CAMPING & HIKING

Best Folding Knife: Choosing a Reliable Every-Day Carry Knife

Best folding knife
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Being an outdoor enthusiast, you are probably aware of the necessity of carrying a knife that fits everywhere. There are all kinds of knives available on the market for outdoor carrying, and foldable knives are probably the most practical for “everyday” situations out in the nature. But, how to find the best folding knife, when there are so many available options on the market?

Folding knives usually have one sharp and one not-so-sharp side. They are not the best choice for tough work, but they are very practical when used as everyday carry knives for various tasks. Being able to fit almost everywhere, they are easy to carry around. After all, you never know when you will need them, especially if you’re going on a long camping or hiking trip.

However, it is very hard to find the perfect fit in a sea of choices. But, do not worry! We are here to help you out in your search. We compiled a list of features to look for in a folding knife, and we presented our favorite products out there. Have a look!

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightBlade LengthBlade MaterialPrice
Chris Reeve Small Sebenza 213 oz.2.9 inCPM-S35VN Stainless SteelCheck price on Amazon
Guardian Tactical GT 22211 Deltrix5.7 oz.3.75 inCPM-154 stainless steelCheck price on Amazon
Spyderco Bradley Folder 24.5 oz.3.7 inCPM M4 steelCheck price on Amazon
Spyderco Delica42.5 oz.2.9 inVG-10 steelCheck price on Amazon
SOG Trident Assisted TF1-CP3.6 oz.3.75 inAUS-8 steelCheck price on Amazon
Benchmade Mini Griptilian2.8 oz.2.9 in154CM steelCheck price on Amazon
Spyderco Rubicon C187CFP4.3 oz.3 inCPM S30V steelCheck price on Amazon
Boker 110144DAM Mokume Damascus4.3 oz.3.125 inDamascus steelCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

Buying a knife can be serious business, especially if you’re a serious camper. If you’re only looking to do some casual camping over the holiday weekend, chances are you won’t need a beefed up tactical knife. However, there are still certain aspects of a knife that you should watch out for when you are purchasing a new knife.

Type of Knife

Little did you know that even folding knives have varieties. They come in single-blade, multi-blade, and Swiss Army knives.

  • Single-blade knives are exactly what they sound like: there is a single blade that folds into the handle of the knife for safekeeping. It’s the simplest to use and with very little moving parts, that will last a long time. However, they do lack a bit in versatility.
  • Multi-blade knives usually have about two or three blades that can fulfill different functions, so the more blades you have, the more jobs you can take care of with one simple tool. Be aware that these blades tend to be smaller, however, and won’t be as durable as a single-blade knife so be careful with how you use them.
  • Swiss Army knives aren’t new to the camping scene, and have a multitude of tiny tools that you can use to get any job done. They’re very versatile, and the larger they are, the more tools they come equipped with.

Stihl folding knife

Type of Blade

The reason knives have so many purposes is because of the various ways they’ve been constructed. They come with plain edges, serrated edges, and partially-serrated.

  • A knife with a plain edge is good for push cuts, has more accuracy, and provides better control to the user. However, they’re not suited for any job that requires a sawing motion.
  • Serrated knives are much better at cutting harder materials, such as wood, but you do lose some of the control while using the blade. Serrated knives are also more difficult to keep sharpened because of all the small grooves.
  • Partially-serrated is an even balance between the two, where the front edge of the blade is plain, with a serrated edge towards the back. This way, you can accomplish more jobs with just one knife.

Blade Length

Knives come in a variety of sizes, from very small to very large. The size of the blade should be determined by the jobs you can foresee doing on your camping trip. Bigger isn’t always better, as the larger the folding knife, the heavier it will be.

Ganzo folding knife

The length of the blade also determines the overall balance of the pocket knife. A pocket knife that has a long blade should also come with a longer casing or handle. Otherwise, the balance will be off and you won’t be able to get a good grip on it.

