A lot of times, people seem to forget there are not many kitchens in the jungle. As much as you would like to pack your chopping board, chef’s knives, a mini-fridge, and the spice rack, all you will have is cans of stored food along with a pocketknife.
That is the true essence of backpacking. You are out of the house and away from the daily onslaught of work—no pressure to check social media every 5 minutes. Plus, you learn innovative ways of feeding yourself. I remember once when I went on a college backpacking trip with my friends, and the first time any of us tried cooking on an open flame, we burnt our cans of soup and beans.
The point being it is an adventure. You might not have all your luxuries by your side, but you can keep a knife sharpener handy for all your cutting needs. Below is our compiled list of the best knife sharpeners for backpacking.
Best Knife Sharpener for Backpacking
Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener
If you brought along a whole set of camping tools that require sharpening, this guided field sharpener would be an ideal companion. Since the sharpener is compact, it easily fit inside your pocket and be carried around while you trek. The central diamond plates can be flipped to avoid chafing inside your bag.
The sharpener is built at a 25-degree angle, which will guide your blade while being honed. If you require immediate and quick sharpening, you can remove the diamond plates to access a broadhead wrench. On one side, there is a 3-position ceramic rod, which has a curved surface for sharpening fishhooks, and a coarse/fine rod that aids in honing serrations.
Finally, the last side has a leather strop, which is the only remaining step in this process for polishing and fine-tuning your blade.
F Benchmade Guided Field Sharpener
This Benchmade sharpener is similar to the previous one in the sense that it also provides the three functions of sharpening, honing, and polishing. You have two diamond plates, two ceramic ones, and one leather. It is like an all-in-one kit, so you do not need different tools for separate functions.
However, at times, blades tend to become razor-sharp; hence be careful while handling them during your trip.
In case you need to know which side performs a particular function, instructions are provided with the sharpener. The only downsides are that its size is a little big to fit inside your jeans, which adds some additional weight to carry. Also, it is somewhat on the pricier side.
Outdoor Edge Ceramic Abrasive Knife Sharpener
This one is a sharpener that is very pocket-friendly, both size and price-wise. Considering its proportions are small, the company has installed two features to maintain stability while using. There is a rubber grip, orange in color, where you can place your thumb and forefinger to hold. The base also twists out to resemble an ‘X’ shape for added balance.
The sharpener will revive your blade in two simple steps. The first is a coarse carbide bit, which will reshape the dull edges of your blade. The second is a fine ceramic rod, which will sharpen your knife enough to cut through still. Please read that as a metaphor.
You also do not have to worry about the angle you are sharpening at, as the rods are already placed at an optimum 22 degrees.
Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedic
Just like you need a first-aid kit when you fall down during a hike, your blade also needs the same attention and care. A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one, as you will be prone to exerting extra pressure and accidentally cutting yourself in the process. So, the lesson here is, keep your knives sharp enough for your needs.
Whether your blade is a regular one, serrated, or a gut hook, this sharpener will fix it. It has four steps. The first is a tungsten carbide sharpener, where a few strokes will recover the edges.
For finishing, run your knife over the ceramic rod, and your blade will be fully restored. If your blade is serrated, there is a separate serrated sharpener to groove out even the smallest serrations.
Finally, there is also a diamond tapered rod to recondition gut hooks efficiently.
Sharpal 101N 6-In-1 Pocket Knife Sharpener
When knives are being continuously used, they form burrs. Burrs are essentially excess metal gathered at a point that will hinder slicing. They might not be visible to your eye, but if you feel perpendicular to the blade, the burrs will make themselves known.
Using this Sharpal sharpener, that has two notches of carbide and ceramic, and a diamond rod, you can hone your blade to peak sharpness.
This sharpener also contains two fun additional features. There is a whistle that can be used in case of an emergency, or just to signal your location in case you get separated from your group. There is also an all-climate fire starter, so you do not have to carry a lighter or matches.
Wicked Edge Precision Knife Sharpener
Before these fancy ceramic and diamond plates, people used rocks to sharpen their tools. I could suggest just finding a rock while you are backpacking, but that would take a whole other article.
So, this is the next best item: a pack of two diamond grit stones. These are essentially similar to the plates that were mentioned above but look all rugged.
Please do make sure that you try this out on a few knives to break them in. The more they are used, they better finish they will provide. Your edges will be sleek, polished, and will easily cut through any ropes or food items.
BonyTek Grit Pocket Knife Sharpener
Since this sharpener is foldable, it resembles a pocketknife itself. It has a thin diamond blade that can be used from both sides to sharpen as well as polish. There is a honeycomb pattern on the plate, which results in quicker sharpening and prevents the blade from slipping on the surface.
