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The 10 Best Pocket Knives, From Multi-Tools to Slip-Joints

Literally and figuratively cut your way out of a jam with these reliable devices.

best pocket knife

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Finding the right tool for a task at hand sometimes feels like fumbling around for a light switch in the dark. Whether you’ve hit a figurative snag while knee-deep in a small home project, come across an actual snag on a camping trip, or need to cut your way out of a jam, one of the best pocket knives could be the light switch you’ve been looking for. They’re downright useful and come in many variations, from a traditional single-blade pocket knife to one filled with a toolbox-worth of miniature add-ons. 

Even if you think you’ve got no use for a pocket knife, think again: You’d be surprised how reliable they are when you have one in your possession. From small home touch-ups to quick repairs to opening packages, these small blades are remarkably handy. You might even start to devise your own uses without even realizing it. Case in point: I consistently use mine to cut loose threads off clothing. It’s also a godsend when I go on nature walks

But you don’t need to be an everyday outdoorsman to get the most out of the best pocket knives. All you need is an open mind and the right tricks of the trade to make yours work for you. 

What to Consider Before Buying the Best Pocket Knives:

Blade: Pay close attention to the blade type when selecting your new go-to pocket knife. While blades tend to be made from high-quality stainless steel (accept nothing less than the best), the shapes vary across the board. You’ll most commonly find the strong tip of the drop-point knife, a versatile silhouette ideal for hunting. As for standard pocket knives, tanto points are better suited for piercing, while clip points are thinner, sleeker, but more fragile.

Handle: When caught in a tight spot, you simply can’t afford a pocket knife equipped without a quality handle. Don’t leave anything to chance—especially when there are materials such as the innovative G-10, a grippy woven fiberglass that’ll rest easily in your hand in inclement conditions. There are also some pocket knives that boast sleek titanium or anodized aluminum handles. But when it comes to heritage pocket knives, expect to see a wood handle or wood inlays. 

Locking Mechanism: How your knife unfolds and locks is going to determine its functionality and, potentially, how safe it is to use. Lockback knives stay securely in place when unfolded, using a pivot action to fold and unfold. Liner locks are also commonly found on folding knives. Meanwhile, the slip-joint locking mechanism uses a spring to open and close the blade. No matter which option you choose (it really boils down to intended use and personal preference), any one of them will do right by you. 

Best Overall Pocket Knife

Victorinox Handyman Lockblade Pocket Knife

Victorinox devised the original and best pocket knife decades ago, and it has hardly stopped in its pursuit to continually innovate. This version is a step up in size and weight from its classic pocket knife, boasting a larger locking blade as well as classic Swiss Army Knife tools, including a screwdriver and tweezers. The number of potential uses for this all-time great pocket knife is nearly limitless. 

Dimensions: 3.6 inches.
Weight: 5.5 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Lockback.

Best Minimal Pocket Knife

James Brand Elko Pocket Knife 

It’s hard to find something more compact or streamlined than what James Brand has dreamed up with its fan-favorite Elko knife. Yes, the range of colors and the slim size are a testament to the exacting design, but it’s really what’s inside that counts. Within, you’ll find a sharp stainless steel blade. But let’s not forget about the knife’s multi-use pry bar. Use it as a bottle opener, a screwdriver, or a key ring, and marvel at how often you’ll rely on it.  

Dimensions: 4.33 inches.
Weight: 1.3 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Slip-joint.

Buy Now on the James Brand: $65

Best EDC Pocket Knife

Benchmade 940 Osborne Knife

When venturing in the great outdoors, a pocket knife should be one of many tools that (arguably should) include sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellant. You’ve got to have an anything-goes mindset, especially when going off-grid, and Benchmade’s 940 Osborne is rightfully touted as an EDC (everyday carry-on) essential. Let’s count the ways: There’s the relatively streamlined design, green anodized aluminum handle, and made-in-the-USA construction for next-level craftsmanship. 

