A pocket knife is the ultimate piece of utility gear. They can be used to build shelter, hunt, prepare food, as self-defense, for whittling larger weapons or filing kindling...and that’s just the blade.
Add all the other oft-included contraptions and you can survive in the wilderness for as long as the blade stays sharp, but what happens then?
Not many people consider the inevitable event of a blunted pocket knife, but if you plan on being off the beaten track for a while, it’s an essential consideration.
In times of emergency, you can wait till it rains and use a rock to try and sharpen your blade, but ideally, you’ll have brought along a specialized pocket knife sharpener with you on your travels.
We’ve made a list of the ultimate pocket knife sharpeners available at the moment.
These five products are the cream of the crop, but if for some reason none of them work for you, we’re carving up an in-depth buyer’s guide and brief FAQ section too, so you can continue your search for sharpness beyond the confines of this article.
Can’t Cut Butter with Your Pocket Knife?
You need something fast! Here’s our top pick, first thing.
OUR TOP PICK
The thing about a pocket knife sharpener is that it needs to be small, ideally...pocketable, and the PP1 is just that.
It’s 3.5” x 1”, probably around the same size or smaller than your pocket knife itself, and it only weighs 0.02lbs. It even has a lanyard hole, perfect!
This is a 3-in-1 sharpener. First of all, you have the fold-out tapered round diamond-coated rod that doesn’t only work a treat on your standard straight or curved blade but helps bring any hard to sharpen recesses to a fine edge too.
Next, you have a course carbide stone V in the hilt perfect for resurrecting the edge of a totally dull knife in seconds. No knife is ever dead if you have the PP1.
Lastly, you get the fine ceramic stone V for refining those new edges into razor-sharp polished perfection. All the stones are replaceable and reversible, so you don't ever need to replace the PP1.
Smaller sharpeners can be quite dangerous to use, but the PP1 has an ergonomic thumb space to help you keep a tight grip as you give your knife a once over.
The PP1 is incredible, but it’s important to have realistic expectations when it comes to small sharpeners. It’s not going to give you a surgical edge.
- Diamond edge tapered fold out rod can sharpen any shaped edge
- Course V will give dull blades new edges
- Ceramic edge polishes and refines new edge
- Stones can be replaced
- It’s lightweight and small
- Features a lanyard hole
- Thumb space helps with grip
- Amazingly affordable
- Doesn’t give you a professional edge
- You have to switch hands to sharpen both sides of the knife, which can be dangerous
Next on our list of survivalist sharpeners is a totally different design that sacrifices a bit of portability for some extra cutler proficiency.
Although this sharpener has a lanyard hole, and at 2.5 ounces, is fairly light, due to its size, it’s more of a pack-held device.
Instead of the convex carbide stones, you have an extra diamond plate, one course, one fine. The plates run along almost the entire length of the sharpener which makes working on larger blades way easier.
In addition, each end has an angle guide to keep your strokes perfect.
Ceramic shows up here in the form of a rod that can be turned using a side dial, switching between coarse, fine, and fishhook settings.
There’s even a smaller ceramic rod specifically for sharpening serrated blades.
Another big defining factor with the Field Sharpener is the awesome leather strop on one of the sides. Moreover, the diamond plates can be removed to reveal an internal broadhead wrench.
- Leather strop for polishing
- Two ceramic rods with various surfaces
- Fishhook feature
- Internal broadhead wrench
- Angle guides
- Two removable diamond plates
- More expensive than our others but still fairly cheap
- Even fine diamond is still quite coarse
- Quite large
- Heavier than our other picks
This flexible and durable helmet is one of the best in today’s market. Built for a range of water sports, this piece of headwear is equipped to keep you looking great and feeling safe.
Whether you’re a beginner tackling your first wave or a professional looking to play hard, this helmet will provide you with the reliable protection you need.
From a brand known for their recognizable and unique style, this model comes in four finishes, including a ‘satin orange’ which will not only ensure you stand out but can be extremely useful in terms of lifeguard visibility with there are ultra-crowded line-ups.
With its high-density injection-molded ABS shell and its soft, quick-absorbing EVA liner, the helmet provides not only effective protection but comfort around the top of the neck and the ears.
For further comfort, the straps of the helmet are made of a soft, nylon, webbed material rather than the harsh plastic that many manufactures tend to use.
This helmet with its durability, ventilation, and practical composition is one that is known for its mass appeal amongst surfers and water enthusiasts worldwide.
If you are looking for a high-standard, substantial value for money model, you will not regret choosing the Pro-Tec Ace Water helmet.
- Light and comfortable fit
- Closed-cell padding which prevents water build-up
- Safety Standard Certification verified
- Equipped with 15 open vent holes
- Universal and built for a range of water sports
- Non-adjustable straps
Our penultimate edge edifying friend is reminiscent of our number one pick but with a few extra facilities worked into the compact design.
You get the exact same convex course carbide stone section in the hilt and the same fine ceramic section for finishing an edge.
You even have a fairly similar tapered diamond rod, but this time around it has a groove for fish hooks.
