Best Pocket Knives: Versatile Tools for Indoors and Out
Get the best pocket knife you can use every day and even when you travel
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
Pocket knives are the most versatile of all knives. They can be used when camping, slicing fruit, cutting twine, or opening envelopes. A pocket knife comes in handy when you least expect it. Whether you’re planning to go backpacking or you just want a knife that you can use every day, these three are sure to fit the bill.
You can put this pocket knife in your utility belt when working indoors or pack it in your travel bag when you hit the road. Its black hue ensures it stays inconspicuous.
It is made from Nitrogen-enhanced high-performance steel and has a DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating for corrosion resistance and hardness. The SpeedSafe Assisted Opening system makes it very easy to open.
The construction quality of some models is not the best, and some users have complained that the knife breaks under minimal stress. It may also open randomly, making it a hazard.
This Swiss army camper knife features seven nifty tools you may need during an emergency. It comes in 27 different colors to fit every preference.
All of its components are made from stainless steel, are resistant to rust, and are highly durable. The knife is easy to clean. You can oil it to make its tools easy to deploy.
You cannot clean it in the dishwasher. The scissor’s spring breaks rather easily. The keyring may interfere with how you use the knife, and the knife may need frequent sharpening.
This pocket knife is designed to be used in any setting. Its razor-sharp blade and contoured handle make it a dependable tool for cutting, scaling, or whittling.
The blade is made from high-quality steel and comes sharp out of the box. Its handle is made from stainless steel and is curved for a firm grip. Its Frame Lock Safety ensures the knife’s sharp blade is not accidentally deployed.
The blade’s slight curvature makes sharpening it a bit difficult. Its blade also dulls rather quickly, especially if you use it to cut tough objects. The thumb studs are uncomfortable for people with delicate fingers.
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Pocket Knives
- Handy: With a good pocket knife, you can slice food and open boxes. In an emergency situation, you can use a knife to protect yourself and apply first aid. There are countless times when it can come in handy.
- Use it outdoors: A pocket knife is probably the first tool on the list for anyone who’s going camping, fishing, or just exploring the outdoors. Whether removing hooks or cutting wood, a good pocket knife is ideal for the job.
- Practicality: The name says it all. A pocket knife can be easily carried in a pocket, or even hung around your neck on a lanyard. Either way, it is small and light enough to be carried everywhere, every day.
Types of Pocket Knives
Folder with a Locking Mechanism
The most popular type of pocket knife is the folder with a locking mechanism. The blade folds into the handle for portability. When it’s open, it has a locking mechanism to keep the blade in place. To close the knife, the mechanism must be released for the knife to close.
Folder Without a Locking Mechanism
Some folding pocket knives don’t have a locking mechanism for their blades. These are mainly used for light-duty work. Some of the more popular folders without a lock are multitool knives like the Swiss Army Knife and some Leatherman tools, both of which have many other functions.
Fixed blade knives aren’t the most popular for everyday carry because they can be bulky and require a sheath. Due to the fixed blade, they are generally stronger than folders and can be used for more heavy-duty work.
Kershaw was founded in Portland, Oregon. in 1974. Since then, the company has gone on to become one of the most famous knife makers. It manufactures multiple brands, including Zero Tolerance knives, Kai Housewares, and Shaun Cutlery. Some of the blades are made in the U.S., while others are imported from Japan and China. One popular product is the Kershaw Blur Everyday Carry Pocketknife.
Victorinox is based in Switzerland and is the largest pocket knife manufacturer in the world. The company was founded in 1884 and is famous for creating the multifunctional Swiss Army Knife. Over the years, more and more features have been added to the Swiss Army Knife and it has the distinction of being carried into space with NASA astronauts. One of its best-sellers is the Victorinox Swiss Army Classic.
Columbia River Knife & Tool was founded in 1994 by ex-employees of Kershaw Knives. Over the years, it has developed a reputation for building rugged and innovative knives of various designs. Its blades are made in the U.S., Taiwan, China, and Japan. The CRKT Drifter EDC Folding Pocket Knife is one of its most popular products.
Pocket Knife Pricing
- Under $30: At this price point, the knife is probably made in China, but will still be ideal for most tasks. It might not be made of the best quality steel and might not be durable.
- $30 to $70: These knives will probably be made in the U.S. They will likely use higher quality steel and hold their edge for longer.
- Over $70: For this price, you can get a well-made knife made from premium steel that is made to last.
The blade has to be long enough for the tasks you intend to accomplish, while still being compact enough to be easily carried. Larger blades are normally stronger and more versatile than lighter blades but are also heavier. A medium-sized blade is a good compromise. It’s also worth checking what the legal requirements are in your particular area before deciding on a blade size.
Serrated or Plain Edge
Plain edges are more precise, accurate, and easy to sharpen. Their disadvantage is that they aren’t good at sawing, which is sometimes required for tougher materials. Serrated blades are better at cutting tougher materials, but are a bit less precise and are harder to sharpen. Partially serrated is a good mix of the two with the same pros and cons of each. Normally, the front of the blade is plain and the bottom is serrated.
The shape of the blade has to fit its intended purpose. Some blades are designed for piercing, some for chopping, and some for a mixture of both. There are a number of blade shapes such as the drop point, clip point, and straight-back that are versatile for most everyday tasks.
- Handle Material. Handle materials can be natural, synthetic, or metal. Wood and bone handles look beautiful, but aren’t the strongest. Synthetic materials can vary between rubber, micarta, Zytel, or G10 and are generally utilitarian and durable. Metal grips vary between stainless steel, titanium, and aluminum and are generally strong, but they don’t look as fancy as some of the others.
- Price. At cheaper price points, there are good knives that are good enough for everyday use, while still being disposable. Higher-priced knives might be better quality but could be overkill for certain tasks. Many people prefer expensive, good-quality pocket knives for their everyday use, while getting cheaper knives for tackle boxes or to keep in a vehicle.
- Blade Steel. There are many different types of steel available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Generally, knives with better steel come at a higher price. For cutting ropes and other abrasive materials, a more wear-resistant alloy is preferable. If you live in an area with lots of rain or humidity, it’s best to get a knife with added corrosion resistance. Some steel also holds its edge better than others, while some alloys are harder to sharpen than others.
Best Pocket Knife Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- It may be tempting, but avoid using WD-40 to clean your knife. It can gunk up the pivot over time, rendering the knife almost unusable. Gently wipe the blade to keep the knife clean.
- Use rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to sanitize your knife if you want to use it to cut food. It is sharp enough to cut most foods and is very useful to campers.
- If you have a leather sheath, avoid putting your knife in it for long periods of time. Leather contains oils that could make your knife susceptible to rusting. Use a cloth sheath instead.
Q: Are pocket knives dishwasher safe?
A: Pocket knives should not be cleaned in the dishwasher. You can wipe your knife with a damp cloth or use a blower to blow away lint. Also, make sure the knife is well oiled at all times.
Q: Can I carry a pocket knife on a plane?
A: The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) forbids carrying pocket knives in carry-on luggage. Some states such as California also have a policy on openly carrying a pocket knife in public.
Q: Are pocket knife clips replaceable?
A: Most sellers will replace the clip if it comes off. However, it is advisable to check the warranty and replacement parts policy before buying the knife.
The Kershaw Blur 1670 Everyday Pocket Knife is a favorite among campers because it resists corrosion and is made of tough steel.
However, the Swiss Army knife has stood the test of time, so the less expensive Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Pocket Knife is also a great choice.