If you have experience with knives, you will know the saying “the best knife you can own is the one that you have when you need one” is very true. Keeping a bushcraft knife on you is more important than which type you have, but if you are looking for a new one, there is merit to each different type, so you need to know what to look for.
Below we have taken a look at the 5 best bushcraft knives available. Each can be used for multiple purposes and are adept in the field. We will also take a look at what to keep an eye out for when choosing a knife as well as some frequently asked questions.
Best Bushcraft Knife Reviews
1. Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife
Morakniv has been a budget yet quality knifemaker for many years. While lower cost knives don’t normally feature on “top” lists, this one excelled and has earned a spot as one of the best.
Morakniv has always made high-quality knives, and this bushcraft survival knife is no different, producing an excellent product. It has a 3.2mm thick blade that is made from carbon steel with an anti-corrosive coating, ensuring that you always have the best performance from this knife.
The blade is 4.3 inches long and the handle is 4.8 inches long. The handle is made from TPE rubber that is grip oriented with high-friction performance that gives you a safer, more effective product. It comes with a plastic sheath as well as a diamond sharpener. It also comes with a fire starter, making it an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts.
What's to like about the Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife
This knife is very versatile and has a nifty non-slip handle that makes this knife the perfect multi-purpose tool. The edge retention is also very good.
What's not to like about the Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife
The finger groove is quite unnecessary and the sheath is not the most reliable accessory for this knife.
2. Condor Knife & Tool Bushlore Survival Knife
Condor has long been producing top-quality knives for those who are more budget conscious. This knife has been imported, which is something to consider, but the unit is very light on your wallet.
This offering from Condor perfectly demonstrates what a good bushcraft knife should be. It has a blasted satin finish on the blade that can cut just about anything with ease. The walnut handle is strong and effective while boasting a classic look. The leather sheath is high quality and great for portability.
If you are looking for a top-quality knife with excellent performance a beautiful design to boot, this knife fits the bill. The blade is 4.5 inches long and the handle is 5.5 inches long, giving you a tool that can cut through everything but metal.
What's to like about the Condor Knife & Tool Bushlore Survival Knife
The high quality of this knife can be seen and felt throughout. It has excellent performance while also looking great. The sheath is high quality and comfortable to wear.
What's not to like about the Condor Knife & Tool Bushlore Survival Knife
It can be a bit uncomfortable to use as it is not ideal for slicing. It also needs to be sharpened out of the box before first using it.
3. Perkin Handmade Bushcraft & Hunting Knife
Most cheap knives pale when compared to the higher-end bushcraft knives, but this knife manages to outshine some of its competitors that are up to five times its price.
This knife by Perkin is the definition of an excellent bushcraft knife. It has a razor-sharp carbon steel blade that can slice through even the hardest challenges with ease. The walnut wood handle is effective and tough while still having a beautiful look. Plus, this knife has a full tang for added support.
The leather sheath has been handmade and is high quality. If you want a high-quality knife that has an attractive design while still being strong and durable, this knife is at the top of the list. The blade is 4.5 inches long and the handle is 3.5 inches long – perfect for any outdoor challenge.
What's to like about the Perkin Handmade Bushcraft & Hunting Knife
This knife is very comfortable to hold in your hand and ultra-simple to use. The edge retention of the blade is quite impressive. The steel blade is very hard and robust.
What's not to like about the Perkin Handmade Bushcraft & Hunting Knife
The blade is not sharp out of the box and dulls faster than many users would like. The blade is 4.5 inches long, but the sharp portion is actually only 3 inches long.
4. Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife
Benchmade has been a high-quality knife producer for many years, making some of the best survival/outdoor knives available on the market – and this knife is no different.
For anyone wanting professional performance and reliability that will ensure their knife will last for decades to come, this knife is undoubtedly the top choice. It has a 4.4 inch long blade with a drop point, making it ideal for camping, fishing, and hunting purposes.
This knife is lightweight thanks to its premium stainless steel build that is also well balanced, high quality, and corrosion resistant. The handle is comfortable and safe to use. Plus, the Kydex sheath is ideal for protecting the blade from accidentally cutting or stabbing anything.
