CAMPING & HIKING

Best Backpacking Knife: Pint-Sized Protection

Best Backpacking Knife
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

Being outdoors is a wonderful experience. Thousands of people every year make their way into a campsite or onto a trail of some sort. With every adventure outdoors, there are also things that can go very wrong.

There are accidents, wild animals, and incidents in which you may need to protect yourself. Complete safety is something we do without when we embark into the wild outdoors. One of the items you may need to take with you is a backpacking knife.

The best backpacking knife will be a small comfort that can aid you in any number of situations.

The best knife for backpacking will be one that is sturdy, versatile, and easy to carry. Backpackers can all agree that safety comes first, but convenience is a close second when you have to carry all of your belongings on your back.

Backpacking Knife features

Having a good backpacking knife is just one of many ways to arm yourself in the outdoors and a knife is a small, yet protective, tool that will give you that peace of mind in an emergency situation in the wilderness.

Qualities of The Best Backpacking Knife

There are many factors to consider when choosing a backpacking knife that will do everything you want it to, but there are a few factors that are non-negotiable. Each knife will have different features and uses but the weight, blade length and material, and additional features are some of the most important aspects to consider in your decision.

  • Weight: Weight will always be one of the most important factors when it comes to all outdoor gear and a knife is no different. Because this is a safety tool, the user has to be able to use it effectively and appropriately.
    Just like any protective weapon or tool, something that is too heavy for the user may actually cause more harm than good. Weight must be taken into consideration for both packability and ability to use it for its purpose.
  • Blade Length: Blade length is another important factor. The length of the blade has a lot to do with what the blade is capable of. Having a blade length that is easy to tuck and fold away or stow in a sheath is important in the safety of the user, as this eliminates the possibility for accidents.
    The other factor is in regards to what the knife will be capable of. A shorter blade will protect you and deter an attacker but it may not be enough to eliminate that threat entirely.
    Likewise, a shorter blade will be able to perform smaller tasks like cutting string, fishing line or rope much better than a longer blade.
    A longer blade will cause more harm to an animal or attacker if used in defense and be better suited for cutting tree limbs or thicker materials. However, a longer blade will also be more difficult to use for small tasks that need extra care and attention.
  • Blade Material: There are many materials that knife blades can be made from these days. Technology has been making tough materials even stronger with different treatments and added chemicals. You will see all of the following blade materials in the products listed below so let’s take a closer look at what those materials are and what they can do.
    • Regular Stainless Steel- Regular Stainless Steel is all around us. Stainless steel blades are fairly strong. Stainless steel does a particularly good job, unlike some types, at resisting corrosion and they hold their edges quite well compared to other blades.
      However, stainless steel is expensive compared to non-stainless steel blades. They are more difficult to shape and mold than other metals and can be difficult to sharpen after multiple uses.
    • 154CM Stainless Steel- 154CM Steel is a really great all-around blade material. It performs well in categories that blades are tested in such as hardness, toughness, and resistance to corrosion.
    • AUS-8 Stainless Steel- AUS 8 Steel is another commonly used blade material. The AUS-8 sharpens very well. This is an important factor when choosing a knife. However, this metal lacks in its ability to keep an edge over many uses which causes you, the buyer, to sharpen it more often than you might sharpen other blades.
      That being said, this blade sharpens quickly and easily because of its properties.
      This blade is a very tough blade and resists a lot of corrosion over time which are both very good qualities in a blade. Corrosion causes weakness in the blade and it won’t last as long as more resistant blades.
    • 420HC Stainless Steel- 420HC Steel is one of the oldest materials that knife blades are made from. It has been changed and treated over time of course, but it’s one of the materials that many older blades will be formed from. Because of it’s age, it has not been treated with nearly as much carbon as newer blades have been, and that results in a very soft knife.
      It is still a very tough knife to use because the softness keeps it from chipping or breaking. In contrast, it’s softness makes it more challenging for this material to hold an edge or keep that edge stable and sharp over many uses.
      With soft knives, the material may actually curl or roll instead of breaking which allows the knife to last and makes it easy to sharpen again, but a knife is difficult to use without a sharp edge.

Additional Features

Additional functions and features make a knife even more valuable. Some have simple features like a locking mechanism for additional safety while others many include extra materials or parts that may come in handy on the trail or in the backcountry.

Bring your Backpacking Knife

A knife is a great all around tool anyway. It has the ability to cut items, sometimes both large and small, the ability to pry depending on it’s hardness, and many more.

The Best Backpacking Knives

Now that we have identified which qualities are some of the most important when choosing and identifying which knife is best for you, let’s take a look at some of the top backpacking knives and find out whether they fit the bill.

