Best Backpacking Knives In 2020 (Top 5 Toughest Blades)

Our favorite knife for today was the Gerber Obsidian which is ideal for backpacking and has a built-in screwdriver and bottle opener.

While backpacking, there will always be a situation where you will need to cut something. Whether it is cutting through branches, ropes, opening cans or even splitting logs, etc. What I am trying to state is that you need a good knife in your arsenal if you are considering backpacking this weekend.

Below, I have given you a list of 5 of the best backpacking knives which will enhance your backpacking experience or maybe save your life. There is also a comparison table at the end which will bring all of the knives together.

Best Backpacking Knives Summary

After the last product, you will also be presented with a beginners guide on how to choose the best backpacking knife for your needs.

#1 Gerber Obsidian Knife (Top Pick)

Best for: The Gerber Obsidian knife is best for people that want an excellent quality knife for backpacking which also has a screwdriver and bottle opener.

  • Editors Rating: 10/10
  • Weight: 5.6 oz
  • Serrated Edge: Yes

This knife from Gerber was my favorite because it is of outstanding quality and other features as well such as the built-in screwdriver and bottle opener. It is important to note that the blade has a serrated edge near its base which can be useful at cutting branches and making tinder to start your fire. This knife is also foldable which makes it easier to carry without using a sheath. The blade has two thumb studs which make it easier to open and close. The knife also has a safety switch on the side which makes it possible to lock the position of the blade, so you do not cut yourself.

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#2 Gerber Bear Grylls (Budget Friendly)

Best for: If you want a good quality backpacking knife that is not that expensive, then you need to take a look at the Gerber Bear Grylls knife.

  • Editors Rating: 8/10
  • Weight: 9.8 oz
  • Serrated Edge: Yes

Have you ever watched the tv series called ultimate survival where Bear Grylls is the host of the show? This knife from Gerber is endorsed and also named after Bear Grylls. The blade is made from high carbon stainless steel which makes it hard and more reliable. It also has a black coating to prevent it from rusting. The blade also has a serrated edge which makes it easier to cut through sticks and branches. The knife is a folding knife and has a dual-sided thumb stud to assist in the opening and closing of it. Once the blade is folded open, it will also be locked into position. The handle has a rubber grip to prevent it from slipping out of your hand. Along with the knife, you will also get a nylon sheath in which to carry the knife safely.

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#3 Esee 5P

Best for: If you are into high quality fixed blades that are specially made for the outdoors, then this knife from Esee is for you.

  • Editors Rating: 9.5/10
  • Weight: 16 oz
  • Serrated Edge: No

This knife from Esee is a fixed blade which means the blade and handle are set together. This product is of superior quality, and the price reflects on it. The blade is 5.25” long and is made from 1095 Carbon which makes it very hard and keeps the edge sharp for a more extended period. These high carbon blades tend to rust easily which is why it is coated to protect the steel from rust. The blade does not have a serrated edge which is not the be all end all when it comes to outdoor knives.

The total weight of the knife is around 16 oz which makes it heavier than some of the other knives listed here. The handle is made from Canvas Micarta which is made from a combination off linen, fiberglass, carbon fiber, paper and canvas to make it non-slip and durable. That is not all. The handle has a bow drill pivot and also a glass breaker at the end. Along with the knife, you will get a Kydex Sheath which is used to store the blade when not in use.

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#4 Bullshark G-10

Best for: The Bullshark G-10 knife is best for those that want a sturdy knife that can do more than just cutting.

  • Editors Rating: 9/10
  • Weight: 5.5 oz
  • Serrated Edge: Yes

This Bullshark G-10 knife is manufactured from Anvil Bladesmiths which is a specialized company which produces high-quality knives. The knife you get is foldable, and the blade also has a serrated edge. The blade is 3.5” long and is made from 8CR13 steel which will retain the sharpness of the blade for a very long time and is also corrosion resistant. There are two thumb studs at the base of the blade to assist you in opening and closing the blade. The G-10 handle is made from fiberglass laminate which makes it both durable and slip resistant under wet conditions. The handle also has additional features which include a paracord cutter and glass breaker. The paracord cutter can also be used to cut seatbelts.

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#5 Benchmade Bugout 535

Best for: This is a high-quality knife that is both small, and lightweight made explicitly for the outdoors.

