We take a look at 7 of the best sailing knives capable of multiple jobs on your job, from peeling a potato to saving your life
The sailing knife. It’s one of the most valuable tools known to a seafarer, and for good reason. For, as our pioneering ocean crossing forebears discovered many years ago, with the best sailing knife at your disposal a huge number of otherwise impossible tasks can be accomplished simply, quickly and efficiently.
The humble blade has come a long way since its invention, and even further in the last 130 years since the Swiss Army took delivery of its first consignment of the iconic knives which bear its name.
Today, the broad spectrum of knife design spans products ranging from simple single-bladed cutters to multi-function devices which effectively amount to all-in-one toolkits.
Translate all of that into the boating and sailing world, where a knife might come in handy for everything from peeling a potato to, literally, saving your life, and the worth of having the right sailing knife aboard becomes crystal clear – in short, every sailor should have (at least) one and our advice is never put to sea without one.
But with so many options on the market, how do you know which is the best sailing knife for you? Our guide is here to help steer you through a number of different types of sailing knives on the market.
A word of warning though: Whichever type of knife you decide upon, do make sure the one you choose is legal, otherwise you could face a fine of up to £5,000.
It’s also illegal to carry a knife in public without good reason, (such as transporting it to or from your boat), unless it has a folding blade with a cutting edge of 3″ or less. For full guidance on knives and the law, visit the relevant section of the gov.uk website.
7 of the best sailing knives available today
Gill harness rescue tool
Fitting neatly into the category of life-saving sailing knives is this basic harness rescue tool from Gill. Its 420 stainless steel grade blade is titanium-coated for even greater resistance to corrosion. Just 127mm long, it’s a low-profile tool designed to be slipped into any convenient pocket on your sailing suit or buoyancy aid.
The tool’s shackle key will fit many small to medium size shackles and a protective nylon sheath is included. The G10 composite handle gives a good grip regardless of whether the tool is wet or dry, and the blade itself is serrated to provide an efficient cutting edge for emergency use.
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Crewsaver ErgoFit safety knife
The ErgoFit safety knife carries the highly respected Crewsaver brand name, which means it has to be well worth considering. As an item of kit specifically made for mariners, the ErgoFit has been designed with safety as its top priority.
Intended to be carried at all times when you’re on the water, this sailing knife is small, unobtrusive but highly effective as a rope or webbing cutter should an emergency situation arise.
There’s no doubt it’s a neat design and as it’s constructed from durable nylon plastic, there’s no chance of it corroding over time. The blade itself is ergonomically-shaped for fast efficient cutting, and a smart carry pouch designed to attach to your lifejacket is included in the purchase price.
Gill personal rescue knife
Offered on Gill Marine’s eBay store is this personal rescue knife which we regard as a big brother to the Gill rescue tool described above.
Like the rescue tool, this product also has a serrated blade, enabling webbing and rope to be quickly cut in an emergency. When not in use, the blade folds away into the handle leaving you with a compact, safe knife to clip to your belt or buoyancy aid.
The handle has been designed to provide excellent grip in the dry and the wet and its bright orange colour ensures this knife will be easy to spot even in low visibility conditions.
Gate 14 multi-function sailing knife
With both the handle and each of its four blades made of stainless steel, this multi-function sailing knife from Gate 14 would make a useful addition to any onboard toolkit.
The 95x37mm body incorporates a ruler and a ring to which the included adjustable handstrap lanyard can be fitted.
The four blades comprise a 58mm long smooth blade, a bottle and can opener, a grinder to open shackles of various sizes and a marlin spike for ropework, including prising apart obstinate knots.
At a price point of less than £30, this sailing knife represents good value as a budget multi-function tool.
NRS Neko blunt knife
It might sound daft, but a blunt knife – blunt at the tip, that is – makes a lot of sense for a product primarily intended to be mounted onto a lifejacket’s accessory tab, making it one the best sailing knives for this particular job.
The Neko features a friction release sheath which is designed for single hand release – simply grip the handle, pull, and off it comes.
The hybrid blade includes a serrated section for quickly cutting webbing and rope, and there’s a sharp smooth section for finer cutting.
The blade’s contoured handle has a rubberised grip for maximum control and there’s an integrated bottle opener which is bound to come in handy!
Price: £46.95 / $39.95
Buy NRS rescue knife from Amazon.co.uk
Benchmade Bugout folding knife
The Benchmade Bugout 5350R-2103 folding knife, to give it its full name, features a versatile drop-point blade. This premium quality blade is constructed of 530V stainless steel, which is exceptionally hard, wear and chipping resistant while being relatively easy to sharpen.
The blaze orange Cerakote coating is there to provide visibility of the blade. The knife has dual thumb screws for one-hand opening and the blade won’t fold during use due to its Axis locking mechanism.
Textured Grivory grip panels provide strength and stability and a great hand grip. Rounding of this impressive sailing knife, which is exclusive to Cabelas, is a reversible tip-up pocket clip and oversize lanyard hole.
Victorinox Skipper Pro Knife
A knife, a screwdriver, a marlin spike, a shackle key, a pair of pliers, bottle opener, corkscrew, tweezers and a tooth pick. Seriously, this knife is the knife that keeps on giving!
A Swiss made multipurpose skippers tool, the Victorinox never disappoints and is exactly the kind of tool you’ll return to time and again for every little job around the boat and house. No tool will be left unused. It has a locking blade, which is easy to pull out and lock into position and easy to unlock with a simple sliding catch on the side of the main body. The other tools are similarly easy to use and have a reassuring solid build. This is one the best sailing knives you’ll ever have the pleasure to use.
The lanyard that comes with it is in a high visibility orange which makes is really easy to find in a pocket or on a busy chart table.
Read the long term test review of this knife
Price: £69.95 / $99.99
Buy Victorinox Skipper Knife from Force 4
Buy Victorinox Skipper Knife from Amazon.com
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