There are two ways to reach Machu Picchu, the Peruvian world wonder built high in the Andes Mountains sometimes around the 15th century. You can take a train that uses switchbacks to inch its way to the top. Or you can spend 4 days hiking the Incan Trail.

I took the train when visiting Peru some years ago. But, once I arrived, I encountered a group of French hikers who had just reached the summit after 4 days. Once they arrived, someone thrust a bottle of champagne into the leaders hands. He gave a brief-but-dramatic speech that I didn’t understand. And then he pulled a pocket knife out of his backpack and popped the cork.

A pocket knife means you’re prepared for anything — even a champagne toast after a 4-day hike through the wilderness of Peru.

Getting the right pocket knife doesn’t have to be a hassle and it doesn’t have to break the bank. In face, getting the best budget pocket knife on the market gives you just as much functionality and preparedness as one that costs exponentially more.

To help you find the best budget pocket knife for your needs, here’s a look at some of the best options — plus our recommendation for the top pick.

What do we mean by “pocket knife”? We simply mean a small knife that can fit into your pocket. As you’ll see below, we make recommendations for traditional Swiss Army Knife-style products, but we also offer recommendations for single-blade knives and handy multi-tools that include strong knife functions. We understand that not everyone has the same vision when picturing a pocket knife, so we’ve offered a wide range of products that should allow you to find one that fits your needs.

 

1. Victorinix Swiss Army Climber Pocket Knife — Our Top Pick!

When you think of a Swiss Army Knife, you’re thinking of Victorinix. Since 1884, this knife manufacturer has churned out the eponymous pocket tool that campers, hunters, Boy Scouts and many others have seen as essential to their everyday lives. It should come as no surprise that a Victorinix knife takes the title of “top pick” on our list of best budget pocket knife options.

Of course, there’s not just one Victorinix Swiss Army Knife. You’ll find a multitude of options, each with a different combination of tools and features. We’ve chosen the Climber model as our top choice, because we believe it includes the most helpful combination of tools: large and small blades, scissors, can opener, screwdrivers — and, of course, the corkscrew that comes in so handy should someone thrust a bottle of bubbly into your hands after a 4-day hike.

WeightLength (Closed)MSRP
2.9 ounces
3.6 inches
$42.50
We’ve made Victorinix’s Climber model our top pick for best budget pocket knife. But different people have different ideas of what constitutes a “budget” option. The MSRP on this knife is $42.50, which is an amazing deal given the value this knife delivers. That said, as of this writing the Climber is available for $28.39, and you can often find even better deals. Keep on eye out for discounts, and you’ll find that this knife certainly falls into the budget category.

A Tradition of Quality

The best part about choosing a Victorinix product like the Climber is that it’s backed by more than 120 years of knowledge and experience. The tools on a Climber knife open and close with ease. The blades arrive sharp and ready for use. Tools like the screwdrivers and bottle openers lock firmly into place. These are all signs of attention to detail and great care that’s poured into the design and manufacturing processes.

Perhaps you can find budget options that are a little less expensive. But these other manufacturers don’t offer the long track record of precision manufacturing, quality performance and durable lifespans that Victorinix products like the Climber are known for.

The Right Combination?

Is this right combination of tools for you? If not, you can most likely find a Victorinix product that offers the right combination at a similarly inexpensive price. Two of the missing tools that are most glaring on the Climber are the lack of a Phillips screwdriver and a nail file. Other than that, you’ll find just about everything else you could possibly need.

Keep in mind that almost all Victorinix products are going to feature a large blade, small blade and some sort of screwdriver/can opener combination. What you won’t always find are corkscrews and scissors — which can be almost as valuable and oft used as the large blade. The Climber includes both corkscrew and scissors.

You Can Find Better Blades

The term pocket knife can mean different things to different people. For most, it connotes a tool that offers multiple features — like the traditional Swiss Army Knife. But, if you’re looking simply for a quality blade, one that comes without offers tools and features, you can find much better products.

The Climber does not include a lock on the large blade, and there’s no serration either. While it can cut nicely when you need it to, especially when properly sharpened, you can find sharper and more effective large blades if that’s your No. 1 priority.

Some say that the quality of Victorinix products has dropped in recent years. The blades aren’t as durable, and the quality of casing isn’t what it used to be. Perhaps that’s true, but Victorinix held such a large lead in the pocket knife industry that it can afford to fall just a little bit and still be the best. If you’re looking for the best budget pocket knife, we still recommend the Victorinix Climber as your top option.

