When you’re out in the wild, a pocket knife can really come in handy. You can use it to cut things, make things, fix things, open things, among other things. However, it must be sharp enough to do what you need it to do. Ever tried cutting a rope or whittling a piece of wood with a dull knife?
It feels laborious, not to mention the messy finish, because you have to apply more force to make it do the work. That’s why it’s always a good idea to carry the best pocket knife sharpener with you.
That way, you can avoid the unwanted hassle and more importantly, minimize the risk of cutting yourself.
There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of sharpening systems on the market. This makes it even harder for you to pick one. Don’t worry, though –we have researched and assembled a list of our favorite options for outdoor excursions that you can rely on.
Our Top List
Work Sharp Field Sharpener
6.8 × 1.5 × 1 inches
DMT FWFC Diafold Sharpener
4.3 × 0.9 × 0.4 inches
Smith’s PP1 Pocket Sharpener
3.5 × 1 × 0 inches
Lansky Blademedic Sharpener
8.3 × 3.2 × 0.3 inches
DMT D3EFC Dia-Sharp Sharpener (Set of 3)
3.2 × 0.1 × 2 inches
Victorinox Pocket Knife Sharpener
5 × 2 × 2 inches
Best Overall Pick: Work Sharp Field Sharpener
Besides, it’s very lightweight, so you can take it with you on your adventures, without any additional weight.
And the best part – it is a breeze to use! You don’t need to have amazing sharpening skills, just follow the user’s guide and you are good to go.
What makes this sharpening system one of the most effective manual options out there is its 5-stage sharpening process. Along with the built-in angled guides, these steps help you to reach the desired level of sharpness quickly and easily.
If your pocket knife is extremely dull or damaged, start with the coarse diamond surface. Then move to the fine diamond to achieve a refined edge. The third step is using the fine ceramic rod to keep the edge of your knife aligned.
But if your blade is fairly sharp then you can go straight to the fine ceramic honing rod. The leather strop is used for the last stage of sharpening. It polishes your blade to near razor sharp and removes any burrs that might be left from previous steps. Easy, right?
Tip: the leather strop will serve you for years but if it dries out, rubbing in a little neatsfoot or light mineral oil goes a long way towards rejuvenating the leather.
If you are looking for a compact yet effective sharpener to bring in the field, you definitely need to check this model out.
• Compact and lightweight design, can be carried anywhere
• No assembly is required
• Turns dull knives into razor-sharp quickly and easily
• Extremely versatile
• Comes with preset angle guides
• Diamond plates are removable
• Does not come with a carrying pouch
Runner-up: DMT FWFC Diafold Sharpener
Our second favorite pocket knife sharpener is the DMT FWFC Diafold. This is the Fine/ Coarse model. You should note that the Diafold is available in other sharpening grits such as the extra-coarse, extra-fine, extra-extra-fine and more. So you can always choose the model that best suits your needs.
We chose the Fine/Coarse combo simply because it’s convenient for most people. What makes this knife sharpener a compelling choice is how light and effective it is.
The polka dot pattern on the surface is not just a design, it makes sharpening quick and easy. Those tiny metal particles, called swarf, that result from sharpening a knife fall right into the polka dots. Hence you don’t have to stop every so often to clean the swarf off the stone.
Another thing that makes this tool a great option to bring to the field is the fact that it does not need any lubricant. It can be used dry. You can forget about carrying those small bottles of oil, which, of course, add weight to your pack that you don’t really need.
But if you want to, just use water as your only lubricant. Never use oil of any kind, for it will ruin your stone.
Also be careful not to put too much pressure on the diamond stones when sharpening. Because if you do, you might scrape off the diamond coating. Light even pressure is sufficient to achieve an edge.
The handle, on the other hand, is quite light and feels a little flimsy. But surprisingly, it holds up great. It also folds into a small, flat package to comfortably fit in your pocket or backpack.
• The handle provides plenty of grip
• Lightweight and portable
• Simple and effective to use
• Can serve you for years if treated properly
• Some users might find it a bit pricey
Best Budget Pick: Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal Sharpener
The PP1 is not only highly effective and cheap, but it’s also one of the lightest pocket knife sharpeners we came across. It weighs just 1 ounce, making it light enough even for the hardcore outdoor minimalists.
