There will always be a heated debate about what the current best sailing knives on the market are. This is because a sailing knife is a personal tool, and sailors feel very passionate about their trusty knife that has been with them through life-threatening situations. Putting emotions and personal biases aside, I think all sailors and boaters would agree that a rigging knife should be practical and available when you need it most. As such, it should be a mandatory part of every boater’s safety gear.
You need to use the right tool for the job. Don’t substitute a kitchen knife for a rescue knife. Keep the kitchen knife in the galley and use it for its intended purpose, which is solely for slicing food. Kitchen knives can’t be carried in a sheath, don’t fold, don’t resist corrosion, nor do they have handles that are easy to grip with wet, cold hands or when sailing gloves are worn. Furthermore, kitchen knives lack a marlinspike, as well as a shackle or bottle opener.
- 1 What to Look For In the Best Rigging Knives
- 2 The Best Sailing Knives – Our Recommendations
- 3 Conclusion
What to Look For In the Best Rigging Knives
There are really only two types of knives to consider: fixed blade and folding blade knives. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. They can be further categorized into sharp tip or blunt-tipped, with serrated or non-serrated blades. Folding knives may also come with bottle or shackle openers, a marlinspike, and a locking or non-locking blade.
Fixed or Folding Blades
Choosing one type over another depends on ease of use and portability. Folding knives are more compact and portable because they contain multiple tools in one (such as a marlinspike) that can all be folded away to save space once you’re done using them. The main issue with folding knives is that they are harder to deploy in life-threatening situations, especially if you are panicking or have extremely cold and wet hands. As such, it is imperative that you find models that can be easily opened and closed even with just one hand.
Fixed blade knives are larger and bulkier than their folding blade counterparts, but are easier to deploy in an emergency. Simply remove it from its sheath and it is ready to use. Whichever type you pick, make sure you know exactly where it is on your person and how to deploy it as fast as possible.
Smooth or Serrated Blade
Serrated blades are better at cutting rope than smooth edged blades. If you cut a lot of rope, then look for a serrated blade. Unfortunately serrated blades are difficult to sharpen, so as a compromise you may look for partially serrated blades or just keep a sharpened smooth edged blade around as backup.
If small magnets can stick into your blade, that means it may interfere with your compass. This is because some knife blades are made with iron, and the more of if there is the harder the blade is but at the cost of potential magnetic interference. If you think this might be an issue for you, then look for knives made with other materials like cobalt or titanium
Pointed or Blunted (Sheepsfoot)
This depends on where you intend on carrying your knife. If you are wearing it on outer layer of gear then you should get a blunt point knife so you don’t accidentally stab yourself or your PFD. Pointed knives must be kept in a sheath at all times until you need to use it.
Constant exposure to the elements will quickly corrode your blade. Stainless steel blades that are highly resistant to corrosion are softer and will dull faster, so it is an area where you have to decide which bothers you more. Furthermore, “stainless” steel can still corrode with enough exposure to salty and damp conditions if basic maintenance is not performed. If you do not want any corrosion on your blade, look for ones with a powdercoat finish and a hardness rating of 410 or 440c stainless steel.
The Best Sailing Knives – Our Recommendations
Spyderco Atlantic Salt Serrated Edge Knife
The Spyderco Atlantic Salt is made from Japanese steel and hardens the more you use it. Even after prolonged exposure to salt water, it not rust, ever. You can get the hollow ground blade in two versions: serrated or non-serrated. Both versions provide excellent cutting performance. The backlock mechanism ensures the blade remains safely locked up when not in use.
Deployment is easy with the large 14mm round hole that can be opened with just one hand, whether wet or gloved. The handle has a textured grip and is made of fiberglass reinforced nylon which is highly durable. Lastly, you can get the handle in black or a bright marine yellow for high visibility under poor conditions.
- Sharp and durable
- Corrosion resistant
- Excellent grip due to textured handle
- Easy to open with one hand
- Serrated blade is difficult to sharpen
Myerchin Generation 2 Captain Pro MYBF300-BRK
The Myerchin Generation 2 is a nifty rescue knife that comes with a marlinspike, shackle slot, and a partially serrated sheepsfoot blade. The handle is made from G10 stainless steel, making it highly resistant to the elements and highly durable.
A lanyard ring is always a plus so that you don’t accidentally lose it or drop it on someone. What’s the point of getting yourself a nice knife if you can’t easily access it, right? The Generation 2 Captain Pro also comes with a black nylon belt sheath and the shackle doubles as a lock-release mechanism for the blade.
- Easy to open with one hand
- Sturdy and durable
- Noticeably heavy, but at least you’ll know it’s still on your belt
Myerchin Fixed-Blade Offshore Knife B100
The blade of the Myerchin Offshore knife is made from pro-grade German stainless steel that is comparable to a 440c hardness rating. Additional anti-oxidation materials have been added to the blade to make it corrosion resistant. The blade has a sheepsfoot design which helps to reduce injury to self or your equipment.
The handle of the Myerchin Offshore is made from G10 stainless steel, which is the standard of excellence for durability and resistance to the elements. Included in the package are a heavy leather cushioned sheath and marlinspike.
- Thick, sturdy blade that will not deform
- Padded sheath keeps the blade accessible at all times
- Rust and corrosion resistant
- Lanyards are not included
Camillus Carbonitride Titanium Folding Knife
The blade of this knife is coated in carbonitride titanium, which is 10x harder than untreated steel and will keep its sharp edge for much longer. It also is stain, rust, and corrosion resistant. The rest of the blade is made from VG-10 stainless steel, which is also featured in the high-end knives from other manufacturers like Spyderco and Myerchin.
The handle is made from G10 stainless steel and feels great when held in your hand. The liner lock is made of blue anodized titanium and helps you to open the knife with just one hand, though some users have reported having trouble opening it with their thumb. The Camillus Carbonitride is lightweight and durable because of its premium materials.
- Extremely sharp out of the box
- Holds its edge for a long time
- Lightweight and durable
- Lacks a thumb notch which would make deploying the blade much easier
- No titanium liner on both sides of the knife
The best sailing knives must be easily accessible and reliable, especially in the event of an emergency. They will be exposed to the elements and should resist rust, corrosion, or stains. Even in wet and cold conditions, the handle must be easy to grip and folding knives should be deployable even with just one hand.
Ideally, your rigging knife should come with a marlinspike as well as a shackle opener so you don’t have to carry so many individual tools on your belt. A serrated blade will cut rope and net more easily, but they are harder to sharpen when the time comes. It is important that your knife meets all of these criteria, otherwise you will find yourself in great danger in zero visibility conditions if you can’t find your knife or lose your grip.
You might also be interested in reading our review of the best dive knife under $50.