives and it just comes down to personal preference as far as which is better for you.

Key Features:

  • A total length of 10” with a 4.48” drop-point partially serrated 420HC blade
  • Comes with a MOLLE compatible ballistic nylon sheath that includes a knife sharpener
  • The LMF II utilizes a pommel glass breaker and an insulated shock-resistant buffer in the handle

4. Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 (Editor’s Choice)

Benchmade Bushcrafter 162

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Estimated Price: $200

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: CPM-S30V
Handle Composition: G10
Blade Length: 4.40 Inches
Total Length: 9.15 Inches
Total Weight: 7.72 Ounces
Sheath Material: Leather

My Review: To many, a $200 price tag on a knife may seem pretty ridiculous, but in the knife world, Benchmade is kind of like Lamborghini. The guys who have them always seem to love to show them off like a prized possession, and I can understand that, after all, these are some of the best knives made that are still considered affordable for the normal person.

With that monstrous price tag, you get the knife, of course, but you also get Benchmades LifeSharp, which is basically a full repair and refurbish service at NO COST. That’s right, you don’t even need to buy a knife sharpener if you don’t mind bringing or shipping the knife to them every so often. They’ll fix or replace broken points, they’ll lubricate the blade, they’ll sharpen it up like new, all included in that massive upfront price tag. More on Benchmade Lifesharp service here.

Alright, let’s talk about the actual knife now, shall we?

The Bushcrafter was purpose-built to be an all-around multi-purpose outdoorsman knife. It consists of S30V steel which is incredibly strong and reinforced with carbon and chromium. Of course, this is a single-piece construction and it’s fixed to a G10 fiberglass-based resin-coated grip that is resistant to moisture and extremely versatile across all environmental situations.

Related Article: 32 Best Survival Knives (Ranked by a Marine)

This knife comes with a beautiful natural full-grain buckskin sheath with a locking D-ring mechanism and retention strap. This is one of the best sheaths I have ever seen come with a knife. Usually, I replace the included sheath with something better, but in the case of this knife and most other Benchmade knives, the sheath included is of top quality.

Key Features:

  • 9.2” overall length with a 4.43” S30V full tang drop point blade
  • Available in desert sand or satin color configurations
  • Probably the toughest and most versatile knife on the market

5. Cold Steel SRK (Issued to SEALs)

Cold Steel SRK Fixed Blade Knife

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Estimated Price: $40

Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: SK5 with Tuff-Ex Coating
Handle Composition: Kray-Ex
Blade Length: 6.00 Inches
Total Length: 10.75 Inches
Total Weight: 8.20 Ounces
Sheath Material: Kydex and Ballistic Nylon

My Review: With a knife at this price point you might expect some questionable quality, however, the SRK by Cold Steel is anything but questionable quality. I don’t know how they sell this knife at a profit as the knife itself seems as full-featured and as rugged and dependable as knives in the $100 range.

This thing is a beast, first off. It’s 10.75″ in total length with a 6″ blade. It’s a sleek-looking knife that actually feels rather nimble and comfortable. This knife is a capable survival knife and also great for combat applications. It’s a trap! No, it’s just really good design and it’s exactly what I expect when I buy something from Cold Steel.

This knife is issued to Navy Seals as a survival and rescue resource and has long been tested and proven to be durable and reliable. Do not let the low price point fool you, this is a serious contender that’s both tough and comfortable to use.

Here is a good video review on this knife. I recommend skipping to 3 minutes and 20 seconds into the video.

Key Features:

  • 10.75” total length with a 6” SK5 steel beveled drop-point blade coated with black Tuff-Ex material
  • No glass breaker, but the knife does weigh 8.2oz, which is probably enough to put some force behind and bust out most automobile windows
  • Included is a ballistic nylon and Kydex sheath that utilizes a single button lock mechanism

6. Fallkniven A1 Pro (Best Overall)

Fallkniven A1 Pro

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Estimated Price: $400

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: Laminated Lam. CoS Steel
Handle Composition: Thermorun
Blade Length: 6.23 Inches
Total Length: 11.14 Inches
Total Weight: 12.40 Ounces
Sheath Material: Zytel

My Review: The Fallkniven A1 series has garnered quite a reputation in the knife world and for good reason. Fallkniven set out with one mission, and no, they didn’t care much about price. The mission was to create a knife that is simply the best. No gimmicks, no style points, no additional features or functions, just raw, hard, sturdy materials put together with expert-level craftsmanship so that you can have top-tier knife capabilities at the consumer level.

