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Best Knife for Camping and Hiking [Fixed Vs Folding Blades]

Best Knife For Camping And Hiking

When you’re out camping or hiking, having a pocket knife is handy. You’ll need it for different tasks to cut a piece of rope, to cut a stick, open a box. In an emergency, a pocket knife can be a lifesaver. I’d encourage you to keep a knife with you at all times.

Excellent all round camping knife:

KATSU Camping Pocket Folding Japanese Knife, Titanium &...
  • 5-Inch closed, Total Length 9 inch
  • Titanium & Carbon Fiber Handle offers anti-rust property and comfortable grip
  • Frame Lock provides assurance that the blade will stay in place while its open, and easy one-hand...

Different kinds of knives

A knife is something that has a blade that you can cut with. I don’t mean swords or daggers or things like that. The blade should be four inches or shorter.

A knife has a hand grip, where your hand holds the knife. If the knife folds, like a pocket knife, the sides of the handle are called scales. A folding knife when folded will be from three to five inches long.

The other type of knife is a fixed blade knife. A fixed blade doesn’t fold and has a sheath that the blade goes into to protect the user from the knife when it’s not in use. Your kitchen knife is a fixed blade knife. Fixed blade knives can be really cool. Having a KA-BAR is really nice this is the giant fighting knife the Marines carry. They’re handy, they’re tough; but they’re three hundred bucks. I’m going to make the argument that, while I like fixed blade knives, most of the time I end up carrying a folding knife more because of legalities and it’s also easier to fit in my pocket. You should put a fixed blade knife back in the sheath when not in use.

There are fairly long folding blade knives that fit in your pocket, but they are still shorter than your cell phone when folded. To have the same length fixed blade knife, you’ve got this giant knife on your belt.

Make sure what you carry is legal where you are

You’ll need to check in your state about the requirements for different types of knives. In some states there may be a limit to the length of blade you are allowed to carry in say a college campus or a school. This varies by jurisdiction in some cities, too. Generally, there’s a limit of blade length when concealed. Check your local and state and regional laws, but generally you can carry a sword at your waist if it’s in the open. If you conceal a sword it may fall under a totally different set of laws. Always make sure to obey the knife laws.

In North Carolina, you can conceal a fixed blade knife up to a certain length, I believe it’s three and a half inches; beyond that, it needs to be out in the open. Some of these laws aren’t necessarily intuitive. You can rest assured that the law came about because something happened, and someone ended up doing something stupid and now we have a law. In North Carolina, there are a different set of standards applied to a folding knife or a fixed blade. You’ll find in some localities you can have a folding knife where the blade is much longer than the blade on a fixed knife. Generally, in a lot of places, when you’re knife blade is under three-and-a-half inches you can carry a folding knife without a problem. There’s definitely a prejudice against fixed blade knives, check the local laws.

There are limitations to places you can carry a knife. You’ll see government buildings with no weapons signs, so you can’t carry a knife into the building.

My top suggestion

Buy a folding blade knife and then you can carry it just about anywhere. They run from five dollars at the flea market or up to how much you want to spend on Amazon. Generally, there’s a sweet spot. I’ll say between seventy to a hundred and fifty dollars. I have found cheaper ones, except the steel isn’t as good so it won’t hold an edge as well and won’t last as long. But if it’s for a camping trip, it’s probably okay. Keep in mind that you may end up with that knife for the rest of your life, or until you lose it.

There’s also a category of what people will call pocket knives. My only problem with a pocket knife is that a lot of them don’t lock the blade in the open position. My preference is a folding knife that locks when it opens. That way the knife doesn’t collapse on your fingers and cut you while you’re using it. Now granted, my grandfather carried a pocket knife, and my dad carries one. My grandfather was in his seventies when he died, and my dad’s eighty-eight and neither had a lot of scars on their fingers. If you’re new to knives I feel you should purchase one with the locking safety feature. I’ve got a SOG knife that I like a lot. There are Bench-made knives that are wonderful. There are many well-made folding knives available.

Ask yourself if this is something you can use as an everyday carry knife. Multiple uses out of the same equipment make it cost-effective. You can use the knife beyond the campsite because it’s a tool; the more familiar you become with that tool, the better you can use that tool when you’re camping, and you’ll be safer.

The knife blade

The steel and how it is ground affects how well the knife blade will hold and take an edge. There are many different opinions on the way to grind these blades, as well as the different types of steels.

Generally, a better knife is made of a higher quality and more exotic steel. All the steel options have different pluses and minuses. Some of them will develop a patina and that means it will slowly rust. Even if you keep oiling it, one day it will have a kind of brown-black color. It may look fine as long as you keep it oiled. The ones that develop patina will end up with splotches on them if not oiled.

A lot of the blades nowadays are stainless or tool steel. A tool steel one needs to be oiled regularly. Stainless steel ones won’t need as much work to keep looking nice.

I typically avoid buying knives with serrations because serrated edges on the blade are difficult to sharpen, which I feel limits the lifetime of the knife.

Do you lose belongings or keep them forever?

I’ll argue people fall into two categories, either you lose it before it wears out or you wear it out before you lose it. If you’re in the latter group, you’ll carry the knife you buy forever so whatever you purchase is a good buy. If you tend to lose belongings, then be cost-effective and consider buying a more economical knife.

Sharpen and oil

Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener, Grey
  • Tapered Round Diamond Coated Rod for Sharpening Serrated and Standard Edges
  • Carbide Blades (Coarse CARBIDE Slot) Quickly Set Your Edge; Ceramic Stones (Fine CERAMIC slot) Give...
  • Reversible and Replaceable Carbide and Ceramic Stones for Extended Sharpening

A dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp knife. If you keep your knife sharp, it’s a point of pride. It’ll do its job better and will be less likely to slip and cut you. When it’s sharp you don’t have to apply as much pressure. When it’s dull, you have to apply a lot more pressure, and that’s often when a knife slips, and then you lose control and cut yourself, or somebody else. So, if you’ve got a sharp one, it takes a fraction of the amount of pressure and you’re less likely to injure yourself.

Many times when you sharpen your knife, you’re going to oil it as well because it’s part of the sharpening process. Stainless steel doesn’t need oiling as often, every other blade does. You don’t want to cut food with your folding knife because it’s been in your pocket and you have used it for many things that may not be compatible with sanitary food. Keep a separate knife for cooking and eating.

If you’re lost in a survival situation, go ahead and use your pocket knife to eat with, but not in a normal situation.

Wrapping up

There are fixed blades, folding knives, and pocketknives. If you are only going to own one knife then you’ll want to stay away from fixed blades because they’re just not as easy to carry and pocket knives don’t lock. If this is the only knife you’re going to own, get yourself a nice big folding knife. Check your local and state laws to make sure it’s not going to cause a problem. And check blade length versus any concealed carry laws.

Consider what the steel blades are made from and compare the quality and character of the knife with your needs and budget. If you’ve got plenty of budget, there are some really nice knives on Amazon. The best are fixed blade and a little over three inches long, so in most places you can carry those without a problem. Not only are they really nice, they’re even a little bit sexy a little commercial there. Learn how to sharpen your knife and keep it sharp.

Finally, there are tons of videos on the web about how to select a knife, with different levels of purists. Some people from “Hey, this is a great knife” to people who have very exacting requirements. Feel free to look into this a little more if you need.

A dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp knife. If you keep your knife sharp, it’s a point of pride; it’ll do its job better and you’re less likely to cut yourself.

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