Pros and Cons of the Victorinix Swiss Army Climber Pocket Knife

Pros of the Victorinix Swiss Army Climber Pocket Knife:

  • Good mix of tools
  • Backed by proven Victorinix brand
  • Lightweight and durable

Cons of the Victorinix Swiss Army Climber Pocket Knife:

  • No lock for large blade
  • No serration on either blade
  • No Phillips screwdriver head

 

2. Valtev Small Multifunction Pocket Knife

Yes, you can absolutely find alternatives to Victorinix — the original Swiss Army Knife manufacturer is no longer the only game in town. This model from Valtev offers much of the same functionality you’ll find from the Victorinix climber, plus you get some alternative tools that can be immensely handy.

This Valtev model offers a Phillips-head screwdriver, two serrated saws, as well as an LED flashlight with battery. While it’s hard to say that a Valtev model has a Victorinix knife beat in any form or fashion, this combination of tools is one that may be extremely attractive to the right buyer looking for the best budget pocket knife.

As an added bonus, this Valtev knife also comes with a nylon sheath that features a snap clasp. Some of you may want to keep your pocket knife in your actual pocket, but the sheath may be an attractive option for others who want to attach their knife to a belt.

WeightLength (Closed)MSRP
2.4 ounces
3.5 inches
$20.15
At first glance, this Valtev knife looks like a worthy competitor to the Victorinix Climber. But remember that craftsmanship matters. A look at the Valtev will show exposed screws and fastening materials on the exterior of the knife casing, whereas the Victorinix Climber is neatly housed in the smooth and fastener-free casing that has become the trademark of the traditional Swiss Army Knife. Craftsmanship matters, and it’s a sign of care and attention to detail in both design and manufacturing.

Precision Construction

The Valtev isn’t some cheap knock off. The tools open and close with snap, and they form 90-degree angles that make using them easy. Some users even complain that kids have a hard time pulling out some of the tools — which is the way it’s supposed to be. While you may find Swiss Army Knife options that are purely cheap knockoffs (beware anything you find under $10), the Valtev is a quality competitor to the Victorinix Climber that deserves a look when you’re searching for the best budget pocket knife.

Screws That Come Loose

Remember how the Valtev exposes the fastening screws on its casing — which is a departure from how Victorinix builds its knives? These screws are known to come loose after extended use, and they are difficult to reseat. This is one of the drawbacks to choosing a Victorinix competitor. When you choose the original Swiss Army Knife, you can reasonably expect a lifetime of use when the knife is well cared for. While you can get durable performance out of a competitor like Valtev, expecting it to last a lifetime is a bit much.

A Lack of Instructions

The Valtev promises 13 tools and features, but it lacks instructions that explain what the tools and features are (as well as how to take advantage of them). Anyone can intuitively explore the knife and discover its many features over time, but it would be nice to have instructions that allow users to become familiar with how to use the knife right from the start.

If you’re looking for the best alternative to the traditional Swiss Army Knife, look no further than this option from Valtev. While it’s not our top pick, some buyers may see its LED flashlight, Phillips-head screwdriver and other bonus features and decide that this is the best budget pocket knife to meet their needs.

Pros and Cons of the Valtev Small Multifunction Pocket Knife

Pros of the Valtev Small Multifunction Pocket Knife:

  • Cool added features like an LED flashlight
  • Both a flathead and Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Precision construction that helps tools perform

Cons of the Valtev Small Multifunction Pocket Knife:

  • Exposed fasteners on casing
  • Screws that come loose after extended use
  • Lifespan may be limited compared to Victorinix products

 

3. Leatherman Crater C33TX Combo Knife

There’s something beautiful about simplicity. While it’s nice to have 13 or 14 tools in one pocket knife package, it’s also nice to have just the essentials. The Leatherman C33TX is a knife that delivers just the essentials in a quality and durable casing.

You get a main blade that puts to shame the large blade you’ll find on either the Victorinix or Valtev options. The 2.6-inch blade is made of 420HC stainless steel, and it includes both a straight and serrated edge so that you’re prepared for almost anything.

You’ll also find a handy collection of oft-used tools like a flathead screwdriver, Phillips-head screwdriver and combination carabiner/bottle opener. There’s no saw or flashlight or secondary blade. But, if you don’t need the dozen-plus tools you’ll find in a traditional Swiss Army Knife, the Leatherman C33TX is a highly attractive option for a budget pocket knife.

