Before we get into our list of the best EDC folding knives we should reflect a little on what exactly EDC means. EDC stands for “everyday carry” (or “every day carry”) and refers to things that you carry with you all of the time. These are items that are either essential to your normal daily routine or things that you would not want to be without in an emergency situation. There is no standard list of EDC items as each of us value certain items a little differently depending on our personal situation.
However, there are a number of items that are fairly common among most of us these days and include things like a cell phone, keys, a watch and ID cards. An increasing number of us are also choosing to carry items that prepare us for a variety of unforeseen situations ranging from the somewhat boring to life threatening. Such items include things like a flashlight, writing implements, first aid kits and of course the trusty pocket knife! This is what we mean by EDC knife.
Some people take the EDC concept very seriously indeed and these “EDCers” are well prepared for most any type of emergency or survival situation that comes their way. Others simply choose to carry those items needed for their job or to provide peace of mind. While we don’t think everyone should necessarily become a walking survival store we do agree it is important to carry a pocket knife at all times (where permitted of course) and hence we do highly recommend you pick out an EDC knife. Remember, the most valuable knife is the one you are carrying when the need arises.
How to choose an EDC knife
There are certain characteristics you should look out for when choosing the best EDC folding knife. We discuss the most important ones below:
First off, since you’re going to be carrying your EDC knife almost every single day you want it to be reasonably small and light. You should forget about fixed blade knives and focus on pocket or folding knives for your EDC. Sure, there are bigger and better performers out there but an EDC is not always about having the best performance, it’s about practicality. We recommend a pocket knife blade length of no more than 3.5 inches and an overall weight of no more than 4.5 ounces.
We’re talking about the blade and the handle. The blade steel needs to be tough enough to withstand wear and tear and keep its edge for as long as possible. You won’t want to be sharpening your EDC every week. Now we can’t all afford premium steels like S30V or BG-42. A good reasonably affordable choice is something like 154CM or VG-10 on the higher end or even taking it a notch down with 440C or AUS-8. Stick in this range and you’ll do well. For the handle we would recommend the ever popular G-10 that is super tough or perhaps Zytel which is a bit grippier. Either of these will feel great in your hand which is key for an EDC.
In terms of features and functionality it’s important to compromise. Sure, a 15-function multitool will serve your every need but at the expense of it feeling like a brick in your pocket. In general a single blade will cater for 90% of your needs but a partially serrated blade adds additional functionality for those times when needed. A sharp tipped blade is also recommended as we are regularly presented with tasks that call for a sharp point. You should also look for knives with a pocket clip which allows you to keep the knife handy at all times. We prefer pocket clips that keep the knife tip facing upwards as they allow for swifter deployment.
Again, let me stress that you’re not looking for the world’s best pocket knife here but it’s important that your EDC knife be of sufficient quality to perform time and time again. We recommend buying a knife made in the USA if possible. We’re not against knives made overseas but we do tend to find the American made knives are of superior quality in general. More importantly, you should ensure the knife has a robust lockup mechanism – the last thing you want is for your EDC to close up accidentally which can cause injury.
No golden rule here but we tend to find that you’ll need to spend at least $25 to fulfill the basic requirements listed above. There are many great choices in the $25 to $100 range and we’ve listed some of our favorites below. Of course you can spend more than this but we see absolutely no reason to splash out more than $150 on your EDC pocket knife. There are many superb pocket knives we know and love that cost more than $150 but their place is not among EDCs.
Our recommendations for the best EDC knife
Here is a list of our favorite EDC knives available today in order of price range:
The Kershaw Cryo has been a popular low-priced EDC option for many years now. Like the similarly priced Spyderco Tenacious (see below) it uses 8Cr13MoV stainless steel which is an affordable Chinese made steel similar to but harder than the popular AUS-8. The blade is only two and three quarter inches long and the knife weighs in at just over four ounces.
Overall the knife is solid and sturdy with it’s well performing frame-lock and it oozes plenty of cool. Without doubt it’s a nice looking knife. With the inclusion of the SpeedSafe fast deployment technology and pocket clip this sure is one heck of a pocket knife for the money. A great choice for those on a budget. >> Click here for latest pricing on the Kershaw Cryo.
We’re big fans of Spyderco here at Best Pocket Knife Today and the Tenacious is a terrific little performer at the lower end of the budget scale. It carries 8Cr13MoV steel like the Kershaw Cryo but has a very different look and feel. The blade is leaf-shaped and immensely sharp right out of the box as we tend to expect from Spyderco’s these days. I did a video review of this bad boy to show you it up close and personal.
