How to Choose a Kayak Knife

best kayak knife

What do you even look for when buying a kayak knife? A knife is just a knife, right? Wrong! 

Kayak knives come in different shapes, sizes, and designs to make them safe and convenient for kayak use.

So here is what you should consider in the best kayaking knife for your application.

1. Handle Material

This is not something that many people stop to think about. 

You will be using the knife in water and some materials don’t hold well when water is involved. Wood and leather are such materials.

At first, you may not notice the damage. But as they soak up water, they deteriorate.

When choosing a knife for kayaking, stick to materials like rubber and plastic. These will hold even when exposed to salty water.

While still on the handle, pay attention to how grippy it is.

You never know what kind of situation awaits you.

The last thing you want is for your knife to slip out of your hands in an emergency. 

An ergonomic handle would be nice too.

2. Steel Type

Typically, kayak knife blades are made using one of two types of steel: carbon steel and stainless steel.

Carbon steel is stiffer than stainless steel. It is also easier to sharpen and stays sharp for longer. But it is prone to corrosion and is a bad idea for saltwater kayakers.

Stainless steel is not as tough as carbon and it is harder to sharpen. It gets blunt quicker too. However, it is corrosion-resistant.

A stainless steel blade will require frequent sharpening. A carbon knife requires you to be keener with its maintenance. It is up to you to pick the one that best suits you.

Regardless of the blade material you choose, always rinse your knife with fresh water after every kayaking trip.

3. Blade Design

Kayaking knives blade can either have a serrated edge (jagged) or plain edge.

A serrated edge knife has awesome cutting power. It can quickly cut through tough material even when dull. It is the kind of knife you want to have when you need to tear through something in an emergency.

But there are not many instances where you will have to roughly tear through material, especially while kayaking. Additionally, a serrated blade is harder to sharpen and often requires special tools.

You can’t also expect to make a clean cut with a jagged edge.

And lastly, it is not durable. The teeth can break or bend when cutting something really hard.

A plain edge knife is more versatile. You can cut through rope, peel fruits and so much more. While it may not have the cutting power of a serrated blade, it makes a precise cut.

Besides, the straight edge is not hard to sharpen—you can even use a stone.

Another thing, the blade tip can be sharp or blunt.

A sharp tip would be ideal for kayak anglers when spearfishing. In any other case, it is better to have a blunt tip. This is because it is easy to puncture something unintentionally with a sharp tip. Worse still, it can injure someone, especially during a rescue.

4. Folding or Fixed Blade Knives

A folding knife has a blade that folds into its handle—think pocket knife. This knife is compact, making it easy and safer to carry everywhere. However, the “joint” is another weak point that affects the durability of the knife. It is not the best for hard tasks.

Cleaning its spaces can be difficult too.

A fixed blade knife doesn’t fold. The lack of a “joint” makes it solid and hard to break. It will be even sturdier if it has a full tang.

Unlike a folding blade, a fixed blade kayaking knife is easier to clean and maintain. And in the case of an emergency, you won’t have to struggle with unfolding the blade. Nonetheless, this makes it less compact.

Kayak Knife Q&A

Q: Do I Really Need a Kayak Knife?

A: Yes, you do. When out kayaking, you may need a knife for many things. It is required in a rescue situation, for preparing food, for kayak fishing, and much more. Think this way, it is better to carry a knife and not have to use it than to be in a situation where you need it and find out you don’t have it.

You should always be prepared for anything. So get a knife.

Q: Folding or Fixed Blade: Which Is Good for Kayak Fishing?

A: For many people, a fixed blade kayaking knife would be ideal. It can handle simpler tasks as well as the more difficult ones. There are things you can’t do with a folding knife because it could break. 

That said, it also depends on your situation.

Think about where you will be going and what you may use the knife for. Then look at the pros and cons of each above and decide the one that is best for you.


A kayak knife is a necessity and every kayaker should have one. Consider the material and design of both the handle and blade while choosing your knife. Then decide whether you want a folding or fixed blade kayak knife. 

Do you have any questions about these knives? Feel free to ask us below. Happy kayaking!

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