The Best Pocket Knife of the Year: Reviewed, Tested and Rated
There are many different products that we can purchase that serve multiple uses, and versatility is always a plus, as long as other aspects don’t suffer because of it. A pocket knife is the embodiment of this philosophy, as it can be used for a wide range of purposes beyond what many would expect.
In fact, there are points where a pocket knife may end up being invaluable, and it may not be for the reasons that you expect. Over the course of this guide, we will be primarily looking at ten of the best pocket knives on the market. You may be wondering why we are going over so many of them.
We have chosen a diverse set of knives (all of which are high-quality offerings) since it will improve the likelihood that every one of our readers will find something that they like. Five of the pocket knives in this guide will consist of our top recommendations while the others will be alternative options.
Keep in mind that there is no such thing as the best pocket knife in the world, rather, there is the best pocket knife for you. Since everyone has different needs, the ideal knife for another customer may be useless to you, or perhaps vice versa, so we will also cover how to go about finding the best pocket knife for your needs.
First off, we are going to discuss what exactly makes a knife a pocket knife, as there are many similar kinds of products. We’ll also be covering some of the differences between pocket knives and other types of blades that are typically carried, as there may still be some lingering confusion
Other than that, you may also want to take a look at the section in which we go over the features to look for when you are choosing the best pocket knife possible. Taking a look at the different aspects of the available pocket knives and then selecting the one that suits you is often the best way to pick one.
Of course, if you are used to buying pocket knives, it is likely that you already know what you are looking for, so feel free to skip through that particular section. In the end, read through this guide as you see fit since there is no wrong way to use it, as long as you get the info that you were looking for.
Without any further delay, let’s lay down some of the groundwork by taking a look at what exactly makes up a pocket knife.
What Are Pocket Knives?
As you may have guessed by the name, a pocket knife is a blade that is compact enough to fit in one of your pockets, but this still doesn’t give us an obvious idea of what to expect. There are many different kinds of pockets, all of varying sizes, and the same can be said for pocket knives.
There are pocket knives for all kinds of different needs, ranging from self-defense all the way to utility uses, and they will typically feature designs that are optimized for the job they’re made for. Pocket knives can have a wide range of different features, but we’ll describe the most common type.
The vast majority of pocket knives feature a folding design as that is the simplest way to collapse a knife without compromising its structural integrity while it is in use. Keep in mind that most pocket knives are not spring-loaded, as individual states may have a legislature that forbids such blades.
Most pocket knives do not feature a very large blade, which demonstrates that they aren’t meant to be used in place of dedicated knives. That means that a pocket knife can get you out of a tough situation, but you shouldn’t rely on it if you’re going camping or into the wilderness for an extended period.
While these blades may excel in utility, you will have to remember that they are still relatively small and light, meaning that they aren’t made of heavy-duty materials. Unless you invested in an advanced model, a pocket knife isn’t designed for protracted use, instead being made for maximum portability.
Even though some pocket knives are built to last longer than others, they will typically be unable to hold a candle to survival knives and other types of heavy-duty blades.
If you expected something different from your pocket knife, there isn’t much cause for concern, as we will now be taking a look at various other kinds of knives that you can come across. Who knows, you may even find another sort of blade that is more suitable for your needs than a pocket knife.
Pocket Knives Vs. Other Types of Knives
There are many different types of blades, and this will not be an exhaustive list, by any means. The purpose of this section is to go over knives that are similar to pocket knives and explain the differences. This will help clear up any confusion as to the purposes of these various blades, and it may even help you choose the right one.
Swiss Army Knives
Likely the most famous of the blades on this list, the Swiss Army Knife is a cultural icon of Switzerland. These blades were originally designed in the late 1800s for Swiss soldiers, and they are more of a multi-tool than a full-blown knife, which makes them the most versatile option on this list.
Keep in mind that the Swiss Army Knife and a pocket knife serve two distinct roles, as it is unlikely that you will ever use a Swiss Army Knife to defend yourself. However, there are a few select Swiss Army Knife models that can still be used as a defensive weapon in a tough situation.
Regardless, the primary use of these products is to be versatile, as they can come equipped with dozens of tools. Most of the time, a typical Swiss Army Knife will feature miniature scissors, a corkscrew, screwdrivers, tweezers, blades of varying lengths and different styles, and much more.
These knives are an excellent choice for anyone who is out of the house often and needs access to a wide range of tools in a convenient package. Most of the time, a Swiss Army Knife won’t replace the need for a pocket knife, but it will rather go hand-in-hand with one as items that you should always keep on you.
