Best EDC Utility Knife

Best EDC Utility Knife Featured Image

Whether you’re a trade worker or seated behind a desk all day, you’ll frequently encounter tasks that will have you reaching for a sharp blade. EDC knives are a popular choice for these needs, but some EDC fans prefer the disposable nature of an EDC utility knife instead. But what’s the best EDC utility knife, and what do you need to know before opening your wallet?

Our guide to the best EDC utility knives includes our shortlist picks that are perfect for carrying in your pocket, your toolbelt, or a keychain. We also include several essential buying tips below and detailed comparisons of how our EDC picks performed in our in-house tests for one-handed use, ergonomics, blade changing, and build quality.

You may also be interested in our guide to the best utility knives for general-purpose needs and the result from our tests of the best utility knife blades.

Testing EDC Utility Knives In-House
You need to test the best models firsthand to truly know which models stand out. Pictured here testing the opening and closing mechanisms of several picks. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Best EDC utility knife

Gerber Prybrid
Pros:
  • Built-in pry bar, bottle opener, and more
  • Great for one-handed use
  • Compact design for easy carry
  • Build quality
Cons:
  • No blade storage
Check Price

At a glance

  • Style: Sliding multitool
  • Weight: 2.90 oz.
  • Closed dimensions (in.): 4.25 x 1.25
  • Belt clip: Yes
  • Blade change: Quick change
  • Extra blades: No

The Gerber Prybrid has some of the best build quality and ergonomics among our best EDC utility knives. You can easily slide open and close the blade with one hand, and the textured metal finish on the handle feels sturdy. There also aren’t any loose parts that jingle around, just tight tolerances throughout.

Nicely, the Prybrid includes several helpful integrated features. There’s a wire stripper, a nail puller, prybar, bottle opener, and a flat head screwdriver, versatile features that make it more than just the best EDC box cutter.

Unlike other sliding EDC utility knives, Gerber figured out a way to quickly change blades, unlike other sliding EDC utility knives. After extending the blade and locking it in place, apply some additional pressure, and the blade extends fully to simplify swapping out blades.

Milwaukee Fastback Compact Folding
Pros:
  • Compact folding design
  • Easy-to-change blade
  • Excellent for one-handed use
Cons:
  • No blade storage
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At a glance

  • Style: Folding
  • Weight: 3.84 oz.
  • Closed dimensions (in.): 4.00 x 1.25
  • Belt clip: Yes
  • Blade change: Quick change
  • Extra blades: No

The Milwaukee Fastback Compact Folding utility knife is an easy EDC utility to recommend due to its durability, ease of use, and price tag. I keep several Milwaukee Fastback-series models around my home in convenient locations, and it’s my go-to pick when I don’t have a pocket utility knife in reach.

It shines because it does all the basics well for various grunt tasks around your home. You can easily use the Fastback Compact Folding with one hand by pressing the button and swinging the blade open and closed. Note, there is no spring-loaded opening, which is a pro or a con depending on your preference.

This EDC utility knife can take a beating. I’ve had mine for several years, and the housing has withstood many drops and rugged use.

The quick-change blade is also one of the easiest we’ve tested, reducing the risks of cutting yourself when changing the blade.

The knife slides well onto a stiff belt, but you’ll need two hands to slide it onto looser materials like your jean pocket. This downside is minor.

Exceed Designs Tirant Razor V3
Pros:
  • Outstanding build quality
  • Good for one-handed use
  • Includes extra blades and screws
  • Customizable and available in different finishes
Cons:
  • Blade change could be faster
Check Price

At a glance

  • Style: Folding
  • Weight: 2.4 oz.
  • Closed dimensions (in.): 3.42 x 0.88
  • Belt clip: Yes
  • Blade change: Quick change
  • Extra blades: Yes

The Exceed Designs Tirant Razor V3 sings with its build quality and has the price tag to match. But if you’re looking for thoughtful design, tight tolerances, and great fit and finish, then it’s hard to overlook the Tirant Razor V3.

Exceed Designs put a lot of thought into ergonomics. The blade is easy to open and close with one hand smoothly. The Tirant Razor V3 won’t make you jump through hoops to change the blade. There’s a quick-release blade to swap out the extra blades.

