Whether it’s performing an emergency tracheotomy, opening a stubborn envelope or protecting yourself, you can never predict exactly when having one of the best pocket knives is going to come in handy.
Sure, if you’re planning on going camping for six weeks, you’ll probably want a proper survival knife, but for the rest of life’s challenges, you’re going to want a great pocket knife for its convenience, size and foldability.
Whatever you do get up to, the only thing you can be sure of is you’d much rather be in a situation where you don’t need a knife and have one than to need a knife and not have one.
Before you go sinking your money, here are a few things to keep in mind about pocket knives:
- Check the weight and blade length so you get something that’s right for you. Also, cities and states regulate the lengths and kinds of blades you’re allowed to own. So if you live in New York City and Amazon won’t ship you a particular knife, there’s a very good chance it’s because of knife regulations. And once you have the knife, you’ll of course want to keep abreast of relevant laws.
- Blades are generally made from one of two metals: carbon steel or stainless steel. Carbon steel knives are generally harder, stronger and more easily sharpened, but they can corrode more easily. Stainless steel knives, typically with the addition of an anti-corroding metal like chromium, corrode less easily and are frequently cheaper.
- Every pocket knife will come with some kind of blade-locking mechanism. You don’t need to know the different kinds to get a solid pocket knife (though can find more information here if you want). What you do need to know is that each kind of lock comes with different pros and cons. Some make the knife more expensive, some are more secure, some enable the knife to be opened with either hand and some break down faster than others, affecting the integrity of the knife.
With all that in mind, take a look through our collection of the best pocket knives to carry with you every day.
1. CRKT M16-01KS EDC Folding Pocket Knife
CRKT makes some of the top EDC knives, and this durable, compact and lightweight pocket knife is easy to clip to your pocket or keep in a camping bag. The flipper design quickly deploys the blade for quick use, and a pin locks it in place. The sliding pin makes it easy to close. The holes in the handle help keep the knife lightweight, and the black powder coating makes the knife more resistant to corrosion.
2. Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife
There are actually multiple versions of the Swiss Army knife from Victorinox, which vary widely by price, size and functionality. The Classic version is Victorinox’s most basic pocket knife, and it has a blade, screwdriver/nail file, scissors, tweezers and toothpick. Its compact size makes it easy to attach to your keychain without it taking up too much space — it’s not much longer than a door key. It may not be what a survivalist would choose for 72 hours in the wilderness, but for the purposes of cutting open packages and adjusting small screws, it’s the perfect option.
3. LL. Bean Double L Pocket Knife
LL Bean is one of the most iconic outdoor clothing brands, known for its practical yet preppy take on camping and outdoor gear. Similarly, the brand’s Double L Pocket knife brings a classic sense of style to a utilitarian accessory. The rich rosewood handle features polished brass accents and the sturdy stainless steel blade is outdoor-ready. It’s not a locking blade, so it’s easier to use if you’d rather not fidget with locking mechanisms.
4. The James Brand The Elko
If you’re looking for a pocket knife that you can attach to your keychain, the compact Elko knife from The James Brand is a good one to get. The James Brand has been an increasingly popular option in the EDC market for their sleekly modern yet practical knives and keychains. The handle of this knife has a minimalist matte finish, and the small 1.8″ blade is the perfect size for everyday use. The back of the knife can be used as a lanyard hole for keychains or as a miniature screwdriver.
5. Opinel No. 6 Stainless Steel Pocket Knife
If you’re looking for a classic option, this blade from Opinel has a simple yet beautiful beechwood handle that gives it an heirloom quality. The folding blade has a locking ring that secures it in the open and closed position, so you can safely open and close the blade. The 2.75″ blade is a good compact size for different settings.
6. Leatherman FREE T4 Knife
This Leatherman knife is something of an upgraded version of Victorinox’s ever-popular Swiss Army knife. It has premium features like locking components that prevent the blade from loosening over time and accidentally opening. The handle is made from glass-filled nylon for added durability, and tools include scissors, a pry tool, package opener, awl, bottle opener and file, in addition to the 2.2″ blade.
