Bushcraft Knife Reviews: Top 9 Bushcraft Knives for 2018


Best Bushcraft Knife 2018

Best Bushcraft Knife Review

In our quest to get back to nature, there is always a struggle between wanting to bring along all of our gear and actually experiencing the outdoors like a true survivalist. It would be great to bring along everything from a machete to a chainsaw, for example, but the best bushcraft knife will serve the needs of the outdoor enthusiast who knows how to strike the right balance between power and portability.

Bushcraft knives are a critical tool for wilderness survival, but they are not the same as so-called “survival knives.”  Where bushcraft knives are primarily used to cut, split, and shave wood, survival knives are more for digging, cutting, and performing other survival tasks.

Bushcraft knives also differ from survival or tactical knives, which are also called “everyday carr” or “EDC” knives. These kinds of knives are designed specifically for self-defense.

Once you know that a bushcraft knife is what you’re looking for, the varieties in type and range of prices can be overwhelming.  To help interpret and navigate the various criteria, we have reviewed several of the top sellers in order to identify the best bushcraft knife for your interests, skills, and budget.


Our  Picks

Mike’s Top Pick

Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife

Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade

Button to Buy Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife

If you only really have to choose one, Mike’s Gear Reviews recommends the Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade.  It has a slightly higher price point than some of the others on our list, but that balances out with heavy-duty, durable sharpened steel and a full tang that usually is lacking in Morakniv models.

Value Pick

Condor Tool & Knife Bushlore Survival Knife

Condor Bushlore

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If you prefer a less expensive option, the Condor Bushlore has a full tang of high carbon steel and comes in at under $75.00. Although the steel requires some maintenance and preparation, it’s razor sharp out of the box and a great bushcafting knife for the money.

Premium Pick

Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife, Drop-Point

 Benchmade Bushcrafter 162

Button to Buy Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife, Drop-Point

For top-of-the-line craftsmanship and maintenance free performance, our pick is the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162. This is the most expensive bushcraft knife on our list, but aside from a slightly unpopular sheath, it is highly praised for its easy-to-sharpen, all weather stainless steel blade and is considered by some to be one of the best knives they have ever had.


Contents

Introduction

Our Top Picks

Table of Contents

Product Reviews

What to Know Before Buying

Conclusion 


The Best Bushcraft Knives

Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife, Drop-Point

Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife, Drop-Point

With over 30 years’ experience, Benchmade has become a standout in the industry. All of its knives are sourced and manufactured in the U.S. so customers can rely on quality work.

At nearly $200.00, the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 is not for the casual outdoorsmen, but the Benchmade quality, along with the limited warranty, make it well worth the price.

 

The latest model of the 162 corrected some of the issues with the spine, which on the prior model was unsharpened. The blade is still maintenance-free stainless steel, which is easily sharpened and good for year-round use.

The flared shape of the handle helps to prevent separation from the tang, which contributes to its ruggedness. Some users, however, have reported that the unique shape does take some getting used to.

In addition, the included sheath appears to be of lesser quality than the knife it houses. It can tear easily along the seam, but  Benchmade has been responsive with replacements according to user reports.

Overall, this is a quality knife that many users tout as being the best bushcraft knife that they ever had.

Things we liked:

  • Full tang
  • Limited Lifetime warranty
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Sturdy blade
  • Maintenance-free

Things we didn’t like:

  • Sheath quality can be lower than expected
  • Higher cost

Button to Buy Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Knife, Drop-Point


Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife – Stainless Steel

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife - Stainless Steel

Morakniv is a household name in Sweden. Just about every household, even those without outdoor enthusiasts, has a Morakniv knife and the four knives on this list will show you why.

The Morakniv Companion comes with stainless steel or carbon steel blades. The Sandvik steel is remarkably tough and, as always, stainless steel means it’s easy to maintain.

Even though this knife doesn’t have a full tang, it does go about ¾ of the length of the knife, so it’s still quite substantial. Also, the rubber grip handle is sturdy and easy to grip without slipping.

One of the few complaints about this extremely affordable knife is the plastic sheath. Though it comes in a wide range of colors, the rigid plastic is inflexible and not a favorite among users who otherwise widely appreciate this Morakniv entry.

