How to Choose a First Timer’s Best Knife for Backpacking
It’s always a tough call for first-timers when trying to find the best knife for backpacking. Many options are available in the market and finding one that suits you can quickly become a nightmare.
A backpacking knife is on every outdoor survival list, and having the best one is essential. It could mean your survival and, in mild situations, your comfort. You will find a use for your backpacking knife in literally everything you do while in the wilderness. From lighting a fire to chopping your onions and opening your food cans, a backpacker’s knife is a must-have.
In general, a great backpacking knife is made of high-quality material, has a convenient and ergonomic handle, is safe for use, easy to sharpen, and retains sharpness for long. It’s also easy to maintain. Here are a first-timer’s tips for considering the best knife for backpacking.
The Purpose of the Knife
For ages, man has depended on a knife to survive. Backpacking knives are dependable for everything. They are easy to carry around and come in handy when you want to split some tinders when making a fire. They’ll also come in handy when setting up your tent or preparing a meal.
A great backpacking tool will easily handle all of these tasks for you at the same time. This way, you will cut on the culinary knives or machetes that you would have needed for survival.
Even when fishing, your backpacking knife will come in handy when cutting the line or unhooking your catch.
Fixed or Folding
A foldable blade will work fine if you are backpacking light and don’t intend to do fancy tindering or fire making. However, a fixed blade is better if you need more power to cut and chop tough stuff. Fixed blades are also more robust in their use and easier to clean.
Also, fixed blades have a minimal risk of self-inflicted harm. A foldable knife can easily cause harm when retracting the blade. If you are going for a foldable blade, ensure you get one that locks. Foldable blades are also prone to wear and tear and, therefore, less durable than fixed blades.
Size and Weight
Different types of knives come in different sizes. Some are minimalistic and meant for light duties, and others come in large sizes.
If you are looking for something easy to carry around, small knives make an excellent choice for backpacking. They are also easy to pack and carry around. However, they lack strength, and their use is also limited. While you could easily carry them in your backpack, their utility and functionality may be limited.
Mid-sized backpacking knives are best for daily use and can fit nicely in your pockets. Their construction is light, and they are the most convenient backpacking tools for moderate backpackers.
For those backpackers who plan on staying out longer, large-sized backpacking knives come in handy for various wavy duties such as clearing bushes and cutting tree branches. Nonetheless, the large-sized backpacking knives are optimized for ergonomics and comfort but are hard to carry around.
Weight is a more general determinant of the quality of a knife. A blade with extra thickness is stronger. With a heavier backpacking knife, it will be easy to prepare tinders for lighting fires and cut off some bushes or tree branches when clearing your camping ground. It will also be an excellent tool for digging some holes when tethering your tent.
- Picking between a Knife and a multitool
Unlike a knife, multitools resemble a tiny toolbox in your hands. A multitool is a backpacking knife with other secondary appliances such as pliers, corkscrews, etc. Multitools can either have a variety of random tools or could come in a specific set of implements.
While multitools are convenient, they are smaller, and their ergonomics are reduced. This makes it hard to depend on multitools for specific actions, such as cutting tree branches while making a fire.
If you are backpacking, chances are you won’t need all the tools that the multitools offer. However, it still depends on the purpose. A simple backpacking knife will be your best choice if you are just aching for a backpacking trip and nothing more.
It’s also important to consider user safety when buying your backpacking knife. While most companies build their knives with user safety in mind, the best knife for backpacking will often spot extra safety considerations for a user.
Features such as a locking blade are important if you want the assurance of safety when carrying your backpacking knife. Locking blades combine the convenience of a foldable knife with the strength of a fixed blade. The locking feature prevents the blade from folding back while in use.
Considering the ease of use is important if you are going for a foldable backpacking knife. Knives that open fast with only one hand are convenient while using, and they often have a notch or cutout on the blade, making it easy to draw the blade out easily with one hand.
An assisted opening mechanism is also a great plus for your backpacking knife. These knives have a safety lock that disengages the opening mechanism of the knife when it’s closed. That way, you are safe against any accidental opening.
Ergonomics is crucial for a backpacker who will depend on their knife for as long as they remain far away from the convenience of having the right tools.
Most people overlook ergonomics when buying a knife. The best knife for backpacking should be comfortable, with a handle that allows for a safe and firm grip.
Ergonomics are crucial in reducing;
- Risk of injury while using your backpacking knife
- Making life easier when using your backpacking knife
The Blade Material
Knowing the blade material of your choice knife is important when determining the durability and price of your best backpacking knife. It could also help in making the maintenance of your knife easier.
Backpacking knife blades are made out of different materials. Some are made of stainless steel, titanium, chromium, or carbon.
Stainless steel blade material is easy to sharpen and stays sharp for long. It’s mostly used on small backpacking knives, is the most common, and least expensive.
Carbon steel is often used on large fixed blades, and it holds its edge for long. However, it rusts very fast and will require a maintenance coating to keep it from rusting.
Blades made from titanium or titanium alloy are light and are rust-resistant. A blade made from titanium can only be used for light tasks such as opening cans or preparing food.
Backpacking Knife Maintenance
Backpacking knives are essential for your camping experience and are a crucial tool for general survival. It’s therefore important that you keep your knife well, to ensure that it’s always available for use whenever you need it.
- Knives are meant for cutting. Ensure that you use your knife for the right purposes. A backpacking knife should not substitute your hammer or screwdriver. Non-cutting impact inflicted on the knife leads to the eventual destruction of the knife.
- Keep your knife clean. This includes every part of the knife, including the tip, handle and fold- if there’s one. Avoid submerging your knife in liquids and make use of the recommended cleaning sprays.
- Ensure that your knife is safely stored to avoid causing any harm. Store your knife in a safe and dry place and put it out of reach of children. Ensure that you remove a knife from its sheath periodically for cleaning and drying. Most sheaths are made of leather and tend to absorb moisture and cause rusting to the knife.
- Rust is destructive to your blade and should, therefore, be prevented. While some blade materials are resistant to rust, ensure that you remove it by using oil and abrasion. However, keeping your knife clean and dry will prevent oxidation and subsequently rusting.
Comparing Quality and Cost
You’d be surprised to find that the best knife for backpacking is not necessarily expensive. The blade material used in making the knife is often the most significant price determinant.
This is because different knife steels go through various processes of production. A more expensive knife will likely have a high-end bade material. Therefore, you should consider the material used for making the blade material to the reason you need a backpacking knife. A person looking for a light backpacking experience will not require a knife made of the hardest steels.
Finding the best knife for backpacking is often a hard deal for new backpackers. There’s so much to look for online that you could lose yourself with all the options that different companies offer you. Nonetheless, these are the basic considerations that can help you easily settle on your first knife. The best knife for backpacking should be the one that fits your camping needs best. Ensure that you go for a knife that is easy to maintain, is convenient, and versatile. Your backpacking tool is necessary for survival and should be a tool that satisfies your needs. If your pick has all these factors, then it’s likely your best.