The Best Pocket Knife: Everyday Carry Knives for Protection and Performance

Pocket Knife on moss


There are many reasons that outdoor enthusiasts can benefit from the best pocket knife. From cutting paracord on a backpacking trip to self-defense when you're running, the best pocket knives have many purposes.

A pocket knife is one of those gear items that you really don't know you'll need until the moment arrives. So it's simply better to carry one that way you’re prepared for whatever nature throws your way. But, the problem that some people face is finding the right pocket knife for the specific outdoor activity they enjoy. Fortunately, there are a variety of options—compact pocket knives for hiking and backpacking and bulkier models that can handle more rigorous duties while you're fishing or car camping.

Whether you're looking for the former or the latter, this list of the best pocket knife models has something for everyone. So let's take a look!

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The Best Pocket Knife - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Pocket Knife - CRKT Drifter EDC Folding Pocket Knife

CRKT Drifter EDC Folding Pocket Knife

SPECS

  • Weight: 2.4 oz.
  • Blade length: 2.88"
  • Blade material: 8Cr14MoV High carbon stainless steel with a titanium nitride finish
  • Style: Folding knife with straight edge blade and a liner lock

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Affordable, lightweight, and durable, the Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) Drifter is our choice for the best overall pocket knife. The G10 handle is made of glass-reinforced nylon and offers exceptional grip in nearly any weather condition you could imagine.

Super easy to open with its thumb stud, this knife’s blade is also coated to provide extra corrosion resistance. Plus, the stainless steel clip allows you to keep this knife handy for whenever you need it.

What We Like

  • Liner lock allows you to easily close the knife with one hand
  • Affordable option
  • Blade takes an edge well, making it easy to sharpen

What We Don't Like

  • Shorter blade length may make it harder to cut bigger items
  • Clip is only designed for right handed use

BUY: CRKT Drifter EDC Folding Pocket Knife

Best Small Pocket Knife - Kershaw Shuffle II Folding Pocket Knife, Small, Lightweight Utility and Multi-Function Knife

Kershaw Shuffle II Folding Pocket Knife, Small, Lightweight Utility and Multi-Function Knife

SPECS

  • Weight: 3.04 oz.
  • Blade length: 2.6"
  • Blade material: 8Cr13MoV Heat treated steel with Kershaw's Blackwash blade coating
  • Style: Folding tactical pocket knife with straight edge blade

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This is the most compact pocket knife with the shortest blade length on our list, making it a good option for those that don't want to carry anything bulky. It's also extremely affordable and includes a few extra tools that make it a tactical knife.

Those tools include a flathead screwdriver tip, a bottle opener, and a lanyard loop at the end. Ambidextrous thumb studs also make it easy for right-handed or left-handed users to open and close.

What We Like

  • Reversible pocket clip makes it suitable for right or left handed use
  • Easily opens manually without mechanical assistance
  • Super affordable

What We Don't Like

  • Short blade length
  • Blade may not be suitable for resharpening

BUY: Kershaw Shuffle II Folding Pocket Knife, Small, Lightweight Utility and Multi-Function Knife

Best Budget Pocket Knife - Tunafire Folding Pocket Knife

Tunafire Folding Pocket Knife

SPECS

  • Weight: 3.31 oz.
  • Blade length: 3.15"
  • Blade material: D2 steel
  • Style: Lightweight EDC folding knife with straight edge blade

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A great knife for its price point, the Tunafire folding pocket knife is budget-friendly but also highly effective. The G10 handle is wear-resistant and the liner lock makes it easy to operate with one hand.

Sharp enough for everything from cutting food to pruning shrubs, this knife’s insulated handle makes it easy to operate in wet weather. Plus, it includes a clip for everyday carry, making it a great gift for that special someone in your life.

What We Like

  • Extremely affordable
  • Has a durable blade that won't get slippery when wet
  • Has a compact closed length that makes it comfortable to carry

What We Don't Like

  • No evidence of a corrosion-resistant blade coating
  • Belt clip is only designed for right-handed carry

BUY: Tunafire Folding Pocket Knife

Best Pocket Knife for Self Defense - MTech USA – Spring Assisted Folding Knife

MTech USA – Spring Assisted Folding Knife

SPECS

  • Weight: 4.8 oz.
  • Blade length: 3.75"
  • Blade material: Stainless steel with purple titanium coating
  • Style: Folding pocket knife with straight edge blade

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This is the first pocket knife on our list that features spring-assisted opening, making it even easier to deploy with just one hand. It also offers a liner lock that secures the blade in place when it's folded up and prevents accidental openings.