Things we liked:

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Rubber grip handle
  • Affordable
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Lightweight

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not a full tang
  • Rigid plastic sheath

Button to Buy Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife - Stainless Steel


Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Carbon Steel Blade

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Carbon Steel Blade

This is the carbon steel version of the Morakniv Companion.  Like the stainless steel version, it comes in under $20.00 and the Morakniv name gives it a reputation that far exceeds its price tag.

Carbon steel is stronger than stainless, but it does rust, so be prepared to put a little more effort into maintaining this version of the Morakniv companion. Also, the thinner blade should be kept away from rocks where thicker stainless steel may withstand more danger.

If carbon steel is your preference and you’re on a budget, the Morakniv Companion with Carbon Steel Blade is an excellent choice.

Things we liked:

  • Easy to sharpen
  • Affordable
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Stays sharp for a long time

Things we didn’t like:

  • Sheath can get bent
  • Not a full tang

Button to Buy Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Carbon Steel Blade


Condor Tool & Knife Bushlore Survival Knife

Condor Tool & Knife Bushlore Survival Knife

Condor Tool & Knife originated in Germany over two-hundred years ago, when its ancestor became a major manufacturer of swords, farming tools, and knives for military and civilian use. The Imasca company was formed when the original company brought German manufacturing to El Salvador, and ultimately, Condor Tool & Knife was born.  

The Bushlore Survival Knife is a great introduction to the Condor Tool & Knife name. The carbon steel blade is razor sharp out of the box and can cover all your bushcrafting needs, including baton and making feather sticks.

The leather sheath is top-notch and many think it’s on par if not better than its more expensive competitors, though it may take a bit of use to break it in.

In your hand, the knife is reportedly comfortable and easy to hold, even when used with gloves. Some manufacturing irregularities have been reported with the handle scaling and the blade sharpness, but these are generally reported to be minor glitches, easily remedied with a replacement.

Carbon steel makes for a practically indestructible instrument. It takes a little maintenance and some oiling in the beginning, but for the price it is one of the most popular bushcrafting knives on the market.

Things we liked:

  • Full tang
  • Comfortable to hold and use
  • Heavy duty
  • Quality leather sheath

Things we didn’t like:

  • Some manufacturing irregularities with the blade and the handle
  • Carbon steel requires some additional maintenance  and preparation

Button to Buy Condor Tool & Knife Bushlore Survival Knife


Gerber StrongArm 420 High Carbon Stainless Steel Fixed Blade Survival Tactical Knife

Condor Tool & Knife Bushlore Survival Knife

Gerber is a trusted American brand that gained increased market power through a partnership with British adventurer Bear Grylls. Although the StrongArm knife is not part of the Bear Grylls line, it is one of Gerber’s more popular models.

The StrongArm is often considered a tactical knife, but works well for bushcraft, too. The full tang carbon steel can baton and feather, carve, and slice wood.

As with all carbon steel, the blade is durable but not as strong as some of its competitors. It can require some extra sharpening and maintenance, as well.

The glass-filled nylon handle has molded rubber exterior, which makes it comfortable to hold. It also has a diamond pattern to reduce slippage even if you’re wearing gloves and the end of the handle has a pommel that can break through hard surfaces.

There is versatility in the sheath, too, which can be mounted vertically, horizontally, or even in drop-leg fashion.

In all, this is a popular all-around knife that, for under $75.00, is a good buy for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.

Things we liked:

  • Full tang
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Versatile sheath
  • Comfortable handle

Things we didn’t like:

  • Carbon steel is higher maintenance and not as strong

Button to Buy Gerber StrongArm 420 High Carbon Stainless Steel Fixed Blade Survival Tactical Knife


Morakniv Bushcraft with Carbon Steel Blade

Morakniv Bushcraft with Carbon Steel Blade

Morakniv makes its third appearance on our list with the Bushcraft Carbon Fixed Blade Knife. Coming in under $75.00, this model is more expensive than the Companions, but the higher cost is considered to be well worth it.

