Knives are by far the most essential tools of bushcraft.
They’re nearby and ready when you need to cut a rope quickly, feather a stick, or baton wood for your fire. If you’re like me, you probably have a small collection at home that you keep adding to even though it’s completely unnecessary.
Another knife to add to your collection is the best neck knife for bushcraft. I see this style of knife more along the lines of recommended than necessary, but still highly useful.
A neck knife is a versatile knife to always have with you. There’s no issue with making just one more addition to your knife repertoire. Having a decent knife can be the difference between life and death, after all.
What is a Neck Knife?
A neck knife is a simple concept. It’s a knife, worn around your neck. Any knife that has the space for a lanyard can be worn as a neck knife. Most neck knives don’t tend to be “just any knife with a hole,” though. They are more specifically designed to be worn comfortably around your neck.
Neck knives are small and are most often fixed blade knives. They aren’t big, beefy Bowie knives that you can smash around on logs and chop trees down with. They are much finer, more manageable knives for easy access when you need something cut.
Just to get a good range of options on our list, we’ve included typical small neck knives, as well as some larger fixed blade options. It all comes down to what your preference is. I love having a neck knife, but I don’t love the bulk around my neck. I like a small neck knife paired with a larger fixed blade on my hip.
Maybe you want a different system, so we’ll present them all to you here.
Best Neck Knives for Bushcraft, Survival & Hiking
We’ve gone through a considerable number of knives to pick out the best neck knives for bushcraft, survival, and hiking. These all have different features that make them the best. In the end, it always comes down to preference. A full tang, high carbon blade isn’t the best pick for everyone. Our list has it all, so let’s dive straight in.
- Blade Length: 2.2 inches
- Blade Material: Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel
- Weight: 2.56 ounces
- Handle Material: Plastic Polymer
Morakniv makes some of the best blades I have ever owned, and they barely charge you for it. I have met several survival and bushcraft experts that say these are the best because you can take them out, beat the crap out of them, and they see no change in the knife. They last a long time and cost nothing to replace.
The Morakniv Eldris is made to be worn around the neck. Its small size and well-designed sheath make it the best neck knife for backpacking. It will be there at all times but will never be in the way. The click lock on the sheath helps make the knife safe to wear on the go.
The handle is composed of two different plastic polymers that give you a good grip on the knife for handling it in the backcountry. The blade is 12C27 Swedish Stainless Steel with a V-grind. While the blade is only 2.2 inches long, it really packs a punch. Both the knife and the sheath have attachment points for paracord to turn the Eldris into a neck knife.
The only things you won’t be using this knife for are batoning and chopping any wood. If you want to try chopping tiny wood for tiny fires, it may be an alright choice. Every other task is easily completed by the Eldris. Overall, it’s easy to handle and an excellent length for a neck knife.
- Blade Length: 4.3 inches
- Blade Material: 12C27 Stainless Steel
- Weight: 4.7 ounces
- Handle Material: Anti-slip plastic
Here is another Morakniv for another great choice in neck knives. The one thing that stands out the most about the Kansbol is the MOLLE compatible mount system on the sheath. If you aren’t using this as a neck knife, it will easily strap on to any piece of gear you have to be accessible.
The overall length on the Kansbol is 8.9 inches, with a 4.3-inch long blade. It’s not the shortest knife I’ve ever seen, but it also isn’t the longest that I’ve seen worn as a neck knife. This one will be better equipped to chop and baton wood. It’s still an adequate size to use for the more delicate tasks like feathering wood and carving.
The blade is the classic Morakniv Swedish Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel. It’s a blade that will hold an edge for the duration of your trip in the bush, but you’ll need to take pretty good care of it. It’s a great pick as the best neck knife for survival because it has the lighter weight combined with the heavy durability you want in a survival knife.
The back edge of this knife is square-ground so that it can be used as a striker with a fire rod. It’s a great and easy addition to a knife that not all of them have. We also have a full Morakniv Kansbol review that you can check out for some more information.
- Blade Length: 3.25 in
- Blade Material: 1095 Cro-Van Carbon Steel
- Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Handle Material: 1095 Cro-Van Carbon Steel
The “Becker Necker Neck Knife” from Ka-Bar was made to be sleek and simple, perfect to wear on your neck. They got rid of the extra material on the handle that would make the knife heavier and bulkier. This is a simple piece of carbon steel that will hold an edge and is easily-sharpened in the field.
A black plastic injection-molded, glass-filled nylon sheath comes along to make wearing this safe and comfortable. You can also easily clip this on to any metal belt clip for your belt, boot, or vest.