Locking Mechanism

In order to maintain safety, folding knives come with locking mechanisms to keep the blade in place so that you don’t accidentally cut yourself. These come in a variety of types.

  • Lock back knives are the oldest and considered to be the most durable. However, it does require both hands to deploy and close the blade. This is the most common kind you’ll see in the market, where the blade folds down into the handle.
  • Liner lock knives have spring tensions that lock into place when the knife is opened, and can be used with one hand. The liner within the body of the handle snaps into place once the blade is out, keeping it in place. Some of the liners on the newer pocket knives have been skeletonized to reduce the weight.
  • Frame locks are similar, but the construction is a bit different. There is no liner to lock into place; instead, it’s the frame of the handle itself that locks into place to keep the knife out.
  • Axis locks and ball-bearing locks use a spring-tensioned bar to a ball to lock the knife open respectively. They slide into the groove at the back of the blade, and are kept in place by a tensioned spring.

Folding knife in snow

Extra Features

Don’t confuse yourself with all the extra accessories a knife may come with. Focus on the ones that will be more beneficial to your experience. Look for features such as belt clip or lanyard hole, sheath, sharpening kit, and the warranty of your knife.

Some people believe that the more extra features a pocket knife has, the more breakable it becomes. This is because less attention is paid to the actual quality of the blade—which is the most important part. But this is not always the case. As long as you use it correctly, your folding knife shouldn’t break too easily.

Best Products on Today’s Market

So now that you know what to look for in your hunt for the best folding knife, here are just a few recommendations to consider before you jump headfirst into the market.

Chris Reeve Small Sebenza 21 Folding KnifeChris Reeve Small Sebenza 21

Price: Approx. $360

Weight: 3 oz.

Blade length: 2.9 in

Overall length: 6.9 in

Blade material: CPM-S35VN Stainless Steel

Handle material: 6Al4V Titanium

Specific features: Pocket clip and a braided lanyard

Best use: Basic camping tasks

Description: The Chris Reeve Small Sebenza 21 is a great product for campers that are just beginning their camping hobby, and won’t find themselves in too much trouble. It’s a small utility knife, coming in at three ounces, and is capable of doing very basic things.

The length is perfect for performing casual tasks around the campground, and should fit comfortably in your pocket. The most notable features include a pocket clip, a braided lanyard that can go around your wrist, and the fact that the knife is made out of titanium.

The pocket clip will ensure you don’t have to worry about the knife falling out of your pocket while you’re moving around your campsite. The braid, on the end of the knife, will secure to your wrist to make sure you don’t lose the knife.

Additionally, in emergency situations, the rope could be unknotted from the knife, and assist in getting out of sticky situations. Also, the knife is made out of an incredibly durable and lightweight titanium.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Durable thanks to the titanium
  • A rope that can be detached in emergency situations
  • Pocket clip that will keep the knife from falling out

CONS:

  • The rope and pocket clip make the knife a bit more bulky than necessary
  • Quite expensive

Related: It is important to keep your knife sharp at all times to get the most of it. For that matter, we recommend buying the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker, which is very durable and made of top-quality materials, making it the perfect fit for this quality knife.

Check the price on Amazon

Guardian Tactical GT22211 Deltrix Folder KnifeGuardian Tactical GT22211 Deltrix Folder Knife

Price: Approx. $360

Weight: 5.7 oz.

Overall length: 9 in

Blade length: 3.75 in

Blade material: CPM-154 stainless steel

Handle material: Carbon fiber

Specific features: Lanyard hook, stainless steel, carbon fiber casing

Best use: Day hiking

Description: The Guardian Tactical GT22211 Deltrix Folder Knife has many more capabilities than your average foldable knife. First, let’s note that it is an American made product, and so probably has some great guarantees from the company.

You’ll be happy to know that the blade is made of a virtually dull resistant stainless steel material, this material will also give the blade a nice shine. The sleek black and silver casing includes a carved out hand grip for increased comfort.

