There will always be a heated debate about what the current best sailing knives on the market are. This is because a sailing knife is a personal tool, and sailors feel very passionate about their trusty knife that has been with them through life-threatening situations. Putting emotions and personal biases aside, I think all sailors and boaters would agree that a rigging knife should be practical and available when you need it most. As such, it should be a mandatory part of every boater’s safety gear.
You need to use the right tool for the job. Don’t substitute a kitchen knife for a rescue knife. Keep the kitchen knife in the galley and use it for its intended purpose, which is solely for slicing food. Kitchen knives can’t be carried in a sheath, don’t fold, don’t resist corrosion, nor do they have handles that are easy to grip with wet, cold hands or when sailing gloves are worn. Furthermore, kitchen knives lack a marlinspike, as well as a shackle or bottle opener.
Our Top Picks:
Best Sailing Knives Recommendations
Meyerco Sailor’s Knife
- A DYNAMIC NAUTICAL KNIFE: The Meyerco Sailor's Tool is a powerfully effective multi sailing, fishing, camping and hunting tool that's designed for...
- THE PERFECT ECONOMY SAILING KNIFE: Featuring a honed blade, marlinspike, shackle key, bottle opener and stainless steel handle with a 2” ruler on...
- A PRACTICAL RIGGING KNIFE: With a durably robust marlinspike running along the spine and a lanyard ring for secure storage, our affordable sailor's...
It’s easy to lose a knife when you’re out on the water, but with how affordable the Meyerco Sailor’s Knife is, you won’t have to curse like you usually do. This knife comes with all of the bells and whistles you’d expect from a sailor’s knife. The extra-large version features a 3.25” partially serrated sheepsfoot blade.
We like this blade style because it reduces the chance of accidentally stabbing yourself whenever the boat starts rocking. And of course, it includes a shackle key and marlin spike. Furthermore, the extra-large model also has a tip-up pocket clip and a lanyard bail so it’s easy to keep it on you. And lastly, this sailing knife also comes with a much-needed bottle opener.
With how much utility the Meyerco Sailor’s Knife provides at such a low price, we heartily recommend it.
- Highly affordable, you won’t feel bad if it gets devoured by the water.
- Has all of the tools you need like shackle key, marlin spike, serrated blade, etc.
- 3.25” sheepsfoot blade reduces the risk of stabbing yourself.
- Some customers complained about the durability of the product.
Maxam Sailor’s Tool
- A DYNAMIC NAUTICAL KNIFE: The Maxam Sailor’s Tool is a powerfully-effective multi-sailing, -fishing, -camping and -hunting tool that’s designed...
- THE PERFECT ECONOMY SAILING KNIFE: Featuring a honed blade, marlinspike, shackle key, bottle opener and stainless-steel handle with a 2”-ruler on...
- A PRACTICAL RIGGING KNIFE: With a durably robust marlinspike running along the spine and a lanyard ring for secure storage, our affordable sailor’s...
Yet another affordable multi-tool sailor’s knife similar to the Meyerco, the Maxam Sailor’s Tool feels solid and well made. The stainless steel handle has both a 5-centimeter rule and 2-inch ruler, one on each side, which has surprisingly come in handy at times. The sheepsfoot blade is a nice touch, as it will lessen the potential damage if you were to stab yourself.
The marlin spike is, of course, great for untying knots and general rope work. You can even use the shackle key and marlin spike in tandem to unscrew threaded shackles. Next, the Maxam Sailor’s Tool has a surprisingly effective metal tooth style can opener, which pierces the lid, hooks it, and lifts it out effortlessly. Lastly, the end of the handle has a large flat-tip screwdriver which may come in handy in a pinch.
Yet another affordable and useful product, we highly recommend the Maxam Sailor’s Tool for people who are worried about losing their “main” knife as these are cheap to replace.
- Very affordable, don’t stress out about losing it.
- Has many useful features like a ruler, can opener, flat-tip screwdriver head, marlin spike, etc.
- Sheepsfoot blade design reduces risk of accidents.
- As with any budget item, expect to replace every few months as the quality is lower and gets worn out quickly under heavy use.
