Kayaking can be extremely enjoyable, relaxing, and fun-filled. However, as part of your preparations for your kayaking trips, having the right equipment is crucial when venturing out in the waters – to be on the safer side that is.
A kayak knife can prove to be a lifesaver at times and therefore, you should never ignore its importance. Whether for cleaning fish or cutting ropes or chopping wood, they serve a range of purposes.
Even so, not everybody has similar expectations when purchasing a knife. Thus, a wide variety of options in kayak knives are available. Also, we have prepared a buying guide to ensure you get a kayaking knife that suits your purposes best.
Best 10 Kayak Knives
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Schrade WR3 Water Rat 9.4in Stainless Steel Serrated Knife is a reliable knife that you can take with you in your next kayaking trip and it will live to tell the tale for sure. Made from 7Cr17MoV High Carbon S.S., Schrade WR3 Water Rat 9.4in Stainless Steel Serrated Knife is extremely durable, and rarely will it develop any crack or scratch. The handle is made from thermoplastic rubber and it is highly visible. Its greenish phosphorescent color is hard to ignore.
Leg sheath and PP vest have made carrying this Schrade WR3 Water Rat 9.4in Stainless Steel Serrated Knife quite simple, straightforward, and convenient. Front quillon will keep it secure during the journey. It has got a lanyard hole and has got a full tang design. Overall, this is decent quality kayak but it is not spring loaded which is a bummer for some of us.
Gerber River Shorty Knife is another knife that is quite popular among paddlers around the world. It is one of those few knives that are designed for watersports and that means, if you love paddling, you need to get your hands on this Gerber River Shorty Knife as soon as possible. And the best part, to own it, you would not have to break a bank. It is available for cheap.
Gerber River Shorty Knife is manufactured in the USA and that means, you don’t have to worry about its quality at all. Made from hard plastic, the sheath is heavy-duty and durable. You can get it attached to the kayak or your belt for quick access in times of crisis. The tip of this Gerber River Shorty Knife is blunt and that means, it will not perforate your inflatable kayak. The body is made from 420HC steel and it is highly resistant to corrosion.
CRKT Minimalist Tanto Neck Knife is a heavy-duty knife that is resistant to both abrasion and corrosion. Its minimalist design is definitely its main USP. The handle offers a nice grip and it has been polished meticulously for hours to get the desired outcome. Compared to other kayak knives that are available at this price point, CRKT Minimalist Tanto Neck Knife works like a charm. It can cut through objects smoothly and effortlessly.
CRKT Minimalist Tanto Neck Knife has got a fixed blade, however, the size of the blade varies depending on your exact requirements. Resin infused fiber handle evokes a sense of pride in the mind of the beholder. Just slide your finger on its handle and you will instantly realize how elegant and beautiful the product is. CRKT Minimalist Tanto Neck Knife is truly a remarkable knife that you can take with you in a multi-day paddling trip.
The blade has got a nice bead-blast finishing which is like an icing on the cake. The sheath has also got a premium look and finish. Reinforced with glass, CRKT Minimalist Tanto Neck Knife is extremely durable and versatile.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is more than a knife. You should better treat it with some respect because, in time of crisis, this Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife prove to be a lifesaver. The blade is made from high-quality stainless-steel and that means, you can take it with you on salt-water kayaking trip as it will rust. A comfortable grip is made possible thanks to the ergonomic design of the handle. The sheath is itself made from military-grade nylon and that means, it will not shatter into million pieces under stress.
The kit includes a pommel, a whistle, a fire starter, and a blade sharpener. What else you would need in a survival kit in the middle of nowhere? Cutting rope has made easy thanks to its serrated blade. Designed to deal with the harsh outside climate, Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is resistant to mildew. Textured Rubber Grip eliminates slippage and offers a comfortable grip. The sheath is extremely lightweight and can withstand impacts with ease.
GEAR AID Akua Blunt Tip Paddle Knife is a well-built and versatile kayak knife that can be easily attached to the PFD while paddling in open water. GEAR AID Akua Blunt Tip Paddle Knife is very lightweight and weighs just around 6 ounces. It has got a serrated blade that makes cutting cords as easy as pie. GEAR AID Akua Blunt Tip Paddle Knife can be used also as a glass breaker. All you have to do is to hammer the glass with the tip of its bottom and the glass will shatter into million pieces. The blade is very sharp and is coated with titanium.
NRS Green Knife has got a clean and sleek look. It is one of those few kayak knives that have given more attention to functionalities rather than on aesthetics. Easy to fold, NRS Green Knife stays firm in its position and it is highly resistant to corrosion. The best thing about this NRS Green Knife is that it can be opened and operated with a single hand which is very convenient if you think about it.
Ka-Bar Mule Folder Knife is quite popular among adventure-seekers and paddlers who are just looking for good quality and highly reliable knife that will not disappoint them in times of need. Weighs just around .55 lbs, Ka-Bar Mule Folder Knife is a beefy knife, to be honest with you all. It feels great in hand. The blade is heavy and thick and the handle offers a comfortable grip. However, it looks like the company has to do something with the push lock-release mechanism of the blade; it feels a bit stiff sometimes. Overall, it is a great pocket knife that you can take with you on your next camping or kayaking trip.
