|Best Overall||Benchmade Adamas||SEE IT||
This knife is tough, has great edges, and can handle nearly anything.
|Best for Hunting||Buck 110 Slim Pro TRX||SEE IT||
A classic knife with a slimmer, modern upgrade.
|Best for Fishing||Spyderco Salt 2||SEE IT||
H1 blade steel is stainless and won’t rust in saltwater.
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A knife is the most useful tool that has ever been invented, but it’s only useful if you have it on you when you need it. That’s why folding knives are the go-to choice for most people. They can be used for opening a package, breaking down a deer, or whittling a tent stake, and are easily carried in a front pocket. Their usefulness also means there are a ton of options and finding the best folding knife isn’t an easy task.
- Best Overall: Benchmade Adamas
- Best for Camping: Victorinox One Handed Trekker
- Best for Hiking: Benchmade Bugout
- Best for Hunting: Buck 110 Slim Pro TRX
- Best for Fishing: Spyderco Salt 2
- Best Budget: CRKT Pilar
As a professional knife sharpener, outdoorsman, and knife addict, I’ve had the chance to use a pile of great folding knives. I’ve made the task of choosing the best option for your needs by choosing the best folding knives for camping, bushcraft, hiking, hunting, and fishing. Here are my picks.
Best Folding Knives: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Benchmade Adamas
- Made in the U.S.
- 3.82 inch CPM CRU-WEAR drop point blade
- 6.45 ounces
- Skeletonized G-10 handle scales
- AXIS Lock
- Good edge retention and toughness
- Strong lock
- Blade coating prevents staining
- LifeSharp warranty
- Big enough to handle nearly anything
The Benchmade Adamas was designed by famed maker Shane Seibert, and recently received a big upgrade to Cru-Wear Steel from its original D2. The handle shape is comfortable, and provides solid grip in any situation. The Adamas makes you forget that you have a folding knife because it’s so solid. The size and blade shape make it super versatile for just about any situation whether you are camping, hunting, bushcrafting, or taking a hike. Obviously, it isn’t the lightest or best blade grind for specialty uses, but the Adamas is a jack of all trades, and master of none. The Adamas takes the title of best overall folding knife because it can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, and keep on cutting.
Best for Camping: Victorinox One Handed Trekker
- Made in Switzerland
- 12 tools
- 4.6 ounces
- One-handed opening main blade
- Full length main blade and saw
- Quality manufacturing
- Locking, one-hand opening main blade
- Saw works for up to “wrist-sized” wood
- Feels solid in hand without being bulky
- Available in several variations
- Only the main blade locks
I received one of these tools as a gift a few years ago and didn’t think I would like it. Then I took it outside and started using it—my opinion quickly flipped. I was most surprised with the saw and how it just ripped through wood. The Trekker is easy to carry and packs a ton of utility in a sub-4.5-inch tool. I chose a multitool as the best folding camp knife because whether you’re in the backyard or backcountry, RV or tent, the Trekker will cover just about any camping task you have. These models are not the most popular tools made by Victorinox, but I think they are some of the best, and the Trekker earns my pick for best folding knife for camping.
Best for Hiking: Benchmade Bugout
- Made in the U.S.
- 3.24 inch CPM S30V drop point blade
- 1.85 ounces
- AXIS lock
- Grivory handle material
- Lightweight, yet strong
- Easy to carry in your pocket
- Lifetime and LifeSharp warranty
- Blue scales are easy to spot if dropped
- Mini deep carry pocket clip helps prevent snags on brush
- Thin and somewhat flexible handle scales
The Benchmade Bugout has been with me on quite a few hikes and backpacking trips. Even with pants and shorts made of thin material, the Bugout won’t weigh down your pocket. Its slim profile allows access to whatever else is in your pocket, but once you open the knife up, you have plenty of blade length. Although there is some flex in the handle scales, you can apply a lot of pressure on this knife and it won’t break. The handle flex is not serious and handles don’t stay bent. The blade shape lends itself well to food prep on the trail, carving tent pegs, or taking care of splinters or blisters. The S30V blade holds an edge and is relatively easy to sharpen, not that you should have to need to do so on the trail. Weight is always a consideration on the trail, and the Bugout hits the perfect balance between counting ounces and not giving up capability. Add in a great warranty and free sharpening from Benchmade for life, and the Bugout seems an easy win for the best folding knife for hiking.
Best Folding Knife for Hunting: Buck 110 Slim Pro TRX
- Made in the U.S.
- 3.75 inch S30V clip point blade
- 3.3 ounces
- New Torx Screw Construction
- Lockback lock
- Reversible pocket clip
- Much lighter than the original
- Durable materials
- Thumb studs for one-handed opening
- Thinner profile for easier carry
- Requires two hands to close
I like the looks and nostalgia of old-school folding knives like the original 110 and various slip joint knives, but I value function over form at the end of the day. That has led me to mostly use modern folders with easier opening, convenient pocket clips, and higher-end materials. So, when I saw Buck had modernized the venerable 110, I was pretty excited.
