A New Camping Knife


July 28, 2008, 05:11 AM
Hey ya'll, I'm set to go on a camping trip in a few weeks, and I haven't been camping in a very long time. After looking through my gear, it appears that, for whatever reason, I no longer have a suitable knife

I'm looking for a general purpose outdoor/camping knife, and I'd like to spend $30-$50. I suppose my first question should be: is there anything available in this price range that is not a piece of junk? I'd like to buy quality once, so if I need to spend more than that to keep this knife 10+ years, I'll do so. I prefer a folder, but I appreciate all suggestions, whether advice on style of knife, a particular model, or things to be aware of. I'm also wondering what to look for when browsing in a store (signs that mean quality) and if there are any particular brands that I should just steer clear of.

Thank you so much for your help, I look forward to reading the replies.

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July 28, 2008, 05:19 AM
KBAR and Gerber are going to be your best bet for that price range.

im a big SOG guy myself and have had nothing but good knives from them.

personally I like a good fixed blade{usally my WICKED sharp KBAR} AND a good folder when im out and about but thats me.

These days ive gotten pretty spoiled on assited openers like the Kershaw Ken Onion WhirlWind and the SOG Trident.

I really like them for work with gloves and in the cold.

Alot of people say stay away from benchmade unless your buying there more expensive stuff and I agree.

better steel and better deals on Gerbers 50 bucks and under than most.


July 28, 2008, 05:23 AM
lest I forget one of my other favorites ColmbiaRiverKnivesandTool or CRKT.

have had nothing but GREAT experiances with there products and do have friends of mine. My friend J carried one of there m16 series in Iraq and fell in love with the thing.

im finding the ones i would suggest right now and will toss up the links in a second

July 28, 2008, 05:37 AM


this is my most recent knife purchase and is one of the best if not the best knifes ive owned at that price besides my KBAR.



this is one of the favorite knives I own, even though my moms hubby fell in love with it and has decided it needed to stay at there house as a "house knife"


I myself prefer clip and drop point blades, almost always unless its a dressing knife go with 1/3 or 1/4 serrated, prefer medium framed folders with a 3 and 1/2 inch blade or longer.

im open to all types of fixed blades

July 28, 2008, 06:27 AM
Yeah, if I get a folder I definitely want it to be longer than 3.5 inches; in fact I prefer more like 4.5 to 5 inches.

Sorry, what is meant by a drop point blade?

The KA-BAR is growing on me. Are there any quality fixed blades out there like KA-BAR that are around $50-$60 instead of 100?

July 28, 2008, 06:37 AM
actually I picked mine up for around that very price IIRC. check out your local sporting goods stores, they almost always carry them IME.



July 28, 2008, 06:56 AM
So I guess it would be a mistake to order one for $80 then? Also, is yours partially serrated, and do you recommend this or not?

Thanks a lot for all your information and help, I really appreciate it.

July 28, 2008, 07:06 AM
depends, you might not be able to find one THAT much cheaper. Mine was on sale along with every other knife in the case IIRC so take that with a grain of salt.

I can tell you you wont regret picking up a KA-BAR. Mine was left in about 4 feet of snow all winter in its plastic sheath and hardly showed it at all.

My dad has a marine ww2 issiue that he got from a friends wife{her dads knife} that I just resharpened and its one of the nicest knives ive had in my hands in a long time.

something about a good KA-BAR just feels right to me, so solid, so sharp, so much history.

July 28, 2008, 07:06 AM
For a folder to use as a 'camping knife', you cannot go wrong with an American classic - a Buck 110 'Folding Hunter'. This is all you'll need for making camping equipment, from cooking stands to tent pegs, as well as medium sized up whittling. You could also skin a deer, if need be - certainly make fuzz-kindling galore. And, although it's hefty and comes with a sheath, the 3.75" bladed/7.2 oz knife is pocketable. Everyone should have one.

If fixed blade is your want, you cannot go wrong with a Buck 119 'Special'. This 6" bladed/phenolic handled keeper weighs but 7.5 oz - and comes, like the 110, with an imported but functional sheath - either nylon or leather. When you see Discovery Channel's Les Stroud, aka 'Survivorman', with a separate knife, it's this one.

