9 Best Ultralight Knives for Hiking and Backpacking

9 Best Ultralight Knives and Pocket Knives Hiking Backpacking

A good cutting tool is an absolute must when trekking through the backcountry.  Even if you are only cutting moleskin for blisters, you will still need a sharp and reliable tool.  The ideal hiking blade needs to be lightweight and durable enough for rigorous backcountry use.

Our knife list runs the gamut from lightweight traditional knives to multi-tools to ultralight scissors.  Many of these knives are fairly inexpensive (under $30); only one tops the $100 price point.  Nearly all of the items on this list are under 2.0 oz, even the multi tools!  Like any piece of gear, each product has it's tradeoffs.  We give you our pros and cons to help point you in the right direction.  Not all of these knives will be right for you.  Some knives like the IFAK knife are extremely ultralight (0.28oz).  As such, they may be less durable than other options.  Make a list of the tasks you expect to use your knife for and choose accordingly.  For example, are you venturing out on four season trips?  Pick a more durable option that won't break in the cold.  If you are a backcountry hunter, you may opt to carry one of these ultralight knives as a backup to your primary hunting knife.

Ultimately, a backpacking knife is mostly used for convenience (opening and cutting food, cutting paracord, etc.).  However, it is also a tool that could potentially save your life in an emergency.  A knife is not a negotiable item for any serious backcountry traveler.  All right, let's get on with it...

 

 Gerber LST Knife

 

Gerber LST Ultralight Knife - Check price on Amazon

The Gerber LST is a classic, designed by Pete Gerber himself back in 1980.  With a 420HC steel drop point blade and textured synthetic handle, the LST is perfect for the trail.  It's so small and light (1.2oz), you may find yourself using it as a daily pocketknife.

Specs:

  • 1.2oz
  • 2 inch blade length

Pros:

  • lightweight
  • durable handle
  • made in USA
  • proven track record

Cons:

  • short blade length

 

Spiderco Ladybug

 Spyderco Ladybug 3 - Check price on Amazon

Next we have the Ladybug from Spiderco.  We had one of these knives for years before we finally lost it (still haven't got over it).  The handle is made from Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon and has a nice texture to it.  Like all Spiderco knives, the Ladybug has a thumb hole for easy opening.  The blade is made of VG-10 stainless steel.  If you like the Spiderco styling and want to upgrade to a slightly larger model, check out the Spyderco Dragonfly 2.

Specs:

  • 0.6oz
  • 1  7/8 inch blade length

Pros:

  • very lightweight
  • holds an edge well
  • easy to open

Cons:

  • short blade length

 

 

First Aid IFAK Folding Utility Survival Knife

 First Aid IFAK Folding Utility Survival Knife - Check price on Amazon

These little guys are small and cheap enough (less than $2 per knife) that you can buy a five pack and stash them in your pack, glove compartment, and camping gear box.  We keep one in our pack at all times.  They are especially handy for cutting food packaging and leukotape.  With a folding blade, they are safer to store and use than a standard razor blade.  IFAK knives are made out of three bevel, hollow ground, shaving quality stainless steel and weigh less than 8g (0.28oz)!

Specs:

  • 0.28oz
  • 2 inch blade length

Pros:

  • extremely lightweight
  • affordable
  • folding design is safer than standard razor blades

Cons:

  • blade is not replaceable
  • blade cannot be sharpened
  • not as durable as traditional knife with a thicker blade

 

 Leatherman Micra

Leatherman Micra Multitool - Check price on Amazon

When you need more functionality, reach for a multitool!  But don't reach for a full size Leatherman, take this little guy instead. The Micra is made from stainless steel and contains 11 tools - a knife blade, scissors, flat and phillips screwdriver, ruler, nail cleaner, tweezers, bottle opener, nail file, medium screwdriver, extra-small screwdriver, and key ring.  From making field repairs on your gear to pulling out pesky slivers, the Micra can do it all.  It also has a 25 year warranty.  If you want to head down an internet wormhole, check out the Leatherman story on YouTube.

