What Is The Best PFD Knife For Kayaking (Our Top Picks!)

Knife For Kayaking

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 8/13/2022

There are a few factors that you should take into consideration to choose the finest PFD knife for kayaking if you are in the market for one. For instance, will you be using it for whitewater kayaking, or are you interested in purchasing a knife that you can use for various purposes?

We have included some information that might prove helpful when selecting a knife, as well as some PFD knives currently available on the market that is some of our favorites.

Best Knives For Kayaking

NRS Pilot Knife (Best Overall)

NRS Pilot Knife

  • 7.4 inches in terms of length
  • Blade Length: 3 inches
  • Type: utility
  • Material: stainless steel
  • 5.50 grams (or ounces) in weight

Because of its robust construction and wide range of possible uses, the NRS Pilot Knife makes for an excellent utility knife to bring along on paddling adventures. Because the blade is made of 420 HC stainless steel and has both smooth and serrated edges, it can cut through various materials with relative ease. In addition to that, it has a hook for cutting rope.

As an additional precaution, the blade's tip has been rounded off, and the blade itself is only sharpened along one edge. The handle is constructed out of glass-reinforced polypropylene, and it comes equipped with both a bottle opener and a tip that can break glass in an emergency.

In addition to locking into place, the fiberglass-reinforced nylon sheath offers protection for both the blade and the user by preventing harm. It is possible to swiftly release it by pressing down on both sides of the handle at the release point. The sheath also comes with a clip that you may use to attach it to your flotation device.


  • Hook for cutting through rope
  • Blunt tip
  • Bottle opener
  • The edges are both smooth and serrated.

Bear Claw, Made By Columbia River Knife & Tool (Best For Rivers)

Columbia River Knife & Tool Bear Claw

  • 5.75 inches in terms of length
  • 2.38 inches is the length of the blade.
  • Type: rescue
  • The material used is stainless steel grade AUS 4.
  • The weight is 3.4 troy ounces.

The Bear Claw from Columbia River Knife & Tool is a curved rescue knife with a Triple Point serrated blade that can be great for cutting webbing, rope, and nets. This knife is part of the Columbia River Knife & Tool Bear series. The blade's spine has friction grooves, which both increase blade control and provide an additional layer of protection.

This lightweight knife has a molded glass reinforced nylon handle that is meant to provide you with a better-controlled grip in scenarios involving river rescue. The handle is also designed to be slip-resistant. Additionally, the finger hole in the knife's middle can give you greater control, allowing for more precise cutting. On the sheath, there are up to seven lanyard holes and belt slots that allow you to link the sheath to your flotation device (PFD) or other articles of clothing.


  • Lightweight
  • Curved blade
  • Finger hole for enhanced control and comfort
  • Serrated blade

Gerber CrossRiver Saltwater Fixed Blade Knife (Best For Saltwater)

Gerber CrossRiver Saltwater Fixed Blade Knife

  • Seven and a half inches in length
  • Three inches is the length of the blade.
  • Type: utility
  • Material: stainless steel
  • 3.7 troy ounces in weight

Suppose you often paddle in situations that involve saltwater. In that case, the Gerber CrossRiver Saltwater knife may be an excellent choice for you since the stainless steel blade features a SALT Rx coating that provides further corrosion resistance. This multipurpose knife is perfect for kayak fishing expeditions and emergency circumstances because of its versatility.

Even when your hands are wet, you'll have an easier time holding onto the lightweight knife, thanks to the Hydrotread Grip handle. The handle and sheath locking system have been designed to be optimized for usage on either hand, making them simple to operate regardless of which hand you naturally use to write or write with.

The versatility of the knife's cutting capabilities is enhanced by the fact that it features both a plain edge and flat top serrations. In addition, it has a blunt tip for increased safety and a PFD clip.


  • Corrosion resistant blade
  • Both right and left-handed operations are possible.
  • Excellent for fishing from a kayak in saltwater.
  • The edges are both smooth and serrated.

CrossRiver Saltwater Fixed Blade Knife
Value for money

NRS Neko Blunt Knife

NRS Neko Blunt Knife

  • 5.75 inches in terms of length
  • 2.25 inches is the length of the blade.
  • Type: utility
  • Material: stainless steel
  • 3.50 troy ounces in weight

The Neko Blunt Knife from NRS is a low-profile utility knife with a blade that measures 2 14 inches. The blade is made of stainless steel and has smooth and serrated edges; this gives it flexibility and makes it easier to cut through various materials.

