Imagine you are out in the woods. You have a large survival knife with you, but you need to carve some tent pegs for your shelter. After a few attempts to whittle a branch, you discover the knife is too large for your whittle effectively. Life in the shelter will not be so comfortable tonight. Do not let this happen to you – read my reviews of the best 6 bushcraft knives.
Bushcraft Knife versus Survival Knife
If you have spent considerable time in the woods or, rather, are intending to, then a knife is an important part of your tool to bring with you. It is in your interest to find out which is the best bushcraft knife. Now, you may not have known that there are differences between a bushcraft knife and a survival knife. There are a few key differences that many people would not know about! The differences are subtle but important. A bushcraft knife is different from a survival knife in several ways. In short, a bushcraft knife is designed for specific jobs or uses you will encounter in the woods. A survival knife is designed to be a catch-all tool that can do whatever you need it to. Both can save your life if used effectively.
Most importantly, bushcraft practitioners (I will say ‘bushcrafter’ from here on out) bring tools with them that render a survival knife redundant. Bushcrafters usually bring a hatchet, a knife, and a hacksaw with them into the woods, in addition to other tools and items. If you are carrying that other gear, then you do not require the multi-faceted survival knife. Survival knives tend to be larger, for one and meant for different tasks. Because of this, a bushcraft knife tends to be smaller. Because you do not need a knife that does everything, i.e.., saw, chop, or shave, a bushcrafter can choose to be more selective with his knife.
In short, a thick and durable blade, great weight, great balance, a nice ergonomic feeling in your hand. Bushcraft knives should have a fixed blade. This is because the hinge on a folding knife represents a weak point and may break if you apply too much force during a cut. There are plenty of reasons to carry a folding knife with you in the woods. But for our purposes today, I will be speaking strictly about fixed-blade knives.
Preferably, you want to select a knife with a full tang. What does that mean? That means the blade runs through the handle. Once again, this helps with the strength of the knife. It means there are fewer areas where the knife can break or bend. There are many different lengths of knives, but you want the blade to be between four and six inches.
Uses for a bushcraft knife
The great thing about a bushcraft knife is that you can use it for many different tasks. I will name just a few here, all of which are common tasks around your campsite. They are highly versatile tools that can help when you are out in the woods. If you do not have an ax on you, for instance, you can use a knife to help you baton firewood. They are also good for planing wood for kindling. You can use it to carve tent pegs if you are just camping with a tarp or if you need additional support with your shelter. You can also use your bushcraft knife during meal preparation. It may not be your chef’s knife at home, but it will make all the cuts you might to get the meal prepared and cook.
Only you can determine which knife is best for you
Now, as you may have gathered from reading the other articles on survival knives and bushcraft axes, it is up to an individual to determine which bushcraft knife is best for you. There are a lot of variables that go into choosing a knife. I have tried to address some of them here so you can decide which knives you may want to try. Above all else, whatever knife you buy must work for you.
Review of 6 Bushcraft Knives
The Durable Blade: Benchmade – Bushcrafter 162
One of the more widely reviewed knives on the market right now, so there was a lot to consider on this folks. The Benchmade – Bushcrafter 162 is renowned for the strength of its blade. This blade is made by Crucible Industries. Bevel covers two-thirds of the blade. It can easily baton branches that are 2-3 inches thick, both hardwoods and softwoods. Comes with a leather sheath. A handsome knife that you will love to show off to your friends.
- Strong, durable blade that can last in the elements.
- High-quality leather sheath
- Holds a great edge.
- Grip is not the most ergonomic for some users.
- Requires some sharpening out of the box. The ideal purchase for someone who enjoys crafting their blade.
It is no surprise we included a Benchmade on the list. This particular model holds a great edge, is incredibly durable when you take out and accomplish several jobs. Makes for an excellent bushcraft and survival knife. If you are only going to take one knife out, this is one of them.
My all-around favorite: Morakniv Bushcraft Survival
Regular readers may remember that I reviewed this knife in another post, but I feel like it is so good that I thought it deserved consideration here. The Morakniv is a product of Sweden. I think it is a great knife, both in terms of price and in size. This knife comes from a reputable maker known for their quality. Includes a diamond sharpener and Fire Starter in the sheath. Fire Starter can yield 7,000 strikes and works well even when wet. Sheath made out of black plastic. A great knife for both the veteran bushcrafter and the beginner. If there is someone in your life who you want to get a beginner knife – this is a great candidate.
- Includes diamond sharpener and fire starter on the sheath. A great addition to the knife that does not add a lot of weight.
- Great handle – grips well, feels good in the hand.
- Limited lifetime warranty.
- Quality knife for its price.
- Arrives sharp in the box.
- The sharpener is rough, leaves marks on the blade.
- Not a full tang, which may make it a no-go for some consumers.