I say consumer level lightly, though, as not everyone reading this is going to be willing to drop over four hundred bucks on a knife to go camping with. When I was in college, this knife would cost more than my entire budget camping load-out!

If you are one of those people willing to shell out four hundred for a knife, well, you’re in for a treat. The 6.23” blade consists of laminated CoS steel. Laminating the steel allows for a harder HRC level without sacrificing durability to brittleness. Laminating CoS steel has garnered the Fallkniven A1 Pro a 60 on the Rockwell Hardness scale but their steel is far more durable and holds an edge longer than other comparably hard steels on the market today.

Related Article: 17 Best Camping Hatchets and Axes (Ranked by a Marine)

Furthermore, CoS steel is a special super-alloy with the addition of cobalt, which allows it to be worked at much higher temperatures and thus the final product is harder and stronger. The addition of lamination and cobalt into a high-alloy tool steel is not seen very often but is a specialty of Fallkniven with a majority of their premium knives consisting of this material.

This is one of the strongest and most durable blades I’ve gotten to review yet and although the price is high, I’d say the price for your life is quite high too. If you’re going camping casually at a campground, you probably don’t need this but if you’re going camping in remote areas that are dangerous and where help is far away, a knife like this might just be the difference-maker in a clutch situation. You’re paying for the peace of mind knowing that you have a knife that can endure just about anything.

Key Features:

  • 6.23-inch drop point blade
  • Fallkniven is a Sweedish Company that Manufactures in Japan
  • Extremely well built and great for camping purposes

7. Benchmade Nimravus 141

Benchmade Nimravus 140 Knife

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Estimated Price: $190

Blade Style: Drop point
Blade Composition: 154CM
Handle Composition: 6061-T6 Aluminum
Blade Length: 4.50 Inches
Total Length: 9.45 Inches
Total Weight: 6.20 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon MOLLE Compatible

My Review: Oh yes, another Benchmade! I promise this is the last one I’ll put on this list, despite the fact that I could fill two of these lists solely with Benchmade products!

The Nimravus 141 is a more tactical fashioned knife that is almost as versatile and incredible for multi-usage as the aforementioned Bushcrafter. This full tang knife features a drop point blade and is also available with a tanto blade with 50 percent serration. This particular drop point blade is among the strongest on the market today, which is probably why it costs so much!

Since I am a Marine and I do love tactical nonsense, I took particular notice of the MOLLE ready clip and the MOLLE nylon sheath that’s included. Everything I have is MOLLE, so it just makes sense to have one of these around to keep things in line.

Popular Article: 10 Best Throwing Axes (Ranked by a Marine)

Of course, this knife comes with the Benchmade Lifesharp that I mentioned in the Bushcrafter review and a lifetime warranty.

Key Features:

  • Full tang 154CM steel 9.45” overall length and 4.5” tanto blade with an ultra-light 6061-T6 aluminum brushed handle
  • Available in desert sand and flat black color configurations
  • MOLLE enhanced color-matched nylon sheath with Malice clip and lanyard holes

8. Ontario Knife Company Black Bird SK-5

Ontario Knife Company Black Bird SK-5

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Estimated Price: $115

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 154CM
Handle Composition: G10
Blade Length: 5.00 Inches
Total Length: 10.00 Inches
Total Weight: 8.40 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon MOLLE Compatible

My Review: This is an industry-known classic. The Ontario Knife Company Black Bird SK-5 has been a knife who has been tested across many different trials such as combat, hiking, self-defense, utility, and survival. These knives have been a part of the load out of any man or women from fighter pilot to fisherman. There’s a reason these knives are so widespread and widely loved by so many and that’s because Ontario Knife Co. employs people that live the life we live and bring that experience to the design table. Their knives reflect real-life experience from real people that have realistic expectations of a blade they would trust their lives on. Nice steel at a steal of a price helps too.