I like the BK11 for its simple and “only the necessary” design. Because of this, it’s a highly popular knife in the military and will often be seen as a part of service members’ uniforms. Ka-Bar is a great knife company that can be trusted to put only the best work into a quality neck knife. If you want sleek, then this is your pick.
Schrade Reverse Tanto Fixed Blade
- Blade Length: 3.1 inches
- Blade Material: 9Cr18MoV High Carbon Stainless Steel
- Weight: 4.6 ounces
- Handle Material: G-10
If you want to find a quality neck knife that also fits into your budget, the Schrade Reverse Tanto Fixed Blade Knife is a great pick. This knife is 7 inches long with a 3.1-inch blade. The steel used in the blade isn’t the highest quality, but it will stay pretty durable for a good time.
What I like about this knife is the thermoplastic sheath that’s equipped with an adjustable breakaway necklace. Wearing anything around your neck can be a bit dangerous during bushcraft. You never know when it can get caught on a stray branch and tighten too much. The breakaway feature ensures that this won’t happen with the Reverse Tanto.
The G-10 handle has a forefinger groove that helps to give you more control. I like this feature when you are wearing gloves because it provides additional security. This knife’s full tang design also ends in a lanyard hole to turn it into a neck knife. Pair that with the sheath, and you’ll be good to go.
- Blade Length: 3.92 inches
- Blade Material: VG-10 Stainless Steel
- Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Handle Material: FRN and Kraton
Spyderco takes a shot at the best neck knife for bushcraft with the Moran. The Moran comes with two different models, a drop point or the upswept. Really, for me, I much prefer drop point knives, but some people like the versatility of the upswept design.
Both knives have a 3.92-inch long blade and come in at a total of 8.06 inches. The flat-ground VG-10 steel is designed to be just about the same weight as the handle. This balance creates a “sweet spot” that gives you a feeling of ultimate control. The handle fills your hand nicely in three dimensions. The feel of this knife is top-notch.
The Moran is made after Bill Moran, a well-known knifemaker in the US. A custom-made knife by him is going to force you to shell out a fortune, but fortunately, Spyderco picked up his design and made it affordable. The contradiction that I see in this knife is the design is from one of the best American knife makers to have lived, but it’s produced in Japan.
Sometimes this doesn’t matter to people, but I like my knives to be made in the US, even if I have to pay just a bit more.
Schrade Mini Drop Point Fixed Blade Knife
- Blade Length: 2.1 inches
- Blade Material: 8Cr13MoV stonewashed high carbon stainless steel
- Weight: 1.4 ounces
- Handle Material: G-10
Schrade must have decided that their Reverse Tanto was just a bit too much knife for a neck knife. They, in turn, made the mini drop point fixed blade knife we see here. This one is essentially a smaller version of the Reverse Tanto but made to be a neck knife.
They make this one a neck knife by including a Kydex neck sheath with a breakaway chain and the overall size and weight of the knife. It’s only a 2.1-inch blade, and the whole thing weighs 1.4 ounces. That’s a compact carry when you want to have it on your neck at all times. Chances are you’ll forget it’s even there.
For extra security, the knife includes another lanyard hole. You can clip into both the sheath and the knife itself to make sure you don’t lose it while fleeing through the woods. I feel it’s important to remind you that a small blade is not going to be enough to be your only survival knife. This will need to be paired with another fixed blade knife for chopping wood.
- Blade Length: 4.3 inches
- Blade Material: 14C28N Sandvik Stainless Steel
- Weight: 8.48 ounces
- Handle Material: Not Available
If you just read about the last knife and thought that it would be nice to have a larger knife, then the Garberg will give you that and more. This knife is impressive. You can get the same blade with the choice of three different sheaths. A MOLLE multi-mount system is available to strap it onto anything, or you can get a simple leather or hard plastic sheath.
The 9-inch knife is a bit longer than you would typically want for a neck knife, but this one could be the only knife you carry. The full tang and the high hardness of the 14C28N allow you to beat this knife up and never see it break. The steel used in this blade stands up to corrosion and is incredibly tough, and gets perfectly sharp.
Just like other Morakniv blades, the spine is square-edged to let you use it for striking fires in addition to cutting. I like the knives that serve multiple different uses, and this one does precisely that.
The MOLLE system will keep this securely on your neck even when you’re tumbling through the forest. I like each sheath, but for bushcraft, always choose MOLLE compatible systems.
For some more information, head on over to our full Mora Garberg review.
