Pocket Knife Guide 2022: Top Picks for Your Everyday Carry Setup

Black pocket knife stuck into a soft black surface
Zac Wolff / Unsplash

A pocket knife is a must-have for anyone’s tool kit or everyday carry setup. From slicing open a package to coring an apple and more, these handy compact knives are capable of tackling a seemingly endless list of tasks. And unlike fixed knives, most EDC knives have a folding blade, which makes them easier—and safer—to stash away in your rucksack, denim jacket, or back pocket.

As you’d probably expect, there’s a dizzying variety of pocket knives available, but there are also several stalwart brands you can count on for manufacturing the sharpest, most versatile, and most durable EDC knives. One key brand is Victorinox, the inventor of the venerable Swiss Army knife, which unites over a dozen integrated functions into a single package. There’s also Opinel, maker of the classic French field pocket knife. But for our list, we also highlighted plenty of top-tier pocket knife brands right here in the United States. Some, like Columbia River Knife and Tool Company (CRKT) and SOG Specialty Knives, frequently collaborate with international knifemakers on innovative designs. Others, like Kershaw and Cold Steel, are go-tos for their massive inventory of knife types that extend far beyond EDC models (is a samurai sword on your wishlist?)

Below, we’ve sliced and diced the market to find the best new pocket knives available right now.

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The Best Pocket Knives of 2022

SOG Kiku Assisted pocket knife
SOG Kiku Assisted Courtesy Image

1. SOG Kiku Assisted

SOG was founded in 1986 by Spencer Frazer, a knife maker who was inspired by the combat knife used in a covert special ops mission during the Vietnam War. It has since grown into one of the top knife brands out there, especially for those who value practicality—but that’s not to say the company doesn’t make some attractive slicers. The Kiku series, which was produced in partnership with Kiku Matsuda, one of Japan’s most respected knife designers, beautifully combines form with function. This folding knife features a linen handle and a quick-opening, spring-assisted stainless steel blade bearing Matsuda’s signature blade grinds.

[$150; sogknives.com]

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CRKT Pilar III
CRKT Pilar III Courtesy Image

2. CRKT Pilar III

The Columbia River Knife and Tool Company (CRKT) was created by Kershaw alums Paul Gillespi and Rod Bremer in 1994, and has since become known for a massive range of affordable knives, tools, and accessories. Collaboration with top industrial designers and knife makers is integral to CRKT’s product development, and the Pilar III is a great example. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway and his beloved boat, Pilar, it’s a sleek and compact folder designed by Denmark’s Jesper Voxnaes. This version has a 2.9-inch spear point blade made of D2 steel (an especially hard, heavy-duty variety) and an easy-grip handle.

[$68; crkt.com]

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Kershaw Leek pocket knife
Kershaw Leek Courtesy Image

3. Kershaw Leek

Oregon-based Kershaw is celebrated for its catalog of affordable, innovative knife designs that emphasize automatic and assisted opening. With a three-inch blade made of high-quality Sandvik stainless steel, the highly rated Leek is big enough to handle most tasks but perfectly portable. Its one-handed SpeedSafe assisted opening makes it easy to handle, and the corrosion-resistant stainless steel body will hold up through years of use.

[$90; kershaw.kaiusa.com]

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Opinel No. 8 Beechwood Handle Knife
Opinel No. 8 Beechwood Handle Knife Courtesy Image

4. Opinel No. 8 Beechwood Handle Knife

Joseph Opinel invented the very first version of his wooden-handled knife in the French Alps in 1890. Over a hundred years later, his now-legendary brand is still family-operated, and there’s even a museum dedicated to the knives near the Opinel HQ in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, France. More importantly, his basic knife design is still a capable performer. The Opinel No. 8 Knife, which is made of durable high-carbon steel, is a fan favorite.

[$17; rei.com]

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Cold Steel American Lawman Black Folder
Cold Steel American Lawman Black Folder Courtesy Image

5. Cold Steel American Lawman Black Folder

Cold Steel Knife and Tool Company claims to make the “strongest, sharpest knives in the world,” and the company produces blades for everything from EDC knives and kitchen cutlery to sabers and tomahawks. Casting aside some of the brand’s wackier designs, one of our favorite new releases is the heavy-duty American Lawman, a minimalist, medium-size pocket knife. It features a saber-ground drop-point blade, a textured G10 fiberglass grip, and thumb studs that work for righties and lefties alike.

[$104; amazon.com]

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Gerber Zilch
Gerber Zilch Courtesy Image

6. Gerber Zilch

Gerber has been around since 1939, and today it’s the number one supplier of knives to the U.S. military. This year, the brand released the Zilch, an ultra-lightweight pocket knife with a name that belies its capabilities. This EDC folder has a zippy one-handed opening mechanism (controlled via a thumb stud or nail nick), exposed barrels, a built-in pocket clip, and a large opening for attaching a lanyard. Like every Gerber product, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

[$21; gerbergear.com]

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Spyderco Delica 4
Spyderco Delica 4 Courtesy Image

7. Spyderco Delica 4

Another popular pick, Spyderco’s Delica has been refined year-over-year to be lighter, more ergonomic—and even more colorful. The Delica 4’s fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle now comes in several different tones along with detailed texturing for enhanced grip. The knife handle also features stainless steel reinforcements for added strength, and the full-flat ground VG-10 steel blade comes with a larger 13mm hole for easier opening.

[$120; spyderco.com]

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Buck 256 Decatur Knife
Buck 256 Decatur Knife Courtesy Image

8. Buck 256 Decatur Knife

Family-run Buck Knives got its start in 1902 making fixed-blade knives for hunters to use in the field. When it comes to Buck’s folders, we love the slim 256 Decatur for its natural woodgrain handle. It’s a handsome EDC knife to stash in your pocket, and it’s built with ball bearings for smooth one-handed opening.

