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Best Folding Knives – Expert Reviews (2021) 

If you are looking for the best folding knife for your next adventure, look no further.

An essential piece of equipment for any adventurer, our comprehensive guide will help you pick the best folding knife for your needs.

We've singled out seven folding knives, including our best overall knife, our editor’s choice of knife and our pick of the best budget knife.

Let's jump in!

Best Folding Knives (Top Picks)

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC Manual Open Folding Knife, Drop-Point Blade, Plain Edge, Satin Finish, Blue Grivory Handle, Made in USA

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Zero Tolerance 0095BW; KVT Folder Features 3.6” S35VN Crucible Steel Blade with Tungsten DLC Blackwash Finish, Titanium Handle, KVT Ball-Bearing Opening, Frame Lock, Reversible Pocketclip; 5.3 OZ.

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Buck Knives 0845 Vantage Force Select Black Tactical Folding Knife

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Top Folding Knives For The Outdoors

(Detailed Reviews)

We reviewed over 15 folding knives for this article. Below are the best folding knives that made our short list.

  1. Benchmade Bugout 535 - Best Overall
  2. Zero Tolerance 0095BW Titanium - Editor's Choice
  3. Buck Knives Vantage Force - Best Value
  4. Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Knife
  5. Benchmade Proxy 928 - Best High End
  6. Victorinox Swiss Army Evolution Pocket Knife
  7. Spyderco Manix 2 Lightweight Folding Knife

Read our complete buyers guide for folding knives.

Best Overall Folding Knifes

1. Benchmade Bugout 535

5/5 Overall Rating

The best overall knife is the Benchmade Bugout 535 due to its attractive, light and functional design which keeps outdoor adventures and hikers in mind. Made from the best materials and ergonomic in design, the knife is both easy to carry and use.

The blade is made to retain its sharpness and its edge, as well as resists corrosion. However, if you do feel like your blade needs sharpening you can send it in to Benchmade who will professionally sharpen the blade for free.

The blade style is drop-point, which is a popular shape of knife as the point is strong and only one side ‘the belly’ is sharp, making it good for slicing. This is ideal when hiking as it makes the knife versatile.

The ergonomic handle is made from Grivory and is textured to ensure good grip in all conditions. The knife opens manually and the axis lock folding mechanism ensures safety and means that you can easily open and close the knife, even with one hand.  

The handy lanyard hole means that if you aren’t carrying the knife in your pocket, you can clip it on your pack so it won’t go missing. However, the knife also has a pocket clip, so you can carry it this way as well.

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Main Features
  • Ergonomic textured handle
  • Premium quality steel blade
  • Axis locking mechanism
What we like
  • Lifetime warranty and LifeSharp service
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal for everyday use
What we dislike
  • Name can be misleading
Key Takeaway

As something that you can carry every day, on any adventure, the light weight, good quality Benchmade Bugout is perfect. The best folding knife when it comes to hiking.

2. Zero Tolerance 0095BW Titanium

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The Zero Tolerance 0095BW Titanium folding knife is tough, light and functional. Built with the military and law enforcement in mind, these knives more than cater to adventurers and hikers. 

The combination of blade and handle materials make it one of the strongest knife options. However, it is also slightly pricer, but makes up for this in superior quality.

Made from high-end stainless steel, the blade holds its edge and resists corrosion well. The blades tungsten DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) BlackWash finish makes the knife scratch resistant and aesthetically pleasing.

The blade also has a unique “harpoon style” shape, which can add to its appeal, depending on your taste.

One of best features of this knife is the titanium handle with a BlackWash finish, which means the knife is both lightweight and strong. The contour of the handle means that it is easy to grip and sits well in your hand.

Opening manually, the flipping action of the knife is fast and smooth and can easily be opened with one hand. Added to this is the fact that the knife has a tight lock up, meaning the blade doesn't move at all when in use.

An additional handy feature of the knife is the reversible pocket clip, this way you can choose which way up you would like to carry your knife.

Main Features
  • Titanium handle
  • Stainless steel blade with DLC finish
  • Reversible pocket clip
What we like
  • Fast, smooth opening faction
  • Easily to use with one hand
  • Tight lock up
What we dislike
  • More expensive knife
Key Takeaway

Good, tough all-rounder knife that can be used hiking, hunting, fishing or any other outdoor activity. Although more expensive, the knife has an appealing, ergonomic design that makes it easy to use.

3. Buck Knives Vantage Force 

4.5/5 Overall Rating

There are many expensive high quality knives on the market, however, Buck Knives Vantage Force is definitely one of the best quality budget knives out there. While it may not be the fanciest knife around, the value for money that it delivers is pretty unmatchable.

The blade is made from 420HC steel and because of this it has excellent sharpness, edge retention and resistance to rusting. Additionally, the blade has a non-reflective finish black oxide finish and is drop point in shape, making it versatile.  