The Bushcraft with carbon steel blade is a fixed-blade knife that is slightly longer, thicker, and heavier than its less expensive siblings. It doesn’t have a full tang like many others at this price point, but it does have an ergonomic shape with a non-slip handle and razor sharp edges.

The spine is crafted specifically for use with a fire starter, which is not included, but gives an extra edge of versatility to this all-around performer. It also is easily used to baton and carve, as well as make feather sticks.

As with other carbon steel knives, this one may require some additional maintenance. Although there is an anti-corrosion coating, users report that the blade is still susceptible to rust.

At this price point, the Bushcraft Carbon Steel Fixed Blade knife is a solid choice if you don’t mind some extra maintenance and are willing to compromise on full tang.

Things we liked:

  • Ergonomic, non-slip handle
  • Affordable
  • Razor sharp edges
  • 1 year manufacturer’s warranty

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not a full tang
  • Susceptible to rust

Button to Buy Morakniv Bushcraft with Carbon Steel Blade


Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife

Morakniv Bushcraft with Carbon Steel Blade

Ka-Bar is an American company that has been making a name for itself since 1898. The BK2 Campanion lives up to its family pedigree with versatility and performance that many feel justify the higher price tag.

The BK2 Campanion is a full tang steel-blade knife weighing in at a solid pound, which is more than many other bushcraft knives. The weight is largely in the plastic handle, which can be a problem for some users, but the ergonomic shape is comfortable and secure.

The blade is extremely sharp and durable and has a pommel for hammering and crushing.

Although the knife is made in Olean, New York, the black nylon sheath is made in Taiwan. It is a hard molded covering that is simple but reliable and generally a positive among users.

Priced at over $100.00, the BK2 Campanion is obviously more expensive, but its durability and versatility made it a favorite choice of many bushcrafters.

Things we liked:

  • Full tang
  • High quality sheath
  • Heavy duty
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Pommel for crushing and breaking

Things we didn’t like:

  • Weight in the handle
  • Plastic handle

Button to Buy Morakniv Bushcraft with Carbon Steel Blade


Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade

Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade

Morakniv makes our list again with our top pick, the Garberg. Finally offering a full tang blade, the Garberg is Morakniv’s response to its customers’ ultimate wishlists.

The Garberg is a stainless steel knife that aims to be the toughest and most durable ever made by Morakniv. Indeed, it does seem to be one of the company’s most popular and well-made offerings.

This model is designed to be tough adept in bushcrafting. Sandvik stainless steel provides a razor sharp blade that can finely carve and feather while also cutting tough branches.

The full tang extends to a pommel hammer at the end, adding to the Garberg’s versatility. The spine is also crafted to be used with a firestarter (not included).

One common complaint with this otherwise widely loved model is that the handle is a simple plastic. Though it is considered to be comfortable and a good grip, many users feel like the Garberg would benefit from a bit more effort in the handle design.

Users are please with the sheath options, as well. The Garberg comes either with a full leather enclosure or a multi-mount option.

Things we liked:

  • Full tang
  • Razor sharp stainless steel blade
  • Pommel end
  • MOLLE mount option

Things we didn’t like:

  • Plastic handle

Button to Buy Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade


Buck Knives 863 Selkirk

Buck Knives 863 Selkirk

Buck Knives have been around for a while, but they are relatively new to the bushcraft knife field. The Selkirk is a fine showing for a relatively new entrant, and one of the best-reviewed bushcraft knives all around.

The Selkirk’s steel blade is perhaps not the strongest, but it is easy to sharpen and resistant to corrosion and the knife is designed to last for a long time. In fact, all Buck Knives, including the Selkirk, come with a lifetime warranty that reflects the company’s belief in making quality products.

Although the plastic handle looks slippery and uncomfortable, it is actually ergonomically shaped and comfortable and secure to hold. Whether plastic handles are a “deal breaker” tends to be a matter of personal preference as long as the handle is safe and secure, which the Selkirk’s handle is.

The Selkirk comes with an injection molded nylon sheath. It can be used horizontally or vertically on the belt.

Things we liked:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Full tang
  • Pommel end and fire starter in the grip
  • Versatile sheath

Things we didn’t like:

  • Plastic handle

Button to Buy Buck Knives 863 Selkirk


More to Know

What is a bushcraft knife?

