Ropes and knots are essential knowledge for sailors and their sailboats. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into sailing with complicated ropes, lines, and ties. To assist sailors in their duties, a sailing knife is an excellent tool to have onboard for safe sailing.

Sailing knives come in a variety of styles. A sailor’s knife should be easy to use and comfortable to hold. But there are a lot of cheap designs that won’t last.

Our guide is designed to help you find the best sailing knife that you’ll love to take on every adventure. Below we have some important features, as well as a list of the ten best sailing knives.

How To Choose A Sailing Knife – Buying Guide


Out of all the knives available on the market, sailing knives tend to stand out as the most popular choice for any sailor or boater because they are durable and function well.

Here are some features that will help you determine what makes a quality knife for sailing. These tips will make the buying process effortless, so you can focus on rigging your boat.

Blade Tip

Blade tips come pointed or blunt and you will have to decide which style you want. A pointed blade tip can be dangerous in slippery conditions, but in an emergency situation, puncture power may be useful. Blunted blades are much safer and may be required in official events, but you will lose puncturing power.

Blade Lock

Most nautical knives are folding to save space, which means it also needs a reliable blade lock to keep it open. The blade lock will ensure your knife never closes while it is being used, but should also be easily disengaged with one hand, so the knife can be folded again.

Blade Operation

The best rigging knife will have a smooth blade operation that allows you to swiftly engage the blade. Most often there is a feature like a hole, pin, or notch that can be used with one hand to extend the blade.

It may take you some time to learn how to perfectly use your blade, especially in bad sailing conditions, but once you have mastered how to open your blade it’ll become second nature.

Blade Material

Salt water and air are extremely harsh elements that your marine knife will have to be able to withstand. The best materials that are resistant to corrosion are cobalt and stainless steel. Stainless steel is the most popular choice because it performs better than other low-quality metals.

Knife Sheath

Not all rope cutting knives will come with a sheath, which can be disappointing. Knife sheaths are extremely helpful for holding your boating knife because it keeps the body protected and allows you to easily carry it.

An alternate to a knife sheath would be a minimalistic belt clip. This may not have an entire sheath to encase the knife, but would still allow you to attach the knife to your sailing life jacket for quick and easy access.

Blade Edge

The three most common types of blade edges are straight, serrated, and a combination. A straight edged blade will be smooth with a slight curve, which will apply even cutting pressure along its entire length.

A serrated edge is best for cutting rope because the teeth allow the knife to grip and tear the fibers, but you will have less force in the blade. A combination blade will be partly straight but have a serrated edge, usually towards the handle of the knife. These designs are very popular because it allows you to do everything you want with your yacht knife.

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There are many different design options available for nautical knives. You can get folding and non-folding designs, as well as blades made of a variety of material. Some design may look or tactical and others closer to that of pocket knives. You will have to determine what design you feel comfortable with using.


You should be steady in your grip when holding your marine knife, even if you are using sailing gloves. Grip is important and you want to ensure that your knife feels comfortable in your hand.

Cutting Ability

For sailors, it really comes down to being able to cut rope, because that will usually be the toughest material your knife will have to face. A top rated rigging knife should be sharp enough to effortlessly cut through any rope.


Some nautical knives have additional features like marlin spikes, shackle keys, screwdrivers, and bottle openers. If you want more than just a sailor’s knife, look at designs that resemble multi-tools to get all the feature you want.



Q: Why do I need a knife on a boat?


In order to sail or operate any boat, there are a lot of different ropes lines and rigging involved. A knife will make cutting and managing rope easier and it is a great tool to have in case of an emergency aboard your sailboat.

Q: How to determine the sharpness of the blade?


You can really only test a knife by trying to use it on material that you intend to cut. If you ever struggle to cut a rope, your knife may not be sharp enough. If you’ve used your knife for a while, it may just need a sharpening to get back to its best performance.

You can also check sailing knife reviews to see what other customers have to say about their experience with the knife and how sharp or reliable the blade is.

Q: How to clean my knife?


Most knives for sailing can be easily rinsed with fresh water to clean them. You should be cautious of using any detergent and if you want specific instructions, look at any brand provided care instructions for the best advice.

Q: Is it legal to carry a knife on a boat?


Yes, but if you are on a boat in public waters, it needs to have a blade 4 inches or smaller. Most sailing knives are perfectly legal to be on boats, especially when they are used as a tool to assist in rigging. However, if you are on any privately-owned water space, you can legally carry what you want, and the owner allows.

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A top rated rigging knife will always be a popular choice for sailors and boaters to manage their boats. Sailing knives offer versatility, durability, and function. With the best sailing knife, you will feel confident in sailing the high seas. The best rigging knife would even make an excellent gift for sailors and boaters.

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