cheap camp/survival knife

9:27 a.m. on December 31, 2013 (EST)
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85 forum posts

As any of you who have seen any of my messages probably know, I like gear, like to make sure I get something recommended, but most of all, I like a great value. I am looking to get a camp/survival knife, and I have a $50 budget. 

So far, I'm liking the SOG Seal Pup, the Gerber Big Rock, and the Schrade SCHF-10, although this one is a bit on the heavy side.

The use of the knife will probably be more in the line of a camp knife (food prep, limb carving, small clearing). I don't expect to be doing alot of tree felling, but I wouldn't mind my knife to be capable in an emergency. I mostly stick to trails when hiking, so I don't see alot of shelter building unless in emergency.

Would love to hear some feedback on these knives above or any other suggested in my price range. thanks everyone!

11:00 a.m. on December 31, 2013 (EST)
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That is too easy. LOL

Just get yourself a Swedish Mora. They are made for what you ask, wood carving for fire prep and food prep. Most of the "survival" knives have way to thick a blade to be a good food prep knife. Mora knives have some of the thinnist blades you can find and they are very proven. You can choose carbon steel or 12c27 Sandvik stainless. I have some of their blades in both steels and really can't tell much difference in how they perform except the stainless does not rust. It is also better for food prep as it is non reactive.

Cody Lundin uses the Classic Mora #1 on Dual Survival and in his classes in northern Arizona. That is the basic version with birch handle and carbon steel. They cost 14 bucks at Ragweed Forge. You can't go wrong. I know a guy who battoned down an 8" tree with one up in British Columbia. Crazy Canucks!

If you want the modern version there are several choices again, just take a look at Ragweed Forge. One I like is the Mora Companion MG in stainless. It is 14 bucks. Comes with a great little plastic sheath. This is probably the most popular right now.

These carve wood better than most "survival" knives. They are MUCH lighter in weight, making them good hiking/backpacking knives and like I said previoulsy, they are much better at food prep too than their thicker breathern.

There, now you will have the finest and most funcitonal knife for your purposes and 35 bucks left to spend on overhead for your next trip.

11:18 a.m. on December 31, 2013 (EST)
Joseph Renow @jrenow
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I 2nd the Mora...a lot of capability in a very light package....and cost next to nothing given the quality of steel. After my tiny "key chain" Victorinox...the Mora is the knife I choose to bring with me backpacking most often.

12:51 p.m. on December 31, 2013 (EST)
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in the mora companion, should i look at the stainless or the carbon steel?

7:59 p.m. on December 31, 2013 (EST)
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I like Moras, and I like the SEAL Pup. However, i would strongly suggest you take a look at the Kabar becker necker. It is an awesome knife for the price, and can easily be found for about $30 in numerous places. Its $32 right now on Amazon for example.

Weighs 2.5oz as it comes, 1095 cro-van steel hrc 56-68. Sharpens fairly easily and holds an edge great. Since its a full tang knife its going to be much stronger than something like a mora (not to knock moras because they are awesome too).

This is my goto knife now and is what I carry. Its does anything and everything i could want, from cutting open packages to batoning wood. I had a paracord wrap on the handle for awhile but i eventually put micarta hands on it just because.

IMO this is the absolutely best fixed blade knife you can buy for $30 that can fill all of the roles of a fixed blade knife. Moras are another good choice, but i would clasify them as more of a utility knife and not best suited for something like batoning(though they certainly can, just a higher probability of breaking it if your not careful since they arnt full tang)

8:03 p.m. on December 31, 2013 (EST)
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And if you went with a Mora I would go carbon if it were me. But if your not one to take good care of your gear diligently i would choose stainless.

Stainless: easy to sharpen, holds an edge OK, wont rust

carbon: a little harder to sharpen, holds an edge much better than stainless, will rust if not kept clean and oiled.

Where as the kabar becker necker/bk 11 is 1095 cro-van. Which is also a high carbon steel. The cro-van alloy has the same benefits as above for carbon but is just slightly harder to sharpen, holds an edge slightly better, and has a moderate rust resistance(for a high carbon steel)

10:13 p.m. on December 31, 2013 (EST)
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So basically you need something to gut a fish, cut some salami, section a line and whittle sticks.  Your needs are modest.  Almost anything will fulfill your intentions, although I am sure others will suggest all sorts of reasons to get a “real” knife.  I have camped practically my entire life.  I always brought along a pocket knife, of one make or another; all fulfilled the needs you describe.  I like mine to have a scissor, can opener, and corkscrew, for the chores these accessories are suited.  But I have been known to also bring an additional blade, like a small fillet knife on fishing trips, or a small French knife for fancy pants cooking of fresh foods on certain trips.  IMO the chief feature that makes a good knife is a sharp blade, so no matter what you purchase a sharpening kit will keep it fit for your uses.