The knife is supplied with a sheath made of fiberglass-reinforced nylon and equipped with a clip for attachment to a personal flotation device (PFD). The friction-release mechanism of the sheath may be utilized with one hand alone, making it possible for you to quickly and easily remove the sheath from your PFD while it is still attached to the sheath. Using two hands to grasp the sheath and the handle simultaneously increases the risk of harm.

The handle of this compact knife contains not just a tool for opening bottles but also one used to loosen valves on oxygen tanks.


  • To a low degree
  • Lightweight
  • The sheath has a friction release that operates with one hand.
  • Wrench for the valves
  • Bottle opener

Paddle Knife With A Blunt Point For Gear Aid Akua (Best Budget PFD Knife)

Gear Aid Akua Blunt Tip Paddle Knife

  • Eight inches is the length.
  • Three inches is the length of the blade.
  • Type: utility
  • Material: stainless steel
  • 5.3 ounces in terms of weight

If you're on a tight budget but still want a freshwater paddling knife that can handle various tasks, the Gear Aid Akua Blunt Tip Paddle Knife can be a decent choice.

The blade is made of titanium-coated stainless steel and measures 3 inches in length. It can be used to cut rope or food and has both straight and serrated edges. In addition, it comes with a line cutter, which allows you to cut fishing lines.

The blade's sharp point might be advantageous for safety purposes and is an excellent choice to bring along with you on an inflatable kayak. You can also make a screwdriver with the blunt end of the tool.

The acetal molded sheath has a detachable stainless steel belt clip and may be linked to the lash tab on your flotation device (PFD). The handle also features an integrated bottle opener, and the pointy end of the tool may be utilized as a glass breaker.


  • PFD knife for freshwater use
  • The edges are both smooth and serrated.
  • Bottle opener
  • Line cutter

Why Should You Carry A Knife In Your Life Jacket When You Go Kayaking Or Rafting?

 Should Carry Knife In Your Life Jacket When You Go Kayaking



Paddling activities like kayaking and rafting can present significant risks, mainly if you are doing it in an environment where there is a greater possibility of turning over, such as in the ocean or on a whitewater river. Many other ways might make you stuck, such as being entangled with your paddle leash or even a rescue line. However, the most common cause of becoming trapped is falling in. If you can swiftly remove your knife from your PFD, it may indicate that you can escape the situation.

If you keep your knife stashed away in your kit bag or some other location on deck, having it tied to your PFD makes it much simpler and quicker to retrieve in an emergency. Some personal flotation device (PFD) knives may also contain other functionality, such as a glass breaker, which may be utilized if the user needs to smash their way out of a vehicle or another vessel.

Kayak Fishing

Kayak Fishing

When kayak fishing, having a knife on hand might be helpful, but having one tied to your flotation device (PFD) can be even more convenient because it will be within easy reach. Knives are convenient tools for cutting fishing lines and daily fishing-related chores. However, even if you are fishing from a kayak, the knife that comes with your PFD can still come in handy for any rescues that may be necessary due to the fishing gear you are using.

General Use

General Use

PFD knives are versatile tools that lend themselves to several different uses. One scenario in which they can come in is kayak camping. Sometimes a personal flotation device (PFD) knife will include additional capabilities, such as a bottle opener or a smooth edge that is great for cutting food or spreading it.

If you need to mend anything, for instance, you can use them to tighten screws, and you could also discover that they come in handy for other purposes.

Knife Options Available On Personal Flotation Devices

Types Of PFD Knife


When opposed to a utility knife, a rescue knife will often have a more limited selection of options to choose from. Because it is usually developed with safety and rescue in mind, it will typically give efficient cutting with features designed to assist blade control or grip. This is because it is intended to be used in potentially dangerous situations.



A utility knife, as opposed to a rescue knife, will often include a more significant number of functions. This is done so that you can use the utility knife in a broader range of contexts, such as when you are opening a bottle or camping for the evening. In addition to its use in a rescue operation, it also has applications in outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and fishing.

Which Characteristics Should I Keep An Eye Out For?