Now we get into knives that have a truly specialized use, as survival knives are optimized for use in the wilderness and other tough situations. Bringing one of these knives with you is crucial if you plan on going camping, hiking, or any other activity that involves you going out into the wild.
Survival knives are not so much knives as they are tools that can facilitate your survival in the most desperate situations, so they are made to take a beating without failing. You will find that survival knives are the most durable of the common knife varieties that you will see available.
Other than durability, however, survival knives also feature a very versatile design that is useful in situations where you there is a wide range of tough materials to cut through. Whether you are trying to slice through some foliage or you need to use your knife to pry something, a survival knife will have you covered.
Most of the time, knives of this type will feature a rubberized grip with an ergonomic design, so that you can keep the blade in your hand even in the rain and in other tough conditions. These knives will often feature a blade that is partly serrated for additional purchase on some substances.
This is the kind of knife that you can expect to see in your kitchen drawers, and they share almost no similarities with the smaller blades that you can fit in your pocket. Of course, both kinds of knives consist of blades with handles, but that is about where the similarities between them come to an end.
First off, a kitchen knife will almost never feature a folding blade, and they are much larger than other kinds of knives so you can have a broader surface for chopping and cutting. Many kitchen knives will also be much sharper than pocket knives, as you will know to be more careful with them.
There are many different subtypes of kitchen knives, from meat cleavers to cheese knives, but most people think of the chef’s knife, which is the one with a broad, flat blade. This knife was initially developed to cut through large cuts of meat, so it is capable, if not a little unwieldy.
Kitchen knives and pocket knives share no similarity when it comes to their use, as a kitchen knife will never leave your home, but it is still one of the more common types of knives that people purchase. Most of the time, you can expect to pay far more for a quality kitchen knife, however.
All switchblades are pocket knives, but not all pocket knives are switchblades. This statement may cause some confusion, but you’ll find that it makes sense when you further examine it. Almost all switchblades will be small enough to fit into your pocket, and they will still fold up so that they can be stowed.
So where does the difference between switchblades and pocket knives lie? Most people will tell you that a pocket knife becomes a switchblade when the mechanism to deploy the knife is spring-loaded. Since the blade is deployed by pressing a switch, it is evident to see where the knives got their name from.
This feature makes switchblades particularly suitable for self-defense since the blade will be ready far faster than it takes you to unfold a pocket knife’s blade manually. On the other hand, you will have to consider that switchblades are regulated by the governments of some states, so you will have to do your research.
In the end, there is some significant overlap between the functionality of the pocket knife and the switchblade since they are essentially the same knife with a different method of operation. If switchblades are entirely legal in your state, and you will be using your knife for self-defense, we would recommend opting for one.
The last kind of knife we will be looking at is the butterfly knife, which can also be referred to as a balisong. A butterfly knife is a blade that is attached to split handles that rotate around to cover each half of the blade when it is not in use. These handles are connected to the tang, so the blade is well-balanced.
If you know of butterfly knives, then it is likely that you have seen some of the impressive performances by wielders of these blades. Many butterfly knife owners learn how to spin the blade around their fingers, which makes for an impressive (albeit dangerous) display of nerve and resolve.
Much like switchblades, there are certain areas in which butterfly knives are forbidden, so you will have to look over your local regulations before deciding to purchase one of them. Other than for performance, you will find that a butterfly knife can fulfill all the uses of a typical pocket knife.
While they may look unwieldy, butterfly knives are still useful as defensive weapons and sometimes as utility blades when the need arises. If you are proficient with this kind of blade, it may even work better for you as an everyday carry knife, but you may want to purchase a training blade before trying to do some tricks.
Uses for Pocket Knives
In this section, we are going to be taking a look at some of the most common uses for pocket knives. Of course, since everyone has a different purpose for their blade, don’t expect to have to use your pocket knife in all of these ways, but be aware that they are very versatile tools.
The most obvious reason for carrying a pocket knife is because it provides you with an easy way to defend yourself in a tough situation. Since these blades are so much smaller than other kinds of knives, it is easier to keep them in your pocket until the need arises, which it hopefully never will.
Keep in mind that pocket knives aren’t fighting knives, so they will not be the ideal blade that you would use in a defensive situation. Rather, a pocket knife is convenient to carry around in case you need it, which is a distinction that you need to understand for your own safety.
