Best Sailing Knives To Bring Aboard

Best Sailing Knives To Bring Aboard | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 30, 2022

One of the universal tools you will need on a sailboat is a sailing knife. With a wide variety of uses, having one could save your life.

There are many features that separate one sailing knife from another. So what makes certain brands of sailing knives different from others? They will have straight edge blades that are made out of carbide. You want ones that are easy to handle, comfortable to wield, and should be suitable to cut through heavy materials. Your sailing style will help you determine the right knife for you.

The best sailing knives to bring aboard are:

  • Spiderco Salt Series
  • Gill’s Marine Tool
  • Camillus Carbonitride Titanium 
  • Benchmade Bugout
  • Myerchin Generation 2

Finding a quality sailing knife could be key to your success while sailing. You want one that can help cut away lines in the event of an emergency or simply make adjustments as needed. 

According to coast guard safety regulations, sailors need quite a bit of material to be legal on the water. However, one of the most important pieces of equipment not required is a sailing knife of some kind. This could be argued by many, which is why you should consider having one.


Table of contents

Five Best Sailing Knives on the Market

While there are plenty of sailing knives to choose from on the market, you can easily compare value online by price and quality. If you happen to be at a local shop that sells sailing gear, they are likely to have a good quality knife as well to fit your needs.

Either way, learning the differences and seeing what is best for you could prove to be your best bet. Every sailor is going to have their preferences depending on their style of sailing.

Spiderco Salt Series


Spiderco knives cover just about every category you can imagine. Recently, they have developed quality knives in the marine industry that have excellent reviews online.

Their salt series knives feature H-1 Japanese steel that becomes tougher after every use. In addition, it is rust-resistant and has become a dependable name in the cutlery industry.

The blade has a serrated edge, which you will need when cutting through lines or rope. It also has a safe blade lock mechanism to keep it secure when moving around or when cutting in wet conditions.


  • Around $100
  • Quite sharp and high quality
  • Easy to handle, especially using one hand to open
  • Great for long term use


  • Could be too sharp for some users
  • Locking mechanism could potentially stick

Gill’s Marine Tool


Gill Marine has been in the business for over 45 years in providing quality gear to sailors or outdoor adventurists. Their rescue knife is a great first step in owning a knife to get the job done without breaking the bank.

While this blade does not completely advertise it can be for younger sailors, it is a perfect option to give to your kids while sailing. In the event of an emergency, assuming you have taught your children how to safely use a knife, they can have a quality knife that you can trust.

This way, you do not have to worry about them losing an expensive knife at sea or misplacing it. But for just $40, it might not hurt to grab one or two anyway, regardless if it is for you or your younger sailing companion.


  • Stainless steel blade with titanium coating
  • Multi-purpose tool for various use
  • Easy to handle with one hand
  • Around $40
  • Great for emergencies or light use


  • Recommended you clean after every use if around saltwater
  • Might not work for long term daily use

Camillus Carbonitride Titanium

Camillus Carbonitride Titanium

Camillus has a variety of quality knives on display, especially their carbonitride titanium online. With VG10 Japanese steel, it is 10 times stronger than untreated stainless steel found on most knives.

This is a knife that you can count on for long-term use, as it will remain sharp for a long time. In addition, it is resistant to rust, stains, and corrosion, which makes it a great knife to handle saltwater.

The handle is also made of G10 stainless steel, which ensures quality handling for years to come. If you purchase the one with a marlinspike as an added bonus, you cannot go wrong with this one.


  • Quality blade that is shape and dependable
  • Marlinspike is a great bonus
  • Around $60, but sometimes on sale for much less
  • Lightweight and easy to handle


  • Blade might spring open too fast for some users
  • Some users found it not as sharp as expected for use

Benchmade Bugout

Benchmade Bugout

While the name of this blade does not sound anything like you would put on a boat, it is a quality knife that deserves some attention. This knife features a 530V stainless steel blade that is dependable against wear and tear.

The blade is sharp, but you could easily sharpen this with any tool you have handy. You also do not have to worry about it folding on you while in use, as it has a sturdy locking mechanism upon opening.

The textured handle improves grip and is great for wet conditions. While this is good to go on boats, you might want to clean after each use if you get salt water or sand on it.


  • Quality blade that is sharp
  • Good for long term use
  • Lightweight
  • Pocket-friendly


  • Around $150, so a little high compared to other entry-level knives
  • Might need to clean after each use around saltwater
  • Exclusive to Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops, so a little harder to find

Myerchin Generation 2

Myerchin Generation 2

The Myerchin Generation 2 knives are setting themselves apart from the competition in a variety of ways. This rescue knife features a shackle slot, marlinspike that is locked in place, and a high-quality German steel with a sleek finish.