154CM steel is especially durable and extremely well-rounded which is exactly what I would personally want for a camping knife. For me, camping can mean many different things. I might be going camping to go on a hunt or I might be going camping just to sit around a fire and BS with my pals. Whatever the situation, the SK-5 with its 154CM steel and 5” drop-point seems to always have an answer to any problem I have despite what situation I put it in.

9. JEO-TEC No.7

JEO TEC No.7

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Estimated Price: $130

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: Austrian Bohler N690
Handle Composition: Cocobolo Wood or Micarta
Blade Length: 4.53 Inches
Total Length: 10.23 Inches
Total Weight: 10.80 Ounces
Sheath Material: Leather or Cordura

My Review: JEO-TEC is a Spanish company that uses Spanish flavor in tandem with American design and craftsmanship to create some really interesting and competitive products. You won’t hear about them often and they surely don’t have the brand reputation like Benchmade, CRKT, or Ontario Knife Co, but they make knives that would certainly rival each and every one of those brands.

Now, the MOVA steel they use on most of their products hasn’t been tested enough for me to properly recommend it. That’s fine, though, because they make knives out of Bohler N690 steel as well and while we don’t know if their MOVA steel is any good, we know for sure Bohler N690 is fantastic for camping and outdoor situations. N690 is an Austrian steel so that’s why many of you probably haven’t owned a knife consisting of it yet. No worries though, N690 is well tested and well proven to be extremely well rounded, giving some of the American premium super steels a run for their money.

This knife is tough. Period. It’s insanely strong and as soon as you get your hands on one, you’ll feel what I’m talking about. The tip feels indestructible, the knife is heavy but balanced, and the steel just gives off a feeling of ultra-hard and bruteness. I know, that’s a terrible way to describe it, but when you find a knife under two hundred bucks that performs so well and feels so good to use, the confidence it gives you to overcome whatever tasks lay before you is indescribable.

Related Article: 15 Best Fire Starters (All Types) Ranked by a Marine

Most sheaths that come with a fixed blade are usually junk but the quality doesn’t stop at the blade for JEO-TEC. The sheath you get is a choice between genuine leather or ballistic Cordura with storage for a sharpener. I usually choose Cordura over leather but this leather sheath is especially high quality and extremely ergonomic.

10. Benchmade Saddle Mountain 15001-1

Benchmade Saddle Mountain 15001-1

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Estimated Price: $140

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: CPM-S30V
Handle Composition: G10 Woodgrain
Blade Length: 4.17 Inches
Total Length: 8.73 Inches
Total Weight: 5.13 Ounces
Sheath Material: Leather

My Review: The Saddle Mountain is by far one of the best camping knives I’ve ever packed along with me. First off, the price for a quality Benchmade fixed blade consisting of super steel S30V is insanely good.

Just a little over a hundred bucks gets you a beautifully crafted Saddle Mountain with an old school classic wood grain appearance in the form of a comfy G10 handle. S30V steel is exceptionally hard, durable, and strong. These blades are sure to endure a beating and hold their edges insanely long.

The only real downside to S30V is that it might be a bit difficult or time-consuming for someone new to sharpening to get a good edge. If you don’t want to hassle with sharpening one of the hardest to sharpen steel blades on the market, no worries, as you can simply send it in for free to Benchmade for their warranty repair and refurbish services.

The Saddle Mountain is everything I love in a knife. It’s got a classic and simple appearance but hidden behind that wood grain finish is some high tech gear. American CPM-S30V super steel is steel I’ve looked to for many of the blades in my collection and the G10 handles offered from Benchmade have always impressed me in both ergonomics and durability. This is a do-it-all kind of knife and there are very little challenges this knife would hesitate to topple.

