Best Neck Knife for Survival and EDC

Neck knives are great for carrying small survival knives where you can always reach them (and rarely lose them). The neck carry position is one of the oldest spots to carry a knife, with cultures around the world relying on sheathes hung around their necks for thousands of years. There are many brands and types of neck knives to consider.

This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best portable generators, put them to the test, and now the results are in: the overall best, a budget option, and an upgrade option. If you want a small survival knife to carry in a consistent spot, one of our picks will be reliable for years to come.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

ESEE Izula Knife

The Best Neck Knife

ESEE Izula

Strong, Versatile, and Effective

The practical outdoor survival knife to beat happens to make for a reliable lightweight neck knife as well.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

ESEE and Randall are well-known for quality survival gear and knowing their stuff. The Izula (Peruvian name for the Bullet Ant- hence the ant on the blade) is lightweight but built like a tank. With a thick blade and skeletonized handle for reduced weight, this knife is heaven-sent for using as a neck knife.

There are several colors to pick from and a wide variety of accessories (including handles) that you can pick up for the Izula frame. Make it your own and then use it for everything survival related. If it breaks (unlikely), ESEE has its unbeatable lifetime no-questions warranty.

Here is how it measures up:

  • 2.875″ drop point 1095 steel blade, 0.16″ thickness
  • 6.25″ length
  • 1.9 ounces
  • Polymer sheath
  • Lifetime no-questions warranty
  • Made in the USA

With specs like these, it’s easy to see how the ESEE Izula is the best survival neck knife. It came in at the top of our fixed blade review as well.

CRKT Minimalist Folts Neck Knife

Budget Neck Knife

CRKT Minimalist Folts

Inexpensive, Lightweight, and Reliable

Small enough to be a neck knife, large enough to be useful, and cheap enough to not break the bank.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

The lightest and cheapest of our picks still proves to be a great little knife. It is available in a variety of blade shapes, and the drop-point version just happens to be the one we prefer here. They all have a surprisingly ergonomic handle and weight and profile that won’t bog you down.

Here is how this CRKT neck knife measures up:

  • 2.16″ drop point 5Cr15MoV steel blade, 0.105″ thickness
  • 5.25″ length
  • 1.8 ounces
  • Nylon sheath

If you are just starting out with survival or bushcraft, the CRKT Minimalist Folts Knife is what you need.

TOPS Knives Lil Roughneck

Upgrade Neck Knife

TOPS Lil Roughneck

Small, Thick, and Durable

A tough hunk of steel that can hold an edge and withstand any abuse you put it through.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

I know, we harp on weight all the time and this thing is over half a pound in metal alone. But it’s downright bomb-proof and will last forever. TOPS Knives put out some hefty blades, and they didn’t cut any corners with the Lil Roughneck.

It can take some getting used to hanging around your neck, but it’ll more than makeup for it when you’re using it and it survives whatever hell you put it up to.

Here are the full specs:

  • 2.75″ clip point 5160 steel blade, 0.38″ thickness
  • 6.25″ length
  • 10.2 ounces
  • Kydex sheath
  • Made in the USA

If you are looking for a hefty neck knife that will last a lifetime, grab a TOPS Lil Roughneck.

Everything We Recommend

ESEE Izula Knife

ESEE Izula

The practical outdoor survival knife to beat happens to make for a reliable lightweight neck knife as well.

Where to Buy

$61* at Amazon

$63* at BladeHQ

*at time of reviewing

CRKT Minimalist Folts Neck Knife

CRKT Minimalist Folts

Small enough to be a neck knife, large enough to be useful, and cheap enough to not break the bank.

Where to Buy

$30* at BladeHQ

$32* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

TOPS Knives Lil Roughneck

TOPS Lil Roughneck

A tough hunk of steel that can hold an edge and withstand any abuse you put it through.

Where to Buy

$109* at Amazon

$110* at BladeHQ

*at time of reviewing

The Knives We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to several brands and types of neck knives that we compared: SOG, CRKT, ESEE, TOPS, Cold Steel, Schrade, Boker, Kershaw,
Spyderco, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We considered a huge range of knife brands and types. We narrowed it down to survival-oriented knives and then to fixed blades that were reasonable to wear around your neck.