Ergonomics are top notch and it almost feels like an extension of your hand as you slice through the day’s tasks. We also like the four-way pocket clip that can be installed up or down on either side. Now lets face it, neither this nor the Cryo will outperform most of the $50+ knives listed on this site and they won’t even come close to the $100+ knives. Still, if you only have $30 or $40 to spend then these are super choices. >> Click here for latest pricing on the Spyderco Tenacious.
By spending a little more you can pick up a Kershaw Blur which in our opinion is one fine EDC knife. The blade is just under three and a half inches and overall weight a notch over four ounces. Kershaw originally used 440A steel but recently began using 14C28N which is marginally superior. It also comes in a higher-end S30V steel variant which is naturally more expensive. Here’s a link to my detailed review.
Like the Cryo the Blur knife comes with SpeedSafe for fast opening and the blade locks firmly using a liner-lock mechanism. The blur is American made and will serve you well for many, many years. It also comes in a number or varieties such as a black blade, partial serration and tactical models. Beautiful knife. >> Click here for latest pricing on the Kershaw Blur.
Okay we’re stepping it up a little now with the Benchmade Griptilian. Benchmade is a fine manufacturer of high quality, dependable pocket knives based in Oregon, USA. Their Griptilian model with patented Axis lock has won the hearts of knife enthusiasts since it’s original release several years back. The reason is simple – this is a top quality knife that excels in almost every department and still costs less than $100.
The standard Griptilian (model 551) is not a small knife but still small enough to qualify as an EDC and weighs surprisingly little at under 3.5 ounces. The 154CM stainless steel blade is impeccable but you’ll hear some folks complain about the ‘plasticky’ handle which is Noryl GTX but don’t listen to that nonsense – in our opinion it performs very nicely and offers superb strength to weight ratio. The Griptilian also comes in a Mini-Griptilian option (model 556) which is is about half an inch shorter and weighs closer to 2.5 ounces. Many will tell you this is the best EDC knife and it’s our favorite EDC under $100. >> Click here for latest pricing on the Benchmade Griptilian.
Spyderco Manix 2
The Manix 2 is an outstanding pocket knife in a class of its own. It’s carries a 154CM stainless steel blade similar to the Griptilian and both knives are in similar price brackets though the Manix 2 tends to go for a little more. At close to five ounces it’s a little bit heavy for an EDC but for those looking for something more meaty this is a real workhorse. Let me just say it’s loses in the weight category it more than makes up for in it’s capabilities. The Manix 2 is built like a tank and more durable than most any knife we know.
It employs a ball bearing lock which leads to a super solid lock-up – that blade won’t be going anywhere when opened up. The handle uses Spyderco’s textured G-10 material and the overall ergonomics are supremely tuned for optimum control. This may not be the EDC for your average Joe but if you’re looking for something with a little more ‘oomph’ and tough enough to laugh in the face of the meanest of tasks then the Manix 2 is for you. >> Click here for latest pricing on the Spyderco Manix 2.
Zero Tolerance 0350
Okay now we’re headed into premium territory and the Zero Tolerance 0350 is an outstanding performer for those with a little more money to spend. The size of this knife is similar to the Spyderco Manix 2 and it even weighs a little more but we wouldn’t let than put you off. This baby has high-end S30V stainless steel which is insanely sharp and a G-10 handle with rough texturing to aid grip. It’s built more solidly than most other knives we know yet looks sexy enough to flirt with your wife.
The ZT 0350′s liner lock contains more steel than most knives use in the entire frame and the locking mechanism is tighter than a pitbull’s bite. Again, it is bulky and some will try to convince you this is not an EDC knife. Sure, it’s not for carrying in your swim trunks but we believe this is a great EDC for those who want solid everyday performance from a knife that won’t start crying when put to the heavy duty test. >> Click here for latest pricing on the ZT 0350.
Spyderco Paramilitary 2
Finally, you have saved all your pennies for the ultimate EDC that will make your friends green with envy – may we present the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. Check out my detailed review here. Once again, Spyderco produces great pocket knives and this is one of their finest. Even though this is the most expensive offering we’re discussing here, it’s far from the priciest knife out there. The value for money is excellent as the Paramilitary 2 checks all the boxes you want for only half the price of some “premium” knives out there.
It has everything to make us happy, premium S30V steel, G-10 handle and US-made. We’ve honestly never seen blades so sharp out of the factory like this before. I could literally perform heart surgery with it. Interestingly, the Paramilitary 2 features a compression lock which many may doubt but it actually works amazingly well. Never a hint of blade play. Supreme ergonomics as we expect from Spyderco and the overall fit and finish is second to none. Unlike many other premium pocket knives, this pocket knife is made for real world use for those who really value a good knife. >> Click here for latest pricing on the Spyderco Paramilitary 2.
So…go and get one!
You’ve read through our recommendations of the best EDC knives so what are you waiting for? Go and get yourself that EDC knife now!