A knife is one of the most valuable things you can bring on a camping trip. When you’re out in the sticks, there are very few tools that are as versatile and useful as a knife.
Packing the knife in your camping kit is just the first step. Knowing how to get the most value from your knife while you’re on a camping expedition is just as important as having a knife in the first place.
Here’s what you can do to make sure that you’re getting maximum value from your knife.
Bring a knife that you can carry conveniently
The first step is choosing the right knife. It may be tempting to bring one of those extremely large survival knives when you head out on a camping trip, especially since you don’t need to worry about hiding it from others.
However, there are two issues with oversized knives:
- They’re difficult to handle.
- They’re difficult to carry.
The bottom line is that you need a knife that’s easy to use, and that you’ll have with you when you need it. Your knife is useless if you leave it in camp when you head out for a hike. It’s equally pointless if your knife is so large that you can’t use it for simple tasks.
Selecting a knife that you can carry easily helps you dodge both of these issues. It’s fine to bring a knife that’s a bit larger than you might carry in your pocket every day. But, don’t let it get out of hand just because there’s no need to hide your blade.
Also, since we’re talking about bringing a knife that you can carry conveniently, remember to bring your knife with you when you venture away from camp. Forgetting your knife is no better than bringing one that you don’t want to carry.
Use a fixed blade knife
Folding pocket knives are great, and you should bring your pocket knife when you go camping, but, you should have a fixed blade knife as part of your camping kit.
Fixed blade knives are more durable than folders. They almost always have a nice sturdy handle. And, fixed blade knives are more convenient in a camping environment, where you don’t have to hide it in your pocket.
There’s no hinge on a fixed blade, which reduces the chances of breakage if you’re doing some hard task with your knife. And, you never have to flip a fixed blade knife open or worry about it closing on your fingers.
Bring tools that make your knife more useful
There are lots of small tools that enable you to use your knife for more than just cutting things or help you cut things better.
So, throw a few of these in your hunting kit to turn your knife into a multi-tool. Here are a few things to keep with your camping knife:
- Cutting board
- Knife sharpener
- Cast iron or steel cookware (Avoid Teflon and non-stick, since your knife will damage them.)
There are more. But, you see how it pays to be prepared to use your knife in conjunction with your other camping gear, which means bringing gear that works well with your knife and helps keep your knife in good condition.
Remember that your knife can do more than cut stuff
A knife’s primary function is cutting things. However, that’s not the only thing you can do with a knife.
Knives are also useful for carving, drilling, digging, and even standing in for other utensils in a pinch. If you’ve got a camping problem to solve, keep your knife in mind, as it’s a decent solution to a surprising number of troubles.
Need kindling? Carve some sticks into chips for quick fire starting.
Forgot your silverware? Carve a simple spoon for yourself, or (carefully!) use your knife as a makeshift utensil.
Ice in the cooler needs to be broken up? Your knife is a decent impromptu ice pick.
If your knife has a serrated portion on the blade, it can even be used for light sawing.
Keep thinking, you’re bound to come up with even more tasks you can use a knife for. Just remember that your knife is most valuable if you use it in multiple roles.
Keep your knife clean
This is especially true on long camping trips or in wet climates.
Even if your knife is VG10 steel, which is particularly corrosion resistant, it’s best if you don’t test the corrosion resistance of your blade. Whenever possible, you could clean and dry your knife before you put it away.
Also, keep it in a sheath when you’re not using it. This helps keep it clean. A sheath also prevents accidental cuts when your knife is stored.
Keep your knife sharp
This one might sound too obvious. And, most people aren’t negligent. They just don’t realize how quickly the edge can wear down. Even seemingly harmless tasks, like cutting food, slowly wear the edge down. But, if you followed the previous steps, you’ll have a sharpener or sharpening stone.
Pay attention to how it feels when you cut with your knife, especially if you’ve used it for heavy tasks like carving. If it feels like you need to work pretty hard to get your knife to cut, it probably needs a few licks, even if it feels sharp when you test it with your thumb.
So there you have it. There’s no magic to getting the most from your camping knife. It’s just a matter of understanding how knives work, how to maintain them, and then applying a little creativity.
Know the knife laws where your travel for your camping trip.
Check out the knife law information available on AKTI’s website.
Thanks to Josh Montgomery, Guest Contributor
Josh Montgomery is a proud resident of Davenport, Iowa, where you can find him doing all sorts of both indoor and outdoor work including assembling survival gear, poking and tinkering in his workshop, and taking care of his two labradors Nancy and Charles along with his extraordinary wife.