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Looking for a solid camping knife

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Mifune326, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. Mifune326


    Apr 17, 2018
    Hi Everyone,

    New guy here. I am in the market for a solid camping knife. I'd be using it mainly for fire prep, batoning and food prep. I'm considering the Esee-6, Fallkniven A1 and S1, and maybe something from the Swamp Rat line (if I can find it!). I know that one knife cannot do everything well but I am looking for something that is versatile and can do most things well.

    I understand some folks feel the A1 might be a little large to be a good all-arounder.

  2. NJBillK

    NJBillK Custom Leather and Fixed Blade modifications. Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 27, 2014
    Small utility: Becker BK11
    Handy size for camp site utility, and a bottle opener (More Utility!)

    Medium: Swamp Rat Ratmandu, Busse Park Ranger, WTH, or MSe
    4" blade will work for anything from cleaning fish, tent stakes, hiking carry, to breaking down smaller fire wood.

    Large: Busse basic 7 through 13, Busse WTF, Becker BK4/BK9
    Processing larger firewood, chopping, clearing undegrowth, lopping fish heads (if you don't cook the fish with them on).

    All of these are readily available.
    - The Beckers can be found on the exchange as well as new from vendors.
    - The Busse RMD (Ratmandu) can be found on Busse' site. All of them can be found on the exchange.
    LG&M, buckfynn and 91bravo like this.
  3. Puleio

    Puleio Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 2, 2014
    If you didn't want to do batoning with it, I'd say grab a Mora Companion as a simple & cheap option.

    However, since you are looking at pricier options, I'll throw the Bradford Guardians in the suggestion box: the Guardian 5 or 6 may work for you. The Guardian 5 is on my wishlist after my very positive experience with the Guardian 3. Last summer I used it as a camp knife on 8000 miles of road trip last summer for food and fire prep. We were not camping every night, but quite a bit. I've also used it as an EDC (nearly daily) for the last 11 months, and on a few other camp outs, and am very happy.

  4. gazz98


    Sep 3, 2008
    Welcome to the forums. If you are considering a Fallkniven then you have a decent price range.

    I'd suggest going to TKC knife builder, get an ESEE 6 with G10 scales (the original handle scales are not comfortable) + sheath and then add a $18 Mora HD for food prep/backup. I don't like to use my camp knife for food prep and the excellent Mora is inexpensive and light to carry.

    The Bill made some great suggestions too. LT Wright has some great knives and you can always check out the Knifemakers forum here and find something a little more unique.
    Mr. Tettnanger likes this.
  5. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I depends on what size of knife you are willing to carry in the woods/field. I agree with NJBillK that the ones he mentioned are good choices. I recently purchased a Bark River Wilderness Explorer (WE) model which uses CPM CruWear steel and is supposed to be very good. It has a 5.75" blade, so it straddles the area between the 4" and larger knife (leans toward the 4" size more). I'm generally not comfortable carrying a blade larger than 7" unless it's a machete. It is a lot easier to carry a 4"ish blade. I have gravitated to about a 5.5" blade as my woods all-arounder, so the WE is just a tad larger. I can do anything in the woods I need to do short of serious wood chopping with this blade. If I'm hunting, I'll carry something smaller more than likely and perhaps the machete if I know I need to chop.

    I think you would be very comfortable with a 4" fixed blade and add a machete for more serious chopping or a folding saw (or both). But I wouldn't carry the machete unless you need to.
    buckfynn likes this.
  6. hhmoore

    hhmoore Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    Versatile, and doing most things well. BK7 - but.... I've long since given up on the one knife for everything game. I've realized I'm happier when I carry the right tools for the job. A folding saw, a BK9, and a Mora is a good combination...that said, I love my RMDs
    buckfynn likes this.
  7. SharpieB

    SharpieB Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2017
    I love my ESEE 6 but it is big and heavy. I wouldn’t use it for much food prep beyond frozen or boney meats.

    I use a Mora or a Buck for food prep and my ESEE 4 and 6 for bushcraft. You can’t go wrong with a Mora Companion. Amazing knife for $15.
  8. Pilsner

    Pilsner Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2017
    If you’re sold on a 6” blade then the A1 is an excellent choice. It is surprisingly good for fine work, given the size. Lots of good suggestions and advice above, have fun in your search.
    buckfynn likes this.
  9. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    The BK-7 isn't a bad choice IF you are willing to carry it. I have one and generally don't want to carry it. Like I said before, I'm not comfortable with a larger knife on my belt unless it's a machete.

