PSA: Stop using your expensive pocket knife to open cardboard packaging. It’s not that boxes are bad for blades (in fact, if your pocket knife can’t hold up to a bit of cardboard, that’s a whole other Pandora’s box), it’s that there’s a tool for every job, and when it comes to DIY projects around the house, breaking down that Amazon haul or preparing for more involved construction projects, it pays to have a utility knife built for the job at hand .
Save your pocket knife for EDC transport and camping, and for day-to-day maintenance, grab a utility knife instead. Here are our top picks.
What to Look for in a Utility Knife
On the surface, it might not seem like utility knives are a dime a dozen, but hidden beneath their homogenized hoods, there’s plenty of differentiation to be found. When shopping for the utility knife that will provide you with the most, well, utility, it is important to consider materials, durability, precision and price. Some utility knives come with additional blades and quick-change blade change systems; others come with fewer features but are built with more premium materials like wood, stainless steel, and carbon fiber. It’s also important to note the size: whatever feels most natural when you grip it will perform better than a blade that comes with all the bells and whistles.
Husky Wood Handle Folding Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 2.4 inch blade, 4.33 inch handle, 9.06 inch overall length
- Materials: Steel blade, wooden handle
Whether you’re walking the aisles of your favorite hardware store or browsing their products online, Husky’s Wood Handle Folding Utility Knife will grab your attention every time. Its different aesthetic from traditional steel and plastic fixed-handle construction means you’ll never mix it up with your friend’s on a DIY project, and its simple quick-change blade mechanism keeps you sharp, without hassle. We liked the medium weight and tactile feel of the wood and steel construction, and the folding design made it easy to store in our pockets when not in use. If you’re looking for an affordable, good-looking tool, Husky’s Folding Utility Blade is an easy “add to cart.”
Big Idea Design TPT Slide
- Dimensions: 3 inches total
- Materials: Grade 5 titanium alloy, stainless steel, 550 paracord strap
Those looking to upgrade even the simplest tools in their arsenal, look no further than Big Idea Design’s unique utility knife. Part multi-tool, part keychain, part utility knife, this little wonder features a bottle opener, flathead screwdriver, wide slotted screwdriver, internal magnet, a hex bit…and we haven’t even reached its utility knife function, yet. Although it’s not even included with the razor blades (you’ll have to purchase it separately) and is several times more expensive than any other utility knife on this list, we still consider the clever design of this marvel of an ounce outweighs any disadvantages it may have.
DeWalt Retractable Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 1 inch blade, 7 inch handle, 9.2 inches overall
- Materials: Stainless steel, plastic, durable rubber
Tough jobs call for tough tools, and few brands know that better than DeWalt. For just under a century, DeWalt has been making all kinds of tools designed to stand up to any job. At 0.6 pounds, the Retractable Utility Knife is one of the heaviest on this list, but if you have sturdy work clothes to strap it to, you won’t be fazed by the extra ounces. Combining the safety of a fixed blade with the convenience of a retractable knife, the DeWalt Utility Blade also features an integrated snap hook and deadbolt blade mechanism, and is weather and water resistant. If you need a sturdy tool that will get the job done quickly and simply, and you don’t mind a little extra weight, this is our top pick.
Husky Lock-Back Folding Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 2.4 inch blade, 4.06 inch handle, 8.94 inches overall
- Materials: Steel blade and handle
At under $10, Husky’s folding-style utility knife is a solid choice for budget-conscious DIYers who want a simple and affordable utility knife to have around the house for weekend projects. Sure, it’s not as gnarly as DeWalt’s heavy-duty option, and it won’t win any style awards against Penco or Big Idea Design, but regardless of Husky’s folding knife’s lack of style or substance , it compensates for its affordable price and reliable action. And with 10 spare blades included, it’s easily the best deal on the list. If you’re cutting cardboard boxes or working on sweet weekend projects, this utility knife will do the job just fine.
Penco Pocket Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 3.3 inches overall
- Materials: zinc/steel
If the “Best Utility Knife” award was based on convenience, this tiny-but-mighty option would win, hands down. At less than two ounces, it’s barely noticeable on your key ring, has the sharpest blade of any we tested, and is ultra-precise, thanks to its nimble construction. Plus, it comes with a keychain loop, so you can easily integrate it into your EDC kit. Of course, you’ll have to order replacement blades separately, but in our book, that’s a small price to pay for such a fun-to-use utility knife. Bring the box.
Stanley Self-Retracting Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 2.5 inch blade, 5.6 inch handle, 8 inches overall
- Materials: Steel handle and blade
This is probably the utility blade your grandparents carried around – being one of the most classic designs on the market, it’s no surprise that this no-frills utility knife from Stanley has stood the test of time. . Sure, the steel handle is a bit heavy, but you can drop this thing off the side of a building or run it over with your truck, and we’re confident it’ll keep cutting through boxes like it’s business as usual. was. Changing the blade requires a screwdriver, which can be a little annoying, but if sturdiness and practical design are your biggest concerns, Stanley has you covered.
Milwaukee Compact Folding Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 27 inch blade, 4.03 inch handle, 6.15 inch overall
- Materials: Plastic, stainless steel
Most utility knives follow a fixed design, with a blade that slides and retracts. Milwaukee decided to deviate from the standard mold and instead draw inspiration from the classic folding design of pocket knives for this lightweight everyday utility knife. The plastic handle reduces weight, while the pocket clip is large and easy to use. Milwaukee says its utility knife was designed for one-handed opening, but we’ve found two to minimize sketching and increase safety.
Slice Self-Retracting Industrial Knife
- Dimensions: 3 inch blade length, 6.1 inches overall
- Materials: 100% zirconium oxide blade, nylon handle
Industrial environments require industrial grade tools – the team at Slice weren’t happy with what was available in the industrial utility knife department, so they made their own. The self-retracting industrial knife’s 3-inch blade was specially designed to cut through insulation fleece and thick foam, and its textured button slider easily engages the spring-loaded blade, and the nylon handle is both lightweight and sustainable. Slip a paracord through the hole in the lanyard to mitigate any risk of losing this knife on the jobsite, at home, or on the go.
Pacific Handy Cutter S5R Safety Cutter
- Dimensions: 6.25 inches overall
- Materials: Stainless steel, plastic, metal
Sometimes it’s the simplest tools that end up being our favorites. Such was the case with the Pacific Handy Cutter S5: it’s a cheap, reliable, easy to use and easy to use utility knife. Those with small hands will appreciate the steel thumb guard, which allows for precision cutting and provides a more solid grip on the tool. The plastic grip feels cheap compared to more expensive, heavier materials like steel or wood, but the S5’s lightness and brightness outweigh any concerns about quality. The bright green colorway is easy to spot in a dark tool shed or cluttered tool belt, and multiple blade depths provide enough flexibility for a variety of tasks.