Disclaimer: Since I am only one man, I unfortunately have neither the time nor the resources to acquire and laboriously compare many different pieces of gear. As such, the reviews on this blog are only my honest assessment of certain pieces of gear and clothing that I’ve purchased and used over the years. If you are looking for exhaustive comparisons backed up by hours and hours of testing and data, I’d highly recommend checking out reviews from sites like The Wirecutter (or its sister site, The Sweethome) and OutdoorGearLab, both of which I refer to in these reviews and when I’m shopping for myself. I am not affiliated with any of these sites, but I rely on their research like any other consumer, and have found their work to be helpful, transparent, and extremely thorough. All of this said, thank you for reading, and I hope you find that the following recommendations positively inform your outdoor gear research and purchasing.
I've reached the point in my life where a knife is not just a camping accessory or a tool for the outdoors. It has become a part of my every-day-carry arsenal. It helps with everything from whittling a marshmallow stick to opening my mail. Knives are one of those products with a vast price and quality range. You can spend 10 bucks for something you won’t mind accidentally dropping in a lake or you can spend upwards of $500 for a custom Benchmade that'll last a lifetime. For most people, though, the best value will be somewhere in the middle. Simply said, you want high quality materials, a long-lasting edge, and comfortable ease of use at an affordable price.
Over the years, I’ve owned many knives across brands like Gerber, Leatherman, SOG, and Buck. I have been satisfied with most of these knife purchases, which makes singular knife recommendations rather tricky. As long as you buy a knife from a reputable company, the specifics of what you look for largely come down to personal preference and desired use.
My current knife of choice for everyday tasks is the Kershaw Leek: a sleek, sharp, high quality knife made in the USA. I’ve found its 3-inch blade to be the perfect size compromise between a tiny pen-knife and a much bigger fixed blade. It features a modified drop point and Kershaw's patented SpeedSafe assisted opening system. Its pocket clip is configurable to accommodate either tip-up or tip-down carry preferences. The leek holds an edge well and has remained dependable over time. It has an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars across more than 1,800 Amazon reviews, and OutdoorGearLab awarded the Leek the Best Buy title in their Best Pocket Knives of 2017 review.
It’s worth noting that the form factor of the Leek, though aesthetically gorgeous, is a little slim for prolonged or heavy use. But for light day-to-day use it has served me perfectly. My only other disappointment with my Leek is the build quality of the plastic slider lock that keeps the blade locked in the closed position. I’m all for protection that works to keep me from stabbing myself in the leg from inside my own pocket. However, on two separate occasions now, the slider lock has simply broken, rendering it useless. After the first hardware failure, I contacted Kershaw and received prompt and helpful customer service. At no cost, they immediately sent me the requisite replacement part. I swapped out the tiny plastic piece, which promptly broke again inside of 3 days. The design of the tip-lock feature is solid, but the fact that it is made of plastic instead of something heartier (like metal) makes me sad that it can’t hold up to gentle daily use. I didn’t bother to replace mine a second time, but instead removed the remaining pieces entirely (which requires a hex set) and still haven’t had any troubles with the blade opening accidentally.
If I was going to get another knife (which I most definitely should not do), I’d love to join the ranks of Spyderco carriers. And maybe someday I'll be brazen enough to shell out for a Benchmade. But for now, I’ll happily recommend the Kershaw Leek for around $45.