Knives are powerful tools. Humans have used them for as long as recorded history has been around. These utensils are versatile, and can be used as weapons or tools for crafting or cooking. One of the best types on the market is the Bushcraft knife.
Bushcraft knives are wilderness knives, and their tools are sufficient for both novice and expert wilderness fanatics. “Bushcraft” is a term that defines wilderness skills, and the tools represent that. They can be used for all outdoor survival tasks like building fires, tracking animals, hunting them, and skinning their hides, crafting a shelter, and more.
To understand what makes a Bushcraft so great, you first have to understand the other types of knives out there. First off, we have survival knives.
Survival Knives are tools designed to be used for “everything”. “Everything” is a loose term, however. These tools are good for smaller tasks like breaking open a door or cutting through tough substances, busting windows, and doing typical wilderness activities. It has a fixed blade which is more resistant than most other knives of this tier.
These knives are smaller than others (hence the term “pocket”), and are foldable. They’re versatile, and can be used for defense or general everyday tasks. You can carry them around with you anywhere you’d like, and are designed for functionality over anything else.
These knives are versatile as well, but are best used as woodcutting survival knives. They’re designed to be long-lasting, stay sharp after extended usage, and should be a blend of a camping knife, a hunters knife, and a military knife - though not too much of either one. These knives are great for pointing, notching, and feathering wood.
A Bushcraft knife needs a shorter blade, somewhere between three and six inches. If you need anything longer than that, you may as well go for a machete. These tools also excel in skinning animal hides, cut wood for fire-making, building a refuge, and for basic self-protection.
Bushcraft Knives are all over the market. It’s important for you to know exactly what to look for in these tools so you can decide which is best for your needs. This list will detail what exactly you need to keep an eye on.
Knives are made of all types of steel, but the two major types are Stainless Steel and High Carbon Steel. Let’s break them down:
Stainless steel is very hard. It’s used in a majority of tools, not just for survivalists but for cooking and residential usage as well. It’s harder to sharpen, but doesn’t need to be as maintained as other types of steel. Stainless steel almost never rusts, and it has a chromium content of around 13%. This means its highly resistant against corrosion. As long as you take care of it, it won’t rust or lose it’s color. However, if you leave it in a toxic environment for a long period, it will start to get ruined.
Opposite of stainless steel, these knives are incredibly easy to sharpen, and are much tougher. However, it’s not nearly as resistant to corrosion as stainless steel is. It can stay sharp for much longer than stainless steel, but it’s also more prone to rusting. You must oil this blade frequently, especially if you live in a moist area.
The type of steel you should get is based entirely on your need for it of course, but hopefully this breakdown helps you make a decision.
Obviously blade size varies in importance based on what you’re looking for, but when looking for a Bushcraft knife you’re going to want a medium sized one. Big blades are annoying and get in the way when traveling, especially if you want to go for a good distance. Smaller ones are great for carrying but aren’t nearly as versatile as a bigger one. Three to six inches is a wonderful balance, and it’s also just fun to use.
When choosing a knife, this should be high on your list of specifications. How sharp does the knife come? How sharp can it get? Does it stay sharp? Does it dull easily? How easily can I sharpen it? Knives get used often - having one that stays sharp for a while will save you a lot of time in the long run.
Blade grind is an interesting aspect to keep an eye on. It’s defined as how exactly your knife is designed from the cutting edge upwards. The design differs based on which tasks it’s meant to handle. A hollow grind means the blade is great at skinning (it’s the sharpest grind), while a chiseled grind means it can handle tougher tasks like grinding away at wood, chopping, drilling, and more. Convex grinds are resilient, sharp, and are tough against binding. Convex designed blades need to be thicker and wider than other blades to get full use out of them, however. There are other grind types, but these are the most frequent ones you’ll come across.
Bushcraft knives are best when they have a lengthy and flat cutting edge, a drop point, and a flatter grind. This combination allows it to be as versatile as possible. A bushcraft knife with these properties makes it ideal for fire-making, shelter building, batoning, chopping up wood, and more. They’re great forest tools.
These are also great for dressing game in the woods due to the knife being in a center point in the grip. That also allows these knives to drill, whittle, carve, butcher, or hollow things out with ease. A bushcraft blades shape should be broad and sharp to handle these tasks even better.
Whatever the handle is made of should also affect your decision quite a bit. Most bushcraft knives have wooden handles. They’re strong handles and they look great! However, they absorb moisture poorly which can ruin the knife as a whole. You can get a handle with synthetic material, like rubber or plastic, which are much better for both gripping the knife and for its longevity.
Then there are the super high-end knife handles. These handles are made of things like Micarta. This tier of knife handle is designed not to chip or rust even in the worst of environments. A knife handle is one of the most expensive parts of the tool, but it’s worth getting one that will last you a long time.
People argue what exactly a knife tang is, but it’s generally assumed that there are five types: Full, Partial, Skeletonized, Rat tail (stick), and Tapering (narrow) tang. Bushcraft knives are best with full, partial, tapering, or stick tangs.
A full tang is ideal for standard knife work: batoning, sawing at smaller trees, cutting branches, splitting wood. Full tangs are super durable because they stretch from a the bushcraft knife’s handle all the way to its blade. These are prone to break, however, if you use them for tasks such as levering or mangling.
Skeletonized tangs are almost on par with full tangs. This tang runs all the way through the handle of the knife, but it cuts out different parts to make for a lighter product. A lot of the time, people take those cut pieces and wrap the handle with them for extra durability.
Also known as “hidden tang”, rat tail tangs run through the entire knife, but the handle section is thinner and bolted down into it. It’s definitely on the lower tier of power when it comes to bushcraft knives, but it’s not the worst option.
Partial tangs run the length of the knife’s handle, but get more and more narrow as it gets to the end of the handle. They aren’t too expensive, but they work for your standard bushcraft tasks such as batoning or prying.
This blade is wider along it’s entire length than the rat tail tang, but it still gets more and more slim as it runs closer to the handle. Such is life, however.
Created and named after Stanley P. Rockwell, the Rockwell Hardness Scale rates the hardness of a metal by measuring how deep the indentations can be made in the substance.
It usually comes with knives among purchasing them.The lower a knife’s number, the lower it is on the scale in terms of hardness, the more you’ll need to sharpen it.
Hey Everyone! My name is Kyle Grey and I am the guy behind outdoor intensity. I am an avid camper and have been camping for well over 10 years. Camping and the outdoors is something that I am super passionate about and because of that I decided to share my experience and knowledge that I have gained over the past 10 years.