Anyone that’s spent a significant amount of time hiking and camping in remote locations has probably run into the age old problem of what to pack for a trip that takes you far away from civilization. There always seems to be more gear you’d like to take than you could possibly get in your backpack. The solution is to try and find equipment that offers the greatest versatility, while still being practical and useful.
For example, while it would be nice to bring a hunting knife, a machete, and a small axe along on your trip, that extra weight may be more than you can reasonably manage. A great solution is the kukri. This versatile blade may not be the best at any one thing, but it can be used in all kinds of different situations.
You can use it to clear trails, chop branches, and for cutting food as well. It might not be better than the other tools we’ve mentioned above at any one particular thing, but it can replace all of them in a pinch, meaning you only have to carry one tool.
Fashioned after the traditional blades used by British Gurkha warriors these blades are extremely sharp and that means you won’t have to expend unnecessary energy hacking through branches. When you’re on a trip in the great outdoors you may enjoy working your way through challenges, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your life a little easier with good quality tools.
In this article we review some of the best kukri blades available and why we think they’re a great choice for anybody heading out on a camping, hunting, or fishing trip. There are many different blades to choose from so we’ve limited our review to what we believe are your top options.
- 1 Kukri Reviews
- 2 Background and Information
- 3 Standard Design Features
- 4 Final Thoughts
Ontario 6420 OKC Kukri Knife Review
The Ontario 6420 OKC Kukri Knife is a popular choice and for good reason – this kukri blade has an 11.5 inch blade made from 1095 carbon steel. That makes it extremely strong and durable. You should get years of use out of this knife and you’ll be able to use it as a competent replacement for a lot of other tools.
Weighing in at just 1.3 lbs it’s not overly heavy and it’s well proportioned, making it comfortable to wield. The blade is 0.25” thick and 0.1875” wide. It comes with a nylon sheath, which probably isn’t of the highest quality, but with proper care should last you for several years.
As far as the handle is concerned it features a G-10 grip with several finger grooves for comfortable handling. It’s made from Kraton, which is a high performance material that’s a sort of synthetic rubber. It will take some effort to do any real damage to this handle so it should last as long as the blade does.
This is not your traditional kukri. In fact this design is based on one that the Ontario Knife brand uses when making knives for the US army.
It’s a practical knife that’s well made of quality materials and with the convenient lanyard on its handle you can tie it off on your belt loop to save room in your backpack. It’s definitely an affordable option as well.
Cold Steel Kukri Plus Review
If you’re looking for a kukri that will do the job without breaking the bank the Cold Steel Kukri Plus is worth consideration. This is an affordable knife that normally retails for a pretty low price, making it one of the more affordable options on the market. It’s nothing fancy by any means, but it’s a decent knife that will do the job.
The blade length is a little longer than normal at 13 inches making it ideal for most of your outdoor cutting needs. It measures about 2.8mm thick and it’s made from 1055 carbon steel so it’s strong enough to work through most batoning activities without the risk of damage. It has a black baked on matte finish as well to prevent rust.
Unfortunately, the handle isn’t as impressive as the blade. It’s made from a standard polypropylene plastic material that is not as durable as some other materials you’ll find on more expensive versions of this type of knife.
With proper care you can get years of use from this knife, but the blade will likely outlast the handle.
The other thing that’s a little disappointing about this kukri is the sheath. It’s made from a Cor-ex material, which may sound durable, but according to many leaves a lot to be desired. The snap is strong enough and will hold your blade securely, but the material itself is noticeably flimsy. This is a great starter knife if you’re just beginning to explore your interest in the great outdoors.
Cold Steel Kukri Summary:
- Adequate entry level knife
- Great blade
- Slightly disappointing handle
- Well priced
Genuine Gurkha Aeof Kurki Review
For the traditionalist, the Genuine Gurkha Aeof Kukri will probably make their eyes light up like a kid on Christmas morning. This knife has a beautiful blade made from 5160 grade carbon steel. It’s the same material they use to make the suspension for vehicles to give you an idea of how durable it really is. This is a handcrafted blade that’s razor sharp so you’ll want to keep it away from small children.
The handle is made from real Rosewood and has natural finger grooves that make it easy to grip. There is a lanyard at the end of the handle that you can use to tie off on the outside of your backpack as well. The only real drawback with a traditional design like this is that you don’t have the finger grooves you’ll find on modern kukris so you may find it a little slippery – especially in wet conditions.
If you love the smell of real leather then you’ll probably be pleased to know that the sheath on this traditional survival kukri is made from genuine Buffalo leather. These naturally tough hides have been used to sheath these knives for generations and they are designed to withstand rugged conditions.