Davis Instruments Deluxe Rigging Knife
- Great for sailors, powerboaters, fishermen and survivalist
- Perfect for emergency ditch bag
- Use for untying stubborn knots
The Davis Instruments Rigging Knife is like the Swiss Army knife for sailboats. It has a sharp blade that can make quick work of everything, from slicing line to slicing a piece of cheese for a snack. The included U-shaped tool has two uses; the exterior is great for turning deck plates (such as your fuel fills) and the interior can turn stubborn shackle pins.
Next, the marlin spike is great for untangling knots, holding an opening to guide a line through the knot, or turning closed-style turnbuckles. And having a flathead screwdriver head on the end of the handle is a bonus as well. Even though the Davis Instruments Rigging Knife is constructed from stainless steel, we recommend rinsing it and coating it in lubricating oil a few times a year if it gets exposed to saltwater often.
Lastly, at the time of writing, the top customer review on Amazon gives it a one star rating. However, it appears that review is now outdated, as current reviews indicate the issues this customer had is no longer present in the current model.
- Swiss Army Knife of sailboats, has a tool for every job.
- All parts are made from durable stainless steel.
- Marlin spike has a nice curve to it and good grip.
- Can be opened with one hand, though two is recommended.
- Blade does not lock when open, but the spring is able to hold it in place regardless.
Myerchin Sailing Knife Combo Tool
- 🐳 BONUS LEATHER LANYARD STRAP 🐳
- 🐳 BONUS LEATHER LANYARD STRAP 🐳
- 🐳 BONUS LEATHER LANYARD STRAP 🐳
With the Myerchin Sailing Knife Combo Tool, what you get is ultimate spartan utility and solid construction. The knife blade is made from Japanese steel and will slice through rope, wood, plastic, even thin sheet metal like a hot knife through butter. It can be easily operated using just one hand, for either the marlin spike or the serrated blade. The pliers are handy for dealing with a stubborn shackle.
With that said, we feel the blade is a little short, and we wish the blade was at least partially serrated so that we can cut some cheese. A petty complaint, we know. Here’s another one. The belt clip is a little big but at least it’s removable. We also wish there was a flat-head screwdriver.
Overall, the Myerchin Sailing Knife is a great tool for people who are constantly on the go at work, moving and climbing, wearing gloves, and who need a reliable tool to get things done. Besides being used for sailing, it can even be used by first responders as a rescue knife. We feel the Myerchin Sailing Knife is an excellent knife at a solid price.
- Can be operated with one hand.
- Pliers are extremely useful.
- Serrated blades cut through line quickly and efficiently.
- Durable construction.
- No flat head screwdriver.
- Belt clip is a little big.
Rough Ryder Marlin Spike
- Crafted from the highest quality materials
- Built for performance and durability
- Made in China
The Rough Ryder Marlin Spike not only looks like a high-quality knife, it is one. Don’t be fooled by the low price tag, this sailing knife is highly durable with its stainless steel bolsters, jigged-bone scales, and razor sharp blade. Your friends will think that you’ve spent a fortune on the knife, with its smooth finish and sleek contours; it is a very aesthetically pleasing knife.
But how well does it handle? First, the blades open smoothly with a quick snap, and the marlin spike locks easily using the lanyard loop. If you have to untie stubbornly tight knots often, the marlin spike on this knife alone is worth the cost. The knife is on the bigger side, which is ideal when working on most lines found in a small boat. Overall, this is a solid knife that works and looks like it should be several times more expensive than it actually is.
- Has the finish and fit of a more expensive knife.
- Very affordable.
- Blade comes pre-sharpened and is razor-sharp.
- Made from stainless steel and brass, rust resistant.
- Some users complained about the marlin spike locking mechanism not working well, yet others claim it locks well, so it seems these are isolated cases.
Spyderco Atlantic Salt Serrated Edge Knife
- Superior Quality - It is made from H1-Steel which is a precipitation-hardened steel containing nitrogen instead of carbon, which cannot rust.
- FRN Handle - It is textured with a Volcano Grip pattern, the molded fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) handle is visible marine yellow, equipped with a...
- Game Changer - The serrated hollow-ground blade offers remarkable cutting performance in and around fresh and saltwater.