Schrade Full Tang Paracord Neck knife
- Blade Length: 2.4 inches
- Blade Material: 9Cr18MoV High Carbon Stainless Steel
- Weight: 1.9 ounces
- Handle Material: Paracord
Talking about bushcraft means talking about versatility. Anything gear designed for multiple uses is a great choice. You have to carry less and will be more prepared in a pinch when you have a knife handle that’s made from paracord. The Schrade Paracord Neck Knife uses 550 paracord wrapped around the full tang 9Cr18MoV blade.
The slim design of the paracord handle makes this a good everyday carry. There’s not much to say about this knife other than the fact that I always love having extra paracord on hand. Even once you use it, the blade is still right there for you to use. It might not be the best, most natural grip, but it’s still pretty good for a small knife.
Schrade does an outstanding job of making their knives affordable. It isn’t the best quality steel on the market or even on this list. They’ll probably break after a long period of use. But the low price gets you a decent knife that helps you stay prepared.
Spyderco Street Beat
- Blade Length: 3.51 inches
- Blade Material: VG-10 stainless steel
- Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Handle Material: FRN
Our last knife on the list is another from Spyderco. The Street Beat fixed blade is a beautiful knife that uses VG-10 steel with a full-flat grind that gives you an outstanding balance between versatility and strength. The handle is fiberglass-reinforced nylon (FRN) that’s molded directly onto the tang. It’s a comfy fit in your hand and easy to maneuver around.
This knife is right in the middle of sizes for neck knives. Just big enough to maybe be used for bigger tasks, but small enough to wear comfortably around your neck. The handle of the knife has a lanyard hole, just like the polymer sheath. The sheath also features a G-clip attachment so that you can fasten it easily to your belt or boot.
The handle has a section of jimping to give precision handling ability with this knife. It’s a great pick for those finer uses like carving trap sticks or any other tools. There’s also a groove for your finger to fit in, which, as I mentioned earlier, is great for when you may have bulkier gloves on. It just gives you a better grip.
White River Knives M1 Backpacker
- Blade Length: 3 inches
- Blade Material: CPM S30V Steel
- Weight: 2.2 ounces
- Handle Material: Paracord
Here’s another excellent knife with a paracord handle. The White River M1 Backpacker makes for a great everyday carry. It’s incredibly lightweight and slim against your chest while hiking. The CPM S30V does a great job of retaining an edge over a long time of use, and you can sharpen it easily in the field.
You get the option of carrying this knife on your neck or with the Kydex belt clip. It gives you the full range of use for a knife that’s going to go everywhere with you.
White River Knives makes high-quality knives overall. They pay close attention to detail, and you get a great blade with a simple handle on this one. If you love the last Schrade model’s paracord handle but want a blade that will last, this is the one.
Benefits of a Neck Knife
So, why a neck knife instead of just carrying a pocket full of folders and fixed blades clipped to your belt and boot? Doesn’t it seem a bit dangerous to carry a knife around your neck?
Contrary to the natural gut reaction you may get when thinking about it, there are plenty of reasons that you want to keep a knife on your neck.
Doesn’t Get in the Way of a Pack Belt or Backpack Straps
A fixed blade knife fastened to your belt is going to quickly get in the way when you go to throw on a heavy pack. Your pack’s waist belt will try to go over the knife and won’t work well together. A neck knife positions itself by your sternum. Sternum straps on a backpack will only help hold the knife close to your chest.
Don’t Have to Wear a Belt
Sometimes remembering a belt or just wearing a belt can be difficult to do. With a neck knife, you make sure that even if you forget a belt, you’re good to go. I don’t like belts when I’m on a bushcraft expedition because the belt can cut into my waist if it’s too tight.
Easy to Access In Cold Weather
When your hands are cold, and it’s tough to get at a knife on your waist in the cold, so having a neck knife is a great solution. They’re super easy to access when it’s cold out. Your body keeps the knife warm, so you aren’t grabbing onto cold metal, further worsening the current state of your hands.
Can be More Comfortable
A knife on your neck can be much more comfortable than a large fixed blade on your belt. The big bowie knife on your belt always gets in the way and swings against your thigh when you’re moving. The number of times I’ve had a knife get caught on a stray branch is too high. It almost ends up in a lost knife at times. Neck knives stay securely under your shirt, close to the body.
How to Choose a Neck Knife
Getting the right neck knife will end up being a process of trial and error. I always like to get my hands on the knife I’m about to buy. I have large hands that can struggle to handle smaller knives. The problem then is that I want a smaller knife as my neck knife. So I head to the nearest knife shop and just hold them.
