Last Updated on 15/09/2023
In this guide to the best bushcraft knife, we share the most durable, well-made, and versatile bushcraft knives that can do anything from split firewood to skinning a squirrel. You will learn how to avoid cheap bushcraft blades that snap too easily and find real survival knives you can rely on when you need them. Also, find out why anything but a fixed-blade knife can’t be used for many bushcraft tasks.
Bushcraft knives, for me at least, are small to medium-sized with full tang and comfortable handles. They are designed to be an everyday carry that you wear on your belt for easy access and multipurpose use. But there are some exceptions to this. For example, multitool always comes in handy on bushcraft trips, and as well as a regular bushcraft knife, you may also want to carry a neck knife for small everyday tasks.
By the end of this guide, you will know the best bushcraft knives and fully understand what to look for. Whether you want a small knife or a thick knife for batoning wood, we try and recommend something for every use case.
9 Best Bushcraft Knives
HELLE Knives Utvaer Bushcraft, Hunting Camping, Outdoor Knife
- WEIGHT: 7.4 oz / 210 g (including sheath)
- BLADE LENGTH: 4 in / 102 mm
- HANDLE LENGTH: 4.7 in / 120 mm
- BLADE THICKNESS: 0.12 in / 3.1 mm
- BLADE MATERIAL: Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Curly Birch
If we had to pick just one, the HELLE Knives Utvaer is the best bushcraft knife available today without having to join a six-month waitlist. It is a perfect example of what a bushcraft knife should be and is the only one I would consider to be generational (pass it on to your son and his son…). If you have never held one or seen one up close, it is hard to appreciate how right it feels.
The blade is made from Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel with a drop-point Scandinavian ground edge. The handle is made from Curly Birch, is ergonomically designed for all hand sizes, and has ample protection to stop your hand from sliding. Overall, it feels great to handle with good balance and weight for everyday tasks and more intensive woodwork.
The blade arrives sharp and keeps its edge for a full day of continuous use and, if kept sharp, will never fail to live right through your vegetables and meat. The tip is robust and can be used for carving and whittling without fear of it snapping off (as has happened on thinner, cheaper knives). It is thick enough to split wood. However, I would push it too far to try and preserve the edge for other things and use a hatchet where possible.
PROS: You can use the HELLE Utvaer Knife for anything, and it doesn’t disappoint. It has the ideal shape and strength to cut, carve, and split wood as well as make small work of menial bushcraft tasks. You won’t have to sharpen it constantly, and it should outlive you if properly cared for.
CONS: It is on the higher end of most people’s budget but still much cheaper than custom-forged knives from prolific makers. Early models had some finishing issues on the handle, which have now been addressed.
VERDICT: The HELLE Utvaer bushcraft knife is my favorite everyday carry to keep on my belt when out in the woods. I take any excuse to get it out and use it and take great pride in keeping it razor sharp. If you have been thinking about treating yourself to a proper bushcraft knife, then why not get one that will last for the rest of your life? Once you use it once, you won’t want to use anything else.
Fallkniven S1 Forest Knife
- WEIGHT: 10.4 oz / 295 g
- BLADE LENGTH: 5.1 in / 130 mm
- TOTAL LENGTH: in / 247 mm
- BLADE THICKNESS: 0.2 in / 5 mm
- BLADE MATERIAL: Laminated VG10W Stainless Steel
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Thermorun
The Fallkniven S1 Forest Knife is, in our opinion, one of the best fixed-blade bushcraft knives around, and it has been for over a decade. It is slightly larger and thicker than your average bushcraft knife, so it can take on bigger jobs, but it does sacrifice some nimbleness. I have also used the Fallkniven F1 knife for many years, which is slightly smaller but just as remarkable.
I would say that this blade is more suited to splitting and chopping wood than for finer tasks like detailed carving and crafts. Because of the modified clip-point edge, it also works well as a hunting knife. The thickness of the blade gives it the capability of splitting wood using a baton to hammer it and the hardness to stay sharp through heavy use.
While the Helle Utvaer knife feels and looks more natural with the wood handle, the Fallkniven S1 certainly looks more tactical and bold. Thermorun is very grippy, and the handle is fairly slim, so it feels much like a kitchen knife to hold. It costs the same as the Helle Utvaer above and would be the knife I recommend if you wanted something bigger.