The fan-shaped handles are curved in the middle to allow for a proper grip, and your hand will not feel tired holding this sharpener. As much as it resembles a foldable knife, do not accidentally try to use it as one; it will just lead to a lot of frustration.
Smith’s 50979 Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener
This sharpener is a pal for your blade and we all need one. I think in the pocketknife sharpening industry, ceramic and carbide slots, with a diamond-coated rod, have become a standard. If you think about it, all your essential functions are being performed.
The blade is sharpened enough for use, and if there are any hard to reach edges, the rod will take care of that.
Plus, you do not have to worry about extra weight as these can be stored in the side-pockets of your bag, or even inside your pant pockets for quick access.
Lansky Key Chain Knife Sharpener
When you look up multi-function tools, this sharpener should be the first image you see. You can hang it as a keychain, so you do not lose your keys while backpacking. There is a bottle opener if you want to crack open a cold one with the boys (or girls).
There are two screwdrivers: flathead and Phillip’s head if you need to tighten some screws or fix your tents. A variable hex wrench can be used for nuts and bolts. There is even a pry tool to open pesky cans and a line cutter.
Finally, there is obviously also a knife sharpener to hone your blades. This keychain sharpener really is a package deal.
Redi Edge Small Redts 40 Dog Tag Knife Sharpener
Maybe it is just me, but this sharpener resembles a combination of a can opener and a mixtape. It is made from military-level aluminum, so you can be assured that the build is sturdy, yet also lightweight.
Rather than ceramic or diamond, this sharpener has employed duromite elements.
Duromite is tougher than any material a blade may be made out of and the plates are set at a 20-degree angle for cutting edge sharpening.
Best Knife Sharpener for Backpacking Buying Guide
You might be thinking that a sharpener is not necessary for a backpacking trip. You will be spending most of your time hiking along pathways and will probably rest for the night in sleeping bags. You think a can-opener and a pocketknife that had been lying forgotten at the bottom of your drawer will be sufficient.
However, do consider the fact that if your knife has not been used in a while, or has been used to such an extent that it has dulled down, it will be useless if you need to cut through something in a flash. It will be handy to keep a sharpener with you, just in case.
Before purchasing a sharpener, you will need to keep the following factors in mind:
Size – Pocket knives, as the name suggests, are relatively smaller in size. Assuming you are not carrying giant blades with you, the sharpener you require will also be small. You do not want the extra weight in your pack, nor do you want the sharpener to take up much space.
Generally, a sharpener that can fit in the length of your hand should be an appropriate size. Handheld sharpeners may not provide the range of functionalities an electric or stone sharpener may provide, but their portability makes them ideal for honing on the go.
Angle – Ideally, knives used in outdoor settings, such as pocket knives or hunting blades, should be sharpened at an angle of 20-30 degrees. If you compare this angle number to kitchen knives, it seems more significant. This greater number accounts for outdoor conditions, where slicing would need to be done in a tougher manner.
Price – Sharpeners come in a range of prices. As the functionality and quality go up, so does the price. Considering you need the sharpener for outside settings, you need to concentrate more on durability and sharpening levels. If your blades can be razor-sharp, and the sharpener will not break in the process, even spending less than $30 will be adequate.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do knife sharpeners last?
First, you need to realize that blade sharpening is not something done that frequently. You are not a blacksmith sitting in his shop, trying to make blades cut through metal. You will be sharpening your knives before or during your trip, and the sharpener may remain idle till your next outdoor excursion.
If your plates are ceramic or any other gritty and durable material, it is improbable that they will wear out any time soon. Do make sure you clean off metal particles to keep the sharpener fresh.
What is the number of times a blade needs to be run on a sharpener?
You do not need to constantly rub your blade on the sharpener to hone it. Place the hilt of your knife in one of the slots present and run it till the tip. You will not need to do this more than six times, and on average, three times will get the job done.
If your blade is extremely damaged, that may require extra runs to remove the dullness.
Do you need to make pulling or pushing motions when honing a blade?
As long as you run the blade entirely from tip to hilt, or hilt to tip, the direction does not matter. Just ensure that while you are pushing, you can exert pressure on the blade, but when pulling, do not apply the same force as it can lead to injuries.
Can sharpeners damage a knife?
You might be confusing a knife with a pencil. Your blade will not start becoming smaller and smaller each time you sharpen it. Also, since knives are made out of metal, it will take a supreme effort to actually damage the metal.