I'm not used to multi-day hikes, and soon I will be going on a 5 day hike and I thought it would be a good idea to carry a folding knife this time just to be on the safe side. I won't be needing it for food prep or setting up camp, since those will be provided.

Where is best place to carry a knife? I'm thinking of using the hip-belt pocket of my backpack, but I read somewhere that this is not a very good idea since you could become separated from your backpack. My nylon hiking pants pockets seems to flimsy to carry a metal object with the capacity to tear it all up.

EDIT: complementary information.

  • The trek in question is Salkantay in Machu Picchu, cold, layering clothes, rain possibility.
  • The pants are convertible in shorts and made for hiking (the fabric is Rhodia Amni UV 50+). They are much softer and lighter than cotton or jeans pants and are made to dry really fast and ease perspiration.
  • The folding knife has some weight to it, so it will be dangling in the pocket, also I don't trust its corners rubbing against the fabric.
  • 1
    A Nylon-Pant for a 5-Day Hike? Not a good idea though!
    – WedaPashi
    Jul 8, 2013 at 5:27
  • @WedaPashi, why not?
    – Steed
    Jul 8, 2013 at 7:42
  • I dont have enough knowledge about few things like where the above fellow is going to Hike, what sort of a Nylon his pant made up of, what type of the terrain it is going to be, at what temperatures, What sort of a trail it is going to be (with Dried Grass, Normal Grasslands, or through thickets and so other things), is the guy going to have a tent and/or sleeping bag, etc. In India where I trek, people tend to have Army Cargo Pants or Pants with some thick but flexible fabric. But if its raining, Nylon is the obvious choice here. Depends on terrains and Weather I believe.
    – WedaPashi
    Jul 8, 2013 at 8:34
  • 1
    I never go anywhere without a knife, I used to get in trouble in high school for having my swiss army knife on my belt all the time.
    – ShemSeger
    Apr 25, 2015 at 1:23
  • 1
    Please remember that carrying a knife openly can be illegal in many countries: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knife_legislation. So be prudent when passing through communities on the trail, and put you knife in your pack. May 20, 2016 at 10:38

8 Answers 8


I have one such a belt-pocket which I can either attach to my Haversack's waist-belt, or my own hiking pant's belt clips or the belt itself using a runner (but belt is not an option for you because you are using a nylon pant).

It depends on both (its weight and size) at the same time since having it tied up at a wrong place can injure you and/or can be very uncomfortable when you climb on boulders, or giant natural steps like the ones you have in dried water-streams, or places where you have to scramble.

If it is portable enough to put in a Waist-pouch, then it seems to be a good option. Because, Waist-pouch is something that you should never loose at any point of outdoor time. Now if you say that you do have a waist-pouch and its of Nylon-like material, then you are back to square one.

I have the folding kind of a knife, and I tie it up to my waist-belt, and a tiny multipurpose Knife like a swiss-knife which I always have in my Waist-Pouch with a candle, Camphor and Matchbox and a 5 m Nylon Thread-Roll and a Needle and medical stitch-string roll. And some Jelly balls and Extra Batteries for Cam and Cellphone, a blow-whistle and my small harp :)

  • I do have a leather waist pouch/fanny pack. I don't know if I will bring it to the trip since I will be carrying a backpack the whole time and the wait pouch will probably feel unconfortable below the hipbelt. Jul 8, 2013 at 13:14
  • Then I guess having the Knife belted to the waist-belt on your recessive hand-side could be an option. (If you are righty, them have it on left side, and vice versa)
    – WedaPashi
    Jul 8, 2013 at 15:14

A folding knife is always a great idea. I carry mine everywhere - city and backpacking. It gets used at least once a day - open a beer, cut a string of rope, cut up food, remove a thorn, open up a stubborn snack. No need thinking if it is with me or not.

Because the knife is important to me, I choose my cloths with it in mind. Cotton pants, with deep pockets and sturdy construction. They sell for $1 at a second-hand shop.

My point is, think of a way to carry it on your person, not the backpack. You will find a million uses.

  • As I said above, I will be using light trekking pants, so they aren't as sturdy as cotton ones. Jul 8, 2013 at 13:15
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    @LuizBorges, you can clip it to the edge of the pants, hanging against your skin. This should be more solid, than against the pocket, but is not really convenient for walking, plus it exposes the knife to your sweat. In your place, I would follow WedaPashi's advice and clip it against the waist-belt of the backpack. Have fun!
    – Vorac
    Jul 10, 2013 at 7:20
  • When I buy hiking pants I make sure there is a spot for clipping a knife into a pocket. A good pair of pants will have this pocket along with a reinforcing piece of metal that the knife clip slides on.
    – Induster
    Jul 29, 2013 at 21:44

I carry a folding knife with me in the field, usually on quickdry pants. Generally I find the problem is more it swinging around in the bottom of the pocket than damaging the cloth, so I find that the best place is in the front pocket, clipped over the back/bottom part of the pocket lip. That way it's both secure and convenient, and this is usually a fairly well-reinforced area on the pants – I've never had a problem with wear and tear.

  • Precisely for this reason I now only buy folding knives with a clip!
    – Samuel DR
    Aug 19, 2013 at 7:51

I've been on many multi day hikes, and have used both folding knives and fixed blade knives, I like to use a larger duty belt which I use to attach my Binoculars, Water Canteen, Pouch for snacks and my knife, It sits nicely in a small cover which holds great on the belt! The best thing about having the belt is that it will always be on you even if you need to remove your bag, and it is easily accessible. And also great when resting, as it can be easily taken for for a few minutes!