If your assailant is coming at you with a six-inch blade, you may have to reconsider your options, as a pocket knife is not meant to compete with the kind of reach that a blade such as that offers. Always keep an eye on your options in a defensive situation, as there are several ways to defend yourself.
Other than keeping yourself protected, you will find that a pocket knife can be useful in a wide range of different utility situations. Have you ever been in a position where you couldn’t get a package open for the life of you? One quick poke with your pocket knife and that packaging won’t give you any more trouble.
Keep in mind that if you are going to be using your pocket knife for utility purposes, you may wish to invest in a blade that is slightly more durable. Many pocket knives are made with blades that are just too thin to withstand daily use, so you will want something that is built to last.
While a pocket knife isn’t the ideal tool to have on you in a survival situation, it is better than having no blade. Since a pocket knife will always be on your person, it is likely that you will have access to it in the event of an accident or another unfortunate situation that may necessitate a blade.
Keep in mind that if you know you are going to be headed out into the wilderness, you will want to bring along a dedicated survival knife with you. A folding knife may end up damaged, or it can even break if it is subjected to the stress that a survival knife is commonly put through, but it can work for you in a pinch.
Choosing the Perfect Pocket Knife For Your Needs
Finding the right knife can often be a challenge because of the various features that you will have to look for. In this part of our guide, we are going to cover all of the aspects that are essential to look over in your search for the best pocket knife on the market.
Of course, the first thing that you are going to want to consider when you are buying your new pocket knife is how large it is. The whole point of a pocket knife is so that it can fit in your pocket and so you can carry it around with you wherever you need it, and you won’t want one that is too big.
Keep in mind that a smaller knife will also have a smaller blade, which will diminish its usefulness in various situations. When looking for the best pocket knife for your needs, you will have to balance the size of the blade with the overall size (with the handle included) so that it fits comfortably, but is also useful.
This video has been included for its clarification of the topic matter. Credit goes to Vince D’Souza
You will also want your blade to be reasonably durable, as nobody wants to buy a knife that will fail within the first few months of usefulness. Getting a durable knife is about more than a blade that is made of quality steel because you will also want to ensure that your folding mechanism is reliable.
A pocket knife that can’t fold will be impossible to carry, so there is more to a durable one than just the blade. You should also take a look at the material that the handle is made of, as a cracked handle may compromise the ability of the blade to fold into it in the first place.
When buying a new knife, you may want to consider whether or not it comes pre-sharpened, as many pocket knives arrive in that condition, unlike other blades which you must sharpen yourself. Take a look at whether or not this is the case if you would prefer to do the work sharpening the blade.
How much a pocket knife weighs is another thing that you will have to account for when you are shopping around for the best one available. Since you can expect to carry around your pocket knife everywhere you go, you won’t want some massive monstrosity that drags your pants down when you carry it.
The best pocket knives combine exceptional durability with a lightweight design that provides the best of both worlds. This way, you can carry the blade wherever you need it, and you can also use it in tough situations without worrying about the blade snapping or the mechanism failing due to stress.
Your pocket knife’s grip is another thing that you should consider when making your purchase, as you will want something that is comfortable and prevents slippage. The last thing you would want in a defensive scenario is to have your blade slip out of your fingers, as that could be rather dangerous.
Best Overall Pocket Knife – Kershaw Blur 14C28N Steel Blade Pocket Knife
- Opening is made easy thanks to the SpeedSafe system
- Pocketclip can be reversed for your choice of carry
- Features a liner lock to keep the blade tucked away but the whole package slim
- Grip features a trac-tec insert for improved grip, even in wet conditions
- DLC coating improves resistance to corrosion
- Handle is made of anodized aluminum for light weight and durability
When it comes to the best pocket knife on this list, we have to hand it to the Kershaw Blur since it is so versatile, yet it is also much more affordable than you would expect from such a quality model. Let’s take a look at some of the features that make this knife stand out from the rest of them.
First off, let’s start with the handle, which is made out of anodized aluminum, which helps keep the knife much lighter than many other models. Of course, there is also a substance set into the grip to help keep the knife in your hands, and it is trac-tec, which will even provide grip in wet conditions.
This blade is also serious when it comes to safety, as you will find a liner lock that is set into the grip, which is much more secure than the mechanisms used in other blades.
You will find that this liner lock helps keep the width of the handle down, which makes it easier to carry this model around.
