In the last issue we focused on the micro folding knife — a blade that’s 2 inches or shorter — as a backup to your larger edged tool. In this edition of “Pocket Preps,” we’re gonna take a look at its cousin: the neck knife.

During an outdoor adventure or in a survival situation, your primary edged tool should be a large bushcraft blade that can perform a wide range of tasks. But a neck knife can be a reliable backup if you lose or damage your main knife.

This small tool is quicker to deploy than a micro pocket knife, because it’s ready to go once yanked from around your neck. Most have no opening mechanism to fumble with. Also, with a simple design and few moving parts, it’s less likely to break. And because it’s hanging from your neck, it’s accessible with both hands. Added bonus: Some of these models can be setup as boot knives, too.

Read on to see if there’s a lethal necklace that’s right for your survival needs.

Bastinelli Knives BB Drago Cutter V2

OAL
4.4 inches

Blade Material
N690Co stainless steel

Weight
1.4 ounces

MSRP
$135

URL
bastinelliknives.com

Notes
What the BB Drago lacks in length it makes up for in girth. It has a broad modified Wharncliffe blade that’s great for piercing, draw cuts, and widowing. This beautiful and lightweight model comes with a Kydex sheath with a ball chain. Manufactured in Italy by Fox Knives.

Pros:

  • Profile and jimping is ideal for a thumb-supported grip.
  • G10 is our favorite handle material
  • The N690Co blade is sharp, tough, and corrosion resistant.

Cons:

  • The tiny handle has room for only two fingers.

Winkler Knives Zipper/Arrow

OAL
5 inches

Blade Material
80CrV2 high-carbon steel

Weight
1.2 ounces

MSRP
$95

URL
winklerknives.com

Notes
Iconic knife-maker Daniel Winkler designed this as an everyday-carry tool that could be carried even in areas with restrictive size limits. Not a neck knife per se, this high-quality fixed blade comes with a double-gated carabiner attached to its sheath, allowing it to accept a cord or chain necklace. Made in the USA.

Pros:

  • The 80CrV2 blade cuts, stabs, and slices like a mini lightsaber.
  • Slim Kydex sheath has a simple-but-genius integrated lock.
  • The included Nite Ize carabiner increases the carry options.

Cons:

  • 80CrV2 is awesome steel, but isn’t stainless; the blade will need regular care to prevent rusting.

Tangram Brevis DropPoint

OAL
5.06 inches

Blade Material
Acuto 440 stainless steel

Weight
0.8 ounce

MSRP
$26

URL
amazon.com

Notes
This was designed by U.S.-based knife-maker Dirk Pinkerton for Tangram, a Chinese firm that makes entry-level knives and markets them to the West. If we didn’t know better, we would never have guessed it was made in China. Solid craftsmanship for an affordable price.

Pros:

  • Versatile blade profile works great for a variety of tasks.
  • Finger groove increases “grippyness”
  • Made from a Japanese version of 440C stainless steel
  • Comes with cord to do your own custom handle wrap

Cons:

  • No cord or chain to fashion a lanyard

Columbia River Knife & Tool Minimalist

OAL
5.22 inches

Blade Material
5Cr15Mov stainless steel

Weight
1.7 ounces

MSRP
$40

URL
crkt.com

Notes
This popular model is comfy in the hand and versatile for both the great outdoors and urban environments. The Minimalist comes with a glass-reinforced nylon sheath and is also available with a Bowie, tanto, or Wharncliffe blade profile. Form, function, and affordability earns it this column’s Best Value Award.

Pros:

  • G10 scales and deep finger grooves provide an assured grip.
  • Cord fob attached to handle provides a grip for your pinky and extra cordage.
  • Neck cord has a push-button stopper to customize fit.
  • Drop-point profile is adaptable for different cutting tasks.

Cons:

  • Sheath doesn’t have the best blade retention.

Boker Plus Slyde-R

OAL
5.5 inches

Blade Material
440C stainless steel

Weight
1.1 ounces

MSRP
$45

URL
bokerusa.com

Notes
The sole oddity in this buyer’s guide, the Slyde-R isn’t a fixed blade, but rather features a push-button opening mechanism that lets you slide the blade in and out of the handle, similar to a boxcutter. While not a bushcraft-worthy blade, it certainly is the most fun knife to fidget with. Comes with a ball chain.

Pros:

  • 440C might be old, but it’s still dependable stainless steel.
  • Fun opening mechanism that’s easy to use with one hand
  • G10 is our favorite handle material.

Cons:

  • Slower to deploy than fixed blades
  • Blade can wiggle during hard use.

Terrain 365 Element Bravo-HD

OAL
6 inches

Blade Material
Terravantium Dendritic Cobalt

Weight
4.2 ounces

MSRP
$195

URL
terrain365.com

Notes
The $195 price tag is not a typo. But considering it’s guaranteed by Terrain 365 to never corrode “in all of earth’s natural environments,” it’s worth considering. Made of proprietary Terravantium alloy, the Element is rustproof, durable, and made in the USA. It easily earns this column’s Top Pick Award.

Pros:

  • Terrain 365 guarantees this field knife won’t corrode.
  • Stout blade can pierce, slice, or shave.
  • Has the Goldilocks touch; good balance of length, weight, and portability
  • Slim Kydex sheath included

Cons:

  • At $195, we expected a better lanyard than the 3mm-thin (re: uncomfortable) cord to wear around our neck.

Gerber Gear Ghostrike Fixed Blade

OAL
6.9 inches

Blade Material
420HC stainless steel

Weight
1.7 ounces

MSRP
$50

URL
gerbergear.com

Notes
Designed as a belt-carry knife that can also be worn on a pack, in a boot, or around your neck, the Ghostrike is a skinny blade that’s meant to be carried discreetly for self-defense purposes. It comes with a textured rubber grip on the handle and an equally slim polymer sheath. Made in the USA.

Pros:

  • Low-vis appearance
  • Skeletonized full-tang handle to lighten the load
  • Sheath has both vertical and horizontal belt carry options.

Cons:

  • No cord or ball chain included
  • 420HC isn’t the best steel.

Kershaw Knives Dune

OAL
7.7 inches

Blade Material
3Cr13 stainless steel

Weight
2.2 ounces

MSRP
$40

URL
kershawknives.com

Notes
Part sci-fi, part ancient ninja, the Dune is what Kershaw calls a “neck sword.” At 7.7 inches in length, it’s longer than most neck knives and features an angular tanto blade profile. It has textured, glass-filled nylon scales and comes with a molded polymer sheath and a cord. Made in China.

Pros:

  • Longer length means more handle and cutting edge.
  • Aesthetically unique
  • Despite its birthplace, the Dune features quality workmanship.
  • The tanto tip is excellent for stabbing.

Cons:

  • Tanto profile limits versatility.
  • Handle is a little too skinny.

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