The pocket clip allows you to easily carry it on your right hip and it features additional tools, including a bottle opener and a glass breaker. Plus, you're sure to turn heads with one of the only pocket knives out there with a purple blade.

What We Like

  • Fine edge blade is great for cutting, scraping, or scouring
  • Glass breaker is great for survival situations
  • Spring assist allows you to deploy it quickly for self defense

What We Don't Like

  • Only designed for right hip carry
  • Purple might not be your color

BUY: MTech USA – Spring Assisted Folding Knife

Best Utility Pocket Knife - KINGMAX Pocket Knife, Multitool Tactical Knife

KINGMAX Pocket Knife, Multitool Tactical Knife

SPECS

  • Weight: 7.7 oz.
  • Blade length: 3.1"
  • Blade material: 440C stainless steel
  • Style: Folding pocket knife and multi-tool with straight edge and serrated blade

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If you're looking for something that looks and feels like a pocket knife while offering the function and versatility of a multi-tool, look no further. This knife includes so many tools that you might come in handy while camping, hiking, or for basically any other outdoor pursuit.

That includes regular and needle nose pliers, a flathead screwdriver, a bottle opener, a wire cutter, and a screwdriver adapter that fits the bit sleeve and the included screwdriver bits. Plus, it features both straight edge and serrated blade sections.

What We Like

  • Basically a pocket knife and a multi-tool rolled into one
  • Made with durable, rust-resistant stainless steel
  • Super affordable for all the tools it comes with

What We Don't Like

  • A little on the heavier side
  • Doesn't feature a pocket clip, but does come with a holster-style carrying case

BUY: KINGMAX Pocket Knife, Multitool Tactical Knife

Best High-End Pocket Knife - Benchmade 560BK-1 Freek G10 Knife

Benchmade 560BK-1 Freek G10 Knife

SPECS

  • Weight: 4.3 oz.
  • Blade length: 3.6”
  • Blade material: CPM-M4 stainless steel
  • Style: Folding pocket knife with straight edge blade

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Benchmade is known for quality and that's reflected in the premium materials used in the construction of this pocket knife. They've even taken the extra time to build it with anodized aluminum barrel spacers that provide a pop of color to the G10 handle.

That handle offers excellent grip in all weather conditions and the stainless steel blade is designed for hard use. They even built the pocket clip so that it can be reversed easily for right or left-handed carry.

What We Like

  • Premium construction materials
  • Reversible tip-up black oxide split-arrow pocket clip
  • Axis® lock folding mechanism

What We Don't Like

  • High price point
  • Doesn't include any additional tools like a bottle opener or glass breaker

BUY: Benchmade 560BK-1 Freek G10 Knife

Best Quality Pocket Knife - CRKT M16-10KS Folding Knife

CRKT M16-10KS Folding Knife

SPECS

  • Weight: 2.6 oz.
  • Blade length: 3.08'
  • Blade material: Stainless steel with corrosion-resistant EDP coating
  • Style: Folding pocket knife with straight edge and partially serrated blade

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Another CRKT model makes our list and gets our nod here because it's one of the most lightweight, high-quality pocket knives around. The hollow handle brings its overall weight down, making it a perfect option for backpacking or long-distance hiking.

And the Tanto blade features Triple Point serrations with a traditional frame locking mechanism. The knife also offers a Carson-style flipper that makes it quick and easy to deploy the blade while also functioning as the blade guard when it's set in the open position.

What We Like

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Features both serrated and straight-edge blade sections
  • Affordable

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't feature a pocket clip for easy carrying
  • Doesn't offer any additional tools

BUY: CRKT M16-10KS Folding Knife

Best Lightweight Pocket Knife - Rush Deer Folding Knife with Clip

Rush Deer Folding Knife with Clip

SPECS

  • Weight: 3.53 oz.
  • Blade length: 3.5”
  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Style: Folding pocket knife with straight edge blade

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This Rush Deer pocket knife joins our inclusions for lightweight and extremely affordable pocket knife models. The standard model comes with a G10 handle, but there are models with handles made of carbon fiber, micarta, and wood (these can even be engraved for a personal touch).