Aside from being one of the most affordable knives, one of the Vantage’s best features is its smooth one hand opening which means that you can easily use the blade even if you only have one hand free.

The handle is made from glass reinforced nylon and is textured so that you can easily grip the knife regardless of conditions. This is helped by the shape of the handle, which is ergonomically designed to fit in the palm of your hand.

Lastly, the Vantage knife can easily be carried thanks to its pocket clip, meaning that no matter where you go it can accompany you.

Main Features
  • Steel blade with black oxide finish
  • Nylon handle
  • Pocket clip
What we like
  • Easy one hand opening
  • Affordable
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Well balanced 
What we dislike
  • Cannot fully take the knife apart to clean or oil it
Key Takeaway

An affordable, sharp knife that gets the job done. All in all, a solid piece of equipment. 

4. Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Knife

4.5/5 Overall Rating

This simple and sturdy knife both looks elegant and gets the job done, having such a classic design, you can use the knife anywhere, for any activity that would call for a knife - from an urban picnic to a hectic multi day hike

The Opinel pocket knife comes in a variety of sizes, with blades varying in length from 7cm to 12cm, the length that works for you will depend on your preferences, as well as what you intend to use the knife for.

Made from carbon steel, the blade has good resistance to wear and the knife can easily be sharpened, however, carbon steel can also corrode easily so you will have to ensure that you don’t leave your knife in damp conditions.

The handle is one of the knives most beautiful features, commonly made from beech wood. The wood is durable and hard, and gives the knife a traditional feel to it.

The handle adds to the uniqueness of each knife as colour can range from yellow to pink, depending on the wood.

The blade can lock both when opened and closed, meaning that you will never have to worry about the blade slipping when in use or in your pocket. This is thanks to the Virobloc safety ring.

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Main Features
  • Carbon steel blade
  • Beech wood handle
  • Virobloc safety ring
What we like
  • Is beautiful to look at
  • Sturdy and simplistic design
What we dislike
  • Higher maintenance than the other blades
  • Blade can corrode
Key Takeaway

This beautifully designed knife is both simplistic and sturdy, and while it may need a little more care than some of the other, if well looked after the knife will last for years.

5. Benchmade Proxy 928

4/5 Overall Rating

While this is definitely the more expensive of the knives that we tested, if you are looking to spend a little more as an investment you won’t regret considering the Benchmade Proxy 928.

Benchmade prides itself on crafting handmade knives of excellent quality and the Proxy is no exception to this rule, with a stainless steel blade that is low maintenance with excellent edge retention and resistance to rusting and corrosion.

The knife can be purchased with a serrated or plain edge, depending on your preference. This comes with the added bonus of Benchmade repairing or sharpening the knife if it needs it, to ensure that your blade is always in good shape.

Strong and functional, the knife can easily be opened and closed with one hand thanks to the monolock mechanism and handy flipper.

Additionally the knife comes with a pocket clip, meaning that it is easy to carry, whether you be using the knife casually every day or on a more serious trek.

The handle is made from G10, a glass-based epoxy resin laminate*, and titanium, a strong, light metal. The combination of the two ensure that the handle is both durable and balanced in your hand.

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Main Features
  • Standard zip-top bladder
  • Made out of thick plastic  and is less prone to punctures
  • Fits inside most backpacks
What we like
  • Divided compartments mean less sloshing
  • Interchangeable mouthpiece and tubes
What we dislike
  • Larger bite valve makes it harder to suck
Key Takeaway

This Platypus hydration bladder will work well in a hiking, walking or biking environment. Though it is not the highest scoring hydration bladder on the review it is of decent quality and will perform where needed.

6. Victorinox Swiss Army Evolution Pocket Knife

4/5 Overall Rating

This multipurpose tool includes a folding knife amongst other handy items, meaning that you can use the blade for a variety of purposes beyond cutting.

The evolution pocket knife features a key ring, a toothpick, a bottle opener, a screwdriver, a nail file, a corkscrew and a large blade, amongst others.

The knife (and other tools) are constructed from stainless steel, making the tool sturdy and resistant to rust.

The key ring is a handy feature which you can use to attach the knife to your keys or your hiking pack so it won’t get lost.

The grip of the multipurpose tool is ergonomically shaped to make it comfortable to use and hold, and this, paired with the fact that you can easily carry the knife in your pocket (thanks to its convenient size) means that the Victorinox Swiss Army Evolution Pocket Knife is a great everyday tool.

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Main Features
  • Large blade
  • Cork screw
  • Screwdriver
  • Nail file
What we like
  • Variety of tools to choose from
  • Lifetime guarantee
What we dislike
  • Blade is not lockable and cannot be opened one handed
Key Takeaway

This Swiss Army multipurpose tool may not be the best folding knife but makes up for this with the inclusion of a variety of other useful features that will be handy when hiking.

