After a long spring and summer filled with outdoor adventures and fun, the time has come for most of us to put our camping knives away for the winter. Most household knives are kept in loosely in a drawer, and this may be fine for your lesser quality steel; however, quality camping knives deserve better treatment.
Because a camping knife is made for rugged utility – not cutting up a tomato or buttering your toast – you’ll want to take a little more care when preparing your outdoor knives for winter storage.
Sharpen. After a long season of use, chances are your camping knife blades are dull and worn. Make sure each knife is sharpened at least once before storage. This ensures your knives will be ready to go with minimal effort on your part come spring.
Deep clean. Thoroughly clean all of your camping knives. Use a light mix of salt and vinegar, and apply it to your blades with a soft cloth. The goal is to remove all fingerprints (the acid buildup causes rust) and clean all the nooks and crannies of your knife hilt and handle. Folding knives are especially prone to grime and dirt buildup within the seams.
Oil it up. After a thorough cleaning, get out your favorite oil product and begin oiling down your blades. You don’t need to use much; otherwise, you will risk getting more dirt and acids stuck to your blade. The oil helps prevent rusting and maintains the aesthetic appeal of each camping knife.
Store it wisely. When it comes time to actually put away your blades, choose a location that is out of the way – in other words, not in your main closet or tool area in the garage – to avoid accidental damage. Make sure each camping knife has its own space and will stay in place while in storage. You do not want your knives moving around or being nicked by other tools. Keep in mind, too, that despite the popularity of leather sheaths, storing your knife in one can cause the blade to rust.
Maintain temperature. Finally, wherever you choose to store your blades, make sure the room temperature is maintained at a moderate level (40-50 degrees) and that the air in the room remains dry. For example, storing your camping knives in the attic may be a bad idea if you live in an area that experiences extreme temperatures or humidity. Additionally, water or rain leaking in your garage or storage area can also lead to rust; make sure your knives remain dry and cool throughout the winter.