MOSSY OAK 2-Pieces Bowie Knife looks classy and elegant at the same time. Ideal for fishermen, hunter, and paddlers, MOSSY OAK 2-Pieces Bowie Knife is going to serve you well. It is great for cutting and chopping and can offer superior performance in extreme conditions. The handle offers a nice grip and has got an interesting ergonomic design. To eliminate the possibility of a knife slipping from your hands, the company has come up with an innovative idea; it has fitted this knife with a pommel and steel bolster and they do the trick. MOSSY OAK 2-Pieces Bowie Knife flaunts a full tang construction which is very rare to find these days.
If you are looking for a kayak knife that offers reliability, strength, and durability, you need to put your trust on MOSSY OAK 2-Pieces Bowie Knife. However, this knife is not suitable for wood chopping or similar tacks.
Promate Point Tip Scuba Dive BC Knife is ideal for everyday outdoor use. Be it hiking, fishing, or kayaking, Promate Point Tip Scuba Dive BC Knife will serve you well. Mainly used by people as a back-up knife, this kayak knife is made from stainless steel, and therefore, it should last really long.
The blade is very sharp. So, you need to be very careful with it while handling it. This knife fits really well in my palm. However, it would be great if the handle was not made from plastic. Rubberized handle offers a good grip that you will sorely miss. However, plastic handle tends to last long so, it should not be a big issue if you don’t want to spend money every year on a new kayak knife.
The case is really good and Promate Point Tip Scuba Dive BC Knife fits firmly into it. It does not come fitted with a strap which is a bummer but you can slide your belt through it as it has got a vertical slot.
10. NRS Pilot Knife
NRS Pilot Knife is designed mainly for amateur paddlers and professional rescuers. It has got a simplistic look and feels but it gets the job is done which is more important I believe. One of its main USPs is its spring-loaded ejection. The rubberized handle offers a secure and comfortable grip and thus allowing you to have full control over the blade. You can easily get it attached to your PFD while paddling in rough weather and it will fall off no matter what. At the end of the handle has a glass breaking tip that might prove a lifesaver in a difficult situation. Only one side of the blade is sharp and that means, the chances of cutting yourself are very minimal.
Opening NRS Pilot Knife is very easy. All you have to do is to squeeze it on both sides and the blade will pop up.
Kayak Knife Buying Factors
After studying the different uses of kayaking knives, let us delve into other important details about these essentials.
What sort of knife should you buy for kayaking?
As a knife guy, you require knives for hunting, camping, fishing, among other activities. However, you may want to consider the right knife for the activity you’re planning to indulge in, so let’s discuss those.
1. Fixed vis-a-vis Folding PFD Knife Blades
Under kayaking knives, you also have to choose between the fixed or folding blade varieties.
While some kayakers opine carrying a knife with a fixed blade, others may suggest a folding knife.
As compared to folding knives that are sleek, fixed blades are tougher and always ready – only draw from the sheath and you can start cutting. And if using a folding knife, you’ve to locate, unclip, open and follow by cutting.
2. Types of Steels
Knowing the kind of steel, you want your knife to be made of is an important consideration. Under knife steels, you can choose between the ‘stainless steel’ and ‘carbon steel’ varieties.
Stainless steels tend to rustless and do not require much maintenance. On the other hand, carbon steel knives are harder and can be sharpened without much effort.
If you’re heading into the forest for bush crafting or camping trips, a carbon steel knife will suit your purposes; they are tougher and you can sharpen them easily. And when drifting in the waters, a stainless-steel is your best bet – for then you’re not required to scrub off the rust from the blade constantly.
Though you have a large assortment of varied steel to choose from, yet you should opt for the good-quality ones for getting your money’s worth.
3. Choosing your PFD Knife Handle
Deciding the type of handle, you want for your PFD knife is another important consideration. Many people recommend going for wood or leather handles. However, these are not suitable choices. Leather tends to rot and becomes soft when consistently exposed to saline water while wood swells. So, avoid leather or wood handles.
Rather, you must consider synthetic handles that are easily available and suitable for various purposes. Under synthetic handles, you can choose among different materials such as Zytel, Micarta, Rubber, Synthetic Cork, Nylon, G10, and Plastic.
Neither will the synthetic-based handles soften nor become slippery if wet. Therefore, most kayak, boating, or dive knives contain handles that are composed of these materials.
4. Varied PFD Blade Designs
When choosing a kayaking knife, you’ve to decide the type of blade too.
Generally, knives are either serrated (saw blade) or contain plain edges. Though serrated knives are longer and sharper and can rip ropes effortlessly, yet they require greater effort to sharpen each individual groove. Plain-edges knives, comparatively, do not cut ropes as seamlessly as their serrated versions but rate higher in sharpness and versatility.
With plain-edged knives, you can do so much. So, many kayakers carry small serrated edged knives on their PFD while having a multi-purpose plain-edged knife within their packs.
More so, you have to decide between blunt tips or sharpened tips on your knives. Though sharpened tips are more resourceful while having the capability to stab something if going fishing or hunting, yet they are dangerous when coming to rescues. And blunt tip knives are not as useful but are reasonably safer.
Consequently, upon researching search and rescue equipment, you will find that most knives come with blunt tips. Because there have been several unfortunate instances of kayakers being cut when using sharp-tipped knives. Hence, blunt-tipped knives are preferred by the kayaking community because the risk of accidental cuts is reduced.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.