11. Spyderco Bill Moran

Spyderco Bill Moran

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Estimated Price: $115

Blade Style: Trailing-Point
Blade Composition: VG-10
Handle Composition: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon (FRN)
Blade Length: 3.92 Inches|
Total Length: 8.06 Inches
Total Weight: 3.10 Ounces
Sheath Material: Boltaron

My Review: We had to throw a blade on here that consists of VG-10 steel for our beloved fisherman and sea dogs and as such, there is no better representation of a versatile camping knife utilizing VG-10 steel than Spyderco.

So, why is VG-10 so special? Well, for some of you, it isn’t, and you should keep scrolling. For the rest of you, those who spend a considerable amount of time working, playing, traveling, or searching for this evening’s dinner under the waves, VG-10 is a lifesaver. VG-10 steel is composed of material that makes it exceptionally wear and rust-resistant.

If your knives never get wet, corrosion resistance isn’t an issue, but if your knives are always wet or are subject to saltwater, VG-10 ensures protection and durability where almost all other popular steel types used in knives will fail in much shorter duration.

The Bill Moran knife offered by Spyderco was, in fact, designed in tandem with the coveted Bill Moran. This trailing-point knife embodies a more traditional style than most of Spyderco’s leaf-shaped blades, however, it still encompasses the Spyderco hole and overall exudes quality and craftsmanship you can expect from Spyderco.

The trailing-point isn’t an ultra-versatile tool. It’s not bad, but it’s not as versatile as something like a drop-point. The trailing-point is especially useful for skinning and precision cutting but falls short on strength due to the tip not being well supported. Again, this knife is for those of us who go camping as a means to be closer to the fish and that’s who would want this knife. Fishermen and hunters that are always out in the field where their gear is wet and dirty will benefit the most from this knife.

12. ESEE Tactical 5 Survival Knife

ESEE Tactical 5 Survival Knife

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Estimated Price: $160

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 1095HC
Handle Composition: Micarta
Blade Length: 5.25 Inches
Total Length: 11.00 Inches
Total Weight: 15.90 Ounces
Sheath Material: Kydex

My Review: ESEE offering up one of the coolest sheaths I’ve ever come across, the coveted ambidextrous Kydex. I love it, it’s amazing, but you didn’t come here to hear about sheaths so let’s get to the blade.

These knives are designed by military SERE instructors and were meant to be used by paratroopers and pilots for survival situations. ESEE only manufacturers top-quality knives and I have yet to have a single complaint with them!

The ESEE Tactical 5 has a 1095 carbon-based 5.25″ blade encompassing a drop point that has the option for serration. ESEE has managed to integrate several additional features aside from this jaw-dropping blade, including a glass breaker pommel and a bow drill notch. This all comes together under removable Canvas Micarta handles, which are incredibly grippy and also quite comfortable!

There are also a few other variants of this knife. The ESEE 5p-E is a black powder coated knife with the Micarta handle. The ESEE 5P-E-OD is the same but in Olive Drab. The ESEE 5P-E-VG is the same blade but painted in venom green and vibrant red, utilizing a G10 handle.

The only drawback to this knife, and yes I know, I said I had no complaints and this isn’t really a complaint, more of a note, is that the 1095 steel is prone to rust and weathering if the knife isn’t properly maintained. These knives are expensive, so don’t buy them if you don’t want to spend a little time here and then to love them. Aside from that, the blade is extremely hard and super durable in terms of actual usage.

Key Features:

  • Includes a very high-quality Kydex sheath and encompasses several secondary tools integrated into the knife
  • An overall length of 11” with a full tang 5.25” drop point blade constructed of 1095 carbon-based stainless steel
  • Available in both serrated and non-serrated variants in either olive drab or flat black color configurations

13. Tops Knives B.O.B Brothers Of Bushcraft

Tops Knives Bushcraft

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Estimated Price: $130

Note: This knife is also available with a wooden colored handle here.

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 1095HC
Handle Composition: Micarta
Blade Length: 4.75 Inches
Total Length: 10.00 Inches
Total Weight: 5.50 Ounces
Sheath Material: Kydex

My Review: The Brothers of Bushcraft is quite literally designed for everything you’d want in a camping knife. The whole package comes in at 10” and the blade is roughly 4.5” in length. Speaking of that beautiful blade, it consists of 1095 high carbon and has an RC rating of 58, meaning it’s pretty hard compared to most other knives.

