7 Reasons Why You Need Knives When Camping (+ Selection Guide)

So, it’s that time of the year when you go camping again and while writing out your supplies, you start to wonder whether or not you need a knife. If you wanted to stop reading at this point of the article, my answer is ultimately yes.

How did I arrive there, though?

Read on to find out more about why you need knives when camping, the types of knives to take camping with you, and every other thing in-between.

Benefits of Carrying a Knife while Camping

I expect that some of these benefits would be no-brainers while some would create a light bulb moment over your head.

Even if just one of these points created the light bulb moment for you, I would consider my work here done. So, let’s get to it then.

#1 Cooking Utensil

An obvious one, but your EDC camping knife can be used as a cooking tool too. That might not be the original intention of the tool, but it doesn’t mean it won’t hold its own well when called upon.

Whenever it is time to cut some meat, vegetables, or other food items, you will be happy you had the knife handy. Alternatively, you can choose to go with your kitchen knives too so that the EDC stays functional for what it’s meant for alone.

#2 Chopping wood

You should not try to do this with folding knives. Those are better for sharpening wood/ pegs instead if you should use them with wood at all.

You need something with a fixed blade like the Esee 3 or 4 knives to effectively chop wood while camping. I love both knives because they are well-made, sturdy enough and the fixed blade gives them a wider range of real-life applications too.

#3 Digging edible roots

Just what the heading says.

One of the best experiences when camping is to find your food around. I am not against going with preserved food either to better your chances. When you are foraging for food, though, you will find a good camping knife suitable for digging up root and tuber plants.

Word of Caution: Make sure you know what you are doing if you are looking for food in the wild. Some plants and crops might look like what you know but actually, be the dangerous versions. Please be safe out there and go with all of your food if you are not good at identifying food items in the wild.

#4 Processing Game

Some assisted opening knives like these and folding knives are good for processing small to medium-sized games. If you ever landed a bush rat, grass cutter, rabbit, or other small animal, you would find the knives handy in skinning and preparing the animal.

With the bigger game (such as deer and antelopes), you would need a bigger, sturdier knife like the Esee series I have already compared here. They are fixed blade knives, quite alright, but their horizontal sheaths make them easier to carry – and they are highly functional too.

#5 Making tools

Remember when I mentioned that you could use a folding knife to sharpen pegs up there? They can be used for so much more, including their fixed blade options too.

If you ever needed to make tools or other weapons while camping, your knives will come in handy. Think of sharpening woods for hunting arrows, spears for fishing, or making snares/ traps for small animals.

Depending on how handy you are with the knife, there are a host of other tools not mentioned here that you can easily create.

#6 Self-Defense

I hope you never need to use a knife for self-defense when camping. When the situation arrives, though, it is better to have one than to be without it.

Note that you won’t always have to defend yourself against other people. Sometimes, it is the animals in the woods that think you are easy prey to pick on.

When you can run and conceal yourself in a safer space, I recommend that. Otherwise, your knife is an extra layer of security and protection between you and the current threat you face.

#7 Fixing Camping Gear

The chances of a zip going haywire on you, or a screw sticking out of place might be low. When they do happen, though, they could be the most frustrating thing you have to deal with on your camping trip.

There are a series of other scenarios besides these but I know you get the gist already. With a knife, the problems don’t go away – but they are surely easier to fix than before.

Selection Guide: Types of Camping Knives to Consider

Going camping and not sure of what knives would be the best for you?

Well, I don’t know you personally enough to simply pick one kind of knife for you. Just one might be okay, and you could also be the kind of person who would benefit from having a series of different knife styles.

Here’s my take on which ones should make the cut.

Folding Blade Knives

Folding blade knives are great when you don’t expect to encounter any tough tasks.

Don’t get me wrong; folding blades are built sturdy too and will handle a lot of tasks. However, the fact that they have a hinge rather than a solid connection to the handle means they might bend under too much pressure.

That would, thus, make the knife unsafe for use in those challenging situations.

When going camping, look at these fine folding blade knives I have already reviewed to see which one catches your fancy the most.

Fixed Blade Knives

The fixed blades will always remain my personal favorite for camping. They are built to last, can withstand a lot more pressure, and come with blades designed to do heavy-duty work too.

If you have been following the blog for a while, you would know I love the Esee knives and hope they keep making them with this quality.

Now, you don’t need anything more than a 3–4-inch blade for most tasks you’d face out there. As an added incentive, that is the legal knife length limit for most outdoor carry situations, so you are staying legal while camping too.


I have already established that a machete is also a knife – so you might want to look that up if in doubt.

Machetes can do what your basic knives will do but on a bigger scale.

For example, you can split wood, shave wood, dig root and tuber crops and cut meat with a knife. Armed with a machete, you can do those things faster than before.

Only go with a machete on your camping trip if it’s needed and won’t be too much weight. When you can handle everything you need with a smaller knife, stick to that instead.

I’m not a huge fan of machetes myself, but if I would choose one, it would be this 18-inch carbon steel machete from CRKT. It comes with [insert features here]

Is It Legal to Go Camping with A Knife?

Checking out the different local knife laws in the US is the first thing to do in this case. Since these laws are constantly changing or might be specially defined for your region, you also want to reach out to relevant authorities to ask what might be.

More often than not, if you stick to the general carry laws in your region, you should not have any problems. Even if you were stopped by a law enforcement officer and your knives are found, it would be easy to explain them away as camping tools, especially since they are in the company of other camping gear.

Are All Campgrounds Cool with Having Knives In?

You would expect that to be the case but there are some exceptions.

Look at the campground rules to determine whether they allow you to bring your knives along. If they do, check if they have special rules around which kinds of knives they allow, the usage of such knives, and whether or not they have to be declared.

You should understand that these rules are not there to limit you but were created by the campground officials to ensure the safety of everyone, including yourself. Follow them for a shot at the best camping experience.

How Many Knives Do You Need for Camping?

Anywhere from one.

There is no magic rule to the number of knives you need on a camping trip. If you are talking about cooking knives, you could take a few with you alongside your EDC.

Likewise, a machete is not a bad idea either – and yes, a machete is surely a knife. You would need such a big knife to clear camping space faster, dig the ground better and cut vegetation/ stems/ tree trunk if need be, among other things.

So, like I said, anywhere from one.

As a fan of not packing too heavy for camping trips, let your needs guide you. The fact that your favorite camper or backpacker likes to go out with ten knives does not mean you should too.

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