Best pocketknives

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A good pocketknife is more than just another piece of outdoor gear. It’s your most convenient tool. The one item that never leaves your pocket, belt or pack. Losing it would be a real blow. From a vital outdoor implement when skinning a rabbit or whittling a stick to the modern predicament of getting into a well-sealed package without breaking a sweat, a pocketknife is too useful not to have on hand all day. (Although you can't take them on a flight, of course.)

The best pocketknife will be sharp enough to slice through whatever you need to cut and fold up compactly so you can carry it everywhere. The composition of the blade is an important consideration. They tend to be made of carbon steel or stainless steel. Carbon steel is durable and easy to sharpen but can be prone to corrosion. If you are planning to use your knife for cooking or in the water, stainless steel, although weaker, will not rust. Although pocketknives are a simple and effective design, some have locking blades that can be useful when you don’t want the knife to close on your fingers. Here are some knives we would always find space in our pockets for.

Best overall

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Kershaw Blur Black Everyday Carry Pocketknife

Opens one-handed and locks into place

Kershaw has designed the Blur with some neat features that make it a choice pick. The blade is made from high-performance steel coated with corrosion-resistant carbon that glints attractively. The SpeedSafe Assisted Opening System means you can open it quickly with one hand using the thumb stud and lock securely into place. A reversible pocket clip can be used on either side of the knife for easy, customizable carrying. 

Best tools

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Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool Evolution Pocket Knife

The original multitool

Swiss Army knives are iconic for a reason. Launched in 1897, they are compact, well-made and incredibly useful. There are multiple models and sizes to select from but this one has a good range of tools including a corkscrew, screwdriver and wire stripper without getting too bulky. The stainless steel blade is reliably sharp and the slotted-in tweezers save the day when there’s a splinter.

Best basic knife

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Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife with Beechwood Handle

Wood and steel in perfect harmony

The other European knife with a long history, Opinel’s tool is as beautiful as it is simple. Unchanged since 1890, Opinel’s sharp carbon steel blade is held by a durable beechwood handle. A rotating safety ring locks the blade into place which varies in length depending on the model from 2.87” to 4.82”. Simple but so effective, this is a knife loved by many.

Best value

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Gerber EAB Lite Pocket Knife

Fits in any pocket and cuts like a dream

This compact knife measures 5.1 inches open and 2.8 inches closed and is perfect for everyday cutting tasks like slicing open boxes or cutting string. The utility blade is replaceable with a contractor-grade one. As well as a secure locking mechanism, the handle also features a clip for your belt or to hold money.

Bottom line

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The pocketknife long ago earned its place as one of humankind’s most trusted everyday tools of choice and has remained as vital to this day. We can’t be the only ones who feel a real attachment to our favorite pocketknife. Certainly, we’d be more sorry to lose it than high tech kit costing 10 times more. Partly it’s down to its pleasing simplicity – just a blade that folds into the handle, but also because of all the times when it’s been so useful. For your next pocketknife, we recommend the Kershaw Blur Black Everyday Carry Pocketknife. Kershaw has really enhanced the basic operation of a pocketknife with a great opening and locking system that works one-handed and a versatile pocket clip that lets you carry it any way you like.

For two, more traditional, pocket knives that are a pleasure to own and use but very different from each other, we have to pick the Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife with Beechwood Handle and the Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool Evolution Pocket Knife. Both have over a century of tradition behind them and a reputation for high quality at a fair price. The Opinel is basic but beautiful and does its one job - cutting things - very well. Victorinox’s knife was very much the first multitool and is as useful as ever in every situation you can think of and plenty that you can't until they happen.

Advnture team

Launched in July 2020, Advnture is the ideal destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Whether you're into epic hikes through the wilderness, camping trips with the family, climbing with your friends, or looking for a trail running personal best, our team of experts will point you in the right direction, with top buying advice and in-depth guides to help you get the most of your time in the backcountry.