Best Compact Pocket Knife – Kershaw Brawler 8Cr13MoV Folding Pocket Knife
- Black oxide finish
- Nylon scales on the handle
- SpeedSafe opening system
- Pocketclip features 4 positions
- Line lock keeps you safe
- Tanto-style blade
For our readers who need a compact pocket knife that is a little more versatile, this tanto-style offering from Kershaw is one of the best options on the market.
This blade is versatile enough to be used in utility applications, like opening cans, cutting rope, breaking through foliage, and much more.
The four-position pocket clip that is featured on the Brawler ensures that you will be able to carry your knife the way you need it, so you will have it ready as soon as possible. The inclusion of a liner lock means that you are sure not to cut yourself while using the blade accidentally.
As with many other pocket knives, this product features SpeedSafe, which allows you to open up the knife with one hand without having to worry about injuring yourself. The blade is nearly straight, which makes this knife easier for beginners to sharpen, and it provides a deep, consistent cut.
Best Trapper Pocket Knife – Case Yellow CV Trapper Pocket Knife
- Choice of chrome vanadium or stainless steel blades
- Features a clip blade and a spey blade
- Available in a range of different colors
- Ideal for a variety of different applications
If you are on the lookout for a pocket knife that is a hybrid with a hunting knife, then you will have found your ideal product in the Case Trapper Knife. This product comes available in a wide range of different colors, and you can even choose a different material for the blade if you would prefer.
The model we reviewed was a CV (chrome vanadium) bladed example with a yellow handle, though you will find these knives on sale in a wide range of different combos. The other option that you have when it comes to choosing the blade material is stainless steel.
Perhaps the most unique feature of this knife is that it features two blades. The Case Trapper Knife comes included with both a slim clip blade and a longer Spey blade. Both of them can be used for a wide range of different applications, and the inclusion of the second blade doesn’t make the handle much wider.
This blade is defined by its versatility, as it can be used in a wide range of different situations, ranging from utility all the way down to food prep.
Best Pocket Knife Under $100 – SOG Aegis Assisted AE06-CP Folding Pocket Knife
- SAT dual spring lock
- Nylon handle reinforced with glass
- Cryo heat treatment
- 3.1 ounces
- Features a bayonet clip
If you are looking for a knife that is under 100 dollars, then the best option available is this one from SOG. The Aegis is a versatile knife that is designed to military specifications for the perfect combination of a defensive and utility tool.
First off, this blade has received cryogenic heat treatment for improved durability, making it much less likely to snap or otherwise break. If longevity is what you need, then there are worse options than the Aegis. The same can be said for this knife’s nylon, glass-reinforced handle.
The handle on this blade provides more than durability, however, as it features a rubber insert to help improve your grip.
The inclusion of SOG’s bayonet clip combined with this knife’s low weight means that this model is much easier to carry around anywhere you go, even compared to other pocket knives.
Best Budget Pocket Knife – Gerber Ripstop I Knife
- Frame lock improves safety and durability
- Streamlined handle
- Thumb studs for opening and closing
- Lifetime warranty
If you are searching for the best knife for the money, then you won’t come across many that can match the Ripstop I from Gerber. This blade may be bare-bones, but it is still capable. For instance, the lightweight, streamlined design makes carrying it around effortless.
This blade is equipped with thumb studs that make it easier to open and close, and they are located on both sides of the blade for ambidextrous use. The entire blade is 5.75 inches long unfolded, meaning that you won’t have any issues fitting it into your pocket when it is closed up.
Gerber also offers a limited lifetime warranty on their products in North America, meaning that you can always get another knife if this one fails on you. Keep in mind that this product’s simplicity results in a pocket knife where there aren’t that many components that can go wrong.
The inclusion of a frame lock means that this knife is safe enough to carry around in your pocket without having to worry about it suddenly opening up. Overall, this is the best pocket knife for customers who aren’t looking to spend too much money on additional features.
Kershaw Cryo 1555TI Steel Blade Pocket Knife
- Titanium carbo-nitride coating
- SpeedSafe opening
- Frame lock improves safety
- Pocket clip can be used in four positions and is of the deep-carry variety
- Weight of 4.1 ounces
The Kershaw Cryo is an excellent choice of pocket knife if you are looking for something with a bit of versatility and you don’t mind paying extra for quality. This pocket knife is equipped with a range of features that make it suited to a wide range of tasks, from everyday use to survival situations.
First off, the Cryo features titanium carbo-nitride coating, which helps make it much more durable than competing blades. This coating will help the knife resist scratches and nicks, as well as improve its resistance to the forces of corrosion.