The Tirant Razor V3 also looks as good as it feels. Several finishes are available, including a matte black that will look at home in any Instagram’ers EDC layout picture.

Outdoor Edge Slidewinder
Pros:
  • Compact design fits in your coin pocket
  • Sturdy pocket clip
  • Built-in screwdrivers
Cons:
  • Opening requires two hands
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At a glance

  • Style: Sliding multitool
  • Weight: 1.5 oz.
  • Dimensions (closed L x W, inch): 3.50 x 1.25
  • Belt clip: Yes
  • Blade change: Requires a tool
  • Extra blades: No

The Outdoor Edge Slidewinder is characteristically EDC with its small size, design, and versatility. While the ergonomics for any small EDC utility knife aren’t superb, the Slidewinder leverages some excellent design cues to stand out from the pack.

The bottom of the casing includes two recesses where your forefinger, middle finger, and ring finger rest for improved gripping power when cutting. Any small EDC utility knife can be challenging to control without this design.

The spring-loaded blade sliding mechanism works better retracting the blade than extending it. You can sometimes miss locking the blade in place when extending the blade and releasing the button at the wrong time. But that exact locking mechanism makes it easy to quickly retract the blade with the press of a button.

One feature that could improve the Slidewinder is easier blade changing. You’ll need a precision screwdriver with a small torx bit to loosen the screws holding the casing together to swap out the blade. However, it’s not difficult, just an added step.

Gerber EAB Lite Pocket Utility Knife
Pros:
  • Great build quality and finish
  • Thin design disappears in your pocket
Cons:
  • Not ideal for one-handed use
  • Blade changes could be easier
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At a glance

  • Style: Folding
  • Weight: 2.5 oz.
  • Closed dimensions (in.): 2.80 x 1.30
  • Belt clip: Yes
  • Blade change: Requires a tool
  • Extra blades: No

We’ve tested several Gerber products and have always admired the build quality and functional designs. The Gerber EAB Lite nails both and has moved a ton of units as a result.

The build quality stands out the first time picking up the EAB Lite. The various parts and fittings are well-built with tight tolerances. There aren’t any loose fittings, and the blade satisfyingly and smoothly clicks into place when unfolded.

There aren’t many other bells and whistles except the pocket clip that can pull double duty as a money clip.

The EAB Lite is a small EDC utility knife that doesn’t work well for one-handed blade opening and closing, although the folding mechanism is buttery smooth and satisfying. You’ll also need a flat head screwdriver to unscrew the blade housing when replacing a blade. This EDC utility knife would stand out if it included a quick-change blade.

Workpro Folding Wood Utility Knife
Pros:
  • Durable build quality
  • Easy to change blades
  • Includes extra blades
Cons:
  • Opening and closing mechanism could be smoother
  • Not ideal for one-handed use
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At a glance

  • Style: Folding
  • Weight: 5.6 oz.
  • Closed dimensions (in.): 4.5 x 1.97
  • Belt clip: Yes
  • Blade change: Quick change
  • Extra blades: Yes

The Workpro Wood Utility Knife is both modern and traditional at the same time with its matte black head and wood handle. It’s a solid pick if you usually carry an EDC knife but now want an EDC utility knife.

As with this utility knife style, the folding mechanism is smooth, albeit not ideal for one-handed use. However, the ergonomics are fantastic with recesses strategically placed for extra grip.

Plus, you’ll get a set of replacement blades and a fool-proof quick-change blade mechanism, all without breaking the bank.

Olfa 9 mm Snap-Off
Pros:
  • Slim design
  • Satisfying and tactile blade extension mechanism
  • Fresh blades always available
  • Cuts deeper than most utility knives
Cons:
  • Not ideal for heavy-duty tasks
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At a glance

  • Style: Sliding snap-off
  • Weight: 0.7 oz.
  • Closed dimensions (in.): 5.20 x 0.45
  • Belt clip: Yes
  • Blade change: Tool-less
  • Extra blades: No

The Olfa 9 mm Snap-Off is just as at home in your pocket as it would be in a pocket protector. Potential nerd joke aside, this isn’t what you’d think of first when considering the best EDC utility knife, but hear me out.

Unlike some pocket utility knives that add bulk, the credit card-like thin design disappears in your pocket. If you’ve ever used an Olfa utility knife, you know how satisfying the blade sliding mechanism is. Throughout testing, I constantly slid the blade open and closed and admired the clicky sound and tactile feel.

