Review Of The 5 Best Camping Knife Under $50 & Buying Guide

by Jason | Last Updated:   October 19th, 2021
Review Of The 5 Best Camping Knife Under $50 & Buying Guide


So, you’re a keen camper, and you feel like it’s time to get a knife to assist you in your camping efforts. You may have heard different terms such as “bushcraft knives” or “survival knives,” but at the end of the day, they all fall into the same bracket.

The problem many people have is finding a camping knife for a reasonable price. You see, some blades can set you back around $100, which makes it a tricky task for people on a budget.

In this article, we’re going to help you out if you’re on a budget by introducing you to the best camping knife under $50.

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

Review Of The Best Camping Knives Under $50

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade

The camping knife is made with a hardened Sandvik 12C27 Stainless steel which is excellent for food prep and cutting tinder. The 4.1” blade was crafted in Sweden and is exceptionally tough, so you don’t have to worry about it rusting.

To help you keep hold of the Survival knife, they use a patterned high-friction grip, which allows the knife to sit comfortably in yot hand. This gives you greater control and better performance no matter what the weather conditions are like.

To help keep you safe while carrying the knife, they included a polymer sheath. The sheath keeps your knife secure and also features a belt clip so you can keep it to hand.

Overall the blade is excellent, and the ¾ tang gives the whole bushcraft knife a lot of strength and protection. 

Pros
  • The Swedish blade is very sharp and is designed so you can sharpen it quickly and efficiently.
  • The comfortable grip makes the bushcraft knife feel great in your hand and prevents finger crowding.
  • The blade outshines other brands that are double the price.
Cons
  • The short blade means you have to put more effort in for some of the activities you may participate in.
  • The sheath is pretty brittle, and if you don’t look after the sheath is can crack or snap. 

Grand Way Spring Assisted Knife

They crafted the 3.42” with a black-coated 440C stainless steel, which gives an excellent balance between hardness and corrosion resistance. It’s also exceptionally sharp and provides outstanding cutting performances.

It features a folding spring-assisted opening blade, so you can use one hand to realize the blade using the flipper.

To ensure your safety, it uses a reliable liner-lock that removes the fear of the blade accidentally closing on your fingers. Even if the spring breaks, the survival knife will still retain complete functionality so you can continue using it.

The manufactures recommend that you apply some oil to the axial screw to gives the bushcraft knife better operation. It comes a bit stiff out of the box, so it’s definitely worth adding a little bit of oil.

Pros
  • The knife is extremely lightweight and very small, making it very easy to carry around all day.
  • The secure locking mechanism means there’s no fear of it closing on your fingers.
  • The handle felt very comfortable in your hand, considering it’s made out of metal.
Cons
  • Some people found the slide lock was difficult to use with one hand.
  • The belt clip on the knife becomes loose after repeated use.

Gerber Gear 31 Fixed Blade Survival Knife

The survival knife comes with a 4.75” stainless steel blade. For the blade shape, they use a partially serrated drop point. Thanks to the blade, you get better edge retention and cutting rope.

The bushcraft knife also features a full tang for increased strength. They also included a stainless steel pommel which serves as a hammer surface for a rock.

When it comes to the handle, they opted to coat it in rubber, which provides a non-slip grip that gives you more precise handling.

For me, one of the standout features has to be the built-in knife sharpener at the rear of the sheath. The feature ensures you always have a sharp blade ready to cut. And that’s not the only feature the sheath has; it also comes with a flint to help you start fires.

Pros
  • It can take a pretty big beating if you use and abuse the survival knife, then this is a great option.
  • Overall it’s a huge knife, which gives you great options on how to use it.
  • The handle is very ergonomic, and you can use the butt for hammering in nails.
Cons
  • Some people found that the sheath was very bulky, and it made it quite uncomfortable to wear.
  • The flint is pretty thin, which means it can snap pretty quickly.

Smith & Wesson 10.5in High Carbon Steel

They used a reliable high-carbon black oxide stainless steel to craft the blade. Thanks to the material they use, you have a strong blade that stays sharp for a very long time.

To craft the handle, they used an aluminum shaft wrapped in rubber to increase your grip. Thanks to the rubber, it made it very pleasant to handle and extremely comfortable.