Benchmade 585 Mini-barrage Folding Knife

Benchmade 585 Mini-barrage Folding Knife

Weight: 3.4 Ounces

Blade Length: 3.60 Inches

Blade Material: 154CM Stainless Steel

Additional Functions: Ambidextrous Thumb Spots, Included Sharpening Wand, Included Keychain Flashlight, Spring Assisted, Safety Button, Reversible Pocket Clip, Locking Mechanism

Best Use: Outdoor Recreation, Hunting, Fishing, Backpacking, Tactical

Description: The Benchmade 585 Mini-Barrage Folding Knife is an average knife as it goes for good camping knives. This spring-assisted knife has a number of safety features that are helpful to any user.

It has a safety locking mechanism that will keep accidents from happening during use. It also is made for both left and right-handed people. This also prevents misuse and makes this knife perfect for nearly any customer.

This knife fits well into your pocket for easy access and has a reversible clip that will allow you to clip it exactly where you want it. The blade on this knife is 0.121 inches thick, which is very skinny and aids the fact that it’s only 3.4 ounces in weight.

The blade length is 3.6 inches and the open knife length is almost 7 inches. That could be a bit long for certain uses but the longer handle may also aid in control of the knife.

Benchmade Griptilian 551 Knife

Benchmade Griptilian 551 Knife

Weight: 3.88 Ounces

Blade Length: 3.45 Inches

Blade Material: 154 CM Stainless Steel

Additional Functions: Ambidextrous Design, Spring Assisted, Locking Mechanism, Lanyard Hole

Best Use: Outdoor Recreation, Hunting, Fishing, Backpacking, Tactical

Description: The Benchmade Griptilian 551 Knife is much more of a basic knife. This knife comes in at 3.88 ounces and it made of the tough 154 CM stainless steel. This knife also has a reversible clip for your pocket but one added features is that it clips with the tip up.

This helps get to the knife quickly and snap into action in case of emergencies or attacks. It also features an ambidextrous design for all consumers to use.

It weighs less than 4 ounces but opens to a knife that is over 8 inches long. The blade itself makes up almost half of that length which might be too large for some users.

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Pocket Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Pocket Knife

Weight: 0.74 Ounces

Blade Length: 1.25 Inches

Blade Material: Regular Stainless Steel

Additional Functions: Nail File, Scissors, Screwdriver, Key Ring, Tweezers, Toothpick, Locking Mechanism

Best Use: Outdoor Recreation, Hunting, Fishing, Backpacking, Tactical

Description: The Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Pocket Knife is a classic indeed. Known as one of the best items you can have with you in the wilderness because of its numerous functions.

This particular knife includes the blade itself along with a nail file, scissors, a screwdriver, tweezers, and more. Each of these features has a specific function and can be extremely helpful in emergencies.

The full length of the knife is 2.25 inches and the blade is only 1.25 inches. Though this is a versatile tool, the impact this little knife can make on an attacker is very minimal. It fits very well into pockets and purses and the steel blade has been treated for a lifetime of uses.

SOG Specialty Trident Elite Knife

SOG Specialty Trident Elite Knife

Weight: 4.40 Ounces

Blade Length: 3.7 Inches

Blade Material: AUS-8 Stainless Steel

Additional Functions: Reversible Pocket Clip, Spring Assisted, Glass Breaker, Integrated Line Cutter

Best Use: Outdoor Recreation, Hunting, Fishing, Backpacking, Tactical

Description: The SOG Specially Trident Elite Knife is a very good knife to have in the outdoors. It’s one of the larger knives coming it at 4.4 ounces and with an overall length of almost 9 inches, this knife will be big enough to cause some serious damage.

When the knife closes, it is a mere 4.8 inches and the blade itself is 3.7 inches long. The blade is almost half of the whole body of this knife and will probably need a user who can handle something this size.

It is made from AUS-8 stainless steel and the blade is satin polished. The additional features of this knife are that it has a built-in line cutter that is perfect for fishermen and also a glass breaker in the handle for emergency situations.

Gerber LST Ultralight Knife

Gerber LST Ultralight Knife

Weight: 1.2 Ounces

Blade Length: 1.96 Inches

Blade Material: 420HC Stainless Steel

Additional Functions: Locking Mechanism, Textured Handle

Best Use: Outdoor Recreation, Hunting, Fishing, Backpacking, Tactical

Description: The Gerber LST Ultralight Knife is small but mighty. Weighing only 1.2 ounces, this knife is one of the lightest in this list. It has a simple design as well, so no bells or whistles here.

The blade is just under 2 inches long and made from the tough 420HC stainless steel material that is known for it’s reliability. This knife features a textured handle unlike other knives that allows for great control and grip when using it.

