Best Folding Knives – Expert Reviews

Updated: February 12, 2024
folding knife

Recently, there has been a boom in the folding knife industry. There is a new name on the block almost every week. All new brands offer innovation and super high tech materials that shoot rainbows and what not.

However, I'm an old guy now and since reviewing a bunch of these knives back in the day I've come to a simple realisation - just go with the classic. Simple blade, light non-slip handle and one hand easy open is all you need. The rest is, as aways, some flimsy marketing.

Best Folding Knives (Top Picks)

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC Knife with Blue Grivory Handle (535)

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Editor's Choice

Zero Tolerance 0350TS

Zero Tolerance 0350TS; Folding Pocket Knife; 3.25 in. S30V Stainless Steel Blade with Tiger-Stripe Tungsten DLC Coating, G-10 Handle, SpeedSafe Assisted Opening and Quad-Mount Pocketclip; 6.2 OZ.

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Best Value

Buck Knives 110

Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter Lock-back Knife, Brass Bolsters, Ebony Handles, 3-3/4' 420HC Blade with Leather Sheath

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Top Folding Knives For The Outdoors

Out of about 15 folding knives I used in my time of extensive camping in Africa, here is my top 7 list of the best folding knives.

  1. Benchmade Bugout 535 - Best Overall
  2. Zero Tolerance 0350TS - Editor's Choice
  3. Buck Knives 110 - Best Value
  4. Opinel Carbon Pocket Knife
  5. Benchmade Bugout 535 - Best High End
  6. Victorinox Swiss Evolution pocket knife
  7. Spyderco Manix 2

Read our complete buyers guide for folding knives.

Best Overall Folding Knives

1. Benchmade Bugout 535

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC Knife with Blue Grivory Handle (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 535 is perfect. The best folding knife when it comes to hiking.

2. Zero Tolerance 0350TS

Zero Tolerance 0350TS; Folding Pocket Knife; 3.25 in. S30V Stainless Steel Blade with Tiger-Stripe Tungsten DLC Coating, G-10 Handle, SpeedSafe Assisted Opening and Quad-Mount Pocketclip; 6.2 OZ.

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The Zero Tolerance 0350TS 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 non-slip fiberglass handle, 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
  • Non-slip fibirglass handle
  • Stainless steel blade
  • Liner lock
  • Non-slip fibirglass handle
  • Stainless steel blade with DLC finish
  • Liner lock
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, 0350TS has an appealing, ergonomic design that makes it easy to use.

3. Buck Knives 110 

Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter Lock-back Knife, Brass Bolsters, Ebony Handles, 3-3/4' 420HC Blade with Leather Sheath

4/5 Overall Rating

There are many expensive high quality knives on the market, however, Buck Knives 110 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.

Main Features
  • Steel blade
  • Ebony wood 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 Buck Knives 110 knife gets the job done outdoors. All in all, a solid piece of equipment. 

4. Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Knife

Opinel No.06 Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife with Beechwood Handle

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 Carbon 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 Bugout 535

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC Knife with Ranger Green Grivory Handle (535GRY-1)

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 Bugout 535.

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 Grigori handle is made from glass reinforced nylon 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
  • CPM-S30V coated stainless steel blade
  • Made out of thick plastic  and is less prone to punctures
  • Fits inside most backpacks weighing under 2 ounces
What we like
  • Lightweight
  • Great warranty service by post
What we dislike
  • The handle feels like plastic, although it's a very high tech material
Key Takeaway

This Bugout 535 is a great flding knife for outdoor adventures which is made to last you a long time. Their warranty service is really good, so if there is an issue with the blade, you can post it to Benchmade and they'll fix it in no time.

6. Victorinox Swiss Army Evolution Pocket Knife

Victorinox Evolution S14 Swiss Army Knife, 14 Function Swiss Made Pocket Knife with Large Blade, Screwdriver and Corkscrew – Red

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 Victorinox Swiss 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 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 Evolution 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

Spyderco Manix 2 Lightweight Signature Knife with 3.37' CTS BD1 Black Steel Blade and Black FRCP Handle - PlainEdge - C101PBBK2

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, Spyderco Manix 2 is 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.

About the author 

Mark Whitman

Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. He founded Mountain IQ in 2014 with the sole aim to be the best online information portal to some of the most popular mountain destinations around the world. When not writing for Mountain IQ, Mark is out exploring the outdoors with his wife!

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  1. Your ending description of the Buck 110 is incorrect, as you are reviewing a different knife. Editing required.

  2. Hi Mark,

    You have provided good Information on the knives that you have featured above.

    However, you have not featured Cold Steel knives in the list of the durable and sturdy knife list.

    The info on the ZT 0350, it is a drop point, unlike its successor, ZT 0308 comes with a harpoon shaped blade.

    Just my humble sharing.

    Thank you.

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