7. Barton Blades Bartech Pro Knife
This Barton Blade Bartech Pro Knife features high-quality stainless steel and a half-serrated blade. It also includes a small thumb stud on the blade’s face for quick opening and closing. When the knife is closed, it has an all-over black appearance with a hint of silver. And, using the attached key chain, the knife can be carried by hand, on a keychain or in a pocket with ease.
8. Imperial Schrade Pocket Knife
The Imperial Schrade is a classy pocket knife that also comes with a couple of extra additions. As well as the 1.8-inch main blade, this knife also includes two other flip-out blades, each with a nail pull for easy access. Furthermore, the handle comes in an attractive silver color, which makes this knife a gift that any family member of knife-wielding age is sure to love.
9. Gerber STL 2.0 Pocket Knife
Stylish and sleek, the Gerber STL 2.0 Pocket Knife sports an all-black design. The STL in the name stands for “strong, thin and light,” and weighing only one ounce, you already know part of that’s true. Additionally, the ultra-thin blade is ideal for precise and detailed work. Plus, there’s a cut out in the blade to make opening and closing this pocket knife a single-handed job.
10. Morpilot Multitool Knife & Flashlight Set
Another sleek offering, this two-in-one set includes a Morpilot Multitool Knife and the Morpilot Flashlight. The multitool features five individual functions: a bottle opener, seat belt cutter, saw, glass breaker and a self-defense knife. This is especially ideal for any of those unexpected “does anyone have a…?” moments.
In addition, the included handheld flashlight boasts five different lighting options, high/medium/low as well as strobe and S.O.S. It’s rated to IPX4 and has an anti-drop rating of up to one meter.
11. Old Timer Pocket Knife
With its durable Delrin handle and 400 series stainless steel blade, the Old Timer Pocket Knife is a modern pocket knife with a classic look. It sports a lanyard loop for easy attachment to belts, keys and other items. Plus, the knife’s blade is 1.6 inches long, which is sufficient for completing most day-to-day tasks.
12. Case Stockman Pocket Knife
The Case Stockman Pocket Knife features three flip-out blades, giving you a range of options to complete the task at hand. You’ll find a clip, sheepsfoot and pen blade within the brown Delrin plastic handle, which is perfect for things like pocket knives that require low friction and long wear life.
The knife’s outwardly tough appearance and high-quality build make it great for deep-in-the-forest situations as well as at-the-desk emergencies. Plus, this Case product also comes with a limited lifetime guarantee.
13. Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool, Evolution Pocket Knife
It may not be a traditional pocket knife, but the Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool Evolution Pocket Knife is much, much more. Of course, it contains a blade for your basic cutting needs, but this 3.3-inch package also packs in 14 other functions in one easy-to-carry tool. It has a key ring, a toothpick, tweezers, a nail file, a nail cleaner, a Phillips screwdriver, a bottle opener, a 3-millimeter and 5-mm screwdriver, a wire stripper, a can opener, a reamer/punch, a sewing awl, a wood saw and finally, a pair of scissors.
If you’re going on a short camping trip or just headed out for an adventure, this is one of the best pocket knives to throw in your pack.
14. The James Brand The Carter
The Carter knife from The James Brand is a top-notch knife for everyday carry. It looks both modern and outdoorsy at the same time and will take care of just about all your cutting needs.
It opens up quickly and easily courtesy of a thumb-disc near the top of the blade on both sides. It also features a removable and reversible pocket clip so you can pocket the blade however you see fit. The blade is made from anti-corroding stainless steel and the handle is made from micarta, a common material for knife handles due to its durability and resistance to damaging solvents.
15. Kershaw Link Pocket Knife
The Kershaw Link Pocket Knife is a great all-around knife at a great price for its quality steel and great opening mechanism. The blade is made of a high-carbon, chromium, heat-treated steel that will sharpen easily and stay strong as long as it sees regular use. It opens fast with a quick press of the finger on the flipper or thumb stud and the blade locks into place for secure cutting. For the handle, Kershaw uses glass-filled nylon, which offers great stiffness, grip and resistance to heat and wear.
