Anyone who loves bushcrafting knows that a good bushcraft knife will quickly become like a best friend. Always there for you no matter what, ready to do anything you ask, and asking very little in return.
Treat these versatile knives with a little respect and they will give you many years of service. Cutting food, splitting firewood, making feather sticks, striking a firesteel and even whittling a little gift for your kids back home – these knives can do it all. The even make great fixed blade hunting knives.
Words of Wisdom
Bushcrafters prize a strong, full-tang blade and a versatile handle. For the many jobs that bushcraft encompasses, the ability to change your grip on the knife is essential. A fully symmetrical grip, however, can result in accidents, as it can be unclear which way the sharp edge of the blade is facing. A handle with defined sides but no finger notches will be easiest and safest to move around.
The belly of the blade should be fairly straight (a slight curve is fine) for woodworking and the blade length should be proportionate to your hands. A blade no longer than the width of your hand is ideal for carving jobs and should be long enough for most bushcraft purposes.
This knife is to be relied upon for survival, so while good looks are a bonus, they won’t be the first requirement. A fixed blade with a keen edge (that can be easily maintained) and a handle that feels secure in your hand will give you the confidence to use your knife safely.
Over the years, as your skills grow and your needs change you are likely to begin the quest for the perfect bushcraft knife over again. Whatever your stage along the path to becoming a true wildman (or woman) and whatever your budget, start the search with these beauties.
Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty
The Morakniv Companion may not be up there in the beauty rankings, but it is known all over the bushcrafting world as a tough and competent companion.
The Companion Heavy Duty differs from its little brother the Companion due to the slightly thicker blade. The blade is a semi-tang and measures 0.125 inches wide by 4.1 inches long. It has a classic scandi grind which allows for easy sharpening and the strength to cope with heavy duties like batoning (splitting wood).
The Companion Heavy Duty’s ergonomic grip features a non-slip texture and is designed to be easy to handle. There is a small guard to stop your hands sliding onto the blade, and all but the tiniest of users should be comfortable using this model.
The very low cost of this knife makes it ideal for beginners. You can learn knife skills while not worrying about spoiling a more expensive tool, and this knife is versatile enough to try many different tasks. The Morakniv Companion HD can also hold a very keen edge and is easy to sharpen.
As you would expect from such a low-cost piece of kit, the plastic sheath that accompanies this knife is adequate, but not the best. Beginners can sometimes replace the knife the wrong way round causing it to flop in the sheath, exposing a half inch of blade. With a bit of care taken, though, this blade will prove an excellent teacher.
Swedish military pilots, since 1995, have carried this good-looking and reliable knife as thier standard issue survival knife. And, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. The word that comes to mind to describe this knife is ‘serious’. If pretty knives are not your thing, but you still appreciate quality and competence, this may well be the knife for you.
Just one look at the VG-10 laminated steel blade coupled with the minimalist black grip lets you know that this knife is here to do a job, and to do it well. The 3.8 inch blade is strong enough to withstand any job you ask of it, and the F1 is the only knife on our list to come with a full convex grind.
While a scandi grind may be easier for the beginner to sharpen, you owe it to this knife to learn your skills. The full convex grind will repay you with the power to easily perform tough tasks like splitting wood.
The full tang blade is visible in the purposeful black grip of the F1. The rubber Thermorun handle material allows for a safe and comfortable grip, and the whole knife feels well balanced in the hand. A lanyard hole allows you to string the knife for extra security.
While the Zytel sheath might not be to everyone’s taste, it does have a utilitarian, no-nonsense look which suits the overall feel of the F1, and the nylon strap, which could prove a bit on the fiddly side (especially in the cold), will keep your pride and joy where you want it.
Spyderco Bushcraft G-10
Designed in collaboration with bushcrafter Chris Claycombe, the folks at bushcraftUK.com, and Spyderco, the emphasis of this knife is firmly on practicality and versatility. It has a more traditional ‘bushcraft’ look than the Mora Companion and Fallkniven F1.
The gently rounded design of the Bushcraft G-10’s grip should prove comfortable for prolonged periods of whittling, without the dreaded blisters making an appearance. The lack of a guard will also make the knife easier to handle for the different grips needed in bushcraft, and particularly in whittling. That is not to suggest that this knife can’t perform the more extreme tasks required of a bushcraft knife, though.
The O-1 tool steel from which this 4 inch full tang knife blade is made provides a balance between easy sharpening and the ability to hold an edge over a long period while the scandi grind ensures that the blade will resist twisting under the pressure of batoning or cutting wood. The scandi grind will also allow for the shallower cuts needed when making feather sticks or whittling.
Accompanying this knife is an attractive, black, moulded-leather pouch-style sheath. While the sheath appears to be excellent quality, the rivets holding it together may corrode over time, but regular waxing or oiling at the same time as you do your blade maintenance should keep it in top condition.
Earlier we said “looks aren’t the first priority in a bushcraft knife,” and then we chose this one to show you last, and it is undeniably beautiful. But if you’ll give us the benefit of the doubt we can show you that this knife is very capable too – it is indeed possible to be both – a bit like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.
The first thing you will notice when you hold this knife is the warm feel of the beautiful natural grip. Made from curly birch and antler, this stunning handle should provide plenty of feedback, is maneuverable and will stand up to the elements well. A lanyard hole is present in case you really can’t bear to lose this lovely looking tool.
The Helle Temagami is a semi-tang knife. The tang extends all the way to the pommel and back of the handle but is short of the finger edge of the handle, to keep cold steel away from those sensitive digits. At 3.5 inches the triple laminated carbon steel blade is the ideal length for bushcraft. The flat grind is well-loved in bushcrafting circles for its combination of strength and easy sharpening.
Staying with the natural materials and simple but eye-catching design, the sheath for the Temagami is a slip-in pouch design made in durable leather.
Designed by Les Stroud (yes, that’s Survivorman himself) this knife will be able to stand up to just as much as you can, and if you just want to take it out and look at it, that’s OK too.
And Our Top Pick for the Best Bushcraft Knife is…
Well, it’s hard to choose an overall “winner” from these fantastic offerings. The Helle Temagami wins in our eyes for its stunning good looks. However, the Fallkniven F1 comes back to the front with its combination of great quality, price, and capability. The Morakniv Companion HD cannot be beaten for its value and forgiving nature. Then again the Spyderco Bushcraft G-10 is an all-rounder that could give them all a run for their money. We’ll leave the final decision up to you – what do you think? Which of these bushcraft beasts would you trust your life with?