The 5 Best Knives and Multitools

Take them from the kitchen to the backcountry

Sep 25, 2015
Outside Magazine

Knives from the kitchen to the backcountry.    Photo: Hannah McCaughey

Whether you're a chef, handyman, or backcountry survivalist, a good knife is an essential tool. 

Best For: Fine Chopping

orchard steel
Orchard Steel 5" Petit Chef's Knife   Photo: Orchard Steel

Orchard Steel 5" Petit Chef ($350)

This small chef’s knife was forged in Burlington, Vermont, by Moriah Cowles and has a thick maple handle and carbon-steel blade that stays sharp through a year of daily use. It’s our go-to for slicing fruits and veggies. 

Best For: Fast Action

Kershaw Launch folding knife   Photo: Kershaw

Kershaw Launch 1 ($150) 

This automatic blade opens with a surprising burst of power and speed. The 3.4-inch knife has a unique black oxide finish and is easy to sharpen, while the anodized-aluminum handle balances well in your hand. Made entirely in Oregon. 

Best For: Keeping It Simple 

james brand
James Brand Chapter folding pocket knife   Photo: James Brand Knives

James Chapter ($275)

This small and elegant folding knife slips easily into your pocket, making it perfect for everyday carrying. And with a stainless-steel blade just under three inches, a titanium frame lock, and few moving parts, it requires almost zero maintenance. 

Best For: Everything

Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool   Photo: Leatherman

Leatherman Signal ($120)

Leatherman keeps coming up with new ways to fit handy tools into a unit the size of a Snickers bar. The Signal has a 2.7-inch blade and a set of wire cutters tucked beneath the pliers, plus a detachable diamond-coated sharpener. Nice: the carabiner doubles as a bottle opener. 

Best For: Survival 

tops knives
Tops Knives Black Rhino Survival Knife   Photo: Tops Knives

TOPS Black Rhino ($200)

With a sturdy 5.5-inch blade and a handle of rugged Micarta, the burly Black Rhino is a force in the field. A pry bar built into the end of the handle can get you out of sticky situations. Like all of TOPS’s fixed blades, it was hand-made in Idaho. 

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