It is no news that a knife is a very important tool for any camping trip. A good multi-purpose camping knife will make things a lot easier, from preparing food and cutting ropes to saving your life in a case of an emergency! However, buying a camping knife is a lot more complicated than buying an everyday knife, as camping knives vary in terms of their designs and materials. If you go into a store unprepared, you might not know what type of knife is going to suit your camping needs.
An important thing to know is that there is no single knife that is able to perform all tasks, which is why a lot of people carry more than one knife. However, you can get a knife that is able to perform most of the tasks if you know what you need exactly.
The first decision you will need to make is to determine whether you need a knife with fixed blades or folding blades. To come up with a decision, you need to know what you are going to use the knife for. Generally speaking, fixed blades are better suited for more heavy duty tasks like cutting woods and hunting while foldable blades or pocket knives are sufficient for light duties such as food preparation and cutting ropes. This is because, fixed blade knives usually provide more strength and sturdiness for heavier tasks. However, fixed blade knives are heavier, eat up more space, and require a protective cover to carry. Foldable knives on the other hand are more lightweight, and are ideal if you are always on the move. The blades are also folded inside to avoid injury. But, do make sure you are getting foldable knives with a locking blade to avoid the blades being accidentally folded down when you are using them.
Next, you need to decide on the shape of the blade, as different shapes of blade are good at different things.
- A drop-point blade is a robust all-around blade that is able to perform a diverse range of tasks. The point of the blade is thick and its spine goes down gradually towards the tip, making it less possible for it to accidentally piercing anything.
- A clip-point blade is where the top of the blade curve downwards to the tip. This creates a tip that is sharp and thin, which makes clip-point blades not only good at general tasks but also tasks that require precision and a lot of piercing. Strength wise, a clip-point blade is not as robust as the aforementioned drop- point blade.
- For tasks that are more heavy-duty that involve abrasion, prying open, and puncturing, go for tanto blade that has an angular tip which provides superior strength.
- Needle-point blade, as the name suggests has a very pointy tip. With their double edges and even points, needle-point blade is mainly used for piercing and throwing.
- For preparing food, a sheepsfoot blade is the most ideal as its cutting edge is parallel with the cutting surface, without any curves. Towards the point, the top of the blade is rounded off sharply, making it less likely to puncture anything accidentally.
Other than the shapes of the blade, different kinds of grind are also suited for different tasks. The grind simply put is the beveling at the bottom part of the blade. Three widely used type of grinds are the hollow grind, flat grind, and convex grind.
- Hollow grind creates a very pointy edge, making it sharp and ideal for slicing.
- Flat grind are generally good for cutting. Because of its built, it has harder edges than a hollow grind.
- Convex grind offers most toughness to the edge, which makes it suitable for heavy duty tasks such as wood chopping.
- Serration grind is where the blade has a jagged edge. It is good for cutting rope but its ability is limited. Serration grind is also very hard to sharpen.
- Scandi grind is somewhat like a flat grind except that it doesn’t have a secondary bevel. This makes scandi grind very sharp and ideal for outdoor use.
The steel material of the blade is also of utmost importance, and like the previous two decisions we just discussed, it is relied heavily on the tasks the knife is expected to perform. When considering the steel material, there are three things to keep in mind: the ability to withstand erosion, toughness, and hardness. However, also note that harder steel might be more resistant to erosion, but it will be more difficult to sharpen them. Now let us explore some of the common steel materials that are used to make blades. Stainless steel is the most popular material, as it is able to withstand erosion. Some of the varieties of stainless steel are like:
- 420 HC is economical and able to resist erosion. It is added with a low carbon content, giving it enough hardness for a solid and sharp edge. Given that 420HC is on the softer side, it can be sharpen with no sweat.
- 154CM has more carbon content than 420HC, making it harder with better edge retention. It also fairs well at the above mentioned three important attributes. Because of this, it is often used for better grade knives.
- S30V is a superior stainless steel. It is a type of powder steel, which is made from heated and compressed fine grain of steel. It offers superior edge retention and toughness as it contains a significant amount of vanadium, which is a carbide with high rust resistance.
Other than stainless steel, non-stainless high carbon steel is another choice for blade material. Because of its high carbon content, this type of steel excels in hardness and edge retention, but might be more susceptible to erosion.
Once you are done with the blade, it is time to consider the material for the knife handle. Wood handles are nice to look at but are more prone to water damage while plastic handles are economical and water resistant. If you are looking for a handle with a good grip and great resistance to water, rubber handle is the answer. However, rubber lacks durability and can deteriorate from prolonged wear and tear. Another choice is stainless steel or aluminum handle, which are very durable but might be losing at the grip as it can be slippery. Other than the material of the handle, pay attention to whether the handle is textured for a better grip, the shape of it and how it feels in your hand.
Finally, consider some extra features for your knife. A locking blade is the best of both folding knives and fixed blade knives. It is a foldable knife that is able to be locked into position when it opens up, which makes using it safer. One-hand opening with special mechanism enables the user to swiftly open the blade with one hand without hassle. With assisted opening, the knife will be fully opened right after you start to open the blade. This type of knife should come with a safety lock that stop the blades from opening accidentally when not in used.