Oh yeah, it cuts well too, especially with light-duty tasks where the narrower blade is perfect for precise cuts, such as crafts projects. Since it’s a snap-off blade, you’ll always have a fresh edge, great for convenience.

James Brand The Palmer
Pros:
  • Outstanding build quality
  • Great for one-handed use
  • Fits easily in your coin pocket
  • Available in several unique colors
Cons:
  • No belt clip
  • Blade change could be easier
Check Price

At a glance

  • Style: Sliding
  • Weight: 2.5 oz.
  • Closed dimensions (in.): 3.50 x 1.50
  • Belt clip: No
  • Blade change: Tool-less
  • Extra blades: No

When I think of EDC utility knives, it’s hard to ignore the category of models that focuses on simple design and attention to detail. That aesthetics focus is where James Brand’s The Palmer shines.

This is a perfect pocket utility knife if you don’t want to carry a multitool or EDC knife. Notably, the sliding mechanism is ultra smooth, needed for one-handed use with a small EDC utility knife.

No belt clip is included, but that may be fine when using the included lanyard or slotting it into your coin pocket.

The last standout feature is The Palmer is available in several unique colorways, including a vibrant blue and punchy orange that James Brand calls cerulean and canary, respectively.

EDCFans Keychain Utility Knife
Pros:
  • Compact size
  • Lots of useful tools included for its size
  • Extra blades included
Cons:
  • Sliding mechanism could be smoother
  • Blade change requires tools
Check Price

At a glance

  • Style: Sliding multitool
  • Weight: Not measured
  • Closed dimensions (in.): 3.30 x 1.18
  • Belt clip: No
  • Blade change: Requires a tool
  • Extra blades: Yes

The EDCFans Keychain Utility Knife has many helpful features in a small package. It’s not going to win a podium spot for build quality, and the blade takes some getting used before being able to extend it smoothly.

But EDCFans makes up for that with the bells and whistles included in this 15-in-1 EDC utility knife. There’s a glass breaker, Phillips and flat head screwdriver, cutouts designed to be used as a wrench, a ruler, and a bottle opener, to name a few.

The EDCFans Keychain Utility Knife also has versatility for how you carry it. It’s small enough to fit in your coin pocket and stay seated with the skull clip or add it to a keychain ring.

EDCFans Multitool Utlity Knife
Pros:
  • Utility knife, knife, and saw in one
  • Blade changes are a breeze
  • Includes extra blades
Cons:
  • Build quality
  • Not ideal for one-handed use
Check Price

At a glance

  • Style: Folding multitool
  • Weight: Not measured
  • Closed dimensions (in.): 4.60 x 1.50
  • Belt clip: Yes
  • Blade change: Quick change
  • Extra blades: Yes

The EDCFans Multitool Utility Knife is a top EDC pick if you want a variety of blades in one. As with the EDCFans Keychain model, this one doesn’t shine with some loose fittings out of the box.

But it is cheap enough not to be a bother and makes up for this downside with the three blades included, a utility knife, a saw, and a standard knife blade. Nicely, you’ll get extra blades and a Phillips and flat head screwdriver inside the all-metal housing.

Test results

We include below more details on how each EDC utility knife fared in our in-house tests and other information to help inform your buying decision.

One-handed use

ModelEase of OpeningEase of ClosingClosed Dimensions (in.)
Gerber PrybridBestBest4.25 x 1.25
Milwaukee FastbackGoodBest4.00 x 1.25
Exceed Designs Tirant V3BestGood3.42 x 0.88
Outdoor Edge SlidewinderGoodGood3.50 x 1.25
Gerber EAB LiteGoodGood2.80 x 1.30
Workpro WoodRoom for improvementRoom for improvement6.69 x 1.97
Olfa 9 mmGoodGood5.20 x 0.45
James Brand The PalmerGoodGood3.50 x 1.50
EDCFans KeychainGoodGood3.30 x 1.18
EDCFans MultitoolRoom for improvementRoom for improvement4.60 x 1.50

Pro tip

We translate our numerical scores into a Best, Good, or Room for Improvement rating. A Room for Improvement rating isn’t necessarily bad. More, it’s the worst performer among the best models tested.