PROS: The thick and long blade rips through the wood when preparing a fire and has a piercing tip that is useful when hunting. High-quality steel protected by a laminate that prevents rust and corrosion. The handle is very grippy and a comfortable shape to hold without causing blisters.
CONS: It is on the higher end of most people’s budget but still much cheaper than custom-forged knives from prolific makers. The Thermorun handle is extremely durable; however, it lacks the characteristics of wood. The heavier weight and larger size might be too much for some people.
VERDICT: The Fallkniven S1 Forest Knife has been around for a while and has a really strong following because its reputation is constantly improving every year. The larger size and thicker blade do make it heavier and less appealing to constantly get out and put away for everyday tasks. Instead, it is better suited to bushcrafters who want a knife they can use hard for any task without worrying about damaging the edge. For batoning and chopping up firewood, it is one of the best in this guide.
Victorinox 4.2261 Outdoor Master Knife
- WEIGHT: 7.5 oz / 212 g
- BLADE LENGTH: 4 in / 10 cm
- BLADE THICKNESS: 0.16 in / 4 mm
- TOTAL LENGTH: 8.75 in / 22 cm
- BLADE MATERIAL: 1.4116 Stainless Steel
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Micarta
The Victorinox 4.2261 Outdoor Master Large isn’t like most of Victorinox’s other pocket knives, also known as Swiss army knives. The Outdoor Master has a fixed blade with a full tang designed for more demanding tasks. The main reason it ranks so highly is because of how sharp it is. It’s like a razor.
Featuring a drop point tip and a scandi grind that is easy to sharpen, this is a great knife for shaving, kindling, and making feather sticks, as well as for preparing food. You get a lot of control with the simple handle shape and plenty of grip too. After you have used it a couple of times, you can run it through a knife sharpener, and it is back to its full sharpness.
Just because it has a fine edge doesn’t mean you have to be gentle with it though. The blade is 0.16 inches thick, so you can safely use it to split wood up to 5 inches wide. I also have to mention the sheath, which holds the knife very well and is very durable. I don’t know much about 1.4116 Stainless Steel, but I do know it is what they use for all their Swiss army knives, which don’t rust and have a good amount of flex.
PROS: Very sharp, right out of the box, and easy to sharpen as well as keep sharp. Lightweight, comfortable, and easy to control. The blade has a little bit of extra flex compared to the Fallkniven.
CONS: The blade may not be as hard as others, so it is vulnerable to pitting, so regular maintenance is needed. Slightly pricey in the States.
VERDICT: The Victorinox 4.2261 Outdoor Master is a lovely knife to handle and use. With such a sharp blade, it slices through most things and is great for shaving wood. It can be used for batoning, but if that is your intended purpose, then I would check out the thicker Fallknives S1. But if sharpness and flex are important to you, then this is one I’d highly recommend.
TOPS Knives BOB Brothers of Bushcraft Drop Point Fixed Blade Knife
- WEIGHT: 9.6 oz / 272 g
- BLADE LENGTH: 4.75 in / 12 cm
- BLADE THICKNESS: 0.19 in / 4.8 mm
- TOTAL LENGTH: 10 in / 25 cm
- BLADE MATERIAL: 1095 High Carbon steel
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Tan Canvas Micarta
The TOPS Knives BOB Drop Point Fixed Blade Knife is designed by a group of bushcrafters and survivalists to meet the needs of rugged outdoors people. The result is a knife you can use to slice through 1-2 inch branches in a single strike, and for shorter trips, you can often leave your hatchet at home. It isn’t quite as large as the Fallkniven S1, but it is almost as thick, so you can really beat the heck out of it when batoning wood for the campfire.
Made from reliable 1095 High Carbon steel, it feels so strong you have to remind yourself not to use it as a crowbar in certain situations. The edge has a Scandi grind, which makes it perfect for carving, chopping, and making precise cuts when skinning game. You can draw it across a fresh steak without applying any pressure, and it will slice through it like butter under its own weight. Even after using it for brutal firewood chopping, its edge will stay sharp, and when you do sharpen it, it doesn’t take long at all.
The handle is 5.25 inches long and feels comfortable in the hand, with or without bushcraft gloves on. It doesn’t feel too big to hold with your finger pushing on the back of the blade for tasks like skinning small game and gutting fish.