Our favorite thing about this little thing is the Ferro rod, which is sure to be handy for starting fires out in the wild.
In addition, it comes with a high pitched emergency whistle. We also love the soft rubber grip, making it handy in the rain.
The reason this is at number four is that you don’t necessarily need the extras it provides.
They mostly just add to the weight, but if you like the sound of the extras, this is still a great portable sharpener, and it’s actually the second cheapest on our list.
- Course carbide for establishing edges
- Fine ceramic V for fine-tuning new edges
- Tapered diamond rod with groove for fish hooks
- Comes with an emergency whistle
- Includes a Ferro rod
- Super affordable
- Small and lightweight
- Hole for lanyard
- Soft rubber grip
- Would be better if extras were sharpening related
- May work better on larger knives
- It won’t provide a professional edge
Our final pick is a modern take on a classic whetstone.
The stone itself is reversible, giving you the choice between a 1000 and 6000 grit ratingsl, and it sits in a silicone rubber enclosure which in turn fits into a nonslip bamboo base.
Only the finest materials are used to create the whetstone, giving you the finest edge humanly possible without the use of high tech laser beams.
The 1000 side of the stone is perfect for creating an edge, while the 6000 side refines it.
At 7.25” x 2.25” x 1”, it’s a little large. Realistically it’s more of a stay-at-home-sharpener, but it will give you the most professional-grade edge of any sharpener on our list. It’s also the most expensive on our list, so there’s that to consider.
It also comes with an angle guide so you can perfect every stroke and have your pocket knife ridiculously sharp in a matter of seconds.
- Provides the sharpest edge of any on our list
- Quite small for a quality whetstone
- Comes with rubber enclosure to protect stone
- Bamboo provides a stylish and safe base for use
- Nonslip rubber base prevents movement during use
- Two grit levels
- Comes with a really good angle guide
- Not suitable for travel
- Quite pricey
Best Pocket Knife Sharpener Buying Guide
Hold on there, Bear Grylls. Before you dive into the nearest bush you see and go off-grid with any old sharpener, there are a few key considerations.
Size and Weight
If you’re looking for something to take into the wilderness with you on camping expeditions or hikes, the smaller and lighter the better when it comes to sharpeners.
You should be able to carry it in your pocket, in your pack, or around your neck and not so much as notice it there. Anything less than 1lbs will be suitable for excursions, but if you can find one that weighs less, even better.
Checking materials and customer reviews are great ways to gain an understanding of how durable a sharpener is.
If you’re taking it with you on your trip, it’s going to have to be able to withstand a hell of a beating and anything the weather can throw it.
Ease of Use
You should also consider how easy the sharpening process will be when considering a product. Safety is key, and an overcomplicated or oversimplified design may end in injury.
Some sort of grip is essential. An angle guide will also speed up the process and keep your knife in tip-top condition.
Grit rating is typically measured in tens, hundreds, and thousands and displays how coarse the surface of a sharpening utensil is. Different grits are suitable for different sharpening tasks. The higher the grit level, the finer the surface is.
For instance, to replenish an edge using a whetstone, the ideal grit would be 1000, and for honing that same edge, something between 4 and 6K would be best.
It’s important to note that different materials have different measures of grit. A carbide sharpening utensil will have a different scale to a whetstone which will, in turn, have a different scale to other materials such as sandpaper...Needlessly confusing, right?
To make matters worse, grit scales for the same material also differ from country to country.
A more universal way to measure coarseness is to use microns. They measure the size of individual grains used to make the surface.
You should also consider the hardness of your knife. The harder the metal of the blade, the coarser the grit needs to be to bring back an edge.
Ceramic sharpeners are usually used for edge refinement and polishing, but an extra coarse ceramic can also be used for general sharpening.
These kinds of sharpeners are great for taking out imperfections and ridges.
They sharpen incredibly quickly. Thanks to their toughness, diamond plates can be used to sharpen even the hardest of metals.
Carbide is used primarily in a convex format for quickly adding a new edge to severely dulled blades.
A leather strop is for polishing your edge and removing burr delicately without the use of extra fine grit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best pocket knife sharpener?
The best pocket knife sharpener will probably just be a high-quality normal sharpener.
Pocket sharpeners are amazing, but you’re unlikely to get as sharp an edge with them as you would a quality whetstone.
How many times should you run a knife through or over a sharpener?
It depends on the condition and hardness of the knife as well as the coarseness of the sharpener.
If your knife is very dull, a general rule of thumb is to pass it on carbide stones, coarse diamond plates or whetstones until there is a noticeable burr on the knife-edge or the sharpener. Then you should pass it on a finer grain for refinement.
If you’re just touching a knife up, you should pass it 1 - 2 times on a medium grain, then the same with the finer grain for refinement.
Sharp as a Thistle
All sorted, pocketeers. Here are five of the very best sharpeners for pocket knives around, some of them perfect for sharpening on the go out in the wild, some more suited to pre and post journey touch-ups.
We’d recommend having both at your disposal. The travel ones will keep your knife functional on those long stints in the great outdoors, and your home setup will bring it to razor-sharp perfection ready for your next adventure.