This carbon fiber knife also includes a lanyard hook on the end, if you like your knife readily available. This knife has a lot of different add-ons and extra features, which means it has a lot of uses. The steel blade allows you to cut more heavy duty materials on the campsite.

This means less worry for you! Despite the various extra features this knife includes, the best thing the Guardian Tactical knife can offer is its superior blade. The material it is manufactured with will ensure you don’t have to worry at all about a broken blade on your trip. The carbon fiber casing is also extremely durable and helps keep this foldable knifes’ reputation intact.

PROS:

  • Cool design
  • The blade is made of dull-resistant stainless steel
  • The casing is durable and has a carved-out hand grip
  • The blade is tough and made in the USA

CONS:

  • Most of the extra features may end up not being used
  • Quite expensive

Related: If you’re often out there in the mountains, you will certainly need light for when the sun sets. We are sure you’ve already thought about that, but having a backup cannot hurt. Instead, it is highly recommended! For this matter, we recommend the Guardian Tech Tactical Flashlight, which is very powerful, yet so small, you won’t even know you have it with you. Most important of all, this little thing is top quality product that won’t fail you.

Check the price on Amazon

Spyderco Bradley Folder 2 KnifeSpyderco Bradley Folder 2

Price: Approx. $150

Weight: 4.5 oz.

Overall length: 8.5 in

Blade length: 3.7 in

Blade material: CPM M4 steel

Handle material: Carbon Fiber/G-10 Laminate

Specific features: Reversible clip, sturdy blade

Best use: Casual camping

Description: The Spyderco Bradley Folder 2 Knife is an improvement of the first generation Bradley Folder knives, retaining all the core qualities of its predecessor, made better. This knife is lightweight, ergonomic and slim, making it easy to carry and use.

It is made of CPM M4 tool steel, making it more resistant to wear and very tough, compared to M3 and M4 alloys. However, the CPM M4 must be maintained properly to avoid corrosion, because it’s tool steel, and not stainless.

The casing is also molded for better and a more comfortable grip. Made from carbon fiber, the handle is definitely strong enough to handle a lot of abuse.

This knife is best suited for light work around the campsite. The blade is sturdy, but there aren’t very many other features for added functionality. However, if you purchase this knife, you’ll sure to receive a camping knife that will last a lifetime.

PROS:

  • Simple design with no unnecessary frills except for the pocket clip
  • Tough and durable
  • The handle offers a comfortable grip
  • The blade is slim but strong and very sharp

CONS:

  • You may accidentally disengage the frame lock and close the knife while you’re still using it
  • On the expensive side
  • Must be maintained properly to avoid corrosion

Related: If you already have or plan to purchase the Tri-Angle Sharpmaker along with this knife, we also recommend buying the Spyderco Tri-Angle Stone, which is used together with the Sharpmaker, for exceptionally fine scratch pattern on your edge.

Check the price on Amazon

Spyderco Delica4 Plain Edge KnifeSpyderco Delica Plain Edge Knife

Price: Approx. $70

Weight: 2.5 oz.

Overall length: 7.1 in

Blade length: 2.9 in

Blade material: VG-10 steel

Handle material: FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon)

Specific features: Reversible clip, bi-directional texturing, steel liners.

Best use: Camping, hiking, basic tasks

Description: The Spyderco Delica4 Plain Edge Knife is a little smaller than the ones we have discussed so far, but there are many advantages to it. This foldable knife features a four way clip. All you have to do is unscrew three little screws, and place the clip anywhere you feel is most comfortable to you.

The newest installment to the Spyderco line also includes, what has been dubbed, bi-directional texturing. This feature adds to your ability to grip the knife, and keep it in place in your hands. The steel liners inside of the knife casing provide the extra support you’ll need when using it.

By far, the bi-directional grip on this knife is the best feature. This knife would be an excellent to have if you were going long term, lightweight hiking. The Delica4’s superior grip technology ensures that you’ll be able to cut, slice and tear through all kinds of weather conditions anytime of the day.

