best edc knives money
The so-called "best everyday carry knife" is the knife you have on you! The second best EDC knife is the one that offers you the best value for your personal budget.

Gear Guide: 22 Best EDC Knives for the Money

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There is a whole subculture maniacally focused on the best everyday carry knife, a.k.a. the best EDC knives. I’m not one of those guys, but most every day, I carry a knife. Why? A knife is a damn handy tool.

Just that, a tool.

best edc knives money
The so-called “best everyday carry knife” is the knife you have on you! The second best EDC knife is the one that offers you the best value for your personal budget.

Once you start carrying a knife every day, you’ll quickly realize two things. First, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without one because you’ll be opening up boxes, cutting through crazy product packaging, cutting plastic label rings, opening bags of hotdogs on the beach, trimming the ends of cracked fuel lines on your motorcycle, fixing pieces of clothing, backpacking boots, cutting walking sticks while camping, and generally just being more competent in the face of whatever comes your way.

And second?

If you ever need to cut up a shirt to make a bandage, tourniquet, or splint, you’ll have a knife to do it. You never know when you might be in an emergency situation — for instance, when you might need to cut a seatbelt to help a crash victim escape from a car. Sure, some of these things might never happen around you, but being reasonably ready is part of being a man — and for women, too. Actually, it’s pretty damn sexy when a woman nonchalantly pulls out a pocket knife and starts slicing wedges off of an apple — or uses her EDC knife for pretty much anything, really.

Just saying. Women need EDC knives, too, and if you’re a man and are stuck for a great gift idea, get her an EDC knife.

In any event, you need to choose a pocket knife and start carrying it. In short order, it will become a part of you, increase your competence, and remind you to be ready for adventure.

How to Choose Your First ‘Best’ EDC Knife

best EDC knife value guide
The Buck Knives Spitfire offers a fantastic price-to-value ratio.

You can spend hundreds of dollars and end up getting a fantastic knife that’s also a work of art. Or you can can find a great EDC knife for under $30 and be able to handle 90 percent of what the fancy knife does. If you have the budget, buy higher quality gear. If you don’t, invest in what you can afford. Some guys like to spend under $50 on an EDC knife they won’t worry about losing or abusing. For others, they want an EDC knife under $100. And some guys max out at under $200 while others don’t have a preset price range — they just appreciate the long-lasting quality you tend to get when you spend more. But where do you start figuring out which EDC knife is right for you?

We’re going to break the 22 best EDC knives down into four categories — not the categories that use a weird mix of capped letters and numbers to describe types of steel or handle materials. No, we’re getting real for those who are looking for their first EDC knife, if not also guide them them to the best EDC knife for the money in each category. These four EDC categories cover most everyone, and we’ve created a guide that includes multiple price points. More importantly, this EDC knife guide will get you thinking about who you are and what fits you best:

best everyday carry knife griptilian
The Benchmade Griptilian has a great name, but it’s also liquid-smooth with drool-worthy fit and finish.
  • All-Around EDC Knives
  • Small EDC Knives
  • Rescue EDC Knives
  • Multitool EDC Knives

Right now, don’t worry about the grade of steel — you can worry about that later if you really get into EDC knives and become a true knife aficionado. So here is what you need to know now:

Basically, more specialized steel will hold its edge longer but it will be much harder to sharpen. And most guys new to knives don’t know how to sharpen their own knives anyway. In which case, a standard grade of steel will be a smarter choice because it’s much easier to sharpen. Not only is it cost-friendly, you might even learn to sharpen a knife with it. That’s a win-win.

In some ways you’re simply looking for a handle and blade design that appeals to you — shapes that, for some reason, you kind of like. I’m not joking about this. If you’re going to carry a knife every day, you should appreciate its shape and color. This isn’t a fashion statement for other people, it’s just acknowledging that you will innately gravitate toward some designs more than others. So going with a gut response isn’t bad when you’re choosing a first EDC knife.

Your next step is to pick a knife and learn how how you like to carry it in jeans, pants, and shorts — after a few months, you’ll know a lot more about your personal preferences. And that’s a win, too.

Best All-Around EDC Knives 2016

best EDC knife 2016
Hard to go wrong with the fan-favorite Sypderco ParaMilitary2.

The best all-around EDC knife is stout enough to be strong and versatile, capable of cutting saplings, prying stuff apart, and fending off a feral pig. OK, maybe not a big feral pig, but you get the idea. You’re trying to balance the value of a large blade with the portability you want in an everyday carry knife. So think about knives with a 3-to-4-inch blade length. If you pretty much always wear jeans or heavy pants, your pants can carry most any knife. If you like to wear fast-drying nylon cargo shorts, for example, error toward lightweight EDC knives instead.

