Name three things that you always carry on your person. The top item is a phone for most people. Then comes cash (or credit card), and probably a set of keys. Well, if you’re prepper-minded, a camper or a hunter, you should definitely make some room for the best EDC knife.
EDC stands for “everyday carry”. While we’ve already covered boot knives and general survival knives, an EDC knife has got to be (you guessed it) small, compact, and yes – multifunctional. Even though versatility is the second name for most smaller knives I’ve ever seen, it’s paramount in the best EDC knife.
And not just because you need a pointed tool to pick your teeth after eating a steak. Besides the most obvious, self-defense function, an EDC knife can serve umpteen functions. Sometimes, it can even save your neck if it’s strong enough to, say, cut your seat belt and release you from a life-threatening situation.
So, what would be a prepper’s best choice? In my humble opinion, what makes the best pocket knife is that it’s the only knife you’re ever going to need. It’s not easy to make such a choice, and you’ll probably have to juggle through at least a few different models until you find the one that’s just right for you. But once you track it down, you’ll stick with it for years or even decades.
Best Pocket Knife – 8 Top Picks Reviewed
1. Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife – Fancy a Beautiful Knife?
I just had to count the colors available for this highly-rated model: 15! Of course, I don’t suppose you want your tactical tools in bright colors. Especially when it comes to everyday-carry knives, which are not supposed to scream for attention. On the bright (really bright!) side, outdoorsmen will easily find it if it gets tucked away in the grass.
But in spite of all the pain it took to devise these colors, this is still an amazing knife. The anodized aluminum handle is super lightweight yet sturdy and resistant to scratches, corrosion, and other contaminants. Talk about a beautiful knife that was made to stay beautiful for the rest of eternity!
Still, there is something more important than the handle, and that’s the blade. 3 inches in length, it will slice up anything you throw at it. Plus, it features the already renowned SpeedSafe Assisted Opening System. In plain English, it means you just need to press a flipper for the blade to woosh open in a split second. But there’s also a safety switch that you can pull back and lock the knife in a closed position. No accidents on the go!
Finally, the knife has a pocket clip that is adjustable to tip-up or tip-down positions.
- Easy, one-handed opening and closing system
- Premium quality of both the blade and the handle
- Has a pocket clip that is super adjustable
- There’s a safety switch to prevent opening by accident
- Variety of colors (for what it’s worth)
- The handle has no texture so it can get a bit slippery when your hands are wet
2. Spyderco Para 3 Camo Signature Folding Knife – the Secret is the Hole
This little camo knife meets all the requirements for a convenient EDC knife. It’s foldable and therefore compact, yet long enough (slightly over 7 inches) to allow for a variety of functions. You only need one hand to open or close it due to Spyderco’s signature Round Hole mechanism, which locks it into the open/close position. And all you need to do it is your thumb. With under 4 ounces in weight, it’s lighter than your average smartphone.
If you like this model but need a slightly longer knife, take a look at their Para Military 2 model.
- Great functionality in a small package
- Requires only one hand to open and close
- Locks into position
- Very sharp out of the box
- Excellent grip
- None observed
3. Kershaw Blur Pocket Knife – a Reliable Model
Still not convinced that Kershaw knives are awesome? Here’s another option that is super popular, and for good reasons.
SpeedSafe opening for, well, speed and safety (and one-handed handling) – check. Reversible ambidextrous pocket clip adjustable to tip-up and tip-down positions – check. Corrosion-proof blade and handle? Check. Plus, you can choose from serrated and non-serrated versions. This knife has it all except for the variety of bright colors adorning Kershaw Leek model. It’s not something I can’t live without, though.
So, how is it different from Leek? As far as I’m concerned, both are premium quality knives. However, I prefer Blur’s handle because of its traction. However wet, slippery or sweaty your hands are, the grip remains firm and reliable.
- Extremely fast and safe
- One-handed opening and closing
- Built-in adjustable pocket clip
- Good, non-slippery grip
- Reasonable price
- The liner lock tends to loosen up – fixable, but still an annoyance
4. Ontario Knife Company Rat I Folding Knife – a Budget Option
The “Rat” from this knife’s name isn’t a lame way to name a badass survival tool. It actually stands for Randall’s Adventure and Training, a team of adventurers, survivalists and survival instructors who purportedly tested this knife.
So, let’s see whether this knife lives up to the survival standards. Just like most options from our list, it features a one-hand opening. The four-position pocket clip is there to make it fit snugly into your pocket – or wherever you intend on putting it.
What most people tend to forget when buying a knife is how easy it is to clean. As for this one, you can take it apart completely, clean each part, and put it back together.
All things considered, this knife is very reasonably priced.
- Very reasonably priced
- Comes with adjustable pocket clip (and a lanyard hole)
- Easy to maintain
- Sturdy and durable materials
- The thumb stud is positioned a bit weirdly
5. SOG Flash II Straight Edge EDC Knife – a Bayo Knife
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one knife made by SOG. And not just because the company’s full name is SOG Specialty Knives & Tools, or because they have made one of my all-time favorite boot knives.
