Carter Cutlery Kajiki ($455)
Best For: Doing It All
The compact Kajiki—forged by Murray Carter, an Oregon-based master smith (the black-belt level of cutlers)—is less than eight inches long, but its curved handle and durable edge lend it ample power for serious cutting duty in the field.
BootHill Blades 9-inch Chef’s ($450)
Best For: Kitchen Tasks
Jared Thatcher left his job in finance in 2013 to launch BootHill and make knives full-time. Good thing, too, since he’s got a knack for it. This one, formed from an old sawmill blade, deftly dices tomatoes and carves steak.
WESN Titanium Micro ($49)
Best For: Saving Space
Less than four inches long when open and a mere two inches closed, the WESN is made for the trail. Don’t be fooled by the size: its easily sharpened AUS8 steel and hardy titanium handle make it adept as an everyday slicer, whether you keep it on a key chain or in your pocket.
Wilburn Forge Utility ($700)
Best For: Looking Good
The name hints at the Utility’s proficiency around camp but not its styling. The functional art is on full display in the stacked-leather handle, designed with nickel-silver trim, stag antler, and a wrought-iron hand guard.
Kizer Laconico Gemini Flipper ($170)
Best For: Ease of Use
A collaboration between renowned California knife-maker Ray Laconico and China’s reputable Kizer Cutlery, the Gemini matches beauty with performance but skips the astronomical price tag. This folder belongs in your hand, thanks to an ergonomically contoured titanium handle and a smooth bearing-pivot system that easily flips open the stonewashed blade.
The James Brand Folsom Serrated ($99)
Best For: Dirty Jobs
The James Brand, based in Oregon, has gained a reputation for its finely honed folders. The Folsom Serrated is no exception, with a composite handle and a stainless-steel blade that resists rust and corrosion.