7 Best Pocket Knives of 2024

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Closeup of a man holding the Kershaw Leek out in front of him with a tree-lined lake in the background
Kershaw Leek – Photo credit: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CleverHiker.com)

A trusty pocket knife is handy for both the every day and the unexpected. Whether you need a quick blade while on trail, a handy way to open packaging, or have to act fast in an emergency, you’ll feel confident knowing you’re equipped with a reliable knife.

Our team has tested over 30 pocket knives in real-world situations to determine the best of the best. Accounting for price, size, sharpness and ergonomics, we’re confident you’ll find the best new pocket knife that will compliment your lifestyle and needs.

If you want more than just a single blade, you’ll find what you’re looking for in our review of the best multi-tools. We’ve also tested the top first-aid kits so you can be prepared for the unexpected, and we’ve also carefully reviewed GPS watches when the trail ahead becomes a little less clear.

Quick Picks for Pocket Knives

Check out this quick list of our favorites if you’re in a hurry, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best pocket knife overall: Kershaw Leek ($84.99)

Best ultralight pocket knife: Benchmade Bugout 535 ($171) & Mini Bugout 533 ($162)

Best budget pocket knife: Opinel No. 8 ($19) & No. 6 ($16) (smaller)

Best premium pocket knife: Spyderco Para Military 2 ($288)

Workhorse pocket knife with an ergonomic handle: Kershaw Blur ($72.70)

Small, stout & affordable pocket knife: CRKT Squid ($39.99)

Small & quick-opening pocket knife: SOG Twitch II

Durable & affordable pocket knife: Paraframe Mini ($17)

What’s new

The Clever Hiker team has been whittling, chopping, and splicing with some of the sharpest new pocket knives to hit the market, and comparing them against our long-time favorites. As a result, this list has seen some major changes:

  • The Kershaw Leek leads the pack as a sharp, easy-to use blade with a durable and sleek profile that can be opened with one hand.

  • We’ve added the Benchmade Bugout 535, a very lightweight steel workhorse with a slim handle and comes with a deep pocket carry clip.

  • The Opinel No. 8 rounds out our top 3 as one of the most budget-friendly and gorgeous knives on this list, featuring a wooden handle that makes for a lightweight and tough blade for any situation.

Kershaw Leek

Best pocket knife overall

Price: $155

Weight: 3 oz.

Blade Length / Closed Lenght: 3 in. / 4 in.

Mini Version: n/a


  • Very sharp
  • Slim and compact
  • Assisted one-hand open
  • Tip lock
  • Reversible pocket clip


  • Blade tip is a bit thin for rugged jobs

Whether you’re a knife enthusiast or a novice, the Kershaw Leek has an excellent chance of becoming your favorite knife: it’s tough to beat when it comes to an ultra-portable, high-quality knife at an outstanding price point. The parts are fit with expert precision for a svelte knife that practically disappears in the pocket. The razor-sharp blade and dramatic point are ideal for slicing, piercing, and fine detail work. To top it all off, this knife springs fully open and into a locked position with a pull from a single finger. If you want a beautiful and capable knife you’ll be inspired to use frequently, look no further than the Leek.

Benchmade Bugout 535

Best ultralight pocket knife

Price: $180

Weight: 1.9 oz.

Blade Length / Closed Lenght: 3.24 in. / 4.22 in.

Mini Version: Mini Bugout 533


  • Very lightweight
  • Premium steel quality
  • Very sharp
  • Compact
  • Lock keeps fingers clear when closing
  • Inconsipicuous (deep pocket carry clip)


  • Expensive
  • Handle is a bit long

The Benchmade Bugout 535 is one of our all-time favorite pocket knives since it’s both exceptionally lightweight and has a very sharp blade made with premium steel. The marriage of such high-quality blade steel and a slim, ultralight handle is perfect for everyday carry and anyone who wants to keep weight to an absolute minimum. Our only complaint is the handle is a bit long, making the knife a bit more bulky for storage, but we’re splitting hairs – the longer handle offers more control and precision. If you’re looking for a knife that’s incredibly sharp, light in the pocket, and easy to wield, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Bugout.

Opinel No. 8

Best budget pocket knife

Price: $19

Weight: 1.5 oz.

Blade Length / Closed Lenght: 3.25 in. / 4.25 in.

Mini Version: No. 6


  • Very affordable
  • Very lightweight
  • Secure collar lock
  • Comfortable handle
  • Inconspicuous
  • Customizable engraving available


  • Not as sharp as some
  • Slower two-handed open (nail nick and collar lock)
  • No pocket clip

The Opinel No. 8 is an affordable, utilitarian knife that was originally designed for farmers and railroad workers over 130 year ago. It’s the lightest knife we tested, so it’s extremely portable and well-suited for on-the-go activities like hiking, foraging, picnics, and working in the garden. The No. 8’s carbon steel blade isn’t as sharp as those on some modern knives, but it’s really tough for how thin it is and it’s excellent for slicing meats, cheeses, and produce. The No. 8 may take slightly longer to open and lock, but it’s a beautiful knife at an incredible value that feels like a connection to a simpler time.