While it doesn’t come with bonus features, well, considering its low price point – its ability to provide razor sharp finish is quite remarkable.
The carbide blades allow you to put a quick edge on totally dull or damaged knives.
These blades are preset at a fixed sharpening angle, making knife sharpening super easy and fast. What’s more, they are replaceable and reversible to extend the life of the sharpener.
The ceramic stones put a nice polish to the edge of your knife. If your knife is already sharp and needs a bit of polishing, just make gentle passes through these stones and it will be good to go. Just like the blades, these stones can be reversed and replaced.
Even though its light and small, the molded finger grip makes it comfortable to use. If you are looking for something inexpensive to bring to the field, this Smith knife sharpener can get the job done.
• Extremely lightweight and slim
• Does the job well
• Almost no sharpening skills required
• Very reasonably priced
• Can be a bit small for some users
• Does not work well on harder steels
The Lansky Blade Medic is yet another small, effective and inexpensive sharpener option. It very much resembles the Smith PP1 in appearance and costs about the same price. The only difference is the Lansky is heavier and longer.
This can be both a good and bad thing –depending on the angle you look at it. The good thing is that the Lansky has a metal body, making it heavier but also sturdier than the PP1 which is made of plastic. It’s also longer, giving you plenty to grip onto as you sharpen your pocket knife.
It’s worth pointing out that the sharpener’s length of 8.3” is when the file is extended. It folds up to about 4” long, which is a pretty decent size.
On the flip side, its weight and size can be an issue if you are planning a long backpacking or hiking trip.
While the Smith knife sharpener has a molded-in finger grip, the Lansky features a textured surface that provides easy comfortable gripping.
It also features a two-stage tungsten carbide and ceramic sharpening. This takes your pocket knife from dull to razor sharp in a matter of minutes. The carbide is used for basic sharpening, while the ceramic is used for finishing and honing.
• Easy to use. No sharpening skills required
• Provides fast and good results
• Pretty solid
• It’s a little heavy
Another DMT product made our best pocket knife sharpener list. This credit card sized diamond stone has taken portable sharpening solutions to another level. It can fit in your pocket, wallet, backpack, or just about anywhere.
The DMT D3EFC comes in 3 sharpening grits –the coarse, fine and extra-fine diamond. This allows you to easily sharpen your knives to razor sharp in no time. The micronized monocrystalline diamonds used in these stones play a huge role the tool’s sharpening speed as well as longevity.
If for some reason you don’t want to purchase this set of three, you can always buy them individually. But it’s always cheaper buying a whole set than each separately.
These diamond-coated cards come in a vinyl carry sleeve to protect the stones from scratching when not in use. Besides, the sleeves are color-coded to help you quickly identify the stone you want to use.
Just like most diamond stones, these too do not require any lubricant. Using it dry or water will do. This makes it a great addition to your camping gear as well as your knife sharpening tool set at home.
• Sharpens faster than traditional stones
• Offered in a set of all three grits
• Thin, stiff and flat surface makes sharpening easy and comfortable
• Take up very little space
• Grit is only one-sided
It’s small and lightweight enough to slide into your skinny jean pockets without weighing you down. Besides, the sharpening discs and stone are enclosed inside the housing hence you don’t have to worry about them putting holes in your pockets.
This sharpening tool not only works wonderfully on Swiss Army knives but on other small pocket knives as well. It features a ceramic V-shape sharpener and an oval rod.
If you don’t know much about sharpening knives, you can use the V-shaped pull through sharpener. It revives dull blades and smooths out small nicks in your blade quickly.
Always remember to keep a steady pace and put even pressure on the blade while sliding it through the sharpener, lest you want it to eat away all the metal on your blade.
The sharpening rod, on the other hand, does an awesome job of keeping your blades sharp and removing the slight roughness. It also comes with a groove for sharpening fishing hooks.
The Victorinox is a great field sharpener and will put a reasonable edge on your small pocket knife. But if you are looking for razor-sharp edges, you should probably look elsewhere.
• Easy to use and clean
• Great value
• Small, easy to carry around
• Pull through sharpener is only great for quick fixes
We believe all the 6 picks we’ve recommended above will satisfy your sharpening needs when you’re out in the wild. Give them a try!