For more than a decade, I have written a series of recommendation articles that pair two essential pieces of kit together — a flashlight and a knife — based on various budgets. And though the series has outlasted a few websites, it continues here on GearJunkie.
The idea: Provide recommendations for a light-and-knife combination under a given dollar amount that maximizes performance while minimizing cost and size.
I tend to ignore multitools because they are largely stagnant from year to year, and you use the knife blade 90% of the time anyway. So, I’ll drop a quick recommendation under each price point.
For most people, a knife will be easier to carry and most justifiable given a multitool’s increased size, cost, and complexity.
Best Flashlight and Knife Combo Under $100
This is the budget section, where the pair costs less than $100. In fact, this pair comes in at just over $70.
While this is still a fair chunk of change, it represents the smallest amount you can spend and end up with legit gear.
The Knife: CRJB Small Feldspar
With good action, a classic drop point blade made of D2 steel, and handle scales that are among the best in the production knife world, the Small Feldspar ($35) is truly a great knife for a decent price.
I have had and carried mine for over a year, and it never disappoints. The action is also incredibly snappy.
The form factor is so good, I wouldn’t be upset if they made a high-end version with some bananas steel like Vanax or S90V. But until then, this will do nicely. It is not made in America, so be warned if that is an issue, but it is still really good.
- CRKT Drifter: The former King of Budget Blades, this knife’s steel holds it back a bit
- Leatherman KBX: Incredibly light and it comes with a bottle opener
- Gerber Dime: Beware bad fit and finish, but the design is great
The Torch: Folomov C1
This torch ($39) is barely larger than the battery that powers it and yet it burns retinas with 400 lumens.
It’s not the cheapest light out there, but its performance is staggering for the size and price. The light can’t tailstand and the clip is backward, but these are concessions worth making to get a torch that is nearly a quarter as bright as a car headlight and smaller than the size of your pinky.
- Nitecore TIP SE: 700 lumens from a keychain light is quite good
- OLight IT3 EOS: Nowhere near as bright as the C1, but a bit cheaper
Best Flashlight and Knife Combo Over $200
This carry setup gives you a bunch of flexibility and performance without a ton of cost. It’s still a pretty penny for most people, altogether costing over $200 — but you get the absolute best performance without excessive bling.
I still recommend a knife over a multitool, but if you can’t deal with having only a blade, I have made a multitool recommendation too.
The Dragonfly II ($85) is the perfect EDC knife. It is small, light, and compact. Plus it is easy to carry and comfortable in the hand.
It has enough blade to do most EDC tasks, yet it is never so big as to be scary. And it comes in a wide variety of steels and blade shapes, but the best version, the ZDP-189 version, was discontinued in 2020.
The other variants from Spyderco all have steel that represents some sort of compromise. One store exclusive, however, has a great all-around steel: 20CV. This steel is very hard, very corrosion-resistant, and plenty tough for normal folding knife use.
The best part is that the knife, while exclusive to DLT only, is roughly the same price as the evergreen version, clocking in at $85. It is not the ZDP-189 version, but it is pretty darn close.
- SOG Terminus XR LTE: An incredibly light knife with decent steel and a good lock
- Benchmade 945: The 940 that we have been wanting since forever
- Leatherman Skeletool CX: Knife-like weight with multitool capabilities
The Torch: 47s Mini Turbo Mk. 3
While the advent of built-in batteries and USB-C charging looms on the horizon, there are still a few issues that need to be ironed before they dominate the market. Until then, traditional form factor lights will lead the pack.
The best reasonably priced light out there for general use is the 47s Mini Turbo Mk III ($70). With a body tube the size of your thumb, 700 lumens out the front, great tint, and very good reflector, this light does it all and does it well for under $75.
- SureFire Titan Plus: What counts as an oldie but good for flashlights
- ZebraLight SC5 MkII: The last truly advanced 1xAA on the market
High-End Carry of 2021
This setup is designed to give you the carry basics for $1,000 or less. That is a lot of money to spend on a knife and a flashlight, but it’s certainly not the most you could spend.
A Michael Walker double-zipper blade and a bespoke light could be a hundred times as much. For most people though, this is plenty to spend.
The Knife: Tactile Knife Co. Rockwall
For years, companies have been making “Sebenza killers” — knives that could, on paper, rival the Idaho-made legend. Until the Rockwall ($299), most have fallen flat.
The Rockwall unseated the Sebenza in a few ways. First, it is slimmer and more stylish without being too flashy or trendy. Second, it sports a better clip. Finally, it is at least $75 cheaper.
It is the Sebenza’s equal in terms of fit and finish, and it too is made in the USA. If you are looking for one knife to own, carry, and use for a long time and aren’t worried about the price, buy the Rockwall.
- Terrain 365 Otter AT Flipper: A great knife for all conditions with the classic Barlow body style
- Small Sebenza 31 in S45VN: In case you still need your EDC binky or you are over 45
- Quiet Carry Drift in G10: Thin, slicey, with exotic steel and a decent price
- Pro-Tech Malibu: great knife with absolutely amazing action
- Leatherman Charge TTi: A true toolbox replacement in a pocketable form factor
The Torch: Oveready/TorchLab BOSS 35 (Either Configuration)
The BOSS 35 (and its 18650-powered larger brother, the BOSS 70) has been kicking around for a while now. Yet, it is still unmatched in its technical sophistication and retina-searing performance. Sure there are some Anduril-powered Gizmo lights that are as bright (for a minute or two), but none of them offer the size, build quality, or wonderful Art Deco look of the BOSS.
Its body tube is a master class in flashlight design, and its web-based programming gives you all of the control you need with none of the “oops, I dropped this into a weird mode” inconvenience.
- HDS Rotary: Pairs nicely with the Sebenza and a cellphone belt holster
- Muyshondt Aeon Mk. III: Lacking a bit of punch, but unquestionably great
- Prometheus Lights Delta: A bigger light with an absolutely stunning wall of lumens