Kayaking is an extremely fun-filled and enjoyable activity made all the greater if you have all the right kind of gear and equipment with you, especially when it comes to safety gear. While we’re at that, a great kayaking knife should be part of a go-to kit of every kayaker’s kit. However, you might ask why one needs something as sharp as a knife on a kayak where so, so many things could go wrong? Well, the fact of the matter is that a kayaking knife, also known as a rafting or a paddling knife can do more than just cut the shock cord. The multipurpose implement allows you to carry out a wide gamut of tasks, right from fabricating emergency bandages or clothing to cleaning freshly-caught fish to even fashioning a rudimentary shelter. What’s more, you can even used it to chop wood, cut ropes, and what-not.
The best part? Kayaking knives hardly occupy any space in your gear, and as compared to their size, are very useful when it comes to functionality and applications. However, buying your first rafting knife can be a tricky process since not everyone has the same or even similar expectations when it comes to purchasing a paddling knife. Thus, we’re come up with a rather handy guide to purchasing your first rafting knife. To that end, here are the 13 best options for your first kayaking knife.
How To Choose The Best Kayaking Knives?
Kayaking accessories make an especially important part of your gear. So, whether it’s kayaking knives, or the Best Kayaking Hats, the Best Kayaking Gloves, or even the Best Kayaking Scupper Plugs, all accessories you want will need to be chosen carefully. So, what are the aspects you need to keep in mind while purchasing a paddling knife? Read on.
Type of blade
The first and foremost you need to choose is the design of the knife. Basically, there are two main designs for knives, which are a fixed blade and a folding blade. Fixed blade knives offer more strength, especially if they’re full tang knives where the steel runs through the entire length of the handle. They’re often more comfortable to use due to the large handle, and generally more versatile too. That said, you need to carry such knives in sheaths as you could accidentally pierce or cut yourself.
Secondly, we have folding blade knives where the blade folds right into the handle, like pocket knives. These kinds of knives are easier to carry as they’re more compact as compared to a fixed blade. What’s more, they tend to have a crock of neat features such as a locking mechanism for preventing them from closing onto your fingers. Moreover, some even feature assisted opening for single-handed use. However, they’re not as strong as fixed blade knives and are slightly difficult to clean properly too. A third option is a rather useful multi-tool which comes with additional tools such as screwdrivers, wire cutters, scissors, and pliers, apart from a blade. But, the blade isn’t as strong, and the handles can be uncomfortable to hold.
The second most important thing to check is the material of the blade. While most kayaking knives have steel blades, there are two kinds of steel that are most commonly used. One is regular stainless steel, while the other is high carbon steel. With stainless steel knives, you don’t have to worry about rusting or corrosion, allowing you to safely use them for camping and saltwater kayaking. However, they get dull faster and are tougher to sharpen. High carbon steel knives, on the other hand, gold an edge longer, sharpen easier, and have exceptional strength. However, the material is prone to rust and is brittle under heavy pressure. But, notwithstanding what material you choose, make sure that the knives are sharp enough for cutting wood, ropes, and lines without problems.
A knife needs to be maintained properly, and a well-maintained one is an indispensable part of a kayaking trip. So, you need t clean your knives regularly and properly by rinsing them with fresh water and then drying them properly to ensure longevity. Additionally, you need to oil the blade after cleaning and drying and wipe off any excess oil. Finally, you also need to get a sharpener along and use it whenever you feel that the blade becomes dull.
Why is a kayaking knife so important?
A rafting knife is important in a wide variety of kayaking situations. For instance, in whitewater kayaking, rescue situations require the extensive use of ropes. While these ropes can rescue a trapped paddler, they can also entangle the paddler being rescued, or even the rescuer, for that matter. So, it ends up making the rescue effort all the more dangerous. Knives are indispensable in such situations for cutting yourself free, especially when you also become entangled in something beneath the surface of the water and can’t see. Similarly, in sea kayaking, the many lines running around the deck for propelling the craft or fastening the gear could see accidents happen. You might need to cut yourself or stuff free to stay safe.
Besides all of the above, you even require a paddling knife during an angling session for cleaning the fish, freeing up lures, and cutting the fishing line.