7. Spyderco Manix 2 Lightweight Folding Knife

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The Spyderco Manix 2 is lightweight and easy to open with one hand. This is paired with a durable, ribbed handle that provides good grip in all conditions.

The blade of the knife is leaf shaped and is made from powder metallurgy stainless steel, which is a state of the art steel made to resist corrosion and wear.

The blade comes with Syderso’s signature round hole for easy, one handed opening, however this whole can make the knife a bit bulky in your pocket.

The ball bearing lock means that the blade opens smoothly, ensures your safety when using the knife and stops the knife from accidentally opening in your pocket.

Coming in a stylish blue or utilitarian black, you can pick a knife that suits your taste. The device also has a pocket clip which means that you can easily carry it in your pocket while hiking.

Main Features
  • Ball bearing lock
  • State of the art stainless steel blade
  • Spyderco's signature round hole
  • Textured grip handle
What we like
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to open and use
What we dislike
  • Slightly bulky in pocket
Key Takeaway

All in all a nifty, lightweight knife that resists corrosion and can easily be used in any conditions thanks to its ribbed handle and ball bearing lock.

Folding Knives Buyer's Guide (Key Features)

A folding knife is a key piece of equipment that any hiker should have on them while trekking or adventuring. From being handy when you are cooking, to helping in a potential emergency situation, this is not something you want to skimp on or forget about.

Finding a knife that fits your needs and your budget is something you should spend some time researching, and our key feature guide aims to help provide you with clarity and help make your choice easier.

When buying either your first or next folding blade there are many aspects to take into consideration before your purchase and you can read them below.


The edge of the knife is the section of the blade used for cutting and slicing and generally is either plain or serrated. The type of edge that the knife has will change how it cuts objects and may also make a difference to its price.

A smooth blade with no teeth is often referred to as a plain edge. This type of edge will give a clean cut and is fairly common, being seen as more traditional.

This is because they serve a wide variety of purposes and cut objects, such as rope, more clearly (i.e. no fraying), however, the catch of this is that the blade may slip on smoother, synthetic surfaces.

A serrated edge has teeth, these will either run along the whole edge or just part of it. Generally used with a saw like motion, serrated knives work well on soft or flexible objects, such as bread and meat.

However, due to the shape of the edge, the knife will have to be sent to a professional sharpener when it needs sharpening.


Another key aspect to consider when buying a knife is the handle. The handle should make the knife easy to use in all conditions and should fit comfortably in your hand. If they handle is hard to grip in wet or cold conditions it makes the knife hazardous to use.

Handles can be made from a wide variety of materials, from more traditional ones, such as wood or steel, to more modern combinations, such as titanium, reinforced nylon or G10. The material can then be textured or ripped for improved grip.

Most handles of the folding knives we looked at had ergonomic designs. It is recommended to hold the knife you are buying in your hand before purchase, as this will give you a good idea of the knife's fit in your hand, as well as the balance and grip.

Most handles come with a pocket clip, which means you easily clip the knife onto your pocket, ensuring it won’t go missing in action.

Blade Shape and Material

The shape and material of the blade of the knife is something that should be taken into consideration. Generally knives blades are made from differing grades of stainless steel.

The type of steel will impact on how resistant the knife is to corrosion and wear, as well as how well the knife retains its edge and sharpness.

The most popular blade shapes for folding knives are drop-point and clip-point point blades. Drop-point blades are the easiest to use and maintain, whereas clip-point blades makes for a great all-purpose knife, as it can be sharpened easily and has a narrow, sharp point.

Other blades shapes, include harpoon shaped, leaf shaped, straight and spear point blades.

Weight and Size

This may not be on everyone’s list of key features, however, this is pretty important to hikers who are trying to keep the weight of their packs at a minimum, Size is also important as big, bulky knives are more cumbersome to carry.

The materials that the blade and handle are made from is a big contributing factor of it weight, as heavier materials such as steel will obviously made the knife heavier.

However, with modern technologies, the handles of knives can be made very light so as to counter, heavier, sturdier blades.

Size of the knife is something that you will have to consider when deciding what you will be using the knife for. Smaller knives, while more convenient, may be difficult to use when cutting larger objects.

Overall Design

The best overall design of the knife will come down, once again to your needs and preferences. There are such a wide variety of designs out there that you will be sure to find something that suits you.

From more traditional, such as the Opinel, to more military looking, like the Zero Tolerance, there are many styles of knife out there. However, you should always consider function over aesthetics, so this should be the last thing that you consider.

Another aspect of the design to consider is how it impacts on the knife’s ergonomics, as well as how well it will stand up to the elements. For example knives that easily corrode should not be picked if you will be spending time near the sea.

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