[$36; buckknives.com]

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Smith & Wesson 24-7 Folder
Smith & Wesson 24-7 Folder Courtesy Image

9. Smith & Wesson 24-7 Folder

The Smith & Wesson 24-7 Folder is so slim it practically disappears in your pocket. It has a ribbed handle for a comfortable grip and a 3.5-inch tanto blade with a deep bevel that can be deployed with one hand to take on big projects. The tough G10 fiberglass handle protects the blade and comes with a clip for sliding securely onto a belt.

[$28; store.smith-wesson.com]

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Victorinox Ranger Grip 55 Onyx Black
Victorinox Ranger Grip 55 Onyx Black Courtesy Image

10. Victorinox Ranger Grip 55 Onyx Black

With the Ranger Grip 55 Onyx Black, Victorinox gave its iconic Swiss pocket knife a sleek facelift. This EDC knife packs 12 stainless steel tools—all finished with a glossy black polispectral coating for superb durability. In addition to a blade, it comes with a wood saw, 5mm lockable screwdriver, corkscrew, and can opener. The ergonomic handle features non-slip rubber and a small lanyard, too.

[$140; swissarmy.com]

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Ka-Bar Corser Folder
Ka-Bar Corser Folder Courtesy Image

11. Ka-Bar Corser Folder

Ka-Bar is known for rigorously manufacturing and testing its knives to ensure ultimate strength, corrosion resistance, and edge holding ability. Part of the brand’s Space Force collection, the Corser Folder is a compact lockback knife primed for earthly and extraterrestrial uses. It features a grey powder-coated stainless steel tanto blade, an ambidextrous handle design, and a reversible tip-up pocket clip.

[$41; kabar.com]

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BNB Knives Abalone Flipper
BNB Knives Abalone Flipper Courtesy Image

12. BNB Knives Abalone Flipper

Founded in 2016 by third generation knife maker Atif Shabbir, whose grandfather was a master bladesmith in Bangladesh then Pakistan, BucknBear (BnB) Knives specializes in Damascus, D2, Stainless steel and high carbon steel knives. Shabbir learned the trade from his father. Then he globalized the brand. This eye-catching, Pakistan-made gentleman’s flipper features stainless steel bolsters with Abalone scales and a pocket clip. The VG10 Core Damascus blade and a hand-stitched leather sheath are works of art. The Flipper, like all BnB knives, comes with a lifetime warranty and free lifetime sharpening.

[$109; bnbknives.com]

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New West Knife Works 4” Outfitter 
New West Knife Works 4” Outfitter Courtesy Image

13. New West Knife Works 4” Outfitter

Hand-forged near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, New West Knife Works crafts “world class tools for the culinary artist.” The Outfitter is one of the brand’s most versatile fixed-blade knives. Made for backcountry hunting, the 3.75” knife is compact for carry, and razor sharp for hunting and chores around the ranch. A shortened handle and extended choil makes the knife less prone to slipping. It stores securely in its leather belt sheath with a handle lanyard carry option when you don’t want to wear it on your belt.

[$249; newwestknifeworks.com]

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CRKT CEO Flipper 
CRKT CEO Flipper Courtesy Image

14. CRKT CEO Flipper

A folding knife with a liner lock, CRKT’s CEO is slim and trim, just bigger than a pen, and sized to carry in a trouser or shirt pocket. The low-profile, low-bulk CEO, which was designed by Richard Rogers in Maddalena, New Mexico, is lightly textured and glass reinforced, making it super durable. It feels good in hand, and has a low-key aesthetic, so it looks right at home on your desk as well as in the field. The knife opens with a switchblade-like action on a buttery-smooth IKBS ball bearing pivot. The high-carbon blade holds its edge, and lefties will love that the clip flips for right- and left-handed carry.

[$40; crkt.com]

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Helle Bleja
Helle Bleja Courtesy Image

15. Helle Bleja

Made with a curly birch handle, Helle’s Norway-made Bleja is beautiful enough to own purely for its looks. But this isn’t meant to gather dust on a shelf. The knife, which is named for the highest peak overlooking the fjord and factory Helle calls home, uses a strong, overtensioned back-locking mechanism and stainless-steel liners. It’s nearly as strong as a fixed blade, and it’s made to be put to work. Helle uses its signature blade in the Bleja—triple-laminated stainless steel with a slight drop point and a traditional hand-sharpened scandi grind edge. A fingerguard on the slim handle prevents accidents.

$199; helle.com]

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Benchmade Bugout 535-3 
Benchmade Bugout 535-3 Courtesy Image

16. Benchmade Bugout 535-3

Made in Oregon, this hand-assembled, slim. lightweight folder is designed for outdoor adventure. We used Benchmade’s Custom Knife Builder program to make an EDC knife with a Damasteel Ladder patterned blade and carbon body. That’s just one of the 497,760 different combinations available, ranging in price from $175 -$525.

[From $175; benchmade.com]

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Gerber Fuse
Gerber Fuse Courtesy Image

17. Gerber Fuse

Affordable, easy to use. and highly utilitarian, Gerber’s Fuse pairs high-resolution electroformed stainless steel in the grip with lightweight glass-filled nylon in a modern-looking knife ready to tackle any outdoor task. Gerber gives you color choices: stainless or black oxide for the blade, and black or olive for the body. Whichever color you choose, the deep carry pocket clip keeps the Fuse reliably at your fingertips.

[$33; gerbergear.com]

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