Among the myriad of accessories, the neck knife stands out for its versatile utility, often overlooked and underappreciated. Whether your workplace is outdoors, in a warehouse, or an office, having a practical, concealed, and easily accessible blade can significantly enhance your daily tasks.
In the realm of everyday carry essentials, neck knives are invaluable tools. These compact blades are designed for convenience and readiness, providing a discreet yet efficient cutting solution. Regardless of your work environment, a well-chosen neck knife can make your day more manageable and versatile.
Let’s explore our top picks for the best neck knives that cater to various everyday carry needs. These choices are curated to meet different preferences and requirements, ensuring that you have a reliable and functional blade always within reach.
1. ESEE Knives Candiru Fixed Blade Knife with Handles
There are neck knives, and then there are ESEE neck knives—crafted in the USA, known for their exceptional quality. The Candiru, a testament to ESEE’s excellence, is a compact yet robust knife forged from 1095 carbon steel. Designed for sharp performance, its proportions make it ideal for wearing around your neck, belt, or boot. The stout fixed blade boasts optional G10 handle scales, and the black powder coat finish enhances its premium feel.
Out of the box, the Candiru is razor-sharp, and a brief sharpening session elevates it to what some describe as “frightening” levels. The edge holds well, and with proper care, the carbon steel develops a beautiful patina without succumbing to rust.
Named after the lethal Amazon River fish, the Candiru measures just over 5 inches in length with a 2-inch blade—a perfect balance for maneuverability without sacrificing handle size. Despite its compact nature, it exudes a substantial profile, distinguishing it significantly from lower-end knives.
The molded polymer sheath, while offering a secure fit and no rattling, provides fewer carry options than some alternatives. The tight sheath ensures the blade stays firmly in place, eliminating concerns about it coming loose around your neck or other areas.
With a commitment to real-world testing, ESEE ensures that the Candiru excels in practical applications. While aesthetically pleasing, its functionality shines through after rigorous testing on various materials. Opting for the additional Micarta scales enhances comfort, making it an ideal everyday carry knife or a reliable companion for camping, backpacking, or hiking.
Setting itself apart in a world of overseas manufacturing, ESEE’s knives are proudly made in the US. Backed by a lifetime, unconditional guarantee, the Candiru offers not just a neck knife but a commitment to top-notch quality and peak performance.
2. COLUMBIA RIVER KNIFE & TOOL Compact Fixed Blade Knife
The CRKT Folts Minimalist knife stands out as an exemplary blend of utility and lightweight performance, embodying CRKT’s commitment to “confidence in hand.” Crafted by renowned knifemaker Alan Folts, this neck knife excels in its minimalist design without compromising on functionality.
Weighing in as the lightest among the neck knives tested, the Minimalist impresses with a sharp out-of-the-box blade that maintains its edge well. Its compact size is complemented by exceptional versatility, thanks to the drop-point blade that facilitates precise and clean cuts. What sets the Minimalist apart is its textured G10 handle, ergonomically shaped to fit fingers comfortably. The addition of a cord fob enhances grip and control, making it a standout feature.
While users unfamiliar with the ergo-handle may require some adjustment time, the Minimalist ultimately offers one of the most comfortable compact grips available. In contrast to many knives of its size, which may induce discomfort, this knife provides a comfortable and unhindered range of movement.
With dimensions of a 2.16-inch blade and 5.2-inch overall length, and weighing 51 grams (knife) and 60.2 grams (with sheath), the Minimalist boasts an ergonomic fiber handle with a cord fob and a nylon sheath reinforced with glass fiber.
While it may not match the sharpness of the ESEE Candiru, the Minimalist outperformed most blades tested and offers an excellent option within its size and price range. The black, stonewashed finish contributes to its weathered aesthetic, showcasing nicks and scratches as badges of honor.
As a neck knife, the Minimalist lies flat on the chest, providing a forgettable yet balanced weight and shape. Ideal for camping, hunting, and outdoor activities requiring a readily accessible blade while allowing the use of both hands, the Minimalist is also light enough to become a valuable addition to everyday carry arsenals.
3. Spyderco C188ALTIBBKP Dog Tag Folding Knife
The Spyderco Dog Tag Folder embodies the distinctive and focused ethos of the brand, prioritizing usability and dependability. Originating from humble beginnings in the mid-70s when Sal and Gail Glesser introduced their homemade knife sharpener, Spyderco has evolved into a trailblazer in the knife industry. The Dog Tag Folder, a manifestation of their unique approach, is characterized by its simplicity and functionality.
Contrary to conventional neck knives, the Dog Tag Folder, with its plain sharp edge, resembles an X-ACTO knife, excelling in various everyday carry tasks. Weighing a mere 26 grams, it stands as the lightest among the knives tested, offering a discreet option for those seeking a neck knife without drawing undue attention.
