When you’re out in the bush, you never know when you’ll need a knife. The best case scenario is you only need it for cutting up your apple at lunch or fixing a broken bootlace. But in an emergency situation, it can be one of the most important pieces of your kit.
To help you in your search, we’ve analysed the best pocket knives available and assessed them against a range of important criteria including blade length, blade and handle material and overall weight. Different knives are suited to different situations, this review and comparison will help you find the best pocket knife for your needs.
Best Overall: Opinel N°8 Carbon Knife
Blade length: 8.5cm
Pros: Looks great, wear-resistant carbon blade, Vibrolock, versatile
Cons: Opening and closing requires two hands
This is one of the most popular knives from Opinel because it’s lightweight, sturdy and versatile, making it an ideal choice for backpacking or camping.
This carbon knife features a simple but effective Vibrolock so you can lock the 8.5cm blade open or closed, making it safer to use and travel with. The Beechwood handle is a good size so it is comfortable to hold and you always have full control over the blade.
The Opinel No8 is a high-quality knife that is made in France. The blade is made from Carbon Steel XC90. It is sharp straight from the box and can also be sharpened easily.
Carbon is also resistant to wear and will darken over time giving the blade an attractive used look. This is a great blade for any outdoor kit and it suits most situations.
Best Old School Style: Buck Knives Squire Folding Pocket Knife
Pros: Includes leather sheath, easy to open, good for a variety of tasks, lifetime warranty
Cons: Might be too small for people with bigger hands
The Buck 501 Squire is a quality folding knife that comes with a leather sheath that can be attached to a belt for easy carrying.
This pocket knife looks great and has an old school feel about it. We like the no-frills, back to basics design that gives you everything you need. With a closed length of 9.5cm it is a great size for carrying and at 85g this is a knife that can handle most day to day tasks without making you tired.
This is a quality and affordable USA-made knife with a drop point blade and a forever warranty.
Best in Wet Weather: Gerber Gatormate Folding Pocket Knife
Blade length: 7.6cm
Pros: Non-slip handle, comfortable to hold, good size for everyday carrying
Cons: No pocket clip
This is the smaller version of the popular Gerber Gator knife. It offers all the features people love in a lighter, more portable package.
One of the unique features of this pocket knife is the alligator design handle, this textured rubber helps to provide excellent grip in all weather. This means you can handle the knife in damp or wet conditions without slipping or struggling to grip the handle. There is also a lock-back mechanism that keeps the blade closed when not in use.
The Gatormate weighs the same as the Buck 501 Squire but you get a slightly longer blade (7.6cm vs the Squires 7cm) and it also comes with a ballistic nylon sheath.
Most Features: Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Knife
Blade length: 12cm
Pros: Sharpener, Fire starter, Ergonomic rubber handle
Designed by Gerber in consultation with celebrity outdoorsman Bear Grylls, this knife is packed with innovation.
Including a half serrated, carbon stainless steel blade, steel pommel, whistle, fire starter, sheath with sharpener, and an ergonomic textured rubber grip, you’re not missing any features with this knife.
This is a survival kit wrapped into one knife but the 428g weight is considerably heavier than any of the other items on our list (even the leatherman multi-tool weighs less at 241g). If you’re looking for a knife that can slip into your pocket or onto your belt without weighing you down, this isn’t going to be the one to choose. However, if you want a reliable and feature-rich survival knife in your backpack for your weekend adventures or hiking then this is hard to beat.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Gerber has a reputation for producing high-quality knives and cutting tools and an affordable price point. All of their products come with a lifetime warranty.
Most Sustainable: Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife
Blade length: 9cm
Pros: Sustainable materials, fire starter, unique design, made in Sweden
Cons: Handle may be too small for people with larger hands, short warranty
This 2-in-1 knife and fire starter is a great option made from sustainable materials. The handle material is bio-based plastic which includes coconut shell fibres giving the knife a unique look and feel.
This knife weighs 119g so weighs more than the folding No8 and 501 Squire but much less than the fixed Bear Grylls Survival knife, offering a happy middle ground suitable for a range of situations.
This knife is made in Sweden and the stainless steel blade is made from 90% recycled steel. There’s no denying the FireKnife comes with impressive sustainable features. It also comes with a sheath with belt clip for easy carrying.
Most Versatile Multi-Tool: Leatherman Wave Plus 17 in One Multi-Tool
Blade length: 7.37cm
Pros: 17 tools, compact, portable, reliable
Cons: Not handle grip so can be uncomfortable if using for long periods
This 17 in 1 multi-tool is a reliable choice from a trusted brand. With this in your kit, you are ready for anything.