Many different features help make up the best neck knife for hiking, survival, or bushcraft. To get a short idea of it, we’ll discuss the features you want to make sure you have in the knife you choose.
Make Sure it Has a Lanyard Hole or Specialised Sheath
A lanyard hole is pretty much what makes a knife turn into a neck knife. You need the spot to tie to put it around your neck. Most good neck knives have a designated lanyard hole on the end of the tang.
Even some knives that don’t have the lanyard hole have a specialized sheath designed to hold a knife on your neck. These sheaths often are made to have the knife handle downward for easier access. This does require a lot of trust in the sheath to be pretty secure so that gravity doesn’t take over and pull the knife to the ground.
Fixed Blade or Folder
The perfect neck knife is meant to be pulled out quickly and be ready to use. It also needs the right sheath that prevents any mishaps. A folder isn’t designed to be held in a sheath and can pop open at any time. Fixed blades are the only way to go when looking for a neck knife.
Imagine running around the woods with a folder attached to your neck. When you’re jumping logs and crawling through the brush, there’s a chance that a folder could open up and cut you. It’s not worth the risk. Plus, the lack of a sheath makes it pretty hard to get off your neck when you even want it.
As far as neck knives go, there’s not much difference when picking the right blade material. You are choosing how much carbon you want in the steel when looking at different materials. You can get a lot deeper into the science of the different steel alloys, but we’re going for a basic intro here.
Different steels will hold an edge better than others, and some will corrode faster. High carbon blades are stronger than others, but they also are more prone to corrosion and rust. You need to take much better care of these, and even the oils from your hands can be bad news. You can get a high carbon blade wildly sharp, even when in the field.
Stainless steel blades hold up better when you are in a moisture-rich environment. It will hold an edge a lot longer but has been a lot more difficult to sharpen in the field.
I suggest going with your favorite steel if you have one. You probably know it better than others and are used to handling it. For a neck knife, it’s about preference. Unless you’re sweaty. Don’t expose a high carbon blade to a huge amount of sweat.
A neck knife, or any good fixed blade survival knife, should have a full tang. This helps ensure that you won’t have a knife break at the handle, and you’ll be comfortable putting your knife up to some extreme use. Bushcraft is about extreme and durable products at times. Full tangs are much stronger than partial tangs. Always choose the full tang.
Again, the grind is a matter of preference and skill level. If you don’t have much experience sharpening blades, I don’t recommend getting a convex or a hollow grind. They’re far too difficult to sharpen in the field.
Going with a flat grind is a much safer option when it comes to bushcraft. If you need to sharpen your blade, you won’t run into many issues as flat grinds are relatively easy to sharpen with a whetstone.
Did you ever wonder how hip-hop stars carried around huge heavy chains on their necks and didn’t get injuries? I definitely did in the early 2000s.
The same goes for neck knives. These, you’ll constantly be wearing. A hip-hop star’s chain gets taken off any time they want. For me, the lighter, the better, so I can wear it comfortably for days on end.
There is a point that the balance gets tricky when a knife is too light. Find the right middle-ground for you. There’s no use in getting a featherlight knife if you hate using it.
The knife blades on this list all range from 2.2 inches to 4.3 inches. It’s a pretty big difference when talking about the utility of a blade, as well as carrying it around your neck. I’m much more comfortable with a shorter blade around my neck and my longer blade on my hip. That’s just my preference for comfort.
You don’t want to go any longer than 4.3 or maybe 4.5 inches for a neck knife. At that point, you’ll barely be able to sit down without the knife probing into your stomach or chest. Find what’s comfortable for you, but don’t go crazy with a huge Bowie knife just to show off.
Handle Design & Material
The handle designs on these neck knives are great for some precision use. The chances are good that you’ll be using a neck knife for more precise tasks, and you want the best control possible.
While I love the idea of having a paracord handle because it’s versatile, it doesn’t give the best grip. I like the grip of the Morakniv plastic polymers and the finger indent on some of the other brands. This lets you get full control over the knife, and when you’re working with a smaller blade, that can be incredibly important.
Neck knives can come in at the last minute to prove their worth at any moment in the bush. Whenever you’re on a bushcraft expedition, you’ll always be finding a number of reasons why you need a knife. Having one on hand will save you a lot of time and energy getting one out. These stay concealed most of the time and are great to have if you need it.
Overall, the best neck knife for bushcraft is going to be up to personal opinion. Some people wouldn’t agree with my favorite, but that’s okay. You get the chance to make your bushcraft gear your own. It’s cool because no one else is using it but you. This isn’t a time to please others. It’s a time to do the research and find what works best for you.