11 Best Japanese Outdoor Knives

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, it would be wise to invest in a good set of knives that you can depend on when backpacking, camping, hunting, bushcrafting, hiking, and any other outdoor activity that may require you to use a knife.

Japanese knives, in particular, can be an excellent addition to your outdoor kit since they can come in handy in different scenarios.

These knives come with specially forged blades that can withstand anything that the elements may have in store. As such, they won’t corrode, and neither will they stain, provided that the blade is given proper care.

In addition to this, they offer great edge retention, so the cutting edges will stay sharp for an extended period. Also, they are resistant to wear and are equally tough, thus making them even more efficient.

Nevertheless, finding the right knife is not easy due to the wide range of options that are available in the market.

Worry not because our review list highlights some of the reliable Japanese outdoor knives that we recommend for users who spend most of their time outdoors or in the wild.

11 Best Japanese Outdoor Knives

Our Top Pick: Grand Way GW 2307 Japanese Fixed Blade Tanto Knife

Japanese Fixed Blade Tanto Knife - 5,9" Polished Sharp Blade -...
  • Tanto Knife with Large Fixed Blade - full tang construction provides superior control and greater pressure when cutting, slicing, stroking, chopping and other manipulations.
  • Perfect Knife for Everything - Camping, Hiking, Backpack, Bushcrafting, Hunting & Fishing, Military & Army needs, Outdoor & DIY Activities, Survival, Self Defense, Emergencies. An excellent utility knife for many purposes.

If you are after quality, this one of the Japanese knives that you can consider adding to your collection. It is very efficient and comes with a well-designed tanto blade that is forged from 440C stainless steel.

As such, it offers exceptional corrosion resistance, good edge retention, and great wear resistance.

The blade has a rating of 55-57 on the HRC (Hardness Rockwell C) scale. Its edge comes razor-sharp and will provide you with superior cutting power in all outdoor scenarios.

With that being said, the GW 2307 can be an excellent option for camping, bushcraft, backpacking, and can as well be used as a tactical knife for close-quarters combat.

The 5.9″ blade is finely polished to an attractive mirror-like finish. Plus, the cutting edge is specially designed for slicing and chopping, so it can assist you in multiple ways.

Another amazing feature that is worth mentioning is that the blade has a full tang design, meaning it is not only well-balanced but also offers great leverage when cutting through materials.

The GW 2307 comes with a heavy-duty sheath that is made of premium-grade Cordura fabric to increase durability. It rides well in the sheath, so you won’t have to worry about losing it when you are out in the wild.

As for the handle, it is wrapped in a paracord to prevent slippage when the blade is in use.

Pros

  • Hardened spine
  • Excellent craftsmanship
  • Requires minimal maintenance

Cons

  • The sheath offers limited carrying options

Best Full Tang: XHM Awesome

XHM Awesome 8.8-inch Fixed Blade Tanto Knife, Mirror Polished...
  • Blade length 4.1’’, blade thickness 0.16’’, overall length 8.8", knife weight 4.94 oz.
  • Japanese samurai katana, short sword style, mirror polished 8Cr17Mov steel blade. Designed with glass breaker and lanyard hole for multifunction purposes.

The tanto point knife from XHM Awesome is also another reliable product that you can go for. It has a uniquely designed katana-style blade that you can count on in all cutting applications.

To add to this, the blade is exceptionally versatile, making this one of the best knives that you can carry on your next outdoor expedition. It is perfectly suited for hunting, survival, camping, and can also be used for tactical purposes.

The 8Cr17Mov stainless steel blade is easy to hone, thanks to its plain edge design. In addition to this, it reasonably tough, so it won’t break, provided that use the knife the right way.

Besides, the spine is heavily reinforced to prevent the blade from warping when you are working. This knife has an overall length of 8.8″ while the blade measures 4.1’’ long. And the fact that it is full tang makes it even better because it delivers maximum cutting power.

The handle is constructed from natural wood for durability purposes. Also, it is firmly riveted at two points to maximize strength.

Additionally, the rear end of the handle can work as a glass breaker, so it can assist you during emergencies.

What’s more, it has a lanyard hole through which you can attach cordage for added security. That way, the knife will be within your reach at all times.

Upon purchase, you will also get a high-quality leather sheath that you can attach to your belt.

Pros

  • Good edge retention
  • Conveniently designed
  • Quality construction

Cons

  • The handle is not textured

Best Folding: KATSU JT01 Japanese Knife

KATSU Camping Pocket Folding Japanese Knife, Titanium & Carbon...
  • 5-Inch closed, Total Length 9 inch
  • Titanium & Carbon Fiber Handle offers anti-rust property and comfortable grip

This folding knife is specially designed for camping, but its use can also apply when tackling other outdoor cutting tasks. It comes with a VG-10 stainless steel blade that offers excellent edge retention and great corrosion resistance.

