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The 9 Best Bushcraft Knives of 2022

Don’t go into the woods without one.

a large knife on a rock
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The backcountry is seldom a forgiving place — weather changes in an instant, the terrain offers challenges unheard of in our modern lives. That’s why outdoor enthusiasts know the value of effective gear. A dry sleeping bag on a cold, wet night can mean the difference between waking up refreshed in the morning and… hypothermia.

A good knife can be just as important. Whether you’re cleaning game in the field or cutting wood to build an impromptu shelter, a reliable knife can be the deciding factor that makes your job easier or keeps you alive. When you’re miles from the nearest road, the last thing you want to think about is if your knife is capable of performing its job. When it comes to your blade, you need to trust it’ll get the job done.

What Is a Bushcraft Knife?

Bushcraft knives are often considered more generally as survival knives — they're designed to handle a wide range of outdoor tasks like building a shelter, starting a fire with a Ferro rod and batoning (splitting wood with a knife and mallet or a stick used as a hammer).

Bushcraft knives are almost always fixed-blade knives with long blades with a flat edge. (Short blades limit the thickness of the wood you can process with the knife, and serrated edges aren't adept at the cutting and chopping tasks mentioned above.) Bushcraft knives typically also have a grippy handle, which, these days, means that most are made of synthetic material, though some still do use wood.

What to Look for in a Bushcraft Knife

When shopping for a bushcraft knife, you should first consider the core traits mentioned above; some knives are marketed as bushcraft knives even though they don't meet all these traits. You should also consider what you plan to use the knife for — maybe you want a knife that you can use with a Ferro rod to start fires, but you don't plan to do any batoning, in which case you can get by with a smaller knife that's lighter and easier to pack. Here are some general considerations to keep in mind.

Knife Construction: Look for a knife that has a full-tang construction. This means that the steel that makes the blade also runs through the handle to the butt of the knife. This makes for a heavier knife but a much more robust construction that will stand up to hammering and leveraging.

Blade Steel Qualities: Not all steel is the same, and maximizing one trait typically happens to the detriment of another. Most bushcraft knives prioritize toughness, which is a measure of a blade's ability to withstand sudden impacts and forces (think chopping). Toughness often relates inversely to edge retention, which is why many bushcraft knife blades use carbon steel, which is also easier to sharpen in the field. The downside to carbon steel is that it isn't as resistant to corrosion as stainless steel. Again, there are always trade-offs, and it comes down to what you plan to use the knife for.

To learn more about knife steel qualities, read our guide.

Handle: Wood handles might impart a classic look, but they're often not as grippy or lightweight as modern synthetic materials. Remember that a bushcraft knife is primarily a tool, and you need to be able to use it as such, sometimes for long periods, without it slipping in your hand. Don't discount comfort either.

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Best Overall
SRK (SK-5)
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cold steel

Cold Steel offers some of the best knives inspired by tactical uses. The SRK series is often used by Navy SEALS and tactical law enforcement personnel — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great first-time knife that anyone can rely on. Its carbon steel construction is tough and reliable, sacrificing neither quality or usability. The handle is robust, sturdy and easy to work with for beginners learning to handle a knife. Plus, at five ounces, it hardly weighs anything, so you can carry it all day and forget it’s there.

Blade Length: 5 inches

Blade Material: Carbon steel with black Tuff-Ex finish

Blade Type: Plain edge, clip point

Handle Material: Kray-Ex

Weight: 5.1 ounces

Upgrade Pick
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion
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KA-BAR

This is the big boy of the group, weighing in at a full pound. The BK2 Companion will hack the crap out of kindling and skin game with ease thanks to its 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel, which is infused with chrome/vanadium carbides for added strength and wear resistance. The black Grivory handle has front and rear guards for safety under hard use, and you can even remove the handle scales and use the full-tang blade as a spear attachment.

Blade Length: 5.25 inches

Blade Material: 1095 Cro-Van steel

Blade Type: plain edge, drop point, flat grind

Handle Material: Grivory

Weight: 16 ounces

Best Budget Bushcraft Blade
Morakniv Companion
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Morakniv
Now 18% off

Don’t let the simple construction of the Morakniv Companion fool you — this is one capable blade that can prep meat for dinner or cut tinder for the campfire. It’s made of Swedish stainless steel for a sharp, durable tool that’ll resist rust in whatever outdoor environment you find yourself in. A TPE rubber handle is soft yet creates a lot of friction for a solid grip. It comes with a polymer sheath featuring a clip that can attach to a pack or belt. Best of all, it’s less than $20.

