The 6 Best Kayak Knives in 2021: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

By James @ Sea Kayak Explorer
Last updated

Looking to buy the best kayak knife to use on your next trip? There are loads of great options when it comes to knives nowadays and knowing what type you need and what the good brands are can take a bit of reasearch.

To help save you time, we’ve put together a short buyers guide to talk you through all the features you might want to consider before you purchase. We’ve then reviewed some of what we think are the best knives for kayaking to help give you some ideas of which one will be best for you.

Quick Answer: The Best Kayak Knife in 2021

How To Choose A Kayak Knife: A Buyer’s Guide

Many outdoors enthusiasts carry a knife with them at all times. It comes as naturally as putting on shoes or grabbing your wallet. A good knife is something that proves its value time and time again.

The exact reason you need to carry a knife is a more challenging thing to define. Catch one of these outdoorsy types and try to ask. You’ll probably get a funny look and an answer that more or less comes back to, “Well, why shouldn’t I carry a knife?”

Why You Need to Carry a Knife When Kayaking

There is a definite cross-section of people who go hunting, camping, and fishing and are always ready for anything. They carry knives to clean fish, dress their kills, and protect themselves from zombies. These folks are ready for the day when the stuff hits the fan, and watching the news lately makes you wonder if maybe they have the right idea.

If that sounds like you, there are plenty of hunting, fishing, and tactical survival knives that will work great for paddling. But that’s not what most people need or want on a kayak. Most paddlers need a small blade to cut small lines, and they might also occasionally use it as a tool.

One of the most important decisions to make is whether or not you want a knife for only kayaking or if you want to invest in a multi-functional blade that you can use in your everyday life. If you already carry a multitool, it would make a great companion on the kayak.

If you don’t own a multitool, now is the time to start shopping. These handy gadgets come in every size, shape, color, and price range. They have screwdrivers, scissors, bottle openers, pliers, and loads of other functions that come in handy when you’re out-and-about.

At the absolute minimum, you should have a simple corrosion-resistant knife on board as part of your first aid kit. It can help you open troublesome packaging, cut bandages, or detangle fishing lines.

Types of Knives Suitable for Kayaking

You can’t just take any old knife out with you on your next kayaking trip, you’ll need one with quite specific features. Below we’ll cover some of the different types of knives suitable kayak kayaking.

Fixed-Blade Knives

Most hunting and fishing knives have fixed blades. There’s nothing fancy here, but they are strong, robust, and reliable. They usually come with a sheath to store them in, and they can range in length from a couple of inches to a foot long or more. If properly cared for, they’ll last forever.

For safety, many that are used in survival situations have flat tips. The flat tip is also useful as a tool for prying things open or using as a flat-headed screwdriver.

Folding-Blade Pocket Knives

Folding blades rotate into their handles for storage. The disadvantage is that there are more moving parts. The pin on which the blade rotates is the weakest part of the assembly, so a cheaply built knife can actually be very disappointing.

Multifunction Pocket Tools

There are two families of pocket tools that are useful in kayaking, and picking between them is a personal preference. The first is the basic folding pocket knife that has extra tools built in. They’ll have multiple blades, screwdrivers, bottle and can openers, and any other combination of handy tools you can imagine. The most popular ones are the classic “Swiss Army Knives” built by the Victorinox company.

The second kind of pocket tool is the folding-pliers style. Leatherman and Gerber popularized this style. They are basically Swiss Army Knife-style tools but built around super-useful pair of pliers.

It might seem weird to carry around a set of pliers, but they are incredibly useful. Most pliers have needle-nose and jaw-type teeth, along with wire cutters and many other tools. From tightening up a loose nut and bolt to straightening a bent rudder cable, a pocket multitool is one of the handiest things you can get for your kayak.

Materials

Credit: Kayaking Knife (CC BY 2.0)

Of all of the considerations you have when knife shopping, thinking about the materials used and how they will survive getting wet is the biggest one. Even if you plan to keep things in waterproof bags, things will get damp. It’s essential that everything you bring with you is stainless steel and built for the conditions.

Consider how using your knife will be when you are wet or in the water. You want a handle that has some grip to it. Look for plastics with some texture or even rubberized coatings. How hard will folding blades be to open and close?

There are far more features available for multitools and knife blades than can be discussed in one guide. But take a look at your favorite choices and think about how you can use each tool that is included. Do you often need a bottle opener? What about a saw? Do you need a corkscrew? Is a slotted screwdriver enough, or do you need a Phillips-head screwdriver for your kayak? Make sure everything about the tool is useful in some way. If it’s something you’re packing with you, you don’t want it to be too heavy or burdensome.

