Ask any knowledgeable or experienced bushcraft enthusiast what their most important and necessary tools are, and they are bound to mention their bushcraft knife as one of them. A bushcraft knife is what allows you to cut through tree branches, whether that is to split the wood, carve from it, or to chop it up in order to make a fire.
However, none of these can be done with a cheap inferior knife so in this article, we are going to review five of the best bushcraft knives, and also give you further useful advice in our buyer's guide and FAQs section.
If you want a bushcraft knife from a company with a rich heritage in this field, then the fact that Morakniv has been making quality knives since the 1890s should delight you.
This is a bushcraft knife designed to offer the user, multiple functions which include carving, batoning, feathering sticks. and of course, fire starting.
The fire starting function comes from the integrated fire starter on the sheath, and by pulling the knife spine across this slowly, you should be able to create sparks to get your fire started quickly. This can also be used to light gas camp stoves and grills.
Of course, to have a fire, you need firewood, and this is where the knife's impressive fixed blade comes into play. It is made from high-carbon steel, and its dimensions are 1/8 inch in width, and the length is 4 1/3 inches. This gives you a total knife length of just over 9 inches.
Thanks to its scandi grind the blade bites into any material it is being used on, and that obviously applies to wood. Not only is it sharp from the get-go but remains so for an impressive length of time before needing to be sharpened.
As well as housing the fire starter, the black plastic sheath has an integrated diamond sharpener plus a removable belt loop and belt clip, which allow you to carry the knife conveniently by your side. At just 5.4 ounces there is certainly no danger of you feeling in any way hindered by the knife's weight.
Being able to start a fire is part and parcel of any outdoor adventure, and this knife has a simple, but very effective fire starting feature, which will do so for at least 7,000 strikes.
Unfortunately, the coating on this knife is not impregnable and although it is fairly durable, it will start to come off once the knife is used for some of the more heavy-duty bushcraft tasks.
At first glance, this knife looks fairly unassuming, and you might be mistaken for thinking it’s something from the kitchen drawer, however, it is actually a very robust and very effective bushcraft knife.
The first thing to note about this bushcraft knife is its handle, which is made from hardwood and designed to be both tough enough to last and easy to hold. This will be especially welcome when taking on difficult, lengthy jobs such as carving or feathering sticks. The handle also has a lanyard hole so it can be easily carried.
With any bushcraft knife, it is going to be measured against others by its blade, and the blade on this Condor knife does not disappoint. It is made from high-quality carbon steel, and that should make it robust enough to take on just about any bushcraft tasks or jobs. The blade has a blasted satin finish which gives it some additional visual appeal. For the highest possible sharpness, the blade has a scandi edge.
As with any reputable bushcraft knife, this one comes with a sheath, which is made from 100% leather, which should ensure it is tough and durable enough to protect the knife whilst it is being carried, and to protect you from inadvertently coming into contact with the blade. For additional convenience, the sheath has a belt loop so that you can carry on your waist.
In terms of its size and weight, the knife's length is 9 1/4 inches in full, with the blade measuring 4 1/4 inches long and 1/8 inch wide. The weight of the knife is 12 ounces.
I was really impressed by the toughness and durability of the leather sheath which really protects the blade of the knife well, and of course, also adds a degree of safety too.
Although it is only slight, the convex edge on this bushcraft knife will make it more difficult to grind it to its absolute sharpest when the time comes.
If you are looking for a bushcraft knife that is distinctive and simply oozes toughness, then this Schrade knife has it in spades, and even though it is called 'Little Ricky,' it has a blade that is bigger than most.
Let's start with that blade we mentioned in the intro and confirm its dimensions. It comes in at just under 8 inches, which is longer than many bushcraft knives that are for sale. Not only is it longer than most, but it is 1/4 inch thick making it double that of others. But of course, size isn't everything and even a large blade needs to come up with the goods in terms of being able to cope with bushcraft tasks, and you'll not be surprised to learn that this one does so admirably.
