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What type of knife should I carry?

Every long-distance backpacker and thru-hiker should carry a knife. It's one of the most essential tools you can carry. A lot of new hikers tend to carry bigger knives than they actually need. We found that the best knife is one that can carry out multiple functions and still remain lightweight.

Paul Bodnar       Educational       7/7/2021
Paul Bodnar
Educational
7/7/2021
knives laying on scale

Buck Knife

Weight:  5.7 ounces (162 grams)

Blade Length: 4.5 inches

Pros: large fixed blade

Cons: expensive, weight, no extra functions like scissors, tweezers, etc.

Buckmaster Knife

Retail Cost: $60

Swiss Army Knife

Weight:  0.74 ounces (21 grams)

Blade Length: 1.5 inches

Pros: lightweight, includes tweezers, scissors, toothpick, file and screwdriver

Cons: short blade length

Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

Retail Cost: $18

Summary

If you plan on thru-hiking or backpacking you should really carry a knife with you. For most hikers, the affordable and lightweight Swiss Army knife with a lot of useful functions is the best option. There is little need for a large, heavy knife when you actually get on trail.

If you are traveling by plane you will need to check your knife in a bag. TSA does not allow knives to be carried onto planes, no matter how small they are!


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Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association
A lake reflects a nearby wildflower meadow and trees.
Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

Download our popular hiking and biking guides!
About the Author
A man wearing an Arizona Trail baseball cap stands in a field in front of a mountain.

Paul Bodnar

Paul has always liked hiking and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1997 after college. After years of working in chemistry, he wanted to create a career involving the outdoors, so he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail again in 2010 to do research for his guide book Pocket PCT. He realized that creating a smartphone app for navigating the outdoors would make it easier to keep the data current and provide a better way to navigate. While hiking with Ryan (aka Guthook) in 2010, they decided to work together to create the first comprehensive smartphone guide for the Pacific Crest Trail. Now with the help of a team of great people they have created over 50 guides for trails around the world.