The multi-tool weighs 241g which isn’t bad at all considering all the different tools that are included. This is portable and compact so you can carry it in your pocket or in your bag without a problem. The Leatherman also comes with a Nylon sheath and lanyard ring too.
This tool is made in the USA and comes with a 25 year warranty. All in all it’s a comprehensive kit made from stainless steel.
Lightweight Multi-Tool: Victorinox Hiker Pocket Knife
Blade length: 8.6cm
Pros: Lightweight, Multi-tool, versatile, built to last
Cons: Blade is not lockable
If you like the idea of having a multi-tool but you don’t need something as extensive or heavy as the Leatherman then this is a fantastic option. From the original makers of the Swiss Army knife, the Victorinox Hiker is hard to beat. It offers 13 functions in a compact 77g package.
With a couple of included folding knives, the primary blade is 8.6cm with a straight edge making it suitable as an everyday carry knife. This is functional, high quality and built to last. The kit includes a wood saw, wire stripper, can and bottle opener, screwdrivers and more.
Lightest Option: Winchester Lasso Folding Knife
Blade length: 7.6cm
Pros: Lightest option, classic design, comfortable wood handle
Cons: No additional features
The Lasso folding knife from Winchester is a classic drop point option with a timeless design. The steel blade has a handy locking mechanism and a nail nick so you can open it up easily.
The wood handle looks smart and sturdy. The handle is shaped to ensure it feels comfortable to hold. This is a great knife for a camp kitchen or backpacking trip, it is very handy and stays sharp use after use.
This is also the lightest knife on our list at only 34g so if you want a blade that is sturdy, versatile and won’t weigh you down this is the one to choose. The 7.6cm blade is also in the middle of our reviewed options, it’s not the smallest (5.6cm: Gerber Paraframe Mini) and it’s not the largest either (12cm Bear Grylls Survival Knife).
Most Stylish: Deejo Pocket Knife Black Carbon Fibre
Blade Length: 9.5cm
Pros: Super light, looks great
Cons: Handle not as ergonomic as other options
A unique and beautiful knife, at only 37g the Deejo carbon fibre is also one of the lightest on our list.
With a carbon fiber handle, stainless steel blade with black titanium coating, a secure lock system, and belt clip, the Deejo not only looks great, but is also packed with features. This is a slick knife that has a closed length of just 11cm so it can easily be carried in a pocket without sacrificing space for other items.
This knife is modern and edgy, we appreciate that even though the knife is very minimalistic in design it still has a liner locking system for safety.
Best for One-Handed Use: Gerber Paraframe Mini Folding Knife
Pros: Lightweight, compact, one-handed opening
Cons: Small size
One of the great things about the Paraframe Mini is that it can be opened one handed making it easy to use.
This folding pocket knife is incredibly small and lightweight, you can carry it on your belt with the clip or in your pocket and you’ll hardly notice it is there.
The unique open frame handle helps to reduce overall weight while making the knife stylish and easy to clean. The only real downside to this knife is the blade is 5.6cm, the smallest on our list, and the overall length is 15.2cm when open (17.8cm closed length) so it is a small size.
Pocket Knife Comparison Table
|Pocket Knife||Our Verdict||Blade Edge||Blade Length||Blade Material||Handle Material||Opening Mechanism||Weight||Warranty|
|Opinel No8 Carbon||Best Overall||Smooth||8.5cm||Carbon||Beechwood||Manual folding||45g||Lifetime|
|Buck Knives Squire||Best Old School Style||Smooth with drop point||7cm||Steel||Rosewood||Manual folding||85g||Lifetime|
|Gerber Gatormate||Best in Wet Weather||Fine edge||7.6cm||Stainless steel||Thermoplastic with rubber||Manual folding||85g||Lifetime|
|Gerber Bear Grylls||Most Features||Fine edge drop point||12cm||Stainless steel||Rubber Grip||Fixed||428g||Lifetime|
|Light My Fire FireKnife||Most Sustainable||Smooth||9cm||Stainless steel (90% recycled)||Bio-based plastic||Fixed||119g||90 days|
|Leatherman Wave Plus Multi-Tool||Best Multi-Tool||Smooth and serrated||7.37cm||Stainless steel||Stainless steel||Manual folding||241g||25 year warranty|
|Victorinox Hiker||Lightweight Multi-Tool||Straight edge||8.6cm||Stainless Steel||Stainless steel||Manual folding||77g||Limited Lifetime|
|Winchester Lasso||Lightest Option||Smooth||7.6cm||Steel||Wood||Manual folding||34g||Limited Lifetime|
|Deejo Black Carbon Fibre||Most Stylish||Smooth||9.5cm||Stainless Steel||Carbon Fibre||Manual folding||37g||2 years|
|Gerber Paraframe Mini||Best for One-Handed Use||Fine edge||5.6cm||High carbon stainless steel||Stainless steel||Manual folding||39.7g||Lifetime|
Pocket Knife Buying Guide
When choosing a new pocket knife, you’ll quickly notice the huge amount of choice there is. It is easy to feel overwhelmed about which knife to buy for your needs. This guide will help you find the best pocket knife for your adventures.