This knife has one of the thickest blades you’ll find on a machete kukri, measuring 10mm thick at the spine. The blade is approximately 11” long, but as these are handmade knives this may vary slightly. The handle is about 5” long making the overall length 16”. As you might expect, it’s a little more expensive than some of its competitors, but the cost isn’t unreasonable. If you’re looking for quality and tradition this blade definitely fits that profile.
Genuine Gurkha Aeof Summary:
- For the traditionalist
- Very thick blade
- Beautiful, strong handle
- Well priced but more expensive than others
SOG Sogfari Kukri Machete Review
SOG is a name that will probably be familiar to anyone with a military background. This company has been making reliable knives for US military and police forces for years. The blade on this particular knife is made from carbon steel and is sharp enough to handle most small cutting jobs around the camp. There’s also has an innovative saw on the back of this tactical kukri that can be used for quickly cutting through branches.
The handle is made from a flexible Kraton rubber material that’s durable and easy to grip. It’s textured to add extra grip – even when conditions aren’t ideal. They’ve also designed it ergonomically so that it naturally contours to your hand. At either end of the handle there are extensions that will prevent your grip from sliding and reduce the risk of injury. Another useful addition is a spike on the end of the handle which can be used for pounding and scraping.
As for the sheath, it’s made from a synthetic material which seems to hold up well to wear and tear. Although, the manufacturer’s use of a Velcro style snap in place of a more traditional button design is a bit of a concern. There are several rivets down the length of the sheath that give it extra durability.
The major problem with this knife is the thinness of the blade. It’s only 0.8” thick and many customers have complained that it breaks relatively easily if used for heavier cutting jobs. The blade length is fairly decent though at 12 inches. It may not be the best kukri knife out there, but the price tag of less than may be enticing to a lot of consumers.
SOG Sogfari Summary:
- Military grade knife
- Multi-purpose blade with saw
- Durable, easy to grip handle
- Very nicely priced.
Background and Information
The kukri is a knife with an interesting and almost mythical history. It has been used by the Gurkha warriors of Nepal for centuries, although it was first introduced to the western world in the late 18th century as British soldiers had the misfortune of facing Gurkha warriors in battle. The Gurkhas used these knives as a versatile tool that was deadly in battle and practical for everyday use as well.
More recently the Gurkhas became integrated with the British army and have been used in several frontline combat roles from WWII, right through modern campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Wherever they see combat they always take their kukris with them. Special Forces units in both the British and American armies have also adopted the kukri machete for use due to their versatile nature.
Current Uses For Survival Kukris
It’s not unusual for tools to get their start in a military role before being adopted for use by the general population and that’s exactly what’s happened with the kukri. These knives are now very popular with all types of outdoor enthusiasts for use on hunting trips, fishing trips, as well as hiking and camping. You really can’t beat their versatility and their compact design makes them much easier to carry than a machete or an axe.
You can use a kukri for chopping wood, cutting through thick vegetation in your path, and for cutting meat as well. Some modern kukris also include spikes on the end of the handle that can be used for pounding and scraping. It’s this versatile nature that makes them such a popular choice for those that spend a lot of time outdoors.
Standard Design Features
The blade is probably the most important aspect of the kukri. It features a unique forward curve that’s designed for multiple uses as we’ve mentioned throughout this article. Typically, it’s best to look for a blade made from strong materials such as carbon steel and one that’s thick enough that it won’t easily bend or break – between 2 and 3mm is fairly standard.
Traditional kukris feature wooden handles, but many now prefer modern designs with strong synthetic rubber materials that resist wear and tear. It’s also a good idea to look for a handle with several finger grooves that make it easier to grip and one that’s nicely contoured for your hands. Some kukris have cheaper polypropylene handles and it’s probably best to avoid these unless you’re really looking for the most affordable options.
The blades sheath is an important part of the package, as a well-designed one will protect your blade from the elements and extend its useful life by years. Traditionally they were made from leather, but this is a little less common today. Sheath’s today are normally made from synthetic materials that can be just as durable, but that’s not always the case so it’s important to do your homework.
When you’re camping in an area far removed from civilization you’re bound to be faced with many situations that require the use of a knife or similar type of tool. You may need wood for the camp fire, or need to clear an area around your site of overgrown weeds, and of course you’ll likely need something to cut your meat with.
The problem is, you can only bring so much with you due to space and physical limitations. The best all-purpose tool for all of the activities we’ve just mentioned is the kukri knife and the brands we’ve reviewed on this site are all great choices. It’s up to you to decide which features are most important to you, but if you’re looking for one of the most versatile camping tools available, there isn’t much that compares to a kukri machete.