In the end, the features you want will come down to how you use your kayak and what you do on the water. If you’re an angler, you’ll want something with a serrated blade to cut lines, pliers to get difficult hooks out, and maybe a long blade to fillet bait in a pinch. If you’re looking for a first aid or rescue knife, a small and basic folding model will suit you nicely.

Serrated vs Standard Blades

One common thing you will be faced with is the choice between serrated and standard knife blades. Regular blades have the advantage of being easily sharpened, but serrated blades make faster work of cutting through thick lines. The best knives have both and give you the option.

Care and Matintenance of a Kayak Knife

Regardless of the type of knife you choose, you will need to take care of it. Even stainless knives will quickly corrode if left salty and disgusting. The first step is to rinse your knife in fresh water and let it dry as soon as you get home.

If you have a folding knife or a multitool, you’ll also need to oil it occasionally to ensure it doesn’t get too hard to operate. You can use any lubricant oil, like a 3-in-1 or WD-40 spray. Clean the knife thoroughly, then let it soak in the oil. Once it has had time to penetrate, wipe off the excess and open and close each tool a few times. If it’s still stiff, you might need to repeat the process.

Safety

If you’re new to using pocket and survival knives, know that they are sharp and dangerous. You’ve got to use them correctly, or you might get a severe cut. Folding-blade knives are the worst. If you apply pressure in the wrong direction and are holding the handle tightly, the blade can close right on your fingers. Ouch!

Some makers incorporate a blade lock to ensure that this doesn’t happen. It’s a handy thing to have and adds an extra layer of safety. But it’s also the first thing to gum up and stop working as soon as it has been around saltwater for a few years.

Knives don’t mix well with inflatable kayaks. If you are paddling an inflatable, consider a flat-tipped safety knife for an extra layer of safety.

Think about how and where you’ll store your knife. Some paddlers keep them in their PFDs, while others keep them in a waterproof pouch on deck. Either way, it should be easy to access.

Best Rated Kayaking Knife Reviews

As a kayaker, you know the best knives are those that can withstand the saltwater of the ocean and are easy to carry with you, on your person or in a bag secured to your kayak. It is essential to have a quality knife that will help you in your travels. Whether it’s cutting bait or cutting rope, you will need to ensure that you have a reliable knife in your arsenal.

Whether you are carrying a knife to use in emergencies, for fishing, or both, we have narrowed down the best of the best and laid out our top kayak knife reviews.

#1. NRS Neko Titanium Blunt Tip Rescue Knife

NRS Neko rescue knife is excellent for kayakers and anglers that do their best fishing in saltwater. The NRS Neko Titanium Blunt Tip Rescue Knife is constructed of corrosion-resistant titanium and boasts both serrated and smooth sides. It also has a blunt tip for safety and a bottle opener. This knife will run you about $149.95, but it is worth every penny.

A rubberized and contoured grip helps you maintain control of your blade, and a sheath keeps your fingers safe when it’s not in use. An attached bottle opener and valve wrench (for an oxygen tank) are two handy on-board additions. Overall, the NRS Neko is lightweight and convenient to carry, too.

#2. NRS Pilot Knife

The NRS Pilot knife will run you anywhere from $59.95 – $69.95, but the construction and features make it well worth the investment. Rescuers and recreations users swear by this knife for its unique design and durability. Its contoured, rubberized grip makes it easy to wield, and it’s an excellent choice for freshwater boating plus saltwater use.

On this knife, you’ll find both a smooth and serrated edge, plus a rope cutting hook. The blunt tip helps avoid accidents, and the sheath locks in place and has a safety release for enhanced protection. There’s even a glass-breaking tip on this knife, plus a bottle opener in the handle. 

#3. Spyderco Dragonfly 2

Sale
Spyderco Dragonfly 2 Lightweight Signature Folding Knife with 2.3' VG-10 Steel...
2,288 Reviews
Spyderco Dragonfly 2 Lightweight Signature Folding Knife with 2.3" VG-10 Steel...
  • CONSTANT QUALITY IMPROVEMENT - Recently we applied C.Q.I. to the classic Dragonfly creating a new Dragonfly 2. The Dragonfly was...
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE - The Dragonfly's success is largely due to its mid-size blade and ergonomic handle that features a front-finger...
  • ERGONOMIC - Designed as a carry- friendly folder, it comes with a left/right-hand tip-up wire clip, patented Bi-Directional...

The Spyderco Dragonfly 2 is easily one of the best kayak knives and has a manageable price tag of $70 and up. This folding knife is compact but serves as a full-size with supreme cutting abilities. The unique handle and textured index-finger choil allow for a secure, non-slip grip for all hand sizes. It’s also a great pick for multiple users or anyone who’s ambidextrous, since the handle is for both lefties and righties. 