Dimensions: 4.47 inches.
Weight: 2.65 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Benchmade AXIS (proprietary).

Buy Now on Dick’s Sporting Goods: $207

Best Heritage Pocket Knife 

Opinel No. 8 Beechwod Pocket Knife 

If you’re looking for a slightly larger pocket knife—perhaps to fit in a field jacket pocket—that’s also subtle and handsome, Opinel is just the ticket. This EDC option is simple on the surface, with a beechwood handle, a stainless steel blade, and a folding lock mechanism, but the design has a rich history, one that dates back to 1890. If you prefer something classic, this is as fine an example as any. 

Dimensions: 7.59 inches.
Weight: 1.6 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Folding.

Buy Now on Rei: $19

Best Titanium Handle Pocket Knife

WESN Henry Pocket Knife 

Grade-5 titanium gives this knife dependability, durability, and a streamlined look and feel—great qualities to have in your daily carry. Detroit-based notes this knife can perform in both urban environments and time spent outside the city. It also attaches easily to the rest of your everyday haul thanks to a lanyard hole. 

Dimensions: 3 inches.
Weight: 1.6 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Non-locking slip-joint. 

Buy Now on WESN: $135

Best Serrated-Blade Pocket Knife 

Gerber Mini Paraframe Serrated Knife

For operating in close quarters or with full hands on a camping trip, reach for an easy-to-use knife designed for one-handed use. The strong serrated blade boasts 314-grade stainless steel, but it’s the open-air handle that’s perhaps most impressive. It’s surprisingly lightweight, making it easy to carry when you’re bogged down in inclement weather. 

Dimensions: 3 inches.
Weight: 1.4 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Frame-lock.

Buy Now on Rei: $14

Best Slip-Joint Pocket Knife

Benchmade 317 Weekender Slip-Joint Knife 

This ultra-utilitarian pocket knife boasts not one but two durable 317-stainless steel blades for a plethora of uses for your next long weekend adventure in the great outdoors. There’s a bottle opener built into the spine of the handle, but it’s the ingenious double-blade design that really sets this option apart from the rest—you won’t know you need two blades until you do. Plus, the G10 handle is durable and grips easily. 

Dimensions: 4.08 inches.
Weight: 2.38 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Slip-joint. 

Buy Now on Rei: $248

Best Multi-Tool Pocket Knife

Leatherman Free K4X Multi-Tool Pocket Knife

This Leatherman multi-tool design packs a serious punch. It features an easy–to-open, one-handed knife functionality, along with a magnetic assist system to open your preferred tool in a hurry. It also offers three different types of screwdrivers and a bottle opener. Last but not least, It’s also made in the U.S. for an added emphasis on craftsmanship. 

Dimensions: 4.5 inches.
Weight: 5.5 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Magnetic.

Buy Now on BackCountry: $100

Best Pocket Knife for Adventurers

Wren River Hawk Folding Knife

When you’re drawn to wilderness on the daily—for day hikes to park strolls to impromptu camping getaways—you need one of the best pocket knives to work with you seamlessly. This option from Wren really drives this point home, offering a textured G10 handle and helpful thumb-stud opening button. Also, the drop-point blade is a classic, useful design for just about any pursuit in the great outdoors. 

Dimensions: 4 inches.
Weight: 3.6 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Liner-lock.

Buy Now on Bespoke Post: $55

Best Pocket Knife for Hunting

Victorinox Hunter Pro Alox Pocket Knife

Victorinox added a few bells and whistles to its iconic red pocket knife design, making it even easier to carry in the field for hunting. There’s the durable paracord pendant and lanyard hole that’ll attach to your carry-on, along with alox scales for an easy grip in slick conditions. It even won a Red Dot Award for outstanding design, which isn’t quite that common in most hunting knives. 

Dimensions: 5.4 inches.
Weight: 6.6 ounces.
Locking Mechanism: Lockback.

Buy Now on Victorinox: $120

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