The knife flipper makes it easy to deploy the blade with one hand and the back of the blade offers a thumb slot for safer cutting and closing. It also features a glass breaker, a pocket clip, and a lanyard hole.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and extremely affordable
  • Offers multiple handle material options
  • Blade is secured with a liner lock

What We Don't Like

  • Only designed for right-handed carry and deployment
  • Carbon handle can be slippery in wet conditions

BUY: Rush Deer Folding Knife with Clip

Best Pocket Knife for Camping - Benchmade 15085-2 Mini Crooked River Fine Edge Knife

Benchmade 15085-2 Mini Crooked River Fine Edge Knife

SPECS

  • Weight: 3.3 oz.
  • Blade length: 3.4"
  • Blade material: CPM-S30V stainless steel
  • Style: Folding pocket knife with straight edge blade

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Benchmade makes our list again and this mini pocket knife is a great addition to your arsenal of camping gear. It also happens to be one of the most stylish pocket knives on our list because of its contoured and stabilized wooden handle.

That handle also features anodized aluminum bolsters and stainless steel liners to make it durable, as well as stylish. And the clip-point blade is perfect for whittling the perfect walking stick on your next camping trip.

What We Like

  • Comfortable, contoured handle with a wooden finish
  • Manual folding lock mechanism
  • Reversible pocket clip and lanyard hole

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't feature any additional tools
  • Like the other Benchmade model above, it's a bit on the pricey side

BUY: Benchmade 15085-2 Mini Crooked River Fine Edge Knife

Best Pocket Knife for Fishing - Case Yellow Fishing Pocket Knife

Case Yellow Fishing Pocket Knife

SPECS

  • Weight: 2.7 oz.
  • Blade length: 3.4"
  • Blade material: Tru-Sharp stainless steel
  • Style: Folding pocket knife with straight edge blade and fishing tools

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Every prepared angler has a pocket knife and/or a multi-tool handle at all times. But if yours was recently lost or broken, this little pocket knife with its various fishing specific tools might just be the ideal replacement.

In addition to its straight edge blade, it also features a long clip blade and scaler with a hook removal tool and a hook sharpening stone. Plus, the bright yellow handle makes it easy to locate and deploy if you're fishing at dawn or dusk.

What We Like

  • Features a sleek, curved handle
  • Features an extra serrated blade for easy fish scaling
  • Blade is strong and corrosion-resistant

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't offer a pocket clip or a lanyard hole
  • A little pricey for the design

BUY: Case Yellow Fishing Pocket Knife

What to Consider When Buying a Pocket Knife

Blade Length

The blades on the models we've included above vary from 3.75” at the longest to 2.6” at the shortest. The main advantage of a longer blade is the ability to cut through thicker items, but the disadvantage is usually a heavier and bulkier design.

If you're comparing two pocket knives with blade lengths that are only slightly different, one of these other factors might be more applicable to how you imagine using your knife.

Blade Material

For starters, stainless steel kind of takes the cake on blade material when it comes to corrosion resistance. But if you aren't worried about corrosion because you live in a dry climate, other alloys like carbon and titanium still make for great knife blades.

There are also many different types of stainless steel and other alloys used in blade construction. To keep things as simple as possible, look for options like 420 or 440C, 8Cr13MoV, CPM-M4, or CPM-S30V.

Weight

Weight depends on the outdoor activities for which you need your pocket knife. If you want to carry it when hiking or backpacking, for example, finding a lightweight knife is a smart idea.

But if you're in need of a fishing knife or you plan on using it for car camping, weight may not matter quite so much. Also, consider whether you'll be keeping it on your person or just nearby, as the former will impact how comfortable you are carrying a certain amount of weight.

FAQs About Pocket Knives


How much is a good pocket knife?

The good news is that a quality pocket knife can cost you less than $50 if you shop around and find the right deal. On the other end of the spectrum, there are high-end models that cost more than $250.

How often should you sharpen your knife?

First of all, you'll need to be familiar with the blade design to ensure you're sharpening your pocket knife correctly. Fortunately, most manufacturers will provide sharpening instructions or tips for their knives, either online or in an owner's manual that comes with the knife.

As a general practice, it's a good idea to sharpen your knife's blade every month or two. Your goal when sharpening your pocket knife's blade is to restore a damaged or dulled edge using a diamond plate, sharpening stone, or some type of abrasive belt.

Are pocket knives worth it?

Absolutely! You never know when you need to cut material to patch a tent, repair torn clothing, or string up paracord for a temporary shelter. And in everyday life, pocket knives are excellent for breaking down boxes, opening that oh-so-annoying plastic packaging, or getting yourself out of a sticky survival situation.

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