Every ounce counts.
If you’re just going for a walk around the block, you might not notice the weight, but carry the knife for hours on end and you’ll feel that sag in your pocket like a ton of bricks.
I’m starting a series of posts about knives under certain weights for those looking to cut back on their EDC weight. So let’s start with the lightest a knife can get: less than an ounce.
Yes, knives that weigh in at under an ounce can be just as useful as those boasting bigger designs. Here’s a look at some of the best.
When you want a small knife, look no further than Spyderco. The famous spider brand is well-known for creating minuscule knives that look identical to some of their bigger counterparts. The Spyderco Ladybug and Honey Bee could have been on this list, but instead of completely stuffing it with Spydies, I thought I’d stick with a few, including the Manbug.
Nothing against the feminine-sounding Ladybug (which is a fantastic knife), but if I had to choose one knife with a typical Spyderco design under an ounce, it would be the Manbug. This knife is a little beefier and easier to wield than the Ladybug. It has a 1.875″ blade made from VG-10 and FRN handles. Coming in at .65 ounces, the Manbug is a hard-working knife that you’ll barely feel in your pocket.
Gerber LST Ultralight
The Gerber LST Ultralight was one of our Badass Knives of the Week a while back. How does a sub-ounce knife get that distinction? It features a reliable lockback design and has history on its side. The original LST was brought to market more than 35 years ago by Pete Gerber himself.
The ultralight version has a 1.96-inch blade made from 420HC stainless steel and glass-filled nylon handles — one of the first knives to ever use it. The best part is that this inexpensive and .6-ounce knife is made in the United States.
Victorinox Classic SD
When it comes to knives, it doesn’t get more iconic than the Victorinox Classic SD. This Swiss Army Knife model may be the best-selling knife ever with countless being sold around the world. The reason is simple: this tiny knife is lightweight, multifunctional, and all anyone can ask for in a small pocket knife.
This model has seven functions, including a small blade, nail file with screwdriver, scissors, tweezers, toothpick, and key ring. The knife comes in a ton of different color variations, so it’s easy to get exactly what you want, though I’m partial to the recognizable red cellidor handle. It weighs in at .8 ounces.
Just because a knife weighs less than an ounce doesn’t mean it has to sacrifice an ounce of quality. The Fallkniven U4 is as well-built as they come. The small gentleman’s folder uses high-tech laminate SGPS steel and a Zytel handle. This truly ambidextrous knife can be taken to a black-tie event or a night out at the bar without thinking twice. The fact that it’s only .77 ounces makes it an even better partner on any excursion.
CRKT RSK Mk5
Believe it or not, a survival knife can be just as effective at just an ounce. While you may want something large for more rigorous bushcrafting tasks, the tiny CRKT RSK Mk5 is worth having in your bag for emergencies. Doug Ritter, the designer of the knife, subscribes to the logic that the best survival knife is the one you have. At .9 ounces, this is something you can have on you at all times.
The blade is 1.75 inches and the handle is stainless steel. It comes with a lanyard that will help extend the grip on the skeletonized handle. The survival knife fits inside a tin included with the purchase.
The SOG Micron is tiny. This little guy is a non-locking folder designed to be carried on your keychain without much fanfare. Like most SOG knives, the Micron has a tactical look with a 1.5-inch tanto blade and a black handle with a “SOG” cutout to reduce the weight further to .5 ounces.
Buck Nano Bantam
The Bantam series from Buck has become popular as a solid but inexpensive option for those who want something with USA on the blade. The regular Bantam is already lightweight at 1.5 ounces, but Buck took things to another level with the .6-ounce Nano Bantam — a name I also find more appealing than the typical “mini” variant.
The folder has a nail nick on the 1.88-inch 420HC steel blade and a glass-reinforced nylon handle.
Opinel No. 5
What’s there to say about the Opinel that hasn’t been said before. This French knife is a classic folder that comes in a range of sizes. The Opinel No. 5 weighs .6 ounces (by contrast, the Opinel No. 6 weighs 1.2 ounces). This model is also the largest of the bunch that doesn’t have the safety ring, making this a friction folder with a 2.5-inch blade.
Despite lacking a locking mechanism, the No. 5 remains great for everyday tasks and is one of the least intimidating knives you can own, even at the larger sizes.
Case Small Texas Toothpick
The toothpick slipjoint is a mighty fine design that’s sleek and sexy while harkening back to the days of old. This particular version of the Case Small Toothpick features handsome pocket worn red bone handles ensconced between steel bolsters and is held together with pins.
The blade is about 3 inches and is very narrow. This is the kind of knife that you forget you’re carrying until some damsel in distress needs something to cut a piece of wayward thread off her skirt. It comes in at a little less than an ounce.
While I said to myself I wouldn’t spam this list with a bunch of Spydercos, I felt the Roadie was an entirely different design that warranted its own inclusion. The Roadie was born out of that brief but wonderful moment the TSA was going to allow knives meeting certain criteria back on planes. Even though the plan was scrapped, Spyderco went ahead with the knife.
The Roadie has since become a beloved pocket knife that’s almost universally praised (despite its appearance). The blade, which looks like the head of a dodo, is 2.1 inches and made of N690Co steel. The handle is FRN and comes in a number of colors. It weighs a hair under an ounce and makes a great EDC knife. It’s also as nonthreatening as they come.
Al Mar Osprey Cocobolo
Al Mar is known for making production knives that rival the quality and construction of custom knives. That shines through perfectly with the compact Osprey. This timeless design has been offered since 1979 and features a thin 1.65-inch blade made from AUS-8. While the steel does not have the same properties as those you find in modern super steels, it performs well when done right.
This version has Cocobolo handles with a steel bolster and comes in at .5 ounces.
KA-BAR Mini Dozier Folder
The Dozier Folding Hunter is a king among men in the budget option for hardworking folders. KA-BAR capitalized on the popularity and made a few iterations, including the Mini Dozier. With a blade length of 2.25 inches, the Mini Dozier feels big when you put it to task. The drop point blade opens with a thumb stud and locks into place with a back lock. Its Zytel handles are durable and provide a nice grip.
It weighs in at .8 ounces, down from the 2.4 ounces of the original.
Rick Hinderer is known for his practical design and hit the ball out of the park with his hit Kershaw Cryo. He came back with something even more affordable and useful: the Kershaw Cinder. It has a tiny 1.4-inch blade that opens via thumb stud and locks with a liner. The glass-filled nylon handle is multipurpose. It can be used as a bottle opener and even for some light prying.
The lanyard hole makes it easy to attach to your keys. At .9 ounces, this 2.6-inch knife when closed is a handy tool to carry around.
Case Caliber Small
The Case Caliber Small Lock Back is nearly identical to the Gerber Ultralight LST with some changes. It has a Zytel handle and a longer 2.25-inch blade with a nail nick. Like the LST, the Caliber is made in the United States. You can also grab it with a camo handle.
We’ve arrived at the smallest and lightest knife on this list: the Spyderco Bug. This tiny folder is the smallest in the Spyderco insect series and weighs a little less than a AAA battery at .4 ounces. It has a 1.27-inch blade made from 3Cr steel.
As a slipjoint with a tiny blade, this probably won’t get much use, but it does come in handy when you carry it on your keychain to use for opening annoying packaging.