Both knives employ 420HC steel, heat treated by Paul Bos to very long keeping edge standards. Oddly, they can also be re-edged fairly easily - evn back to the 'hair popping' sharpness they are delivered with.

Availability is great - try Wally-World first - they have them both less than a traditional store's wholesale price - $25 for the 110 and $34 for the 119 up the street from me.

I've camped with a KaBar 'fighting knife' - either of the above are better suited.

Another choice, especially if you like black/more tacti-cool knives - the Gerber LMFII. My older son gave me one for Father's Day - interesting knife - partially serrated, too. I haven't tried it camping yet. Several places, like 'LA Police Gear', have some of the variants at $60 + s/h, while the local 'Academy Sports/Outdoors' chains have them at $100. Good luck!


July 28, 2008, 07:15 AM
"I've camped with a KaBar 'fighting knife' - either of the above are better suited."

yes and no friend, preference has much to do with it IMHO.

I carry a fixed blade{almost always the KA-BAR except hunting} and a good folder when afield myself.

Mostly use the fixed blade unless im doing something that need a smaller thinner blade.

July 28, 2008, 08:18 AM
Check out Smokey Mountain Knife Works and the Opinel brand sold there.
The Opinels are inexpensive, rugged and available in Stainless or Carbon steel.
For $30.00-$50.00 you can buy several knives in various sizes.
I've been using the Opinels in Carbon steel for work knifes and daily carrys since I sharpened one for a friend this past Spring.

July 28, 2008, 08:44 AM
There are so many knives to choose from these days. I'll list some of my favorites without adherring to your budget necessarily. Stay away from Frost Cutlery knives (waste of money even at the cheap prices) and most knives manufactured in China. I feel sure that the steel will improve coming from China in the future, but for now, stay away from them. You want steel made in USA, Japan, or Taiwan. (Taiwan steel is the worst of this list, but okay.)

For a basic camping and woods knife, the Buck 110 is hard to beat ($25-$30). Comes with a leather belt sheath. I just bought one recently because I didn't own one or lost my old one. Case brand knives are good too by the way. My first knife was a Case folder.

My daily favorite knife which is good for 90% of everything you are likely to do with a pocket knife is the Victronix Swiss Army knife (SAK)-Adventurer model (about $25). Many like the Farmer model. Go with the larger size (longer blade) which are more useful. The thing to remember with SAKs is the more tools on the knife, the thicker and heavier the knife is to carry. I like the Locksmith model, but it is too thick to carry in your pocket. The Adventurer is just about perfect for my use. I keep my Locksmith tucked in my SOG Seal Pup Elite sheath pouch. It rides just fine there. So, if I'm camping or hiking, I often have the Locksmith along in addition to my Advernturer model.

I also really like the SOG brand and one of my favorites is the Mini-Vulcan folder which gives you the advantage of a quick opening knife if you like that. It runs around $80-$100. I love mine and highly recommend it. The full sized Vulcan is also available. It is a bit large for carrying in your pocket even with a clip. But is a great knife also.

The Queen Cutlery lineup are very good as well. They are typically traditional folders. I like the Mountain Man and Trapper models. These push the limits of your budget.

The Spyderco Endura is a very good general purpose knife if you like a larger folding blade. I prefer the plain edge, but also have the fully serrated version for special purposes. It pushes your budget figure a bit.

For a fixed blade, I am leaning toward a Bark River knife these days for a general woods knife. I'm leaning toward the Aurora or Gameskeeper. They are in the $100-$150 range and beyond your present budget. Look at them here. http://www.knifesupply.com/bark_river_knives.html

I have a SOG Seal Pup Elite which is an excellent general purpose knife with about a 5" blade or so. The SOG Revolver Hunter is a good general purpose camping and hiking knife and has the advantage of a pretty large usable saw blade and it's light. All SOG blades are wicked sharp when you get them. The Revolver may look a bit unusual, but it is a well constructed knife and very usable.

RAT Cutlery has their lineup of tough fixed blades. The RC-3 or RC-4 should do the trick. They run in the $80-$120 range.

Many knives are sold with the partially serrated edge. I find the plain edge more usable and the serrations are just where you would put the most force it you were trying to cut something difficult. I would stay away from the serrated blades for now.