The handle is a beautiful gray Micarta and the knife itself comes with a very high-quality black Kydex sheath. Encased in the sheath is a firestarter, very handy for campers and hikers alike! The grip on this knife is much superior then what it leads you on to believe in appearance. The end of the knife is a glass breaker but also some sort of scraper. I didn’t personally find many uses for this, but perhaps it would come in handy someday and it’s kind of a nice touch since most knives, if they utilize the butt of the knife at all, have a generic pommel on the end.

The ergonomics of its design is top class and overall, the engineering of this knife is just brilliant. I never really worried too much how “comfortable” a knife is to use, but this one leads my list in terms of comfort and usability.

Key Features:

  • A 10” total package with a 4.5” 1095HC drop-point blade
  • An extremely ergonomic Micarta handle
  • Every B.O.B knife comes with a very tactical Kydex holster that utilizes a firestarter

14. Ka-Bar BK-16 Drop Point

Ka-Bar BK-16 Drop Point

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Estimated Price: $85

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van
Handle Composition: Ultramid
Blade Length: 5.25 Inches
Total Length: 10.50 Inches
Total Weight: 16.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: A Ka-Bar never disappoints! Ethan Becker is who started Ka-Bar and really, he’s just a simple outdoorsman like the rest of us who was tired of the options available to him at the time. He set out in 1982 to design and manufacture the absolute most rugged and durable knives in the world. All of his equipment is rigorously tested in the outdoors and are put up against many different challenges across a wide variety of environments.

Today, Ka-Bar is responsible for some of the most lethal combat knives in the world and that lethality and versatility translates extremely well for camping and survival knives. It’s tough to make a list of knives without including a Ka-Bar!

The American made single piece BK-16 flat ground drop-point field knife comes in at a tad over 9” with a 4.375” blade length and is constructed from Cro-Van 1095 stainless steel. The knife is available in any color you like, so long as you like black. The blade is epoxy powder-coated black as well, but this is easily stripped if you prefer.

The BK-16 comes with some extra handles and an incredibly durable Cordura nylon sheath that is both MOLLE compatible and encompasses two-button lock mechanisms.

Key Features:

  • The entire package is 9.25” long with a powder-coated 4.375” 1095 Cro-Van drop-point blade
  • Each BK-16 comes with extra Ultramid handle sets and a Cordua nylon double lock sheath
  • This particular drop-point is complimented with thumb serration on the top for advanced pressing and cutting control

15. Ontario Knife Co. ASEK Survival

Ontario Survival Knife

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Estimated Price: $130

Blade Style: Sawtooth Clip-Point
Blade Composition: 1095HC
Handle Composition: Insulated Aluminum
Blade Length: 5.00 Inches
Total Length: 10.25 Inches
Total Weight: 11.2 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: When I see this knife on a table, I almost feel like it’ll kill me just by looking at it.

These things are absolute tanks! Ontario Knife Co. doesn’t mess around and for that reason, militaries all around the world outfit their soldiers with these knives for both combat and survival. Maybe this is a tad overboard for a camping knife, but hey, wouldn’t you rather have too much knife than not enough?

These bad boys come fixed with a full tang 5” 1095 Carbon steel drop point blade with serration all over the place! The spine of the blade is ¾ reversed saw serration while the belly is 1⁄2 serrated. The blade is coated in zinc phosphate to avoid rusting and staining.

Really, this thing is truly the tank of knives! The handle is constructed from machined aluminum and insulated. The grip features tie-off holes to be used with/as a spear. The handle also encompasses a Kraton glass breaker butt cap. The entire knife is fireproof and comes with a MOLLE nylon sheath with a Kydex insert and two leg straps.

Key Features:

  • 5” long full tang drop-point serrated 1095 blade
  • Machined aluminum grip with Kraton glass breaker and lanyard holes
  • This knife is deployed in the US Army Air Warrior Program and is available in both OD green and flat black

16. Buck Knives Selkirk

Buck Knives Selkirk

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Estimated Price: $65

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 420HC
Handle Composition: Micarta
Blade Length: 4.65 Inches
Total Length: 9.50 Inches
Total Weight: 7.60 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: We all know Buck knives are the best so stop reading and just go buy one.

