While the term ‘everyday carry‘ is by no means recognized by everyone around the world, the space has gotten much bigger and more populated in recent years, especially in regards to knives. There are dozens – perhaps hundreds – of knife making companies, often with a wide arsenal of options just beneath their own organization’s umbrella. And on top of that, there are even more custom knife makers with small shops of their own. That can be a very difficult landscape to navigate for even the most seasoned everyday carry enthusiast.
First of all, it’s important that we define what we mean by ‘everyday carry knife.’ This is not something that you keep in a glass case for emergencies only. We are talking blades that will see regular daily use over an extended period of time. Perhaps, for you, that means opening cardboard boxes and clamshell packaging, maybe it means cutting up kindling for a campfire. The point is, each of these knives is intended to be used. And used often. Hence, the ‘everyday’ part of ‘everyday carry.’
That also means these knives have to fall under some level of lawful regulation. Most places do not look kindly on someone carrying around and using a large fixed-blade knife, so we have not included any on our list. While we love fixed-blades for what they are, they’re just not practical for everyday use – both in regards to the law and because they can be unwieldy over the course of a normal day.
Lastly, many of the following brands offer numerous worthwhile folding pocket knife options, but in order to keep our list to a reasonable length, offer a wide range of prices, and highlight some of the best knife makers and manufacturers in the space, we’ve kept our selections to one folder per maker/organization. This list may not be the most definitive breakdown of pocket folding knives on the market, but it is a collection of our favorite options available on the market today.
Opinel No. 8 Trekking Knife
Dating back to the late 1800s, Opinel is one of the founding brands in both the world of folding pocket knives and EDC, helping pave the way for every modern brand. And for that they have earned both our undying respect and a spot on this list. Each of their folding knives is numerically ranked by size – No. 2 being the smallest and No. 12 the largest – but they all feature Opinel’s iconic styling.
This iteration, the No. 8 Trekking Knife, is equipped with a 3.25 inches 12C27 Sandvik stainless steel blade, a beechwood handle, and Opinel’s signature Virobloc safety ring, which can lock the blade in either the open or closed position. At under 5 inches in length when closed, this knife fits easily into pockets, but it also comes with a leather lanyard – which can be tied to a belt loop, bag, or otherwise – in case you don’t have a pocket in which to place it. For the price, you simply will not find a better knife.
Perhaps the most dominant brand in the realm of affordable everyday carry knives, Kershaw has one of the widest catalogs of pocket folders under $100. And, between their reliable Speedsafe assisted deployment system and working with famous knife designers like Les George and Ken Onion, many of them are quite notable. Although, none is perhaps as legendary as the Cryo.
A collaboration with Rick Hinderer, the Cryo flipper knife sports the features of a blade at least double its cost – from a sturdy frame lock with lockbar stabilization, to a 4-way pocket clip, to a titanium carbo-nitride coated 2.75 inch 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade and 410 stainless steel handle. And, at 3.75 inches when closed, this knife takes up very little pocket real estate but still feels like a substantial and worthwhile knife. For anyone new to the world of EDC knives, this is probably the best all-around starter blade.
Ontario Rat Model 1
Operating out of upstate New York since 1889, Ontario Knives is a company which specializes primarily in fixed-blade hunting and fishing knives, but they also dabble in kitchen cutlery and folding pocket knives. Their line of Rat folders is amongst their top selling products – and for good reason. They’re tough, affordable, and very well built. And they’re all based around an original superb platform: the Rat model 1.
About as no-nonsense as it gets, the Ontario Rat Model 1 isn’t the most beautifully styled blade, but it more than makes up for its relatively plain looks with an array of impressive features. Its 3.5 inch blade is made from AUS-8 steel – a low-cost stainless steel with excellent toughness, corrosion resistance, and good edge retention – and the handle is made from a durable nylon 6 polymer. Closing to just 4.5 inches and weighing only 5 ounces, this knife is a true case of bang-for-your-buck value.
Buck Knives Vantage Pro
In 1902, Hoyt Buck created the first Buck Knife. In 1964, they revolutionized the folding blade industry with the introduction of their locking 110 hunting knife. Since, Buck Knives has continued to be one of the greatest American knife producers. And the proof can be seen in their Vantage Pro USA-made folder.
This knife features a 3.25 inch drop-point S30V steel blade, an excellent blade material known for outstanding edge retention and corrosion resistance, that folds into a thermoplastic handle – offering excellent durability, toughness, and a very comfortable grip. It also comes with a reversible deep-carry pocket clip and a stainless steel liner lock. And, like all Buck Knives, it comes with their lifetime warranty – so you can rely on this knife without worry.