The SOG Field Pup is a very good general purpose fixed blade. I have had a number of them and they are very useful for detail work or camp chores. Cheap too! It was the first SOG knife I purchased. I have quite a few SOG knives from big to small.

In general, I would keep the blade length less than 6 inches no matter what you choose. Most people seem to prefer something in the 3-4" for folders and 4-5.5" in a fixed blade. Really big knives are useful for chopping and that is about it unless it is the only knife you own or likely to own. Machetes are very popular and the 12" Ontario is quite useful for camp chores. They are inexpensive also. If you buy one, they do not come with a sheath, so at least pick up the cheapie sheath they offer. Useful, but you'll wear it out in no time. Eventually you make one yourself or get a kydex sheath made for you. Costs more than the machete new.

If you don't have any preference, go with the Buck 110 or a Swiss Army knife. They are very useful knives and you can't go wrong with the purchase. If I have two knives on my person and I need to use a knife, I almost always grab the folder first and not the fixed blade. Fixed blade knives are stronger typically. Good luck in your selection.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
July 28, 2008, 09:09 AM
I would steer way clear of Gerber - they're more or less simple junk at this point.

Now the Kershaw, CRKT, SOG, etc., on the other hand, mentioned above, are worth a look, as well as Buck.

First decide whether you want a folder or fixed. Yes, I know people think camp knife is synonymous with fixed, but a largish folder is easy to stow in your pocket, still a fine camp knife, and if you have to run into the local Walmart for fishing tackle, you won't feel awkward in "society" wearing your fixed blade on your belt. OK, nevermind, you said folder....

Man, that's a tough price range; I'll have to think on that one a bit....

July 28, 2008, 09:16 AM
I'd get a buck 110 for $30 or so. However, depending on what you're going to do with this knife while camping I might consider a leatherman for versatility. I would definitely bring a multi-tool if it were me.

July 28, 2008, 09:28 AM
I just got back last night from a camping trip up in the mountains of NC. Most work was done with my $10 4" fix blade mora from ragweed forge. http://www.ragweedforge.com/SwedishKnifeCatalog.html

Food prep was done with my $19 3" folding Spyderco Byrd Meadowlark---my every day carry. http://www.thebladeshop.com/Spyderco_BY04_Byrd_Meadowlark_p/by04p.htm

My 7" Becker BK7 never came out of the pack.

July 28, 2008, 09:31 AM
CRKT. Good stuff.

Older Gerber and Buck products.

Todd A
July 28, 2008, 09:51 AM
My 2 cents. At the high end of your range or slightly above depending where you shop. A Buck 110 and a Swiss Army Knife with your choice of blade combo.

My camping/hiking/woods bumming needs in the thick New England woods are served very well with a Schrade Old Timer 7OT(Buck 110 knock-off) and a Camillus 4 blade Scout pattern. I prefer older no longer produced knives otherwise the SAK/110 combo would be my choice.If you think you might need to chop a small camp hatchet can be added to your gear,and do the job better than a fixed blade.

July 28, 2008, 11:10 AM
I'd recommend you read The Humble Machete (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=381094), right here on this forum, and follow its advice. You'll save a bunch of money and have a more useful camping tool.

July 28, 2008, 11:19 AM
What sort of camping will you be doing?

Fixed blades are preferable to folders whenever you can carry one.

$30-$40 is a little low for a good, "10 year knife". You can get one of the laminated Moras from ragweed forge for less than that and you could get a good smaller butcher knife made by Old Hickory or Chicago Cutlery also. The Mora will come with a sheath and you'll have to make or have one made for the butcher knife. If you're patient you can even mod the butcher knife to fit the role better. Try to get one of the Moras with a finger side guard (cross guards are a pain to work with when trying to do many camp chores).

You'll want a good handy folder for the finer work the camp knife is a little big for.

The Tourist
July 28, 2008, 11:28 AM
I'm with Stainz on this topic, hands down. Buy the Buck 110.

Frankly it's a knife that everyone should own.

July 28, 2008, 12:51 PM
Well the last thing you need is another opinion but...

Two knife combination of a Swiss Army knife (leave the bells and whistles out just get a model with say-2 blades, the wood saw, and the scissors-very handy for first aid situations) OR a multitool AND a SMALL fixed blade or even a short machete (12") as suggested above.