Overall, this knife feels good in the hand, uses quality components, opens like a charm and does it all at a pretty great price, especially if you don’t mind not having your choice of handle color. It’s definitely one of the best pocket knives for under $50 you can get.
16. CRKT CEO Folding Pocket Knife
The Columbia River Knife and Tool CEO Folding Pocket Knife is the epitome of a minimalist pocket knife. It looks like a mini sword when you open it up and its discreet appearance makes it perfect for occasions where you don’t expect to need a knife but want one anyway. Seriously, at first glance, you might not even know it was a knife when folded up.
Its closed length is about 4.5 inches, with a 3.2-inch blade, so it’ll easily hide in any shirt or jacket pocket or clip to your pocket. The thumb stud makes opening the knife as easy a quick flick of the wrist and the glass-nylon handle is lightweight and will last long.
If you’re looking for a sleek, modern pocket knife, the CRFT CEO is one of the best pocket knives for you.
17. Zero Tolerance 0770CF Folding Knife
Zero Tolerance simply makes professional-quality pocket knives for consumers who want only the best. The Zero Tolerance 0770CF Folding Knife exemplifies that mission.
The stainless steel blade incorporates carbon and vanadium for corrosion resistance and makes use of a diamond-like carbon coating that improves hardness, adds even more corrosion and wear resistance and makes the blade less frictional so whatever you cut doesn’t remain on the blade.
The handle is made from a woven glass fiber that’s as lightweight as it is strong and durable.
Opening the knife is also a breeze because it makes use of the same SpeedSafe opener as the Kershaw Link Pocket Knife. You just press the flipper or thumb stud and the blade will open and lock into place.
18. Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife
When you buy Opinel, you’re buying a piece of knife history. Seriously. The French company runs a museum for its knives, which it started producing in 1890. The Opinel Carbon Steel No. 8 Folding Pocket Knife uses the same basic design the company’s been using for over 100 years because if ain’t broke…
The blade uses Swiss carbon steel for extreme hardness, so it’ll cut easily and sharpen easily once the blade inevitably dulls. In keeping with its French and traditional knife-making roots, Opinel uses hard, durable French beechwood for its handles.
But the most notable quality is the price. It’s rare to find any of the best pocket knives for under $50, let alone $20. So for the price, you just can’t find many more quality knives.
Overall, the knife is simple, sturdy and a great bargain for its high quality.
19. Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight Signature Knife
Spyderco pioneered now common pocket knife features such as pocket clips and a round hole in the blade for easy opening. You’ll get both of those features and more in the Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight Signature Knife.
The knife is compact and well-balanced, with a low-friction nitrogen-enriched high-carbon chromium steel blade and a fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle. The size of the blade, nylon handle and overall design also make it one of the most lightweight options out there at a mere 2.6 ounces without compromising on utility.
It can open safely and easily with one hand and the clip slides on to any pocket with ease while remaining secure, so it’ll always be just a second away from your hand.
If you’re really picking up what Spyderco is putting down, you can also get the same knife with a serrated edge for improved sawing capabilities.
20. Buck Knives Canoe
Sometimes, one knife isn’t enough. Buck Knives, founded in 1902, recognizes that. This Canoe knife has two blades that open from either end of the rugged wood handle. A bigger blade isn’t always better, which is why it’s handy to have this small blade for any delicate cuts you have to make in hard to reach spaces.
21. SOG Twitch II Knife
SOG is a premium option when it comes to knives, and the brand is known for durability and reliability in making original and reproduction knives. The Twitch II is a simple and easy to use blade, thanks to the one-handed quick-release. The small 2.7″ blade and pocket clip makes it easier to take this knife on the go.
How to Maintain a Pocket Knife
Pocket knives can take care of you in a variety of settings, but you also have to take care of them. If you’re cutting open packages, it’s a good idea to ensure the blade is clean — you don’t want any sticky residue gumming up the works. You’ll also need to sharpen the blades as needed. A tool like the Work Sharp Field Sharpener is an easy and affordable way to help you keep your tools sharp. There are different guides, including coarse diamond, fine diamond, ceramic hone and leather strop that let you work in stages for better results.