Aside from that, it is easy to sharpen, so you can hone it to a razor-sharp edge without experiencing any problem.

The blade has a beautiful stonewashed finish and also features a sharp tip that you can use for piercing applications.

Furthermore, the integrated thumb lever allows for easy and quick blade deployment even when using one hand. The ball-bearing system will make your work easier when opening or closing the knife.

But, that is not all; the sturdily built frame lock will ensure that the blade stays in place when the knife is in use. And because it has a thumb rest, you will be able to apply pressure to the blade without experiencing slippage.

The 3.9″ blade is hardened for performance, so you can rest easy knowing that it will last. When closed, the knife measures 5″ long, but its overall length when opened is 9″ long.

Attached to the handle is a strong clip that will help you attach the knife to your pocket. Unlike most folding knives in the market, the KATSU JT01 comes with a durable sheath that is made of genuine leather.

To top it all up, the handle is made of titanium and high-quality carbon fiber. It is virtually immune to rust and equally non-slip.

Pros

  • Lightweight design
  • Comes with a Hessian sack
  • Good for EDC

Cons

  • The sheath is not well designed

Best Tanto Blade: Asuka Modern Japanese Samurai

Asuka 10 1/4" Modern Japanese Samurai Tanto 3CR13 Steel Full Tang
  • Features: Asuka's Modern Japanese samurai tanto with a full tang 440 stainless steel blade, minimalistic design.
  • Dimensions: Overall Length: 10.7", Blade Length: 5 1/2", Handle Length: 4 3/4"

Next on the list is the fixed blade knife by Asuka. The 5.5″ blade is forged from 3CR13 stainless steel to ensure that users get long-lasting service.

Moreover, it retains its edge well and is also easy to sharpen. To add to its list of features, the blade offers good corrosion resistance, so you won’t have to worry about rust.

And like the GW 2307, it has a full tang design, thus providing you with the strength and balance that you need when slicing through tough materials.

The handle is just over 4″ long, so you will have enough space to grip. Both the scabbard and handle are made of wood, giving the knife a unique traditional look. More on this, the sheath delivers a snug fit, so the knife won’t fall off easily.

This knife can particularly come in handy when you are out camping in that it can assist you when preparing food, cutting paracords, repairing your camping gear, just to mention but a few.

The materials used in the construction are not as heavy, so the knife won’t weigh you down. Lastly, the handle is firmly riveted to ensure that you get a strong knife that you can rely on in all conditions.

Pros

  • Well designed
  • Minimalistic design
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • The handle is not as ergonomic compared to those on competitor models

Best Fixed Blade: Cold Steel San Mai Magnum Tanto II

Cold Steel San Mai Tanto Series Fixed Blade Knife - Made with...
  • All of our Tantos feature a deep lustrous satin finish on the hollow ground blade bevels and a contrasting line grain finish on the blade flats; Blade Thickness: 3/16”, Blade Length: 7-1/2"
  • The Tanto’s come with our famous flattened oval Kraton handle; Handle Length/Material: 5-5/8" Kray-Ex

The Magnum Tanto II from Cold Steel has all the features that you may look for in an outdoor knife. It is tough, reliable, efficient, and durable.

Forged from VG-10 stainless steel, the handle will provide you with good wear resistance, great edge retention, and excellent corrosion resistance.

The blade is 7.5″ long, thus making it a suitable option for bushcraft. As such, it can prove helpful when hiking, backpacking, camping, etc.

Also, the choil and the spine are thickened to prevent breakage during heavy-duty use. Like all of the knives that we have covered in this review list, the Magnum Tanto II is of high quality, so you can buy it knowing that it will serve you for an extended period.

To make it even better, the blade is full tang, so it can take on any cutting task that you may throw at it.

The cutting edge is machined and hardened to prevent chipping. Plus, it comes razor-sharp, so you can use it right out of the box.

Furthermore, the diamond textured handle will provide you with a firm grip in both dry and wet conditions. As a result, your hands won’t slip, so you will have full control over the blade at all times.

There is also a guard that will prevent your fingers from overlapping towards the sharp cutting edge. The included sheath has a belt loop for user convenience.

Pros

  • Ergonomic handle
  • Great price
  • Has a lanyard hole

Cons

  • The sheath does not have a clip

Most Compact: Higo no Kami Pocket Knife

Higo no Kami 10 Pocket Knife by Nagao Seisakusho, Brass Finish
  • Made by the last remaining manufacturer of this trademarked knife, Nagao Seisakusho
  • Blade approximately 3", handle approximately 4"

This pocket knife features a 3″ hand-made blade that will provide you with maximum cutting power when tackling tasks.

Despite its size, it is extremely efficient and will allow you to cut through materials effortlessly.