The problem is that you cannot find a GOOD multitool and fixed blade with your budget, so that leaves you with a SAK and a small fixed blade. By small, I'd say 4" or less but 5" wouldn't be too bad.

Something like this: http://www.newgraham.com/detail.aspx?ID=5170

Would be fine for a utility fixed blade, add a $25 SAK and your all set.

One thing I'd like to point out is the practical utility of a knife that can be accessed and deployed with one hand. More than a gimmick, there are many instances where you need or want to cut something without having to use both hands to do it. I've been in situations setting up a tarp in windy conditions where I get it where I wanted it and have to let go to open my knife to cut the line off. This is easily answered by a small fixed blade or a one handled "spydie hole" or thumb stud type folder. For me, this rules out the Buck 110 and models like it. Great knife no doubt, but heavy and more awkward to use than what's currently available. I say that as someone who has carried and used one since 1979.

If you are going camping where you will be building fires you should be carrying a dedicated chopper and a saw and not using a 'camp knife' for this task. It's better handled by the other tools and unfair to the camp knife. Bottom line-right tool for the job.

July 28, 2008, 01:26 PM
I use my Gerber LMF II when I go camping. Its a pretty tough knife with some interesting features. I think they are sold in the $80-90 price range though.

July 28, 2008, 05:41 PM
I bought the #911 from Ragweed Forge Swedish knife catalog. I lost a special Puukko on a motorcycle trip and needed to replace it with something less personable. I've never looked back. It is a heck of a knife for $11 and unless you need something larger than 4" in a general duty knife there is not much else to look at, personal preferences aside.

Whoever finds that puukko of mine is one lucky kid.

July 28, 2008, 05:42 PM
Agreed...get a puukko knife.


July 28, 2008, 06:21 PM
I own a ton of knives but when I go camping or hiking I love having my Buck 119 on my hip.

July 28, 2008, 10:38 PM
Well, I picked up a Buck 119 today from my local gun shop. It seems fairly sharp out of the box, what's a good benchmark test? Thanks to everyone for steering me in the right direction, pictures to follow.

July 28, 2008, 11:35 PM

I live eight miles from the Buck Knives factory, and I drop in whenever I get the chance.



They're good folks, and they stand behind their product.

Few months ago I was standing in their lobby by the customer service window. Older gent came in with a knife he'd had for ages. It was all beat up, chipped, and that sort of thing. He asked the gal at the window what they would charge to refurbish it. She asked if he would have any sentimental objection to having it replaced. He said no, it was just a working knife. She retrieved a brand new copy of the knife, with the more current X2 edge grind, and swapped it on the spot.

Dude was seriously tickled. He went to the other side of the lobby, into the little retail shoppe they have there, and bought another knife (more like three or four, actually).

They're not kidding about the warranty.

Anything happens to that knife, just send it to them.

Don't pamper the 119. It wasn't made to be pampered.

Get out there and use it.

July 28, 2008, 11:39 PM
""Well, I picked up a Buck 119 today from my local gun shop. It seems fairly sharp out of the box, what's a good benchmark test? Thanks to everyone for steering me in the right direction, pictures to follow."

nice choice. bump for pics.

July 28, 2008, 11:49 PM
I have over a hundred good quality knives, various configurations, and when I go camping/canoeing or whatever, the one knife I do not / cannot / will not leave home without is a Swiss army knife. Any model with the scissors and a saw.

Typically I will carry a large fixed blade too, and since I have so many - a pocket folder but will use the swiss army knife twice as much as anything else.

In fact, Victorinox makes a multi-tool called the Swisstool and one called the Spirit - and those are as handy as the swiss army knife in addition to being a bit larger and sturdier - have everything you need including the knife, and aren't terribly expensive.

July 28, 2008, 11:56 PM
thats some cool stuff arfin

July 29, 2008, 01:18 AM
The Buck 119 is a good choice. Now you need a SAK to carry in your pocket. I take at least two knives with me in the woods and it is often a medium sized fixed blade and a SAK. The Buck is a good value for the dollar.

July 29, 2008, 11:41 AM
If they stand behind their product like you say, then maybe I should take my 119 out more often.