It's made from titanium-coated carbon steel, and the first point about this is that it will be very effective at resisting corrosion. When it comes to the punishment, a bushcraft knife will endure when being used to carve, chop and strip wood and sticks, this will take it all in its stride. The distinctive shaping towards the tip makes this a very strong part of the knife and gives the tip additional robustness.
The handle is in two halves which are each screwed to either side of the knife, which allows for it to be replaced should the need ever arise. It has three finger cut-outs, and this coupled with the thermoplastic rubber material it is made from, provide superb grip in all conditions, including wet, rainy days, and dampen the impact when working with it. The handle also has two lanyard holes which let you tether it in different positions to suit.
Protecting the blade is a molded nylon-fiber sheath, which is secured using a Velcro fastener around the handle. The sheath has multiple holes and slots around its edge to provide multiple options for mounting
The blade on this knife is one of the best we have seen, and there is no doubting both its toughness for working with but also its longevity thanks to the titanium coating.
Due to the spine of this bushcraft knife being rounded and tapered it makes it more difficult to use a fire steel with it. A flat section would have helped to resolve this.
Anything which has 'outdoor survival knife' in its name needs to be able to back that up with some strong features, and we are pleased to say that this knife from Benchmade has them in abundance.
If we start by looking at the handle it is certainly shaped well in order for your hand to feel comfortable while holding it. This is especially desirable when you are using it for more strenuous work such as trimming sticks, for example.
We would have liked to have felt more of a prominent grip pattern, but other than that the handle is ideal for use in all conditions whether that be extreme heat or in the pouring rain. We particularly liked the fact that the handle has no fewer than three lanyard holes which give users plenty of scope for configuring how they wish to set up the knife for carrying.
The blade is just under 4 1/2 inches long, with a thickness of 1/8 inch. It might not be the biggest blade you'll ever see, but there is no doubting its robustness. It is made from stainless steel, and when you purchase this knife, you know you will have the means to keep it sharp for life. This is thanks to Benchmade’s lifetime sharpening service which lets you send them the knife and they will sharpen it back to factory sharp condition. including cleaning, oiling and adjusting as required.
When not in use the knife is housed in a 100% leather sheath. This could be tighter around the knife when holding it, however, on the plus side, it is certainly tough and robust, and it has a belt loop and D-ring for convenience.
There are not many knife manufacturers who are prepared to offer lifetime servicing for their products, so it is to the huge credit of Benchmade that they provide their customers with a lifetime blade maintenance and sharpening service.
The sheath is sturdy but does not keep the knife as secure as it might. Occasionally the knife comes out slightly which exposes a part of the blade.
Our final bushcraft knife has not only won awards but it was also custom-designed by wilderness and survival expert Paul Sheiter, whose products are so robust, they have been used in combat zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
While we do not expect you are going to be using your bushcraft knife anywhere near a war zone, you will obviously expect it to be capable of the job and tasks you are going to be using it for. In that case, you should be more than happy with how well this knife can carve, strip and baton sticks and other pieces of wood.
This is in no small measure due to the tough 5-inch blade which is made from durable stainless steel, which also points to the fact that it will resist corrosion. One negative is that it is possible that the blade will be dull on arrival, and you will need to sharpen it before use. This might be for safety, which is fair enough, but it frustrating that the knife may not be able to be used immediately.
The handle of the knife is simple but effective, and the grip feels comfortable and secure, even when using the knife for more challenging tasks that require a fair degree of force. The handle is secured using Allen screws which means you never have any sense that it will loosen. A slot at the end is ideal for using a lanyard.
The sheath is MOLLE compatible, which keeps with the theme of this knife. It has a belt loop and a rigid insert, which protects the knife.
More than anything it is the simplicity of this bushcraft knife that makes it very appealing, both in terms of how it looks, and when you are using it.
Very disappointed (as are many buyers) that this bushcraft knife needs to be sharpened before it can be used properly. It arrives with variable degrees of dullness which is poor.
When you are bushcrafting, having the correct equipment with you can mean the difference between eating and not eating, having a warm fire or not, and this applies more so to your bushcraft knife than anything else. For this reason, making sure you choose the correct bushcraft knife is essential, and this includes doing your research.
