GearTools & Tech

The 5 Best Knives and Multitools

Take them from the kitchen to the backcountry

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

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

Best For: Fine Chopping

Orchard Steel 5
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
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 Chapter folding pocket knife
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
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 Black Rhino Survival Knife
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. 

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
From Outside Magazine, October 2015
Filed To: Multi-ToolsKnivesSurvival
Lead Photo: Hannah McCaughey
More Gear