July 29, 2008, 06:38 PM
As promised, some pictures of my new 119:


Also, I know some of you have been suggesting a good SAK as well. I actually just found this knife yesterday. It's an old Boy Scout pocket knife, and while it seems a little bit beat up, the blade has no wobble and the steel is marked USA. Anyone know anything about these knives? I'll try to sharpen it and see if it will take an edge. Here are a few pictures:


What do you think, piece of junk or worth cleaning up and sharpening? By the way, what appears to be a large spider-web crack in the center of the blade in the photos is actually a Boy Scouts logo, and the words Boy Scouts of America is also written on the blade.

July 31, 2008, 11:23 AM
Ka-Bar 6in Hunter Less than $60.00.


July 31, 2008, 11:53 AM
I like the 119 in general, but don't like the handle material. Too slick for me. :(


Carl Levitian
July 31, 2008, 12:02 PM
For most camping on the North American contenant, you won't need more than a sak and a fixed blade of some sort. I usually have a Victorinox modle of one of the more basic sak's like a bantam or recruit, and a 12 inch machete in a pack. Most of the time I rarely use anything but my pocket knife. There just ain't that much true wilderness left anymore where you'll run into heathen injuns or man eating creatures. But the small machete does a great job on kindling wood. Not a bad low radar profile defence tool either, used with a little epee or saber techniques.

There's a reason why most backpackers carry a small knife, even though they may be traveling into wilderness. If you have decent camping gear, then you have your shelter with you, as well as cooking gear, fire making, and general living in the wilderness stuff in your pack. The large sheath knife on your hip is just for comfort, and will seldom be used for anything that can't be done with your sak.

If you really want a sheath knife, give the Buck model 102 woodsman a try. I've had one for many years, and it is a handy little knife. A sheath knife will clean up better than a folder in food use, and no mechanisim to manipulate opening or closing. It's pretty light, maybe 5 onces with sheath. Light weight is good. And its small enough that it does not attract undo attention on a belt.

Too many people overdo the knife thing while going camping.

July 31, 2008, 06:27 PM
On the one hand, I agree that the Buck 102 will be as useful as (possibly more than) the Buck 119.

Ironically, the 119 (as sold at Wal*Mart) costs less than the 102. Go figure.

Interestingly, when I'm at large, I use my larger knives for food prep more than anything else. The longer blade is well suited to kitchen duty, while keeping the messy bits off the knife hand.

With that in mind, I've started carrying a Rapala folding fillet knife for messy camp/on-the-road kitchen work. Slim, flexible, sharp, easy to clean, safe to carry. And cheap. More recently, now that Rapala has started having that knife made in China, I've started buying mine from sources that can guarantee the blade is the Swedish one (see Ragnar's Forge for the EKA 1000, which is the same knife).

I will also agree that the handle on the Buck 119 can be a little slippery when wet. I don't think that has to be a show stopper, though.

I'm not all that inventive, but I'll bet I could work out a way to improve the friction on that handle.

Aka Zero
July 31, 2008, 07:05 PM
I like Frosts Mora knives. Get them in stainless, or carbon steel. Fixed blade, but some of the smaller ones clip nicely in a pocket.

Cheap enough you won't mind doing work with them, they hold a great edge. Lightweight, few different styles to choose from.

Only thing I don't like is the plastic sheathes on some of the are kinda loose on the knife. I used some elastic around the lip of one of my sheaths to tighten it up a bit.

For folders, can't go wrong with any of the spyderco "byrd" line. Had a caracara in g-10, great knife. can get it for about $25. In stainless handle for about $20.

Carl Levitian
July 31, 2008, 07:18 PM
Mr. Greebly makes a good point about the Buck sheath knives like the 119 and 102. The factory polished finish on the black micarta handles are slippery when wet. You have to take some 400 paper and rough up the finish in a random pattern. It gets very grippy when wet then. 100% better.

July 31, 2008, 09:08 PM
In the range that you're speaking of the Ontario has a few good selections in the spec plus line and there is the air force survival knife in the freedom fighters line by Ontario also. These can be found at knifecenter.com from ranges of 35.00 to 65.00

August 1, 2008, 10:50 PM
That SAK is all you need along with your Buck. The SAK should sharpen up nicely. After you have it a while, take a look at other SAKs and think about how you might utilize them. they are handy knives.

August 2, 2008, 02:13 AM
Congrats on the new knife!