The handle is sturdy and provides an opportunity to have excellent grip when handling. In addition, the grip contains G10 stainless steel so it will last you quite a while.

The entire length of the knife when opened is roughly seven inches, so it is easy to handle for most users. It also comes with a black nylon sheath that does not interfere with handling on your body.


  • Blade is insanely sharp out of the box
  • Easy one handed operation
  • Blade locks when it is opened
  • Just under $100


  • No lanyard hole in design for users that want this feature
  • Marlinspike can open with ease and locks into place, so use it with caution

How to Find the Best Sailing Knife

When aiming to find the best sailing knife, there are plenty of factors to consider in your purchase. This is one of the most important tools any sailor will own, so it is crucial to have a good one.

Whether you are on board a yacht or simply tying up your dingy, the best sailing knives should be able to handle any situation. They should be easy to handle, comfortable, reliable for long-term use, and not break the bank.

Tip of Blade

The two categories for a blade’s tip that you should consider are either pointed or blunt. Many sailors have their preferences on either one, but it is up to you to decide which is best.

A pointed tip can be dangerous if you are trying to use it in a hurry and in wet conditions. However, this type of knife can be used to puncture things with ease and provide cutting power.

As for a blunt tip, you get the best of both worlds with safety and usefulness. While you may not have the best ability to puncture anything, you still have the option to get the job done.

Blade Locking Mechanism

A good quality sailing knife should be able to lock into place once it is opened and especially when it is shut. You do not want the blade easily moved when the blade is put up or when trying to cut something.

Having a good-quality locking mechanism built into the knife will help prevent injury or accidents. In fact, it could help the blade become more useful if you are trying to operate it with one hand.

Having a knife that requires you to click on a lever is much safer than ones that simply pop open. You also want one that will stand up to water and not go out on you over time.

Operating with the Blade

Most sailors love having a knife that you can use with one hand. Being able to multitask and free up a hand is a game-changer.

These knives will typically have a hole, pin, or something notched on the surface where a finger or thumb can easily navigate the blade out. Some knives are more complicated than others, so it is best to play with ones that you are interested in.

Depending on your desired sailing experience, you might want a knife that you can exclusively handle one-handed. If conditions are bad and you need something done in a hurry, this could make or break a bad experience.

Material of the Blade

There are a variety of blade materials you need to be aware of and what exactly you are paying for. Regular steel is going to be the cheapest, which you should avoid if you are trying to perform risky tasks that require heavy cutting.

Cobalt is great for resisting corrosion, and stainless steel is a much better option than regular steel. A combination of the two is about the middle of the road and is usually your best bet.

If you can get your hands on carbide blades, this might be the best out of those options. They continue to grow stronger after each use and can stand up to normal wear and tear.

Knife Accessories

While this is not a make-or-break deal, some knives come with complementary accessories. These include a sheath or some kind of belt clip that can make the experience of owning that knife much better.

Some of these accessories can be useful when attached to rain gear or lanyards. Your preference and how you want to wear your knife will make the biggest difference here. You may want to consider a knife that has tons of accessories if you think you need them in different situations.

Edge of Blade

The edge of a blade is one of the most important factors when choosing a sailing knife. These can either be straight, serrated, or a combination of both into one.

Serrated blades offer more force without much power, but lack the cutting edge to do it quickly. As for straight-edge blades, these have a slight curve to gain an even flow of pressure. This should provide a better balance of power to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

If you like cleaner cuts on ropes, in the event that you need to reuse the end, a straight edge will be your best bet. This could potentially save you more money down the road and allow you to make the most of your lines.

Overall Design and Grip

While no one wants the ugliest knife out of the box, the popular ones do tend to have cooler designs. Even though this is not the most important factor, you still want to grab the most appealing one you can find.

The knife has to be comfortable in the design, as no one wants an awkward handle while trying to cut something. The handle should have a good texture that allows you to have a firm grip in wet conditions.

Extras Like Marlinspike and Shackle Key

A marlinspike is mainly used to help undo a tight knot on a rope. This slightly adds weight and takes up space on the knife, so it might get in the way for some that prefer a less bulky knife.

Some knives have other features, like a utility knife, that have multiple purposes other than cutting. If you believe that it is handy to have a screwdriver and shackle key, then these knives could be for you.

Best Sailing Knives To Bring Aboard
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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