All of the sliding EDC utility knives offer one-handed ergonomics that are either characterized as good or best-in-class. The Gerber Prybrid is a standout among this pack with its size that is easy to control and the smooth sliding mechanism.

Gerber Prybrid Sliding Mechanism
Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The Exceed Designs Tirant Razor V3 and Milwaukee Fastback Compact Compact Folding Knife are standouts in the folding category. Both can be operated easily with one hand.

Only the Workpro Wood Utility Knife and EDCFans Multitool Utility Knife have room for improvement. Both EDC models require two hands to open and close, and the folding mechanisms could be smoother.

Changing blades

ModelChanging Blades
Gerber PrybridGood
Milwaukee FastbackBest
Exceed Designs Tirant V3Good
Outdoor Edge SlidewinderRoom for improvement
Gerber EAB LiteRoom for improvement
Workpro WoodBest
Olfa 9 mmGood
James Brand The PalmerRoom for improvement
EDCFans KeychainGood
EDCFans MultitoolBest

We tested changing blades on each of the models since this performance is critical with an EDC utility knife. Utility knife blades aren’t made to be highly durable like a traditional knife blade, where you have to worry about dinging and dulling the edge. Knowing this, you’ll frequently change blades with an EDC utility knife.

The Milwaukee Fastback Folding Compact, Workpro Wood Utility Knife, and EDCFans Multitool Utility Knife performed exceptionally well in our tests. All have quick-change blades that can be swapped out in seconds with the push of a button.

EDC Utility Knife Quick Change Blade Example
Closeup of a quick-change blade button. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Any model that requires a tool and opening up the casing to change blades received a rating of Room for Improvement. All of these EDC utility knife blades were easy to change. They’re just not as fast and convenient.

Build quality

ModelOpening/Closing SmoothnessFeel In HandFit and Finish
Gerber PrybridGoodBestBest
Milwaukee FastbackGoodGoodGood
Exceed Designs Tirant V3BestBestBest
Outdoor Edge SlidewinderGoodGoodGood
Gerber EAB LiteGoodBestBest
Workpro WoodGoodGoodGood
Olfa 9 mmBestGoodBest
James Brand The PalmerBestGoodBest
EDCFans KeychainRoom for improvementGoodGood
EDCFans MultitoolRoom for improvementGoodRoom for improvement

We inspected each model and used them in varying cutting tasks to get a feel for their overall build quality.

The Exceed Designs Tirant Razor V3 is the only EDC pick with a coveted Best rating for the smoothness of opening and closing the blade, feel in hand, and fit and finish.

The fit and finish component of our build quality tests may be important for EDC lovers. The Exceed Designs Tirant Razor V3 is well-machined with no loose or wobbling parts. The Gerber EAB Lite is also well-machined with tight fittings and no blade wobble. The Olfa 9mm Snap-Off is stainless steel and has a satisfying slide mechanism. Lastly, the James Brand’s The Palmer seamlessly fits together.

The only EDC picks with Room for Improvement regarding build quality are the EDCFans Keychain Utility Knife and EDCFans Multitool Utility Knife.

The keychain model could be improved with a smoother sliding blade, whereas the multitool model has several loose fittings. Neither is a top pick for build quality, more they’re good options for the price and are versatile.

Additional features

Below are the additional versatility features of each model to determine which pick suits your needs.

ModelAdditional features
Gerber PrybridPrybar, nail puller, wire stripper, flat head driver, bottle opener
Milwaukee FastbackNone
Exceed Designs Tirant V3Spare screws and components, torx tool, replacement blades
Outdoor Edge SlidewinderPhillips screwdriver, flat head screwdriver, bottle opener
Gerber EAB LiteNone
Workpro WoodReplacement blades
Olfa 9 mmNone
James Brand The PalmerLanyard
EDCFans KeychainScrewdriver bit holder, screwdriver, wrench, bottle opener, glass breaker, ruler, replacement blades
EDCFans MultitoolScrewdriver, saw, knife, replacement blades, carrying case w/ belt loop

How to pick an EDC utility knife

Determine how you’ll carry and use it

Psst. We’ve got a secret. Size does matter… when talking about the best EDC utility knives. There are a few reasons to consider size before clicking “add to cart.”