We’re always looking for new and better gear, so if you have a neck knife that you swear by, let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested equipment annually so we can try to get it in the next roundup round and see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

The best neck knives have a few features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Blade Steel, Shape, & Thickness
  3. Versatility
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Quality

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a knife that you can hand around your neck to rely on for anything. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the neck knives that truly set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a knife shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. They come in a wide range of price points so you should be able to find something specific to your needs on budget.

You never want to spend too much money on one thing when it comes to prepping equipment, even when it is something as critical as a knife. It’s better to diversify your gear and budget to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios.

Blade Steel, Shape, & Thickness

There are a seemingly endless number of knife blade materials, shapes, thicknesses, and more. Our other knife reviews go into more detail here, but we’ll keep it brief and list out our favorites.

  • Steel: Any steel that holds an edge well and can be managed in the field. We look out for knife deals to get good steel at a great value.
  • Shape: Drop point works well for us, though many knife shapes have their merits.
  • Thickness: This adds weight, but survival knives typically need to be thick (depending on the steel hardness) to be durable enough for any situation.

The one thing that sets neck knives apart is the thing that names them: an included sheath meant to be worn around your neck. This adds to their versatility.


Versatility is a broad category for knives. As far as we describe it, a knife’s versatility not only encompasses all of a knife’s uses but also how the knife itself can be configured and stored.

For a neck knife, this means the sheath it uses, an opening and locking mechanism (if it’s a folder), and how the sheath can attach. It can also include handle materials, scales, and design.

Even the size and weight of a neck knife factor into its versatility.

Size & Weight

Most people want neck knives to be as discrete, small, and lightweight as possible.

We fall into that category, but we can still appreciate the sheer durability of our upgrade pick despite its heftier weight. Like anything, weighing the pros and cons of each of the categories works differently for everyone’s different preferences.


When you are depending on anything with survival involved, you are gonna want quality gear.

Knives of any sort come in a wide range of prices and (usually) accompanying quality. Doing some research and getting a proven brand with a track record at a good price is exponentially better than splurging at a mall.

Invest what you can reasonably afford in a knife if you plan on using it for survival, and the quality will pay benefits down the road.

How to Use a Neck Knife for Survival

Neck knives are just like any other survival knife but usually smaller.

Carrying a knife around your neck has a long history stretching back to the dawn of tools with man. If you’ve ever misplaced a tool, you know how frustrating it can be. That’s one reason I personally like to keep my neck knife bright-colored. Since it is my backup knife, I really don’t want to misplace it, and knowing it’s tucked right below my neck makes it even easier.

Here is Dave Canterbury’s long take on neck knives:

Who Needs a Neck Knife?

A neck knife is a variant of a survival knife (or self-defense knife), but it can also be in addition to a dedicated blade as a backup. We don’t specifically recommend neck knives for our kits, but they are a great option in place or in addition to the survival knife slot.

A solid survival knife is essential for all of these kits:

Neck knives really excel in this loadout:

When it comes down to it, neck knives are just smaller survival knives you wear around your neck. They can be useful for purposes well beyond these kits, and keeping a neck knife on you will help you get familiar with it and used to it.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best neck knife are useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical survival experience:

Stolle, N. (2015). Dominating Lane: Slat Knife Cases From Eastern North America. Baessler-Archiv (EBSCO). Volume 62. Pages 91-115. (Source)

Mahoney, P., et al. (2017). Investigating the use of concealable and disguised knives. The Police Journal: Theory, Practice, and Principles. Volume 91. Issue 2. Pages 139-149. (Source)

Taylor, C. (2001). Native American Weapons. University of Oklahoma Press. (Source)

The Final Word

Knives are always one of the first tools selected if you have a limited amount of gear to choose from for survival. They can come in handy for a wide range of tasks- from survival foraging and hunting to everyday use. Neck knives take it one step further by giving you a place to reliably keep a knife, proven by thousands of years of diverse history.

Here are a few other guides and reviews our subscribers have found helpful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our research and testing found the ESEE Izula to be the best option given its value, blade steel/shape/thickness, versatility, size/weight, and quality.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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The Best Neck Knife

Rusty Collins

I am an engineer, Air Force veteran, emergency manager, husband, dad, and experienced prepper. I developed emergency and disaster plans around the globe and responded to many attacks and accidents as a HAZMAT technician. I have been exposed to deadly chemical agents, responded to biological incidents, and dealt with natural disasters. Check out my full story here: Rusty's Story

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