This can help the users maintain control and stay safer while using this knife. The entire length of this knife is only 4.62 inches which is small enough to fit well into a pocket or purse and be perfect for any user.

Adventure Medical Kit Lite Knife

Adventure Medical Kit Lite Knife

Weight: 1.4 Ounces

Blade Length: 2.25 Inches

Blade Material: AUS-8 Stainless Steel

Additional Functions: Clotting Sponge, Locking Mechanism, Dual-Battery Ultra Bright LED Light, Built-In Rescue Whistle

Best Use: Outdoor Recreation, Hunting, Fishing, Backpacking, Tactical

Description: The Adventure Medical Kit Lite Knife is made to save lives. The blade is made from AUS-8 stainless steel so we know that this blade is tough and highly corrosion-resistant which are both ideal for the line of work this knife will be in.

Used in life-saving situations, this knife is equipped, not only, with its super tough blade but also a locking mechanism that locks the knife when it’s open as well. It features a clotting sponge to stop bleeding in a victim and has a dual-battery ultra bright LED light built in as well.

The blade is very short at only 2.25 inches and the entire knife is still less than 4 inches in length. The blade makes up little of the length which is an increase in controlling the knife.

Maybe the coolest feature of this knife is the built-in whistle on the handle which is ideal for attracting attention in survival and emergency situations.

Buck Knives 110 Hunter Knife

Buck Knives 110 Hunter Knife

Weight: 7.2 Ounces

Blade Length: 3.75 Inches

Blade Material: 420HC Stainless Steel

Additional Functions: Locking Mechanism, Dymondwood Handle, Included Leather Sheath

Best Use: Outdoor Recreation, Hunting, Fishing, Backpacking, Tactical

Description: The Buck Knives 110 Hunter Knife is just a really big knife. This knife means business at 7.2 ounces in weight. This knife will pack a punch for defense but also against materials like other metals or wood.

It features a locking mechanism for safety and the handle is made from tough treated wood and brass. The blade alone is almost 4 inches long. This is on the larger end and wouldn’t be a good knife for a new buyer.

It features the tough 420HC stainless steel blade material that is an old favorite and has more than stood the test of time. This knife also comes with a leather sheath for easy carrying and safety when not in use.

Caring for Your Knife

At the end of the day, your knife isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t take care of it properly. Even though they’re designed to be tough, the edge of your knife will wear away after use, so it’s important to keep it sharp and clean.

Some backpacking knives come with their own sharpening kit, while others don’t, so you’ll have to invest in one yourself. It does take some practice to sharpen blades properly, so it’s advised that you get some expert advice in this area.

Caring for Your Knife

It’s also advised that you keep your knife clean after you finish those tough jobs, as your knife may corrode if you store it while it’s still dirty. Be sure to lubricate it with oil in order to prevent rust from occurring as well.

Packing Protection: Why You Need A Backpacking Knife

Whatever your experience or needs are, there is a knife for you and it’s a tool you never want to be without. For safety against attackers a great knife will be the perfect companion. Using this knife for smaller things like cutting weak branches for firewood or slicing string or rope as also added benefits to having a knife with you.

No matter the reason you choose to carry a knife, choosing a quality backpacking knife will be a great addition to the rest of your outdoor gear.

Was this article helpful? Have you used any of these knives before or do you own one? What are your thoughts on these knives? Share this article with friends to help them choose which knife is best for them in the outdoors. Also, feel free to leave a comment to share knowledge or experiences with our readers!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Ursula Mari

    Adventure medical kit SOL is a handy little item to have! Light weight (unobtrusive in your pocket , but there if you need it), it’s sharp, and incorporated with a light and whistle. The light is weak but if you have no other source of light it will help you find your way in the dark. Overall it’s a good knife.

  • Jerry Mueller

    These pint-sized products are great camping companions and they are small enough to fit your pocket. As I’ve always said, invest in quality gear and you won’t regret it. It’s built to last, so this won’t disappoint. 🙂
    Thanks for dropping by!

  • Luke Carver

    I’d recommend the Benchman Griptilian. Not only does it have a fantastic name but it’s the best value-for-money knife I’ve come across. I’ve not needed to sharpen mine once since I bought it and I’ve dropped it on numerous occasions without any damage to the blade. Despite the name, I would have like it to actually have better grip on the handle but I think that’s probably just personal preference. I do have to say that the Victorinox will always hold a special place in my heart though. Iconic.

  • Jerry Mueller

    My first backpacking knife was a Victorinox, as most of my friends and writers of this site. 🙂
    Although from my point of view, there’ s always room for other stellar products in the market that are top-notch and affordable – like the Benchman.

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