Spyderco Para Military 2

Best premium pocket knife

Price: $265

Weight: 3.9 oz.

Blade Length / Closed Lenght: 3.42 in. / 4.82 in.

Mini Version: n/a


  • Very sharp
  • Large hole for easy one-handed open
  • Excellent grip
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Lock keeps fingers clear when closing
  • Four position pocket clip
  • Unique blade shape


  • Expensive
  • Heavier and bulkier than some
  • Size isn't inconspicuous

The Spyderco Para Military 2 is considered a staple among knife collectors, and for good reason. It’s a high-quality knife with thick, premium blade steel, burly steel liners, and a strong compression lock. When it comes to a hefty, burly knife that transitions easily from precision woodworking to opening packages, this knife is a beast in every sense. The PM2 also has a large hole on the blade to make it easy to open with one hand and an ergonomic handle with great texture for grip. The downside of the PM2 — it’s a whole lot of knife. Meaning, it may be a bit overkill for the everyday needs of some people. That said, the PM2 is an incredibly cool, rugged knife. If the zombie apocalypse comes, it’s the pocket knife we’ll grab first.

Kershaw Blur

Workhorse pocket knife with an ergonomic handle

Price: $160

Weight: 3.9 oz.

Blade Length / Closed Lenght: 3.4 in / 4.5 in

Mini Version: n/a


  • Large blade
  • Very sharp
  • Assisted one-hand open
  • Excellent grip
  • Ergonomic thumb studs
  • Reversible pocket clip


  • Expensive
  • Havier and bulkier than some

The Kershaw Blur is a big, sturdy pocket knife with a wide blade that’s excellent for carving and cutting with minimal effort. The handle is comfortable and has unique rubberized inserts for outstanding grip. We love the smooth action on the Blur too. It’s easy to operate with a single hand and quick to put away when you’re done. Because it’s so strong and easy to handle, the Blur is a great choice for anyone who needs a large blade they can count on for years of daily use.

CRKT Squid

Small, stout, & affordable pocket knife

Price: $32

Weight: 3.5 oz.

Blade Length / Closed Lenght: 2.16 in. / 3.48 in.

Mini Version: n/a


  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Durable (extra corrosion-resistant steel)
  • Inconspicuous (deep pocket carry clip)
  • Sleek, simple profile
  • Thick blade


  • Small
  • Tough to open with one hand
  • Slightly heavy for its size

We think of the CRKT Squid as the bulldog of pocket knives. It’s extremely tough for such a little guy and has a short, stout blade made with high-quality steel that will last for years, if not decades. The Squid may feel a bit small in hand for some, but we haven’t come across any jobs that it couldn’t tackle. It’s an excellent box cutter and rips through tough materials like butter. The Squid’s small size also means it stays out of the way of keys and other objects in your pocket. If you’re looking for a high-quality, yet affordable knife – this one is a Budget Buy because at $32, the value can’t be beat – the Squid is very well made and is a joy to use, even if the blade is a bit short.

SOG Twitch II

Small & quick-opening pocket knife

Price: $60

Weight: 2.6 oz.

Blade Length / Closed Lenght: 2.65 in. / 3.55 in.

Mini Version: n/a


  • Very sharp
  • Slim and compact
  • Assisted one-hand open
  • Safety lock
  • Reversible pocket clip
  • Inconspicuous


  • Small
  • Takes two hands to close

If you want an inconspicuous pocket knife that’s sharp, fast to deploy, and comfortable to carry, the SOG Twitch II might be your jam. It’s very small and compact, so you can barely feel it in your pocket. The Twitch has assisted open, so it’s fun to unfold, and it works well when you need to use your blade frequently. Our one gripe is that the lockback locking mechanism takes two hands and requires a change of grip. That said, the Twitch is a high-quality knife for the price and an excellent choice for anyone who needs a small knife for everyday carry.

Gerber Paraframe II

Durable & affordable pocket knife

Price: $40

Weight: 4.1 oz.

Blade Length / Closed Lenght: 3.5 in. / 4.75 in.

Mini Version: Paraframe Mini


  • Affordable
  • Long balde
  • Slim design
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Durable (all-steel construction)
  • Open design is easy to clean


  • Heavier and bulkier than some
  • Takes two hands to close
  • Mediocre blade quality
  • Thumb studs are a bit long

The Gerber Paraframe II looks cool and is easy to clean due to its open all-steel frame, but it’s not a knife you buy to admire or collect. It’s an affordable tool you can put to hard use without having to worry about messing it up, which can be a real asset while camping or on the job. The Paraframe has a sturdy barebones design, and it’s really slim for a knife with such a thick blade. The Paraframe Mini is significantly lighter, and is a good budget option for times when weight savings is important. The Paraframe stands out for it’s budget-friendly price, simplicity, and durability.