12:50 a.m. on January 1, 2014 (EST)
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What a cool thread! -  I think my first post on Trailspace was a knife thread.

I think a good many people are tempted to buy more knife than they have the skills for, me included. Not saying it's okay to buy junk, but you can sure spend a lot of money.

I'm sure you probably know this, but let me practice my typing...

Regardless of what you choose take care of it and learn how to sharpen it in the field (buy a good, small sharpening stone and carry it).

I think a Mora, preferably in carbon steel is a strong contender. If you will be in a salt water environment stainless certainly has merits. Mora's are sharp and shave / cut very well, but they are not good prying tools.

I could also make a strong argument for a short to medium fillet knife if you were planning on fishing, or would use fishing skills to survive . If you get one of the better ones it will shave / cut quite well, but like the Mora most fillet knives aren't much for prying.

I also like the Bird and Trout knife from Cold Steel, but that's more of a specialty knife than what you are asking about I think.

I do like the Kabar Necker Becker that The Rambler posted a link to. It is excellent steel, has a good curve along the blade, and has a nice flat grind, great for shaving, cutting, or slicing. I bet it is really nice with Micarta handles.

I also really like the looks of the Shrade 8.125" drop point. Full tang, high carbon steel, riveted wood handles, but it has a hollow grind so maybe not the best at shaving wood.

The Swiss Army knife should really be considered, it is of course a folder, but the saw - scissors - tweezers - leather punch - etc. make it really practical. It IS NOT a prying tool, the steel is soft but will cut well when sharp. I like the huntsman, but usually carry it as a back-up to a fixed blade knife.

I have also used a cheap paring knife around camp with quite good results for cutting string or cord, preparing food, and shaving tinder. This Victorinox in high carbon stainless is what I keep in my cook kit.

To be honest I usually carry a larger knife and a smaller knife. I might like one to process wood with and one to do food prep with, or I might carry a filet knife and a SAK if I will be near a lot of water (fish).

If I carry only one knife I prefer it to be a thick fixed blade with a flat or scandi grind.  I prefer carbon steel as it holds an edge better. I like a 4" or so blade drop point, full tang, with a grippy handle. A bright color doesn't hurt either.

Just my opinion.

Mike G.





3:21 a.m. on January 1, 2014 (EST)
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Man I love knife threads...Best "camp/survival" knife for $50? Easy. Whichever 4-5" ESEE or Ontario you want on Ebay...strip the coating, convex the edge, and you have one hell of a tool. It'll last a lifetime and will never fail you.

...and if you had said "best $15 knife", I'd go with a Mora...or an Opinel...

8:07 p.m. on January 1, 2014 (EST)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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hard to screw up.   many options.  for years, i used the longer blade on a small swiss army knife.  

i also used Opinel knives, but the wood handles are slippery when wet, and the locking ring isn't as secure as one might like.  i have a nice scar on my left thumb courtesy of the Opinel #6.

some general things to think about:

-a non-slip handle material is nice, and safer.

-folding knives are safest when they have a liner lock or the equivalent.  

-stainless steel is low maintenance; carbon steel tends to be a little easier to sharpen.  not all steels are the same - some kinds are much better at holding an edge than others.  

4:14 p.m. on January 7, 2014 (EST)
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I ended up going with the Mora Companion HD MG. It is an excellent little knife. I went with the HD because it had a slightly thicker spine (3.2mm). Love it so far, but haven't really taken it out in the woods yet. Getting it out there on the 18/19th of this month tho. Took the savings and got me a Bacho Laplander. Whoo hoo!

3:59 p.m. on January 8, 2014 (EST)
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jp, that knife should serve you well and seems to fit the description of your search criteria perfectly.

and that Bacho Laplander saw, that is a real fine piece. It will outsaw many a saw larger than it is. I have one and it lays on my home hearth. It is used most every day in winter. When traveling it goes in the vehicle with some other items like shovel and multi-tool, things I don't take backpacking but have for car camping and general travel, all wrapped up in a good tarp and stowed under the back seat.

July 2, 2020
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