Your backpacking knives for 2019!?

Jun 17, 2016
Hey y'all, I wanted to start a quick thread discussing backpacking knives and what that specifically means for, well, everyone. I know my preferences have changed drastically over the last couple of years and for the last two-ish years I've landed on a system that is working extraordinarily well for me.

Just a quick disclaimer, because context, I am doing most of my hiking in the NE region of the United States. I'm talking the Finger Lakes Nat'l Forest, the Adirondacks, Acadia Nat'l Park, Mount Washington, etc. etc. Additionally open fires are usually not allowed in most of the areas I hike in.

So all that said, I'm personally carrying a White River Knives M1 Backpacker, green paracord wrapped, as my primary cutting implement when doing any overnight hiking. The Backpacker kicked out my coveted ESEE Izula which I was previously using and I have not looked back since. Functionally both knives work very well within the limited use they get while I'm out. The mundane things like cutting summer sausage, whittling tent stakes, light batoning, and well you get the picture. To keep this short; I like the thinner stock, longer handle, CPM S35VN, and kydex sheath of the Backpacker more than the Izula. Which comes in 1095 steel with a polymer sheath. That's not to say the Izula is bad by any means, but the Backpacker slices better, maintains a working edge longer, and is much more comfortable in hand for me than the Izula. Backing up my M1 Backpacker is a Leatherman Style PS. Whose primary role is acting as my primary tick/hotpot grabber and whose scissors come in handy for cutting roller bandages, meal packaging and whatnot.

My take on a backpacking knife when I went on my first overnight trip was more align to that of a survival knife. I.e. something that I will use to get myself out of a life threatening situation whether that be harvesting firewood, fighting off animals, making a primitive shelter and so on. In time I came to realize that the majority of the things I initially thought I would need to "make" with my survival knife were unnecessary because I'm carrying my shelter, water purifier, and bedding with me. Now a backpacking knife falls along the lines of a lightweight cutting instrument used for all the menial tasks I listed above. Personally I think that task is best done by a lightweight fixed blade.

I know for some of you guys and gals an ESEE 5 is the only thing you'd leave home with and for other a small SAK or razor suits you just fine. So let me know what backpacking knife you carry, why you use it, and how is fulfills the roles you need it to given what you do where you are while out backpacking!
Last edited:
I backpack in New England almost exclusively now.

For UL trips, I carry a Leatherman Squirt. Pliers for zipper repair and pushing a needle through fabric. Scissors for first aid bandage prep. Small blade for cordage and food packaging. On UL trips, all food "prep" is managed by lexan type spoon.

For normal light trips, I add an Opinel 9 Inox. Deals with cheese and salami well and robust enough to start a fire in most 3 season situations. If the whim hits me, I'll swap the Opinel 9 for a Mora Companion, but the Opinel weighs less and does most of the Companion does and everything I need for 3 season outings.

On winter XC trips in the valleys, I swap the Opinel 9 for an Opinel folding saw and fixed blade in the 4" to 5" range; either the Companion or a larger old Schrade-Walden.

On short luxury summer backpacking "camping" trips with the family to places where wood is plentiful and I don't have to worry about weight much and we know the location allows fires, I'll carry a larger 6.5" fixed blade and a Silky Saw. I consider these utter luxury items.
Outdoors knives are ridiculously boring if you are honest with yourself, aren't they:D

Once upon a time, I carried a 15" khukuri all over hell's half acre. However, most of my backpacking and hiking is day trip stuff. The knife I need is a pretty basic tool for everyday tasks. I still overpack compared to most non-knife people, but I have found that a simple multi-tool like a Leatherman Rebar gets most of the work.