CRKT Minimalist Tanto Neck Knife
Are you a fan of a minimalist kayaking knife? Then the CRKT Minimalist Tanto Neck Knife is perfect for you, as you can get to it in next to no time at all. The best kayak knife in the world is of no real use if you can’t get to it in time. Besides being easy to reach, the well-designed knife is just what you need for your water adventures. Crafted from stainless steel, the knife features a bead-blasted finish for additional durability. What’s more, it has three deep finger choils that make it extremely easy to grip as well as use. Moreover, the offbeat blade design is modeled after the Japanese tanto dagger. It lends the knife the right amount of thickness for performing a range of tasks without adding to its weight or size.
Since it’s designed to be hung around the neck, it even has a glass-reinforced nylon sheath along with a clip mount for carrying in multiple ways. What’s more, the lightweight knife even comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Stainless steel build.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Multiple carrying options.
- Easy to carry and lightweight.
- Not serrated.
- Blade is short.
Elk Ridge Gut Hook Pocket Knife
Yet another excellent rafting and paddling pocket knife is the Elk Ridge Gut Hook Pocket Knife. This knife is perfect for kayak anglers who are looking for folding knives that can be used for a wide range of tasks such as cleaning or gutting fish. The knife is equipped with a 3 mm thick and a 3.5 inch-long stainless steel blade, and folds down to all of 5 inches when it’s closed. Thus, not only is it small and easy to store but also it can be slipped into a pocket for quick access. If that wasn’t enough, it even comes with a firestarter that slides in neatly into the grip.
However, a standout feature is the gutting hook that rests at the back of the blade. At the same time, it features a deep finger choil with a 3 mm thickness that lends precision control. The icing on the cake, however, is the free engraving that comes with the knife. So, it makes for a great gift as well as a personalized statement of sorts. All-in-all, this nifty knife is well-suited for a range of kayaking and survival activities.
- Attached firestarter.
- Steel attachment hook.
- Stainless steel blade.
- Blade hook for cutting fish.
- Not serrated.
AO Digital Camo Steel FAT knife
Yet another unusual kayaking knife is the AO Digital Camo Steel FAT Knife, whose offbeat design makes it not only useful but super portable and easy to store as well. What’s more, it’s easy to access and can slip in literally anywhere on your person or your personal floatation device (PFD). Designed from 1045 gauge surgical steel, the folding blade of the knife is just 1.5 wide, and the entire length of the knife doesn’t exceed 1.75 inches. This basically means that when it’s folded away, the knife is almost 50 percent smaller in size!
Despite the diminutive size of the blade, the serrated edge and the thick width make it ideal for cutting through just about anything, right from ropes to lines to fish. What’s more, the steel clip at the back means that the knife can easily be attached to a PFD as well, making it easy to access. So, this is an excellent knife accessory even for whitewater rafting when you need to cut stuff quickly in case of rescues and emergencies.
- Can easily be attached to a PFD.
- Serrated edge,
- Easy and small to carry.
- None, really.
Salvimar Predathor Dive Knife
If you’re a kayak diver especially, then you’ll especially love this Salvimar Predathor Dive Knife that’s also an excellent rafting and paddling knife. Made from corrosion-resistant and extremely durable 420 gauge stainless steel, the knife even comes with a tough, rubberized acid-green grip. So, it’s very easy to use even when you’re wearing kayaking gloves, or diving, and it’s easy to spot even if dropped anywhere. Furthermore, the Predathor’s sheath comes with a standard belt clip, but it can even be wrist-mounted, making it incredibly easy to access.
Going further, the blade has two different finishes, one being serrated and the other being a straight blade, thus supporting a wide range of possible uses. Hence, if you’re looking for a convenient and sturdy dive knife that’s as useful under the water’s surface as it’s onboard the kayak, then this is it.
- Can be wrist-mounted.
- Both serrated and non-serrated edges.
- Ergonomic rubberized grip.
- Doesn’t come with an included wrist strap.
Mossy Oak Fixed Blade Knife
Yet another simple but effective kayaking knife for paddlers and anglers is the Mossy Oak Fixed Blade Knife, which is ideal for a variety of activities. Designed from stainless steel, this Bowie-style knife boasts a full-tang handle with a gorgeous stacked leather sheath. If that wasn’t enough, it even features wide grip ridges that allow you to handle the knife comfortably and safely. Despite having an overall length of 7.75 inches as well as a blade length of 4 inches, the knife is extremely lightweight and weighs just 1.06 lbs.
