Plenty of great knives are being made overseas these days, but the bladesmith scene in the U.S. is thriving. From big companies and small shops, you can pick from a wide variety of stellar cutting tools, all crafted with care and precision in America. We selected a few folders and fixed-blade knives that will make any outdoor slicing, carving, or chopping task this summer easier and more enjoyable. Pick any of these born-in-the-USA knives to confidently carry on your warm-weather adventures.
BEST FOR: Slicing and Dicing in the Woods
Made at its Portland, OR, factory, Gerber’s Fastball Cleaver offers a rectangular blade that’s especially useful for taking on any general utility tasks in the outdoors. The 3-inch blade is crafted from 20CV, a stainless steel with good corrosion resistance and high edge retention, and the handles are crafted from light and strong aircraft aluminum. The stout blade easily deploys with a finger flipper and rotates open on Gerber’s smooth B.O.S.S. Tech ball-bearing system, which securely clicks into place with the liner lock.
BEST FOR: Gutting a Fresh-Caught Fish
Trying to clean a stream-caught trout without a sharp, filet-type knife at your side can quickly become an embarrassing debacle. Make like a seasoned sushi chef on your next fishing trip and tuck the foldable Siren into your waders—the 3.6-inch, flat-ground blade is made from LC200N steel which boasts ultra-corrosion resistance and high hardness, plus is easy to sharpen. Grippy G-10 scales pair with a long, reversible wire clip to keep the fishing knife safe and secure in wet and wild conditions. Made in Spyderco’s Golden, CO, factory.
BEST FOR: Crushing Your Camp Chores
Though toting a hefty fixed-blade knife around camp can be empowering (and give you brief flashbacks to Rambo and his massive survival knife in First Blood), most chores around the typical campsite can be accomplished just fine with a smaller, but sturdy, blade. The 200 Puukko—made in Oregon City, OR—is modeled after the Scandinavian-style outdoorsman knife of the same name, and is created from extremely tough 3V steel and mated to a comfy, rubber-like checkered grip.
BEST FOR: Chopping Carrots…and Kindling
For the casual car camper or overlander, this beautifully made, cleaver-style chopper from White River in Fremont, MI, will be able to tackle multiple duties with style and grace. The 5.5-inch blade has a gentle curve on its belly, which makes it an excellent kitchen cutter, all-around camp chopper, and, when fall hunting season rolls around, a killer skinner. The Camp Cleaver uses S35VN stainless steel mated to a choice of burlap or linen Micarta scales, and comes with a handsome leather sheath.
BEST FOR: Busting Out Some Bushcraft
If you need one super-stout knife that can act as a do-it-all workhorse in the woods, look no farther than the PR4. Designed by Patrick Rollins, lead instructor for ESEE’s training company Randall’s Adventure & Training, the thick, hybrid spear/drop point blade is made from 1095 carbon steel, which is noted for holding an edge and being easy to sharpen. The ridged and sculpted Micarta handle gives a great grip either batoning or making feather sticks. ESEE’s blades are made by Rowen Manufacturing in Idaho and all come with an unconditional lifetime warranty.
BEST FOR: Keeping On You At All Times
Legendary war correspondent Robert Young Pelton brings his breadth of adventuring experience to all DPx Gear products, and his Urban HEST/F folder may be one of the finest, full-featured folders around. Built by Southern Grind in Georgia, it’s packed with lots of thoughtful details, it’s packed with lots of thoughtful details like a ¼ hex driver in the frame, tungsten-carbide glass breaker on the butt, thumb grip that doubles as wire stripper, and bottle opener/pot lifter on the back of the spine. The titanium frame holds a high-quality S35V stainless steel blade and options for scales go from the standard G-10 all the way up to carbon fiber or hammered copper.
[From $280; dpxgear.com]
BEST FOR: Tackling the Tough Tasks
The Ranch Harpoon Spanto from master bladesmith Rick Hinderer is a big, meaty knife that is crafted specifically to decimate any daunting or demanding tasks you’d be likely to encounter in the outdoors. The 5.25-inch 3V, diamond-like carbon coated blade is shaped for taking on tough jobs with its burly “armor-piercing” tip, which is topped with a fat flare for extra strength and style. The Ranch also comes in wide choice of different styles of blade finishings and multiple types of Micarta for the thick handle, and all are personally made by Hinderer in Shreve, OH.
BEST FOR: Being Prepared for Plan B
When an outdoor adventure quickly goes from happy to hairy, a fast-opening blade like the Banner can mean the difference between telling a harrowing story later around a campfire or ending up on a Life Flight to the nearest hospital. This all USA-made folder from SOG mates a razor-sharp and resilient S35VN 3.5-inch blade—deployed by its patented assisted opening tech—with a light, anodized aluminum handle bolstered by stainless steel liners. With an overall weight of just 4.6 oz and reversible clip, this nimble knife is a necessary backcountry companion.
BEST FOR: Becoming Your General Purpose Go-Getter
Handcrafted from resilient Swedish AEB-L stainless steel in Wintersville, OH, this compact knife from LT Wright is a great pick for a constant camping companion or general utility workhorse around the homestead. The chunky Micarta handle, at 4 inches, fits the hand well, giving you lots of grip to dexterously maneuver the wide and stubby 3-inch, saber-ground blade around any multitude of outdoor chores and tasks. Available with three sheath options—utility with snap closure, dangler with fire steel loop, or stealthy hip hugger—this tough knife may just become your favorite summer side piece.
[From $150; theknifeconnection.com]
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