Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Backpacking Knives

Helle Eggen

97

2015

Helle Eggen

In a market saturated with synthetic handle and complex blade materials, Helle harkens back to days gone by with their Eggen. A traditional Norse hunting knife by design, the Eggen relies on Helle’s “triple laminated blade steel” and a Curly Birch handle to deliver a lightweight, blade-balanced tool that excels in both function and form.

Zero Tolerance 0560

85

2014

Zero Tolerance 0560

Based solely on materials used, Zero Tolerance 0560 could be considered one of the best folding knives tested. However, the issues I had with the Frame Lock concern me.

Zero Tolerance 0350

90

2014

Zero Tolerance 0350

The Zero Tolerance 0350 is a perfectly balanced knife and works well as an EDC knife or as a backpacking knife. 

DPx Gear HEST 2.0

93

2014

DPx Gear HEST 2.0

The compact design of the DPx Gear HEST 2 folding knife, which can be transformed into a fixed blade knife, proves how confident DPx is with their products. 

Victorinox Swiss Army RangerWood 55

95

2014

Victorinox Swiss Army RangerWood 55

The Victorinox Swiss Army RangerWood 55 is a full-sized knife, so I wouldn’t recommend you choosing it as your everyday carry in your pocket. Pop this tool into your backpack and have the warm feeling inside your soul that you will be able to rely on it for anything you need in the wild.

Spyderco Para-Military 2

98

2014

Spyderco Para-Military 2

The Para-Military 2 is made of high-end materials, right in our backyard, and I know I can rely on it for anything. After more than 3 weeks of it in my pocket, I am still intimidated by the viciousness of the blade, but am welcomed by the sleek style lines and ultra-thin frame. 

Ka-Bar Becker BK 2 Campanion

94

2014

Ka-Bar Becker BK 2 Campanion

The Ka-Bar Becker Campanion Bk-2 is a heavy beast, but that’s the trade-off when you get into a “chopper” or a camp knife. It’s still lighter and less bulky than having to carry a hatchet and possibly a machete along with you as well. 

Emerson EDC-2

95

2014

Emerson EDC-2

Rugged individuals who puts a lot of demand on their knives and tools will benefit greatly from the Emerson EDC-2.  Someone looking to just put a nice knife in their pocket to open mail from time to time should keep moving—nothing for them to see here.

Esee Izula-II

98

2014

Esee Izula-II

I have carried the Esee Izula-II on me for the past five years and it has become a reliable friend in many situations–around the house, in the office, and especially out in the woods. For the fast-packing and light weight gear fans, this little bastard fits right in.

Spyderco Sage 1

93

2014

Spyderco Sage 1

I think the Spyderco Sage 1 would make a great pocket knife for the average user. In my mind, this knife is a pretty but tough S.O.B!

Spyderco Delica 4

99

2013

Spyderco Delica 4

The Spyderco Delica 4 exemplifies what an outdoor, backpacking pocketknife should be. It is user friendly and will become the knife you depend upon for years to come. 

Kershaw Thermite

97

2014

Kershaw Thermite

After forcing myself to use the Kershaw Thermite as an every day carry–it initially felt too big for that–I found knife doesn’t impose on my back pocket as much as I thought it would.

CRKT Carajas

93

2014

CRKT Carajas

The CRKT Carajas is a versatile high-roller. If it were a person, it would drink Patrón and wear Gucci weekdays but it would spend its weekends in the woods, living off of the land.

CRKT Drifter

91

2014

CRKT Drifter

The CRKT Drifter provides more functionality than its retail price suggests. The company’s knives typically are good choices for the average outdoor enthusiast and the Drifter maintains that standard. 

Gerber Outrigger XL

85

2014

Gerber Outrigger XL

After substantial use of the Gerber Outrigger XL, I found I really like this knife and the fact that it provides a open-assist on an aluminum frame for less than $60.  

Benchmade 300 Axis Flipper

100

2014

Benchmade 300 Axis Flipper

This is the first production knife we've tested that bridges the gap between custom and production. You’ll find this knife to be an incredibly reliable, long-lasting treat.

Benchmade 551H20 Griptilian

96

2014

Benchmade 551H20 Griptilian

I own multiple incarnations of the Benchmade Griptilian, and this is by far the best one.

SOG Flashback

71

2013

SOG Flashback

The Flashback is a sharp looking knife that boasts some expensive features (assisted opening), but its locking feature isn’t very smooth.

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife

99

2013

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife

An incredible knife. Period. 

Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter XT

89

2013

Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter XT

I think this knife could benefit any outdoor enthusiast based on the amount of tools you get for the size and price.

Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter Pro

92

2013

Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter Pro

The Hunter Pro exemplifies a modern version of your grandfather’s Buck knife—a common knife to wear on your belt that you can trust and use for years.