Aside from all of the above, the knife also comes with a nylon sheath making it safe and secure to carry. So, if you’re looking for a full-tang, fixed-blade, medium-length knife for serious survival use, then the Mossy knife is an excellent overall choice.
- Comes with a nylon sheath.
- Leather handle.
- Wide grip ridges.
- Full-tang blade.
- Durable stainless steel.
- No serrations.
Ka-Bar Mule Folder Serrated Edge Knife
How’d you like a rafting and paddling knife from the makers of some of the best knives used by the United States Army, Navy, and Marines? Behold the Ka-Bar Mule Folder Serrated Edge Knife, which features a high-quality pivot and blade and a rugged and tough design, along with a serrated edge blade. Made from durable stainless steel, the Ka-Bar Mule has a closed length of 5.34 inches and an open length of 9.34 inches. If that wasn’t enough, it also has a blade length of 4 inches, making it perfect for using as well as carrying. Moreover, the rubberized handle also makes the knife easy to grip, even when you’re kayaking in the wettest of conditions.
Above all, the knife weighs just 0.55 lbs, which means it won’t take up a lot of space in your gear too. Plus, the serrated blade is just long enough for using it for a wide range of kayaking, hunting, and survival tasks. Overall, the Ka-Bar Mule’s useful serrated blade, convenient size, and excellent quality make it such an excellent pick for a kayak knife.
- Easy to carry and use.
- Rubberized grip.
- Folds down to a packable size.
- Corrosion-resistant stainless steel blade.
- You require additional tools for sharpening the serrated blades.
NRS Pilot Knife
Do you want a kayaking knife with lots of color choices? You’ll like the NRS Pilot Knife then, which comes in as many as six color choices – yellow, black, green, blue, orange, and camouflage. Designed primarily for professional rescuers as well as amateur kayakers, the knife boasts a simplistic look but gets the job done. Only one side of the blade is sharp, so the knife is very safe with minimal chances of cutting yourself. Plus, it boasts spring-loaded ejection, which is one of its main USPs. The cherry on top is the rubberized handle, which offers a comfortable and secure grip, thus allowing you to have complete control over the blade.
Furthermore, the knife can be easily attached to the PFD even while paddling in rough weather – it won’t fall off, no matter what. Moreover, there’s even a glass-breaking tip at the end of the handle, which proves to be a lifesaver. Finally, the knife is easy to operate as well; all you need to do to open it is squeeze it on both sides.
- Comes in six colors.
- Doubles as a screwdriver and bottle opener.
- Blunt safety tip.
- Smooth and serrated edges.
- Some users said that the sheath isn’t up to the mark.
Promate Point Tip Scuba Dive BC Knife
The Promate Point Tip Scuba Dive BC Knife is an excellent rafting and paddling knife. Mainly used as a backup knife, this knife is perfect whether you’re kayaking, fishing, hiking, or indulging in any other outdoor activity. Crafted from stainless steel, the knife sports a sharp 304 stainless steel blade and fits easily in the palm of your hand. Moreover, it features a serrated edge at one end and a sharp one on the other side. If that wasn’t enough, the rubberized handle offers a good grip even in wet conditions.
Since it has a vertical slot, the knife can easily slide into the belt as well, despite not coming with a strap. Furthermore, it arrives in a well-designed and high-quality case, which the knife sits nicely and firmly in. Rounding up the features is the single-action button locking system sheath as well as the small notch towards the handle size for cutting lines safely.
- Lots of features.
- Two edges, one serrated and one sharp.
- 304 stainless steel blade.
- Comes in five colors.
- Some users mentioned that it rusts easily.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
How can you possibly ignore a kayaking knife that has Bear Grylls in its very name? Behold the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife, which is so much more than just a knife. The knife turns lifesaver in almost all outdoorsy conditions, thanks to the high-quality stainless-steel build. It’s even resistant to corrosion, making it an ideal companion for salt-water kayaking trips too. Moreover, the ergonomic design of the handle makes the knife comfortable to grip and hold too. In fact, the lightweight sheath is of military-grade nylon, which means that it won’t shatter into a million pieces under high pressure or stress.