What's to like about the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife
This knife is one of the highest-quality knives available on the market. It has the ideal performance-orientated construction and design which is very reliable, durable, and strong.
What's not to like about the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife
The high quality materials and design of this knife have resulted in a large price tag. The knife is also a bit loose when carried in its sheath.
5. Tops Brothers of Bushcraft Survival Knife
Tops hits it out the park with this knife, which can be seen by the price tag – but it is worth every cent. It has plenty of extra features too that make this a great choice.
This 10 inch long knife boasts a tan Micarta handle and can perform very well with any task you set it to. It offers not only excellent performance but a very attractive design too, especially when used alongside its sleek black Kydex sheath. The 4.5 inch long blade and 5.5 inch long handle make it long enough for any activity.
The blade is 3.6mm thick, making it virtually indestructible. It will last longer than just about any other knife on the market. The handle has thumb scallops for additional comfort and grip. With this knife you get brilliant performance, looks, and high quality that will last for years to come.
What's to like about the Tops Brothers of Bushcraft Survival Knife
This knife has a construction that is both durable and reliable. The Micarta handle is superiorly constructed and the design is very attractive.
What's not to like about the Tops Brothers of Bushcraft Survival Knife
The sheath is somewhat uncomfortable to wear depending on your body shape. The spine imping is also quite aggressive.
A good great bushcraft knife must be able to cut things like bark and food while also being able to tackle things like wood and make cordage. Plus, it should be grip oriented and comfortable to avoid any injuries while being easy to use. For this, you need to consider certain qualities, including the following features.
A bushcraft knife’s dimension indicates whether it will be comfortable to use as well as effective, easy to carry and lightweight enough. The blade length is a huge contributing factor to this. Blades that are longer than 6 inches make the knife more of a machete than a knife, and will feel too long and uncomfortable. Try to get a blade that is between 3 and 6 inches long. It is also important to remember that a bushcraft is normally carried on your person in its sheath on your belt, so the longer the blade, the more uncomfortable it will be to carry.
The blade of a bushcraft knife needs to be at least 40% of the knife’s total length and should be made from stainless steel or high-carbon steel to ensure sharpness, durability, stability, and reliability. Blades are commonly powder coated and can sometimes be mixed with titanium or vanadium for additional strength and resilience. While stainless steel blades are excellent for all-rounder knives, carbon steel blades retain their sharpness for longer and are extra hard and strong.
The best way to work out the type of blade a bushcraft knife has is to look at the tang type. There are three blade types used on a bushcraft knife: full, hidden, and partial. The best option is a full tang, where the blade extends to the handle’s end.
These knives have a lot of support, so they are more stable and sturdy. A hidden tang also runs the length of the handle but can’t be seen at the sides of the handle. The only blade to stay away from is a partial tang which only runs through around half the handle and is not particularly sturdy.
The material used for the handle is very important and will tell you how comfortable, grip-oriented, and easy to use the knife is. Wood materials are the simplest to use and most comfortable. Rubber and plastic materials are normally the most reliable. Micarta, which is made from resin, offers excellent performance. Carbon fiber is easier to handle and quite comfortable. G10 and Grivory are great but quite expensive. The type of handle you select comes down to what you will use the knife for and what your personal preference is.
How much a knife should weigh depends largely on the user’s preference. However, it is normally accepted that the heavier the knife, the less appealing it is. Most outdoor adventurers will carry the knife on their person, either on their belt, around their neck, or in their pack, so the lighter the better.
Most bushcraft knives weigh between 3 and 12 ounces, but there are some that are lighter (not recommended) and must heavier. Which suits you best will come down to what you prefer and what you want to carry on your person or in your pack.
What is a bushcraft knife?
Bushcraft knives are primarily considered for wood cutting, effectively used for feathering, notches, and making points in wood. It normally doesn’t look like a tactical knife and should have a 3 to 6 inch long blade that is very sharp. A bushcraft knife should never have a blade longer than 6 inches.
