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.
The Best Pocket Knives for 2022
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.