Best Hiking Knife
Hiking is a great way to spend time outdoors, get some fresh air and exercise. Depending on what all you are doing while hiking, the difficulty of the hike and the duration will determine if and how you pack your equipment; however, a knife is always called for because you never will miss it until it is not there when you need it.
Just as everyone has a different opinion on which team should win the World Series, everyone has a different opinion on what the best knife to carry hiking is. The primary thing to identify when looking at purchasing a knife for your journey is what your expectations are going to be for the knife and how large is too large.
< 0.25 lbs
How To Select A Hiking Knife
This is important as not every hike is created equal. Hiker A, who has a dog and an elementary school child may consider a 3 mile hike through the woods their ideal weekend. Hiker B is a college student whose idea of a good hike is a 12 mile alpine trail with a 5900 foot ascent over 2.5 miles and then a drop of 1300 feet to a lake. These two hikers both enjoy the outdoors, hiking and being active but need very different knives.
Hiker A will probably do this hike in a leisurely 2 hours without any major changes to breathing or excessive fatigue. These trails are usually well groomed and are designed for the casual hiker in mind. This hiker would be looking for something small and easy to carry which they can use to cut through something like a shoelace, deal with splinters, maybe whittle a stick for roasting marshmallows. A classic Swiss Army Knife will do the trick for a casual hike.
Hiker B on the other hand, requires a much different tool. They would require a knife that, should they get lost or stuck, they could rely on to assist them survive. They would probably have a fair amount of gear, food and water, so a larger blade could easily be housed with this without difficulty. This knife would need to be versatile enough to cut wood to start a fire, to assist with food gathering/preparation, and provide a form of protection as well. As you can see, neither is wrong nor right, just a difference in needs.
Hiker B is going to want something more robust, such as the Gerber Survival Series.
We offer reviews on a range of knives - evidently some are cheaper than others and would be better suited for a casual hiker.
The Benchmade Griptilian Combo Edge is a full-sized folding tactical blade which, despite having a hollow ground edge with a deep belly, utilizes the 154CM stainless steel’s strength to keep an edge which is razor sharp and wears well. These knives carry the same warning any Benchmade knife has in that they come pre-sharpened and are ready to use from the moment you unwrap the box.
This is a larger knife with a 3.5 inch blade, is very light and agile. Not everyone would be comfortable with the Griptilian in their pocket. The scales are a lightweight yet durable plastic over a stainless steel liner which adds the the appeal of this knife as it is so light yet the blade does not come into contact with the plastic, and the liner allows for added stability during use.
It is hard to find a drawback on this knife and the only ones I can easily find is the size and the price.
It is a little hard to use as a pocket knife in that it is over 4.5” in length when closed. If you fall in love with this blade you may consider getting the Griptilian Mini which boasts the same quality in a more convenient size. This is also not a gas station quick buy, this knife does cost more than the average folding knife and what you are paying for is a quality blade, made in the USA so that all steps can be inspected to make sure that quality is not taken for granted.
The Cold Steel Recon 1 is the new version of the Recon. Released in 2010, the Recon 1 learned about the drawbacks from its predecessor and worked hard to improve on an already good knife to create a truly great one. It is sleeker, lighter and has a much stronger lock to ensure no fingers get caught accidentally while maintaining a truly affordable price.
Boasting a 4 inch blade and an overall length of 9 ¾ inches, the Recon 1 is not what most people would carry in their pocket. This is a very solid knife which comes in either a clip point or an American tanto shape. The scales are designed to fit easily in your hand and provide an important non-slip grip. The blade is strongly held and is very durable as is the rest of the knife.
The main drawback with this knife is that the black coating on the blade comes off easily with use. Once it is all off, the knife cleans up well and it does not create usage issues. If you are looking for a display case knife you may want to get two, one to use and one to display and at the price, it is not an impossibility.
The CRKT M16 is a versatile knife that is commonly seen by anyone who spends a lot of time in the back country. It is versatile and comes in many different sizes but for this review I have chosen the M16-13ZE.
This blade weighs a mere 3.7 ounces with an overall length of 9.25 inches making this a knife you won’t miss. The bright orange scales make that unlikely as well. The 13ZE option of this knife comes with an AutoLAWKS safety mechanism, a built in seat belt cutter and a Tungsten carbide window breaker so that in any emergency you are covered.
The one drawback I would point out would be that the steel on this blade is relatively soft and therefore will lose an edge after it has been used. This is not nearly as soft as the AUS4, however, the AUS8 is not a very hard steel therefore is easy to sharpen although you may find yourself doing this more often than with some of the harder steels.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife is a heavy-duty full-tang knife that is large, heavy and definitely a knife that would find many uses on an extended hike or even camping. The blade has a drop point and has the option of being either a fine-edge or half-serrated.
This knife also includes a rope lanyard which has an emergency whistle attached, a diamond blade sharpener, a spark rod included with the sheath and a square striker notch in the butt end of the knife. This knife will provide you with all the tools necessary to create a fire from the feather stick to the spark itself.
The downside to this knife is that it is very heavy and bulky and so it is not something that you would take with you on most hikes without other gear. The other issue is the sheath itself in that the loop to attach it is placed in an awkward location so when it is attached to your belt it has a tendency to rub.
In all this is a well made knife which has been designed to provide everything you may need in a knife for an emergency situation. Combine this with the price and it is definitely a knife to have a look at.
Swiss Army Knife, it is a name that speaks quality and is known in most households and has been around for many years. The Adventurer Pocket Knife is no exception to this. This is a large 3 ½ inch blade housed in a tiny and compact set of scales which also hide a can opener, bottle opener, large screwdriver, wire stripper, reamer with sewing eye, a Phillips screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick and a key ring.
This is a tool that, despite its size and weight of a mere 2.8 ounces, can handle most situations you may throw at it. Whether there is a need for cutting branches or dealing with a sliver, this knife can handle it.
The one thing about this knife is that it is rather large if you are more familiar with the Tinker or Classic sized Swiss Army Knives; however, as it is less than 5 inches when fully folded it is not unreasonable for this knife to be pocketed for both the longer and shorter walks through the woods.