As with many things in life, bigger is not always better. Better is better. This holds true when trying to find the best pocket knife for hiking and backpacking. Most hikers will need a knife that’s lightweight, compact, and easy and safe to use.
As I said, don’t feel like you need to overdo it with the size or length of the knife – almost all backpackers I know have only ever used their pocket knives to slice cheese or open a difficult summer sausage. But I do understand the need to carry a good quality knife for emergency purposes like self-defense or to shave off tiny pieces of wood for kindling in a survival situation.
Choosing A Pocket Knife
While there are many options, brands and price ranges out there when it comes to pocket knives, there are a few things you want to consider when choosing a knife for hiking and backpacking. First, for most people, your budget is probably going to be a limiting factor. I don’t mean ‘limiting’ in a bad way, there are lots of great budget friendly options, but that’s a quick and easy way to start narrowing down your choices if you have a budget in mind.
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If you can, try to choose a pocket knife made of something corrosion resistant if you can, like VG-10, N690, or Sandvik 14C28N. Chances are your gear will get wet at one time or another, and while you should always be cleaning and drying it off before storing it shit happens sometimes!
Also consider functionality. How easy or hard is it to open and close? How easy or hard is it to clip and unclip to your bag, belt or clothes? Is the locking mechanism secure? Is the handle comfortable enough to actually cut anything with or does it also feel like it’s cutting into your hand?
If you’re a backpacker, it’s worth considering weight and size as well. You don’t want to carry around a heavy, bulky knife when a lighter one will do the same thing.
Benchmade vs Spyderco Knives
As a Colorado girl myself, I may be a little biased here, because Spyderco is based out of Golden, Colorado, and produces some of the best quality knives out there. Although while many of their knives are produced here in the USA, they have outsourced production of some lines in order to provide great quality knives at a wide range of price points.
You’ll recognize a Spyderco knife by it’s signature (and trademarked!) round hole on the blade. This hole allows you to open the knife one-handed, is said to be easier to use than other common thumb studs and it doesn’t interfere with how the blade cuts.
Another awesome thing about Spyderco is their OpFocus program which offers discounted pro deals for Active Duty Military, Reservist / National Guard, Military Veteran / Retiree, Law Enforcement Officer, Paramedic / Fire Rescue, EMT, and Medical Professionals in the United States.
Best Spyderco Knives For Hiking
Benchmade also produces some of the highest quality pocket knives and is based out of Oregon. You’ll recognize them by their trademarked butterfly logo on every blade and their patented use us the Mchenry / Williams Axis locking mechanism. One of the biggest advantages of Benchmade knives is their is their lifetime sharpening service. They will clean, oil, adjust, and of course, sharpen your Benchmade knife as long as you own it which will also help your knife function better for longer.
Best Benchmade Knives For Hiking
Best Ultralight Pocket Knives For Hiking
I like to carry a small, lightweight pocket knife on every day hike or backpacking trip. For me, the place to carry it is on the front of my backpack shoulder strap, but sometimes I’ll keep it in a side pocket of my pants (if my pants have a pocket!) Here are some pocket knives for hiking that we either have, love or would love to have.
Best Pocket Knives Under $50
Best Pocket Knives Under $100
Have you had a pocket knife that you’ve used and loved for years and years? Share the love and let us know what brand it is in the comments below!
For more hiking and backpacking gear recommendations, check out:
- Best Lightweight Stoves For Backpacking
- Best Backpacking Pillows
- Choosing The Best Sleeping Pad
- 10 Hiking Essentials To Always Carry
About the author, Mallory Moskowitz:
After studying Recreation, Park & Tourism Management, Mallory spent several years teaching environmental education, guiding hikes, and leading backcountry trips. Her life-changing trek from Georgia to New York on the Appalachian Trail is what sparked the creation of Your Adventure Coach, to share backpacking tips and resources with as many new hikers as possible.