PROS: Excellent for firewood processing, from delimbing branches to splitting small logs with a stick baton. It keeps a very sharp edge and is easy to sharpen using any kind of knife sharpening tool. It feels equally comfortable with safety gloves on or without.
CONS: It might be a little too thick and heavy for some people. I’m not a fan of the rivets, which I think should be even less pronounced than they are, and I don’t see the purpose of the little scoop missing…. can someone explain?
VERDICT: The BOB knife from TOPS Knives is the epitome of what a bushcraft knife should be. It is big and thick enough for firewood processing, sharp enough for slicing and cutting, and can always be relied upon if it is your only tool. Overall, it is a pleasure to use and makes light work of jobs a smaller knife might struggle with.
Buck Knives 104 Compadre Camp Knife
- WEIGHT: 7.1 oz / 200 g
- BLADE LENGTH: 4.5 in / 114 mm
- BLADE THICKNESS: 0.15 in / 3.8 mm
- TOTAL LENGTH: 9.5 in / 241 mm
- BLADE MATERIAL: 5160 Spring Steel
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Micarta
The Buck Knives 104 Compadre Camp Knife is a lot of knife for your money. At almost half the cost of other similar knives above, it is great value without sacrificing quality. Ideal for splitting kindling, cutting twine, working leather, and, of course, things like making feather sticks, tinder shavings, notching pegs, carving fire boards, spindles, and bows for bow-drill fire making.
The drop point blade is made from 5160 spring steel and coated with Cerakote Cobalt to increase its resistance to moisture, dirt, grime, and, most importantly, corrosion. You might think this coating would stick when making deep cuts, but surprisingly it seems to act as more of a lubricant than anything. Another reason I don’t mind the black coating is that you can see where you have sharpened the blade so that you can always get the correct angle when sharpening using a stone.
I like that Buck Knives are made in the USA, and I also like how the knife arrived in a presentation box you would find on a luxury outdoor watch. It is fairly lightweight and a nice size so that it sits well on your belt without coming loose when you bend down. The knife might not be as ‘highly polished’ as some others, but with a bit of time spent on a sharpening stone, some sandpaper, and oil on the handle, it looks like a $300 knife.
PROS: Great value and strong steel blade. It sits right in the middle of its class in terms of size, weight, and price. Well proportioned and balanced, so you can grip it in multiple ways for specific tasks.
CONS: It may need a tiny bit of finishing on the handle with some sandpaper and oil. Black Cerakote coating might not be to everyone’s taste.
VERDICT: The Buck Knives 104 Compadre Camp Knife is a national favorite for bushcrafters and outdoors people. It is a really good knife to own. It makes a great gift as someone’s first full-tang bushcraft knife or for an experienced survivalist who will only use the most reliable tools. If you are looking for the best medium-sized bushcraft knife that isn’t too expensive but is extremely durable, then the Compadre Camp knife fits that bill.
Helle Knives Mandra Les Stroud Neck Knife for Bushcraft
- WEIGHT: 3.88 oz / 110 g (including the sheath)
- BLADE LENGTH: 2.72 in / 69 mm
- BLADE THICKNESS: 0.1 in / 2.6 mm
- TOTAL LENGTH: 5.87 in / 149 mm
- BLADE MATERIAL: Triple laminated Helle Stainless Steel
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Curly Birch and Vulcan Fibre
The Helle Knives Mandra Les Stroud Neck Knife for Bushcraft is one of my favorite little tools that I can’t imagine bushcraft life without. It hangs around my neck whenever I am around camp or am out foraging for mushrooms and wild edibles. I love using it to prepare food, and it comes in handy for so many jobs I would have used my teeth or brute strength for before.
Despite its compact size, you can get a full four-finger grip (even if your pinkie hangs off the back), which means you can use it for carving deep gauges into wood or for making a thick cut through some rope or something. The blade is 2.6 mm thick, which is just about right for such a short edge and gives it more than enough strength to play rough with it. It chews through soft woods like butter and has no issue being hammered into hardwood when needed.