Crafted from CPM S30V steel, the blade measures just under 1.25 inches, and when closed, the knife is a compact 2 inches, making it one of the most diminutive neck knives available. Despite its size posing challenges for larger cutting tasks, extended use reveals its practicality and versatility, making it one of the most effective knives in its category.
Featuring a sturdy black titanium handle, the Dog Tag Folder exudes sleekness and wears comfortably on the chest. The absence of a bead-chain necklace is a minor downside, but the knife’s practicality compensates for it. Resembling an actual dog tag, it lays flush and feels lightweight, providing easy access for on-the-go use. Although it lacks a technical locking mechanism, the blade stays securely in place. Opening smoothly and presenting a stable grip, the Dog Tag Folder defies its size, delivering a substantial and reliable cutting experience.
The blade incorporates Spyderco’s signature round hole feature, akin to a box cutter but packing more power than meets the eye. In summary, the Spyderco Dog Tag Folder is a testament to the brand’s commitment to distinctive design, practicality, and dependability.
4. SOG Small Fixed Blade Knives
The SOG Snarl stands out among neck knives as the ideal concealed, utilitarian option for situations where discretion is paramount. Crafted as a small, one-piece fixed blade, this knife, designed by custom knifemaker Jason Brous, seamlessly blends utility with artistic vision. Despite its practicality, it retains sophisticated lines and features, distinguishing it from conventional knives.
Functionally replacing everyday carry blades, box cutters, or utility knives, the Snarl delivers sharp performance that endures even after heavy use. A reviewer working in the meat-packing industry attested to its daily usage for over a year without dulling. During our testing, it demonstrated superior edge retention compared to other neck knives, maintaining sharpness consistently.
The sheepsfoot style blade, constructed from 9Cr13MoV stainless steel with a satin finish, offers easy maneuverability without risking finger entanglement. The ergonomic shape ensures comfortable use without feeling cramped, a common issue with knives of similar size.
Measuring 2.3 inches in blade length and 4.3 inches overall, the Snarl is lightweight at 59 grams (knife) and 100 grams (with sheath). Its extremely durable one-piece construction contributes to its ability to maintain a sharp edge over an extended period.
The heavy-duty nylon sheath provides multiple carry options, including lanyard holes and a belt clip, and includes a ball chain for convenient neck carry. While the sheath is intentionally tight for secure blade retention, this feature ensures a rattle-free and secure fit.
The SOG Snarl excels as a concealed utility knife, offering strength, durability, and sharpness in a compact, slim profile. Its one-piece construction guarantees reliability, making it a standout choice for those seeking a discreet yet high-performing neck knife.
5. Benchmark B003WKNFHU Backpacker
The Benchmark Backpacker stands out as an excellent choice for budget-conscious outdoor enthusiasts, offering a compelling combination of value and performance. Distinguished from higher-end Benchmade knives, this 6-inch neck knife caters to those seeking an affordable fixed blade option with sufficient weight and length for diverse outdoor tasks.
The Backpacker impresses with its balanced design, where the blade’s length precisely constitutes half of the overall knife length. The handle’s ergonomic shape provides a comfortable and substantial grip, enhanced by the textured Micarta material with a matte finish.
During outdoor use, the Backpacker demonstrated its utility by efficiently cutting various materials like cord, boxes, and other small objects, maintaining sharpness out of the box. While the tip may require a quick sharpening for some users, the knife delivers reliable performance.
Earlier versions of the Backpacker featured 1095 carbon steel, but the current model opts for 420 stainless steel. Although the latter may not retain its edge as effectively, it still performs well. Considering its sub-$20 price point, users will be pleasantly surprised by the Backpacker’s build quality and utility.
Measuring 3 inches in blade length and 6 inches overall, the Backpacker is the heaviest neck knife in our selection. However, its well-balanced body and slim profile make its 125-gram weight, twice that of the CRKT Minimalist, feel lighter than expected.
The molded nylon sheath accompanying the Backpacker includes a belt clip and carabiner for convenient carry, contributing to its versatility and making it a reliable companion for outdoor adventures on a budget.
In the realm of backpacking, where every ounce matters, the quest for the best neck knife becomes a vital consideration for outdoor enthusiasts. Each knife on this list brings a unique set of features, balancing utility, portability, and performance. Whether it’s the compact and versatile CRKT Folts Minimalist, the distinctive and lightweight Spyderco Dog Tag Folder, or the concealed and sharp SOG Snarl, these neck knives cater to different preferences and scenarios.
For those valuing affordability without compromising on quality, the Benchmark Backpacker emerges as an excellent choice, offering a balanced design and reliable performance on a budget. The comprehensive selection ensures that backpackers can find a neck knife that aligns with their specific needs, whether it be cutting cord, handling everyday tasks, or serving as a concealed utility tool.
In conclusion, the best neck knife for backpacking depends on individual priorities, but each option presented here stands out in its category. These knives not only provide practical solutions for outdoor challenges but also exemplify the commitment of their respective brands to deliver reliable, compact, and efficient tools for the adventurous backpacker.