What’s Most Important to You in a Pocket Knife?


Great quality is often worth paying for when it comes to a high-quality knife you’ll use every day, from backyard to backcountry. That said, you don’t have to pay a lot for an effective and versatile blade that’s also built to last. We’ve found outstanding knives in every price brackets.

Best budget pocket knives

Best value pocket knives

Best high-end pocket knives


The best pocket knives for everyday carry are compact enough to be comfortably stashed in a pocket without feeling bulky or getting in the way. But, the longer the blade, the more leverage you’ll have when working with your knife. We prefer knives in the 3-4 inch blade range because they offer a solid balance of cutting power and portability for most situations.

Best mid-size pocket knives


If you know you’ll be using your knife a lot throughout the day, make sure it’s easy to grab and quick to deploy. A few knives on our list have spring-assisted opening and can be quickly opened and closed with a single hand, although they have more parts that can fail. Others are manual and may require two hands – they have fewer moving parts that can fail and are less likely to accidentally open.

Assisted open pocket knives


Stainless steel blades are the most common in pocket knives. They’re corrosion resistant and low maintenance, which means they’ll stay sharp for a long time. Knives with premium steel blades tend to be more expensive, but they’re sharper, more finely-tuned, and hold their edge for longer.


A great knife is more than just a good sharp blade. The handle plays a big role in how effective a knife, how easy it is to hold and grip, and how comfortable it is to use for an extended period.

Knives with the best grip

Critical Pocket Knife Considerations


A good pocket knife will certainly come in handy in all kinds of unexpected situations, but consider what you intend to use your knife for most often. If you see yourself sawing through rope or skinning rabbits, you may want to consider a more specialized blade made for climbing or bushcraft. On this list, we focus mostly on well-rounded pocket knives for everyday carry, whether you’re pulling weeds in the garden, repairing gear before a day hike, or starting a fire in the backcountry.


Serrations are handy for sawing through rope when a knife is dull, but they’re nearly impossible to sharpen at home and eat up valuable real estate on your blade. That’s why we prefer a simple plain edge. If you keep it sharp, it will almost always perform better and be more versatile than a serrated one.



A sturdy lock mechanism on your knife makes them safer to use during rigorous cutting tasks. All of the knives on our list are equipped with strong frame, liner, compression, or collar locks to keep the blade safe and securely fixed in position when open.


A pocket knife should be compact and light enough that it won’t bother you to carry it in your pocket, but large and robust enough to fit comfortably in your palm and be effective for the task at hand. A good ballpark range for an everyday carry knife size is about 4 inches long when closed and no more than about 4 oz. in weight.



The knives on our list are equipped with a range of blade shapes, but most are some form of the classic drop-point, which offers excellent versatility for various cutting and slicing tasks. To learn more, check out this Knife Blade Shapes Guide.


There’s a lot to learn about knife blade steel, but the basics come down to these five elements: hardness, toughness, wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and edge retention. All of these factors play into a knife’s cutting performance and ease of maintenance. Check out the Essential Guide to Knife Steel if you want to know more about a specific blade.


The handle is an important part of the pocket knife equation: too heavy and bulky, the knife is cumbersome, but too light and flimsy, the knife will feel weak. The best knives have handles that are ergonomic, comfortable, grippy, and durable. G-10, a type of laminate commonly used in knife handles, is a good all-around material for its light weight and texture, but you might prefer materials like anodized aluminum or wood.



Once you’ve gone over the considerations above, you can narrow your search to knives that appeal to you aesthetically and fit your style. You might want a tough-looking tactical blade, a sleek knife that won’t scare people at the office, or a traditional, old school design.


Most people carry their knives in their pants pockets. The knife should rest inside the pocket with the closed blade flush with the front or back seam so you can grab the knife easily and prevent the blade from accidentally falling open. Some knives have pre-drilled holes so you can choose the position that suits you best. If you prefer to be inconspicuous and not draw attention to the fact that you’re carrying a knife, look for a deep carry pocket clip that keeps the blade hidden – some knives include this.


Honorable Mentions

The following pocket knives didn’t make our final list, but they’ve still got a lot of good things going for them. You never know, one of these knives might be perfect for you:

ULA Alpha Knife – A ridiculously lightweight fixed blade knife that was designed specifically for backpackers and thru-hikers doing everyday trail activities like food prep and opening packaging. Read our full review here.

Gerber Sharkbelly – Affordable, slim, and lightweight pocket knife with a large sheepsfoot blade and great pocket clip

CRKT Razelcliffe – Stout and budget-friendly mini knife with an easy open hammer and a unique chizel-like blade shape

Milwaukee Fastback Utility Knife – Affordable folding box cutter with disposable blades