The handle is a curly birch with some lovely grain and pattern in the wood, and it has a generous lanyard loop so you can run two cords if you like (1 for your nad and one for the sheath). While the price may seem expensive for its size, you have to realize it takes almost the same amount of materials, time, and effort to make. If you want a cheaper option, then have a look at the Morakniv Eldris Fixed-Blade Pocket-Sized Knife, which will do the same thing for less money.
PROS: Super compact and lightweight for discreet carrying or as a second/backup knife. It can be worn around the neck for easy access and storage. Very well made with beautiful style and durability.
CONS: It is not the knife I would recommend as your only bushcraft tool because it isn’t very practical for processing firewood. The small handle can be an issue for large hands.
VERDICT: The Helle Mandra is a knife you won’t forget in a hurry. It is small and compact for everyday tasks, and it gets used more than most of my other knives combined on a bushcraft trip. I’m a big Les Stroud Fan, which makes this knife even more special to me. I haven’t got enough good things to say about this knife, which is a companion to my larger knives on all bushcraft trips.
Leatherman 832585 Signal Stainless Steal Multitool
- WEIGHT: 7.5 oz / 213 g
- BLADE LENGTH: 2.73 in / 6.9 cm
- TOTAL LENGTH: 4.45 x 8.89 x 12.7 in / 11 x 22.5 x 32 cm
- BLADE MATERIAL: 420HC Carbon Steel
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Nylon case
The Leatherman 832585 Signal is the best multi-tool knife for bushcraft in the world. And I don’t say that lightly. It has all the tools you need to survive in the woods, including things like a knife, saw, hammer, knife sharpener, whistle, fire steel, and pliers. It can also be customized to switch out different tools for an extra blade or awl, which the standard issue might be lacking. I was shocked to see that so few people on Alone decided to take a Signal for the past few seasons (although because it has the fire steel and sharpener, it wasn’t allowed).
While multitools are limited in their abilities to split and carve, their advantages are massive if you also carry an exe in your pack. The pliers can be a lifesaver in certain situations, not to mention the benefits of all the other gadgets on this bushcraft multitool. Having a sharpener and fire starter means that even if you lose your backpack and everything in it, so long as you have your multitool, you should be able to survive.
It isn’t the most comfortable knife to hold for carving wood or applying lots of pressure, and because it is a folding/locking knife, it does always run the risk of failing or trapping your fingers. But the advantages far outweigh the downsides in our opinion. Like the Helle Mandra knife, this isn’t one I would recommend as your only tool, but if you have a full tang knife or even a sharp hatchet as well as this, then you can probably do pretty well on a bushcraft retreat.
PROS: Incredible utility from all the tools and customization you can do. Lifetime warranty and quality built. It has a built-in key chain so you can clip it to your belt.
CONS: Heavy and bulky for such a small knife. It can’t be used safely for many bushcraft tasks involving splitting and carving wood. Doesn’t have a comfortable grip.
VERDICT: The Leatherman 832585 Signal Multitool is designed for camping and bushcraft with tools that would help anyone in a survival situation. It is far more useful in modern-day situations than a single fixed-blade knife, even if it isn’t as durable. I would highly recommend this or any other Leatherman to anyone who doesn’t already have one.VIEW ON REI
Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
- WEIGHT: 7.4 oz / 209 g
- BLADE LENGTH: 4.3 in / 109 mm
- BLADE THICKNESS: 0.12 in / 3.2 mm
- TOTAL LENGTH: 9.5 in / 242 mm
- BLADE MATERIAL: Carbon Steel
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Polyamide
The Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife is the boss of all Mora knives. Mora makes amazing knives for like $20-$30 that are used around the world for bushcraft courses and by bushcrafters just starting out. They are cheap, but very well made and reliable. The Garberg, however, is another level up and four times the price, which is still excellent value for money.
The Garberg knife from Morakniv has a full tang all the way through the handle as well as a much thicker blade for more durability. I have been batoning the standard Mora knife for over a decade now and have never had one break on me (I own 4). I have had one of the tips snap off, though, and I have always felt that a thicker blade option would be cool. The Garberg is the answer.
Is it worth it, though? I’m not sure. Having the full tang and thicker blade is definitely an advantage over the standard Mora knife, but when I could buy four standard ones for the same price, I actually don’t think it’s worth it. I think that for most things the cheaper option will work just fine and you can save your money.