Okay, fine, I’ll talk about it! This beast is a drop-point 4.5″ 420HC blade with a beautiful ergonomic Micarta wood grain handle all held together with steel bolsters. It’s exactly what I would expect from Buck Knives with the classic styling but incredible performance.

She’s a little chubby, at 7.6oz, but seeing as it’s 9.5″ in total length, that’s not too bad. There is a mini version called the Selkirk Small that’s an inch shorter and an ounce lighter, but here at Marine Approved we go hard and get the best of the best, so the full-size version it is!

It includes a very nice molded nylon sheath and belt clip and to top it all off, making it a real camping knife, you get a handy dandy 2.25″ firestarter. But wait, there’s more! A whistle is hidden away in the grip and I think that’s pretty darn cool.

Key Features:

  • 9.5” total package length with a 4.5” drop-point all constructed out of a single piece of 420 HC steel
  • A very intuitive Micarta handle that integrates a whistle
  • A multi-purpose ballistic nylon sheath is included with a 2.25″ ferrocerium striker

17. Morakniv Bushcraft

Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Camping Knife

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Estimated Price: $60

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 440HC
Handle Composition:
Blade Length: 4.30 Inches
Total Length: 9.10 Inches
Total Weight: 5.40 Ounces
Sheath Material: ABS

My Review: Simple, sleek, dependable. All words that undermine what Morakniv strives for in their knives!

The Bushcraft, where it’s priced, is an absolute steal for a camper no matter if you’re hitting up the weekend roadside campsites or actually roughing it in the wild. This knife is tastefully integrated with goodies such as a diamond knife sharpener and probably one of the best firestarters I’ve seen come with a knife.

The Morakniv Bushcraft is a 9.1” single slab of metal with a 4.3″ blade length. That particular blade is constructed in Sweden from 1095 high carbon steel and then coated with black tungsten DLC anti-corrosion epoxy resin. The blade is then Scandi ground, which means the knife has a better grip on the surface it’s being applied to and is capable of really digging into the surface without hang-ups.

The sheath you’ll get with this incredible Swedish knife is coined the Bushcraft survival sheath. I know, the name isn’t exactly the most creative, but the sheath itself certainly is, with the aforementioned goodies such as the sharpener and 7,000 strikes rated firestarter plus a handy dandy little removable belt clip, which I personally really like since I almost exclusively carry my knives on my belt.

All in all, this knife is one incredible do-it-all kind of tool. It rises above most of the knives on this list in carving, where it excels due to its unique edge grind and overall curvature of its blade.

Key Features:

  • 9.1” in overall length with a drop-point 1095HC 4.3” tungsten DLC coated blade
  • High-friction rubberized ergonomic handle
  • The included sheath contains an integrated fire starter and diamond knife sharpener along with a removable multi-use belt clip

18. Gerber Prodigy 22-41121

Gerber Prodigy

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Estimated Price: $55

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 420HC
Handle Composition: TacHide Rubber Overmolded
Blade Length: 4.75 Inches
Total Length: 9.75 Inches
Total Weight: 7.40 Ounces
Sheath Material: MOLLE Compatible Ballistic Nylon and ABS 

My Review: Another incredible heavy hitter with a lightweight price tag, the Prodigy series by Gerber is a 420 high carbon stainless steel single-piece constructed all-purpose camping knife that checks all the boxes!

You know, this knife actually closely resembles the LMF II that I reviewed earlier, accept its much cheaper and constructed out of slightly lower grade materials. Don’t let that keep you from considering it though, especially if you don’t want to spend so much on the LMF II. The 420HC steel is still a great material and many of the worlds best knife manufacturers swear by it. This steel offers a very balanced suite of steel attributes including being relatively hard, holding a decent edge, being easy to resharpen, and with the blade being powder coated it is decently resistant to corrosion, all while being affordable enough not to break the bank.