Blade and handle quality
You want your knife to be sharp out of the box and you want it to stay sharp. Good pocket knives will be made with high-quality stainless or carbon steel, to maximise durability, toughness and corrosion resistance. Unless you want to spend days learning about the huge list of metals available, choose a manufacturer who has a reputation for high-quality blades, such as those listed above.
Handle materials and quality vary a lot more than blades. While personal preference does come into play, there are certainly handle materials that perform better than others. Modern polymers are lightweight, tough, and can be moulded to offer as good grip as any other material. Other popular materials include:
- Steel – steel is corrosion resistant and looks great when the blade is also made from steel. The material is a bit heavier and some people may not like the look of a fully steel pocket knife.
- Aluminium – aluminium is lightweight and is commonly used in newer knives. It is usually coated and provides an excellent grip. Aluminium handles are particularly good for knives that will be used in harsh weather conditions.
- Wood – wood handles are common and there are many different wood types that are used including rosewood, elder and blackwood. This handle material looks great and gives knives a classic, timeless design.
Weight and portability
During your research process, take into consideration what you will be using your knife for.
If you’re looking for a knife for a multi-day hike, you’ll likely want something small and light. Further, if it’s only for preparing food and other small jobs, chances are you can get by with a small, thin blade.
Climbers usually prefer something that can be attached to a carabiner, while hunters will probably opt for a solid fixed blade with a belt attachment.
Number of Blades
A single blade pocket knife is a popular option thanks to its light weight and simplicity. Single blade pocket knives tend to be sturdy and less prone to breaking so are a good choice for higher demand applications.
If you need variety and versatility then a multi-blade pocket knife could be a good choice. This gives you a couple of blade options in one compact package. The downside is that it’s hard to find a multi-blade pocket knife that offers the same durability and performance as a single blade pocket knife.
The final option is a multi-tool which offers a lot more than a single knife. This is a versatile option that allows you to perform a wide range of tasks and is a great choice for a camping trip.
The blade shape and edge type will also impact your choice.
The most popular blade is a clip point which is slightly curved and slopes back with a sharp tip. It’s a great choice for piercing and slicing.
A straight blade is similar to a kitchen knife, it’s a blade that is a great all-rounder.
A drop point blade is like a clip point but doesn’t have the curve, it’s one of the more popular blades for hunting and outdoor adventures.
Plain Edge Vs Serrated Edge
Edge types include a plain edge which is a sharp edge for clean cuts and serrated edge which has jagged teeth for cutting through materials or sawing.
There are also combo blades that offer both. The downside to a serrated edge or a combo option is that they are difficult to sharpen and aren’t always useful when it comes to certain tasks.
As you can see from our reviews, the size of the blade can vary too. The length is important as it plays a considerable role in what the knife can be used for.
- Small (up to 7cm) – a small blade is easy to carry and doesn’t weight much but will struggle with heavy duty tasks such as hunting or cutting through hard materials. A small blade is a good option for everyday carry and basic tasks.
- Medium (7-10cm) – a medium blade is a good choice for most tasks, they can still handle the more delicate cutting jobs as well as the tougher ones. This size is still small enough for easy portability but large enough to handle most tasks. Anything larger than this is not practical as an everyday carry option.
Not all knives come with a locking mechanism but these are the most popular options for those that do:
- Lockback – this is a solid bar inside the handle that locks the blade in position. There is a section on the back of the handle where the lock bar can be pushed and the lock is released.
- Frame Lock – this is when a piece of metal from the handle pushes against the flat spot on the back of the blade to lock it into place. This is an easy locking system for one handed opening.
- Liner Lock – the liner lock is similar to the frame lock except it uses the handle’s liner rather than the handle itself to hold the blade in place.
Most pocket knives have a manual opening mechanism. There is often a nail nick on the blade to help you grip and open the knife. It can be hard to open these pocket knives and they often can’t be opened one handed.
A flipper opening can be opened one handed with a flip motion. This is handy for doing something when you are working and you don’t have both hands free.
This is when the pocket knife has a lever or spring that opens the blade when a switch is pressed. Assisted opening requires one-hand and is very fast. The downside to this is that there is an increased risk of accidents as the button could be pushed accidentally when the knife is in a pocket or in your hand.
Most knives come with a pocket clip, keyring or sheath so you can easily carry it attached to your belt, clothes or bag.