Whether you’re hiking, fishing, hunting, or camping for a few days, a pocket knife is an essential tool to have with you whenever you’re out in the wilderness. This handy little tool covers you for a variety of tasks, from simple food prep to dressing wounds or kills.
But it’s no good to you if it’s blunt, which is why a decent knife sharpener is just as important in the wilderness. The best pocket knife sharpener should be convenient for you to use and should enable you to sharpen your knives to the precision you require.
There are several types of sharpeners out there, but with a little know how, it’s easy to choose the best one for you. With that in mind, let’s discuss the key features of a knife sharpener, and take a look at a few different types. Finally, we’ll review some of the best pocket knife sharpeners on the market at the moment.
|Lansky Blademedic Ps-Med01||4 oz.||8.3 x 3.2 x 0.3 inches||Pull-through with tapered diamond rod||Check price on Amazon|
|Smith’S Pp1 Pocket Pal||0.3 oz.||3.5 x 1.2 x 0.25 inches||Pull-through with tapered diamond rod||Check price on Amazon|
|Dmt F70F Diamond Mini-Sharp||1.6 oz.||3.5 x 0.2 x 1 inches||Monocrystalline diamond stone sharpener||Check price on Amazon|
|Wusthoff2899 Two-Stage||1.6 oz.||3 x 2 x 1 inches||Pull-through type||Check price on Amazon|
|Lansky Quick Fix||1.4 oz.||8.2 x 3.6 x 1 inches||Pull-through type||Check price on Amazon|
Things To Think About Before You Buy
Without a shadow of a doubt, the single most important characteristic of a pocket knife sharpener is its ability to sharpen your pocket knife well. An equally important feature is your convenience and comfort when using it.
But it’s also worth taking a look at the materials used in the construction of your sharpener, as well as the various types available.
Regardless of the type of sharpener you go for, there are five common sharpening materials to choose from. Each offer various benefits, such as quick sharpening, degree of grit and durability.
- Synthetic Stones, such as silicon carbide (carborundum) or aluminum oxide (corundum)
- Diamond, either polycrystalline or higher-quality monocrystalline
- Natural Stone, more expensive and rarely used for pocket knife sharpeners
- Steel, not very common nowadays, having been replaced with higher quality rods
In modern pocket knife sharpeners, you’re most likely to find artificial stone, ceramic or diamond sharpening surfaces.
This common material is generally made from either silicon carbide (carborundum) or aluminum oxide (corundum), among other bonded abrasives. It can be used in both whetstone and pull-through style sharpeners.
It’s preferable to natural stone as they typically provide a faster cutting action, allowing you to get the job done quicker. They are also available in a huge range of grits, from ultra-coarse to ultra-fine, with many stones being double sided.
Ceramic stones are harder than synthetic stones and need less soaking time when used as a whetstone. They will sharpen blades quicker than synthetic stones and will create a longer lasting edge. However, it’s just a tad more difficult to get the technique right with these.
They can also be used on pull-through designs, as well as rods. The downside is that ceramic offers a fairly fine grit and as such cannot be used for more heavy-duty sharpening. However, the long life and almost as hard as diamonds surface makes this a great option for maintenance sharpening, just what you need in the wilderness.
Diamonds are typically used in sharpening rods and whetstone style sharpeners, and are usually attached to metal plates. Polycrystalline diamonds are the most common, but the higher quality monocrystalline diamonds are harder and give a longer lasting finish.
Diamonds offer the hardest sharpening surface available and as such, it’s no surprise that they are generally more expensive than other options. They are worth their price however, as they are quick, durable and offer excellent long-lasting results.
Types Of Knife Sharpeners
There are several different types of pocket knife sharpeners, each with their advantages and disadvantages.
They work in different ways, with some easier to use than others, but not offering as good a finish.
- Whetstone, otherwise known as sharpening stones, you’ll find either water or oil stones, available in both natural or synthetic materials.
- Pull-Through Sharpener, excellent for beginners, with a range of materials used for the sharpening edges.
- Honing rods, traditionally made from steel, but now ceramic or diamond rods are far more popular.
Whetstone / Sharpening Stone
Sharpening stones have a steep learning curve and demand a level of practice and skill, but once you get the hang of it, they can give you the perfect knife-edges you desire. Stones can give very sharp edges without damaging the blade of your knife, ensuring that your knives last.
Different grits from ultra-fine to ultra-coarse are available to help achieve the required sharpness. Most stones need to be lubricated before use; oil stones require mineral oil or an equivalent, while water stones need to be soaked for around 15 minutes. Make sure you know which yours is, as many water stones will be ruined if used with oil.
Water stones are typically softer than oil stones, giving a quicker sharpening action, but they are also prone to wearing down quicker and sometimes unevenly. Whetstones are also available in ceramic or diamond, in varying grits, though ceramic stones are generally on the finer side.
Diamond stones on the other hand can range from ultra-coarse to ultra-fine, are long lasting and sharpen a blade to a razor finish extremely quickly. Both ceramic and diamond stones are favored for their hardness, and their ability to remain flat for years makes them a lifetime investment.