Besides, the blade is made through the Warikomi process to ensure that users get a knife that is both tough and reliable.

In addition to this, it has a minimalistic design and is equally lightweight, so you can carry it in your pocket without worrying about anything.

The tanto point blade has a razor-sharp edge that enables users to cut with precision. It is easy to hone and also offers excellent edge retention, meaning you won’t have to sharpen the blade every now and then.

Additionally, the handle is made of high-quality brass that is notched to allow for easy blade deployment. You can easily close or open the blade using the included thumb lever.

The handle has a hole through which you can attach a ball chain. On the downside, the steel from which the blade is forged is likely to corrode when not given proper care.

That said, ensure that you clean the blade and keep it dry after each use. All in all, this is a high-quality pocket knife that you can depend on when you are outdoors.

Pros

  • Practical design
  • Good for everyday carry
  • Designed to last

Cons

  • Poor ergonomics

Best Multipurpose: S-TEC Brilliant Tanto Knife

S-TEC Brilliant Tanto Tactical Hunting Knife
  • 12.25" overall length, 7" blade, 4.8mm thickness blade, 5.25" handle
  • Rubber handle offers a soft yet comfortable grip for all situation.

S-TEC provides you with a well-designed knife that can help you in multiple ways when you are out camping or hiking.

It is somewhat similar to the Magnum Tanto II, but the only difference is that the blade is made of 3CR13 steel while the former is forged from VG-10 steel.

The blade is specially designed for tactical applications, so you can even use it for self-defense.

It is highly resistant to corrosion and also offers exceptional corrosion resistance. The blade retains its edge for long, thus making it even more convenient.

This knife is just over 12″ long while the blade measures 7″.Its unique design offers great balance, so you’ll be able to slice through materials while applying minimal effort.

The spine is not only thick but is also hardened to increase performance. Plus, the blade is full tang, making it extremely reliable.

What’s more, the handle has a well-placed lanyard hole, while the grip area is textured to give users a solid grip.

More on the handle, it is made of premium grade rubber to increase user comfort. The knife comes with a synthetic black leather sheath that matches the handle.

Pros

  • Expertly forged blade
  • Easy to sharpen
  • The handle feels good in the hands

Cons

  • The sheath is not as durable

Best Handmade: NEWOOTZ Damascus steel Pocket Knife

NEWOOTZ Handmade Damascus Steel Pocket Knife with Leather...
  • 【Beautiful Handmade Damascus Art】:Japanese craftsmen hammer knife blades with layers carbon steel and VG10 core.There are hundreds of natural steel fusion lines between different layers on the surface after polishing.It is mysterious damascus pattern.Blade core gets a 60-62 HRC for excellent heat treatment while both sides carbon steel keep it from broken.
  • 【Cool Bone Handle】:It creates a comfortable holding.The handle will become more delicate and smooth after long term use.Traditional Japanese style decorative pattern is wonderful.Hidden frame lock keeps it perfect appearance and protects you from accidents.

Forged by some of the best Japanese bladesmiths, this knife is both durable and efficient. The blade is made of multi-layered steel to boost its overall cutting performance.

To elaborate on this, the core features VG-10 stainless steel construction and has a hardness rating of between 60-62 HRC while the adjacent layers are made of SUS316 steel.

Moreover, it is heat-treated to prevent breakage during usage. The blade is aesthetically pleasing to look at since the fusion lines create an eye-catching pattern.

To add to this, the cutting edge won’t dull easily, provided that you use the blade correctly. Moreover, it offers great corrosion resistance and is also resistant to wear.

The plain edge 2.8″ blade can assist you when fishing, camping, and hunting. It has an integrated lever that will allow you to open the blade using one hand.

This also applies when closing the knife, so you won’t have a hard time when working with this tool. The frame lock will ensure that the blade stays in the position that you want it to, thereby preventing possible accidents.

The package is inclusive of a beautiful leather sheath that is made of 100% genuine leather. However, it is partly made of python skin and is firmly stitched for durability purposes. Also, the bone handle is ergonomically curved, allowing for non-slip performance.

Pros

  • Excellent quality
  • Classic design
  • Durable

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a pocket clip

Best for Hunting: KA-BAR Cleveland OH 1237 Seki Japan Fixed Knife

KA-BAR Cleveland OH 1237 Seki Japan Fixed Blade Skinner Hunting...
  • Model: Ka-Bar 1237 ~ Knife made circa 1980 in Seki, Japan
  • Extremely hard to find Old Stock (see used listing for other notes)

If you are looking for a knife that you can use for hunting and fishing, the KA-BAR OH 1237 is the right pick for you.

It comes with a well-forged blade that will allow you to skin both small and large game without wasting the meat or damaging the hide.

The blade is 5.18″ long while the overall length of the knife is 9.75″ long. The cutting edge is finely ground, thus enabling you to sharpen the blade with ease.

