Ontario Camp Plus Chef Knife Review

Between backpacking, camping trips and everyday backyard barbecues, I find myself cooking and preparing food outdoors fairly often. That being the case, I’m always on the lookout for a great knife for camp food prep, and the Camp Plus Chef Knife from Ontario Knife Co. is one I’ve had my eye on for a while. 

Ultimately, I found this knife—which usually retails for a dirt-cheap $17 or so—on sale for a mere $12, so I figured what the heck. If it’s junk, at least it didn’t cost me very much. 

I can’t say I regret the purchase. Like any knife in this price range, there are a few things about the Ontario Camp Plus Chef Knife that diehard knife nuts will wag their fingers at. But at the same time, there are quite a few things that really impressed me about it. 

Ontario Camp Plus Chef: First Impressions

The Chef Knife is part of Ontario’s Camp Plus line of knives, which also includes a bread knife, a Santoku knife and the Camp Plus EDC, which sports a clip-point blade and an added pocket clip. They share a common aesthetic, but the Chef is the simplest and most straightforward of the lot, which is why I chose it. 

It’s always interesting to compare the way a knife looks in pictures vs. the way it feels in your hand. Even though I knew the measurements in advance, the Onatrio Camp Chef feels like a bigger knife than I was expecting. 

It sports a long, broad blade that is very similar to what you’d see on a true chef’s knife in your kitchen. The handle is big too, but surprisingly thin, and the scales, despite having a cheap plastic look, actually have excellent grip and feel great in my hand. I’m pleasantly surprised. 

Measurements & Specs

The Ontario Camp Plus Chef Knife has a 4.25-inch blade and measures 9.51 inches when fully open. Like I said, it’s not a small knife. It has green glass-filled nylon scales over super-thin steel liners. The blade is made of AUS-8 stainless steel, and it features a classic lock back. It weighs 3.5 ounces.

Blade Shape & Steel

The shape of the blade is essentially a drop point, but it’s a very steep drop, so much so that you would almost be able to call it a sheepsfoot blade, but not quite. I’m sure you’ve seen proper chef’s knives in the kitchen before, and it’s basically the same shape, just a scaled-down version. 

The blade also has a hollow grind and a nicely curved cutting edge. The amount of “belly” this blade has is designed to make it effective at all the food prep tasks you would expect it to handle. Slicing, dicing, chopping, etc. 

AUS-8 stainless steel is good, solid, budget-friendly Japanese steel. It’s used in quite a few pocket folders and EDC knives as well as plenty of real chef’s knives. It has phenomenal corrosion resistance and pretty good hardness for stainless steel (52-56 HRC).

It holds a decent edge, but more importantly, it’s easy to sharpen. As a chef knife, this is a blade that you’re probably going to use regularly, so I value sharpenability at least as much as edge retention. Mine came very sharp out of the box, which I wasn’t necessarily expecting, and it was still cutting well after several days of repeated use. 

Deployment & Lockup

The Ontario Camp Plus opens very smoothly. One-handed deployment is an option, and the lockback holds the blade firmly in place once open. It only locks in the open position, but the lockbar creates enough tension in the closed position that the blade doesn’t come flying open unwanted. 

Overall, nothing about the deployment and lockup of this knife is particularly special or noteworthy, but I’m also not disappointed with it given the price. There is a bit of side-to-side play in the blade, a little bit when it’s open but even more when it’s closed. I have a feeling that if I applied enough pressure, I could get the lock to fail without too much effort, and I could probably snap the blade right off the handle if I really wanted to. 

Now, if I had paid $100 or even $50 for this knife, I would be absolutely tearing it a new one on that basis. But the fact is, this is a very cheap knife. It’s also a knife that’s designed for cooking, not batoning wood or hand-to-hand combat, so I’m not going to judge it as if it was supposed to be heavy-duty. Ultimately, the fit and finish are not super impressive, but so it goes. 

Comfort & Carry

I find the Camp Plus Chef to be a comfortable and easy knife to use. The glass-filled nylon scales are rigid and solid but don’t have any sharp angles that cause discomfort in my hand, and the diamond-pattern grip texture is deep and very effective at preventing slippage. 

The handle is both longer and thinner than that of most of the EDC knives I’m accustomed to carrying, and much more so than my actual kitchen chef’s knives, so that takes a little getting used to, but the handle is nicely shaped for comfort, and my fingers and thumb have no trouble getting an excellent grip. 

Even though there isn’t a pocket clip, the thinness of the knife does make it quite comfortable for pocket carry. It also slips easily into any narrow space in a hiking pack. Also with noting, the handle is held together with six-point Torx screws, which makes it easy to take apart and clean. It has a lanyard hole as well.

Final Thoughts on the Ontario Camp Plus Chef

I’ve touched on this already, but I think it’s important to restate: one should judge a knife based on its value and intended use, not by comparing it to knives that are in a totally different class. This is not a high-end piece of equipment. ButI don’t think I’ve ever paid as little for a knife as I paid for the Ontario Camp Plus Chef Knife and gotten anything nearly as good. 

I was looking for a knife for camp cooking, and nothing more. I have good kitchen knives at home, but I don’t like taking them out into the bush on camping trips (and taking them backpacking is certainly not an option). I also don’t love getting my go-to EDC knives gunked up with food if I can help it. 

That left an opening for a simple, affordable knife for camp cooking, and the Ontario Camp Plus Chef is that knife. I’ve used mine to prepare all sorts of food for grilling and cooking outside, and It performs beautifully.

It makes clean cuts through crusty bread, crisp veggies, all kinds of cheese, fresh and frozen meats, and even cleanly cuts through soft materials like tomatoes without making a mess out of them. Just be sure to have a good sharpening stone or honing rod handy for occasional touch-ups. 

I review a lot of knives, and many of them end up being forgotten about once the “testing phase” is over. But my Camp Plus now has a permanent home with my camp cooking gear, and I fully intend to keep using it for years to come. It’s safe to say I’ve already gotten my money’s worth out of it.

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