Plenty of press gets devoted to knife steel and scale and handle materials. After that, the lion’s share of attention in knife news probably goes to deployment and action mechanisms. Maybe this is split on developments in lock types.
After that, it’s relatively slim pickings. Perhaps a headline or two on carry methods and pocket clips.
Speaking of which, when your attention shifts from the best pocket knife to the best fixed blade, some of your attention should go to the sheath.
The sheath protects the knife, protects you, and completely defines carry, access, and draw.
So it’s worth it to put sheaths under a microscope every once in a while.
On that topic, what’s best – leather, woven nylon, or rigid synthetics? Let’s take a comparative look.
Leather sheaths are still common but they were once much more common as a sheath material. They have that classic, rugged look and patina beautifully over time.
Leather is also supple yet supportive. Most leather sheaths are more comfortable to carry if they are in contact with your body because of leather’s naturally pliable nature.
Leather, being a natural material, is subject to rot, water damage, and sun damage. It must be carefully conditioned to keep it in shape.
Leather sheaths also often cannot be mounted in as many ways as other types of sheaths. In addition, leather sheaths rarely offer the same degree of retention as synthetic sheaths, unless they have secondary retention straps.
A carbon steel blade left in a leather sheath for a prolonged period of time will also rust.
Woven Nylon: Advantages
Woven nylon offers many of the same benefits as leather. It is soft, flexible, light, and strong. Typically, woven nylon sheaths often have a rigid insert to protect against knife point penetration.
Because woven nylon is breathable and allows oil and water to evaporate, it is better at preventing rust than leather.
Woven nylon also does not need to be conditioned, as leather does.
Woven Nylon: Disadvantages
Like leather, woven nylon cannot be mounted in as many ways as most rigid synthetic sheaths.
Also like leather, woven nylon often requires a strap for retention and cannot offer a secure friction fit.
Synthetics (Injection-Molded, Thermoplastic, Kydex): Advantages
There is a wide range of synthetic, rigid sheaths on the market, including but not limited to rigid nylon, injection-molded thermoplastics, and Kydex. Most of these offer similar advantages.
Since they are both solid and rigid, there is little chance of the knife penetrating the sheath. This protects both the knife and the user.
These sheaths are impervious to the elements, suitable in very hot and very cold environments, and will not absorb water, blood, grease, or oil. Since they are synthetic, they will not rot or rust.
These sorts of synthetics can be made to closely match the dimensions of the knife, enabling secure primary retention without the need for clips or straps. This can, in many instances, make the knife handle more accessible.
Also, many rigid synthetic sheaths are MOLLE-compatible or can be lashed to a pack or a belt, for instance, for scout carry.
Synthetic sheaths lack the cool factor and comfort of leather and the comfort of woven synthetic sheaths.
Also, it’s less comfortable to carry a large fixed blade in a tip-down configuration on your hip with a rigid synthetic sheath, since the sheath will dig into you.
Also, since most rigid synthetic sheaths only offer friction retention, they tend to lack secondary straps. Because of this, users should take extra care if their knives have finger rings or lanyards, which can get caught and pull the knife free.
Looking for the Best Pocket Knife?
Ready to add a new pocket knife or fixed blade to your collection? Not sure what the best pocket knife is?
Well, you don’t need to decide that on the fly. Instead, visit White Mountain Knives at WhiteMountainKnives.com and see what appeals to you.
They carry both fixed and folding knives in a variety of configurations. They carry pocket knives with natural and synthetic scale materials like carbon fiber, and with a range of different blade steels, ranging from stainless steel blades to corrosion-resistant super steels with excellent edge retention.
Not sure if the best pocket knife has thumb studs or thumb holes, or whether it has an assisted open mechanism for an easy one-handed opening? Not sure what blade length is ideal, whether a liner lock or frame lock mechanism is superior for one-handed opening and closing, or if a compression lock is better for its strength?
Don’t decide on the best pocket knife right now. Visit White Mountain Knives via the link above and get yourself something that will hold an edge and is as good for opening packaging as it is for food prep.
They carry a little of everything, from the best brands in the industry, so finding something that appeals to your sense of taste and works for you is a foregone conclusion.