The Cutting Edge

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5 Reasons to Add a Lanyard or Fob to a Pocket Knife

Similar to the carbon steel versus stainless steel debate (which is actually way more complicated), knife owners are divided over whether a knife should or should not have a lanyard.

The thing about the lanyard debate is that people aren’t usually lukewarm about the topic. It gets people riled up more than the sit versus stand debate during the National Anthem.

But is there ever a time and purpose for lanyards on pocket knives? Yes, there is.

Lanyard vs. Fob

Before the wolves come out to correct me, let me clarify something: Lanyards and fobs are different.

Although used interchangeably, lanyards and fobs look and function differently. A lanyard is a longer piece of twine like paracord that ties to the end of a knife and wraps around the wrist for more security when wielding the knife.

A fob, on the other hand, is typically a shorter piece of twine that’s tied at the end so there is no opening to fit your hand in. A fob is there to keep your knife from falling in your pocket and other things (as you’ll soon learn).

There’s also a thong, which is essentially a leather string, that serves a similar function as the fob.

Now onto the reasons to add one of these to your folder.

1. Extra Security

I won’t go into the history and origins of the lanyard, but I believe the original purpose of a lanyard was to keep an item securely tethered to yourself. For example, some in the French military even carried a pistol tethered to their arm so they wouldn’t lose it. You can see Eli Wallach from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” attached to a pistol with a lanyard below.

Since then, people have adopted the lanyard on knives.

The lanyard is especially useful on larger knives that may fall out of your hands during use — though keeping a knife stuck to your wrist when your grip fails you may not always be the wisest idea.

It’s not as necessary on smaller pocket knives unless you’re using it in or around water, but the sentiment and reasoning still stands if you use your folders for hard-core tasks.

2. Personalization

Knife people don’t care too much about looks… OK, so maybe a few of us do and lanyards/fobs add an extra item to accessorize your knives. This is the manly equivalent of bejeweling your smartphone case or matching your nail polish to your socks. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

With looks, we’re talking more fobs than lanyards here. Fobs allow you to color coordinate your knife, make it pop, and add a personal touch that makes it your own.

Here are a few examples from Instagram:

Quickly becoming my favorite knife to carry. ZT 0920. Thanks @bladeswelove for the gold screws. #NnewKnife #zerotoleranceknives #knifelanyard

A post shared by Wosh Joytko | Wät•kō (@edc_hanks_by_watko) on

While this reason has nothing to do with functionality, it allows a knife user to show off their creative side. There’s no denying a fob done right can look amazing, especially when complemented by a lanyard bead, which are all the rage these days.

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the use of the fob as an ornament was popularized by Chris Reeve.

3. Quicker/Easier Access

The etymological origin of the word fob may come from the word pocket in a dialect of German. One of the original purposes of a fob was to deter thieves and make things like pocket watches easier to access. The fob is no thief deterrent, but it does make it easy to get things out of your pocket.

Thanks to Sal Glesser, the vast majority of pocket knives these days come with a pocket clip, but many remain clipless. Without a clip, the knife will just fall into the bottom of your pocket and commingle with your keys, phone, etc. But with a fob that just sticks up over your pocket, you’ll have easy access to the knife at all times.

This is especially true for the clipless Swiss Army Knife. In fact, Victorinox even sells lanyards.

4. Extends Grip

Here’s one many people don’t think of unless they have a knife that needs it, but a lanyard or fob can be great for increasing the grip on a smaller knife.

The CRKT RSK Mk5 is the perfect example. Although this is a fixed blade, the handle is only about two inches. But designer Doug Ritter added a lanyard specifically to add length for your hand. This image from Equipped Cat perfectly demonstrates that.

You’ll often find this on the Spyderco Bug series (the smallest of which is only 2.9 inches overall).

5. Increases Visibility

Let’s say you’re on a nighttime excursion through a dense jungle and you drop your Kershaw Blackout. You can say goodbye forever to that badass knife. But if you had a glow-in-the-dark fob or a neon lanyard, you’d have a better chance spotting it.

