Neck Knives: How to Pick a Good One

Photo of the Ka-Bar TDI LDK Neck Knife worn over a red hoodie w/ the BladeHQ logo, the title, "Neck Knives: How to Pick a Good One," and the KnifeBlog logo.

Ever seen some guy wearing a knife around his neck, like this dude wearing the Ka-Bar LDK TDI, and asked yourself, “Why a neck knife?”

The short answer is—because knives.

The longer answer involves a bunch of cavemen who loved knives but didn’t share the same fondness for wearing pants. Go figure. But, in all seriousness, there are some pretty logical reasons to carry a neck knife, including but not limited to:

Two is one. One is none.

Attached as you might be to your pocket knife, it isn’t attached to you. You’re bound to misplace it at some point. Don’t get caught in a situation where you need a knife, but don’t have one. Neck knives make excellent backups to your EDC.

Concealment

Carrying a neck knife is a great way to keep a knife on you without making it obvious to the rest of mankind. Members of law enforcement and the military can probably appreciate this more than anyone, since their lives may depend upon having a backup weapon.

Clothing

Like to have your knife with you at all times, but don’t necessarily like to be dressed all the time? Get in touch with your caveman roots and wear a neck knife. Clothing optional.

…We’re not here to judge.

Weight

Neck knives tend to be small and light, making them great options for ultralight backpacking trips. This leaves your pockets free for other important items and limits the amount of digging you have to do to get to your blade.

Access

Getting your knife in and out of your pocket while sitting can be a pain. So is getting to it while you’re bundled up in a parka and thick gloves. Slipping a neck knife in and out of the top of your jacket is so much faster and easier.

The ESEE Izula Neck Knife, with paracord wrap.

The ESEE Izula Neck Knife, with paracord wrap.

Quick deployment

The fastest knife is not the OTF you spend all day firing. You still have to get your hand in and out of your pocket to deploy that bad boy. A tip-up neck knife is ready to go as soon as you pull it out of the sheath. When you need to react in the blink of an eye—neck knife, all the way.

SWAG

Let’s keep it real. For a knife nut like you, your blade is as much eye-candy as it is a tool. Wear it proudly. Definitely beats wearing a dog on your chest, like this dude:

Photo of a man wearing a miniature doberman-type dog on his chest, in what looks like a baby carrier.

Do you think he would look happier if that pooch were a Ka-Bar TDI LDK neck knife? Yes. Yes, he would. Then again, maybe you would rather buy one of these carriers

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are as many reasons to carry a neck knife as there are for carrying knives in general. For those of you who have not yet been initiated in the ways of the neck knife, here are some helpful tips for choosing one:

Pick Your  Neck Knife Type

Technically, you could take just about any knife, hang it from some cord around your neck, and call it good. However, true neck knives are designed to deliver the chutzpah of bigger knives in compact packages. With some exceptions, neck knives are small, lightweight, easy to conceal, and have a fixed blade and sheath. How you carry one, how you use it, and what materials and blade style it sports are up to you.

Side by side comparison of the tip-up and tip-down, or "mountain," neck knife carry positions.

Kershaw Skyline Fixed Blade Knife, worn as a neck knife in the tip-up carry position (left). ESEE Izula Fixed Blade Neck Knife, worn in the tip-down, or “mountain,” carry position (right).

Take tip-up carry, for instance. This style allows you to quickly draw your knife from its sheath in one fluid motion, with one hand, because the knife hangs handle down. The reverse style, called tip-down or “mountain” carry, has the handle facing up and the blade pointing down into the sheath, meaning that two hands are required to deploy the knife—but this is considered more secure by some.

Other types have less to do with how you carry your neck knife and more to do with its use. A self defense neck knife, for example, may include dagger blades and t-handle push daggers, karambits, and other tactical-style blades. Most other neck knives fit best in the survival category, with sturdy blades designed for everything from bushcraft to hunting to camping.

Pick Your Neck Knife Size

While neck knives are generally small, some are as big as your typical EDC fixed blade. Consider the ways in which you intend to use your knife and how large the blade needs to be to suit your needs. Will you be hacking away at some branches, performing simple cutting tasks, or cleaning your catch of fish? Neck knives are often great at multitasking, but a 1.5-inch blade will probably choke up when you need it to prep a fire.

Size and weight comparison of great neck knives.

Size and weight comparison of great neck knives.

Materials

The construction of your neck knife is another important factor to consider before you buy, and is highly dependent on its use. A neck knife dedicated to chores around the house may not need the best steel or most durable handle, but if you plan to throw your knife at tougher tasks—or wear it into the backcountry—a higher quality steel with G-10 or Micarta scales is a much better bet. Some neck knives even allow for useful survival accessories, like paracord, to be integrated into the handle.

Because we can never talk about knives enough, check out our Knife Banter video to see some more solid neck knife options.

Are you ready to take the plunge? Take a look at Blade HQ’s sweet selection of neck knives. Also, if you’re a neck knife believer, hit us up in the comments with your favorite brand and model, and tell us—why do you wear a neck knife?

 

Holly is a tree-hugging, critter-loving writer and artist. Her husband and two red-headed boys are her favorite pastime, but she also enjoys frolicking in the Utah mountains, scribbling in a notebook, and getting lost at IKEA.

2 comments

  1. I never thought about a neck knife but after your video I am getting one with my next order or two they look very handy and I don’t always have pockets

  2. I’m with your Graphic Designer Josh, the skyline would be my choice over all the other neck knives you reviewed. The very fact that it’s bigger aside from being a quality blade makes it more desirable as an EDC carry and it would be equal to many boot carry knives. You know going in that this knife you can rely on it no matter what the demand is that you place upon it, it will perform in many different roles. Whether as a general camp knife, for survival usage or for self defense, this is a knife I would carry. This is one of those times where bigger is better, Josh has it right. Going into the store with it showing, demonstrates the level of respect it demands.

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