SOG is one of those brand names that rarely manage to disappoint in the tactical field. This particular EDC knife is a flipper 4.5 inches in length when closed, 3.5 inches in blade length, and just 3.1 ounces in weight. More importantly, it’s a one-handed opener, with a lock to secure the blade whether open or closed. Okay, all of this is awesome, but it’s also familiar. What is this little knife’s unique asset is a reversible clip that you can even use to mount the knife to a muzzle and use it as a bayonet.
The handle is made of glass-reinforced nylon. While a layperson usually won’t know (and won’t care) about the materials, suffice it to say that it’s well textured to provide traction. And, of course, it’s durable.
- Safety lock keeps the blade where it should be (and out of reach of kids)
- Great grip and traction
- Very reasonably priced
- You can use it as a bayonet
- Limited lifetime warranty and support
- The closing mechanism may act a bit stiff until you break it in
6. Smith & Wesson Border Guard Folding Knife – Heavy, Cheap and Dependable
If you can carry a bit bigger, heavier and more robust tool, this cyber-looking knife could be right for you. Overall, it’s a versatile tool with extensions such as seat belt cutter and glass breaker. The handle is made of durable aluminum, while the blade is high carbon stainless steel.
Now, the nearly 10 ounces that it weighs have stirred a bit of debate among knife lovers. Some of them claim that it’s a serious downside, while others have exactly opposite feelings, claiming that the extra weight adds to the balance. Anyhow, if your hands are smaller, there’s a chance that the grip might not be tight and snuggly for you.
- Multi-tool (includes seat belt and rope cutter, as well as glass breaker)
- Convenient add-ons such as pocket clip and ambidextrous thumb knobs
- Non-slippery texture on the handle
- Great value for the price
- Safe to use and carry
- Limited lifetime warranty
- There isn’t a non-serrated version of this knife
- With nearly 10 ounces, it’s a bit heavy (which can actually be a pro for some users)
7. Benchmade Mini Barrage 585 Knife – a Super Fast Flipper
If you need a shorter blade, this model could be just right for you. This little knife opens up so fast that you’ll always want to look at it – even though you don’t have to. Especially if you’re not an experienced knife handler, you may even get hurt. Luckily, there’s also a safety switch to prevent nasty stabbing accidents.
Last but not least, Benchmade is a respectable company with excellent customer service. Even if you get a dud (which happens even to the best of us, even with the best companies), they will certainly own it and send you a replacement. The product comes with a limited lifetime warranty, and they are ready to stand up to this promise.
- Opens up lightning fast
- Assisted opening
- Ambidextrous and has a reversible clip
- Very dependable
- Limited lifetime warranty and sharpening service
- Very affordable
- The clip is not top-quality
8. Outdoor Edge RazorLite EDC Folding Knife – No Sharpening for This Guy
You know how annoying it is when your knife gets dull in the field? Especially if you’re on a 10-day outdoor trek. Sure, you can use a rock or a plate, but it’s just a short-term fix.
Well, if the blade on this knife gets dull (which is a matter of time), you don’t need to sharpen it. You can just replace it with a click of a button – literally. There are six blades included in the package. And if you think that they made this arrangement because the blades are low-quality and will get dull pretty quickly, guess again. They will arrive shaving sharp, and will remain so for quite some time. Even if you tend to really abuse your knives, this one will withstand it.
- Requires no sharpening (6 replaceable blades included)
- It can really take a beating
- Rubberized handle for tight, non-slip grip
- Pocket clip and lanyard hole make it great for EDC
- Great value for the price
- Excellent for skinning
- None observed
Conclusion – What Makes the Best EDC Knife?
Did any of these dozen models catch your eye? If not, keep looking. But to summarize, here are a few questions you should have an answer to:
- Is carrying a knife legal in your state? Some states allow concealed carry of a knife. Others will only prohibit it on school grounds. Somewhere, it depends on the length of the blade. Check your local laws here.
- How big or small do you need it to be? Keep in mind that size does matter in this case – both when the knife’s folded and unfolded.
- Is it safe to use? A sharp knife is amazingly powerful. But a sharp knife in your pocket? If it doesn’t have some safety lock, the best you can hope for is a nasty scratch. The worst? Ouch!
- How comfortable is the grip? This is a highly personal question that depends on your preferences, but also on the size of your hands. EDC knives are usually pocket-sized knives. And pocket-sized knives are usually small. That can be an issue if you’re big-pawed.
- Can you open, close and operate it with one hand? Flipping a knife with one hand is not only a badass sight. It’s also handy, especially in a self-defense scenario.
- Serrated or non-serrated blade? Like most other considerations, this one also boils down to personal preference. I prefer the good old plain blade because it’s extremely versatile and easy to maintain. Saw-like serrations make the blade way more difficult to sharpen or re-sharpen. Then again, a serrated knife will do a better job with tougher materials. Define your priorities and choose accordingly.
- Color does matter (sometimes). And I’m not talking about esthetics. If you spend a single afternoon skinning an animal or camping, you’ll realize that you really need a bright-colored pocket knife that stands out from the grass. On the other hand, EDC knives that double as self-defense tools should be readily concealable. Which means, black or gray or brown or camo!