The Spyderco Atlantic Salt is made from Japanese steel and hardens the more you use it. Even after prolonged exposure to salt water, it not rust, ever. You can get the hollow ground blade in two versions: serrated or non-serrated. Both versions provide excellent cutting performance. The backlock mechanism ensures the blade remains safely locked up when not in use.
Deployment is easy with the large 14mm round hole that can be opened with just one hand, whether wet or gloved. The handle has a textured grip and is made of fiberglass reinforced nylon which is highly durable. Lastly, you can get the handle in black or a bright marine yellow for high visibility under poor conditions.
- Sharp and durable
- Corrosion resistant
- Excellent grip due to textured handle
- Easy to open with one hand
- Serrated blade is difficult to sharpen
Myerchin Generation 2 Captain Pro MYBF300-BRK
- Crafted from the highest quality materials
- Built for performance and durability
- Made in Japan
The Myerchin Generation 2 is a nifty rescue knife that comes with a marlinspike, shackle slot, and a partially serrated sheepsfoot blade. The handle is made from G10 stainless steel, making it highly resistant to the elements and highly durable.
A lanyard ring is always a plus so that you don’t accidentally lose it or drop it on someone. What’s the point of getting yourself a nice knife if you can’t easily access it, right? The Generation 2 Captain Pro also comes with a black nylon belt sheath and the shackle doubles as a lock-release mechanism for the blade.
- Easy to open with one hand
- Sturdy and durable
- Noticeably heavy, but at least you’ll know it’s still on your belt
Myerchin Fixed-Blade Offshore Knife B100
- 🐋 Generation 2 B100P Offshore System Pro features handles made from carefully chosen slabs of black composite G10. This man made material is...
- The black G10 is an excellent base for the sailor’s own scrimshaw using white India ink. This knife thoughtfully links heritage with the most modern...
- Pro-grade German Marine stainless that we use is comparable to 440C for hardness and edge-holding properties with additional anti-oxidation elements...
The blade of the Myerchin Offshore knife is made from pro-grade German stainless steel that is comparable to a 440c hardness rating. Additional anti-oxidation materials have been added to the blade to make it corrosion resistant. The blade has a sheepsfoot design which helps to reduce injury to self or your equipment.
The handle of the Myerchin Offshore is made from G10 stainless steel, which is the standard of excellence for durability and resistance to the elements. Included in the package are a heavy leather cushioned sheath and marlinspike.
- Thick, sturdy blade that will not deform
- Padded sheath keeps the blade accessible at all times
- Rust and corrosion resistant
- Lanyards are not included
Camillus Carbonitride Titanium Folding Knife
- Tactical Knife: The perfect camping knife, hiking knife, hunting knife, or survival knife, this multipurpose folding utility knife offers superior...
- Premium Non-Stick Blade: 10x stronger than untreated steel and designed to stay sharper longer, our steel and carbonitride titanium bonded blades will...
- AUS-8 Japanese Steel: Our pocket knives & folding knives come enhanced with AUS-8 steel, one of the hardest, toughest, and most rust-resistant knife...
The blade of this knife is coated in carbonitride titanium, which is 10x harder than untreated steel and will keep its sharp edge for much longer. It also is stain, rust, and corrosion resistant. The rest of the blade is made from VG-10 stainless steel, which is also featured in the high-end knives from other manufacturers like Spyderco and Myerchin.
The handle is made from G10 stainless steel and feels great when held in your hand. The liner lock is made of blue anodized titanium and helps you to open the knife with just one hand, though some users have reported having trouble opening it with their thumb. The Camillus Carbonitride is lightweight and durable because of its premium materials.
- Extremely sharp out of the box
- Holds its edge for a long time
- Lightweight and durable
- Lacks a thumb notch which would make deploying the blade much easier
- No titanium liner on both sides of the knife
What to Look For In Rigging Knives
A high-quality knife is crucial for their safety because a dull or cheap knife will slip or break, resulting in life-threatening cuts to your arm or hand. There are really only two types of knives to consider: fixed blade and folding blade knives.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. They can be further categorized into sharp tip or blunt-tipped, with serrated or non-serrated blades. Folding knives may also come with bottle or shackle openers, a marlinspike, and a locking or non-locking blade.
