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If You're Going to Buy Just One Pocket Knife, Make It This One

I hadn't carried a pocket knife in years. Now, thanks to CRKT's Pilar III, I carry one every day.

crkt pilar iii pocket knife
Scott Seiver

There are two types of people in the world: those that carry a pocket knife, and those that don't. In my experience, once you've given the non-carriers a taste of knife life — and the usefulness therein — they quickly switch teams without a look back. But, picking a pocket knife for everyday use can feel like a daunting task; there are features, materials and capabilities that can overwhelm a newbie.

So if you're just getting into pocket knives and need help picking one to carry every day, we've found the one for you: the Pilar III from CRKT.

crkt pilar iii knife
Hayley Helms

The CRKT Pilar III is our top pick when it comes to the best pocket knives, and for good reason: it's practical and straightforward enough for the most inexperienced wielder of knives to handle, but built with enough know-how to keep die-hard enthusiasts satisfied, as well.

I've had a fair share of pocket knives in my time — I started out with my grandfather's Swiss Army Knife whittling sticks as a kid, and from there have tried my hand at half a dozen different blades. I appreciate an uncomplicated design; often, the most seemingly simple items seem so due to a hell of a lot of background engineering. I took the CRKT Pilar III everywhere with me for a week — here's what I thought.

This pocket knife is hard to put down

crkt pilar iii knife
Hayley Helms

Right out of the box, the first thing that struck me about the third iteration of the Pilar was its unique look — the clean and curvy lines help it stand out from the pack, and give it a handfeel that feels both capable and creative. The fine point on the D2 steel blade is an update from the almost axe-reminiscent blade of the Pilar II and came in handy when opening packages. I found myself using the knife even when scissors would have been the rational choice; taking tags off clothing, cutting cords and dismantling my Amazon packages felt way more fun with using the Pilar III.

My favorite features of the Pilar III

crkt pilar knife iii
Hayley Helms

In terms of useful attributes, the Pilar III has plenty: the IKBS ball bearing pivot kept opening and closing smooth, the high-carbon, stainless steel blade is easy to sharpen, G10 with stainless steel handle feels and looks bombproof and the frame lock felt secure during use. I found myself opening the blade with two hands more often than not, even though there is a thumb slot for easy one-handed openings; those more experienced with a knife (or with bigger hands) may find it more useful than I did during testing.

I found myself using the pocket clip more frequently than I had imagined; taking the knife with me on hikes and runs made me feel safer being out alone, and the clip is secure enough that I didn't need to worry about losing the blade during runs.

Is the Pilar III worth buying?

crkt pilar iii pocket knife
Hayley Helms

CRKT's Pilar III strikes a balance between modernity and history, with both urban styling and nostalgia serving as inspiration for the blade's look and feel. Jesper Voxnaes designed the original Pilar in his Logstrup, Denmark shop, and named it after the beloved boat belonging to Ernest Hemingway during World War II, which was used to monitor German U-boats in the Caribbean. Even with that storied background, the knife itself belongs very much in the 21st century, and I found myself using it in my daily life as though I had had it for years.

The only drawback I've found to this rekindled love of blades? Getting to the TSA checkpoint at the airport... and realizing I've still got it in my pocket.

columbia river knife tool crkt.com
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