The VG-10 blade cuts with precision and features a Trademark Round Hole to allow the knife’s one-handed unfolding. It has a stout back lock mechanism and a reversible tip-up clip to carry it. It’s also super lightweight and ergonomic, so it’s comfortable in every application.

#4. CRKT Hunt’N Fisch

CRKT Hunt'N Fisch Fixed Blade Knife with Sheath: Gentleman's Hunting Knife, Drop...
326 Reviews
CRKT Hunt'N Fisch Fixed Blade Knife with Sheath: Gentleman's Hunting Knife, Drop...
  • In control: Nonslip thumb rest for applying pressure or exerting more control
  • Strong And Visual: Colored G10 handle combines strength with visual appeal
  • High Quality: Durable, full grained leather sheath with belt loop

The CRKT Hunt’N Fisch knife is one of the best kayak knives you will come across, even if it’s billed as a “gentleman’s hunting knife.” The Larry-Fischer-designed knife has a fixed blade and multiple friction grooves on the edge for blade control. The fashionable, multi-colored G10 handle is designed with quality for a beautiful look and functionality.

The blade allows for precision cutting, allowing you to carb every bit of meat off your fish, so there is no waste. The non-slip thumb rest is a handy feature for applying pressure without losing your grip. It comes with a high-quality leather sheath for your (well, and your blade’s) protection and convenience. You can also loop paracord (or any other material) through the handle’s hole for convenience. With a price tag of roughly $110, this one is a must-have.

#5. Blizetec Survival Knife

BlizeTec Survival Knife: 5-in-1 Camping Pocket Folding Multitool Kit with LED...
1,730 Reviews
BlizeTec Survival Knife: 5-in-1 Camping Pocket Folding Multitool Kit with LED...
  • ✅BEST EMERGENCY TOOL: Premium 5-in-1 pocket-size stainless steel survival knife with nylon pouch. Functional components include:...
  • ✅ALWAYS BE READY: BlizeTec multi-purpose lock blade knife is perfect for all occasions; you can use it for camping, hiking,...
  • ✅POCKET SIZE & LIGHT WEIGHT: The knife is designed to fit perfectly into your palm. Weighs only 5.46oz, allowing you to avoid...

The Blizetec survival knife is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast, and with a cost of 60+ dollars, it offers more than enough for your dollar. This pocket knife has a compact but strong and durable blade with a serrated edge. You can carry this survival knife on your belt or in the nylon carrier, and it’s lightweight enough to take anywhere.

The handle boasts a detachable LED mini flashlight for your convenience, as well as a magnesium alloy fire starter. You’ll also appreciate the window breaker in the end of the handle. These extra features are not only more than the average knife offers, but they give the user more preparedness for their kayaking, camping, or fishing journeys.

#6. Mossy Oak Knife

Sale
MOSSY OAK Fixed Blade Bowie Knife, 2-piece Hunting Knife with Leather Handle...
1,758 Reviews
MOSSY OAK Fixed Blade Bowie Knife, 2-piece Hunting Knife with Leather Handle...
  • ✅ Knife Dimensions - Large Clip Point Knife Total Length: 10-1/2”; Blade Length: 6”; Weight: 7 oz/200 g; Small Clip Point...
  • ✅ Razor Sharp Blades - Excellent strength, edge retention and corrosion resistance for lasting durability, good for piercing,...
  • ✅ Full Tang Structure - Well-made full tang knife features with solid stainless steel blade. Ergonomically styled handle with...

The Mossy Oak knife is the perfect knife for any kayaker, with a longer, razor-sharp blade that is resistant to corrosion and is durable. This one’s a favorite for precision cutting, but you’ll find that it’s an ideal knife for tactical, industrial, hunting, and fishing use. The knife also features an ergonomic handle that allows for comfort and the prevention of slipping. 

It’s strong enough to cut through rope if needed, and a safety guard helps avoid accidents. The only potential pitfall is the smooth grip; the ergonomics are there, but maintaining your grip isn’t made simpler with a rubberized grip or textured surface. This multi-purpose knife comes in at a great price of $32+ and offers excellent value for your dollar.

Summing up: Which Kayak Knife Should you Buy?

In our humble opinion, the NRS Neko titanium tip rescue knife takes the top spot of our best knife for kayaking. The NRS Neko knife has everything you need for a kayaking knife, from the comfortable grip to precision cutting and durability; this is our number one choice, even though it comes in at a high price point.

At a close second and a considerably lower cost, the NRS Pilot Knife gets high praise for its durability and performance. It does everything a kayaker would need and does it well for half the price of our top pick.

Any knife is better than none, but these top six kayak knives will help with your fishing and safety needs while exploring the open water. It’s always best to do your research to figure out which knife will work best for you. These top kayak knife reviews will help narrow down your decision.