I'll still pack a fixed blade. If its just a little hike around the state park in southern IN/northern KY, I'll usually with a Fiddleback Forge Hiking Buddy or a Himalayan Imports Kumar Karda or JKM-1. Plenty of knife for what I need. If I'm camping, I tend to pack a bit of a bigger knife to handle more chores, so my hiking knife is more of a multitasker to handle food prep. My Fiddleback Woodsman usually gets the nod.
I'm actually in the woods as I type, watching my dog chase mallards around. I have a spyderco mule and a SAK Spartan. Really don't need much though, I'm only a few miles from my house. Any 3"ish fixed and whatever folder are on me whenever I leave the house. I would never go hiking without a fixed blade. I don't see myself getting stuck in the woods, but I'd sure feel dumb if I did and didn't have a good sturdy knife.
For me, the knives I carry while hiking/camping/backpacking are part of the experience. :cool: I will vary them based on use and whim. :) On one excursion it could be a large custom chopper and a SAK, on another, a 4 inch "bushcrafter" and a custom Buck 110 (somewhat redundant). :( One of my favorite combos is a CS tomahawk and a Helle Arden. I always have a medium stockman in my pocket for just "wittlen" around the fire. :D Using various knives hightens the experience for me. YMMV ;)
For me, the knives I carry while hiking/camping/backpacking are part of the experience. :cool: I will vary them based on use and whim. :) On one excursion it could be a large custom chopper and a SAK, on another, a 4 inch "bushcrafter" and a custom Buck 110 (somewhat redundant). :( One of my favorite combos is a CS tomahawk and a Helle Arden. I always have a medium stockman in my pocket for just "wittlen" around the fire. :D Using various knives hightens the experience for me. YMMV ;)
If you really like whittling checkout the flexcut whittling tools. Stay away from the Schrade version, a marshmallow cuts better. Those little 6 bladed tools make whittling much more fun imo.
Back when I used to do a lot of 1-3 night alpine climbs I carried two SAK classics. One in my pocket, and one in my first aid kit. I don't know why people keep talking about 'food prep', I prepped all my food at home where I could cut salami with my kitchen knife and cube cheese anyway I saw fit.

After some time I replaced a SAK classic with a Leatherman Wingman because it could help me repair my crampons or bindings. I still did all of my food prep at home.
I've only been on short hikes and bike trail rides lately, so I've been bringing my "old" mora 511(?) in addition to whatever I have in my pocket that day.
I don't really ever need a larger knife.


I almost forgot... I will be grabbing a Kansbol once the new burnt orange ones are available!
Last edited:
I have limited true back packing experience. Mostly do day hikes, sometimes long ones. Right now, I would carry my White River Backpacker Pro or one of my Kepharts. The Kepharts are really new and I want to use them. Probably would have my Vic SAK in my pocket and a Leatherman Ps4 on my key chain. If the day's objective is nature photography, I would probably have a Vic Trekker in my pack for trimming out clutter around stuff I might take pictures of.
I don't backpack but I have a bugout bag that I have a cold steel pocket bushman hanging on it. I am looking at other options for that bag though. Maybe a fixed like a Benchmade arvensis.
I have a good friend who thru hiked the A.T. in two sections/seasons 20+ years ago. He took a SAK Classic and a Gerber Pixie that I gave him. He said he wanted a small light F.B. The Pixie was the smallest lightest one I had. He gave me that knife back after his trip and I still have it.--KV
If you really like whittling checkout the flexcut whittling tools
"Nope" can't do it. :thumbsdown: Just "wittlen" by the fire must be done with an old time traditional folder such as a trapper, canoe, stockman, etc. Thanks though. ;) YMMV
  • Like
Reactions: BBW
Welcome to the forums SWCCy.

My camp knife is an Ontario RD6 or Gerber Strongarm. I alternate just so I can play with different knives. I always have a Mora HD for food prep/backup.

Nothing too fancy or expensive ... but they work.
I absolutely LOVE my White River Backpacker Pro. Not sure I would like the paracord version as much, but the G10 version is a perfect small fixed blade. If weight is a concern, I will likely take just that and maybe a folder, but the backpacker and my Dark Timber Honey Badger really make the perfect combo for me when I don't mind the extra weight.

A few years ago I through hiked the River 2 River trail (not super long - 165 miles- but very rugged) and took my ESEE 4 and PM2. I almost exclusively used the PM2.
I used to camp and hike more when I was younger but my current pack has a Bark River Necker II and I always carry a folder ( ZT0770CF ) usually. The working knife around the camp would be a ESSE-5. Camping is on my list of things to do in the spring and I'm ready.
Alpt of you guys are limmited as to what you can carry acording to your state laws. My state jas repealed all knife laws so i can carry any knife i want to.

My backpack carrys an Ontario Marine Raider. It is the older 1095 steel because i truse 1095 better than 1075. I think Ontario was ignorant to chang the steel but acording to their research they feel 1075 is better.

But i like the marine raider, its tough and i like it.

For belt knife i carry a boker plus vox rold but i like a ka-bar USMC better.

For my pocket knife i use to carry a american made schrade old timer large stockman but for the last two yeats i have carried a steelwill Cutjack in D2 and like it more than any knife i have ever carried.
I only do day hikes with my kids right now, and I change up what I carry based on whatever whim strikes me. Currently it's a BK 4, which is far more knife than I really need but is excellent and making walking sticks. I always have a folder for small tasks, and I prefer a Cold Steel Tuff Lite or Ontario RAT because I won't be out much if it it's lost or damaged.