Fixed or Folding Blades
Choosing one type over another depends on ease of use and portability. Folding knives are more compact and portable because they contain multiple tools in one (such as a marlinspike) that can all be folded away to save space once you’re done using them. The main issue with folding knives is that they are harder to deploy in life-threatening situations, especially if you are panicking or have extremely cold and wet hands. As such, it is imperative that you find models that can be easily opened and closed even with just one hand.
Fixed blade knives are larger and bulkier than their folding blade counterparts, but are easier to deploy in an emergency. Simply remove it from its sheath and it is ready to use. Whichever type you pick, make sure you know exactly where it is on your person and how to deploy it as fast as possible.
Boating knives should have serrated blades, and this feature is what distinguishes a sailing knife from a regular pocket knife. A serrated blade has a sawtooth look, much like the blade of a handsaw. It is essential that you get a sharp knife, because a sharp knife is a safe knife.
Furthermore, serrated blades are better at cutting rope than smooth edged blades. If you cut a lot of rope, then look for a serrated blade. Unfortunately serrated blades are difficult to sharpen. If for some reason you need to have a non-serrated blade, as a compromise you may look for partially serrated blades or just keep a sharpened smooth edged blade around as backup.
With that said, using a non-serrated, or smooth blade, on a thick rope on a rocking boat is basically begging for an accident. One slip of a smooth blade and you could just as easily find the knife slashing your hand rather than the rope. Sharpening a serrated blade is a more arduous process; you need to use an oiled, rounded sharpening stone to file the serrations.
Nowadays, marlin spike seamanship is starting to be a relic of the past, but there are still moments when it is handy to know. In the past, most ropes on boats were made of triple-braided nylon, sisal, or cotton. Marines would often unweave and reweave them to make a splice to form an eye at the end of a rope, or to splice shorter lengths of rope together.
A marlin spike was used to unweave the rope strands so that they could be formed into a new shape, such as a loop. Since most ropes today are already pre-shaped into the various loops a boater would need, the skill of manually splicing your own ropes is becoming less needed. With that said, a marlinspike can still be used to quickly loosen up tight knots.
Shackles are clevises that sailors use to attach sails to rigging, and the shackle tool is most often used on sailboats. Without a shackle tool, it would be very difficult to unlock the clevis. Sailors that do this often ought to find a rigging knife that is convenient and comfortable since they will be relying on this knife to help them with their duties.
If small magnets can stick into your blade, that means it may interfere with your compass. This is because some knife blades are made with iron, and the more of it there is, the harder the blade is but at the cost of potential magnetic interference. If you think this might be an issue for you, then look for knives made with other materials like cobalt or titanium
Pointed or Blunted (Sheepsfoot)
This depends on where you intend on carrying your knife. If you are wearing it on the outer layer of gear then you should get a blunt point knife so you don’t accidentally stab yourself or your PFD. Pointed knives must be kept in a sheath at all times until you need to use it.
Constant exposure to the elements will quickly corrode your blade. Stainless steel blades that are highly resistant to corrosion are softer and will dull faster, so it is an area where you have to decide which bothers you more.
Furthermore, “stainless” steel can still corrode with enough exposure to salty and damp conditions if basic maintenance is not performed. If you do not want any corrosion on your blade, look for ones with a powdercoat finish and a hardness rating of 410 or 440c stainless steel.
The best sailing knives must be easily accessible and reliable, especially in the event of an emergency. They will be exposed to the elements and should resist rust, corrosion, or stains. Even in wet and cold conditions, the handle must be easy to grip and folding knives should be deployable even with just one hand.
Ideally, your rigging knife should come with a marlinspike as well as a shackle opener so you don’t have to carry so many individual tools on your belt. A serrated blade will cut rope and net more easily, but they are harder to sharpen when the time comes. It is important that your knife meets all of these criteria, otherwise you will find yourself in great danger in zero visibility conditions if you can’t find your knife or lose your grip.
Photo: Alt Content [CC BY-SA]
Last update on 2023-03-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API