The kit doesn’t just include a knife, but even comes with a blade sharpener, a whistle, and a pommel, making it something of a survival kit in the wild. The serrated blade makes cutting rope a breeze, while the construction makes it resistant to mildew as well.
- Comes with an entire survival kit.
- Lightweight and sharp.
- Comfortable to handle and grip.
Gerber River Shorty Knife
The Gerber River Shorty Knife is yet another excellent and high-quality rafting and paddling knife. Designed especially for watersports, this knife is a must-include in your gear if you harbor a love for paddling and kayaking. The sheath is made from hard but durable plastic, making it long-lasting as well as heavy-duty. Not only can you use it easily even in wet conditions, but also you can quickly attach it to your belt or kayak in times of crisis. However, it’s the blade of the knife you’ll like, which is made from highly-polished and corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Plus, its tip is blunt, which means that it won’t cause scratches, abrasions, or worse, punctures on your inflatable kayak.
Aside from all of the above, there are a lot of other things to like about the knife. For instance, the molded nylon ABS handle offers an excellent grip. Finally, the blade has a length of 3.02 inches, with the knife’s overall length being a very portable 7.73 inches.
- Sharp edge.
- Stainless steel build.
- Molded nylon ABS handle offers excellent grip.
- Virtually none.
Schrade WR3 Water Rat Stainless Steel Serrated Knife
When a kayaking knife calls itself a water rat, you can be sure of its excellent water submersion qualities. And that’s what the Schrade WR3 Water Rat Stainless Steel Serrated Knife promises, and then some. The reliable rafting knife is made from 7Cr17MoV high-carbon stainless steel, making it extremely durable. What’s more, it’s impervious to scratches, abrasions, and cracks. Furthermore, its handle is of thermoplastic rubber and features a greenish phosphorescent shade that’s highly visible and can be seen from just about anywhere.
But, that’s not all. The knife even has a full-tang design and a lanyard hole for easy carry. Moreover, the front quillon keeps it secure during the time it’s being carted from one place to another. Finally, the PP vest and leg sheath make carrying this knife all the easier.
- Lightweight and durable.
- Can be accessed quickly.
- Features a sharp saw blade.
- Some users said that it rusts.
NRS Green Knife
Are you looking for a rafting and paddling knife with a sleek and clean look? Then the NRS Green Knife is one of the few knives that focuses not only on the functionalities but also the looks. Easy on the eyes as well as easy to fold, the NRS Green Knife boasts a blade that’s highly resistant to corrosion. One edge is serrated, while the other edge is sharp, making it the perfect all-purpose knife. The best part? The NRS Green Knife can be operated as well as opened and folded down with one hand, making it extremely convenient to use.
Besides costing all of $50, the knife even features a handy bottle opener design along with a lanyard hole. It makes holding, carrying, and storing the knife just about anywhere an absolute breeze. What’s more, the knife is as lightweight as it gets, and won’t weigh down your pocket or your luggage.
- Durable and lightweight.
- Multipurpose knife.
- None, really.
GEAR AID Akua Blunt Tip Paddle Knife
Finally, we come to the top of the list of the best kayaking knife options, a spot that’s occupied by the GEAR AID Akua Blunt Tip Paddle Knife. The versatile and well-built kayak and rafting knife can even easily be attached to your PFD even as you’re paddling in open water. The knife is also very lightweight and weighs just around 0.4 lbs. Its serrated blade makes cutting cords, lines, and even fish very easy. What’s more, it can even be used also as a glass breaker, thanks to the durable handle and tip. All you need to do is to hammer the glass with the bottom tip and the glass will shatter into a million pieces.
Going further, you’ll be impressed with the 3-inch blade of the knife, which is extremely sharp and is coated with titanium. The full-tang knife also boasts a quick-release sheath; all you need to do is press the thumb tab and pull. The best part? The sheath virtually mounts anywhere and everywhere, thanks to the compatible webbing mount, the lash tab mount, and the removable belt clip.
- Comes with a kit for mounting anywhere.
- Durable and lightweight.
- Sharp, titanium-coated blade.
- Some users said that it rusted mildly.