Additionally, it is forged from stainless steel to prevent corrosion. With the thumb rest in place, you will be able to apply pressure on the blade without losing your grip.

The handle is ergonomically contoured to limit slippage when you are working. It also has a reliable brass guard that will safeguard your fingers against accidental cuts.

To make it even more convenient, the rear side of the handle is fitted with a tough aluminum pommel that can help you break through hard surfaces. And because it has a plain edge, you won’t have a difficult time when honing the cutting edge.

The other thing that we liked about the KA-BAR OH 1237 is that it comes with a durable brown leather sheath, which has an easy-to-use snap-on button. It also has a belt loop that will help you attach the knife to your pants.

Pros

  • High quality
  • Reliable performance
  • Good edge retention

Cons

  • The grip area is not textured

Best for EDC: KATSU TK01Folding Camping Japanese Knife

KATSU Folding Camping Japanese Knife, Titanium & Carbon Fiber...
  • 3.5-inch S35VN steel blade with stonewash finished, which has excellent strength, edge retention and corrosion resistance
  • Titanium & Carbon Fiber Handle offer anti-rust property and comfortable grip, and enhance durability and toughness

Katsu presents you with yet another high-performance folding pocket knife that you can use when camping or when tackling other outdoor tasks.

The S35VN steel from which the blade is made is of superior quality and also offers exceptional corrosion resistance.

Aside from that, the cutting edge has great edge retention and is equally strong. The belly curves upwards to form a sharp tip that you can use for piercing.

The built-in frame lock prevents the blade from folding when you are using the knife and also allows for smooth closing action.

In addition to this, the multi-ground blade has a razor-sharp edge that will enable you to cut materials with minimal strain.

On the other hand, the handle is made of titanium while the grip area is fitted with carbon fiber to increase user comfort.

As such, the handle won’t rust, and neither will it stain when used in wet conditions. Still, ensure that you keep the knife dry to prolong its durability.

This knife provides you with multiple carrying options in that you can use the included sheath or the pocket clip. Both options are reliable, so you can use the one that best suits you.

Pros

  • Compact design
  • Lightweight
  • Good locking mechanism

Cons

  • The pocket clip is not reversible

Honorable Mention: Mcusta Seki Japan Rikyu MC-184D Folding Knife

Mcusta Seki Japan Rikyu MC-184D Green Wood VG-10 Damascus Folding...
  • Model: Mcusta Higonokami with green accent
  • Made in Seki, Japan

Mcusta is one of the reputable brands that is well known for designing high-quality Japanese knives, so you can buy the MC-184D having full assurance that it will deliver exceptional results.

The blade features a tough VG-10 core damascus steel that will provide you with great cutting performance when working with different types of materials.

Furthermore, it is hardened to prevent breakage and chipping, so the cutting edge won’t get damaged as long as the knife is used correctly.

Thanks to its folding design, you can easily fit this knife in your pocket. It has a strong locking mechanism that will keep the blade closed when the knife is in storage.

Attached to the blade is a thumb stud that will enable you to deploy the blade without cutting your fingers.

The MC-184D has an extremely sharp tip that can assist you in multiple ways. This makes it a suitable option for self-defense and other tactical applications.

Its use can as well apply when camping, fishing, hunting, and any other activity that may require you to use a folding knife of this type.

The handle is made of wood and is also fitted with strong steel liners to increase strength.

Pros

  • Aesthetically designed
  • Professionally designed
  • Versatile

Cons

  • The edge dulls over time

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best steel for an outdoor knife?

Most experts prefer high carbon steel because it makes knives that are wear-resistant. As such, the cutting edges will stay sharp longer, making it a suitable option for forging outdoor knives.

Which is the best Japanese outdoor knife?

Before choosing a knife for outdoor applications, you should consider the quality of the materials used in the construction and the knife’s overall design.

The products that we have listed above are some of the highly-rated options that we recommend for outdoor enthusiasts.

Is Japanese steel good for knives?

Japanese steel offers good edge retention, great corrosion resistance, and is also resistant to wear, so it can make excellent knives.

What makes a good Japanese outdoor knife?

To get maximum results, ensure that you go for a knife that is forged from high carbon stainless steel. Additionally, the knife should have an ergonomic handle that you can rely on in all conditions.

Also, the blade should have good wear resistance and great edge retention.

Is stainless steel good for outdoor knives?

Stainless steel has good corrosion resistance, requires minimal maintenance, and is equally tough, so it can make reliable outdoor knives.

Final Verdict

The well-researched review list above contains both folding and fixed-blade Japanese knives that you can depend on when you are outdoors.

They come with blades that are specially designed with your needs in mind, so you can use them for camping, hiking, hunting, bushcraft, backpacking, and other outdoor applications. Besides, some of the knives can as well be used for self-defense and survival.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *