The knife knut scene is, like many hobbyist cultures, predominately male. Most users, collectors, and even makers, are men. This is a shame, not only because it means that knife culture lacks diversity, but also because it seems to imply, by the homogeneity of its user base, that only certain types of people need or should want to carry a knife.
The truth, of course, is that knives are just useful things to have with you: the perennial examples of opening packages, slicing food, etc., are not activities that only men perform. Everyone can benefit from carrying a knife every day. And in this article, we’re going to discuss pocket knives and women. More specifically, what kinds of EDC knives are ones that women will really enjoy using—whether it’s because you need to carry it around in a purse or handbag, or simply because you need something to open box, can, slice food, or other daily tasks.
Now, to be honest, there isn’t much to differentiate what kind of knife a woman would/should carry and what a man should. So, writing this article, I worked on the assumption that the women who I’m choosing knives for are not necessarily knife fanatics.
That is to say, you may just be looking for something that isn’t too expensive, easy to use, and quite simple maintain. Most people don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a knife. They don’t want something with some crazy deployment mechanism. If they aren’t into knives as a hobby, they probably don’t know how to sharpen them, either.
I did also take into consideration that women, because they often carry purses or bags (as mentioned earlier), are more likely to want to keep their knives in them. Therefore, portability and durability were also concerns.
Below, take a look at some of the more popular knives on the market today that I felt would be really great for women (and, to be fair, great for men too):
$ = $1 – $30 | $$ = $31 – $60 | $$$ = $61 and above
|Benchmade Mini Griptillian||154CM stainless steel||3” blade||$$$||4.8/5|
|Ontario RAT||AUS-8 steel||3.5" blade||$||4.8/5|
|Spyderco Dragonfly 2 FRN||ZDP-189||2.25” blade||$$$||4.7/5|
|Spyderco Squeak||N690Co steel||2" blade||$$||4.9/5|
|Victorinox Alox Cadet||Stainless Steel||3.2” long||$||4.9/5|
5 Pocket Knives That Women May Prefer
So while it is a platitude to say that women are similar but different, it is the truth; the knives that I’ve chosen as the five best for women to carry were picked with those differences, and similarities, in mind. The knives selected are as follows:
- The Ontario Rat 1 or 2
- The Benchmade 555HG Mini Griptilian
- The Victorinox Alox Cadet
- The Spyderco Squeak
- The Spyderco Dragonfly
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling pocket knives currently for sale on Amazon, and then compare them to the blades we will discuss in-depth in today’s article:
Again, these shouldn’t necessarily be thought of as “Good Knives for Women,” so much as good knives for anybody; they are simply knives that are particularly suited to the types of carry and use women may want out of their EDC blades.
One final note: although I will address the topic of self-defense briefly in relation to one of the knives below, in general I’ve chosen knives based on principles of utility. A knife, either for a woman or a man, is rarely, if ever, the best option for self-defense.
Moreover, knives that are designed with that purpose in mind tend to be terrible at just about everything else. So instead of catering to the least-likely use you’d find for your knife, I’m going to be discussing the more common ones.
The Ontario Rat 1 or 2
The Rat line is one of the most popular cheap pocket knife lines of all time. It is designed by Randall’s Adventure & Training, a maker primarily of fixed blades; that heritage is seen clearly in the blade shape, which is the main reason this one makes the list: that elegant drop point is just so useful for so many different applications: breaking down boxes, opening packages, the works.
It is also an excellent food prep knife. It is made out of a plastic handle scale laid over a steel frame, so it will not get damaged being knocked around in a purse or in a pocket with keys and other stuff in it. It is also available in a wide range of colors including pink, brown, green, black, and orange. The brighter colors are definitely worth considering if you’re going to carry it in your purse; it will stand out so you don’t have to go on a hunt when you want to cut something.
The Rat 1 is the larger version of the knife, with a 3.6” blade. The smaller Rat 2 has a 3” blade. I personally would recommend the Rat 2 for anything EDC-related; it will take up less room in a pocket or a purse, and will give you a little bit more control of your cutting tasks. If self-defense is a concern, and a knife is the way you choose to address that concern, then the Rat 1 is a great choice: it is larger, but not outrageous to carry (particularly in a purse).
The Benchmade 555HG Mini Griptilian
The Benchmade Mini Griptilian is another EDC all-star. There are many variations, but I think the 555HG is the best all-around choice. It has a unique modified sheepsfoot blade that works well in every EDC cutting task. The steel, 154CM, is better than the AUS-8 on the Rat 1 and 2, while still being easy to sharpen and maintain.
The opening hole on the 555HG (as opposed to the thumbstuds on the Rat 1 and 2 and the standard Mini Griptilian) is the easiest way to open a knife, and the Axis Lock is safe and stable. It is also available in different colors (pink, blue, yellow, black, orange).
The Mini Griptilian is the most expensive knife on this list at $90. If you aren’t into knives that may seem like a lot of money to spend on a pocket knife. The truth is, though, that the Mini Grip is going to hold up better over time than most cheaper knives: the steel is better, the lock is strong, and, best of all,
Benchmade folding knives are backed by one of the best warranties in all of knifedom. I’ve personally used their warranty service and I can say that you have nothing to worry about if you ever have a problem with your blade—which you probably won’t.
The Victorinox Alox Cadet
Anytime I’m asked to talk about my favorite knives, the Cadet makes the shortlist. It offers so much in such a compact package.
The Cadet is a Swiss Army knife, but, unlike some of the bigger SAKs, the Cadet just has the basics: a large spearpoint blade, a bottle opener, a can opener (both with screwdriver tips on them), and a nail file tool.
All of these tools are built in to a slim, two-layer package that weighs under 2 oz. The Cadet is super durable–the stuff in your pocket or purse isn’t going to faze this little tank. The stainless steel the knife and tools are made of (Victorinox famously keeps it a secret) really is almost rust-proof. The maintenance necessary on the Cadet is the lowest out of any of the knives on the list, as well.
It is also very attractive: the Alox scales are much prettier than the red celluloid you probably associate with the swiss army knife models of yore. Convenient, friendly, and hassle-free, the Cadet comes, as it always does, with the highest recommendation.
The Spyderco Squeak
The Squeak is a knife that Spyderco calls a Slipit; outside of Spyderco (which loves its little trademark names) they would be called slipjoints. That is, knives that don’t have a lock, relying instead on the tension of the backspring to keep the knife safely open during use.
The appeal of the Squeak is twofold: first, it has, like most Spyderco knives, a wonderful, ergonomic handle; there is a forward finger choil for precise control during cutting tasks, and an opening hole for easy, comfortable deployment. Second, it has great steel for the price ($50).
N690Co is a European steel that never gets the praise it deserves. It is easy to sharpen, like all the steels on this list, but takes a very sharp edge, and has better rust resistance than the 154CM of the Mini Grip. N690 is so good, in fact, that you’ll often see this steel on custom knives.
The Squeak is made in Maniago, Italy, probably by Fox Cutlery, a high-end Italian knife company. Although the materials on the Squeak are humble, the knife is immaculately finished and built. Having held and used this knife before, I can tell you that the Squeak gives you a pride in ownership that belies its low price.
Like the steel it is made of, the Spyderco Squeak is perennially underrated. It is a great knife.
Spyderco Dragonfly 2
A Spyderco knife that is not perennially underrated is the Dragonfly 2. And it deserves the endless praise it gets.
The Dragonfly 2 is a small knife, like the Squeak. It too features a forward finger choil and an opening hole. Unlike the Squeak, the DF2 has a lock, which, while not necessary if you use a little knife sense when you’re cutting something, is certainly welcome.
The DF2, in the standard configuration, comes with VG-10 steel, with a variety of handle scale colors: purple, pink, orange, black. That standard version is pretty good, but VG-10 is a bit of a pain to sharpen, and doesn’t take all that fine of an edge, particularly compared to the Squeak’s N690Co. In fact, of all the steels discussed in this list, VG-10 is my least favorite.
However, when I discuss the DF2, I always recommend getting the DF2 with ZDP-189 steel. This is a premium model, usually about $20 more than the standard ones (which hover around $50), and is only available in a (quite handsome) racing green. The price jump is worth it for ZDP-189.
This is a Japanese super steel unlike any other. It has a ton of carbon content, and can get very hard, allowing for very steep, yet stable, cutting bevels, giving you an extremely sharp working edge. This is why ZDP-189 is starting to be seen on high-end kitchen knives.
It is, it must be said, difficult to sharpen. But this difficulty also reveals one of the steel’s greatest strengths: because it is so hard, it holds an edge forever. It is always risky to say that you’ll never have to sharpen a knife, but if you use the DF2 for the EDC tasks it was designed for, it will go years without needing to be more than touched up.
It really is incredible, and to my mind is the best steel for a light-duty EDC knife. If it ever got dull and you didn’t want to sharpen it, you could send it to Spyderco and, for a nominal fee, they’ll put a brand new edge on it for you.
For these reasons I think the DF2 in ZDP-189 is the Dragonfly to consider for your EDC.
Most people, men or women, face the same little challenges everyday. Knives, like any other tool, are designed to help overcome those challenges.
The knives on this list, although chosen for women, are great tools for anybody: man or woman, collector or neophyte. They just offer a few features—durability, ease of use and maintenance, and manageable size—that may particularly appeal to a woman who wants a knife but doesn’t know where to start looking.
And who knows? That first knife may lead to a newfound appreciation for the awesome pocket cutlery scene.
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