The 110 Slim Pro TRX got a big upgrade in blade steel, as well as modern features like thumb studs on the blade to aid one-handed opening and a new torx screw construction instead of old school rivets. The 110 Slim Pro TRX also went on a serious diet and lost weight and girth making it easier to carry and, in my opinion, feels better in hand. You’ll also have a better grip with the G10 handles on the 110 Slim Pro TRX, which are much better for resisting the elements. The Buck 110 Slim Pro TRX retains the same blade and handle shape as the original, but gets the modern upgrades that it deserves. Classic shapes meet modern materials and conveniences to produce the best folding knife for hunting.
Best Folding Knife for Fishing: Spyderco Salt 2
- Made in Japan
- 3-inch Sheepsfoot Blade
- 2.1 ounces
- FRN handle scales
- Rustproof H1 steel
- Sheepsfoot blade is less likely to stab you when the boat is rocking or if you slip
- Lightweight and easy to carry in four positions
- High traction FRN scales prevent slipping
- Hollow ground blade slices with ease
- Easy opening with thumb hole blade
- H1 is rustproof, but lacks slightly in edge retention
The Spyderco Salt 2 is the perfect example of a knife taking care of you, not you taking care of the knife. If you are in saltwater environments (or freshwater for that matter) this knife requires basically zero maintenance aside from the occasional sharpening. Throw it in the tackle box wet and dirty, and give it a second thought. Wade into the shallows with this in your pocket and don’t sweat it.
The H1 steel is not like other stainless knives that will eventually rust and discolor. H1 won’t rust even under the worst conditions. The Salt 2 isn’t going to replace your fillet knife because of its size, but cutting line, ropes, tangles, dispatching your catch, and gutting shouldn’t be a problem for the Salt 2. Aside from the rustproof blade, the Salt 2 uses a simple and reliable lock back and grippy bi-directional traction pattern on the handle that is used on many other Spyderco knives. Good grip, ergonomics, and H1 steel make the Salt 2 the best folding knife for fishing in my book.
Best Budget: CRKT Pilar
- Made in China
- 2.4 inch Sheepsfoot blade
- 4.2 ounces
- Stainless steel handle scales
- Frame lock
- Strong construction
- Several variations and special editions to choose from
- Finger choil gives great blade control
- Short blade
The CRKT Pilar is a collaboration between CRKT and custom knife maker Jesper Voxnae. The Pilar’s solid construction and a beefy frame lock makes you feel like you have something substantial in your hand, but a forward finger choil and shorter blade length make the heft easy to control. The Pilar is also available with a wide variety of handle materials such as G-10, micarta, and copper, and can be had with a satin or dark acid stone washed finish on the blade. If you’re on a budget and need a solid performer (and you aren’t chasing the latest super steel), the CRKT Pilar should serve you well.
Things to Consider When Buying a Folding Knife
The biggest consideration when buying a folding knife is not the price, the looks, or the brand— it’s the intended use. Ask yourself these questions:
- What will you be using it for mostly?
- Are you rough on gear, or are you someone who takes time to care for your knives regularly and are careful with them in the field?
Make sure you get something that is well suited to your most common cutting tasks. For example, a thin blade is great for slicing cardboard and a thicker blade with a convex grind is better for carving wood. Both knives can do both tasks, but choose the knife that excels at the task you do most often.
I also recommend looking at the brand’s warranty policy you are considering buying from. Some knife companies have amazing service and warranty, and some will leave you wanting. Do some research, especially if you’re going to put your knife to work.
Another consideration is the type of blade steel. A carbon steel is easy to sharpen, but requires more maintenance to prevent rust. A stainless blade is more rust resistant, but is more difficult to sharpen.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best folding knife, but my rule of them is if you can’t decide between two knives, buy both.
Q: How much should you pay for a pocket knife?
You should expect to pay $50-250 for a quality pocket knife depending on the materials and country of origin. You can spend less, cheap knives cut, but not for long. That’s why I pick and recommend quality tools that will stand the test of time and not leave you stranded. A quality knife will last a lifetime and then some. It will hold an edge longer, cut better, operate smoother, and put a smile on your face.
Q: Can you use a folding knife forbushcraft?
Well, if I had a choice, I would choose a fixed blade for the extra strength. But, having used the Fieldcraft Folder and Cold Steel Finn Wolf, I can say that there are some pretty great folders out there that can handle almost anything a fixed blade can. There’s nothing saying you can’t take a fixed and a folder into the woods.
Q: Which folding knife has the strongest lock?
Many people regard the Tri-Ad lock, which is a modified back lock design, as the strongest currently available. However, most quality knives will have a lock sufficient for what the user will need. I like the AXIS lock (or Bar Lock) because it has performed very well, and thicker liner locks and frame locks are sufficient, as well.
Final Thoughts on the Best Folding Knives
The convenience of carrying a folding knife over a fixed blade is undeniable. And today, buyers have a huge selection of quality folding knives to choose from for nearly every application you can think of. While there are plenty of good choices for the best folding knife in these categories, these knives stood out to me as being at the top of the pile in their respective areas.