I've found that most folding knifes get easily lost (might just be me). This is because you need to train yourself to always put it in the same place. And the folding mechanism tends to be a weak spot when doing heavier work.

I have a solid knife with a sheath means I can grab it at any point (while climbing, hanging over the side of my sailboat etc.) and I always have a default place to put it back. I carry it mostly clipped on one of my pockets (either by my chest or on my pants when in light clothing).

After years of hiking, sailing and camping a (pocket) knife is the number one thing to bring.

  • Safety: cutting lines and ropes (no not to intimidate robbers or stab wildlife)
  • Tool: since I've got a very thick blade I can use the backside for large screws and the tip is handy for prying etc. (be careful though, one slip and you'll need more then just your first aid kit.)
  • Fire building: Besides making tinder a good knife with a stone for a hammer can cut branches and small trees.
  • Leisure: When you need to wait or have nothing to do you can do some wood carving.
  • Cooking and eating: yes after all that I even cut my steak with it (after a good cleaning of course) but with a good knife and a spork you can eat everything.

The knife I use is by light my fire and comes razor sharp and has a good sheath.

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Because this knife is fairly large (primarily because it doesn't fold) it doesn't really carry too well in city's etc so I'd advice stowing it away properly when getting out of the wilderness.

  • Also check with the country laws, as in several (inclusive the UK) fixed knives are not allowed.
    – Willeke
    Mar 29, 2018 at 16:36

For ease of access a knife with a pocket clip can be a convenient solution. This can either go in your pocket or clip through a convenient loop or strap on your pack or belt.

For small, easy to lose items like knives, compasses and torches it is not a bad idea to fit them with a loop of cord or good quality split ring which can be clipped into a lanyard so it is at least still attached to you if you drop it. If you use a small karibiner you can unclip it to use if the lanyard is inconvenient.

There is an argument that small items which are particularly vital in an emergency situation, of which a knife would be high on the list. Are best kept separate from your pack so you still have them if you get separated from it due to a fall or river crossing etc.

Most larger civilian packs don't really allow for wearing separate belt pouches but alternative options include a bandolier type arrangement worn under your pack straps or finding a pouch which will hang below your waist belt or a wallet in a trouser pocket, this is at least more comfortable than having lots of loose items in your pockets and reduces the chance of losing them.

The neck wallets used for holding ID cards etc can also be useful for small items.


IMHO. Folding blades are really only meant for concealment and aren't good for long term, heavy duty use.

I have used many folding blades throughout the years for protection as well as in the woods for using on multiple tasks.

Their poor design is that it uses a hinge and locking mechanism to extend and lock the blade in place. This tends to put all the pressure on the hinge and lock itself when working with the knife.

After time the hinge wears loose and the blade itself tends to wobble and eventually causes the housing/handle to separate from itself which then in-turn causes you to be stuck with a blade with no handle (2 separate pieces).

I recommend a full tang blade, in a sheath hung at a comfortable position on the belt of your pants/shorts.

The things I carry on my person when I hike is a Knife (always), fire starter (lighter or flint), Some toilette paper (flattened) in a plastic sandwich baggy, and then I have a para-cord bracelet that can be extended to 6 feet.

I also recommend finding a medium sized blade. Too large and it's more of a small machete and over-cumbersomeness to work with on small tasks. Too small and you will have to work harder at bigger tasks. I tend to stay within a 3.5"-4" blade with serrated and straight edge blade.

The 3 types of of Knifes I use are Ka-bar, Gerber (bear Grills) and an Elk Ridge. You will also want to look for a knife with a nice comfortable handle, maybe a slight curve, and one that you can put your thumb over the spine of the blade in-case you need that fine tuning for whatever you are working on.

Also. Make sure the knife comes with a good sheath that locks the knife securely inside the sheath using some kind of a buckle or button system. I had to make my own sheath for my Gerber/Bear Grills knife.

If belting a knife is not an option you can always attach to your boot (if high enough) on the outside. I'm sorry. I would really have to see your gear and clothing setup to give a better description as to where to place it other than your belt/pants.

  • 3
    "After time the hinge wears loose and the blade itself tends to wobble and eventually causes the housing/handle to separate from itself which then in-turn causes you to be stuck with a blade with no handle" -- I find this to be entirely a function of the quality of construction and reasonable care in use. We have folding knives in my family that have been around for generations where the blade is still stable yet showing the wear of 50+ years of sharpening. Jul 22, 2016 at 21:28

For such a trip put the knife in your backpack.

You should not become separated from the backpack, if you do, in the area you are traveling survival will not come down to access to a knife - a pocket of $US will be far more useful. When backpacking, the idea of getting separated from your backpack should be so frightening that is something that you just do not let happen.

The only reason to carry something on you is if your going to need it quickly or easily without taking your back pack off. Camera is an obvious one, Bear spray comes to mind. Winter travel I would put gloves and hats in pockets so I could put them on without stopping.

Why would you need a knife in a hurry? Self Defense - hope your trained and know the local laws. Unless its changed recently, personally I would not want Police in Peru to find a knife on me. I am comfortable I could explain away a folding knife in a backpack, but one in my pocket...

  • Well hurry might not be the only consideration for having a knife handy. If you want to say cut open a sealed box/pack, and don't really want to unpack/unload your backpack, it would make sense to have it handy. But I agree, a folding knife would be a bigger issue than a multipurpose knife wrt law enforcement. Mar 29, 2018 at 11:04
  • Folding knives have their uses and a well made one will be reliable for a long time. Fixed knives are illegal in some countries and not needed for many people while on an organized hike.
    – Willeke
    Mar 29, 2018 at 16:39

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