Sure, it may mess with the overall aesthetics of the knife, but it can also work in the design’s favor.

Some knives that are meant for boating or the outdoors come with pretty funky colors like those in the Spyderco Salt series, but with a well-designed lanyard, you can get the more versatile darker colored handle scales.

If you have any other uses for lanyards or fobs on your knives, let us know in the comments.

14 Comments

  1. All the reasons FOR are outweighed by the main reason AGAINST; it could catch on something and get pulled out of your pocket and you might not notice or it might fall in deep water or down a cliff.

    • Umm biggest reason for me wasnt mentioned. If you practice you can get that knife out of your pocket and flung open in a heartbeat WITH a lanyard. You dont have to look down you just place ur hand where you knife usually is and grab the lanyard pulling up

  2. I don’t have anything on any of my knives except my CRKT Minimalist because, as anyone who has one or has seen one knows it has a fob to allow the 3rd and 4th fingers to grip it and thus serves as a handle extension. It’s amazingly functional.
    I think I would create a lanyard that attaches to my belt or slips over a shoulder and clips onto any knife I am using. This way, if I fear I might loose the knife, I can secure it and then detach it to avoid the potential problems with a long lanyard. Otherwise I don’t feel shorter lengths of rope pose a danger or increase the possibility of loosing the knife or getting it hung up or stolen. It’s just as easy to get the strings of a hoodie , fringes or shoe laces caught up in something. If you’re that fearful of loss then stay home and never venture out.

  3. I have an orange key-ring-fob on my Scout knife, on the off-chance that I lay it down somewhere instead of reattaching it to the clip on my uniform. My name’s on the back side.

  4. Having A lanyard with a belt loop clip on you knife or pocket tool, is by far the most secure method of carrying . If it pops out of your pocket it is still attached to your belt, If you are working at heights the lanyard is around your wrist. What can be safer then that.

  5. 29 Ducane Road

  6. I use my ZT pocket clip for the first time the other day in my garden. Took about 30 minutes before I brushed against something which snatched the knife from inside my pocket. Took another 30 minutes to find it. From now on I’ll continue to carry it in the bottom of my pocket.

    • Just goes to show… something. I’ve carried knives with a pocket clip for nearly fifty years, and nothing remotely like that has happened.

      I’m trying to catch my fob on things around the house, tempting the fates… nothin’ doin’!

  7. A fob with a metal bead or pendant on it seems like a great way to scratch up the scales and exposed metal on your knife.

  8. Weighted fob=slapjack…

  9. I use 2 pieces of paracord and a fishing snap swivel. The first attached via a boline or small key chain caribeaner to your belt. It is as long as you want it. Call it belt side. I thread the swivel to the other,knives side. I then tie it to the belt side with a nail knot using 4-6 coils. I adjust the swivel so it is 1/2 inch below coils. I leave about an inch of cord on the other side of coils so I can periodically snug them up. I slide the coils towards the boline and attach knife with swivel snap. It hangs just at the bottom of my pocket. When you pull the knife out a firm pull will slide the coils down the belt line. Cut that to whatever length you want. 8″ works for me. Tie a knot in end so coils don’t slide off. You can unclip the knife from swivel or unclip caribeaner if needed. This works well with a heavy knife like a sak huntsman or old solid bolstered sak.

  10. A fob makes it easier to conseal your knife by keeping it in your pocket in public places, whilst still making it possible to grab it within a second. When I for instance carry my PM2 in public places, there is no way that I’m securing it by means of the pocket clip. It sticks out way too much and might draw attention. When the fob hangs slightly out of my pocket, no questions rise because the knife is invisible, while is it still easy to grab the knife in case it is required.

    Just my 2 cents.

  11. I just put a lanyard/fob on my knife because I can completely conceal it in my pocket without sacrificing accessibility. I prefer this setup to the clip because I don’t really like the feeling of people noticing that I have a knife on me. My knife looks like, and is, as much a weapon as it is an EDC. Even the small portion that stick out of my pocket when clipped is noticeable and intimidating.

    It’s also legal for me to conceal a weapon, so nothing to worry about there.

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