They made the sheath out of a ballistic polyester, which provides quick and convenient access to the survival knife, and more protection when sheathing the blade. Another nice feature was the removable pouch which holds sharpening steel.

Protecting your hand is essential to Smith & Weston, which is why they include a handguard to instill confidence when handling the blade.

Pros
  • The quality sheath is very impressive; it has lots of reinforcement that provides more confidence.
  • The blade feels extremely strong and doesn’t go dull after being used.
  • The bushcraft knife feels like it has an excellent weight balance which makes it a lot easier to handle.
Cons
  • Some people felt the blade had a slight wobble around the handle.
  • It doesn’t have a full tang which can make cutting less stable in certain situations.

Mossy Oak 14-inch Bowie Knife

The bowie-style knife uses a full tang which provides strength and balance to the blade, making it easier to handle. They also use a carefully crafted rosewood handle that features finger grooves, so your fingers don’t slip.

Mossy Oak used a 3CR13 8.5” stainless steel blade, which adds strength and increases corrosion resistance, so it lasts for longer. 

The blade comes razor sharp and ready to go, making it perfect for piercing, detail work, and cutting/slicing.

To ensure you stay safe while carrying the blade, they included a leather sheath that protects you from the razor-sharp survival knife. The sheath also comes with a snap fastener to keep it secure while also providing a quick release.

Pros
  • The grip is very well crafted, feels great in your hand, and stops your hand from slipping down.
  • They crafted the blade out of very thick metal, and it’s incredibly sharp.
  • The leather sheath is exceptionally well crafted and offers excellent protection when sheathing the blade.
Cons
  • If you have a big hand, you might find that the handle is too small for your hands.
  • The tang is more significant than the handle, making it uncomfortable to hold in your hand.

How To Choose The Right Camping Knife For Under $50?

Above, I’ve listed five of the best knives you can find for under $50, but many of you may be pondering how we decided which ones should make the list.

Well, in this section, I’m going to explain what criteria we looked at so you can make your own decision on a budget knife. 

Most people think they can’t find a decent knife for under $100, but that’s not the case if you know what you’re looking for:

Length 

Most people think the bigger the knife, the better, but this isn’t necessarily true. Large blades are often very heavy and take up a lot of room.

The length of the Survival knife plays a massive part in how functional your camping knife is going to be. So what makes the best length knife?  

And even if you’re wearing the knife around the belt, it can be very cumbersome while you’re walking and can get snagged on plants. 

And to make it worse:

If you’re trying to do precision work, you’ll find it very difficult if you’re using a long blade.

On the other hand, small knives can be equally as annoying when it comes to camping/bushcraft. Small knives aren’t great at splitting sticks or batoning wood with a small knife.

If you’re only planning on taking one knife with you on your camping trip, you should go for a medium-sized knife. Ideally, you should be looking for a knife between 10 and 14 inches.

Tang

If you don’t know what “Tang” is, don’t worry, I’m about to explain. The tang is the part of the blade that extends through the handle. Let’s take a look at a few styles of tang you can find:

Extend Tang: An extended tang runs the entire length of the handle and sticks out the end. In the end, this makes a pommel at the end of the handle.  For many bushcrafters, this feature makes them the most desirable.

Full Tang: A full tang runs the entire length of the handle but stops at the butt of the knife. This gives you a very strong blade that won’t snap at the handle.

Encapsulated Tang: It’s almost the same as a full tang, but instead of screwing into the handle, it’s encapsulated around by a molded handle.   

Partial Tang: They don’t have as much of the blade running through the handle, which doesn’t make them as strong.

Usually, you’ll find the tang attached to the handle with bolts, pins, and glue. A tang that runs through the handle is considered a “full tang”, which is the best option. 

Really cheap knives don’t usually have a full tang; instead, they just have a small piece glued to the handle. And this isn’t ideal if you’re planning to perform any tasks that take some force.

With a full tang camping knife, it doesn’t matter if the handle falls off; you’ll still be able to use the knife if you wrap it with a cord or some electrical tape.