PROS: Very sharp and durable. Excellent value for money and well made. Perfect for beginners through to experts and everyone in between due to its nice size and design.
CONS: Costs 3-4 times more than the standard version but, in my experience, doesn’t perform 3-4 times better. The handle isn’t very ergonomic, which can be bad or good depending on the size of your hand.
VERDICT: The Garberg knife from Morakniv is the workhorse you need when bushcrafting or surviving in the woods. The edge is razor sharp and will slice through paper with zero effort or snags as well as batton through thicker chunks of wood for fire prep. You really can’t go wrong with this knife, but you can also save your money and go for the standard model.
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
- WEIGHT: 15.9 oz / 450 g
- BLADE LENGTH: 5.25 in / 13 cm
- BLADE THICKNESS: 0.25 in / 6.3 mm
- TOTAL LENGTH: 10.75 in / 273 cm
- BLADE MATERIAL: 1095 Cro-van Carbon Steel
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Zytel Thermoplastic Polyamide
The KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is an absolute beast. It holds all of the records from the bushcraft knives we tested for being the longest, thickest, and heaviest blade of all. This makes it an amazing chopper, splitter, and hacker that can do many of the same tasks as a small hatchet. But then, because it also has a wide bevel, it can shave fruit and vegetables into wafer-thin slices.
You get used to the chunky handle pretty quickly however, on the wooden handle option it is a little rough and needs a little bit of sanding to make it completely smooth. Better to get the Zytel handle, as seen above, to avoid this mistake I made. A big knife like this would make an excellent big brother to a small neck knife like the Helle Mandra.
The edge is extremely strong and shows no signs of pitting or damage after heavy use however, it doesn’t hold an edge as long as some others, so it needs sharpening more frequently to give it the super fine edge. I tried cutting through logs that were way too thick, or so I thought, and it cut straight through them. I even battened it as hard as I physically could, and it didn’t have a mark on it.
PROS: Amazing chopper and splitter for firewood because of its size and weight. Incredibly durable and versatile. Once sharpened, it can slice right through any food prep as well as make fine shavings and kindling feather sticks.
CONS: Heavy and large to wear on your belt. Doesn’t stay sharp very long. The handle is bulky, which can be uncomfortable during heavy use.
VERDICT: The KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is a good bushcraft knife for survival when you don’t have an axe. Its thickness and size make it very efficient for firewood, and it is an above-average slicer (right after sharpening) but also holds it back from more detailed work. If you want the best bushcraft knife that will also double as a crowbar, then certainly check this one out.
Some very close calls were made not to include the following knives for bushcraft and survival simply because we didn’t have a chance to test them properly however, maybe next year we will for the update.
What is a Bushcraft Knife?
A bushcraft knife is a type of blade designed for a wide variety of tasks in the wilderness, ranging from carving and chopping wood to skinning game and preparing food. They usually feature a full-tang construction, which means the blade material extends through the handle, offering greater strength and durability. More often than not, they have a total length of under 10 inches and feature a blade thickness of 0.1 to 0.2 inches.
The features of a bushcraft knife aim to offer a reliable, versatile tool that can handle almost anything you throw at it. One task that bushcraft knives should be able to perform is chopping and splitting firewood using the baton method. A full tang blade with a drop point tip and a Scandinavian grind seems to be the ideal design for bushcraft knives.
What Does Full Tang Mean?
A “full tang” knife just means that the blade extends through the entire length of the handle, offering increased strength and durability. The handle slabs are then secured with rivets or screws, ensuring a stable connection between the blade and handle. Full-tang knives are preferred for demanding outdoor activities like bushcraft for their reliability.
Fixed Blade Vs. Folding Knife for Bushcraft
A fixed-blade bushcraft knife will typically have a full tang, which means the metal blade runs all the way through the handle. A folding knife is split into two and relies on a mechanism to open, close, and lock the blade into position.
Here’s the thing: Folding knives are great for keeping in your pocket, but they have too many risks to consider for a proper bushcraft knife. Firstly, if the locking mechanism fails when you apply pressure, you could lose a finger or cause serious damage to your hand. For this reason you can’t really use them on wood other than a bit of light carving or whittling. Their overall durability is much lower than on a fixed-blade knife, too.
