One of the trendiest new-ish items in the survivalist community is the neck knife.
Small and lightweight, these knives are designed to be worn around the neck like a necklace. But they aren’t without controversy.
Some love neck knives, and others think they are flat-out idiotic.
Here’s the unbiased scoop on neck knives to see whether it is worth it to get one!
Pros of Neck Knives
Ease of Access
This varies depending on the type of sheath and how you wear it, but neck knives can be very easy to access. Someone strangling you? Your neck knife will be right there where you need it.
It is straightforward to spot a sheathed knife on your waistband. Sure, you can wear a sheathed or folder knife tied to a leash inside your waistband, but this is pretty uncomfortable.
By comparison, a neck knife is very easy to conceal underneath your shirt or jacket.
Neck knives aren’t just short in length, but they are also very slim in their thickness. I know many people who bought neck knives to wear on their hip because they were the smallest option.
See our guide to the best small survival knife.
Stronger than a Folder
As I talk about in this post about how to choose a knife, fixed-blade knives are more robust than folding knives. A neck knife might be your best option if you are looking for a strong-yet-compact knife.
Easy Way to Carry an Extra Knife
What’s better than one knife? How about two! Some people carry an extra blade on their leg, but the neck is another option.
Or maybe you want to go for the hip, leg, and neck, so you have three knives as part of your everyday carry.
Can Wear a Neck Knife Without Pants
This might seem obvious or funny, but there are a lot of situations where you might need to wear a knife without pants on.
For example, if you are swimming, you probably don’t have a good way of wearing your knife on your swimming trunks.
Likewise, women often wear pants without belt loops (like yoga pants or stretch pants).
Practical for when Wearing a Backpack with Hip Straps
My Bug Out Bag has hip straps on it, as do my backpacks for when I go wilderness trekking. I’ve found that the hip straps can get in the way of my belt and make it difficult to get my knife out.
Also, the hip straps can push against the knife and be uncomfortable. A neck knife is a good solution to these problems.
Cons of Neck Knives
Deployment Can Be Problematic
Accessing a neck knife isn’t always easy. Let’s say that someone is strangling you, but your neck knife is underneath your shirt. Good luck getting it out!
Likewise, some neck knives are very awkward to remove from the sheath, and you might need 2 hands to deploy. This is not something you want in emergencies!
Concealed Carry Might Be Illegal
Yep, your neck knife might be illegal, depending on where you live.
It Could Be a Safety Hazard
Wearing anything around your neck can be a choking hazard.
Thus, if you wear a neck knife, it is wise to use a breakaway chain for safety reasons. Plus, the breakaway chain means you’ll be able to tear the entire knife off your neck for easier access if necessary.
Neck knives can also be a safety hazard if you fall on them. Do you really want a razor-sharp knife inches away from your heart and lungs? If the sheath is low-quality, this could mean a mortal stab wound during a fall!
If the sheath or chain fails, your neck knife will fall out. If you don’t notice, you’ll lose your knife. If you see it, you might embarrassingly have to scramble around the supermarket floor looking for it.
You Might Find It Uncomfortable
The newest generations of neck knives are a lot better than the older ones. Those older ones were heavy and started to be uncomfortable after 30 minutes of wearing them. If you aren’t used to wearing a necklace, you might find any neck knife – regardless of weight – uncomfortable.
Two Hands for Re-sheathing
This gets annoying quickly!
Neck Knives Bounce Around
The neck knife will bounce around a lot when worn outside of your shirt (or without a shirt at all). It is particularly annoying when you’ve got to crawl around on your stomach.
I’ve also found that the neck knife is rarely in a convenient deployment position because it bounces around on the chain. The solution is to wear it under your shirt, but it isn’t easily accessible anymore.
Best Neck Knives
Now that you know the pros and cons let’s look at some of the top knives on the market.
#1 MTech USA Fixed Blade Neck Knife
A good cheap option for those looking to try a neck knife for the first time.
It is not a super high-quality knife but is very usable for everyday carry.
#2 Colombia River Neck Knife
This mid-range knife comes with a Zytel sheaf and a fixed bowie blade.
It weighs an impressive 1.6 oz and is generally well regarded by survivalists.
#3 ESEE Izula Neck Knife
This Esee knife is made in the USA and comes with a reassuring warranty.
Incredibly light at just 1.9 oz, this one is very easy to carry. Also included is a plastic sheath.
Should You Get a Neck Knife?
Just like there is no one “perfect” knife, there is no one answer to this question.
I prefer my fixed-blade hip-carry knives, but I also love my neck knife for specific situations – like when swimming or wearing a heavy backpack with hip straps.
If you do decide to get a neck knife, make sure that you follow these buying guidelines:
- The sheath MUST be good quality: If the sheath isn’t good quality, the neck knife could stab you during a fall! It should require a powerful pull to get the neck knife out.
- Aim for 2 oz. or less: Anything heavier than this will be very uncomfortable to wear.
- Get a breakaway chain or cord: Ball chains are breakaway, meaning you won’t get strangled by your neck knife if it gets snagged on something. Some people find ball chains uncomfortable, so you could consider a leather or paracord strap with a breakaway clasp.
- Check your local concealed carry laws: You don’t want to end up paying a fine because of your neck knife!
Related reading: See our guide to the best survival necklace.
What’s your take on neck knives – love ’em or hate ’em? Let us know in the comments.
Leave a comment
I have worn one for 40 years.. At first you wonder.. what to use it for.. But as time goes on… You find you use it for everything you need a sharp edge for.. And can’t imagine getting dressed and not putting it on..
Yep – surprisingly useful tool.
You’re spot-on when it comes to the Breakaway my beaded chain is covered with gutted paracord and the ends melted .and to the weight of the knife and sheath together I’ve been wearing neck knives since 2003 usually A variation of models from Cold Steel and crkt I do have to admit I prefer the sheaths for the cold steel. when considering a neck knife for carry you really do need to look at how that sheath will hold that knife .if you’re someone that may need to wear body armor it might not be so comfortable under your plate and yes you really do need to research your state and local laws “I cannot overstate that”
Thanks for putting your review on the net
Thanks Gib – good tips especially like the way you cover the chain with paracord.
Whether a full size pack or a day pack, neck knives are easily accessible and never in the way. Wear it under your chest strap to keep it from flapping. If I think I’ll need a bigger camp knife, it goes in my pack. Also, around camp, a neck knife is just right for most tasks. I have a number of them, my favorite tool.