If I had to pick one downside to a full tang knife, it’s probably the extra weight it adds. If you’re concerned about the weight, you could look for a “skeletonized tang. It’s basically a full tang with pieces of metal cut out to reduce the weight. 

Blade

One of the most essential aspects you need to consider when buying a knife is the blade. Let’s face it; it’s the blade that does the job we require of it. You can have the best handle in the world, but with a poor blade, the knife is worthless.

When it comes to the blade, there are four things you need to think about it:

  • Blade Material 
  • Sharpness
  • Blade Size
  • Blade Design

I’ve already spoken about the size in a previous section, so I’m going to focus on the sharpness here before moving on to design and material:

If you’re buying a knife online, chances are you’re not going to know how sharp the blade is because you don’t get the opportunity to test it.

For this reason, you need to find reviews from users that have bought the knife. They’ll have a good understanding of how sharp the blade is.   

Blade Design

Another critical aspect of the blade is the design that’s being used. When people talk about the blade design, they refer to the edge and grind of the knife.

If you’re looking for the perfect knife, you need to think about the grind to ensure the blade can take on the tasks you need. 

Before we get into specific grinds, let’s first explain what I mean by “grind” and why it helps. The task refers to the shape of the knife’s edge. 

Different grinds are better for performing different tasks, which is what I’m about to explain here:

  • Chisel Grind: If you’re planning heavy-duty cutting or woodcutting, you should be looking at this grind style.
  • Flat Grind: This style of grind is mainly found in kitchen knives and is great for chopping.
  • Hollow Grind: Very thin and gives a razor edge cut.
  • Convex Grind: It has smooth transition lines that give a more substantial edge and cleaner cut.

Most campers prefer to go for hollow or chisel grinds; they tend to have more functionality for what they are looking for. 

Steel

If we’re discussing what to look for in camping knives, we have to mention what steel is used on the blade. 

When it comes down to it, there are two styles of steel you should be looking at:

  1. Stainless Steel
  2. High Carbon Steel

So, let’s take a look at what stainless steel has to offer. You have a pretty huge variety of stainless steel, which include:

  • CPM 154 cm
  • CPM 3v
  • CPM S35V
  • CG10
  • And much more

Stainless steel knives are very tough and don’t require much maintenance to keep them in top shape. They also don’t rust, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

High carbon steel blades also come in different varieties, which include:

  • CMP D2
  • 1080
  • 1085
  • 1095
  • O1
  • A2

The advantage of high carbon steel blades is they don’t dull as quickly as stainless steel. But they are prone to rust, which means you need to take good care of them.

Another advantage is because it’s a softer metal, it’s a lot easier to keep the blade sharp. 

Handle

Other than the blade, there’s another crucial thing you need to think about when choosing your knife. And that’s the handle:

The handle ensures you have a comfortable grip while remaining in control of the blade and ensuring you can maneuver it effectively. 

The original handles for camping knives were wood, and while they were very comfortable, they soaked up water.

Many people have started to turn to rubberized handles, they offer a non-slip surface, but they don’t last very long.

You have so many more materials being used as handles, and the trick is to try some out and see which one works for you.

Another thing you need to think about is whether you want a guard on the handle to protect your hands from slipping onto the blade.

The last thing I want to mention is to stay away from hollow handles. They don’t provide any strength and can break pretty easily.

Pommel

The pommel is the butt of the knife, and when it’s solid, you can use it as a hammer or use a rock to hammer the top of it. Some companies just use an extended tang while others mold an extended piece to the knife.

For some people, having a pommel at the bottom of the knife isn’t a necessary feature. Take a minute to see what you’re going to be using the knife for to decide if you need this feature.

Sheath

The sheath is what keeps the blade protected and secure while you’re not using it. The problem is, knives under $50 are usually lacking in this department. 

When looking at knife sheaths, you have there primary materials that are used:

  1. Nylon
  2. Leather
  3. Plastic

When you’re looking at nylon sheaths, you’ll find that many of them are poorly made, which means over time, the sheath will start to break down. To make it worse, you can cut the nylon by taking the knife in and out of the sheath.

If you’re looking at nylon sheaths, you need to make sure it’s well made and offers some sort of ballistic protection.