Inspired by an elite special ops unit that operated during the Vietnam War – known as MACV-SOG – Spencer Frazer sought to honor these soldiers through his recreation of their original bowie knife. From that original tribute, SOG grew into the Military-favored brand it is today – in fact, the Navy SEALs use SOG fixed-blades. This knife, the Trident, strays from that path just enough to be considered an everyday carry knife, without abandoning the brand’s tactical roots.
This knife’s 3.5 inch, clip point, partially serrated, AUS-8 steel blade – which is coated with titanium nitride for extra hardness – is extended from its glass-reinforced nylon handle via the brand’s SOG Assisted Technology deployment system, so it is easily opened with one hand. SOG’s patented ARC lock system ensures that, when deployed, the blade stays secure. And the unique notch in the handle, which allows for something like a seat belt to be cut while the knife is closed, is an bonus emergency addition. And each of these knives comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Boker Plus Urban Trapper
Dating back to the 17th century, a small tool manufacturing facility in Remscheid, Germany would eventually grow into the knife making brand Boker that we know and love today. And while they make blades which span from cutlery to fixed-blades to pocket folders – and every price point therein – there is one pocket knife which stands out the most in regards to everyday carry: the Urban Trapper.
Weighing in at an astonishing 1.7 ounces, this pocket folder features a 3.5 inch Japanese VG-10 steel blade which folds into a titanium handle that features a frame lock. With a total length of 7.75 inches, this knife isn’t so large that it’s impractical to carry with you, but it also won’t feel like a child’s plaything in your hands. And for the quality of materials, you certainly aren’t going to find a lighter knife as an addition to your EDC gear.
CRKT No Time Off
One of the stand-out brands from the ocean that is Oregon’s knife making community, Columbia River Knife and Tool have built their reputation on the creation of reliable, innovative, superior products. But, as is the case with any prolific manufacturer, there are definitely some knives that are set apart from the rest – like the No Time Off pocket folder.
A collaboration with Brazilian knife designer, Flavio Ikoma, this pocket folder features a CTS BD1 steel 2.99 inch blade and a glass-reinforced nylon handle. It also comes equipped with Ikoma’s IKBS ball bearing pivot deployment system, for a very smooth opening and closing. And the Ikoma Locking System, a patented safety addition to a normal liner lock, ensures that once the blade is extended the security of the lock will not fail. This knife is a true workhorse for anyone with high demands for their everyday carry gear.
Benchmade Mini Griptilian
Highly lauded for the quality of construction and design of their knives, Benchmade comfortably holds prominence in the knife community as one of the greatest manufacturers around today. And that is thanks, in part, to their Griptilian family of knives. Between the superiority of their blades, their easy-to-grip handles, and Benchmade’s signature Axis locking system, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
This one, the Mini Griptilian, is easily the most pocket-friendly – with a closed length of only 3.87 inches – but the 2.91 inch 154CM steel blade will not disappoint, whether you’re an urbanite or outdoorsman. The lightweight glass-filled nylon handle is sure to stay tough through whatever you can throw at it and, thanks to the large thumbhole, the blade can be deployed easily right- or left-handed. And if that’s not enough to sell you, it’s also made in the USA.
Cold Steel Recon 1
As far as tactical knives go, there are many on the market who masquerade as supremely tough, but don’t quite cut it when it comes to in-the-field functionality. Not the case for Cold Steel’s Recon 1. This knife is exactly as rugged as it professes to be – which is why it is so popular amongst military, law enforcement, and fire fighting personnel.
Weighing in at 5.3 ounces, this knife features a hollow ground U.S. made Carpenter CTS XHP steel blade with a DLC coating – offering up the kind of toughness that’s nearly unmatched for the same price point. And, built into the G-10 handle is Cold Steel’s world-renowned Tri-Ad back locking system, so you can always depend on the blade to stay securely open, even in the most trying of circumstances. This knife is about as hardy as they come.
Spyderco Paramilitary 2
Spyderco knives stand out not just for the unique ‘leaf’ style blade shape or their signature Spyder hole for thumb deployment, but for their consistent ability to create some of the most outstanding pocket folders available on the market. Perhaps the best of all of their offerings, however, is their Paramilitary 2 – an updated result of their process of Constant Quality Improvement.