Tom Krein and I were visiting about knives for camping, hiking and trail use, to fit budgets.
These also were discussed for emergency use, and having in kits for assisting those in need, and for back up.

Swiss Army kitchen knives, and Tom really likes one of the Paring knives.
IIRC, he does a kydex sheath for these.
Contact him to find out more about this paring knife and sheath.

The Folder, is a SAK of some variety as well.
I mentioned the larger Solo, with the red nylon handle with a lanyard hole.
Others discussed were simple models such as Spartan, Rescue, and Farmer.

Paring knife and folder with two blades and some tools would be best.

Solo is just one I have suggested for those for whatever reason, did not want a fixed, and carried two folders.

Just ideas for the next person that has a need...


August 2, 2008, 06:08 AM

A great way to test your 119 for sharpness is just shaving arm hair. Sure, paring fingernail layers is finer, but that 119 is fine when it can relieve your arm of hair - without bloodletting!

A great item to have to keep most steel knife blades sharp is a Spyderco 'Sharpmaker', usually $50 or so. I could put razor edges on single bevel items, like my woodturning & carving chisels and gouges, with my Arkansas stones, but never begin to symmetrically sharpen my SAKs. As they - and the Bucks and Kershaws - got dull, I bought more. I had quite a stash of butter knives when I got the Sharpmaker - it really helped.

One Victorinox SAK I was led to by folks here and on the blade/knife forums is the 'Farmer'. It is perfect for camping - or survival. It is stout, with all metal construction, containing a knife, saw, awl, and can & bottle openers, both doubling as screwdrivers. Amazon had them nearer the first of this year for $16 - with free shipping over $25, so I ordered my older son one as well.

You have the mainstay in that 119 - great camping/survival fixed blade. Clean it and it will make a great 'kitchen' knife - I use mine to do everything from pare to trim roasts with. You are on the right track - congratulations!


August 2, 2008, 05:04 PM
You made a good choice with the Buck. I do like my Buck 110 folder, though wish it came with a lanyard loop on there. After a short sharpening session it worked rather well.

I do tend to take my Gerber multitool most places with me. I find it a more useful tool for ordinary work.

For fixed blade work I use the Kukri, British MOD survival knife and Kabar. They all have different advantages. The Kukri is a chopping monster, but rather heavy, but is a go for tool that I do garden work with. The British MOD survival knife is a big heavy straight blade that can take alot of work, but doesn't have the fine point on the end that a Kabar has.

My Bear butterfly knife works really too, but I need to get that repinned. That has the advantage of folding away, but when open and locked, it has approaching the strength of a fixed blade knife. Worth a look at anyway.

I don't tend to like serrated blades while outdoors. They tend to be a pain in the arse to sharpen without the right equipment. Not to say it can't be done and is useful for cutting rope. Luckily my multitool has a straight edge and serrated edge blades on it.

I would also not turn down a really decent folding saw and the trust old axe. A folding saw really makes light work of cutting up wood for a fire on a cold winter night when the temperature is dropping below freezing.

August 6, 2008, 05:01 AM
Thanks for the responses and the help!

August 9, 2008, 09:20 PM
COLD STEEL's Finn Bear is inspired by Scandinavian designs that have been used by Sami people for many centuries. You can find one on eBay for under $20.00

Mora and EKA are makers of affordable yet high quality Scandinavian knives.



August 9, 2008, 09:21 PM
That's a nice looking knife there TR. Clean, simple.

August 10, 2008, 05:41 PM
You definitely have a big decision, however here are my 2 cents. The Cold Steel line is good for low affordable copies of timeless patterns. The Finn Bear, Canadian Belt Knife, and Roach Belly are steals. You can get them at SMKW.com for $14. If you listen to the true Bushcrafters out there, they love the Mora #510 or M571 Marttiini, you can find them at Ragweedforge.com and Bensoutdoors.com - I really would start there, you can get these knives for $10 - $15, and they will serve you for a lifetime.

If you end up like the rest of us here, you will probably buy more knives once you appreciate the simplicity and overall down-to-earth pleasure you get from actually using your new knife out in the field. At that time you can buy a more expensive knife like one of the Buck's, then throw your Mora or CS in your dash. Good luck! and keep us informed with your purchase!

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