PFD Attachment Point

You can connect a knife to the lash tab of your PFD securely, which is one of the most valuable advantages of such a tool. Because the knife may be linked to the front of your life jacket, it ensures that you will always have easy access to it, even when you wear your flotation device (PFD). As soon as you remove the knife from the sheath, it is often intended to continue to be fastened to the life jacket in the exact location.

How to attach a knife to your pfd

Blunt Tip

Blunt Tip

The blade of several types of PFD knives is intended to have a point that is rounded off. This is for your protection since you will always have the knife with you on your person. Since it has a pointless end, it should be able to penetrate anything while the blade is safely contained in the sheath.

If you paddle in an inflatable kayak or raft, this can also be a valuable characteristic, as the blunt tip is less likely to puncture your boat than a sharp pointed tip.

Corrosion Resistance

A personal flotation device (PFD) knife with a blade resistant to corrosion might be helpful if you want to fish from a kayak or paddleboard in saltwater. This is because the circumstances of saltwater can affect your knife's quality, which may lead it to lose its capacity to cut well. This might be a problem in the event of an emergency.

Investing in a knife specifically for saltwater may be worthwhile if you're often paddling in the ocean since corrosion-resistant blades are typically built to withstand more complicated situations.

Sheath With Easy Release

Easy Release Sheath

One advantage of carrying a knife on your PFD is that it is simple to access, but you should also consider getting a knife with a sheath that can be quickly removed when necessary. Many personal flotation device (PFD) blades may be secured within their sheaths by a locking mechanism when not in use.

However, if you are in a precarious situation, you will need to be able to extract the knife from its sheath as soon as possible. Because it makes the sheaths easier to operate, removing them with just one hand is often possible.

Other Characteristics

While some knives are intended to serve just as search and rescue instruments, others are made to be more flexible in their uses. Other features included are a screwdriver, a bottle opener, a wrench for an oxygen valve, and a glass breaker.

To make your knife more than simply a rescue tool, the paddling you do and how versatile you want it to be will determine whether you need these additional capabilities on your blade.

River Kayaking Knife Safety

River Kayaking Knife Safety

It is necessary to remember that knives can inflict wounds and pose threats if they are not handled or kept in the appropriate manner and with adequate safety measures. It is typical for the lash tab on your PFD to be built such that your knife may be attached to it firmly. You can find this square holding piece on many different life jackets, and it is often located on either the chest or the shoulder region.

PFD knife sheaths are often designed to be linked to this lash tab. This ensures that even if you remove the knife from its scabbard in an urgent situation, the sheath will still be secured to your life vest. It is essential to ensure that your knife is safely contained within the sheath whenever it is not in use. The sheath serves two purposes: it prevents you from getting injured and keeps the blade of your knife from getting damaged.

If you want to avoid injuring your hand when pulling your knife from its sheath, you must follow the instructions provided by the knife's maker on how to do so. Otherwise, you run the risk of slipping and cutting yourself.

The location of the knife on the personal flotation device (PFD) is something else that is important to consider. Specific knives may be mounted in a horizontal position, while others are meant to be attached at an angle. This will probably depend on the knife you bring, your flotation device (PFD), and your activities.

Take precautions to ensure that the orientation of your knife will not mistakenly result in injury to your chin if you are shocked by rapids or waves. If you wish to attach your PFD to another life vest, you must remove the sheath from your PFD first.

How To: Remove a Knife Sheath from Your PFD

To Sum Everything Up


We believe that the NRS Pilot Knife is the finest PFD knife for kayaking because it is a multipurpose knife that may be helpful both in rescue and for utilizing at your campsite. Because of this, we think that the NRS Pilot Knife is the best PFD knife for kayaking. In addition to that, it has both smooth and serrated edges, as well as a quick-release sheath.

Because it is more corrosion-resistant when exposed to salt water, the Gerber CrossRiver Knife is a worthy runner-up. This knife is resistant to corrosion and boasts a sharp point, making it well suited for kayak fishing in saltwater environments.

It is important to remember to give some thought to the specific form of kayaking or rafting that you want to undertake, as this may provide you with a better notion of the kind of knife that can come in handy. If you're going kayak camping, a utility knife with a broader range of uses could be preferable. Alternatively, if you do whitewater kayaking or rafting, you could discover that a rescue knife is better appropriate for the activity.