The Best Pocket Knives and Multi-Tools for Everyday Carry

Carrying a pocket knife or a multi-tool can be surprisingly life-upgrading. Whether you’re out and about in town, chilling in nature, or just hanging around the house, having the power to cut, pry, or snip something at a moment’s notice can not only be a game-changer, but a way to keep yourself safe. Historically, having a knife laying around has helped so many people out in sticky situations—just think about John Wick, the dude in 127 Hours, Julius Caesar’s homies, and countless Norwegian black metal musicians. Carrying a knife isn’t just for tough guys; it’s something all smart, prepared people should be doing.

Real talk, if you’re thinking about getting a knife, it’s important to be honest with yourself about why you want one. In knife culture, people love to talk about the EDC (aka everyday carry), a knife you keep on you at all times for moments of necessity; others carry multi-tools to be prepared for even more unknowns. These types of tools are primarily what we’ll be looking at here. TBQF, if you’re reading this, you’re likely not considering a serious hunting-quality knife, or one for true covert operations. Like, I get that you’re a rugged, PBR drinkin’, Carhartt wearin’ warrior leading a humble hunter/gatherer life on the fringe of society Brooklyn, but I’m gonna go ahead and respectfully presume that you’re not the living reincarnation of Daniel Boone (or, you know, Jet Li). While we do take our jobs as VICE’s shopping experts very seriously, even we know that if you’re actually preparing for a The Revenant or Zero Dark Thirty kind of situation, you’re probably not looking for tips on VICE’s shopping vertical.

Still, it felt important to consult an expert on what to look for in a knife, so I hit up Brian Moxey, executive chef of internationally recognized bakery-restaurant Union Loafers and veteran of beloved NYC haunt Hearth (put another way, he’s a dude who spends all of his time thinking about and using sharp knives). It helps, of course, that in addition to being a maniac with kitchen knives, he’s equally obsessed with collecting EDC blades. “I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t carrying a knife and needed one,” Moxey says. “I’ve always got one.” And while he’s putting up numbers with regards to his collection, his criteria for a great knife is simple: It should be eye-catching and pocketable. Moxey, like all of us, uses his pocket knife mostly for mundane daily tasks: “Opening mail, breaking down boxes, cutting the tags off of stuff. But there is always the moment when someone asks to borrow one or a task presents itself. I like to know I’m covered in those moments.” For him, it’s about being ready for anything.

Ultimately, we can spend all day hemming and hawing about the perfect size and material for a blade, the absolute necessary components of a satisfying multi-tool, whether a knife should have a clip, and what kind of opening technique is the best. At the end of the day, though, pocket knives and multi-tools are not too different from chef’s knives: If you get a good one from a respected brand, it’s probably going to get the job done; what actually matters most is that you feel badass while using it. “[Picking a favorite] is truly like picking a favorite child!” said Moxey, who sort of did actually pick a favorite when he told me his daily go-to below. On that note, among Moxey’s favorite brands are Benchmade, Knafs, Civivi, and Case, which are all represented here. Below, I’ve written about some hits from those producers, as well as some of my own favorites and some more generally loved eternal bangers. Here are the best pocket knives and multi-tools.

Buck Knives 371 Stockman

This three-blade classic is an all-timer, both for its perfect grouping of knives (clip point, spey, and sheepsfoot) and its timeless woodgrain look. I have a very deep soft spot for this one. This is the knife I carried for many years—it was with me on everything from heroic foraging missions to countless walks, bike rides, and picnics. Unfortunately, it was lost forever (very recently, actually) in a tragic Dave Matthews Band security checkpoint search, but it will live forever in my heart.

$35.48$28.99 at Amazon

Buck Knives 110

If a more elegant and enduring folding knife exists, I’m not aware of it. Simply a gorgeous masterpiece. Buck Knives have been a standard since 1902—if your grandfather ever hunted, owned a cabin, or ran a business meeting, he probably had one of these.

$82$64.99 at Amazon

Benchmade Bugout

According to Moxey, “The Benchmade Bugout has been my daily go-to for several years now. It’s my hiker, frequent daytime carry, and it never misses a morning run. Full-size cutting power, confident lock, very low profile, and super lightweight. It’s a badass in my book, and a no-brainer for my style of carry.” The Bugout is also an industry fave—peep the almost 2,000 Amazon reviews for a 4.7 star average; its drop point blade and textured handle make for a super handsome, classic feeling combo.

$200 at Amazon

$162 at Amazon

Case XX Trapper

This trapper knife is great for hunting, but just as solid for household tasks. Very simple, this beautiful muted yellow knife has chrome vanadium spey and clip point blades. If you buy this one, you also need to grow one of those pointy mustaches (or at least get a top hat or cabbie).

$40.17 at Amazon

Craftsman Pocket Knife

“I still have my first knife I ever owned. Found it in a crawl space under our house with my dad when I was three,” Moxey said. “It’s an old Craftsman folder. Surely it was dropped by a worker when the house was being built.” This likely isn’t the same one, but Craftsman is a legendary brand, and this ball-bearing-assisted, easy-to-open stainless steel knife is shockingly affordable. Amazon shoppers rave about its sharpness (thus its 4.7 star average rating).

$11$9.98 at Amazon

Leatherman Wave Plus

I know this is disrespectful to other brands, but “Leatherman” has always been synonymous with “multi-tool” for me. The Wave Plus is one of the brand’s greatest achievements. An 18-tool monster, the Wave Plus has pliers, wire cutters and a stripper, a saw, a scissors, bottle/can openers (important), screwdrivers, and knives. If you anticipate any kind of handiwork or fixing scenarios, keep this close and you’ll be fine.

$119.95 at Amazon

Leatherman Free

After the universe took my Buck Stockman 371 away, I searched long and hard for a replacement. This time, I wanted something with a bottle opener and scissors, as well as potentially a screwdriver, just for broader use. If I wanted a straight pocket knife, like Moxey I’d probably use the Bugout, but my current EDC is the Leatherman Free K4, which has all the aforementioned tools. I also love the Free T2, which is a lighter, smaller version that still looks very sick and can really take care of business.

$99.95$95 at Amazon

$49.95 at Amazon

Knafs Lander

“I would say keep your eye on Knafs,” Moxey told me. “The company was started by Ben Peterson and his wife Athena. Really cool people [that] do some fun stuff with Kickstarter. His story is pretty awesome.”

$58 at Amazon

Victorinox Huntsman

Can’t talk about multi-tools without mentioning the GOATed Swiss army knife maker Victorinox. Like Leatherman, these are also synonymous with “multi-tool” for me; my first EDC when I was an early teenager was one of these (I think it was a Bar Mitzvah gift, LOL). Every Victorinox model—and there are many—has its own special constellation of tools. The Huntsman is a classic model that has everything you’d need for a good time, i.e., a corkscrew.

$52$32.56 at Amazon

CRKT Squid

The Oregon-based Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) gets straight to the rustic, utilitarian style that you’d be happy to have in any situation. I love how this one takes a smaller drop point blade (2.1 inches) but somehow makes it seem way more substantial.

$29.99$20.75 at Amazon

Civivi Elementum

This minimalist but very sexy knife uses D2 steel and is beloved for how smoothly it sits in the pocket. “Best knife I own and I have a lot of knives,” says one Amazon reviewer. Can’t argue with that!

$50.15 at Amazon

Happy carrying, and make sure to leave your knife in your car if you go to a concert.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.


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