Also, bushcraft knives get used so frequently that it makes sense to keep one on your belt that can be accessed with one hand from almost any position. If your folding knife is in your pocket then it isn’t as easy or fast to get out and may require both hands to do so. In demanding situations, this could be very dangerous. The reliability and durability of a full tang fixed blade are what bushcraft and survival demand.
Can You Use a Folding Knife For Bushcraft?
If you are still here secretly wondering, “Can I use a folding knife for bushcraft?” the answer is yes, but with great care not to get overconfident. A well-built folding knife is stronger than I have probably made out, but that doesn’t mean you should get carried away and start using it to batton logs. If you have an axe and other tools then a folding knife can be the ideal addition to your kit.
Fixed Blade Vs. Multitool for Bushcraft
Multitools are the perfect knife to keep in your pocket or backpack when practicing bushcraft because sometimes a fixed-blade knife just isn’t the right tool for the job or risks getting damaged. The pliers and other tools come in handy way more than you might think and are something that I think every bushcrafter should own. There is a good reason why many contestants on Alone chose a multitool as one of their ten items.
The problem with multitools is that they suffer from the same dangers that come from using a folding knife. So, you can’t really use the blade for intensive tasks like firewood preparation. Unlike a single folding bade though, a multi-tool can have a pretty decent folding saw which can be used to process firewood.
I see a multitool as the perfect companion to, say, a larger bushcraft knife or hatchet, and instead of deciding between one or the other, I prefer to have both.
What to Look For in the Best Bushcraft Knife
Instead of doing our usual guide on what to look for, we decided to structure each point as a question we have been asked before or thought to ourselves many years ago.
What Is the Ideal Blade Material for a Bushcraft Knife?
There is no ideal blade material for a bushcraft knife, but there are some common trends. High carbon steel is a very popular choice, as is coil spring steel and 1095 steel. Some are slightly harder than others, and so may take more sharpening but will ultimately stay sharper for longer. At the same time, others are slightly softer so as to be less brittle for the everyday heavy usage a survival knife sees.
What Is the Best Hardness for A Bushcraft Knife?
This is not something a beginner is going to worry about too much, but if you have a collection, then it is something you can start to test and look for. The majority of my blades feature a Rockwell hardness that falls within the 58 to 62 RC range. This offers a balanced combination of durability and edge retention, whether the steel is a classic choice like 1095 and 5160 or a more advanced option like VG-10 and INFI.
What Is the Ideal Blade Thickness for a Bushcraft Knife?
Again, this is subjective to the user and tasks they wish to use their knife for. I would suggest looking at bushcraft knives between 0.1 inches and 0.2 inches thick. This is to provide enough strength and durability for wood chopping and splitting without being too thick for things like carving and food preparation.
What is the ideal Blade Length for a Bushcraft Knife?
For a general-use bushcraft knife, I would recommend a blade length of between four and five inches as a sweet spot. There are of course, reasons to choose a smaller or larger blade as we have explained in our reviews. Something else to consider is local laws about the size of the knife you can or can’t carry.
What Are the Different Bushcraft Knife Blade Profiles?
When you see a bushcraft knife description, talk about things like drop point, clip point, or tanto point. Don’t worry if you don’t know what they mean. They are just describing the shape of the knife but they don’t really tell you anything you can’t see from just looking at the knife blade. I personally like a drop-point knife for bushcraft because it allows it to be a good chopper as well as for things like skinning game or gutting fish.
We Recommend a Full-Tang Bushcraft Knife
As we have talked about further in this guide, full-tang blades are better for bushcraft than other types of folding or half-tang blades. If you have no idea what a tang is, then just read our explanation above.
What are the Best Handle Materials for a Bushcraft Knife?
There is no best handle type for a bushcraft knife, and everyone has their own preference. I personally like wood because it is easy to customize, maintain, and repair. Wood also looks better over time and use, kind of like wearing a hiking boot in. Micarta is a good alternative to wood, and so are synthetic polymers because of their durability and hardness. In terms of grip, there isn’t much difference between any of them apart from the knives like the Mora, which have a rubberized grip.
Spine or Back of the Knife
A small feature that is a good signal for a bushcraft knife that has been made by an expert is a small ridged area on the spine of the knife (known as jumping). This comes in handy for scraping (peeling vegetables) and, more importantly, for striking a ferro rod for fire starting. This little ridged area can also be used for additional grip when doing detailed work.
