Our guide takes you through what to look for and gives you a clear path to getting the best backpacking knife for your needs. We’ll show what’s important in these knives and the kind of value you should expect. You’ll build a clear idea of what it takes to make a great backpacking knife.
From their price and performance to more subtle features like sheaths and carrying options, we’ll show you what’s worth paying attention to. Our goal is to get you ready and prepared to make an informed buying decision to get the best possible value for your money – and a knife that gets you where you want to go. Let’s jump into the guide!
Top 7 Best Backpacking Knife Reviews in 2023
We’ve carefully selected 7 knives we feel to address a broad enough set of needs and possible uses. They’re all incredibly well-suited to the outdoors and give a backpacking adventure on-the-go utility and functionality. You’ll find out what’s unique about each knife and why it’s worth your time.
We’ll also cover what we did and didn’t like about each of them – so that you can build realistic expectations of their real-world performance. By the end of the reviews, you’ll have a clear picture of what you need and where to find it. Let’s get into the best backpacking knife reviews!
Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife
This 3.5” folding knife is just the right size to give you awesome versatility and functionality without being too bulky or heavy. It has excellent edge retention and can be sharpened to a razor’s edge without too much difficulty. You’re getting all the corrosion and rust resistance you’d need in a robust outdoor knife. The 410 stainless steel is rugged and the polished silver finish looks fantastic.
This is a knife that can endure some pretty rough treatment and harsh elements. You’ll love the sleek profile of the knife and how light it feels in your hands. It has a frame locked design to keep the blade safely in place and is super-secure. It’s tip-locked when it’s closed and this stops accidental blade opening.
While it’s an assisted opening, the action is very smooth and consistent. The ambidextrous thumb studs aren’t too pronounced – they’re just the right size for a quick one-handed opening and closing. Overall, you’re getting one of the most popular picks for the best backpacking knife for the money.
- User-friendly and very fast
- Extremely sharp edge with excellent retention
- Resistant to the elements and corrosion
- Sleek, compact, and lightweight
- Slightly slippery when you use it with wet or oily hands
- Blade’s tip isn’t the most sturdy we’ve seen
Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife
Here’s a fantastic lightweight open-frame design folding pocket knife from Gerber. They make truly classic and premium pocket knives – and this model lives up to those standards. It’s incredibly easy to clean the knife with a minimalistic and rugged profile. The open frame helps to keep the knife as light and functional as possible – without losing any grip strength or durability.
The blade is held in its open position by a frame lock that’s extremely secure and reliable. Perhaps our favorite feature of this knife is the intelligently designed pocket clip. There’s nothing worse than having a knife that keeps slipping out of place when you’re backpacking. This pocket clip has just the right balance between being functional and sturdy.
You can clip the knife to almost anything and it slides onto a belt with no trouble. The blade’s tip is lowered slightly to bring it closer to the centerline of the knife. This gives you additional piercing power and makes it an excellent choice for outdoor utility. Overall, this is the best backpacking knife and possibly inexpensive backpacking knife with this kind of performance and ruggedness.
- Open frame design is light and easy to hold
- Versatile and sturdy pocket clip
- Strong tip with good piercing power
- Frame lock is effective
- Not easy to keep clean
- Edge retention could be better
Spyderco Delica Lightweight Folding Knife
If you like having different colors to choose from, here’s a great selection. This would make an excellent gift for both kids and adults who are interested in the outdoors or are passionate about backpacking. You’re getting VG-10 steel that’s flat ground to give you a thinner and sharper cutting edge. While this means it might not be as durable, it’s exquisitely sharp.
With a little experience and practice, you’ll learn how to care and handle this knife at its best. The 2.9” blade is legal in many places as an EDC knife. It’s ultra-lightweight and one of the easiest knives to take on a backpacking trip. We loved the handle’s non-slip textured surface and its ergonomic profile.
This, combined with how lightweight the knife is, makes it exceptionally effortless to handle and work with. There’s an opening hole for your finger at the base of the blade to help you get a better grip for heavier duty cutting and slicing. You’re getting an incredibly lightweight and versatile pick for the best backpacking knife in this price range.
- Exceptionally easy to carry and use
- Ultra-lightweight and compact
- Bi-directional texture non-slip handle
- Finger hole in the blade for better grip strength
- Not very resistant to corrosion and rusting around the hinge
- Challenging to close the pocket knife one-handed
Opinel Folding Knife
Here’s a must-have outdoor knife for backpackers to have. You can use it for preparing meals, eating, utility work, and general functionality. It’s a fantastic all-rounder knife for adventurers and travelers. The blade is secured by a Virobloc safety ring which hasn’t been changed in over 100 years. One of the rings is fixed and the other slides into place to securely lock the blade into place.
While this locking mechanism is relatively slow, it’s extremely safe and secure. You don’t have to deal with “iffy” linear locks and back-locks that accidentally release half-way through cutting. You’re getting 12C27 stainless steel and all its resistance to corrosion and rusting. It’s rugged steel that’s pretty easy to maintain and keep sharp.
The handle is crafted from durable and robust Beechwood and shaped in a very ergonomic and intuitive way. It’s naturally non-slip and the broader base of the handle gives you even better control of the blade. You’re getting a refined and reliable pick for the best backpacking knife. It’s unique and you’ll keep this knife around for a long time.
- Unique locking mechanism and appearance
- Durable non-slip Beechwood handle
- Very resistant to rusting and corrosion (locking rings included)
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Locking mechanism is quite slow (but super-secure)
- Edge retention could be better
ESEE Knives Izula-II Fixed Knife
At 2.63” long, the blade is legal to carry as an EDC knife in many states and countries. It’s made from 1095HC steel which isn’t super-common and quite easy to sharpen. It’s resistant to rusting and doesn’t chip or break easily. You’re getting a subtle and natural-looking knife with a non-slip textured Micarta handle.