The Morakniv is a tough knife that feels good in your hand and is a quality buy. I love the size, the weight, and how easy it is to work with. A great purchase for anyone who wants to spend the money. Excellent bushcraft knife. Would bring a full-tang sturdy knife to compliment.
Get a grip on this one!: CDS – Axarquia
This is knife is made with stainless steel, has a full-flat grind. Produced in Spain. The sheath comes with a fire starter in the sheath. Comes with a Cocobolo wood handle.
- A very durable blade, reputable for sustaining heavy abuse without chipping, rolling, or damage to the edge.
- Great grip surface, lots of traction, feels good in your hand.
- Sheath mounts sideways on the belt. Some may prefer another mount.
I like the grip and the blade of the CDS – Axarquia. You are sure to get compliments from your buddies when you have it out.
The Solid Choice: Condor Tool & Knife – Selknam
A product of El Salvador. The blade is made out of high carbon steel. Comes with a Micarta handle. A heavy knife that feels solid in your hand, heavy steel. The Selknam is a big, heavy knife. 90-degree spine. Complete with a full-tang blade with a convex edge.
- Solid handle, shaped ergonomically, grips well, and is super durable.
- Fantastic sheath, great snap, comes with a pouch that is also handy.
- A thick edge makes it hard to sharpen to a razor’s edge.
- Requires sharpening right out of the box in most cases.
I think the Condor Selknam has one of the best grips out there. Has some serious weight behind it that makes me feel confident whenever I pick it up.
The Beautiful Bevel: JEO-TEC N°7
Another great Spanish made knife. Comes with a cobalt blade, flat grind with a scandi edge. You have the option of buying a handle made out of either micarta or cocobolo. Comes with a genuine 100% leather sheath that is multi-positional so it can be used horizontally or vertically. Comes complete with a good fire starter.
- Great bevel. Very sharp blade. Holds a great edge.
- Very durable, can take a beating and keep working.
- Great handle – grips nicely, especially good for people with larger hands.
- Firestarter strikes well.
- A little expensive. If you are just starting, maybe check out another option to get comfortable with at first.
- Some slight variations in the thickness of the blade.
I love how this blade holds its edge and that I can count on it to weather any situation I take it into. The Firestarter is a bonus that makes this a great knife to have around.
The Versatile Option: Top Knives Fieldcraft Knife by the Brothers of Bushcraft
This knife is the product of hundreds of hours’ worth of outdoor experience. The Brothers of Bushcraft are a network of bushcrafters and outdoor professionals who collaborated in making this particular knife. The blade is made out of high carbon steel. The edge is effective for carving, skinning, and other tasks you would encounter in the woods. The sheath is included and made out of durable Kydex and includes a steel clip that makes it easy to clip onto your belt. The strong spring guarantees that it will not come off your belt easily. The handle is made out of tan canvas micarta.
- A versatile knife that, in the hands of the right person, can be used expertly for the small, nuanced tasks such as carving, hacking through saplings, and can even be used for some campsite cooking if pressed.
- The sheath is versatile, can be worn horizontally or vertically, according to your preference.
- Ergonomic handle that feels good and will not be uncomfortable after prolonged usage.
- Great edge, sharpens well.
- The coating on the blade can cause some issues when using it as a fire starter.
- Can rust faster than other knives on this list if not properly maintained.
I love the versatility of this knife, I have used it for practically everything one might encounter. The handle also ensures no blisters or hot spots after long-term usage.
They say a man can do everything he needs with the right knife. I tend to agree with that. Like I said at the beginning of the article, there are a lot of variables to consider when purchasing a knife. While I offer the best and most thorough review, at the end of the day the only way to figure out which knife works best for you is to take one out and to start using it.
Now, here is how I order these knives. The competition was very close. As far as overall quality, I have to give the nod to Morakniv Bushcraft Survival. Simply put, it is the best value for the money. You will not overpay and be underwhelmed. The Morakniv arrives sharp in the box, has a great grip, is durable, and is backed by a quality manufacturer (and a limited lifetime warranty, which never hurts). Following closely behind was the Top Knives Fieldcraft Knife by the Brothers of Bushcraft. A versatile blade that can be used for any task, from chopping to carving, a great handle that is not going to grow uncomfortable after only a few moments, and it has a great edge that sharpens well and will hold. I also really enjoyed the Benchmade – Bushcrafter 162. Specifically, I love how durable this blade is and how it holds its edge.
Now, this is not to say that there are not great things to say about the remaining three knives. As I have seen, each of them has great things to offer. Of the CDS – Axarquia, I loved the grip and durability. Durability cannot be overstated as an important factor when considering a knife. Let us pivot over to JEO-TEC N°7 – that awesome bevel, I love it. Furthermore, I like the fire starter. Finally, but by no means a slouch in the knife department, Condor Tool & Knife – Selknam. I like this heavy workhouse and the sheath it comes in.