The molded TacHide grip, similar to the LMF II, is a diamond texture pattern that has a slightly rubberized feel to it. It’s simplistic overall but still manages to include that diamond pointed glass pommel at the end, a nice touch for an all-purpose knife! This grip is said to dampen noise, which is something I don’t typically notice when using a knife anyways so I can’t really comment too much on that.

I do believe these come in a fine edge variant, but unfortunately, I couldn’t track it down at this time, so the specific one I’ve linked to offers only the serrated version, which is fine for me as its only a half serration anyways, leaving plenty of that 4.75” blade to a fine edge.

Key Features:

  • A 9.75” total full tang length featuring a 4.75” 420HC stainless steel edged drop-point blade
  • One of my favorite grips is on this knife, the TacHide mold over soft grip with glass pommel
  • The included ABS plastic and ballistic nylon sheath is MOLLE compatible and utilizes a removable belt loop and several multi-use straps

19. Arcway Industries Chon

Arcway Industries Chon

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Estimated Price: $45

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 440C
Handle Composition: Rubberized G10
Blade Length: 4.35 Inches
Total Length: 9.00Inches
Total Weight: 8.50 Ounces
Sheath Material: 

My Review: If you showed me this knife and told me it was $45, I’d call you a liar! Why? Well, Arcway has managed to provide an incredibly designed full tang multi-purpose tactical knife with 440C stainless steel, a very nicely done false edge, and a very nice rubberized G10 grip at a price that’s pretty much impossible to argue with.

At this price, I don’t expect much from the additional goodies, especially the included sheath. Arcway made me eat my words, though, as they’ve included one fine piece of Kydex to slip that blade into and they’ve gone ahead and thrown in a very sturdy multi-purpose belt clip.

Key Features:

  • A beautifully designed false edged drop-point full tang 4.4” 440C blade
  • A very sturdy Kydex holster and customizable belt clip with grommet holes and a live memory locking system
  • Rubberized G10 grenade styled grip

20. Kershaw Camp

Kershaw Camp

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Estimated Price: $45 

Blade Style: Machete Style Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 65 Mn Carbon Steel
Handle Composition: Rubberized Thermoplastic
Blade Length: 10.00, 14.00, or 18.00 Inches
Total Length: Depends on Blade Length Choice
Total Weight: Starts at 19 Ounces in the 10-inch version
Sheath Material: Molded Nylon

My Review: Camping gets expensive quite quickly when you’re shopping for new gear and with that said, its not always possible or economically sensical to buy the sharpest and strongest blades ever made. For most people, something like the Kershaw Camp series is plenty and only costs what you’d spend on two cases of weekend brews.

I’m not saying that Kershaw makes bad products. On the contrary, I think Kershaw hits the nail right on the head when it comes to their offerings, especially when it comes to their camping and hiking focused knives. The Camp 10 is a 10” Machete style blade consisting of 65Mn Carbon tool steel.

Now, we know that steel high in carbon is a little prone to rust and that’s fine so long as you rub some oil down the blade every so often. The reason they chose 65 Mn Carbon steel is to create a super hard blade for a very low cost to you. This means that so long as you are willing to give it an oil rub down every so often, this blade should last a very long time and perform exceptionally well at this price point.

There are offerings that you can grab where the Kershaw Camp has a 14” or 18” blade as well.

21. CRKT Chanceinhell

CRKT Chanceinhell

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Estimated Price: $50

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 65 Mn Carbon Tool Steel
Handle Composition: PP Core with textured TPR Overmold
Blade Length: 12.00 Inches
Total Length: 19.50 Inches
Total Weight: 20.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: If you’ve ever been in a survival situation then you know that once you get your bearings and realize you’re in deep Doo Doo, one of the first things that comes across your mind is how high your chances are of making it out of this alive. That number usually doesn’t matter and all you need to push forward is simply a single chance in hell.

The Chanceinhell was designed by a globally recognized and award-winning knife-designer, Ken Onion. He’s done many collabs with some of our favorite knife manufacturers and I must say, I never find myself disappointed with his designs.