Leather is a fantastic traditional material to use as a knife sheath. It usually costs a little bit more money than other sheath styles, but it’s very effective.  You should beware of cheap leather sheaths which are usually two pieces of leather stuck together with glue.

If your leather sheath has been glued together, the chances are it will come apart quickly, which isn’t ideal.

The final style I want to talk about is plastic sheaths. Plastic sheaths are usually very durable and easy to take care of. But the most annoying thing about plastic sheaths is how you connect them to your belt.

Spring Mechanism

A nice feature with folding blades is when they come with a spring mechanism. The spring feature makes it incredibly easy to open quickly and efficiently. 

It’s a little bit of a luxury feature because it adds more money to the price tag, but it is a handy feature.

Safety/Folding Design

If you pick a folding blade style, you need to think about how safe it is; you don’t want it to open in your pocket randomly.

Check for some sort of folding mechanism to help prevent the blade from randomly opening or closing. 

Fixed Blade Or Folding Blade?

When you’re in search of a camping knife, there’s one conversation/debate you won’t be able to escape. And that’s the topic of folding blades or fixed blades, which is what I want to discuss in this section:

Fixed Blade

A fixed blade knife is one continuous piece of metal and can be pretty long and heavy with the increased side. With a fixed blade knife, you’ll need to use a sheath to transport it with you.

You’ll also find that a fixed blade knife has the option of using a full tang, which adds to the strength and durability of the knife.

Folding Blade

The good thing about folding blade knives is you can store them away safely, quickly, and efficiently. This makes transporting the knife in your pocket very easy, which is the major selling point for many people. 

There is one major drawback of folding blades, which is the hinged point. It doesn’t matter how well built the hinge is; the weak point has a potential failure in the books.

Having a knife snap in your hand can cause serious injury, which is probably why most people like to go for fixed blades.

What Blade Style Should I Choose?

One thing you have to realize is not all blades are created equally. You have many styles of blades available to you, and each one has its strengths and weaknesses that you have to understand before you make your purchase.

In this section, I’m going to walk you through the different types of blades and points you have available:

Tanto

The blade is named after a short Japanese sword. The blade usually has a straight spine, and as you move down the blade, it has a double bevel. As you move to the tip of the blade, it starts to angle sharply.

Drop Point

You’ll find that drop point blades are very similar to the Tanto shape. The most significant difference with drop point blades is the spine curves down towards the tip. This means the tip is usually lower than the spine.

Spear Point

Spear-point tips are a blade design where the tip is centered on the double-edged blade that features a gentle slope. The blade is very controllable, but it’s a terrible choice for people cutting or slicing.

Trailing Point

You find this style of blade is usually used for skinning or scaling, so they’re not the best camping knife unless you plan on going hunting. What you’ll notice about these blades is the upward curve of the tip. The tip usually ends higher than the handle of the knife.

How To Take Care Of Your Camping Knife

No matter how much you paid for your knife, the number one rule is to take care of it. If you implement the proper measures, your knife can last you a lifetime.

Here’s the thing:

Your knife is only as good as the condition you keep it in. And this is why taking care of your knife is so important. 

So, in this section, I’m going to talk you through some of the most critical maintenance tips:

Always Keep Your Blade Clean

If you want to lengthen the lifespan of your knife, you need to make sure you keep it clean. Cleaning your blade will ensure no harmful bacteria that you may have picked up while using it in the wild is preserved in the blade.

Before you put the blade back in the sheath, take some time to wipe it down. And when you finish the day, use a little bit of soap and running water to clean the blade and handle.

Keep The Blade Sharpe

To maintain your blade and make sure it’s safe to use, you need to sharpen your knife regularly. 

The thing people don’t think about is how much more dangerous your knife is if you don’t keep your knife sharp. Dull blades can lead to injury, and injuring yourself while you’re out in the wild is even worse.

If you want to avoid any mishaps, you need to make sure you keep your blade sharp, and you have two options:

  1. Sharpen the blade yourself
  2. Or pay a professional to do it for you

If you’re new to the knife sharpening game, you might want to pay someone to do it for you. It’s a skill that not many people have, and you sharpen it incorrectly, you could damage your knife.