  • Editors Rating: 9/10
  • Weight: 1.85 oz
  • Serrated Edge: No

The Benchmade Bugout 535 is a foldable knife that does not have a serrated edge. The blade is 3.24” long and is made from CPM-S30V steel that has balanced chemistry to ensure it is robust and is resistant to corrosion. Instead of using chromium carbides it uses vanadium carbides which are more robust and more wear resistant. There is also a thumb stud located at the base of the blade to assist in its opening. It has a Grivory handle that is slip-resistant and will give you necessary comfort to effectively use this knife. It makes use of a secure lock to ensure the blade stays in place when in use.

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What Makes A Good Backpacking Knife?

There are some things that you need to consider before choosing the right backpacking knife. For instance, you do not want a blade which will break the moment you try to cut through hard material. You also want a blade that will maintain its edge for years to come.

Below, I have covered the types of materials used to make the blades, serrated vs. smooth edges, the grip, type and also their weight.

The blade must be made from sturdy material.

There are two essential points to consider when looking at blade quality. First, you want a blade that is not too soft. Blades that are too soft tend to bend easily and will not hold an edge for too long. The second point is that a blade should not be brittle.

Brittle blades will break easily when enough force is applied to them. You also do not want to sit with a blade that will corrode the moment it comes into contact with nature’s elements. Below, I will discuss some of the types of metals that were used to make the knives.

  • 1095 Carbon Steel. This type of steel has a 0.95% carbon content which makes it very tough and will hold the edge for years to come. The only problem with this steel is that it rusts easily. To counter this problem, you need to coat the steal to prevent the moisture from coming into contact with it. The Esee 5P knife is made from this steel.
  • 8CR13 Steel. It is low-cost steel that has some desirable properties for outdoor knives. This steel can maintain an edge for a very long time and is also resistant to rust. The Bullshark G-10 is made from this steel.
  • CPM-S30V steel. This steel is infused with vanadium carbides which makes it resistant to wear and corrosion. CPM stands for Crucible Particle Metallurgy which is a process that gives a steel a uniform composition at a molecular level. This feature makes the steel very hard which is ideal for outdoor work. The Benchmade Bugout 535 has been manufactured with this steel

Have serrated blade (Optional)

Serrated blades will preserve a specific area on the edge to have small teeth like that of a saw. A serrated blade makes it easier to cut through wood which might be helpful at a backpacking event. Does a knife always need a serrated blade?

No, but it does help. Some people prefer serrated blades while others don’t, and in the end, it all comes to personal taste. All the blades have a serrated edge except for the Esee 5P and the Benchmade Bugout 535 which has a smooth edge.

You need a comfortable grip

Working outdoors will often put you in a wet and slippery situation where the knife will be exposed to moisture and other elements mother nature will throw at them. Sometimes moisture will make the handle of the knife slippery which is something you must avoid. You can quickly lose the knife or cut yourself (or someone else) if you lose control over the knife. All the knives in this section will have some features in place which will prevent it from happening.

A fixed vs. folding knife

A fixed blade is a knife where the handle and blade are fixed together. Sometimes the blade and handle are one unit where the handle is covered with a non-slip material. Fixed blades are considered sturdier than folding ones because the joint that connects the blade with handle is the weakest point.

The only drawback of a fixed blade is that it makes it harder to carry around. A fixed blade knife needs to come at least with a sheath in which to carry the knife when not in use. For fixed blades, you can take a look at the Esee 5P.

A folding knife is a knife where the blade is connected to the handle with a joint. When not in use, the blade can be stored inside the handle to prevent you from cutting yourself. To expose the blade, you can easily fold it open with the help of thumb studs which are located on the blade itself.

It’s weight

For me, the weight of the knives might not be as necessary, but I know that it is crucial for some people. The weight of the knives that I have reviewed can range from 1.85 oz up to 16 oz. The lightest knife in this list was the Benchmade Bugout 535 while the heaviest one was the Esee 5P.

There is also no correlation between the weight and the quality because you do get lightweight metal that is just as hard as its heavier counterparts.

Best Backpacking Knife

Product Name WeightSerrated EdgeEditors Rating
1. Gerber Obsidian Knife (Top Pick)5.6 oz
2. Gerber Bear Grylls (Budget Friendly)9.8 ozYes8/10
3. Esee 5P16 ozNo9.5/10
4. Bullshark G-105.5 ozYes9/10
5. Benchmade Bugout 5351.85 ozNo9/10


Now you are more familiar with what to expect from knives if you are planning to go backpacking this weekend. I have listed 5 of the best knives that I could find and also showed you how to choose the best one. What was your favorite knife and why? For a full collection of all our knife reviews, please visit this page.

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