Sharpening rods are useful for quick touch-ups to maintain the edge of your blades. However, they’re not great at sharpening blunt and damaged blades. They are also not suitable for thinning knives.
Sharpening rods are typically available in either ceramic or diamond coated. Both materials offer a fantastic finish and prolonged hardness. They’re best used in the field as long as you’ve done rougher sharpening before heading out. It’s worth having a little experience in using them before heading out, as they can be a little tricky initially.
If investing time and effort in learning to use sharpening stones well is not your cup of tea, pull-through sharpeners are for you. These are made of one or more sets of blades, usually carbide and ceramic, set at a fixed angle, through which you can pull your blade to sharpen it.
Some come with a variety of additions, such as an attached sharpening rod, ergonomic grip, additional sharpening slots and key-ring. These are great to have not only if you are a novice at the art, but also if you want an easy way of touching-up your knives on the go. They furnish a nice sharp edge and are great to use on pocket knives.
They do however take a little longer than stones to get a decent finish, and most struggle to sharpen dull or rounded edges, there are of course exceptions. Now that we know what to look out for in a great pocket knife sharpener, let’s take a look at some of the best on the market today.
The Best Pocket Knife Sharpeners on the Market Today
Read on for reviews of a few of the most widely used pocket knife sharpeners. We’ve taken a look at all their special features and weighed up the pros and cons, ensuring you can make an informed decision.
Price: Approximately $11
Weight: 4 oz.
Dimensions: 8.3 x 3.2 x 0.3 inches
Specific features: Diamond tapered rod, set of ceramic teeth, set of carbide teeth, ceramic serrated sharpener, metal body
Best use: Sharpening both serrated and straight blades on the go.
The Lansky Blademedic Ps-Med01 has a set each of pull-through type carbide and ceramic V’s which are set at a fixed angle of 40 degrees between the two sharpening surfaces or 20 degrees from the center. These notches are great to sharpen a very dull knife, while the ceramic teeth are great for regular blade maintenance.
As the angle cannot be changed, the sets of teeth are not much use when you need to maintain the beveled edge of your knife. For such situations, the tapered diamond rod can be put to use.
The diamond rod helps to touch up your blades – both regular and serrated. A couple of magnets help to lock the rod at a folded open position of 180 degrees; so, you can use it securely as a file to sharpen serrations and other hard-to-reach portions of your blade.
The BladeMedic also comes with a ceramic serrated sharpener for sharpening minute serrations. The metal body of the sharpener adds a little weight to it, making it convenient to pack it in your backpack, though not light enough to stuff in your pocket. This is a versatile sharpener that can sharpen almost any knife.
- Included diamond rod
- Two sharpening slots
- Ability to sharpen serrated edges
- Not suitable for rougher work
- Heavier than similar products
Related: Another great Lansky kit is the Multi-Angle Knife Sharpener which allows you to choose among four different sharpening angles.
Price: Approximately $7
Weight: 0.3 oz.
Dimensions: 3.5 x 1.2 x 0.25 inches
Specific features: Tapered diamond rod, carbide blades, ceramic teeth, lanyard hole
Best use: Excellent for hiking or fishing trips.
The Smith’S Pp1 Pocket Pal Sharpener is a multifunctional sharpener very similar in design to the Lansky BladeMedic. This one, however, is made of plastic and is much lighter and smaller. Like the Lansky, it has a set of pull-through carbide blades and ceramic stones, both of which are reversible and replaceable.
It also features a tapered diamond rod that can be folded open for secure use. The carbide blades can be used to sharpen dulled, straight blades and the ceramic teeth give a fine finish that will last. The ceramic slot can also be used for touching up serrated knives. For more precise work, the diamond rod can be used like a sharpening stone.
Though the plastic used makes this an ultra-lightweight sharpener, it is also somewhat detrimental to comfort when in use. It can seem overly delicate and fiddly, with steeper angles difficult to achieve. For the low price however, it’s a great lightweight tool to have in your pocket while hiking or fishing and can certainly help out in a tight spot.
- Extremely lightweight
- Diamond sharpening rod included
- Ability to sharpen serrated blades
- Two reversible sharpening slots
- Plastic feels flimsy
- Not suitable for rougher work
Related: Smith’s Pocket Pal X2 is another versatile tool that incorporates additional features such as a Firestarter, compass, and LED light along with the usual knife sharpening tools and diamond rod.
Price: Approximately $8.50
Weight: 1.6 oz.
Dimensions: 3.5 x 0.2 x 1 inches
Specific features: Monocrystalline diamond stone sharpener, fine diamonds – 25micron/600, dry sharpen, 70mm sharpening surface, portable, key chain.
Best use: A great piece of kit for experienced sharpeners looking to sharpen a variety of blades and tools.
Unlike most stone sharpeners, the Dmt F70F Diamond Mini-Sharp does not need to be oiled before use. You can either use it dry or apply a little water before transforming your blades into perfectly sharp ones, in just a few light strokes.
It’s worth noting that the stone will feel rough initially, before it has been fully broken in. There’s nothing to worry about though, as it will get smoother with use and you won’t suffer any performance issues in the meantime.
