A reliable pocket knife is one of the most versatile, practical, and useful tools in your EDC (everyday carry) kit. Even if you’re a regular MacGyver always prepped to defuse any situation with the best multi-tool, it’s worth carrying a dedicated utility blade, too. For whatever life throws at you, be prepared with one of these best EDC knives to keep in your pocket.
One of our favorite tactical folders is also among the best EDC knives. Cold Steel’s Recon 1 Series Tactical Folding Knife is damn near perfect. The beefy AUS 8 stainless steel blade features a black Teflon coating that resists corrosion and helps it slice through just about anything like butter. The clever Tri-Ad locking mechanism secures it when opened, while a deep pocket clip ensures it’s always at the ready. At under $100, it’s arguably the best bang-for-your-buck value on this list.
Spyderco’s catalog of niche, military-inspired blades runs deep. But the company also knows how to keep it simple. The Para 3 takes all the best qualities of the best-in-class Para Military 2 and improves upon them in every way. The latest generation features a lightweight folding design with a 2.92-inch high-carbon chromium steel blade, making it incredibly pocketable. Once deployed, the Compression Lock’s high-strength mechanics secures the blade in place, ensuring safe, reliable operation.
Benchmade knives are a mainstay among hardcore preppers and outdoorsmen. As the name implies, the Bugout 535 EDC is a purpose-built pocket knife for just about any task. The lightweight construction (just 54 grams) includes a glass-reinforced nylon handle with a textured grip, so it’s comfortable and won’t slip even when the going gets tough. Plus, the drop-point, flat-edge blade is made from CPM-S30V stainless steel for maximum corrosion resistance and edge retention.
Gerber’s Fastball has been a perennial favorite here at The Manual for years. That’s because the dead-simple design just works. It’s everything you’d want in an everyday carry blade, namely a high carbon S30V stainless steel blade with a Wharncliffe/drop-point design and manual flipper deployment. The slim, lightweight design fits neatly in a front pocket. We also appreciate the flat sage colorway with a subtle nod to old-school military-inspired knives.
For an affordable, ultra-compact EDC knife, check out SOG’s Stout FLK. The CRYO D2 steel blade measures just 2.62 inches, so it’s only as long as it needs to be for everyday tasks. The stubby, 3.77-inch handle is ergonomic and grippy with a decent finger choil, making it easy to hold and maneuver in any situation. At around $50, it’s a near-perfect backup blade for any serious prepper’s tool kit.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix.” So goes the adage. That’s why Opinel hasn’t changed its classic No. 6 folding knife since 1890. The old-school design features a solid Beechwood handle and a flat-edge, carbon steel blade that’s razor-thin but extremely hard. Don’t let the sub-$20 price tag fool you. With proper blade care, this is a high-quality blade worthy of passing down for generations.
Speaking of “old-school design,” Buck Knives has been a fixture of the outdoor scene for more than a century. The brand’s Vantage Select Folding Knife boasts a razor-sharp, 3-inch drop-point blade crafted from 420HC steel for rock-solid strength and incredible edge retention. It’s easily deployed with a thumb hole on the blade, while the injection-molded handle ensures reliable handling. We love the classic redwood inlay that feels just like our grandfather’s pocket knife.
A good pocket knife doesn’t need to cost more than $150. Kershaw’s well-reviewed Fraxion Folding Pocket Knife is a solid budget alternative. At 4 inches long closed, it’s easily pocketable. When it’s time to go to work, the KVT ball-bearing opening system makes manual, one-handed deployment with either hand a breeze. The 2.75-inch blade is well-sized for most EDC tasks, and the black-oxide BlackWash finish is not only handsome but built to last. It’s a steal at just $20.
With a focus on modern, minimalist design, Oregon’s The James Brand crafts some of the most handsome pocket knives on the market. The Carter is the brand’s most advanced EDC knife, wrapped in an ultra-slim package. Inside is a corrosion-resistant, 2.75-inch VG-10 steel blade with a slide-lock mechanism for easy, ambidextrous deployment. It’s the sort of pocket knife that feels equally at home on the trail, at the office, or around the house.
Sometimes it’s better to keep a low profile. CRKT’s CEO EDC Folding Pocket Knife is billed as a “gentleman’s knife.” The pencil-thin design is lightweight and pocketable when folded yet every bit as tough and versatile as the more “typical” pocket knives on the list. The stainless steel blade features a smooth, lightning-fast opening courtesy of a thumbstud with an IKBS ballbearing pivot.
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