    The Fallkniven F1 is also a good woods blade and smaller than the A1.
    buckfynn, Pilsner and SharpieB like this.
  10. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Take a look at the Lion Steel line. Good stuff and not real expensive.
    knoefz, buckfynn and Spikediesel like this.
  11. GB940Rookie

    GB940Rookie Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 19, 2016
    If you’re interest in batoning, the ESEE 6 is a great choice. I agree with the suggestion of building your own through TKC, although I find the stock scales work quite well for me. I have 2X hands if that helps.

    I removed the blade coating on my 6. It was grabbing the wood when batoning. I had tiny wood slivers embedded in the coating. Much better now:)
  12. Phil Indablanc

    Phil Indablanc Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 4, 2017
    Bradford Guardian 6. I also have a RAT RC-6 and would feel comfortable recommending it, but I think the Guardian is a higher quality knife with a really nice CPM-3V blade. [​IMG]
  13. GB940Rookie

    GB940Rookie Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 19, 2016
    The Guardian looks nice.
  14. Mifune326


    Apr 17, 2018
    Thank you everyone for your great suggestions! I'm digging the Bradford Guardian. Although a 6 1/2" blade may a bit long for me. I'm thinking the Guardian 5 might fit the bill.
    buckfynn likes this.
  15. Eagle Scout

    Eagle Scout Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Mar 10, 2010
    Would like to pick up a G6 at some point. That said, the G4 in M390 has been very good to me (but I don't baton firewood with a knife).

    buckfynn and MolokaiRider like this.
  16. Mifune326


    Apr 17, 2018
    I agree with everyone's suggestions that batoning would be better done with something larger, and food prep with something smaller. With that being said, into what niche would knives like the Esee-6 fit? General purpose utility?
  17. Pilot1


    Sep 24, 2005
    I am somewhat in the less is more category for a hiking, camping, woods knife, so four inches is plenty for me, but no longer than five. I have, or have had, and liked.

    Bark River Bravo 1
    Bark River Gunny
    Ruike F118
    Fallkniven F1
    ESEE 3
    ESEE 4
    Swamprat Ratmandu
    Mora HD Companion
    Buck 119
    Cold Steel Master Hunter

    All are fine knives but I gravitate towards the CSMH, F1, Gunny, and Bravo. The Mora always comes along as back up, and food prep knife.
    jux t likes this.
  18. MolokaiRider

    MolokaiRider Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 13, 2017
    I just posted this in the Ka-Bar forum. I am really starting to enjoy this knife and it's size.

  19. 91bravo

    91bravo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 2008

    Becker Combat Bowie
  20. bikerector

    bikerector Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 16, 2016
    Yes. They aren't really good at anything except being decent at most everything.

    I'll throw some bias out there but the ratweiler is a heck of a knife if you can afford it.

    It's not the best chopper but it does well for it's length, but that's because it's thick and heavy. It slices okay but not great, because it's thick and heavy. It batons very well. There are obviously similar options for much less money like the BK7, esee 6, OKC RD7, etc.

    I like 4-5" knives but I find them lacking for splitting wood, if you need to do that much. 7" seems to be exponentially better for me for that. However, the 5" is plenty if you only need to split kindling our you get smart and use a wedge which is something I'm finally starting to play around with.

    Other knife options, the BK4 machax is a pretty solidly designed knife. It's light, chops well, seems to be decent for finer wood tasks, but I don't think it's something I want to use for food prep.

    I think getting a "general utility" knife and a small folder works well, a small fixed blade is better but it depends on what "food prep" is. Folders open pouches and spread jam just fine and what-not just fine.

    Generally, I take a larger knife and a small (3-4") knife in a combo setup. The small knives are super light and packable so it doesn't add much and there are times when the big knives are just unwieldy and the added length gets in the way more than it helps.

    These are just my opinions. I encourage people to get some and try and see what you like as we all have different ideas of what works for them, what's fun to use, and more importantly, what works in our specific areas of adventure.
    buckfynn likes this.

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