We have created this short buyer's guide as it is likely that not everyone reading this is going to be an expert on bushcraft. Even if you are a bushcraft veteran, it will pay dividends to fully understand the main features you should be assessing and comparing when choosing your next bushcraft knife.
The length of a bushcraft knife is measured from the tip of the blade and goes in a straight line to the part of the handle which is closest to the blade. This can often mean that a blade which has a large curve may actually be slightly longer than the stated length due to that curvature.
The length of bushcraft knives varies from around 4 inches to about 10 inches. There are some bushcraft enthusiasts who prefer and recommend a short blade, while others say a long blade is best. In truth, the robustness and sharpness of the blade is more important than its length, and it tends to be personal preference and the feel of the knife in your hand which determines your choice.
The material most used for bushcraft knives is steel although there are three distinct variations or grades of the metal which are used. The most basic and most common is '440A,' which is standard stainless steel, which resists corrosion well. It is used on many knives, as it is cheap to produce, and many budget-priced knife blades use this steel. It is reasonably robust and easy to sharpen
Next, there is '154CM,' which is a medium grade steel alloy. It is well known for retaining the sharpness of a blade, will resist corrosion, and is extremely hard wearing so it should last a decent length of time.
Finally, we have '1095' which is a carbon-based steel alloy. This is the toughest of the three blade metals, and as such it retains its sharpness for longest and is the most durable. It only negative is that its resistance to corrosion is not as good as the other 2 types, but in terms of toughness, it wins by a mile.
With bushcraft knives, the blades are generally designated by their length, thickness and the material they are made from. The shape of the blade is often down to the design of the knife, with the most common being a straight blade that curves from the sharpened edge at the tip, a blade that is straight and curves from both edges to the tip, and finally there are blades that have curves on both sides along the length of the blade.
The handles on bushcraft knives have a diverse range of materials. Often it can be your own personal preference for the handle material which determines the one you choose. At one end of the scale, you have natural materials with the most traditional of them being wood. It is attractive and hard wearing, but not always ideal for wet conditions.
Some handles are rubberized to provide additional grip, especially as these can have a very heavy tread embossed on them. Other man-made composite materials are used, and they should all be durable enough to withstand being gripped while you work the knife. Unless you have a preference for a particular material, you should consider both the shaping of the handle and the grip pattern.
The weight of bushcraft knives varies between 5 ounces for smaller knives, all the up to 1 1/2 lbs. for larger knives. Being heavy does not mean it is any more durable, so you base your choice on what is comfortable for you to hold for long periods.
A bushcraft knife is a fixed blade knife that is suitable for use in activities involving survival skills and other bushcraft and is normally carried in a sheath. Jobs these knives are used for can include carving, feathering or batoning sticks and wood.
Reading an article like this will obviously help. Beyond this do as much research as you can and look at the reviews for any bushcraft knife you are considering. Select a knife which appears robust, and that you believe will feel comfortable in your hand.
Of the three types of steel that are used for bushcraft knives, it is generally thought that carbonized steel has the most durability and is able to retain the sharpness of the blade for the longest period of time.
Sharpening a bushcraft knife is something where it is easier to show you how it is done than to explain in a long text. This video by bushcraft expert Ray Mears illustrates the process perfectly.
One of the most important aspects of using a bushcraft knife is that you hold it very securely in your grip. Thereafter, it can be used to cut wood into smaller pieces, strip bark from sticks, prepping tinder for fire making, and for carving shelter stakes.
Hopefully, our reviews, buyer's guide, and FAQ section have provided you with enough information and insight so that you now feel confident about choosing the correct bushcraft knife for you. In truth, we are happy to recommend all 5 of them, but as we always do, we're going to select what we feel is the best one.
It was a close run, but our verdict is that the best bushcraft knife is the first one we reviewed, and that is Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife. We believe it offers the most features to bushcraft enthusiasts which include a high-quality blade, an excellent handle, and it comes with a fire starter accessory and a diamond sharpener.