Originally, this knife was double its current price where I wouldn’t recommend it as I thought $80 or so was too expensive for a knife I was going to heavily abuse and neglect while camping. In its current price range its closest competitor would be the Kershaw Camp as listed in this guide as well. The primary difference is that you pay an extra ~$5 for 2” of blade length and a somewhat different handle. That’s about it. The steel, 65 Mn Carbon steel, is the same, and the same review applies so I suggest you read the Kershaw Camp review as well.

Both of these knives in their current price ranges are excellent values and are probably going to be what 90% of the people reading this will need to get the job done and be satisfied. Both knives are notoriously tough, extremely versatile, and so long as they are cared for and rubbed down with a little oil from time to time, they will last years and years of camping.

The reason I chose this knife is simple. It’s a fantastic value. Not every camper out there needs a top-notch premium steel 15”+ equipped knife and as such, I think both the CRKT Chanceinhell and Kershaw Camp are excellent values as well as representing that sweet spot in between value and quality. Anything up from here usually hosts diminishing returns but if you need something beefier, no worries, we cover the thick boy knives as well!

22. Smith and Wesson SW7 Tanto

Smith and Wesson SW7 Tanto

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Estimated Price: $30

Blade Style: Tanto
Blade Composition: 9Cr17MoV
Handle Composition: TPE
Blade Length: 5.20 Inches
Total Length: 10.60 Inches
Total Weight: 8.50 Ounces
Sheath Material: Thermoplastic

My Review: The beloved Tanto! Actually, it’s not my favorite blade style, but it does get the job done and tons of people like it, especially people that I respect in the outdoors category. These blade shapes are primarily for self-defense purposes but they work well as general-purpose knives too.

S&M always comes out with these super cheap products that I always doubt and after I review them I am left eating my words. No, they don’t really make the “best” of anything, not unless we go way back to their old school revolvers, but they do make things that work that are very reasonably priced.

What we get for $30 is a 9Cr17MoV HC 5.2″ ¼ serrated blade that’s powder-coated gunmetal gray. I like it, it’s light and it’s durable and despite my disagreements with the tanto blade, there are many uses and arguments to be made about how incredibly handy this knife is.

The super ergonomic grip is a little funky so let’s talk about that. If you got big hands, keep scrolling. If you have normal person hands, however, this grip is kind of an acquired taste. At first, it is weird, and it feels like you should be fighting someone when you hold it, but after a while, you get used to it and it’s all good. Hey, you get a lanyard hole at the end of it too, pretty nifty!

Key Features:

  • A full tang 10.6” budget option featuring a 5.2” quarter serrated 9Cr17MoV tanto blade
  • A super ergonomic textured handle with a lanyard hole
  • You get a sheath included, but let’s be real, it kind of sucks and I’d just buy a leather sheath for it

23. Schrade Frontier SCHF36

Schrade Frontier SCHF36

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Estimated Price: $30

Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 1095HC Powder Coated
Handle Composition: Thermoplastic Elastomer
Blade Length: 5.00 Inches
Total Length: 10.00 Inches
Total Weight: 12.30Ounces
Sheath Material: Polyester

My Review: This is the budget knife that I recommend to anyone and everyone that asks me for cheap and durable. Simply put, this knife costs as much as a pack of decent beer and although it isn’t feature-rich nor is it made out of the leading steel technology, it’s still an incredible bargain and would suit most campers quite fairly.

The Frontier is a 10.4″ package that includes a 5″ black powder-coated 1095CM blade. The grip is a TPE handle, which I’m actually not a fan of. It feels cheap and I simply just don’t like it, but the steel is incredible and I truly believe that for Schrade to offer such a great blade at a low cost, they had to go relatively cheap on the handle, which is fine. It cuts things and doesn’t break easily, so, there’s not much to complain about in the $20 range.

Key Features:

  • 5” black powder-coated 1095 stainless steel blade attached to a 10.4” frame
  • TPE textured grip with lanyard cutout in the butt
  • You’ll get a handy nylon sheath with a Ferro rod and a knife sharpening stone

 

Your Thoughts:

Alright, that does it for this review. Let me know what you think is the best camping knife or what you’re currently using in the comments below. We have a lot of knife and camping gear reviews on this website so be able to check out some other pages before you go!

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