You’ll find you can get excellent grip strength and control over the knife without straining your hands and wrists. The knife comes with a handy black sheath that’s well-fitted and robust. It’s friction-held and gives you all the protection you’d need for using this knife outdoors.
There’s a finger ring at the bottom of the handle that lets you slip your pinky or pointer finger into depending on the way you grip the knife. It’s a handy feature that lets this knife double as a tactical carry. Overall, you’re getting a knife with utility, premium performance, and versatility. While it’s not a cheap backpacking knife considering its size, it’s money well-spent.
- Excellent construction and premium quality build
- One of the best handles on a sub-3” folding knife
- Finger ring on the handle
- Excellent edge retention
- Blade’s coating will come off over time
- Finger ring is a little small if you have thick fingers
Spyderco HoneyBee Folding Knife
Here’s a fantastic value-for-money knife if you want something sleek and compact. This Spyderco knife is super-easy to carry around and is hardly noticeable in its folded position. You’ve got a smooth straight edge with razor sharpness and awesome cutting power. This shorter blade’s tip is strong and sturdy, giving you plenty of versatility and piercing power.
The stainless steel construction is resistant to corrosion and fantastically well-suited to expensive outdoor use. Considering what you’re getting for the money, this knife is hard to simply pass over. The flat-ground edge is extremely sharp and easy to maintain. This also helps to keep down the overall weight – leaving you with a high-performing knife that won’t hurt your wallet.
It’s a very simple and minimalistic knife with a lanyard hole for fixing it to a belt or bag. The opening and closing action is swift and can be done one-handed with a little practice. This best backpacking knife are compact, versatile, and an overall fantastic choice if you’re on a tight budget and still want decent performance and durability.
- Excellent value for money
- Easy to keep clean and maintain
- Strong tip with good piercing power
- Exquisitely sharp flat-ground edge
- Limited carrying options
- No sheath comes with the knife
Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool
If versatility and functionality are important to you, here’s a king in the field. With 20 different tools, you’re getting almost unparalleled utility and performance. While it’s quite heavy for a pocket knife, you’re getting all the class-leading design, craftsmanship, and professionalism that Victorinox is known for.
From sharp cutting edges and saws to field scissors and screwdrivers, this knife has pretty much everything a backpacker needs. You can pop open wine bottles just as easily as you can cut a wire caught in your motorbike wheel. It’s an exceptionally durable knife with the functionality and versatility of a whole set of knives.
You’ll want to get a sheath made for this knife if possible, as it’s bulky. This bulk is a necessary evil for the massive utility and selection of tools. You’ll need to take decent care of this knife and cleaning can be a nightmare without a good maintenance routine. If you want to be covered in almost any situation, this might be the perfect pocket knife for you.
- Incredibly versatile and functional selection of tools
- Expertly designed with professional craftsmanship
- Non-slip and easy to hold with more than one tool out at a time
- Very sharp edges on the knife and saw
- Very expensive
- Heavy and bulky
How to Choose the Right Backpacking Knife
When you’re choosing a backpacking knife, some features are far more critical than the others. Getting the perfect knife is all about focusing on important features to you and that matter more overall. We’ll help you get better value for money and a knife you’ll be proud to own. Let’s take a look.
Steel quality will probably have the most significant effect on both price and performance. Low steel quality will leave you with a knife that’s super-affordable but won’t last a month in the real-world. You need high-carbon content steel that’s not higher than HRC-58.
Any harder, and you’ll chip your blade during rougher cutting. Any softer than HRC-55, and you’ll run into issues with edge retention. You could also choose a knife with molybdenum content for better retention and cutting consistency.
Weight and Size
After steel quality, this is your next most significant concern. Backpacking knives come in both folding and fixed variants. If you don’t need a knife with heavy-duty cutting, there’s not much point in going for a fixed-blade knife. These are heavier and bulkier – which is the opposite of what you’d need when backpacking.
Folding knives are excellent if they’re made well and are suited to your needs. For backpacking, you’d get a lot of use from a blade with a serrated cutting edge and extra tools like a cord cutter. As for blade size, 3.5” is an ideal length for general utility. You can get smaller if you already have a primary knife.
Try to get a handle that’s rubberized or textured to improve its grip when wet or oily. You can also afford to sacrifice some aesthetics for performance here. There’s no point in spending extra for a knife that looks great but will quickly fade with regular outdoor use. Ergonomic handles are essential for backpacking and should be suited to one-handed use.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What Should I Look for in a Best Backpacking Knife?
A: The knife needs to be pretty versatile. It needs to be able to cut through ropes and possibly have a wire-cutter and a serrated portion on the blade. I prefer folding knives for backpacking as they’re more compact and easy to carry.
You’ll need a strong tip for piercing and a sharp edge with decent edge retention for quick cutting and slicing. You’ll need resistance to rust, corrosion, and have a handle that’s non-slip and comfortable. Beyond this, it’s up to your personal preference.
Q: How to Sharpen the Serrated Edge of a Blade?
A: Take a tapered sharpening rod and work each of the individual serration (the teeth). Keep the strokes smooth and try to use the whole length of the tapered rod to get the best results.
That’s it for our guide and review! You’ve seen 7 knives that should give you a variety of choices depending on your needs. You should now have a good idea of what you’re looking for the performance and quality you can expect at the different price points.
All that’s left is for you to make your choice. Feel free to go back over any of the knives that interested you. Getting the best backpacking knife is all about getting the perfect knife for you. Take your time and get a knife you’ll keep around for ages – good luck!