Blade Length: 4.1 inches

Blade Material: 12C27 stainless steel

Blade Type: drop point, plain edge

Handle Material: rubber

Weight: 4.1 ounces

Best Folding Bushcraft Knife
CRKT Parascale
Columbia River Knife & Tool

Sometimes, the best blade is a folding one. Expert knife designer TJ Schwarz built a paracord-wrapped folding knife that enhances grip and functions like most folders you’ve come to know. Thanks to the CRKT’s Deadbolt locking mechanism, which employs steel bolts to lock the blade in place and one-button disengagement, the open blade is sturdy enough to take on rigorous bushcraft tasks. With roughly four feet of paracord attached, it’s a unique tool you can rely on miles from your vehicle.

Blade Length: 3.19 inches

Blade Material: D2 steel

Blade Type: plain edge, drop point

Handle Material: glass-reinforced nylon

Weight: 5 ounces

Best Wooden Handle
JEO-TEC Nº15
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JEO-TEC

Jeo-Tec produces knives for anglers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who need a sharp edge that’ll get the job done. Designers have taken great care to ensure their blades function under rough outdoor conditions, and the No 18 can handle them all. The blade is constructed of razor-sharp Sandvik steel for excellent performance and superior corrosion resistance. But this knife isn’t all about work — with an option for a handle wrapped in Cocobolo wood from Central America, it’s pretty enough for a display case too.

Blade Length: 5.51 inches

Blade Material: Böhler N690 Cobalt with HRC 56-58

Blade Type: plain edge, drop point

Handle Material: micarta, cocobolo wood

Weight: 14.1 ounces

Best Craftsmanship Blade
Fallkniven A1
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Fallkniven

Some of the finest knives in the world come from Sweden, and the A1 is no exception. It surpasses international standards for security capabilities and strength, making it a beast in the backcountry. The full tang, laminated VG-10 steel blade can chop, cut and shave with the best of them. An option for a black coating made from CeraKote, a Teflon and ceramics paint used on military equipment, prevents reflection and corrosion.

Blade Length: 6.3 inches

Blade Material: VG-10 steel

Blade Type: drop point, plain edge

Handle Material: Kraton

Weight: 11.3 ounces

Best Tactical Blade
ESEE 5
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ESEE

Military SERE instructors designed the ESEE-5 as a downed pilot’s survival knife, so this tool is born to tackle gnarly situations. The ergonomic grip is made of micarta so that it’s durable and feels good in the hand for stabbing, cutting and slashing. The carbon steel blade is coated to prevent rusting, a must when you’re spending weeks exposed to the elements. In other words, you can rest easy knowing you can rely on this blade when you need it most.

Blade Length: 5.25 inches

Blade Material: 1095 carbon steel

Blade Type: drop point, serrated, plain edge

Handle Material: canvas Micarta

Weight: 16 ounces

Best Premium Bushcraft Knife
Benchmade Leuku
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Benchmade

To make a versatile, long-bladed bushcraft knife for a wide range of outdoor-oriented tasks, Benchmade found inspiration in the knives used by indigenous Scandinavians known as the Sámi people. The characteristics the Leuku pulls from those knives include its long, broad blade and a handle that's super grippy, even when it's wet. The Leuku's blade is shorter than Sámi knives at 5.19 inches, and its handle is a synthetic material called Santoprene instead of birch, but it functions all the same and only weighs 5.3 ounces.Benchmade built the Leuku with a flat-grind, drop-point blade made of a newer steel type called CPM-3V. One of this steel's characteristics is its high toughness, which describes a blade's ability to withstand sudden impacts that might cause it to crack or chip — that makes the Leuku perfect for chopping and hacking. The steel also has high edge retention, so it'll stay sharp longer too.

Blade Length: 5.19 inches

Blade Material: CPM-3V steel

Blade Type: drop point, flat grind, plain edge

Handle Material: Santoprene

Weight: 5.31 ounces

Best Large Blade
Buck Knives 119 Special
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Buck Knives

The 119 Special is one behemoth of a knife that is as solid as it looks. It’s constructed of 420HC steel for a long-lasting edge and, at 10.5 inches in total length, can tackle just about any task you come across. But the knife won’t weigh you down — at only 7.5 ounces, it’s an easy carrier, even on your belt. And if the fact that Buck Knives has been constructing quality blades in the United States for more than 100 years doesn’t earn your trust, this bushcraft knife’s lifetime warranty will.

Blade Length: 6 inches

Blade Material: 420HC high carbon steel

Blade Type: trailing point, plain edge

Handle Material: Phenolic

Weight: 7.5 ounces

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