These EDC knives do a great job of covering all your bases in sizes that are pocketable but also serviceable for a wide variety of needs. To help meet your budget, we note the price range you can typically get each knife for — under $50, under $100, and under $200:

  • Spyderco ParaMilitary2 — stop looking because everyone loves this knife (typically under $200)
  • Spyderco Delica4 — a little smaller than the ParaMilitary2, and at a better first EDC price point (well under $100)
  • Benchmade Griptillian — astounding quality, smooth and solid, you just can’t go wrong with a Benchmade knife (well under $200)

    best EDC knives spyderco delica4
    The Spyderco Delica4 is lightweight but not delicate.
  • Gerber Propel Downrange AO — starts heading into tactical knife territory, great quality with a sweet safety latch (well under $200)
  • Kershaw Cryo II — the price-to-value ratio is through the roof in this affordable knife, fantastic overall design (under $50)
  • Buck Spitfire — thin, lightweight, and the green and orange anodized aluminum handles look great (under $50)
  • Cold Steel Recon 1 — not as widely known, but the Recon 1 has a great design with quality to match (well under $200)
  • Kershaw Skyline — lightweight and slim with classic undertones (under $50)
  • SOG Flash II — opens easy and fast, light, versatile, affordable, and has a safety lock (under $50)

Best Lightweight & Small EDC Knives 2016

best edc knives lightweight spyderco
The Spyderco Dragonfly2 is lightweight and comes in a variety of colors, with or without the serrated blade. Highly recommended.

A good lightweight EDC knife will handle most of the tasks as a larger knife but not all. There are lots of benefits of choosing a small EDC knife, though, primarily weight. A couple ounces might not sound like much, but a heavy knife will constantly remind you it’s in your pocket, which can become annoying. Blade length is another key factor. Some municipal buildings and cities have special codes governing pocket knives, and many of them freak out over blade length. For example, while you might not spend much time in courthouses, you might be entering school grounds to watch a high school football game. In most places, police, administrators, and even prosecutors understand the difference between the spirit and intent of a law, but not all. What American citizen wants to get caught up in the vulgarities of bureaucracy in the event some well-meaning idiot complains about your EDC pocket knife tool?

Yeah, fun times. So check your state laws and choose a good short-bladed small EDC knife:

Best Rescue EDC Knives 2016

rescue EDC knife
The Buck Knives 753 Redpoint Rescue has a rubberized handle, carbide glassbreaker, and seatbelt cutter.

By rescue EDC knives, we mean knives that have specialized features like a seatbelt cutter and a built-in carbide tip glass breaker. Why do you need a glass breaker? To instantly pop a passenger door window so you can get in to rescue someone — or get out. We don’t know how many people drive into lakes, rivers, or ponds each year, but the news headlines reveal too many nightmare horror stories. The bottom line is this: If you need a rock to break a window, you can’t count on having a rock handy. And even if you have a rock, most rocks won’t help you break a car window. Why? These windows are extremely tough. If you go after a window with a baseball bat, you’re more likely to injure yourself than break the window. Essentially you need a substance that is harder than glass, like a carbide tip. A tiny little bit is enough to cause tempered safety glass to shatter into a bunch of small pieces.

Which is why we like the idea of glass-breaking tips on EDC knives.

We recommend that you check out these emergency EDC knives:

Best Multitool EDC Knives 2016

best EDC knife multitool
The Gerber Dime Multi-Tool is a great value and a versatile EDC choice.

The ultimate EDC knife might actually be an EDC multitool. Sure, we’re mixing categories, but come on, why not? The multitool can serve the EDC knife need, plus bring a few more tools to have on hand. You get pliers, scissors, a saw, screwdrivers, bottle openers, and tweezers all in one unit. So cool. The only issue is size and weight. To be really useful and versatile, bigger is better in a multitool. But bigger is a pain to carry everyday in a variety of types of clothes. So that’s basically what you’re considering: how much functionality and weight are you willing to carry every day? If I go backpacking, hunting, riding, or camping, I’m usually taking a multitool. So I’m of the mind that you need at least one of these knives in all of these categories that you then swap out depending on the circumstances. But hey, baby steps here. Your first order of business is to pick an EDC knife and then start carrying it.

In the land of EDC multitools, we like the balance of features, weight, and cost we get from these EDC multitools:

  • Leatherman Squirt PS4 — maybe the best lightweight, small EDC multitool available (under $50)
  • Gerber Dime Multi-Tool — best value for the price, great gift, small, light, and with a bottle opener, too (well under $50)
  • Gerber Curve Multi-Tool — super small, 1.25 inch blade, screwdrivers, bottle opener, great as a keychain EDC (well under $50)
  • Leatherman Skeletool — full size, more emphasis on the knife (perfect), reasonably light (under $100)

Review: Best EDC Knives for the Money

Still here? Seriously? Stop overthinking this and pick a damn EDC knife already. You’ve got a life to live, so don’t waste it obsessing — that’s why we did the upfront work for you in this guide. OK, OK, so you want more recommendation? The best EDC knives in each section are ranked by our can’t-go-wrong recommendation preferences for the category, taking into account the best overall value of EDC you get for the money. So the first few knives in each list offer some of the best mix of features to cost, while those that trail offer a slightly different balance or style. For a first EDC knife, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these choices, so pick one of the 22 best EDC knives in our guide that appeals to your personality and everyday needs. Seriously, this is just a small step in the bigger journey of your life. Choose!

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