Simply put, bushcraft is about wilderness survival.  A bushcraft knife is an essential tool that can elevate a basic camping trip to a bushcrafting adventure.

These knives are versatile and can be used to split wood, cut small trees and branches, carve objects, and even light fires. They tend to be between 3 to 6 inches in length, making them easy to handle, but extremely tough and sharp for the toughest woodland tasks.

Best Bushcraft Knife Review

What are bushcraft knives made of?

Best Bushcraft Knife Review

The blade of a bushcraft knife will be made of either high carbon or stainless steel.

High carbon steel is the more commonly used of the two because it is also more durable. However, it is also prone to corrosion and will require more maintenance and oiling to prevent corrosion.

Stainless steel has a high chromium content, making it less vulnerable to corrosion. It requires less maintenance, but doesn’t hold a sharp edge as well as high carbon.

What should I consider when choosing the best bushcraft knife for me?

Apart from the type of steel, look for the blade’s size, grind, and cutting edge. Also, consider its handle material, its tang, and where it’s made.

Best Bushcraft Knife Review

What size blade should I choose?

As noted above, a bushcraft knife is going to have a blade between 3 and 6 inches in length. The blade has to be long enough to efficiently split wood, but small enough to be maneuverable and versatile while retaining control and safe handling.

Best Bushcraft Knife Review

What is blade grind?

“Grind” refers to the shape of the blade above the cutting edge. This is also referred to as the primary bevel and it gets its shape from the thinning of the metal somewhere along the side of the blade up to the edge.

There are several types of grind, the most popular of which are:

  • Scandinavian (or Scandi): This grind doesn’t begin tapering until almost the edge of the blade;
  • Chisel grind: One side of a chisel grind is completely flat, while the other side has a single bevel starting around the middle of the blade which tapers in a straight line toward the edge;
  • Convex grind: A convex grind  has a rounded curve that comes to a point;
  • Flat grind: There are a few sub-types of flat grinds, but they all basically taper down from the spine of the knife to the sharp edge. The taper on a flat grind is even on both sides.  

Each type of grind has its own advantages and disadvantages, ranging from sharpness to durability of the blade. The best bushcraft knife will have a grind that makes the blade strong and versatile while making it easy to sharpen.

 

What differences are there with cutting edges?

The cutting edge is the secondary bevel and originates from the blade grind. Cutting edges vary based, essentially, on the angle the form from the grind to the very edge of the blade.

A cutting edge with a steeper angle makes the edge weaker, will also make the blade sharper and better for slicing, making feather sticks, and other fine-tuned tasks. A broader cutting edge will give you a duller blade, but more durability.

What are the differences in the handles?

The material of the handle will determine how well a bushcraft knife can withstand shock and how easy and comfortable it is to grip.

Wood is the most popular material because it has great grip and  is durable, comfortable, and long lasting. Wood can retain moisture, though, and may be subject to decay if it’s not properly maintained.

Carbon fiber is growing in popularity as well because it is strong yet lightweight. Aluminum and steel are also strong options, but steel can be heavy and both can be slippery.

Other options include animal bones, which are prone to cracking.

What is “tang” and what kind of “tang” do I look for?

A knife with “full tang” is made of one single piece of steel from blade to handle. There may or may not be other materials used in conjunction with the steel, particularly on the handle.

Full tang means a knife will be more durable, but also more expensive. The best budget bushcraft knife, though, can still have ¾ tang or “almost full” tang and still be a good choice for a lower price.

Best Bushcraft Knife Review


Conclusion

There is no one-knife-fits-all and, as you can see from the many options above, prices and features can vary wildly among knives that seem to have little obvious differences between them. Taking into account versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness, we chose the Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade as our top pick because it has a full tang, a versatile sheath, and great overall performance at a reasonable price point.

Bushcraft is about surviving in the natural environment, and this requires using wood for multiple purposes such as starting fires, building shelters and furniture, and creating traps and snares. The best bushcraft knife will be reliable and strong, to help you perform all of your survival tasks quickly and efficiently.