The shorter edge makes the knife more maneuverable, so it is very effective for bushcraft tasks and skinning game. Bushcraft knives normally have a full tang, flat grind, and a drop point on the blade.
Bushcraft knives are ideal for gutting fish, skinning animals, fileting, cutting wood, and crafting tools.
They normally have a handle made from firm plastic, dense rubber, wood, or Micarta.
How to choose a bushcraft knife?
This decision primarily comes down to what type of handle you want, what you want to use it for, and your budget. Since bushcraft knives are typically an expensive, high-quality tool, you need to carefully consider all of the models in your price range. Ideally, you would be able to purchase one bushcraft knife that works for everything, but this is highly unlikely. So, it is worth spending some time being sure you have purchased the knife you need for the purpose you need it for.
Which steel is best for a bushcraft knife?
Although this question is somewhat loaded, we will be as direct as possible. If you collect knives and have several in your collection, high carbon or stainless steel is fine.
If this is your first or only knife, stainless steel is the way to go as it is more versatile and requires less maintenance. It doesn’t hold its edge as well as high carbon, but it can take more abuse.
High-carbon knives are excellent if you are looking for a multi-purpose knife that can function as an outdoor/survival knife.
How to sharpen a bushcraft knife?
When your bushcraft knife is not as sharp as you would like, you need to sharpen it. Luckily, the process is very simple:
- Begin by turning your stone coarse side up and apply some oil
- Make 8 strokes away from your body
- Turn your knife over and make 8 strokes towards your body
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the edge has a burr
- Make 1 stroke away from your body
- Make 1 stroke towards your body
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 around 20 times
- Turn the stone to the finer side and apply oil
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 around 4 times
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 around 20 times
It is important to keep your bushcraft knife sharp at all times, otherwise it defeats the point of carrying it with you when hunting, hiking, camping, or fishing. Better yet, ensure that you keep your stone and oil in your kit too. This will allow you to sharpen your knife on the go, which is particularly helpful if you will be on longer expeditions.
How to use a bushcraft knife?
Although you may already have a few ideas of things you can do with a bushcraft knife, there are a few very useful things you can do with it. Let’s have a look at some common uses for this knife:
- Fire building: To build a fire, you need to prep the tinder, vines, and wood to keep it burning all night. A bushcraft knife allows you to carve anything from dry flint to strong bark
- Shelter constructing: From making a boat to sharpening tent stumps, this knife can help you out a lot. You can also clear the foliage to create a spot for your shelter and you can forage better
- Access water: This precious liquid is vital for life, so being able to access water in the outdoors is essential. This knife lets you poke into frozen water, cut through tree bark and sap to collect water.
- Signals and rescue: If you need to create a rescue signal, you can use your knife to cut green vegetation to burn white smoke. You can also use the blade of the knife to reflect sunlight or to convert an aluminum can into a rescue whistle
- Make tools: Whether it is mallets, spatulas, harpoons, or batons, you can make a wide variety of tools using your knife. In fact, you can even make spears for hunting and foraging
- Cordage: At first, cordage may seem difficult to make, but using your bushcraft knife will make quick work of this task, allowing you to make strong, long, flexible cordage from bittersweet, nettles, milkweed, and roots
- Cooking: Exploring the great outdoors with your bushcraft knife spices up every campfire experience, making it effortless. Skinning, filleting, and hunting are a few of the amazing culinary skills that a bushcraft knife has
Searching for the best bushcraft knife is no easy task as everyone has a different opinion about what makes a field knife the best. It is not as easy as simply picking a survival knife that you believe will meet the criteria needed for the outdoors. Each knife should be considered as a whole rather than a one size fits all. All of the knives on our list perform very well as field knives and would be a great addition to any campers, fishers, hunters, or hiker’s collection.
Our favorite by far is the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife which has a CPM S30V premium steel blade that is the perfect balance between hardness, toughness, and edge retention. It is easy to sharpen and corrosion resistant. This knife can split firewood, slice foliage, carve wood, and gut fish and animals. The handle is textured and perfectly suits small to large hands. The shape makes it easy to get a secure hold. Plus, the leather sheath holds the Bushcrafter well.