8 Of The Best Pocket Knives For Backpacking

best pocket knife

The sky is growing dark and the air is getting cooler. You’re scrambling to get that tarp up before the wet stuff hits, but just as you press your serrated pocket knife against a stretch of rope the blade starts to wobble. Then the pivot screw pops out and lands in the dirt.

You swear. You maybe even whip that busted knife into the woods. Sure, you’re mad that it’s going to be a helluva lot harder to put up that tent now. But what really pisses you off is that you bought that pocket knife just a few weeks ago. And yet, it fell apart quicker than a guest on Jerry Springer.

You don’t have to spend a small fortunate to get a durable, high-quality pocket knife for camping and backpacking. Something well under $100 should do you just fine. Of course, if you need something larger for hunting, skinning meat or scaring the hell out of your neighbours, the price tag will go up.

For part two of my two-part series on Backcountry Blades, I’ve complied a list of knives that have proven themselves worthy. I’ve either used each one myself or they’ve scored well in reviews by backcountry explorers far wiser than I. And please be aware that this article contains affiliate links. So if you’re in the market, check out the S&TT pocket knife review.

Benchmade Mini Griptilian

This company makes some of the best pocket knives around. The Mini Griptilian is a sweet all-around knife with a solid locking mechanism. Some Benchmade products need a little sharpening right out of the box, so just keep that in mind. Aside from that small nit, the Benchmade Mini Griptilian is pretty solid. You can also get a serrated version as well to chew through thin branches and whatnot. You can grab one at REI for about $85. Click here to check it out.

Swiss Army Mountaineer Pocket Knife (Victorinox)

Ah, the classics never die. The Victorinox brand has earned ample respect for crafting a quality Swiss blade. The Mountaineer Pocket Knife has got all the basics you’d expect from a traditional Swiss Army Knife: a nifty tool to bust you outa any bind. It’s also relatively lightweight and not too pricey at about $40.

Don’t forget that the Swiss Army knife can be had in many models with varying amounts of “tools” optional. If you’re looking for a more minimalist Victorinox knife, try the Swiss Armry Knife Classic SD.

Pro Tip: Tie the knife to your backpack with a long piece of string to make sure you don’t lose it or accidentally leave it behind when packing camp.

Spyderco Delica

A dependable all-purpose workhorse that offers few frills. It has a fiberglass reinforced handle complete with Spyderco’s signature “Bi-Directional Texturing,” which offers ample grip when it’s time to get to work. At a mere 2.5 ounces, the Spyderco Delica is great companion for the trail.

This knife operates on a solid frame with reinforced structure provided by two internal stainless steel plates. Flat ground blade means sharp, reliable, but not too fragile. We’re pretty sure you’ll love this Spyderco bestseller.

Dogfish Neck Knife Razor Edge

Here’s a light and inexpensive little number for those who prefer fixed-blade knives (I’ll admit, they are easier to clean). It has a secure grip with friction grooves near the butt. Also, turn it around and that dogfish face makes for a handy bottle opener. Perhaps the best thing about this Dogfish Neck pocketknife is the price: a mere $16 on Amazon


A high-quality, no-frills blade that stays sharp and sharpens well. I like the serrated model, myself. It weighs in at just 3.2 ounces – a sweet little pocketknife to slip into your pocket before hitting the trail. It’ll run ya about $41.

Locking blade safety and dual “cross guard” make this knife a workhorse that won’t slip when slicing, stabbing, or working. Textured G10 scales will remain highly rugged and secure in your hand even when water or fluids have coated the handle.

Overall this rugged blade is definitely made to work as hard as it looks.

Gerber Mini Paraframe Knife

Gerber Mini Paraframe Best Knife

Gerber has been making budget minded knives for years and continues to balance quality, durability, function, and price at a perfect mixture.

With the mini paraframe you get a small profile knife, lightweight, with a reliable pocket clip. The full metal construction is bomb-proof and easy to keep clean. Or just let it get dirty. These knives won’t care.

At a sub $10 price point you can’t really go wrong with this reliable, trusty little utility knife that will accompany you everywhere you go. I’ve been using one for years and have yet to be disappointed.

Ka-Bar Skeleton Knife

Ka-Bar Skeleton Knife reviewWant a knife that won’t break the bank, from a reputable knife maker, which is nearly indestructible? Here it is. The full steel, full tang, all metal Ka-Bar Skeleton knife with hard plastic sheath. These materials are waterproof, rugged, durable, and all but unbreakable.

Skeleton construction means lightweight and minimalist while maintaining extremely high levels of durability and reliability.

Pro Tip: Order some of your favorite color para-cord and wrap your knife handle with whatever color you want for a personalized survival touch!

Mora Bushcraft Black Carbon Steel Knife

Mora has developed a well-deserved rep for producing high-quality blades at a decent price and this pocket knife reinforces what’s best about this brand.

The basic Mora-style blade has been commonplace in many Scandinavian countries for centuries. The use of carbon steel means the blade is much easier to sharpen and holds an edge longer than other many other products.

Reviewers have raved about the Mora Bushcraft Black Carbon Steel Knife, saying it performs well even when slicing hardwood like oak. You can get it at Amazon for about $40 by clicking here.

This is part two of a two-part series on Backcountry Blades. You can also check out part one: 3 of the best hatchets for backpacking.

BONUS KNIFE PICK: Helle Temagami

Helle Temagami Knife

Les Stroud & Helle of Norway

OK, this one isn’t technically a pocket knife…
Ever watched the popular show Survivorman, with Les Stroud? If you’re curious what knife Les endorses in the backcountry – it’s the Helle Temagami. Les worked with knife makers and designers at Helle in Norway to produce this artisan knife at an affordable price. As a blacksmith myself, I have to respect how they constructed this knife and if you’re curious about the specs, techniques, and methods they used to make Les Stroud’s Temagami knife with Helle of Norway, then you’ll definitely want to check out our review of the Helle Temagami.

Read A Full Review Of The Helle Temagami

Do you prefer the trails less travelled?

Join like-minded trekkers by signing up for the S&TT e-mail list. Every week, you’ll get:

  • Profiles of little-known hiking destinations
  • Gear reviews for backpackers and hikers
  • Feature articles on strange and off-beat hiking

Plus we’re 100% spam-free (and proud of it)


About the author

Dustin Walker

Dustin Walker is a journalist, travel copywriter and editor/owner of Slick and Twisted Trails. Follow him on Twitter @dustinjaywalker