Just because it’s raining out, doesn’t mean you won’t need your utility knife! And what better knife to use than one that can brag about its’ incredible grip methods.

PROS:

  • Super lightweight
  • Four way pocket clip for flexibility
  • Uses bi-directional texturing that makes the grip much more comfortable
  • Steel internal liners provide great support
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Seems to rust rather easily, so extra care is needed
  • Because there’s no finger choil, you need to be careful while using this knife or you may cut yourself

Related: If you’re looking for an affordable, yet fine, sharpener, we recommend the Housolution Knife Sharpener, which is slim, lightweight and easily pocketable, making it an ideal outdoor partner.

Check the price on Amazon

SOG Trident Assisted TF1-CP  Folding KnifeSOG Trident Assisted

Price: Approx. $65

Weight: 3.6 oz.

Overall length: 8.5 in

Blade length: 3.75 in

Blade steel type: AUS-8 steel

Handle material: Glass-reinforced nylon

Specific features: Partially serrated, ergonomically correct, TiNi coating.

Best use: Long term primitive camping, day hiking

Description: The SOG Trident Assisted TF1-CP Folding Knife comes with a plethora of extra features that could be useful to the everyday camper. For starters, the knife is partially serrated, which means cutting through rope or branches will be actually possible.

The blade handle was designed with ergonomics in mind, and is guaranteed to fit comfortably in your hand. The blade is coated in TiNi (titanium nitride) which makes it incredibly strong and durable.

When the knife is in the folded position, there is a little notch in the handle, where the blade folds into where you can place materials to cut. This makes cutting things like rope, much easier and faster! This knife is top quality, and features many different uses. However, the best thing you could do with this knife, is saw away at everything a normal knife wouldn’t allow you too.

The serrated edge, and titanium nitride coating makes for the perfect knife to saw away at rope, branches, or any other material you would need to cut. This knife is probably best suited for day hikes. The largeness of it could be cumbersome if you’re a lightweight hiker.

PROS:

  • Very lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Partially serrated blade
  • Titanium nitride coating makes this knife practically indestructible
  • A strategically-placed notch in the handle makes it possible to cut through things without flipping the blade open

CONS:

  • A bit cumbersome to carry around because of its size
  • May need to be polished more often than other blades to keep this one sharp
  • The frame lock detaches quite easily

Related: As mentioned above, one of the cons of having this knife is the need to sharpen it frequently as the blade does not really hold sharpness all that well. That’s why you should perhaps purchase this Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener alongside the knife so you’ll be able to sharpen it easily whenever you need to.

Check the price on Amazon

Benchmade Mini Griptilian Plain Edge KnifeBenchmade Knife 556 Mini-Griptilian

Price: Approx. $90

Weight: 2.8 oz.

Overall length: 6.8 in

Blade length: 2.9 in

Blade material: 154CM steel

Specific features: Quality made product, glass filled nylon case, thumb button release

Best use: Casual camping, hiking

Description: The Benchmade Mini Griptilian Plain Edge Knife is a good quality knife for any camper. It is very lightweight, weighing in at around 3 ounces. The Mini Griptilian is a plain knife, with no crazy added features.

The Griptilian features a thumb button that will release the blade from the casing with ease. It also features a reversible pocket clip that can be reversed for right or left handed people. The liner is made of stainless steel. It’s not skeletonized, so it may have added some weight to the pocket knife. But as you can see, despite the added weight, this is still one of the lightest pocket knives on this list.

The casing of this knife is made with glass filled nylon, which adds to its durability. This knife is most suitable for the casual camper. There aren’t any crazy or out there features that makes this knife marketable to the specialized camper.

PROS:

  • Ultra lightweight
  • Simple design
  • Durable and really sharp
  • The handle is quite strong and comfortable to grip
  • Well-made lock
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • The coating wears off rather easily

Related: There’s no need to doubt the sharpness of this blade—don’t be tempted to test it because you risk hurting yourself—but every knife needs a good sharpening every now and then. Use this Benchmade Mini-Field Blister Sharpener for the best result. Your knife will be good as new.