Featuring a more ergonomic G-10 handle and a 4-way pocket clip, this improvement of their original Paramilitary pocket folding knife features a distinct back-mounted liner lock – alternatively a compression lock – which adds increased security and safety when in use. This USA made knife comes equipped with a high-quality CPM S30V steel 3 7/16 inch blade and an overall length of 8 9/32 inches. If you are looking for a unique everyday carry knife that will never let you down, this is it.
James Brand The County Knife
Born from the desire to own, but inability to find their perfect pocket knife, the guys at The James Brand know what they like – after all, they went ahead and made it. And, since we also like what they like, we’re lucky that they’re willing to offer it up for sale. Their second foray into the world of EDC knives is this, The County Knife – a much needed and highly impressive look back into the history of folding knives – and, to some degree, our own history as knife fanatics.
Made to resemble a classic pocket knife – the kind you may have had as a kid – this beautifully styled knife is smaller than your average pocket folder, with a total length of 6 inches, but it also has the benefit of being the most pocketable of all the knives on this list. And like the knives of old, The County is a slipjoint style folder – so it doesn’t lock – but that gives it the benefit of legality in places where locking mechanisms are not allowed. And the combination of Walnut and 440 stainless steel in the handle, paired with the Sandvik steel blade make this an excellent knife for long-time folder fans and newcomers alike.
Reate Knives Hills
Reate Knives is a relatively young company, but they’ve already offered up an arsenal of knives of such high quality and good design that they’ve broken the old stereotype that Chinese made products are constructed poorly – at least in regards to themselves. Headed by designer David Deng, this company’s products are exceedingly impressive in both quality of materials and construction. And one such offering, their Hills folder, is a perfect example of that fact.
With a handle made from 6AL4V titanium and a blade of S35VN steel, this folding knife is an industrial powerhouse. And it has the silhouette to prove it, measuring up at 8.3 inches overall. And, although this knife features a manual flipper-style opening, the ball bearing deployment system makes it extend as smooth as silk. And the sturdy frame lock will ensure that this knife’s beefy blade will only fold once you want it to. If you want a knife that feels as hefty as it is, go no further.
Zero Tolerance ZT 0900 Les George
The Made-in-the-USA brand under the Kai USA Ltd. umbrella – the same parent company of Kershaw Knives – Zero Tolerance has staked their reputation on crafting knives that are “proudly overbuilt.” And the results are clear – ZT is responsible for some of the most sturdy well-designed folding knives made of some truly outstanding materials. It’s no wonder they are so widely revered.
One of the most everyday carry friendly titanium folders available, the ZT 0900 is another superb collaboration between Zero Tolerance and a world renowned knife designer – this time with Les George. This small EDC knife features a S35VN steel 2.7 inch blade – which deploys via a KVT ball bearing system – and a titanium handle with a built-in frame lock and a hardener lock bar. And the reversible clip makes this knife easy to carry either right or left handed.
DPx Gear HEAT/F
The creation of Robert Young Pelton – a writer and documentarian who has voluntarily involved himself in 30 years of conflict and harsh environments – DPx Gear (which stands for Dangerous Parts Extreme) is built around the idea of creating the best gear for the worst environments. And, while you may not be out in the wilderness amongst the warring factions of opposing warlords, you could do worse for yourself than grabbing something like the HEAT/F folding knife.
This intense 2.26 inch blade is made from Niolox steel – which has a built-in bottle opener – folds into a G-10 and grade 5 6Al-4V titanium handle with a frame lock. And on the base of the handle, there’s a tungsten carbide glass breaker – for emergency escapes from, say, a sinking car. And the entire knife is TiCN PVD coated for extra durability, toughness, and a matte black finish. As far as tactical options for everyday carry knives go, this knife is definitely in the upper echelon.
Chris Reeve Small Sebenza 21
By one of the most highly respected knife makers in the world, Chris Reeve, this is arguably the most widely lusted after series of folding knives available to the everyday carry community. First created back in 1987, the Sebenza has evolved over time – being tweaked here and there – until the Sebenza 21 was released in its 21st year of existence. Today, this knife series is still the bar by which all other knives are judged.
This version, the Small Sebenza, features a hollow ground CPM S35VN stainless steel 2.94 inch blade, which folds into a 6AL4V titanium handle with the “Original Integral Lock” frame lock and has an overall length of 6.875 inches. And, with or without the removable pocket clip, this knife is very carry friendly. And all the features of this USA made knife are all the more impressive when you consider that it weighs in at only 3 ounces.
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