As everyday carry (or EDC) tools have gone from niche items collected by gear-heads to mainstream essentials, the profile of everyday carry pocket knives has gone up. Not only are many of these knives stylish and aesthetically pleasing, they can perform a variety of important tasks. From mundane things like opening packages to the more survivalist needs of backpacking or camping, a solid EDC knife comes in handy in a variety of situations.
The EDC knife category includes a wide variety of options, so it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the myriad pocket knife brands, blade styles and shapes, and knife-making terminology. Plus, there’s the obvious downside for guys just getting into EDC gear: the price range. The best pocket knife brands make high quality items and, understandably, charge high prices. These are worth exploring, but you’re not out of luck if you’re in the market for a quality budget EDC knife.
The price point on these pocket knives is capped at $30, but all still offer great performance.
Penco Pocket Utility Knife
While the Penco utility knife isn’t really a modern EDC tool, it deserves a shout out for its affordable price and vintage quality. Penco’s office tools and supplies have a lovely nostalgic aesthetic and continue to deliver over time. This pocket utility knife is perfect for simple tasks like slicing open boxes. It might not deliver survivalist performance, but it’s one of the best cheap pocket knives for the EDC enthusiast.
Gerber Paraframe Mini
Gerber is one of the most beloved EDC brands on the market, so you might be surprised to see a pocket knife available that’s sometimes discounted to as low as $10. But this version of the Paraframe pocket knife is an excellent option for a low-profile and affordable EDC knife. The lightweight, minimalist design means you won’t feel much bulk in your pocket. Plus, the serrated locking blade can handle tough tasks. If you’re looking for a budget pocket knife that performs well above its price range, start here.
Opinel No.09 Carbon Steel Folding Knife
Opinel is one of Cool Material’s favorite pocket knife brands (and if you want to get nerdy about the brand, start with this complete guide to Opinel numbers). The French knifemakers manage to combine form and function on a consistent basis. The brand’s flagship No. 09 is an excellent cheap pocket knife. With a carbon steel blade, varnished beechwood handle, and Virobloc® safety ring, the No. 09 can handle just about any task you throw at it.
StatGear Pocket Samurai Keychain Knife
The Pocket Samurai Keychain Knife from StatGear packs an impressive punch in a small form. It measures a total length of 4.7 inches and the razor-sharp stainless steel tanto blade is excellent. It’s lightweight, locks into place, and can comfortably fit on a keychain. Plus, the samurai aesthetic gives it some serious style points.
Spyderco Bug Non-Locking Knife
Spyderco is one of the best pocket knife brands around, so it’s impressive to see its products among the best cheap EDC knives. This Bug Knife from Spyderco is a micro-sized slipjoint pocket knife with a stainless steel. Sharp and durable, it’s an impressive cheap pocket knife. That said, it doesn’t have a locking mechanism, so clearly sacrifices were made to keep this at a budget price point. Still, the Spyderco Bug is a good option for EDC enthusiasts.
Victorinox Classic SD
Victorinox’s line of Swiss Army Knives helped pave the way for the modern EDC craze, and has definitely influenced the best pocket knife brands. The Classic SD is a paired-down design that still offers the requisite tools like a small pocket knife blade, scissors, nail file, 2.5 mm screwdriver, and more. At $21 (and discounted to as low as $17 at times), this is serious value for one of the best budget EDC knives.
Gerber Key Note Folding Knife
Another shoutout to Gerber for producing high-quality, low-cost pocket knives. The Key Note Folding Knife is a stubby little EDC tool. The one-inch, stain-finished 5Cr steel blade features both a scraping edge and a cutting edge, meaning you can tackle most tasks. Plus, the lightweight design makes it perfect for keychains. It’s a discreet, cheap pocket knife that will serve you well for years to come.
SOG Traction Folding Knife
If you’re looking for a cheap tactical pocket knife, SOG has you covered with the burly Traction Folding Knife. The thick, strong, glass-reinforced nylon handle offers traction without being too heavy. And the sharp, straight-edge blade offers top-notch performance as well as one-hand opening. Among the best cheap EDC knives, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Kershaw Shuffle DIY
The Kershaw Shuffle DIY is a serious beast of a cheap pocket knife, coming in just under $30. The drop point stainless steel blade is sharp, tough, and reliable. Plus, you’ll find a Phillips bit, flathead bit, bottle opener, jump ring, lanyard hole, and a pocket clip, meaning there’s a variety of tools at the ready in one knife. The nylon polymer reinforced handle is strong and offers excellent grip. All in all, Kershaw is making a case for one of the best cheap pocket knives.
The sleek Scribe pocket knife from CRKT is perhaps the most unique option on our list. Rather than folding open, the CRKT Scribe is housed within a removable cap, which can then be attached to the base of the handle. The high carbon stainless steel blade promises to stay durable for years while the durable yet lightweight handle gives you a sturdy grip. While it hits exactly at the $30 mark instead of falling under it, this list would be remiss to exclude one of the best cheap pocket knives.