Check the price on Amazon

Spyderco Rubicon C187CFP Folding KnifeSpyderco Rubicon

Price: Approx. $270

Weight: 4.3 oz.

Overall length: 7.4 in

Blade length: 3 in

Blade material: CPM S30V steel

Handle material: Carbon fiber

Specific features: Ergonomic handle, lightweight, high quality materials

Best use: Casual camping

Description: The Spyderco Rubicon C187CFP Folding Knife is definitely a unique looking knife. It’s a little heavier than most of the knives that we’ve talked about so far, but it makes up for this in quality and design. The most notable thing about this knife is its appearance!

It’s only natural that you would doubt the overall balance and quality of this knife because it sports an unprecedented design, but Spyderco brags that they always ensure that their knife handles are incredibly comfortable, so the handle design you are seeing isn’t a funky design, but an ergonomically correct handle.

This knife is perfect for the average camper. The handle is very comfortable, so your hand won’t get tired from using it over the duration of your trip. Additionally, every product from Spyderco has raving reviews, so you know you’re purchasing a top notch product, from a company that knows what they are doing.

PROS:

  • Comfortable handle
  • Very unique design
  • The lock is strong so you’ll never have to worry about the knife closing while you’re still using it

CONS:

  • Quite expensive
  • Heavy
  • A bit too small in size

Related: If you are a winter camper, or a mountain biker, we also recommend the Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel for light snow shoveling around tires or building trails while mountain biking, or using it in hammer mode, which is ideal for pounding in tent stakes.

Check the price on Amazon

Boker 110144DAM Mokume Damascus KnifeBoker 110144DAM Mokume Damascus

Price: Approx. $500

Weight: 4.3 oz.

Overall length: 7 in

Blade length: 3.125 in

Blade material: Damascus steel

Handle material: Imbuia wood

Specific features: Imbuia wood handle, Careful craftsmanship, carefully crafted blade leaves a Damascus pattern

Best use: Very careful use and presentation

Description: The Boker 110144DAM Mokume Damascus Knife is by far the most beautiful and pristine knife we will talk about in this article. Carefully crafted in Germany, this knife looks like no other. The manufacturing of the knife makes for the incredible “whirl pool” like pattern on the blade. The wooden handle is hand crafted out of the exotic Imbuia wood.

This knife is not a tool you would want to take to a campground, so you could cut dry branches down, or cut some rope to pitch a tent. This is the type of knife you invest in, because you admire the craftsmanship and history of knives.

You’ll notice once you’ve clicked on that purchase button that this knife is delivered in a beautiful wooden box and it also comes with a nice little bag you can store the knife in. The attention to detail paid to this knife is on a whole another level. The beauty and durability of the knife is well worth the price.

PROS:

  • Expert craftsmanship
  • Very beautifully designed. Boasts a Damascus pattern
  • Durable
  • Although it’s a decorative knife, it also function quite well as an everyday pocket knife

CONS:

  • Quite expensive
  • On the heavy side

Related: If you are into martial arts, you probably learn how to defend yourself from knife attacks. To avoid injuries, we recommend the Boker Rubber Training Knife, featuring strong rubber that retains the shape of the knife, yet pliable and soft enough to bend when pressed.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

Having a knife in your store of tools when you go camping is of vital importance. They are useful to have around the campsite, and there is always the chance that you could find yourself in a sticky situation, and having that knife could help you get out of it. Or maybe, you just really appreciate all of the problems that a pocket knife has solved for you in relation to camping, and you want a commemorative presentation piece.

Whatever the case may be, all camping hobbyists alike need to realise the importance of this tool, and find the right fit for them to bring along on their next camping adventure. Which of the pocket knives we have reviewed above caught your fancy? Is there another pocket knife that you believe will be a great addition to every camper’s toolkit that we didn’t manage to cover? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Foster

Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.