Best Pocket Knife For Dress Pants: My Top Choices!
I am definitely more comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt, however, when I need to wear a pair of dress pants I still want to be able to carry a quality pocket knife with me. One of the main concerns with carrying in a pair of dress slacks though is that you usually want your knife to be inconspicuous but still functional for when you need it.
After carrying a pocket knife for almost 40 years, I feel naked without one and have tried many different knives in a wide array of situations. This article covers my favorite choices for the best pocket knife for dress pants. They cover a wide budget and surprisingly, the most expensive ones are not my top choices. Read on to find out why!
What Is A Gentleman’s Knife?
Before we get into the recommendations, I want to clarify what a gentleman’s knife is and talk a bit about how I determine what is a good choice for an EDC knife for dress pants.
Like I said above, I much prefer jeans and a T-shirt, however, when I wear dress pants my usual pocket knife for everyday use carry of a Spyderco Military or Benchmade Griptillian are a little too large to be discreet. And, If you flip one of these open at a wedding reception or in an office setting, you are more than likely to draw a lot of attention that you may not want.
That said, I still want my pocket knife to be useful and it needs to be sturdy, have a decent length blade made with high-quality blade steel, and a solid locking mechanism. (unless it is a slip joint) It is an added bonus if it looks classy, (and looks expensive even if it isn’t) and suits a dressier attire.
How To Choose A Gentleman’s Knife VS An EDC Knife?
As outlined above, a gentleman’s knife for carrying in dress pants, khaki’s, or dress slacks needs to be functional and look good. It also needs to be lightweight (The lighter the better) and can’t be too big. A good choice for size is in the 2 to 3 inch blade length and weight under 3 ounces. This leaves a lot of room for different choices to suit different people.
The look of the knife is important too. A Tanto Blade with a camo-style handle may not blend in as well as a classic clip point blade with carbon fiber scales. My favorite pocket knife for carrying while wearing dress pants has a D2 steel blade that is just under 3 inches long and a G10 handle with a carbon fiber bolster. It weighs right around 2.7 ounces and comes with a leather pocket slip and clip or can easily be carried loose in your pocket as well. It is;
Best Pocket Knife For Dress Pants
Civivi Rustic Gent
My Personal Choice
While Civivi is not the most well-known pocket knife brand, they make quite a few high-quality pocket knives and everyone I have had the pleasure of carrying has been well manufactured with a high level of fit and finish. At first, I was a little leary of this brand, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to like this little knife. However, after carrying it in the pocket of a pair of lightweight dress slacks in the pocket slip it comes with, I forgot it was there and when I did need it, it blended right in and felt very natural in its environment.
I have had more than a few comments from people that it is a very nice-looking knife. It is very traditional in its style with that little flair of carbon fiber on the bolster. While the 3-inch blade may be a little large for certain office settings, I have large hands and it fits me very well without looking too scary or menacing for those who do not carry pocket knives.
The locking mechanism for this knife is a solid and classic backlock. While this is one of the most solid locking mechanism styles, it is also generally accepted as a two-hand style of lock. The blade has a crisp nail nick in the side of it for opening, and while I can open and even close the knife one-handed, it is not an easy task, and not nearly as smooth as other opening and locking styles. That said, when I am in the type of environment where I wear dress pants, quick one-handed operation is usually not a defining factor for me.
The knife itself does not have a pocket clip attached to it but the pocket slip does have a stainless steel clip to keep it in place. I prefer to just drop this knife loose into my pocket and it really blends right in with my money clip and minimalist wallet.
The D2 steel blade holds an edge quite well, however, it is a high carbon tool steel and as such cannot be treated the same as many stainless steels if you expect it not to rust. If you live in a very humid climate, let it get wet often, carry near saltwater, or carry it in your waistband (IWB) then you need to make sure you dry it off, clean it, and/or oil it as required to ensure it does not corrode.
Keep in mind though, while all of those conditions are often common when you are wearing jeans and living a more rough and tumble life. When I wear dress pants, I tend to stay clean, dry, and out of the rain so this isn’t much of a concern. (And isn’t always that much fun either!)
My Budget Choice
The Kershaw Leek is a solid knife and is one of Kershaw’s most popular knives. It has an assisted opening flipper style as well as a stainless steel handle for a classy look. While it is a bit more industrial looking than the Civivi Rustic Gent detailed above, it still fits into a more refined setting just as well as it does in more traditional usage.
My brother-in-law carries one of these every day for many years at it always surprises me just how tough this little knife is. The 3 inch long 14C28N stainless steel blade holds an edge well enough and is also very easy to sharpen when it does need a touch-up. The 410 stainless steel handle gives this knife a clean and sleek look and surprisingly, the whole knife weighs right at 3 ounces, even with the strong steel handle.
The flipper-style assisted opening mechanism makes this knife very easy to open one-handed, although, it may be wiser to open the blade a little more slowly with the attached thumb stud so you don’t scare your co-workers in the office. The knife sports a solid frame lock style which is also quite easy to unlock and close one-handed with a little practice as well.
One interesting and unique feature of this knife is that it has what they call a “tip Lock” that keeps the knife closed until you slide the locking button forward to allow it to open. This can be a great feature for a pocket knife for carrying when you are wearing dress pants as it won’t open unexpectedly in your pocket to damage your fancy pants.
