Having a reliable blade is a crucial part of camping. Regardless of the task, from building the campsite, making repairs, processing food, cutting wood, or butchering caught animals, you’ll need this tool to make things easier around the camp. Yet, it doesn’t mean you’ll just toss any camping knife into your bag. There are an array of factors to consider, such as the knife type and features, to get the best camping knife for your outdoor adventure. Let’s cut through the chase and dig in!
Different Types of Camping Knife
Camping knives are primarily categorized into two types: fixed blade and folding blade knives.
Fixed Blade Knives
Fixed blade knives feature a blade that runs through the handle. Some knives are called “full tang,” in which blades extend from tip to the grip. These knives do not fold, slide, or don’t have any moving parts, making them relatively safer and safer than folding blade knives. Plus, they are easier to sharpen and clean. Due to their solid design, fixed blade knives are durable and well-suited for more strenuous tasks like batoning wood. The drawbacks are they weigh a little heavier, consume more space in your bag, and require a sheath for transportation and when carrying to protect the blade from damage and for your safety.
Folding Blade Knives
Folding blade knives have a mechanism that enables the blade to retract, collapse, and fit into the handle. The blade pivots or swings in a 180° arc, then secured by a lever. Due to their compact size, they are safer and easier to carry. The catch is that they are less durable than fixed blade knives as there is a risk for the mechanism to fail or the blade to disengage from the handle. Moreover, the presence of moving parts makes them harder to sharpen and clean. As such, folding blade knives are best for less impactful camping and cutting tasks. The good thing is that you can throw them into your bag or slide them into your pocket without any worries.
Fixed or Folding Blade Knives: What To Choose for Camping?
Truth to be told, both types of camping knives have their own benefits. A fixed blade knife is tougher and stronger, fitting more outdoor activities. If you choose to have this, go for the “full tang” fixed blade knives as they boast the best sturdiness and strength. However, as the sheath only serves as its protection, they are pretty dangerous to carry around, especially for family camping trips. Though folding blades knives answer that by being safer to carry around, they are restricted to less rigorous campsite activities.
Camping Knives: Other Features to Consider
Aside from choosing the type of camping knife, here are other factors you need to consider:
One common mistake campers make to assume that longer or bigger knives are better. However, this isn’t always the case. Often, camping knives are used on activities requiring precision, like repairing works, cutting ropes, slicing and peeling food, or chopping wood. It will always be easier to get a smaller knife, one with a maximum blade length of 5 inches, which is easier to handle and use. However, if you are going into tropical terrain or forested areas where you think you’ll need to whack some bushes along the way, it wouldn’t hurt to bring a longer knife for the job.
While knife handles have been traditionally made of wood, they are now constructed using a variety of materials, such as plastic, rubber, and stainless steel, with each one varying in terms of grip, control, and comfort. Wood handles offer better grip but are less durable due to water damage. Stainless steel handles provide durability. However, like plastic handles, they can be slippery when wet. Thus, affecting the grip. On the other hand, rubber handles provide an excellent grip when wet, but they may not last longer than wood or stainless steel handles.
The feel, shape, and texture of the handle are also important. When purchasing a camping knife, test it first and hold it in various positions to get a feel of it and see if it perfectly suits your hand. If you’re expecting to do activities involving water, you may opt for textured ones. At the end of the day, you want a camping knife you’ll be able to use comfortably and with ease throughout your trip.
Knife Blade Material
Knife blades may use stainless steel, titanium, or carbon steel as material. The first two are resistant to corrosion and are well suited for carefree camping tasks. Stainless steel is more affordable and durable than titanium, making it an all-around reliable knife blade material for camping.
Titanium is lighter and more corrosion-resistant, especially to harsh ocean water. Thus, it’s the best choice for lightweight camping and ocean use. Being a rare metal, titanium knives can be pretty expensive, and being more brittle, they are prone to breakage and need sharpening more often.
The most affordable option is the carbon steel blades. The catch is that it is less resistant to chipping and corrosion. It also requires more maintenance than stainless steel blades but is easier to be made razor-sharp.
Camping knives can be your trusty tool in dozens of campsite activities and situations. Like with purchasing any other type of knife, the one you’ll be choosing boils down to your preference and where you intend to use it, so you’ll have the best one for your camping adventure.