Specs:

  • 1.8oz
  • 1.6 inch blade length

Pros:

  • more functional than a traditional knife
  • made in USA
  • durable
  • can be used off trail, has a key chain attachment

Cons:

  • very short blade
  • edge retention

 

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Knife - Check price on Amazon

The Vicotrinox Classic SD might be tiny but it has a ton of functionality.  The SD has seven functions: 1.25" blade, nail file with screwdriver, scissors, key ring, tweezers, and toothpick.  With all of this functionality, it works well for on the spot repairs, and is also useful for tending to emergencies and foot maintenance.  The Victorinox brand of knives is the OG of the multi function knife world and has spawned many spin offs of similar inferior products.  Seriously, just read the reviews on their knives - they have a rabid fan base.

Specs:

  • 0.74oz
  • 1.25 inch blade length

Pros:

  • lifetime warranty
  • tons of functionality in a small package
  • affordable

Cons:

  • very short bade
  • difficult to clean
  • plastic handle

 

Benchmade Bugout Knife 

Benchmade Bugout 535 Knife - Check price on Amazon

Built to last, the Benchmade Bugout 535 is the most expensive and heaviest knife on this list.  It's still worth a hard look however.  The Bugout 535 is made in the USA and has a CPMS30V drop point blade, features the brand’s signature AXIS lock.  Benchmade designed it as an Every Day Carry (EDC) knife, although it lends itself equally well to the backcountry.  If you want to invest in a single knife for daily use and for backpacking, this one will keep you happy for years to come.

Specs:

  • 1.85oz
  • 3.14 inch blade length

Pros:

  • pocket clip
  • comes in different handle colors
  • high quality steel razor sharp out of the box

Cons:

  • expensive
  • relatively heavy

 

 Opinel Colorama Series No. 8

Opinel Colorama Series No. 8 Knife - Check price on Amazon

Opinel has been making quality knives in France since 1890.  They are known for their signature simplistic styling and for their quality.  Most of their designs are super lightweight.  The Colorama No. 8 weighs in at 1.6oz and sports a Virobloc safety ring locking mechanism, a long (3.35 inches!) Sandvik steel blade, and a lightweight wood handle.  If you want an even lighter (1.2oz) option, check out the Opinel No.6 Colorama.

Specs:

  • 1.6oz
  • 3.35 inch blade length

Pros:

  • easy to clean
  • long blade
  • durable enough to pass down to your kids
  • affordable

Cons:

  • convex grind may require additional sharpening equipment

 

LEATHERMAN Skeletool KB Pocket Knife

Leatherman Skeletool KB Pocket Knife - Check price on Amazon

A no-frills knife, the American made Skeletool KB boasts a 420HC stainless steel blade with a black finish and a lightweight metal skeletonized handle.  Like all Leatherman tools, it comes with a 25-year guarantee. If you want Leatherman quality but don't want to invest in a heavier multi tool, this knife is for you.

Specs:

  • 1.3oz
  • 2.6 inch blade length

Pros:

  • pocket clip
  • comes in different handle colors and blade styles
  • has bottle opener
  • opens with one hand

Cons:

  • bottle opener may catch on clothing or gear

 

 

 Tacony Super Shears Mini Scissors

Tacony Super Shears Mini Scissors - Check price on Amazon

If you need a basic blade for routine cutting tasks, these shears might be just the ticket.  They weigh in at a paltry 0.64oz and are impressively sharp. The bright colors lend themselves well to backcountry use.  How many times have you had to search for a dark colored knife that you left 'just over there'?  The Tacony shears are very inexpensive and come in a three pack.  Put one in your medical kit, one in your car, and use the other one at home.

Specs:

  • 0.64oz
  • 2.5 inch overall length

Pros:

  • extremely lightweight
  • inexpensive
  • scissors protected by cap
  • bright colors easy to spot in backpack and on the ground

Cons:

  • no blade for doing more knife oriented tasks (cutting salami, blocks of cheese etc.)
  • cheaper construction