If you fancy giving it a go yourself, you’re going to need a sharpening stone, honing oil, and a lot of practice.

It’s not advisable to use your campaign knife as practice, as you don’t want to make it worse. Instead, try on an old kitchen knife or hunting knife until you gain some confidence.

The following video highlights how to sharpen your camping knife:

Store The Blade In A Dry Place

One of the biggest mistakes people make is not storing their camping knives correctly. Humidity is one of the leading causes of rust and corrosion. You’ll also find that the chemicals in the sheath can damage the blade over the long term.

If you want to store your knife correctly, you should remove it from the sheath, wrap the blade in the paper, and store it in an airtight container.

Only Use Your Knife For The Job It Was Intended To Do

Your camping knife is designed to cut, so that’s what you should use it for. Even though that’s the case, we’ve all been tempted to use it for something else, like makeshift screwdrivers. 

If you want to keep your knife in top condition and keep yourself safe, you should resist the urge to use it for tasks it wasn’t built to take on.

Oil Your Knife 

If you want to keep your knife in excellent condition, you should oil the blade regularly. Adding oil to your blade prevents rust and reduces friction. 

You can buy lubrication oils from local hardware stores or firearms supply stores. You should look for stuff like Dri-Lube, 3-in-one, or WD-40. Stay away from motor oil though; it doesn’t do your blade any good.

When you oil your blade, use it sparingly and don’t oil the handle, it will make it slippy. 

How To Use Your Camping Knife Safely

The last thing I want to take about before I give you my number one pick is how to use your knife safely. 

You have to remember, using a knife can be potentially lethal if you don’t use them correctly due to how sharp they are.

In this section, we’re going to cover some essential safety tips to ensure you don’t harm yourself or anyone else. Some of these safety tips might seem like common sense, but they’re still worth mentioning.

So, let’s take a look at my top knife safety tips:

Make Sure Your Knife Is Sharp

I mentioned this earlier, but I’m going to mention it again because it’s essential. When you use a blunt knife, you need to use more force, which means you have less control.

A sharp knife means you don’t need to use much effort, and you get an excellent clean cut every time. 

Don’t Catch A Falling Knife

It might sound obvious, but it’s a mistake a lot of people make. The knife slips out of their hand, and out of instinct; they try to catch it.

Use The Right Knife For The Task

As you can imagine, if you’re carving sticks for tent pegs, a machete is going to be a bit of an overkill for the job. Think about the job you’re doing and work out what type of knife is going to perform the best.

Take Care Of Your Surroundings

If you’re camping with other people, you need to be aware of where they are at all times. It just takes a slight lack of concentration before your friend has a knife in their leg.

Make sure no one is around you. In bushcraft, we call it the “blood bubble”.  The blood bubble is referred to as the 360° bubble around you.

Beware Of The Triangle Of Death

The triangle of death may seem overdramatic, but if you nick yourself with a knife in this area, there’s a good chance you’re going to be in trouble.

It’s the area between your knees and crotch that has a lot of important veins. If you hit one of these veins, you can bleed out within minutes.  

Sheath Your Knife

Once you’ve finished with your knife, make sure you put it away in the sheath. This prevents and accidents happen. 

Make Sure You Pass It To Someone Correctly

If you’re passing your knife to someone, make sure you do it correctly, so no one gets hurt. You should give them the knife handle first. And more importantly, never chuck the knife to someone, even if it’s sheathed.

Our Top Choice

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand what to look for when you’re buying a camping knife for under $50. 

I’ve outlined what I believe to be the five best camping knives, and you can use my buying guide to choose the best for yourself. If you like the look of any of the knives, make sure you click on the links to find out more.

In my personal opinion, the Mossy Oak is the best camping knife. The blade is quite large, which might be off-putting for some people, but it does perform very well.

The wooden handle feels very nice in hand, and it looks beautiful. You do have to keep the wood dry, but other than that, it’s a great knife.

Hey, my name's Jason, and before I was a writer, I worked as an outdoor activity instructor where I took groups kayaking and camping. Now I use my personal experiences to share tips and tricks I've learned over the years. For as long as I can remember, I've been passionate about the outdoors, and now I want to share that passion with my readers.