The tool is available in different grits, from extra-coarse to extra-fine, allowing you to use it either as a touch up tool or a stone for rougher work. For the best results, it’s well worth investing in a mix, but if you’re on a tight budget, the fine grit is excellent for general blade maintenance when out and about.
The fine monocrystalline diamonds allow you to sharpen your blades much faster than similar sharpeners that use mostly polycrystalline diamonds. These higher-grade micronized monocrystalline diamonds are spread to attain a higher number of diamonds per square inch compared to other such sharpeners in the market, making the Mini-Sharp more durable.
This sharpener has DMT’s popular polka dot surface, which uses depressed holes to collect swarf while sharpening. However, this surface is not recommended for very small and pointed tools.
The Mini-Sharp comes with a protective handle, and the included key-ring is ideal for attaching keys or zippers. The only downside is that it may be difficult to get your technique right on such a small stone if you are just starting out. Absolute beginners may struggle with it and it’s worth practicing on a larger stone before giving this one a go.
- No need to lubricate
- Small and lightweight
- Extremely durable
- Available in several grits
- Requires a certain level of skill
- Need several in order to have a range of grits
- Unable to sharpen smaller tools
Related: DMT manufactures an entire line of diamond sharpeners like the DMT W7EFC, a useful set of three diamond sharpeners with different grits.
Price: Approximately $5
Weight: 1.6 oz.
Dimensions: 3 x 2 x 1 inches
Specific features: Pull-through type, carbide blades, ceramic rods, non-slip inserts, textured grip, key chain
Best use: Great for beginners or short trips and picnics.
The Wusthoff2899 Two-Stage Pocket Knife Sharpener has carbide and ceramic notches like most pull-through sharpeners. Unlike similar products however, it lacks the diamond rod. Having said that, the Wusthoff is extremely handy to have in your pocket and does everything you’d expect of it.
The carbide blades can sharpen the dulled and damaged edges of your pocket knives or scissors while the ceramic blades can refine already sharp edges. As this is a pull-through type of a sharpener, no experience is required.
Rubber inserts on the top and bottom surfaces of this sharpener make it safe and comfortable to hold it in place on an even surface, allowing you to use it without easily hurting your fingers. The attached keychain helps to carry it with ease.
While this is a tool that doesn’t necessarily jump out the page at you, it’s proven its worth on a variety of knives. You may be reluctant to use it on your high-end pocket knife, but for general sharpening duties, it does all you need.
- Easy to use
- Secure and safe to use
- Two sharpening slots
- Comfortable grip
- Limited to the sharpening slots
- No additional tools or extras
Related: A few related products are the Wustoff Precision 2-Stage Sharpener, the Wustoff Precision 4-Stage Sharpener, and the Wustoff Sport Knife Sharpener. These are upgraded versions of the same sharpener, with additional extras such as an ergonomic grip, additional grits and sharpening angles.
Price: Approximately $7
Weight: 1.4 oz.
Dimensions: 8.2 x 3.6 x 1 inches
Specific features: Handy, versatile, ceramic, tungsten carbide, rubber grip, 1-year warranty
Best use: Great for touching up your knives and keeping them in shape while traveling.
The Lansky Quick Fix Knife Sharpener makes good use of tungsten carbide and ceramic blade technologies, packaged in a compact, lightweight tool. The blades offer rapid sharpening of your pocket knife or other tools and a long-lasting finish.
With two blades of varying grits, you can hone your blade to a fine point and finish them off by smoothing them for a long-lasting edge.
True to its name however, the Lansky Quick Fix is best used for knives that require a little sharpening and fine-tuning rather than those that are excessively dull or damaged. Having said that, you’re sure to put a serviceable edge on any blade no matter where you are.
The molded rubber grip allows you to hold it safely in your hands, ensuring that you won’t slip while sharpening your favorite knife. For an almost throw-away price, this is a great little sharpener to have around in your tool kit for emergency sharpening requirements while hiking or camping.
- Simple and easy to use
- Safe, comfy grip enables use anywhere
- Compact and lightweight
- No additional features
- More expensive than similar products
- Only suitable for light maintenance
Related: For those knives that require a bit more work, go for vice type sharpeners like the Lansky BladeMedic. The Lansky QuadSharp is ideal for those looking for more variety, as it comes with four different angles, plus a built in ceramic polishing stone.
Having seen some fantastic pocket knife sharpeners all that you need to do now is get out there and get yours. Just bear in mind that it’s always worth buying the sharpener that best suits your needs. For example, if you’ve never used a sharpening stone or honing rod before, it’s probably best to look at pull-through sharpeners.
If space is an issue, look for smaller, lightweight options, even if the more cumbersome sharpeners have received rave reviews.It’s also worth thinking about how long you’ll need to use it for, will you be away from civilization for an extended period of time?
If so, it’s a good idea to get a more versatile sharpener, capable of rough and fine work. If you’re going out for a picnic or a weekend camping trip, a simple pull-through will likely suffice.
Do you go an extra mile to keep your knives razor-sharp? Do you prefer a stone type sharpener or a pull-through type? Do let us know in the comments about your favorite knife sharpeners and any techniques you use while sharpening.