The pocket clip that comes with this knife is also rather impressive, as it can be used in four different positions and it is of the deep-carry type. A deep-carry clip lets you carry the knife lower in your pocket, which makes it more discreet.
This knife also comes with all of the extras that you can expect from a blade in this price range, including the SpeedSafe opening system that lets you get the knife open quickly and safely.
CRKT M16-01KS Folding Pocket Knife
- Features a liner safety
- Blade has Veff serrations
- Comes included with a lifetime warranty
- Tanto blade improves strength
- Four-position clip comes included
This knife from CRKT is designed for special forces uses, as is evident by its resilient design coupled with a range of innovative features. For example, the tanto blade on this knife helps improve its durability relative to many of the other models on the market.
One of the more impressive features that come included with this pocket knife is the automated liner safety which ensures that the locking liner is less likely to fail due to an additional pin. If you are concerned about your knife opening up on you, you can rest easy with this model.
While the handle features friction grooves and a few other implementations to ensure that you can maintain your grip, we would have preferred a softer inset. This is one of the reasons that this knife is an alternative.
The clip that comes with these knives can be used in four different positions, but you will have to keep something in mind. These knives are not meant to be carried with the tip up in your pocket, and we would not recommend it, as it could be an unsafe practice.
SOG Salute FF11-CP Folding Pocket Knife
- Adjustable thumb stud
- Capable of one-handed deployment
- Lockback keeps blade open
- Handle of G10 fiberglass
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Straight-edged blade
Up next in our list of best pocket knife alternatives, we have the Salute from SOG, which is a worthy option, if not a little bit pricey for its capabilities. This knife features an adjustable thumb stud, making it much easier to optimize the opening of the blade for your preferences.
Other than the adjustable thumb stud, there isn’t all that much that is very innovative about this knife, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While this blade may be a little plain, it is made with care, and you can tell that a lot of thought went into its design.
For example, it features a lockback to ensure that you won’t have to worry about the blade collapsing on you when it is in the open position. The handle on this knife is textured, and it is made out of G10 fiberglass, which is a relatively common material for pocket knife handles.
The inclusion of a lifetime warranty with this knife ensures that it will be able to serve you for years to come, and it is an excellent (if not a little unimaginative) choice.
Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge Folding knife
- Blade is 3 – ⅜ inches
- Handle is made out of G10 textured fiberglass
- Knife weighs 4 ounces
- Steel liners improve durability
- Walker linerlock
- 4-way pocket clip
This blade from Spyderco is an excellent option if you’re looking for the best pocket knife and you don’t want to spend too much money on it. While it may seem simplistic at first, you may be surprised to find that this knife comes equipped with quite a few impressive features.
For example, the Tenacious features a Walker linerlock to ensure that the blade remains locked inside the handle when it is tucked away. The handle itself is another point of discussion, being made out of G10 fiberglass that is textured to help improve your grip on it.
The steel liners within the knife’s handle are skeletonized to help keep it slim while improving its overall durability at the same time. This knife is highly portable thanks to its combination of small size and light weight, coming out at only four ounces.
Even the pocket clip that comes with this knife is impressive, as it allows you to position the blade any way you please, regardless of whether you are a rightie or a leftie.
CRKT Squid Folding Pocket Knife
- Available in two colors
- Frame lock keeps you safe
- Deep pocket clip
- Blade made of high carbon stainless steel
- 3.4 ounces
- 3.5 inches closed
The last entry our list of the best pocket knives is also going to be the second one from CRKT, and it is certainly not the least of the offerings on this list. The Squid is a small blade that was designed to be compact yet formidable, and we feel that the designers accomplished their goal admirably.
First off, the blade is made of high carbon stainless steel, which helps improve durability and corrosion resistance, ensuring that this blade will serve you for some time to come. Carrying this pocket knife around is a breeze, thanks to it being so much smaller than many other options.
This blade is only 3.5 inches long when it is closed, and it just weighs 3.4 ounces, meaning that you won’t even feel it in your pocket as the day goes on. Coupled with the deep pocket clip, you will have a secure way to carry this knife.
Thanks to the inclusion of a frame lock, you also don’t have to worry about this knife suddenly opening up on you. Overall, this is an excellent choice for those who need a compact pocket knife.
We hope that this list has helped you find the best pocket knife for your needs. Remember that there is no ideal model for everyone; you have to put the time and effort into researching what will work best for you. Thank you for taking the time to read through our article, and feel free to let us know what you think.