PSA: Stop using your expensive pocket knife to open cardboard packages. It's not that boxes are bad for blades (in fact, if your pocket knife can't stand up to a little cardboard, that's a whole different can of worms), it's that there's a tool for every job, and when it comes to DIY projects around the house, breaking down that Amazon haul or prepping for more involved construction projects, it pays to have a utility knife built for the job at hand.
Save your pocket knife for EDC carry and camp, and for daily maintenance, pick up a utility knife instead. Here are our top picks.
BEST OVERALL UTILITY KNIFEHusky Wood Handle Folding Lock-Back Utility Knife Read More
Best Upgrade Utility KnifeBig Idea Design TPT Slide Read More
Best Heavy Duty Utility KnifeDeWalt Retractable Utility Knife Read More
Best Budget Utility KnifeHusky Folding Lock-Back Utility Knife Read More
Best Mini Utility KnifePenco Pocket Utility Knife Read More
What to look for in a utility knife
On the surface, it may not appear that utility knives may be a dime a dozen, but hidden under their homogenized hoods, there's plenty of differentiation to be found. When shopping for the utility knife that's going to provide you the most, well, utility, it's important to consider materials, durability, precision and price. Some utility knives come with extra blades and quick-change blade swap systems; others are equipped with fewer features but are built with more premium materials like wood, stainless steel and carbon fiber. It's important also to note size: whatever feels the most natural when you grip it is going to be more effective than a blade that comes with all the bells and whistles.
Husky Wood Handle Folding Lock-Back Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 2.4-inch blade, 4.33-inch handle, 9.06 inches 0verall length
- Materials: Steel blade, wood handle
Whether you're walking down the aisles of your favorite hardware store or browsing their wares online, Husky's wood-handled, folding utility knife will catch your eye every time. Its aesthetic departure from the traditional fixed-handle, steel-and-plastic construction means you'll never mix it up with your buddy's during a DIY project, and its simple quick-change blade mechanism means you can stay sharp, without the hassle. We liked the medium heft and tactile feel of the wood and steel construction, and the folding design made this easy to stuff in our pockets when not in use. If you're looking for an affordable, aesthetically-pleasing tool, Husky's folding utility blade is an easy "Add to Cart".
Big Idea Design TPT Slide
- Dimensions: 3 inches overall
- Materials: Grade 5 titanium alloy, stainless steel, 550 paracord lanyard
Those looking to upgrade even the simplest tools in their arsenal, look no further than Big Idea Design's unique utility knife. Part multi-tool, part keychain, part utility knife, this little wonder boasts a bottle opener, flat-head screwdriver, wide flat-head screwdriver, internal magnet, hex bit... and we haven't even gotten to its utility knife function, yet. Although it doesn't even come included with razor blades (you'll have to purchase separately), and it's many times more expensive than any other utility knife on this list, we still consider the smart design of this one-ounce wonder to outweigh any cons it may have.
DeWalt Retractable Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 1-inch blade, 7-inch handle, 9.2 inches overall
- Materials: Stainless steel, plastic, heavy-duty rubber
Tough jobs require tough tools, and not many brands know that better than DeWalt. For just shy of a century, DeWalt has been turning out all sorts of tools built to stand up to any job. At 0.6 pounds, the Retractable Utility Knife is one of the heaviest on this list, but if you've got some solid workwear to clip it to, you won't be fazed by the extra ounces. Blending the security of a fixed blade with the convenience of a retractable knife, DeWalt's utility blade also features an integrated carabiner and a deadbolt blade mechanism, and it is resistant to weather and water. If you need a heavy-duty tool that's going to get the job done quickly and simply, and you don't mind a little extra weight, this is our top tough pick.
Husky Folding Lock-Back Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 2.4-inch blade, 4.06 inch handle, 8.94 inches overall
- Materials: Steel blade and handle
At under 10 bucks, Husky's folding-style utility knife is a solid pick for budget-conscious DIYers that want a simple, affordable utility knife to have around the house for weekend projects. Sure, it's not as gnarly as DeWalt's heavy-duty option, and it won't win style awards against Penco or Big Idea Design, but whatever Husky's folding knife lacks in style or substance, it makes up for with affordability and dependable action. And with 10 included replacement blades, this is easily the best deal on the list. If you're cutting down cardboard boxes or working on mellow weekend projects, this utility knife will get the job done just fine.
Penco Pocket Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 3.3 inches overall
- Materials: Zinc/steel
If the bestowment of "best utility knife" were based on convenience, this tiny-but-mighty option would win, hands down. At less than two ounces it's barely noticeable on your keychain, has the sharpest blade of any we tested and is ultra-precise, thanks to its nimble construction. Plus, it comes with a keychain loop, so you can easily integrate it into your EDC kit. Sure, you'll have to order replacement blades separately, but in our book, that's a small price to pay for a utility knife that's this fun to use. Bring on the cardboard.
Stanley Self-Retracting Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 2.5-inch blade, 5.6-inch handle, 8 inches overall
- Materials: Steel handle and blade
This is probably the utility blade your grandparents carried around — as one of the most classic designs on the market, it's no surprise this no-nonsense utility knife from Stanley has stood the test of time. Sure, the steel handle is a little heavy, but you could drop this thing off the side of a building or run it over with your truck, and we're confident it would keep cutting boxes as if nothing happened. Changing the blade requires a screwdriver, which can be a little annoying, but if sturdiness and practical design are your biggest concerns, Stanley's got you covered.
Milwaukee Compact Folding Utility Knife
- Dimensions: 27-inch blade, 4.03-inch handle, 6.15 inches overall
- Materials: Plastic, stainless steel
Most utility knives follow a fixed design, with a blade that slides out and retracts. Milwaukee decided to divert from the standard mold and instead take cues from the classic folding design of pocket knives for this lightweight, everyday utility knife. The plastic handle cuts weight, while the pocket clip is large and easy to use. Milwaukee says its utility knife was designed for one-handed opening, but we found that two minimizes sketchiness and increases safety.
Slice Auto-Retractable Industrial Knife
- Dimensions: 3-inch blade length, 6.1 inches overall
- Materials: 100-percent zirconium oxide blade, nylon handle
Industrial settings require industrial-strength tools — the team at Slice wasn't satisfied with what was available in the industrial utility knife department, so it made its own. The Auto-Retractable Industrial Knife's 3-inch blade was designed specifically for cutting through insulation batting and thick foam, and its textured button slider engages the spring-loaded blade with ease, and the nylon handle is both lightweight and durable. Slip some paracord through the lanyard hole to mitigate any risk of losing this knife on the job site, at home or on the go.
Pacific Handy Cutter S5R Safety Cutter
- Dimensions: 6.25 inches overall
- Materials: Stainless steel, plastic, metal
Sometimes, it's the simplest tools that end up being our favorites. This was the case with the Pacific Handy Cutter S5: it's a cheap, dependable utility knife that's easy on the wallet, and easy to use. Those with smaller hands will appreciate the steel thumb guard, which enables precision cutting and allows for a more solid grip on the tool. The plastic handle feels cheap compared to more expensive and heavier materials like steel or wood, but the lightness and brightness of the S5 makes up for any misgivings around quality. The bright green colorway is easy to spot in a dark tool shed or crowded tool belt, and multiple blade depths provide enough flexibility for a variety of tasks.