WeightLength (Closed)MSRP
2.36 ounces
3.87 inches
$42
When shopping for products of any variety, you often find that you’re paying for quality and durability. If you have half as much on one product over another, it doesn’t do you much good if that product lasts less than half as long as the alternative. Alas, the Leatherman is a good knife, but it won’t deliver the long-term performance you’ll find from other pocket knife options. The screwdriver tools can break off, and the blade is known to rust when put to the test in saltwater.

One-Handed Opening

One benefit of the Leatherman C33TX is that you can open it with just one hand. This is a huge bonus for some users who like the added convenience of being able to quickly deploy the knife while busy with some task. It may take some time, practice and energy to learn how to do it (plus a little lubrication), but this is a function that you won’t find with the Victorinix or Valtev options.

Firm Locking and Unlocking

When you have a blade that you can open with one hand, you want to be able to firmly lock and unlock that blade. That’s exactly what you get with the Leatherman C33TX. There’s no play in the blade either when it’s in use, which is essential to if you want to cut with confidence. The one drawback to the Leatherman C33TX’s blade is that its opening stud is in a location that is only easily used with the right hand. If you’re left-handed, this makes it a little more difficult to seamlessly use when in the midst of a project.

Be Careful With Your Screwdrivers

Having two types of screwdrivers is a really nice feature that’s not included in all (or even most) pocket knives. Unfortunately, you must use both your flathead screwdriver and Phillips-head screwdriver on the Leatherman C33TX with restraint. Some users report that the screwdrivers break off when used in tough applications like unwinding tight screws. Be sure to loosen up your screws with WD40 before attacking them with your Leatherman C33TX.

Perhaps the Leatherman C33TX doesn’t offer the durability of a Victorinix, but it’s almost a different kind of knife entirely. If you’re interested in a knife that can be opened with one hand, that delivers both a straight and serrated blade, and that offers a barebones collection of tools, the Leatherman C33TX may be your best option.

Pros and Cons of the Leatherman Crater C33TX Combo Knife

Pros of the Leatherman Crater C33TX Combo Knife:

  • Main blade includes both straight and serrated edges
  • One-hand opening feature
  • Includes essential tools like two types of screwdriver

Cons of the Leatherman Crater C33TX Combo Knife:

  • Rust concerns when used near saltwater
  • Full function requires some lubrication
  • Screwdrivers can break during tough application

 

4. Kershaw 1605CKTST Clash Folding Knife

Are you looking to get rid of all the circus features and focus on just the blade? Then the Kershaw 1605CKTST is your best option. This is a single-blade pocket knife that isn’t cluttered with screwdrivers and corkscrews and flashlights. It cuts things using a 3.1-inch serrated blade that as powerful as any you’ll find on this page.

Kershaw is no newcomer to knife manufacturing either. Its history may not date back to the 19th century like Victorinix’s, but it does have a track record of manufacturing quality knives that dates back to 1974. In short, this is a brand that you can trust to deliver products that get the job done.

The Kershaw 1605CKTST is a little bulkier than other options — both heavier and longer, even when closed. But it delivers the best single blade you’ll find, and it’s available as a steal of a deal. If you find that you often need a sharp, serrated blade that can cut materials of all kinds, go with the Kershaw 1605CKTST.

WeightLength (Closed)MSRP
4.3 ounces
4.25 inches
$31.21
While the Kershaw 1605CKTST’s single blade is about the best you can possibly find, this is not your traditional pocket knife. When most people think of a pocket knife, one of the defining characteristics is the presence of multiple tools that can be put to good use while camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and other outdoors activities. While this is a quality product, it may not meet the traditional definition of what it means to be a pocket knife.

A Blade That Can’t Be Beat

The partially serrated blade can take on even the toughest materials. It flies into action quickly thanks to Kershaw’s SpeedSafe Assisted Opening mechanism, and it stays firmly locked into place while in use. The handle forms a solid grip, too, which makes using this knife both effective and comfortable.

A Versatile Clip

The Kershaw 1605CKTST is less for your pocket and more for your belt. It features a reversible pocket clip that lets you store with tip either up or down. While many want a pocket knife that fits into an actual pocket, this bulkier option comes with an attractive alternative in the form of its belt/pocket clip.

Heavyweight Without the Added Features

There’s one conundrum related to the Kershaw 1605CKTST. It’s heavier than other options, but it offers a lot fewer tools. Shouldn’t the opposite be true? And weight matters when you’re looking for the best budget pocket knife that can serve as something you carry with you everyday.

