Choosing The Best Pocket Knife

Choosing the best pocket knife can be a challenge, with so many different knives available. A good knife may be your most important piece of equipment.

Around camp, a camping knife handles many chores, from slicing cheese to cutting rope to whittling marshmallow sticks.

On the trail, a hiking knife may be used only rarely–but in a survival situation, it will be your best friend.

So how do you decide which is the best pocket knife for camping or hiking?

First of all, you want a sharp, sturdy blade. It should have a locking mechanism to keep it from closing on your fingers when in use. A serrated or half-serrated blade gives you more versatility in cutting different kinds of materials.

That may be all you need if you just want a light, simple pocket hiking knife to go with the rest of your Ten Essentials.

Beyond the blade, consider some other features that may be of use outdoors: a saw blade for cutting wood, pliers, scissors, a can opener, or a bottle opener for that all-important post-hike beer.

Give some thought to the kinds of activities you’ll be involved in, and what kinds of tools you may need. This will help you decide on the best pocket knife.

Spyderco Ladybug - Best Pocket Knife Spyderco Ladybug 3

The Spyderco Ladybug 3 weighs next to nothing (about half an ounce!) and fits nicely in your pocket, yet has a quality 1.75-inch stainless steel serrated blade.

It’s perfect for an ultralight survival kit.

Columbia River Knife 6480 Pazoda Razor Edge - Best Pocket KnifeColumbia River 6480 Pazoda Razor Edge

The Columbia River Knife and Tool’s 6480 Pazoda Razor Edge is a simple, light (1.6 oz), and inexpensive pocket knife with a sharp 2-inch blade that locks securely.

Unlike many pocket knives this small, it has a solid feel.

Trekker One-Hand Multipurpose - Best Pocket KnifeVictorinox Swiss Army One-Hand Trekker

I like the Victorinox Swiss Army One-Hand Trekker because it has the most practical, useful outdoor tools. (Although who really needs a reamer?)

It has a one-hand locking serrated blade, wood saw, can opener, bottle opener, 2 flat and one phillips screwdriver.

Leatherman Juice S2 - Best Pocket KnifeLeatherman Juice S2

Gear geeks will appreciate the tools on the Leatherman Juice S2: needle-nose pliers, wire cutter/stripper, 4 screwdrivers, scissors, can opener, and a 3-inch straight blade.

Bad news — the blade doesn’t lock. For a pocket multitool, it’s fairly light at 4.5 oz.

Leatherman New Wave - Best Pocket KnifeLeatherman New Wave Multitool

The Leatherman New Wave Multitool can handle just about anything you throw at it, both at home and in the great outdoors. It’s slightly heavy to be a hiking knife (8.5 oz), but it’s excellent for a pocket camping knife.

It has two 3-inch locking blades (one straight and one serrated), a wood saw, file, scissors, pliers, can/bottle opener, 2 bit drivers, a screwdriver, and more.

These are what I consider the best pocket knives for camping and hiking. Think about the most likely situations you’ll encounter in your travels, and choose the pocket knife with only the features you really need.

Remember to take good care of your knife. Clean it regularly and sharpen it as soon as you notice it becoming dull. Also, don’t lose it — keep it in a zippered pocket or securely clipped to your pack or person.

A good pocket knife, properly cared for, should last for many years.

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