The reversible stainless steel pocket clip can keep this knife secured and in place until you need it. However, this is also one of the main drawbacks of this knife for me. The pocket clip is not a deep carry style and definitely looks like a pocket knife clip in your pocket with the top bit of the knife sticking out. If this is a concern for you then you may want to look at one of the other options on my list here. But, if you are ok with it the Kershaw Leek is one of the best budget pocket knives for dress pants.
Spyderco Sage 1
My Premium Choice
If you are looking for a knife that is a solid workhorse and as capable as they come but still very slim, lightweight, and carries low in your pocket then the Spyderco Sage 1 is the knife you need. My favorite version linked here comes with a Maxamet steel blade and a classy cool gray peel-ply textured G10 handle.
With the traditional Spydie hole in the back of the blade for opening, the Sage 1 has a look that is definitely Spyderco, and is not for everyone. That said, this is one of the most reliable, and purpose driven knives on my list that is just as at home in the field as it is in your dress pants at the office.
It has a 3-inch Maxamet steel blade which is sure to hold an edge for a long time. Maxamet is a premium blade steel with a very high hardness so that it stays sharp for a long time. The steel is reasonably tough and should hold up well to your everyday carry tasks but its high hardness means that it is not as tough as some other blade steels. One drawback of this steel is that it can be hard to sharpen if you don’t have the right sharpening tools and experience.
The full flat grind on the leaf shaped blade means that it is a real slicer! The long smooth taper and extremely hard Maxamet steel mean that you can take this down to a narrower edge angle and still stay razor-sharp for a long time. I prefer to sharpen ultra-hard steels like Maxamet in the 12 to 15 degrees per side (25 to 30 degrees inclusive) so that they are hair popping sharp and sure to impress anyone who uses it.
One other nice feature of this knife is the deep carry wire pocket clip. When I got my first Spyderco with a wire clip I didn’t like it and thought it felt flimsy and would surely bend. But, after carrying many wire clipper Spyderco knives I am happy to say that this is now one of my favorite clip styles and that they have all held up very well. The smooth wire clip allows for a deep pocket carry that keep your knife away from prying eyes and is easy on fabric so it won’t ruin your expensive dress pants.
Like the lower cost Leek above, the Sage 1 has a linerlock and coupled with the trademarked Spydie hole makes for smooth and easy one-handed operation. While this knife is designed to be used and functions very well, the classy and subdued look of this blade will make it at home in just about any dress carry situation.
Benchmade Mini Griptillian
My Best All Around Choice
The Benchmade Mini Griptillian is a smaller version of one of their best-selling knives, the Griptillian. While I don’t actually own a Mini Grip, I do own a couple of the full-sized versions and have carried the Mini enough times to know that I like it! This is a great all-around knife that has an extremely ergonomic “Noryl GTX” handle as well as a tried and true S30V steel blade.
The main difference between this knife and the full-sized version is, of course, the size. The Mini Griptillian has a 2.9″ drop point blade that comes either with a thumb stud for easy one-handed opening, or a rounded hole akin to a Spyderco Spydie hole that functions in the same way. The proprietary Axis lock is not only extremely strong, it functions well with just one hand to unlock and close the blade.
The reversible stainless steel pocket clip is very sturdy, although, it is not a deep carry style so there will be a little bit of the knife handle sticking out of your pocket when you carry.
The Noryl handle material helps you keep a good grip and it is one of the most ergonomic handles on this list. The full-sized Griptillian fits my hand very well and has become one of my go-to knives for wilderness carry and anywhere that I may have to use the knife often. The mini Grip is a little small for my hands for prolonged use, but, I do have large hands and for general day-to-day use the mini version works very well.
Weighing just a little over 2.5 ounces it is light enough to not be very noticeable in your dress pants pocket. As well, the curved handles help your pants to contour to it rather than printing an obvious knife shape in your pocket.
The S30V drop point blade is both hard enough to withstand lots of day to day use while holding a fine edge, and tough enough to handle more serious jobs without chipping, rolling the edge, or breaking.
Victorinox Cadet Alox
My Classic Choice
The last knife on my list is the classic Victorinox Cadet Alox. Just about anyone who carries a pocket knife is familiar with the classic Victorinox Swiss Army Knives. In fact, the first pocket knife I ever got as a kid was the Swiss Army Camper. It was my boyhood treasure and I carried it every day for many, many years. I can’t remember where I lost it but I do remember how sad I was about it.
The Cadet, in contrast, is a more refined version that is quite at home in the pocket of your dress slacks at the office or other function. With its aluminum “Alox” scales it looks more classy than the classic red Swiss army, but still maintains the classic shape, blades, and multifunction tools.
The other nice thing about this small pocket knife is that it is much less “tactical” looking than some of the others on this list so if you are often in situations where that may be an issue then this is the right knife for you. Just about everyone is familiar with the Swiss Army knife and their non locking slip joint style is often regarded as more of a tool than a weapon.
The solid aluminum handle scales are textured for a good grip and their Eloxal anodic oxidation method creates a protective layer that gives the handle its classy coloring and good looks.
Like I said when I started this article, I am much more comfortable in a pair of old jeans and a T-shirt for my everyday wear, but, for those times when I need to wear a pair of dress pants, you can be sure that I will have one of these great knives in my pocket. Part of being prepared no matter where you are is having the right tools for the job with you when you need them and a good pocket knife is one tool that I will never be without, no matter what pants I am wearing.