If it doesn’t have the little ridges, then just make sure that the spine has a sharp edge or 90-degree angle so that it can be used for fire steel. Basically, just make sure the back of the knife isn’t rounded off.
Knife Tip Strength
There is nothing worse than snapping the tip off a new bushcraft knife, which is why it is something I hate testing because once I find the breaking point, it is too late. Look for a bushcraft knife whose tip is not too thin or pointy, and avoid situations where the tip could snap as much as possible.
Rust and Corrosion Resistance
All the knives we recommend are fully rust and corrosion-resistant if you take care of them (don’t store them with rusty tools or wet places). Some knives have a laminate coating of some type, which can add an extra level of protection and are worth looking for. A little tip is to apply a little bit of oil or lubricant on your blade when in storage to keep it in perfect condition.
You should always make sure your bushcraft knife comes with a sheath or that you can get or make one yourself once you get it. I personally like leather for its looks, but there are some thermoplastic options that are undoubtedly more durable and have a precise fit with locking mechanism. Kydex is a good example of a durable synthetic handle material used on survival knives.
Look for how it attaches to your belt if that’s how you plan to wear it or if it will hang around your neck on a lanyard. I personally like a fixed belt loop and an easy clip-on buckle for my bushcraft knife sheath so that I can take the whole thing off when sitting down without having to undo my belt.
Price and Warranty
For a good bushcraft knife that is made by a reputable company will cost anywhere from $100 – $250. If, on the other hand, you want one of the best custom-made bushcraft knives, hand forged by a master blacksmith, then you can expect to pay $300 up to thousands, depending on the supply and demand. Warranties are good, but there are so many escape clauses when it comes to knives that I wouldn’t worry too much about them.
That being said, companies like Victorinox and Helle have amazing customer service and so their warranties carry a little more weight.
There are dozens of different types of blade grind out there, but one that I simple and effective for bushcraft duties is the Scandinavian grind. Here is a brief list of some different types of bushcraft blade edges:
- Flat Grind: Also known as a “V-grind,” this blade profile is simple and effective, offering good edge sharpness and ease of sharpening.
- Scandi Grind: This is a flat grind that starts closer to the edge, which makes it easier to control during carving tasks. It’s a popular choice for bushcraft knives.
- Convex Grind: This rounded profile offers excellent durability and is well-suited for chopping and splitting tasks, but it can be more challenging to sharpen.
- Hollow Grind: The blade is ground to create a concave, beveled cutting edge. This is less common in bushcraft knives as it’s not as robust for heavy-duty tasks.
- Chisel Grind: One side is flat, and the other is angled, making the knife excellent for precision tasks. However, it’s not generally recommended for all-around bushcraft use.
- Double Bevel or Compound Bevel: This involves a primary and secondary bevel, making the blade stronger but slightly harder to sharpen.
- Saber Grind: Similar to a flat grind but with a more robust edge, this grind starts midway down the blade and is often seen in tactical or combat knives.
Balance and Weight
A well-balanced bushcraft knife is a pleasure to use, whereas a top-heavy knife will lack the control you need for many bushcraft jobs. For bigger knives, the balancing point will be on the blade, whereas on many bushcraft knives, it sits with in the middle where the handle meets the blade.
In terms of weight, I think ten ounces or less is about right so that it has enough might to cop but won’t pull your trousers down when secured in a sheet on your belt. For both balance and weight, the way to test if it is right for you is to handle it. Toss it around a little (carefully!) and get a feel of how it handles and moves with your hand.
A lanyard hoop is often taken for granted on bushcraft knives because they all have them, but without one, you are way more likely to get hurt. A lanyard worn around your wrist, securing your knife when in use, will prevent it from flying out of your hand and is a crucial safety element of any survival knife.
Country of Manufacture
This might not seem like a big deal, but this is absolutely something I look for in a bushcraft knife. Some quick tips for you are that outside of America, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, and England are all known for their high-quality steel and knife-making skills. That being said, America makes some damn good steel, too, so you can’t go wrong with a USA-made bushcraft knife. Avoid any Chinese-made blades as they are, more often than not, very poor quality.
Best Bushcraft Knife