The smallest EDC utility knives typically don’t have great ergonomics and aren’t ideal for one-handed use. Choose a bigger EDC utility knife if one-handed use is essential.

However, small EDC utility knives are ideal for carrying on a keychain or in your coin pocket. Bigger models work better with belt clips attached to your tool belt or inside your pockets.

What blade style do you need?

Milwaukee Fastback Folding and Gerber Prybrid Sliding
Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Regarding blades, you can choose either a folding or sliding EDC utility knife. Sliding models are easier to use one-handed, though some high-quality folding EDC models are also easy.

Multitool or single blade?

EDCFans Multitool Layout
Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Do you need a basic EDC utility knife for cutting boxes and other materials or an EDC utility knife with more versatility?

No-frills models are perfect for basic cutting needs and are durable with fewer moving parts.

EDC models with additional multi-tool features can handle more tasks, which is great for convenience, but they tend to be bulkier in your pocket.

Honorable mentions

The Workpro Folding Utility Knife comes in a three-pack. We tested this model in-house and decided not to include it as a final pick since one of the knives fell apart when opening the box. Don’t expect outstanding build quality, but that’s OK if you want a few cheap throwaways to keep around the home.

The Zoid 3-In-1 is an alternative to the Milwaukee Fastback Compact Folding utility knife. It includes onboard blade storage but doesn’t match the Milwaukee’s build quality.

The Sheffield 12115 is a good option for a different wood-style EDC utility knife. But our pick includes replacement blades for a similar price, so it secured a spot on our shortlist.

The Aviation Aluminum EDC utility knife is well-designed and with solid ergonomics for its size. But the Gerber Prybrid is more versatile.

The Ron’s Screwpop Keychain utility knife is enduringly popular and basic, in a good way. Consider this an alternative to the EDC Fans Keychain model if you don’t need the various integrated multitools.

The Slice Ceramic is unique because it includes a ceramic blade that doesn’t rust and is safer than a standard utility blade. While the overall aesthetic design is outstanding, ceramic blades aren’t as sharp or versatile as a traditional utility blade.

FAQ

  • What’s a good size for an EDC utility knife?

    The best EDC utility knife size depends on your needs. Small models up to 3.50 inches long fit easily in your pocket or on a keychain, but they aren’t good for ergonomics and heavy-duty tasks. Longer models have better ergonomics, although they tend to be bulkier.

  • Are EDC utility knife blades easy to change?

    EDC models that include quick-change blade mechanisms are fast to change. Other models require a screwdriver to open the tool to swap out blades.

Methodology

We picked the best EDC utility knives by first reviewing the market of available options, which resulted in further research of 22 models. We narrowed down our picks for in-house testing by reviewing user forums and online reviews for each model.

We then purchased a lineup of EDC utility knives that represented a range of user needs and preferences, from design-focused models to multitools and construction-focused models. In-house testing consisted of the following tests to determine our shortlist picks.

  • Ease of one-handed opening: We tested each model using one hand to open the blade. We then gave each a rating to represent how easy it is to operate the model with one hand. This test is vital since EDC utility knives are meant to be simple to use and readily available, even if your other hand is full.
  • Ease of one-handed closing: We ran the same test as above, but for closing the blade.
  • Retraction/folding smoothness: We tested how smoothly each blade folded out or extended. We then gave each a rating to represent the smoothness, which reflects the overall build quality and ease of one-handed use.
  • Blade changeability: EDC utility knives are meant to be beaten up, and their blades aren’t designed for durability. Knowing that you’ll be frequently changing blades, it’s essential to understand that process. We tested changing blades for each model and assigned each a rating.
  • Carrying method: Any EDC utility knife should have a lanyard, belt clip, or hole for a keychain ring. We reviewed each model’s options and tested carrying each in a pocket and on a tool belt.
  • Overall build quality: We inspected each model for overall build quality, paying attention to the finish and the tightness of fittings. We then assigned each model an overall build-quality rating.
Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton is the founder of DIY Gear Reviews and a recognized expert in the home and DIY space. He has over 200 bylines covering topics such as power tools, hand tools, and woodworking. Nathan is the strategic director for DIY Gear Reviews, deciding everything from the content covered to designing the testing methodologies for lab-tested reviews. He can be emailed at nhamilton@diygearreviews.com.

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