While the Kershaw 1605CKTST is a quality product that may be the perfect match for some people and their unique needs, it’s a little bulky and offers too little in the form of features and tools that reach the top of our best budget pocket knife list.

OK, so we’re clear that the Kershaw 1605CKTST doesn’t have the bevy of features you’ll find with more traditional pocket knife options. But those options don’t matter to everyone. There are Kershaw 1605CKTST users who swear by the product, and this is one knife that’s worth a look if all you want is a single blade that delivers the cutting power you need.

Pros and Cons of the Kershaw 1605CKTST Clash Folding Knife

Pros of the Kershaw 1605CKTST Clash Folding Knife:

  • Best blade available
  • Serrated portion for versatility
  • Easy open and lock

Cons of the Kershaw 1605CKTST Clash Folding Knife:

  • Single blade without added features
  • Heavy weight and bulky footprint

 

5. Kainnt Folding Pliers Multi-Tool

You may be thinking: Um, this isn’t a pocket knife. And you’re right. It’s a multi-tool. But this multi-tool is available at an incredible price, and it offers most of the same functions one would expect from a pocket knife. So it’s on this page for the sake of comprehensiveness and to offer an additional option to those who want to get the most value out of their investment.

The Kainnt Folding Pliers Multi-Tool offers 12 features in a compact design. The main feature are spring-loaded pliers, but you also get a fine knife blade, a Phillips-head screwdriver, flathead screwdriver, big-slotted screwdriver, medium saw, fishing tools, bottle opener, can opener, nail file and more. In short, this is one multi-tool that packs a punch and delivers tons of functionality in a small package.

WeightLength (Closed)MSRP
NA
4.05 inches
$21.59
There’s little history to go on when you choose a Kainnt product. This isn’t one of the all-time great knife (or multi-tool) manufacturers. It’s a relative newcomer to the market, so take great care and do your research before you leap in and make an investment.

A Nice Collection of Tools

While a pocket knife can be somewhat limited, sometimes offering a blade and nothing more, a multi-tool like this Kainnt product includes almost every feature you could possibly need.

This multi-tool is a little bulkier than some of the pocket knife options on this page. That said, it’s heft should lead to strength when using its knives, screwdrivers and saws. Remember how another product’s screwdrivers would break off during tough jobs? That shouldn’t be a problem with a rugged multi-tool like this one.

Convenient Carrying

While this multi-tool is a little bit bulkier than other pocket knife options, it does feature a handy carrying case that can be looped right onto your belt. A protective Velcro enclosure secures your multi-tool when not use, but it’s easy to access when you need it. And it’s spring-loaded tools make deploying the individual features simple and easy while limiting hand fatigue.

Zero Brand Reputation

Brands like Victorinix, Leatherman, Kershaw and others mean something. They’ve been serving customers for a long time, and their products are backed by significant histories of delivering quality products. You won’t get the same type of brand reputation with Kainnt and its Folding Pliers Multi-Tool. Perhaps that doesn’t matter to you if you’re making a small investment in a budget product. But a pocket knife or a multi-tool that serves as a pocket knife should come with a promise of durability — no matter how much you pay for it.

If you’re interested in a pocket knife, a multi-tool may not be your thing. But don’t get too caught up in labels. Know that this multi-tool can do just about everything you want a traditional pocket knife to do. It’s also available at an incredibly low price, which could make it the best among budget options — if you’re willing to look past what it’s called.

Pros and Cons of the Kainnt Folding Pliers Multi-Tool

Pros of the Kainnt Folding Pliers Multi-Tool:

  • Incredible amount of tools and features
  • Handy case attached by belt loop
  • Attractive price point

Cons of the Kainnt Folding Pliers Multi-Tool:

  • Shallow brand history
  • Not a traditional pocket knife
  • Bulkier than other options

 

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Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Budget Pocket Knife

A pocket knife is a personal buying decision. Many carriers take great pride in their knives and the utility they deliver each day. You’ll want to find something that does the things that you want it to. You’ll want one that fits nicely wherever you want to carry it. And you’ll want one that feels comfortable in your hand. Maybe that’s our top pick, the Climber by Victorinix. Or maybe it’s a knife that’s not even on this list.

Hopefully, no matter your ultimate decision, you find the information here helpful as you seek out the best budget pocket knife for your unique needs. When you find your perfect knife, let us know what you bought in the comments section below. You can also message us anytime through our contact page.

 

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