Choosing a Knife for Hiking

Whether you’re camping, backpacking, rock climbing, paddling, or just going for a stroll, a knife can come in handy. However, the type of knife you need depends on the activity you’re doing. You perform different tasks when you camp or climb or hike, so you need a tool that accommodates for the differences between hobbies. Of course, your personal preference and the type of hiking you do influence the type of knife you need as well. What type of knife do you need for a day hike? What about a thru-hike? Here are a few things to help you out when choosing a knife for hiking.

Factors that matter


What do you actually use your knife for while hiking? You might enjoy splitting firewood and making shelters. However, most people just use their knives for basic things like opening food, cutting cord, popping blisters, etc.

Think about how you actually use a knife while hiking, and try and make your decision based on your needs rather than a desire to look like Crocodile Dundee.


You have a limited amount of space in your hiking backpack, and you want to make the most of that space. Most people would classify a knife as a hiking essential, but you should still try and conserve pack space whenever possible.

In addition to knife length, consider the thickness of a knife as well as whether it folds or is fixed.

Choose a knife that’s large enough to be used as a reliable tool for your needs, but don’t get more knife than you need. You don’t want to take up a ton of space in your pack for a tool that just spreads your peanut butter and cuts up mole skin.


Hikers prefer to limit their pack weight while hiking, especially for long distance backpacking trips. As with size, you want a tool that’s going to get the job done, but nothing more than necessary.

If you plan on chopping or splitting wood, you’ll need a blade with more heft. Generally speaking, however, you want a lightweight knife for hiking.

What type of knife do you need for a day hike?

You obviously don’t need a big survival knife for a simple day hike. In fact, you might not actually need a knife at all for a day hike, but it’s good to carry one for emergency purposes.

You may only need a knife for cutting cord, medical tape, or fruit, or opening food packages, so a knife for day hiking should be very minimal, lightweight, and compact.

What type of knife do you need for a backpacking trip?

You definitely don’t need a survival knife for a day hike, and you probably don’t even need a large survival knife even when you’re spending days, weeks, or months on the trail. The situations in which a survival knife is actually necessary on a maintained trail are few and far between.

Think back to the last time you had to fight a bear or build a shelter on the trail. Most of us don’t have these experiences. So, as with day hiking, backpackers can get buy with a small folding knife.

However, if you want to be prepared in the very unlikely event of a bear encounter – or you enjoy bushcraft and practicing survival skills – then take a survival knife. Ultimately, you don’t really need a big knife for hiking, but take what makes you feel comfortable.


Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for knives or outdoor gear in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We have one of the best knife selections in Northwest Arkansas and carry an excellent selection of outdoor gear and outdoor apparel!

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