Best Knife Sheaths

Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for Best knife sheaths

If you own a fine-quality knife, you need a good knife sheath to protect it. A knife is not useable without the appropriate protective sheath to keep it razor sharp and undamaged. The majority of quality knives come with an inexpensive synthetic factory sheath that protects the blade in shipment. This article isn’t about those sheaths. It’s about the kind of sheath you’d buy separately as a valuable accessory to your knife.

Perhaps you seek a simple belt-loop knife sheath. Perhaps you want an all-purpose accessory designed to carry a flashlight, cell phone, or extra magazines in addition to your knife. Or perhaps you want something in between. Fortunately, the market is full of choices.

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Knives have served as weapons, tools, and as eating utensils since prehistoric times.

Knife type and sheath choice

Of course, you’ll want a knife sheath that suits the type of knife you own. There is a multitude of knife types available: survival knives, throwing knives, bowie knives, daggers, machetes, and fillet knives are just a few. Your knife might be 2 inches long, 28 inches long, or somewhere in between. However, most hunting, fishing, and camping knives average from 7 to 14 inches in length.

You’ll want to choose a knife sheath that fits your knife length. Here’s a look at some of the most common materials knife sheaths are made of.


Crafted from a sheath of animal hide (cows, elk, deer, buffalo, alligator) a leather knife sheath is designed to protect the knife as well as the carrier: preventing potentially serious injuries that a sharp, unprotected blade might cause. Durable and long-lasting, leather sheaths are the best fixed-blade carrying option. For protection of the blade, leather is hard to beat, and once broken in, a leather sheath assumes an almost custom fit.


A good choice for tactical applications, nylon knife sheaths offer the versatility of Molle (military mounting) with Velcro safety and retention straps. A nylon knife sheath does not retain moisture, cleans easily, and is less expensive than leather. Nylon is also much lighter than leather.


Manufactured from a tough, rigid material, Kydex sheaths offer the ultimate protection for fixed-blade knives. Unaffected by the sun, water, heat, and cold, Kydex sheaths are excellent for diving and tactical applications. Some Kydex sheaths offer a grooved exposure point for cutting cordage or belting without exposing the entire knife blade.

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Did you know?
History records the first metal knives as copper symmetrical double-edged daggers.


As mentioned, one of your most crucial decisions is how you will mount the sheath. Will you use a pack or a belt? Will you mount your knife sheath horizontally? The ultimate goal here is accessibility. You very well may want a knife sheath that can be mounted or carried in a way that makes it readily accessible in case of an emergency.

Some knife sheaths can be secured in a coat pocket or on a waistband belt. Some can be strapped to the outside of a backpack or attached with straps that wrap and secure the sheath to your upper leg, ankle, or torso.  Before you buy, consult the product specs to determine how a sheath can be mounted, keeping your preferences in mind.

Noise output

Does the knife sheath you’re considering create a lot of noise when you remove the blade or when the sheath bounces against other gear? For some knife owners, this is a significant factor. For example, if you carry your knife in the woods when hunting, a quiet knife sheath that does not squeak or otherwise announce your presence is an important consideration.


The best knife sheaths are tough and durable. Examine the knife sheath closure to make sure that it securely holds the knife so that the blade cannot pop out. As mentioned, even high-end knives often come with flimsy sheaths that were designed for shipping purposes only. Don’t settle for this all of the time. The longevity of your blade depends, in large part, on how well you protect it when you’re not using it.


Does the knife sheath you’re considering have additional features that add to its value or usability? For example, some knife sheaths include a compass or extra pockets for storing sharpening stones or fire starters. If you’re a newbie who has never carried a knife before, or if you’re looking for a nice gift with some thoughtful touches, consider a knife sheath that comes with a sharpening stone and/or other helpful accessories.

Knife sheath prices

The price of a knife sheath depends on the material it’s made of, the size of the knife it’s designed to protect, and the quality of craftsmanship. Knife sheaths are like many items we purchase: you get what you pay for.

Inexpensive: In the low-to-mid-price range, knife sheaths fabricated from synthetic fiber material or cowhide cost from $5 to $15.

Mid-range: Knife sheaths in the mid-price range, manufactured from quality leather, Kydex, nylon, or another synthetic fiber, sell for $15 to $65.

High-end: If you seek a custom knife sheath to display with a valuable collectible knife, expect to pay $65 or more. In fact, it’s not unheard of for a high-end knife sheath to cost $150.

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Did you know?
The first single-edge knife was crafted in the Bronze Age more than 4000 years ago.


  • Avoid prolonged storage of your knife in a leather sheath. Leather holds moisture and chemicals used in the leather tanning process that could rust and corrode the blade.
  • When purchasing a knife sheath, choose one that not only protects the knife but also protects the user from injury.
  • When caring for your leather knife sheath, use products with beeswax, natural preservatives, and natural oils. Select a leather cleaning and conditioning product designed for caring for luggage and leather handbags. Don’t, however, select a leather conditioner designed for softening leather in footwear. While great for shoes, this type of product could soften the leather knife sheath too much.
  • If your leather knife sheath gets damp or wet, do not dry it out to quickly. Allow it to dry naturally, away from a heat source. If it dries too fast (because you placed it on a heating vent or attempted to dry it out over the campfire), the leather could lose its natural oils and becomes hard, dry, and stiff.
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As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.” A knife covering fashioned from goatskin to protect the delicate knife blade motivated the invention of the knife sheath.


Q. Can a leather knife sheath scratch or dull the knife blade?
When purchasing a new leather knife sheath, scrutinize the interior of the sheath. Some manufacturers are not as diligent as they could be, and you may find abrasive grit embedded in the interior of the sheath that will scratch the surface of your blade or dent and dull the blade. Interior grit can also destroy stitching in the sheath.

Q. Do I have to treat the leather on my leather knife sheath?
It’s highly recommended. Regular cleaning and conditioning with a leather conditioner will help keep your knife sheath soft and flexible. This is a necessary step because, if the leather is allowed to dry out and harden, your knife will likely cut your sheath as the leather stiffens.

Q. What is the best way to care for a nylon or Kydex knife sheath?
If you choose a nylon or Kydex knife sheath, wash it as required in warm, soapy water, and allow it to dry completely before returning your knife to its protective sheath for storage.

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